Ultimate Guide to Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate (2023)

By Lucas Vega

Ultimate Guide to Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate (2023)

By Lucas Vega

Are you seeking an adventure of a lifetime? The Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Nestled within the breathtaking Los Glaciares National Park, this colossal ice giant is a magnificent natural wonder. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into all the essential details of visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier. This includes a detailed outline of how to get to Perito Moreno, what to do at Perito Moreno and some tips to make your journey unforgettable. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or just someone looking to explore the wonders of Patagonia, the Perito Moreno Glacier is an absolute must-see for. From understanding what the glacier is to discovering how to explore it, this guide has got you covered. Keep reading to ensure you’re well-prepared to embark on your adventure in the heart of Argentine Patagonia.

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What is the Perito Moreno Glacier?

The Perito Moreno Glacier is nothing short of a natural marvel, capturing the hearts of travellers worldwide. Nestled within the pristine landscapes of Los Glaciares National Park in Argentine Patagonia, this colossal ice giant is the largest glacier on the planet that’s accessible by land. Its immense size is enough to leave anyone in awe.

About the Glacier

Covering an area of approximately 250 square kilometres, the Perito Moreno Glacier stretches an impressive 5 kilometres in width and extends a remarkable 30 kilometres in length. The highest point of the glacier soars more than 70 meters above the water’s surface, but the majority of its massive ice mass remains concealed beneath the lake’s serene waters.

The glacier is best observed in all its grandeur by standing in front of it, surrounded by the stunning landscape of Lago Argentino. Its dazzling, icy front wall reflects shades of blue that change with the light and weather, creating a mesmerising display that’s worth the journey to witness.

Why visit the glacier near El Calafate?

What sets the Perito Moreno Glacier apart from others is not only its size but the incredible fact that it’s one of the very few advancing glaciers worldwide. While many glaciers around the globe are receding due to climate change, Perito Moreno continues to grow, making it a unique and captivating spectacle.

As you explore this colossal natural wonder, you’ll have the chance to witness a rare phenomenon known as “calving.” This occurs when massive ice chunks break away from the glacier and dramatically crash into the turquoise waters below. The spectacle is nothing short of breathtaking and occurs most frequently during the summer months, adding to the allure of visiting during this season.

Where is the Perito Moreno Glacier?

The Perito Moreno Glacier resides in Los Glaciares National Park in the Argentine Patagonia region. The national park is situated approximately 80 kilometers west of El Calafate, a charming town in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina. El Calafate, often referred to as the gateway to the Perito Moreno Glacier, serves as the primary base for travelers looking to explore this natural marvel.

Visiting Los Glaciares National Park

Covering an extensive area of 726,927 hectares, Los Glaciares National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its pristine beauty and unique ecosystem. The park boasts numerous glaciers, with the Perito Moreno Glacier being its most famous resident. This colossal glacier flows from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and ends in the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino. While the park encompasses numerous attractions, the Perito Moreno Glacier stands out as a highlight for its accessibility and awe-inspiring grandeur.

Visiting the glacier from El Calafate

The town of El Calafate, just 80 kilometers away from the Perito Moreno Glacier, is the ideal starting point for your journey. With its Swiss alpine aesthetics, the town is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Lake Argentino, and rolling hills adorned with wildflowers. There are a number of hostels in El Calafate, which makes the perfect base for travellers looking to explore the region’s natural wonders. The town offers plenty of amenities, including grocery shops, ATMs, restaurants, and gas stations.

How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate?

Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier, a natural wonder in Argentine Patagonia, is a thrilling adventure, and knowing how to reach this majestic destination from El Calafate is essential for planning your trip. The journey offers various transportation options, each with its own set of experiences, allowing you to soak in the region’s stunning beauty.

How to get the bus to Perito Moreno Glacier?

If you plan to take the bus to the Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate, here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Head to the main bus terminal in El Calafate: The starting point for your journey to the Perito Moreno Glacier is El Calafate’s main bus terminal, located at Jean Mermoz 104. You can easily locate it on a map for your convenience.
  • Purchase your bus ticket: Look for the ticket counter offering ‘Glaciar Perito Moreno’ as the destination. Several bus companies operate routes to the glacier. The round-trip ticket to the glacier typically costs around 800 ARS, which is approximately US$20.
  • Choose your departure time: Buses usually depart at either 08:30 or 09:00, depending on the bus company you select. While it’s possible to buy your ticket on the day of your trip, it’s advisable to arrive at the terminal with at least 20 minutes to spare before the departure time.
  • Commence the 90-minute journey: The bus ride from El Calafate to the Perito Moreno Glacier is an adventure in itself. As you travel, be prepared to witness the stunning landscapes of Patagonia, making this journey part of the experience.
  • Pay the entrance fee: Approximately one hour into the journey, the bus will make a stop at the entrance to the Los Glaciares National Park. At this point, park rangers will board the bus to collect the entrance fee, which is approximately 700 ARS, or roughly US$18, per person. Be sure to bring cash, as credit cards are not accepted for this payment.
  • Arrival at the glacier: The bus will eventually reach its final destination, where you will disembark. From here, you have the option to embark on a hike or purchase boat tickets. Your journey culminates at the mesmerizing Perito Moreno Glacier.
  • Returning to El Calafate: Buses typically return to El Calafate at 16:00 in the afternoon. To make your way back, head to the same spot where the bus dropped you off earlier. To avoid any confusion, it’s a good idea to take a photo of the bus’s number plate. However, the return process is generally straightforward. Most importantly, ensure you don’t lose your ticket.

