A Quick Guide To Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
A Quick Guide To Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina was originally published in December 2020
Perito Moreno Glacier is just one of those places you have to see for yourself. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly too thrilled about going to Perito Moreno- you see, I’m from Alaska, and I’ve seen countless glaciers, hell, I can see more than one from my house. But I thought I may as well pay a visit to Perito Moreno, I was in the neighborhood after all, backpacking around Patagonia after having disembarked from a month-long trip in Antarctica that originated in New Zealand.
The largest national park in Argentina, Los Glaciares National Park, houses countless attractions that lure travelers from all corners of the world. Home to the three main gems in the Argentinian Patagonia crown- Cerro Torre, Mount Fitzroy, and none other than the thunderous Perito Moreno Glacier.
I’ve heard a glacier or two calve in my lifetime in Alaska. I’ve woken up near the shores of a glacier lake to the sound of fracturing ice in the middle of the night. Only to climb out of my tent later in the morning to find a chunk of ice the size of a 100 square meter home, bobbing in the lake.
But Perito Moreno is something quite special. I honestly lost count of the number of times I heard the thunderous sound of ice calving from its massive face.
Visiting Perito Moreno is not a generally cheap endeavor, likely it will be one of the more expensive excursions on your trip through Patagonia. With that said, a visit to Perito Moreno is definitely worth the investment- and that’s coming from me, a little Alaskan glacier connoisseur (or snob).
About Perito Moreno Glacier
- Perito Moreno Glacier is roughly 250 square kilometers in size, 30 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide.
- Perito Moreno is a part of the Southern Patagonian Icefield, which is comprised of 48 glaciers. The Southern Patagonian Icefield is the world’s third-largest reserve of freshwater
- It’s one of three glaciers in the world that is currently growing rather than receding, though it’s worth mentioning that Perito Moreno grows about 2 meters per day and loses a proportional amount of mass daily as well, keeping its size consistent.
- The whole of Los Glaciares National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
How To Get To Perito Moreno Glacier
The five ways to visit Perito Moreno Glacier are by car, by bus, by taxi, by guided tour, or by hitchhiking. Each method has its advantages. Obviously, Perito Moreno Glacier tours are going to be the easiest and hassle-free, going by car or taxi gives you the most freedom, by bus gives you a decent amount of freedom but does limit you to a certain amount of time, and hitchhiking can be a pain in the arse, but hey, it’s free after all.
Perito Moreno Glacier Tours
Want to see the famous glacier without any hassles or pesky planning? Booking a Perito Moreno tour is going to be the easiest and stress-free way to visit. The only downside is it is the most expensive option, but sometimes a little extra money goes a long way.
There are several Perito Moreno Glacier tours from El Calafate each day, although it’s possible to book tours to the glacier from further off places, such as Puerto Natales, Chile.
Perito Moreno Glacier tours typically include your transport to and from Los Glaciares National Park, a guide, and a boat tour. Reserve your Perito Moreno tour from El Calafate or a Perito Moreno tour from Puerto Natales.
Perito Moreno By Bus
While there isn’t any public transport to Perito Moreno Glacier, there are private bus companies that make the haul from El Calafate daily. Buses do sell out in the high season, so you’ll want to book at least a day in advance. Most buses leave El Calafate around 8 am and depart Perito Moreno at 4 pm, although there are a couple that leaves El Calafate at 1 pm and leaves Perito Moreno at 7 pm.
Bus companies that run between El Calafate and Perito Moreno include Always Glaciers, Cal Tur, Chaltén Travel, Patagonia Dreams, and Taqsa.
A roundtrip El Calafate-Perito Moreno bus ticket should cost $26-30 USD (the Argentine Peso is a bit unstable right now, hence why I am going to give most prices in USD instead of ARS).
Arrange A Taxi To Perito Moreno
If you can put together a group of 3-4 travelers, hiring a taxi from El Calafate for the day to take you to Perito Moreno Glacier and back, and wait for you there. A taxi to and from, including waiting time will likely cost about $75-100 USD, so if divided up amongst 3-4 travelers, the cost of a taxi doesn’t differ much from the cost of a return bus ticket. Ask your accommodation in El Calafate to help you arrange a taxi a day or two in advance.
Visiting Perito Moreno By Car
The upside to visiting Perito Moreno by car is that it gives you the ultimate freedom to do whatever you want on your own time schedule. Check rental car prices for El Calafate or other starting points for you in Patagonia on Rentalcars, Expedia, and Skyscanner.
Hitchhiking To Perito Moreno
Potentially bringing you the most hassles, though having the upside of being free, you can hitchhike to Perito Moreno Glacier. You’ll see many cars going back and forth all day.
