part 1 - a short trip into the Glaciares region of Argentina

rio don guillermo customs The Rio Don Guillermo customs office between Chile and Argentina somewhere in the endless
plains of Patagonia. There are a few customs officers and one friendly cat in this outpost.

At the Rio Don Guillermo border crossing.

rio don guillermo customs

annelies appel

Enjoying an apple en route to Patagonia (at Rio Gallegos gas station)
The Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina, seen from the southernmost branch of the lake. The Southern Icefield which lies on the Southern Andes sends glaciers in all directions. Those on the east end up in long, narrow lakes (piedmont lakes) which mark the range of their extension in the (geologically recent) ice ages. Perito Moreno is unique since it meets a hard outcrop along the way. It was formerly split into two branches, making it Y-shaped. It has now retreated to just before the split, so the two branches are now lakes and the leg of the Y is glacier. You can see it up close from the hill just opposite it. The two parts of the lake are connected at the moment by a narrow channel of about 20 m wide, with the glacier face just meters away from the hill, but in recent years the passage used to be locked. As the southern branch of the lake collects more water than the other one,  the ice used to break in a cataclysmic event every now and then.
If you got confused by this explanation, see this for a good aerial picture.
perito moreno glacier

perito moreno glacier

The face of the Perito Moreno glacier, eroded by wind and sun.
It advances a few meters each day and the surface is continuously
renewed as bits break off - the end of the glacier stays pretty much in the same place
so it also loses a few meters a day on this spot.
The Perito Moreno glacier as it descends from the Southern Icefield (in the back of the picture). perito moreno glacier

perito moreno glacier

A house-sized chunk breaks off the Perito Moreno glacier. It advances a
few meters every day. The general position of the edge however remains
essentially in place so it actually loses many tons a day, through slow
melting but also in more spectacular ways, and pieces this big can be
seen falling off every few hours.

A field of orchids (Azucena del bosque, Codonorchis lessonii) near the Perito Moreno glacier

Azucena del bosque orchid, Codonorchis lessonii
magellanic oystercatcher - Haematopus leucopodus Magellanic oystercatchers (Haematopus leucopodus) at the El Calafate pond.

Chilean Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus chilensis) in the former sewage deposit pond of El Calafate, the center for the Glaciares region. The pond has now been transformed into a nice birdwatching area. El Calafate is said to be an overpriced tourist trap but we found it OK.

Chilean Flamingoes - Phoenicopterus chilensis

truck el calafate

An old truck in El Calafate.