Perito Moreno Glacier Tours: Top 8 Things To do & Travel Guide

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The Perito Moreno Glacier, situated within the Los Glaciares National Park, is Patagonia’s most famous glacier and is regarded as one of the top tourist attractions in Argentina.

The third-largest freshwater reserve in the world, Perito Moreno Glacier is named after Francisco Moreno, an explorer and pioneer accredited with studying the region in the 19th century. One of the most unique features of the glacier, as opposed to several others of its kind, is its advancing nature.

Less than a couple of hours by bus from El Calafate, the site attracts over 100,000 visitors annually. Here are some quick facts and figures about Perito Moreno Glacier:

  • The glacier was formed during the last Ice Age which makes it almost 18,000 years old.
  • Out of the 4,800 square miles of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, about 100 miles belong to Perito Moreno.
  • The Glacier is known to maintain the same mass throughout the year. Though it is reported to grow 2 meters per day, the amount of ice that breaks off balances its growth rate.
  • Perito Merino is one of the only three advancing glaciers in the whole world. The rest are retreating.
  • Every 4 to 5 years, the glacier advances to an extent that reaches the southern shore of Lake Argentino and cuts off its major southern arm, ‘Brazo Rico’.
  • Perito Moreno flaunts an imposing height of 240 feet above Lake Argentino and has a depth of 170 meters below the lake’s surface while its greatest depth is measured at 700 meters!
  • Los Glaciares National Park has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

Let us now explore Perito Moreno Glacier in detail.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Argentina (Travel Guide)


8 Things to Know About the Perito Moreno Glacier


1. Location of the Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier - Lina Stock

Approximately 80 kilometers from El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier is located within Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Set within the Appalachian Mountains, on the border of Argentina and Chile, the Glacier can be found in the southern region of South America.

2. Cost & Fees to Visit the Perito Moreno Glacier

Bridge of ice in Perito Moreno glacier, patagonia, Argentina.

The basic costs of things around Perito Moreno Glacier are as follows:

  • Bus ticket to the Glacier: 500 to 550 pesos + 10 pesos tax
  • Park Entrance: 800 pesos (as of January 2020)
  • Boat ticket: 350 pesos
  • Tours: 1200 pesos – without boat ride; 1800 pesos with a boat ride

Please note that all the costs mentioned above are subject to vary according to the different tour companies. Also, the fees seem to fluctuate as per high and low tourist seasons.

There is also a deal that is not widely publicized that allows you to purchase a ticket for a consecutive park visit at a 50% discount. 

3. How to Get There

Perito Moreno Glacier - Divergent Travelers

To reach Perito Moreno Glacier, it is best that you stay overnight at one of the hotels in El Calafate and make an early morning trip to the glacier.

By Car

Another option to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier is to rent a car. It is most suitable if you are in a group and would like to avoid public buses.

We found renting a car was way too expensive for the two of us. Renting your own car also gives you the option to stop as you like on the way to admire the stunning scenery and take photos.

Most car rentals cost around 1500 pesos, so it might be more cost-effective if in a group and split the cost between you.

There are many car rental locations in El Calafate: Hertz, Localiza Rent a Car, Dubrovnik Rent A Car, Avis Alquiler de Autos – El Calafate and Nunatak rent a Car are among the best. It is best to book your rental car in advance since they have a limited amount. We found it hard to find one that had an automatic and many cars were booked out weeks in advance. 

Need to book a car for your road trip adventure? We use Discover Car Hire for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

By Bus

Perito Moreno Glacier - Divergent Travelers

The most common way to get to the Perito Moreno Glacier and for those who prefer to do it on their own is to head to the El Calafate bus terminal and book a bus ticket for Perito Moreno.

There are a handful of bus companies that operate on the route and charge between 500 to 550 pesos (round trip). The journey takes about one and a half hours.

The bus will stop at the entrance of Los Glaciares National Park, so you can pay for your entrance ticket there (cash only).

Eventually, the bus will drop you off at the end of the road from there you can either take a boat (additional cost) or hike the glacier.

Boats can be booked at the ‘Navegacion’ booth within the national park and are a great way to get up close and personal with Perito Moreno Glacier. Most of these boat tours last about 90 minutes and include some snacks and a glass of whiskey topped with glacial ice!