For those with alternative schedules, there is also a bus departing at 13:00 and returning at 19:30. This option is perfect if you prefer to experience the glacier in the afternoon or if you have late connections to consider.

How to drive to Perito Moreno Glacier?

For those who prefer a more independent and flexible approach, renting a car in El Calafate is an excellent option. This choice provides you with the freedom to explore the region at your own pace and make spontaneous stops to appreciate the breathtaking landscapes along the way. The approximately 80-kilometer journey to the glacier takes you along Provincial Route No. 11, offering a scenic route with panoramic views of Patagonia’s natural beauty. Renting a car is an ideal choice for travellers who want to immerse themselves fully in the region’s splendour and potentially make stops at viewpoints, local landmarks, or hidden gems during the trip. However, it’s crucial to plan your route, ensure your vehicle is in good condition, and be prepared for traveling through remote areas.

How to visit Perito Moreno Glacier?

Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier is an extraordinary experience, and there are various ways to explore this natural wonder. Upon your arrival, you’ll discover that Perito Moreno Glacier is well-maintained, with easy access for visitors. The site features a spacious parking lot, boat ticket booths, a visitor center, and a restaurant with toilet facilities. While the restaurant may be on the expensive side, the views are priceless, and toilets are free. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to make the most of your visit to the glacier.

Walking the Boardwalks at Perito Moreno Glacier

The main activity here is to admire the glacier from various angles. You’ll walk along well-constructed boardwalks, that provide extraordinary viewpoints of Perito Moreno Glacier. The boardwalks are well-constructed, offering several routes.

  • Time Required: The time you’ll spend walking the boardwalks can vary depending on how much you want to explore. Typically, it takes between 1.5 to 2 hours to walk the entire circuit. However, you can choose to walk shorter sections if you have time constraints.
  • Best Views: The northern face of the glacier, accessible from the boardwalks, offers some of the most breathtaking views. This is the area where you can witness the dramatic calving events, where huge chunks of ice break away and fall into the turquoise waters below. It’s a fantastic spot for capturing photos and experiencing the glacier’s dynamic nature up close. The southern face is also worth exploring, as it provides a different perspective of the glacier.
  • Boardwalks: The boardwalks are designed to provide visitors with various vantage points. You’ll find strategically placed balconies and viewpoints that allow you to observe the glacier from different angles and heights. Keep in mind that during the high season (November to March), these spots can get crowded, so arriving early can help you secure the best views.

Exploring the Perito Moreno Glacier from the boardwalks is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with this incredible natural wonder. Despite its popularity, the site doesn’t feel overcrowded, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty without distractions. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply seeking an unforgettable experience, this is a must-do activity while visiting the glacier.

Cruises and Boat Tours of the Perito Moreno Glacier

For a more immersive encounter with the glacier, consider taking a boat tour. Several tour operators offer boat trips, providing a unique perspective of the glacier. These tours typically last around 90 minutes and take you remarkably close to the towering wall of ice. It’s common for boat tours to include light refreshments, offering the special treat of enjoying a glass of whisky served with glacial ice. Notable companies like Southern Spirit and Hielo y Aventura offer these boat tours.

Kayaking Tours of Perito Moreno Glacier

If you’re a kayaking enthusiast, don’t miss the chance to explore the Perito Moreno Glacier from the water. Guided kayak tours are available and usually include transportation with hotel pick-up and drop-off. Paddling on the turquoise waters of Lake Argentino, you’ll get a unique perspective of the glacier. It’s an adventurous and unforgettable way to experience this natural marvel.

