El Calafate is on the middle of the south shore of Lago Argentino. It is the largest lake in Patagonia and is fed by Perito Moreno Glacier - the White Giant on the west shore of the lake only 80 km away. The Parque Nacional Los Glaciares contains many glaciers but Perito Moreno is the most notable and accessable. It moves 7 feet per day so there is a lot of calving off the 200 foot wall which meets the lake. All of the Perlan team made time to visit this glacier.
After a Perlan work day with beautiful weather, Jim and I drove there for sunset. The skyline of the wall is unbelievably jagged. My favorite photo was when the backlit glacier allowed the light to clearly shine through a window atop the wall. There are more photos taken above this glacier as backdrop for Perlan in other flight blogs.
The other crown jewels of this spectacular national park are Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre about 200 km from the airport. All of the Perlan team visited here several times. If the skyline of Fitz Roy looks familar that might be because the Patagonia clothing company uses it as their logo. El Chalten is just west of another lake - Lago Viedma. Viedma Glacier feeds this lake. (See photo of vintage map.)
The scenery of the drive to Fitz Roy is completely controlled by the weather. We all went before the Perlan container arrived with low clouds (one photo of park entrance for comparison), and Jim and I went a second time with clear blue skies after the container departed 5 weeks later. (Many photos for beauty) Jim was able to track multiple low gaggles of condors in this area. His authentic condor count was 26. (He discounted 2 more as previous slackers). Cerro Torre is extremely difficult to climb (top ten world wide) due to a mushroom cap of ice on the top. That cap gleams in several photos. And a moment of a lifetime was 2 condors diving over to check Jim and I out as we neared the top of our climb. These are big birds - I thought they were 20 feet above us, but Jim said 50 feet. Martin Heltai called the checkout "professional courtesy." -Jackie Oct 2015