The bus returns to pick you up at the same spot at 4:00 PM.

By Tour

Perito Moreno Glacier Argentina - Lina Stock

Experience the majestic icy expanse of the Perito Moreno Glacier on this full-day tour from El Calafate. Enjoy views of the peaks of Los Glaciares National Park with a professional guide, and take a boat ride on Argentino Lake for an up-close perspective on the fantastic formation.

You might even witness the glacier’s signature movement and cracking sounds from detaching icebergs!

We found it best to book the tours in advance since the prices were the same and dates were limited when we tried to book in El Calafate.

4. Things to do at Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier - Lina Stock

By now, you already know that Perito Moreno Glacier is your once-in-a-lifetime experience to be so close to a natural formation that dates back to the Ice Age. There are quite a few experiences to be had here, obviously, all of them surround the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Hiking

Hiking around Perito Moreno Glacier

Take your time with a stroll along with the well-connected series of boardwalks around the glacier and enjoy exquisite views of the endless ice fields that go as far as the eyes can see. Refer to one of the many maps and wander around on your own. Keep your camera ready for every photo opportunity that you can find here (there will be many).

Boat Cruise

Perito Moreno Glacier - Lina Stock

Take a boat cruise to explore the Perito Moreno Glacier from a slightly different viewpoint. You can either opt for a mini cruise (about 20 minutes) or do the whole one-hour trip across Lake Argentino.

The cruise is 100% worth the extra cost since it gives you up-close views of the Glacier. They can’t get that close since there are rules and restrictions but they will get you within 200 yards.

We did the boat cruise at 3:15 PM since it would end 15 minutes before our bus/tour would leave. Which worked out great.

When you arrive at the national park there will be a small booth and a sign saying ‘Navegacion’. This is where you buy the boat tickets. There’s no need to buy your cruise ticket in advance, just walk up and see what times are available.

Icefalls

Ice Calving at the Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina

Come afternoon, the ice chunks of the glacier start to rupture and fall into Lake Argentino that flows below. Though these chunks carve off throughout the day, the afternoon is the best time to hear the loud thuds as giant chunks of ice fall off and into the water.

They will be falling every 10 to 20 minutes depending on the day. Just listen out for thunder-like sound and look for some bird movement. The birds like to eat the snow worms on fresh caved snow.

Glacier Trekking

Glacier Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier

Last, but certainly not least, go ice trekking and get immersed in the awe-inspiring enormity of Perito Moreno Glacier.

There are two different kinds of ice hiking routes. The Mini Ice Hike is for visitors aged between 10 to 65 and is operational between August to June. The trek takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The Big Ice, on the other hand, is for visitors aged between 18 and 50 and is more challenging. This route is functional from September to April and takes a whopping 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete. If you book a tour, you will be given ice picks and crampons to help you with the slippery trek.

Check out this great full-day tour from El Cafate. This trip is a must-do for thrill-seekers and adventure travelers.

This full-day expedition includes pickup and drop-off at your hotel in El Calafate, a boat ride from Bajo de las Sombras port as well as all the necessary glacier-hiking equipment like crampons and ice axes.

A professional local guide ensures your safety and enjoyment.

We found it best to book the tours in advance since the prices were the same and dates were limited when we tried to book in El Calafate.

5. Classification of Hiking Trails/Routes by Color

Perito Moreno Glacier - Lina Stock

There are several metal boardwalks and viewing platforms strategically constructed around the national park to allow visitors to hike conveniently and catch a glimpse of the vast ice fields from every possible angle.

Hiking is only allowed on these pathways. No visitors may go off the boardwalks at any time. We found the pathways less busy in the early morning and in the mid-afternoon they were crowded with tourists.

As per the circuit map of Los Glaciares National Park, the hiking trails are distinguished from one another on the basis of the time taken and difficulty level.

These paths have been marked with different colors on the circuit map to differentiate one from the other. You can find color markers throughout the boardwalk and on all paths that connect to other pathways. Below we will highlight every trail.

