We left Torres del Paine and headed north by bus to Glacier National Park, anchored in the south by El Calafate and in the north El Chaltén. A large part of the park isn't open to the public since it consists of the Andean Ice Caps, the world's third largest glacier system outside of Antarctica and Greenland. The ice caps create 47 big glaciers and there are also more than 200 smaller glaciers unconnected to the ice caps. What you can visit is an area of mountains, lakes, woods, glaciers and the dry Patagonian steppe to the east of the Andes. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage sight in 1981 and is popular with hikers and climbers from around the world.
El Chaltén is the northern end of Glacier National Park and is the Tehuelche name for Cerro Fitz Roy, named after the captain of the Beagle of Charles Darwin fame. It has the distinction of dating only to 1985 when settlers were encouraged by the Argentine government to move in as a way of buttressing territorial claims with Chile. Today it is a town of 4000 dependent exclusively on tourism. Fortunately, it has Cerro Fitz Roy, popular with climbers around the world; additionally, it is considered Argentina's trekking capital. We found it to be quite friendly with a good pub and a great place to stay. Beautiful hikes to various destinations were plentiful and trails originated right in town. Our biggest regret was that we didn't schedule enough time to thoroughly appreciate the area.
It's still a very pleasant little town, full of tourists of all sorts and situated on a beautiful lake. Just walking along the lake or ambling through the bird sanctuary would be a worthwhile trip, but the pizza and burgers were both great and Perito Moreno didn't disappoint. Unfortunately, our skills as photographers are not adequate to do Perito Moreno justice, but we hope you'll get a good idea of its spectacle.
Of course we end with some photos of birds. Many of the birds proved to be quite willing to stick around and give me good photo ops. The first two are of the black chested buzzard eagle which may be the most elegant bird I've ever seen. It was perched on a fence post on the side of the road and didn't mind at all that I'd stopped to take its picture. Many of the others were about as cooperative.