Ice Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier

For those seeking a more physically demanding adventure, ice trekking is a fantastic option. Hielo y Aventura, a well-regarded tour operator, offers glacier hiking tours that equip you with crampons to safely traverse the ice. There are two main options:

  • Mini Trek: This is a shorter option, featuring a 40-minute walk along the lake’s shore and a two-hour walk across the glacier. Prices typically start at around $240 USD, excluding the park entrance fee.
  • Big Ice Trek: For a more extensive and immersive experience, consider the Big Ice Trek. This adventure includes longer hikes on the glacier, often with the possibility to visit ice caves. While it is more expensive, with prices starting at around $385 USD, it’s a memorable experience for those who enjoy hiking and exploring the ice in more depth.

Each of these methods offers a distinct and remarkable way to connect with Perito Moreno Glacier, ensuring you have an unforgettable visit to this remarkable natural wonder. If you don’t have time to ice hike here, we recommend ice hiking on Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine National Park.

What is the Cost to Visit Perito Moreno Glacier?

Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier offers an exceptional natural experience, but it’s essential to be aware of the costs involved to plan your trip accordingly. Here’s a breakdown of the typical expenses you can expect:

  • Bus from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier: Taking a bus is a common and convenient way to reach the glacier from El Calafate. The cost for a round-trip bus ticket is typically 800 ARS, which is approximately $20 USD, though prices may vary depending on the bus company and any fluctuations in the economy.
  • National Park Entrance Fee: To access the Los Glaciares National Park, where the Perito Moreno Glacier is located, you must pay an entrance fee. As of the latest available information, this fee is around 700 ARS, equivalent to roughly $18 USD per person. However, it’s essential to confirm the current prices, as they can change due to economic fluctuations and government policies.
  • Optional Activities: While the basic costs include transportation and park entrance, you may want to consider additional activities like boat tours, kayaking, or ice trekking. These excursions typically come at an extra cost, and prices can vary. For instance, boat tours may range from $50 to $150 USD, depending on the type and duration of the tour.
  • Accommodation and Meals: While these costs are not directly associated with visiting the glacier, they are part of your overall travel expenses. Accommodation in El Calafate can vary widely, from budget hostels to luxurious hotels, with prices ranging from $30 to $200 USD per night. Dining in El Calafate, especially in restaurants, can also impact your budget, with an average meal costing over $10 USD.

It’s advisable to carry some cash, preferably in Argentine Pesos, for small purchases or tips, as not all places may accept card payments. Keep in mind that the prices mentioned above are indicative. Due to Argentina’s economic fluctuations, it’s crucial to check the latest prices and be prepared for potential variations in costs when planning your visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Tour vs Going Independently: Can you visit Perito Moreno Glacier without a guide?

While tours are a popular choice for visiting Perito Moreno Glacier, you can definitely visit Perito Moreno Glacier independently. This is a great way to keep your costs down. With tour companies, you’ll pay more for private transportation, but you’ll still need to purchase your entrance ticket.

Going independently allows you to set your own pace and explore at your leisure. The park is well signposted, so it’s nearly impossible to get lost. Along the boardwalk, you’ll find plenty of informative signs explaining the glaciers and the history of Perito Moreno.

When is the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier?

The best time to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier is during the summer months (December to March) if you want the most stable weather, the opportunity to witness calving, and a vibrant natural landscape. 

However, late spring and early fall are excellent choices if you prefer fewer crowds and can tolerate some variability in weather conditions. Winter can be an option for those seeking a unique, less crowded experience but must be prepared for extremely cold temperatures.

The best time for your trip largely depends on your preferences and what you want to experience. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons and what they offer.

Summer Months (December to March)

  • Weather: These are the warmest months with temperatures ranging from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 20°C). Expect pleasant, sunny days.
  • Scenic Beauty: This is when the landscape around the glacier is at its greenest, with wildflowers in full bloom. You’ll have the opportunity to see the stunning contrast between the glacier’s icy blue hues and the vibrant colors of the surrounding nature.
  • Glacial Activity: It’s the best time to witness the dramatic phenomenon known as “calving,” where ice chunks break off from the glacier wall and fall into Lake Argentino.
  • Activities: Summer offers the most stable weather conditions for trekking, boat tours, and other glacier activities.

Late Spring and Early Fall (October, April and May)

  • Weather: These shoulder seasons provide milder weather and fewer crowds. However, be prepared for a mix of sun, rain, and sometimes even snow.
  • Scenic Beauty: Late spring and early fall bring beautiful foliage colors as nature transitions between seasons. It’s a great time for those who prefer less crowded experiences.
  • Activities: While activities are still available, it’s crucial to check with tour providers for the availability of specific tours during these shoulder seasons.

Winter (June to September)

  • Weather: Winter is the least popular time to visit due to extremely cold temperatures, ranging from 20°F to 40°F (-6°C to 4°C). Snow and occasional storms are common.
  • Scenic Beauty: The glacier remains a stunning sight during winter, and you’ll have a more tranquil experience with fewer tourists.
  • Activities: Some tours and activities may not be available or may have limited schedules during winter. Ice trekking, in particular, may be more challenging due to weather conditions.