A word of the wise from someone who has hitchhiked quite a bit all over the world herself, bring camping gear with you just in case. There’s a chance, you may not end up finding a car to hitch with back to El Calafate, so don’t get stranded there with no way to sleep comfortably.
Perito Moreno Entrance Fees
Entrance fees (most recently) are 800 ARS for foreigners and 410 ARS for Argentinian citizens, though these prices can change with little notice (Argentina’s currency is quite unstable). Check current entrance fee prices here. I also recommend you check the exchange rate of the Argentine Peso as well, just before your departure to see the most accurate rate
Entrance tickets can either be purchased on arrival in Argentinian Peso, or in advance online.
Things To Do At Perito Moreno Glacier
Walk The Boardwalk
There are scenic metal boardwalks that face the glacier, offering sweeping views of Perito Moreno, along with interpretive signs. It will take you about 45 minutes to visit all the scenic overlooks along the boardwalk.
Take A Perito Moreno Boat Safari
My favorite part about visiting Perito Moreno Glacier was taking the Lake Argentino boat cruise to get up close and personal with the glacier. The boats do get you fairly close to the face of the glacier, giving you the chance to see the glacier clave right before your eyes.
Lake Argentino boat safaris are typically 1 hour in duration and include narration of the trip with a knowledgeable staff member giving random facts about the glacier and directing you to points of interest.
You can book a day tour of Perito Moreno including a boat safari from El Calafate. If you are traveling independently (by bus, rental car, taxi, or hitching) you can book boat safaris on arrival, but it would be smart to book in advance during the high season. A 1 hour boat safari should cost around $20-25 USD.
Go For A Trek On Perito Moreno Glacier
If you’ve never had the opportunity to go glacier trekking, I highly recommend joining a glacier trekking tour on your visit to Perito Moreno. Since I have had countless opportunities to trek on and across glaciers living in Alaska, I didn’t opt to do one of these Perito Moreno Glacier trekking tours, but truthfully, I was tempted.
These tours are pretty expensive (not just in Patagonia, they’re pretty expensive everywhere), but can be a greatly rewarding experience. Most leave from El Calafate, bring you to the boardwalk, and then put you on a boat across the lake to get to the glacier. From there, you’ll be given crampons and ice axes and taken on a true adventure.
Go Kayaking On Lake Argentino
Wanting to get an up close (as close as you can go safely) encounter with Perito Moreno Glacier? Book this epic Perito Moreno 3 glaciers kayaking experience.
You’ll launch your kayaks from Playa de Los Témpanos to experience the glacier from water level, paddling along Lake Argentino. Kayak tours often include time to view Perito Moreno from the boardwalks too.
Meanwhile Back In El Calafate
Where To Stay In El Calafate
- Budget: Bla Lodge is your best choice for backpackers on a budget with perfectly priced dorms and private rooms, considering that El Calafate is a bit of a tourist trap. Reserve a bed on booking.com or hotels.com.
- Mid-range: Hotel Michelangelo is a great option, centrally located and only 500 meters from Lake Nimez. Check prices on booking.com or hotels.com.
- Luxury: Xelena Hotel & Suites comes highly recommended and offers stunning lake views. Book your room on booking.com or hotels.com.
Coming From Puerto Natales?
I know some of you may be taking on the longer day tour of Perito Merano from Puerto Natales, Chile, or just be heading to El Calafate from there next.
Where To Stay In Puerto Natales
- Budget: Puma House is a perfect backpacker-priced hostel in Puerto Natales. Reserve a bed on booking.com or hotels.com.
- Midrange: Hostal El Sendero was where I stayed in Puerto Natales and I highly recommend it, mostly because owner Juan is extremely helpful (and hilarious). Cozy private rooms are available with ensuite toilet and shower, and a shared kitchen. Compare prices on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Splurge: Wesker Lodge is the perfect spot for those on a higher budget with sweeping sea views and all-inclusive packages. Conveniently located less than a kilometer away from central Puerto Natales. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
What To Pack For Perito Moreno Glacier
- Water bottle
- Hiking boots or comfortable walking shoe
- Bradt’s Argentina Guidebook
- Snacks + lunch
The Best Time To Visit Perito Moreno Glacier
The best time of day to visit Perito Moreno Glacier is in the afternoon as that is when the glacier is most active, giving you the chance to hear and see the ice calve. The time of year corresponds with the Southern Hemisphere summer and fall, December-February, and March-May respectively. I visited the last week of March and highly recommend this time of year in southern Argentina and Chile.
Have Any Questions About Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier?
Ask in the comments section below.