Photograph by Steven Russell
We had arrived in El Calafate on Easter weekend and soon found out that the glacier-trek on Perito Moreno glacier was fully booked. So, we decided to hire a car and see the famous glacier in our own time…of course, being a photographer, this meant before sunrise! We set off on the 80km journey at 5am; our decrepit VW Gol sounded alarmingly on its last legs, and combined with the wind whistling through gaps in the front doors (in our experience, hired cars in Patagonia all seem to suffer from having had wind-blown door accidents), conversation in the car was difficult. Concentration was better diverted to the road so as not to run over hares. I will never forget the first sight of the glacier in the dark as I drove along the bumpy, winding forested approach road- a brief glimpse through the trees of its blue wall below the looming black mountain peaks, it was utterly wondrous and set my heart racing.
We parked our car at the lookout point and stepped out to see what we’d been reading about for so long. Nothing could prepare us for the real thing; to be there on our own, as this most amazing natural phenomenon was unveiled to us from the dark, is something no photo or video can reproduce. Listening to the deep cracks of breaking ice reverberating across the valley, between the gusts of Patagonian wind, and watching for great walls of ice crashing off into the Lago, was just fascinating. It was easy to sit there for hours, mesmerized.