What to wear when visiting Perito Moreno Glacier?

Given Patagonia’s ever-changing weather, it’s essential to dress in layers to stay comfortable. Here’s a suggested packing list:

This clothing combination ensures you’re prepared for the cold, wind, and any potential rain.


Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier is an unforgettable adventure, offering a chance to witness the incredible power and beauty of nature. With this comprehensive guide, you’re well-prepared to make the most of your visit. So pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and explore the wonders of Perito Moreno Glacier in the heart of Patagonia.

Looking for more to do in El Calafate? Check out our comprehensive guide to visiting Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park. Safe travels!


Is Perito Moreno Glacier worth visiting?

Perito Moreno Glacier is definitely worth visiting. Its immense size and the unique phenomenon of ice calving make it a must-see natural wonder in Argentina. The stunning landscapes, accessibility, and various activities, such as boat tours and ice trekking, make it a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Can you visit Perito Moreno without a tour?

Yes, you can visit Perito Moreno Glacier without a tour. There are multiple transportation options, including buses and car rentals, that allow independent travel to the glacier. You can explore the well-constructed boardwalks, take boat tours, and even go kayaking or ice trekking without the need for a guided tour.

How much time do you need at Perito Moreno?

To fully appreciate Perito Moreno Glacier, plan to spend at least half a day, if not a full day. You can explore the boardwalks, take a boat tour, and enjoy activities like ice trekking. Allotting more time allows you to immerse yourself in the grandeur of this natural wonder and its surroundings.

Can you go to Perito Moreno Glacier?

Yes, you can visit Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s easily accessible from the town of El Calafate in Argentine Patagonia. You have various transportation options, both guided tours and independent travel. It is very convenient to reach the Perito Moreno Glacier by bus.

How long is the hike at Perito Moreno?

The hike at Perito Moreno Glacier mainly involves walking along well-constructed boardwalks and doesn’t require a long hike. The time you spend walking on these boardwalks can vary. Most routes take between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to complete. These paths provide spectacular viewpoints to admire the glacier from various angles.

How many days do you need in El Calafate?

A typical visit to El Calafate for exploring Perito Moreno Glacier and its surroundings can be well-covered in 2 days. This allows you to explore the glacier, enjoy the town’s amenities, and possibly embark on other nearby adventures. However, if you want to experience more activities or savor the town’s unique atmosphere, you may opt to stay longer.

How do you dress for Perito Moreno?

Dressing in layers is essential for a visit to Perito Moreno Glacier due to Patagonia’s ever-changing weather. Wear a T-shirt, down jacket, windproof rain jacket, and hiking boots to keep your feet dry. These clothing options will help you stay comfortable and protected against the cold, wind, and potential rain.

How long is the drive from El Calafate to Perito Moreno?

The drive from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier is approximately 80 kilometers. This drive takes about one to one and a half hours. The journey involves a scenic route and is easily accessible, whether you choose to drive, take a bus, or hitchhike.

Can you hike on Perito Moreno Glacier without a guide?

It is possible to ice hike on Perito Moreno Glacier without a guide. Tour operators in the area offer guided trekking tours that provide crampons for safely walking on the glacier. However, some experienced hikers may choose to explore the glacier independently after obtaining permits and following safety guidelines.

Do you need cash in El Calafate?

While some businesses in El Calafate may accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry some Argentine pesos in cash. This is especially important when paying for the entrance fee to Los Glaciares National Park. They typically take cash only and do not accept credit cards. Having cash on hand is also useful for tipping tour guides and other small expenses.

What is the best time of day to visit Perito Moreno?

Early morning is an ideal time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier to avoid crowds and capture stunning photographs. Visiting in the morning also gives you the chance to witness the “calving” phenomenon. This is when large ice chunks break away from the glacier, creating a spectacular spectacle.

How long is the tour of Perito Moreno Glacier?

The duration of a tour of Perito Moreno Glacier can vary depending on the specific activities and options you choose. A typical visit to the glacier, including exploring the boardwalks and taking a boat tour, can take anywhere from half a day to a full day. For more immersive experiences like ice trekking, allocate additional time.

What is the closest airport to Perito Moreno glacier?

The closest airport to Perito Moreno Glacier is El Calafate International Airport (Comandante Armando Tola International Airport). It serves as the primary gateway for travellers visiting the glacier and the Patagonian region.

Photo of author
Written By Lucas Vega

Lucas is a travel writer with deep experience exploring South America. He enjoys hiking through mountain ranges, cycling across deserts and paddling down rivers.

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