Perito Moreno Glacier in Calafate, in the heart of Argentina’s Patagonia, is one of the most impressive natural attractions I ever visited. Together with Iguazu Falls, are by far the most beautiful and stunning places to visit in Argentina.
Both of them are simply breathtaking, you just need some time to stay on your own observing, feeling how little we humans are in respect to mother nature.
The main, cheapest and easiest way to enjoy the glacier is to enter the National Park and spend some time in the walkways. But this is not enough. If you really want to appreciate the glacier even more, you can just walk on it, and end up enjoying a whiskey with its ice.
What should you bring?
- Food. Lunch is not included and you will get hungry, so a couple of sandwiches will do it.
- Appropriate clothes and shoes. Although the trekking is of low to moderate difficulty and you will be given a helmet, crampons and gloves, it’s recommendable to have trekking shoes/boots and comfortable clothes. Bear in mind that your shoes may get slightly wet while you walk on the ice (you may be able to avoid but it could happen). You should also look at the forecast, as everything looks and feels different on a sunny day.
- Water. The water from the glacier is distilled water, so it does not hydrate your body as it seems because it lacks minerals (so we were told).
Boarding at the port
The tour starts at Bajo de las Sombras port, which is inside the National Park. The park has an entrance fee, which has a 50% only if you Argentinean, so you will need to pay when you enter.
If you are driving, there is plenty of parking space in the port, and also facilities such as toilets and information offices. The tour has also the option to be picked up by a bus from a meeting point in El Calafate.
Multiple groups take the same tour so you will be given a starting time when you buy the ticket online. The boat will cross the Lago Rico in about 20 minutes, and you will enjoy the first views of the glacier.
Trekking in the forest
Once you get to the opposite shore, you will be welcome by the guides, who will form groups of 20 people (English/Spanish). You will have some time to go to the toilet in the shelter (a very comfortable wooden house) and leave you stuff, which should include food, in some lockers inside. You will also be given gloves, as the glacier can cut your hands.
You will then walk through the forest and along the shore of the lake, and the guides will talk about glaciology, which is very interesting. You will also have time to take pictures.
Trekking on the glacier
Once at the edge of the glacier, they will fit your helmet and crampons and start the fun part. You will walk a bit more on the edge (not on the ice yet), but only for 5 minutes until you finally reach the ice, where you will also receive a safety talk.
The trekking is of low to moderate difficulty. There are ascends and descends and last approximately 1.5 hours. It’s quite easy to walk on the glacier and you won’t have problems at all. You will be able to enjoy a variety of formations such as cracks, sumps, seracs and lagoons.
The great surprise is that after the last hill and before starting the way back, you will be able to enjoy a glass of whiskey with ice from the glacier, together with a tasty Argentinean sweet. This will give you the energy to descend.
You will then return the helmet and crampon, and reach the shelter after a short walk (15 minutes) through the forest. You will have 40 minutes to have your lunch (there will be complimentary coffee), and you will wait for your boat to go back.
Back to the port
After another 20 minutes of navigation, this time with less curiosity about the viewings from the boat, you will get to the same port, Bajo de las Sombras.
Visit the glacier walkaways
Once back on the port, you will be able to use the restroom and get ready for the walkways. If you have your own car, you can just drive 7 km and you will get to the walkways starting point, which comprises a parking lot and some facilities such as souvenir shop, coffee and restaurant.
If you don’t have a car, the tour also includes a one-hour guided visit to the walkways of the Perito Moreno Glacier. You may think you had enough of the glacier, but you didn’t. The walkways offer a stunning view of the glacier, from a very different perspective of what you saw on the trekking.
There are multiple walkways of different difficulty to see the glacier from multiple angles and altitudes. This is a unique and unforgettable experience.
More tours on Perito Moreno Glacier
Other recommended tours of the glacier are:
- Full-Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier including Boat Safari: a 7 to 8 hs full-day tour, including walkways and a 1-hour boat ride through Rico Branch of Lago Argentino
- Perito Moreno Glacier Tour with Boat Ride: a 6-hour sightseeing tour from El Calafate, including the walkways and a 40-minute boat ride.
- Big Ice Tour: similar to the mini-trekking, but longer and harder. You will walk on the glacier for 3.5 hours and even have lunch on the ice.
- For hotels, hotels and B&B recommendations, visit our Where to stay in El Calafate post.
- If you are visiting El Calafate you cannot miss El Chalten. Check our “El Chaltel Travel Guide” post for more information regarding trails, restaurants, hotels and more.
- If you are up to a challenging trekking, visit Trekking to Laguna de los Tres and Mount Fitz Roy.