Vintage Cape Horn 2013

An epic 6,000 kilometre adventure drive from Buenos Aires to Cape Horn through Argentina and Chile.

Day 15 - El Calafate rest day

There’s a saying that once you’ve eaten the El Calafate berry you will return to Patagonia but we think there’s a lot more hereabouts to ensure your return than a simple soft fruit.

Today the big draw is the Glacier Perito Moreno. Some 80km away from the town of El Calafate it’s a big old thing and one of the fews glaciers in the world that isn’t receding. It's 30km long, 5km wide and, as it debauches into the Lago Argentino, stands 60m high. It’s huge and at times advances, if that’s the right term for a glacier melting and falling into a lake, at anything up to 2m per day. As it groans and creaks small chunks of ice and meltwater fall continually into the water but every so often something really spectacular happens and a tsunami of slushy water rushes against the shore.

The dramatic, jagged and crevasse strewn texture of the surface is the result of warming meltwater undermining the ice and the incredible deforming pressure of the huge mass sliding downhill at an uneven rate.

A bus tour was arranged to take us to the Park but as you’d expect many of the crews opted to drive themselves. The chance to see our collection of Vintage Bentleys, Vauxhalls, Fords and Chevrolets added to the visitor experience for the ‘regular’ day trippers.

After walking along the viewing platforms and getting a birds eye view of the place some of the crews took a boat tour around the icefall for a fish eye perspective and we could see them sailing along tumblers full of gin, tonic and a slice of lemon in their hands waiting for the next fall of ice to complete the set.

There are three distinct parts of a glacier. The accumulation zone, the area where the snow falls and is compacted into ice. The equilibrium line or the middle part of the glacier with which we can measure the speed and growth (or recession) of the glacier. The ablation zone where the glacier loses ice through melting, calving (the action of chunks breaking away) or evaporation.

The shades of blue within the ice intrigue many people and they’re caused by the fact that the ice is compacted. Old and dense - highly compacted ice - absorbs every colour in the spectrum except blue.

The cafes and restaurants of El Calafate provided an ideal spot for lunch and the lawns of the hotel were an excellent place for a quick lie down afterwards or if you prefer - maintenance.

Tomorrow we cross back into Chile to visit the fabulous Torres del Paine National Park and we’re braced for some queueing at the border due to the ongoing industrial action. Watch this space.

Fred Fangio 


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