San Rafael Bay
I watch the glacier through my camera lenses, fascinated by the different shapes and shades of blue of the ice. It is quite, water is calmly splashing against our small boat. Nobody speaks. Everybody is fascinated by the view.
We heard of the Laguna San Rafael a couple of times. A huge protected lagoon in which a glacier calves into.
The glacier is one of the few exits where the ice of the northern patagonian icefield escapes. The northern and southern patagonian icefields are gigantic icefields, the largest outside the polar areas. And so they feed a couple of glaciers of impressive size.
We organized a boat trip and found a tour organizer who would bring us and James, the motorbiker we met the day before, to the glacier.
It is a long trip. We had to drive down a valley for 1,5 hours ourselves before we had a transfer over a river on a small boat. Then another 30minutes in a small bus and finally 2,5 hours on a boat to the glacier.
We were lucky: we were the only ones on the trip, together with a guide, the skipper and his pilot.
We made a little break for lunch before we approached the glacier. It was beautiful but I had expected to see a large wall of ice, so I was a little bit disappointed, since the glacier seemed to end pretty flat in the water. But this place is playing tricks on you. As we approached the glacier more and more the dimensions became visible. The snout of glacier is between 50m and 80 meters high. It is impressive. You can feel the cold air from the glacier, even though we stay more than 500m away from it.
“The reason is not the waves from falling ice parts” Russel, the guide explains “more dangerous are ice parts from underneath the water. The Glacier continues under water and when parts of that break off, they come with no warning from underneath, creating massive waves”.
It was a very active day for the glacier, a lot of parts fall off from him. They seem to fall in slow motion which gives you a feeling for the size and dimensions. Even though they only create small splashes they are as big as a car.
As I keep looking through my lenses suddenly everything in there seems to move. I zoom out and understand whats happening: a huge part of the front wall, as big as a small skyscraper clashes down into the water. In slow motion the massive ice block is seperating fro the main wall and slowly moving downward. A massive wall of splashing water appears, huge waves are formed.
What an impressive sight.
We see more ice falls. Actually it rumbles all the time, but this one fall was bigger and mightier than I would have ever imagined. We are deeply impressed.