Located in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier covers an incredible 97 square miles. It is 19 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 560 feet thick. Ready to learn more and plan your trip? Our guide contains everything you need to know about visiting this stunning glacier.
About Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of 48 glaciers located in the Andes system and fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Located a relatively short 48 miles from El Calafate and terminating at Argentino Lake, this incredible Patagonia glacier gets its name from 19th century explorer, Francisco Moreno.
One of the most intriguing things about this glacier is that even though it is getting thinner, it continues to advance while most of the world’s glaciers are retreating. Additionally, the glacier dams the southern arm of Argentino lake, causing water to rise and creating pressure as the weight of the ice bears down. This pressure periodically causes rupturing, which in turn sends water to Lake Argentino’s main body. This natural cycle occurs only occasionally, at intervals between one and ten years. If you’re lucky enough to witness it during your visit, you’ll be absolutely astonished at the sound and sight of so much water and ice shifting.
How to get to Perito Moreno Glacier
This magnificent glacier is not at all difficult to access. Your journey begins when you travel from Buenos Aires to El Calafate Argentina, or alternatively, when you make your way from Puerto Natales to El Calafate. It’s possible to take a bus to the site or hire a Glacier taxi if you prefer to travel privately.
There is an entry fee to visit the glacier, which you’ll be asked to provide before making your way into the park. After you’re inside the gate, you can begin to explore on foot, or spend a little more on a glacier boat tour.
From the vantage point offered by a boat’s deck, visitors enjoy a closer look at the glacier.
Touring Perito Moreno glacier vs. Traveling Independently
There are a number of daily tours to this amazing Argentina glacier, but that doesn’t mean you have to go with a group. Travelers are welcome to explore the area around the glacier at their leisure, beginning with a stop at the visitor center. There, you’ll find important safety information as well as other information about the glacier’s history and structure. You can easily walk along a well-built boardwalk that provides outstanding views of the glacier’s east-facing edge as well as its southern side.
Glacier boat tours reveal the spectacular nature of Perito Moreno glacier from another angle, providing an incredible view of the ice, which towers an average of 240 feet above the water’s surface. From this vantage point and others, it’s likely that you’ll be able to see chunks of ice calving off the glacier and creating waves as they splash down into the lake. Adventurous sorts can enjoy the same view while enjoying kayak tours.
If you prefer to enjoy a more extensive Perito Moreno glacier hike, it’s possible to do so. Trekking tours and mini-treks are available, with options that last anywhere from less than two hours to longer journeys that take about five hours to complete. If you decide to work with a tour company and make your way out onto the massive ice sheet, you’ll be provided with transportation to and from the park as well as a boat trip across the lake to an access point that leads to the glacier. Depending on the season, you may be able to go into an ice cave, which is sure to be unforgettable. Ice axes and crampons are provided so there’s no need to pack your own.
Best Time to Visit the Glacier
Since Calafate Argentina is warmest between January and Mid-March, most people opt to visit the glacier then. June and July are the coldest months however you can still visit if you don’t mind lows in the 20 degrees Fahrenheit range. For smaller crowds and access to all available boat and trekking options, consider visiting in April or May, or between August and December. Be sure to check dates with tour companies so that you get the experience you’re hoping for.
Where to Stay
The best place to stay when visiting Los Glacieres National Park is El Calafete Argentina, which is located just about 48 miles away. There are dozens of El Calafate hotels to choose from, including plenty of budget-friendly options.
Estimated Cost of Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier
Bus tickets to the glacier average $20 each direction but prices do change periodically. The Los Glaciares National Park entry fee is about $35 depending on current exchange rates. This fee includes a self-guided tour.
Tickets for Glacier boat trips are sold separately, inside the park. Prices vary but you should be able to get a tour for around $35 USD.
Credit cards are not accepted at Los Glaciares National Park, nor can you pay for a boat tour with a credit card. There is no ATM on site so be sure to bring enough cash to cover your costs and pay for your bus tickets.
If you’d like to take one of the guided treks across the ice field, your cost will be quite a bit more – but this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, after all! Costs vary from about $156 to $275 depending on the length of your tour. It’s best to pre-book so that you don’t miss out on this adventure. In case you haven’t pre-booked, you may be able to sign up for ice trekking while you are in El Calafate.
Walkways provide easy access to amazing views of Perito Moreno Glacier.
What to Pack for Your Argentina Glacier Adventure
Most visitors to Perito Moreno Glacier wear light layers that can be added and subtracted during the day. A windbreaker, a warm hat, and sunglasses are some other items that you’ll want to have on hand even if you’re anticipating warm weather. Here are more items to pack for your trip:
• Stout walking shoes / hiking boots
• Warm socks
• A warm, rain-proof jacket, preferably with a hood
• Water-resistant pants
• A scarf
• Warm gloves
• Handwarmers / foot warmers
• A great pair of binoculars
• Water in a reusable bottle
• Lip balm
Perito Moreno Glacier FAQ
Ready to learn more? Here are some additional Perito Moreno glacier facts.
Q: Is the glacier close to the town of Perito Moreno?
A: No – despite having the same name, the town of Perito Moreno is more than 370 miles north of the glacier.
Q: I’m not a huge fan of buses, taxis, etc. Can I rent a car?
A: Yes, you can get a car rental at El Calafate.
Q: How difficult is the hike to the glacier from the visitor’s center?
A: It’s an easy hike, mainly on a wide boardwalk that features informational signs along the way. There are medium and difficult options for those who prefer them, and there’s a wheelchair accessible walkway available as well.
Q: What about food? Can I eat at the park?
A: It’s a good idea to pack a picnic although some tour companies include lunch and most of the boat tours include some snacks as well as a drink of whiskey chilled with chips of glacial ice.
Q: Where Is Glacier Perito Moreno?
A: This amazing Argentina glacier is 80km from the town of El Calafate in Argentine Patagonia.
Q: Is it true that this glacier is one of the world’s largest frozen fresh water reserves?
A: Yes. It’s currently in third place, behind the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Sheet.
More Things to Do in El Calafate & Argentina
If you’ve ever wanted to hike across a slowly moving glacier, this is the place to experience it. Some tours also offer camping on the glacier’s surface. Another outstanding hiking experience is to be had at Mount Fitz Roy located in nearby El Chalten. Smaller glaciers including Spegazzini and Upsala may be seen during a full day boat tour of Lago Argentino.
Besides Los Glaciares National Park, you’ll find that there are many other Argentina national parks and adventures to enjoy as you travel this fascinating – and welcoming – land where majestic natural features take center stage. Those who enjoy birding will love a side trip to the Lake Nimez ecological reserve, where many species including Chilean flamingos can be encountered. La Leona Petrified Forest offers a sandy, rocky landscape where it’s possible to find petrified wood and dinosaur bones.
While you’re in El Calafate, be sure to stop by the Glacierium and the Centro de Interpretacion HIstorica history museum. Both offer unique vantage points into the area’s geologic and human history.
For more outdoor activities, head to Bariloche, where you’ll find world-class skiing, snowboarding, and mountain trekking as well as climbing, fishing, horseback riding, water sports and more. When you’re ready for warmer weather, head to Buenos Aires, where you’ll find fun and relaxation between adventures. Selina offers comfortable accommodations in both cities, along with wonderful amenities that make your trip through Argentina even more enjoyable.
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