We wake up at 6 am in order to have breakfast, take a shower and get ready before Amelia wakes up. We wrap it up pretty quickly and get an additional 15 minutes to peacefully drink tea and coffee. Amelia wakes up feeling good, Ania feeds her quickly and a minute later we’re already getting into the car. We need to drive from El Calafate to the harbour located an hour from here. Today, we’re going to board a cruise that will take us to several icebergs and we cannot be late. Yesterday we weren’t sure if we should go because the price wasn’t low, but after a few hours’ worth of research we didn’t find anything better. Price fixing. But after looking at all these icebergs we just had to produce some back up peso.
We move along then. I can still have a nap in the backseat with Amelia, but Ania needs to concentrate on the road. At first the traffic is almost non-existent. With time other cars and buses start passing us by. We’re not used to such heavy traffic but it’s hardly surprising since people from nearby hotels are hungry for attractions too and the bus drivers seem to want to do two runs this morning. We still manage to reach the harbour 20 minutes prior to departure. There, we find four large boats and a queue of people waiting for us. First, I go to pay the extortion money – buy a ticket to the national park. So far, we entered most of the parks free of charge or after paying some irrelevant amount of money. Here, the circulation of tourists is much heavier and they take advantage of it – over 200 peso per person. Quite an outrage but you can’t do anything about it.
Having bought the tickets, I return to where the girls are. We look at the queue and get an idea. In such situations we tend to act like we’re feeling confident – everybody sees a married couple with a little child and – reluctantly, but sill – moves aside. We squeeze through towards guard’s booth and see some more couples “like us”. Guess we’re not the only ones with the priority right. Five minutes later we’re already jumping between the boats (ours is the last one) feeling happy that we’re the first ones to choose the seats. We get to the upper deck because it’s close to the exit and by the window. We don’t know how many people will come but it doesn’t look like an intimate cruise so we’re guessing a lot. It’s not that bad though – most of the lower deck is not occupied.
First, we need to sail for 2 hours towards the first iceberg. I grab a coffee, stand on the prow and watch Lago Argentino lake. The biggest one in the country and full of icebergs at the same time. After an hour, we see first floating icebergs. Some are small, others big, some huge. They peacefully “stand” in the water but look absolutely stunning. The closer we get to Upsala iceberg (our destination), the more of them we see. That’s because this iceberg is one of the fastest shrinking ones. The melting process stopped a little in 2003 but until then it has melted so much that it already became the subject of Greenepeace’s global warming prevention campaign.
There’s plenty of ice floe fragments before the actual iceberg which prevents us from closing in at more than few hundred metres. Even here, the captain sails the catamaran very carefully. Even though we watch it from afar, we can tell that these iceberg tongues are simply spectacular. Like frozen streams of ice lava (however weird that sounds). And the colours – unspeakable blue.
We sail back after 30 minutes but I’m still unsatisfied. I go to the stern of the boat to watch it as we’re moving away. In another hour, we’ll get to the next iceberg – Spegazzini. I get the feeling that it’s the right moment to warm up a little bit since it’s very cold outside and plenty of water gets onboard the speeding boat. Basically I’m soaking wet. They announce that we’re close so we get to the stern of the boat again. Suddenly, we say ‘wow!’ almost simultaneously. Yes, this iceberg is amazing, The biggest one in Los Glaciares National Park – 135 metres high. Incredible… We sail so close that It feels we can almost touch it. A huge wall of ice right before us. We wait for a moment listening if it’s not cracking. Not this time. We float close to it for a dozen minutes or so and I can’t stop looking at it. The nature managed to surprise us again.
Icebergs are incredibly beautiful. With that in mind, we head back.