  • The Central Route – Marked with Yellow; 1 hour; Low difficulty – Handicap accessible
  • The Inferior Route – Marked with Red; 1 hour 15 minutes; High difficulty – Circle loop
  • Accessible Route – Marked with White; 30 minutes; Very Low difficulty – Handicap accessible
  • Del Bosque Route – Marked with Green; 45 minutes; Medium difficulty – Leads to the red loop
  • De la Costa – Marked with Blue; 1 hour 30 minutes; Medium difficulty – Leads to the cruise and cafe. (This is where most tours drop you off.)

We found it best to start at the De la Costa (Blue) pathway hiking towards the Perito Moreno Glacier. Many people take this pathway on the way back, however, the Perito Moreno Glacier will be to your back throughout the hike.

It is less busy than the other sections and will give you the best first views of the Perito Moreno Glacier.

The Central Route (Yellow) pathway is the busiest since it gives the best views of Perito Moreno Glacier with little to no difficulty. Here there will be over 100 visitors trying to get that amazing shot of the glacier.

It is busy at all times and is where many tour groups will be with loud tour leaders talking over the crowds.

6. Accommodation in El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier - Lina Stock

Being within such proximity to one of the most visited tourist sites in the country, El Calafate is an obvious choice for most visitors to spend a night (or more) while they explore the Perito Moreno Glacier. So the town is filled with several accommodation options ranging from low-budget to luxury.

To be fair, a trip to Perito Moreno isn’t cheap, so if you’re planning on saving a few bucks on accommodation, Hostel Inn Calafate has affordable dorm beds with free breakfast and Wi-Fi.

Another great budget option is Hostel de las Manos, which costs almost the same as Hostel Inn Calafate but is located in the peaceful atmosphere of Laguna Niuz Natural Reserve. Hostel de las Manos offers centrally-heated double, triple, and quadruple rooms which is suitable for couples, families, and groups of traveling friends.

If you choose to stay in El Calafate for a few days and prefer having a kitchen, Albergue & Hostal Del Glaciar Libertador, although more expensive, offers cozy private rooms, as well as dorms, with fully equipped kitchen facilities, private bathrooms, free internet, and an in-house travel agency which can help you plan your Perito Moreno Glacier tour. There is also a nice common lounge area and movie nights almost every night of the week.

Hosteria Patagonia, on the other hand, offers only private rooms (slightly cheaper than Albergue) with tons of other facilities such as free parking, free Wi-Fi, laundry, luggage storage facility, excursions to Lake Argentino, horseback riding, and kayaking.

It is also located very close to popular shopping avenues and restaurants. A delicious free breakfast is included in the room tariff.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

7. Drone use at Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park

Perito Moreno Glacier - Lina Stock

Drones are not permitted at Perito Moreno Glacier or even anywhere in Los Glaciares Nationa Park. This is strictly enforced and anyone not abiding by these guidelines will be fined. Signs are posted everywhere so you can’t say you did not know.

Rangers are on the lookout for travelers who are not following the drone rules, so it is best to leave your drone at home or back at the hotel. Sorry, there is not even special permits you can get to fly a drone, they are just not allowed.


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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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5 thoughts on “Perito Moreno Glacier Tours: Top 8 Things To do & Travel Guide”

  1. Your article (updated Jan 2020) states that the entrance fee to Perito Moreno is 500 pesos ($8.33 USD).. the only other reference I could find said it was 1800 pesos ($27 USD..ish)

    Also, due to the volatility of the Argentinian currency, I couldn’t exchange money in the US before our trip. We will be taking a bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate…. do you have a recommendation for an ATM or currency exchange facility.. in order to have Argentinian pesos for the entrance fee?

    Reply
    • Hi Anne, the current entrance fee for General, non-resident admission to the park is 800 pesos (as of Jan 2020 – the post is accurately updated!) This does not include any tours or transportation to the glacier from El Calafate. I would assume that the other price you found is for a tour that includes transport from the town, entrance and maybe a tour, I don’t know. Regarding currency, there is no need to get Argentina’s currency in the USA before you leave. El Calafate is a well-greased tourist town and you will find many ATMs and places to exchange cash when you arrive there. Enjoy your visit, it’s spectacular!

      Reply

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