Glaciers are one of nature’s most incredible phenomena, with ice accumulating to form what is, effectively, a large land mass. One of the most notable is the Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Patagonia in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina.
“Notable” only begins to describe this natural wonder. On our visit, we kept using the words “incredible,” “magnificent,” and “spectacular,” and still couldn’t fully describe the beauty and sheer vastness of this epic Glacier (fun Argentina fact that the glacier stretches larger than Bueno Aires!).
If you’re visiting Argentina, then this natural attraction should definitely be on your itinerary. You can enjoy beautiful sights, hike on the surface of the Glacier, and even spend time on viewing platforms where you might be able to capture large chunks of ice breaking off and falling into the surrounding lake.
However, if you’re going for the first time, chances are you’ll miss out on many things and won’t get the most out of your visit. Luckily, we visited this incredible place ourselves after we traveled to Antarctica and did a lot of research before going.
Today, we’ll condense our experience and research in one easy-to-read guide to inform you of everything you need to know before you visit the Perito Moreno Glacier!
All About the Perito Moreno Glacier
1. The Discovery Of Perito Moreno Glacier
While this Glacier has been well-known and holds an important position among the indigenous people of Argentina, it became popular in the mainstream in 1879 when it was “discovered” by a Chilean navy captain named Juan Tomás Rogers.
Captain Rogers named the Glacier after another high-ranking naval officer, Francisco Gormaz, but that was soon changed in 1899, to the name it holds today. Named after Francisco Moreno, a famous scientist, conservationist, and explorer, this glacier is one of the natural marvels of our planet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Perito Moreno Glacier stretches 19 miles and has an area of 97 square miles! This makes it bigger than the Argentine capital and many other major cities around the world. It’s also quite high, with the highest point going up to 230 feet! As soon as we arrived the first thing that hit us was the sheer size of it all.
While Argentina is filled with natural wonders, none are as imposing as the Perito Moreno Glacier. Few words can describe the magnitude and beauty of this natural wonder and you need to see it to understand just how vast it is.
2. The Glacier Is Still Growing!
By far the most surprising thing about the Perito Moreno Glacier is that it is STILL GROWING in a world where most glaciers are receding.
According to actual scientific data, the Perito Moreno Glacier is growing at a whopping rate of approximately 6.5 feet per day in some spots!
3. Where Is Perito Moreno Glacier Located?
The Glacier is located in Los Glaciares National Park, which is close to the southern border with Chile.
Many people mistake the location for Perito Moreno National Park or the town of Perito Moreno, which is almost 400 miles away from the Glacier. There have been stories of visitors who drove long hours only to end up in the wrong place.
If you want a reference point, the closest town to the Perito Moreno Glacier is El Calafate, but more on that later.
4. How To Get To The Perito Moreno Glacier
The easiest way to get to the Glacier is to rent a car and drive there. Car rentals can be as cheap as $35 in Argentina, and we even booked ourselves a comfortable sedan for $45 per day for our entire trip. Just make sure to pay in cash, as Argentina is experiencing Hyperinflation, and you’ll save money by paying the black market rate.
We rented a car at the El Calafate airport after searching on Discover Cars, and drove to the Perito Moreno Glacier. The drive from El Calafate to the Perito Moreno Glaciers takes about 1.20 hours. It’s best to type in Perito Moreno Glacier Walkways, Santa Cruz, Argentina into Google Maps and make the drive there. Having a car allowed us to get in early and explore the area at our leisure. We even managed to avoid most of the tourist crowd!
Public transport is also an option, and we saw a lot of visitors coming into El Calafate by bus and then taking a taxi to Los Glaciares National Park, which will cost around $100 one way.
You can also catch a bus from the main bus terminal in El Calafate. The bus ticket back to El Calafate from Perito Moreno is priced at approximately $30 USD.
For about $100+ you can book a full tour that will take you from El Calafate to the glacier that includes 1 Hour of navigation in front of Perito Moreno Glacier, hotel pick-up and drop-off, and a bilingual guide.
5. There’s Free Parking
A big worry when renting a car while traveling is parking fees around Patagonia. Luckily, there’s a very large parking lot right by the Glacier and even in other spots around Los Glaciares National Park. The best part is that it’s free!
6. When is The Best Time To Visit The Perito Moreno Glacier?
While Los Glaciares National Park is open all year round, the most enjoyable time of year is from November to March. This is summertime in Argentina; the weather is great and the surrounding scenery is most vibrant. All the photos in this article were taken at the very end of November.
However, this is also when most tourists visit the country, but there are ways of getting around that.
7. Perito Moreno Glacier Hours
From September to April, the timings at Los Glaciares National Park are 8 AM till 8 PM and 9 AM till 6 PM from May to August.
8. Entry Fees For The Perito Moreno Glacier
It is not free to visit Los Glaciares National Park. The entrance fee for visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier is $20 for adults, but this includes entry to the rest of Los Glaciares National Park too. Kids are more affordable with entry for those aged 6 to 16 only costing $3.
9. Exploring The Perito Moreno Glacier
There are many ways you can explore the Glacier. There are boat tours that will take large groups of people onto the lake and surrounding waters of the Glacier, giving you a close look at the Glacier cliffs and ice formations.
If you’re looking to be a bit more adventurous and connected with nature, kayak tours are also available. The most immersive experience while exploring, however, is hiking on the surface of the Glacier itself, which is a beyond-surreal experience. Walking on what feels like a large plateau of ice and seeing cold whiteness everywhere is just incredible!
10. An Elaborate Boardwalk Network
To give visitors the best experience possible, Los Glaciares National Park set up a network of boardwalks all around the Perito Moreno Glacier. In total, these boardwalks stretch 2.5 miles and offer incredible views of the Glacier. We spent a few hours on the boardwalk taking in the views and listening to glacier melt crash into the water.
You might be told that the Accessible and Central trails are the best boardwalks, but they’ll be crowded because everyone is going to head on over there. We can tell you from personal experience that no matter which boardwalk you use, you’re sure to find incredible views.
11. How Long Should You Dedicate To Exploring The Perito Moreno Glacier?
The Perito Moreno is a full-day trip, but if you’re in a rush still then you should at least dedicate 6 hours. The drive to and from El Calafate alone takes about 2.5 hours and properly exploring the boardwalks also takes the same amount of time.
That leaves you 2 hours to hike on the surface of the Glacier with a tour if you want, watch ice ruptures, or eat your meals.
12. Experience The Thrill Of Watching Ice Ruptures
Ice ruptures are incredible to watch and there are plenty of mini-ruptures happening at Perito Moreno Glacier every 30 to 60 minutes. Most of these happen during the afternoon and there are even a lot of viewing galleries around the entire site from where you can safely observe ice ruptures. If you miss one (and you’ll know as you’ll hear it), wait another 20-30 minutes for the next one!
13. Restaurants At The Perito Moreno Glacier
Considering it’s a glacier and located inside a wildlife national park, there aren’t many restaurants and eateries around the Perito Moreno Glacier. The only two restaurants in the area are ‘Natives of Patagonia’ and the aptly named ‘El Restó del Glaciar.’
Both restaurants offer incredible views of the Glacier and their food is pretty good too. We knew we would have an early start to the day so we took the chance to time our trip just right so we could visit both these places.
For lunch, we went to Natives of Patagonia and had some hot stew. This restaurant is open from 10:30 AM till 5 PM and we managed to reach around noon which was perfect as it wasn’t too busy and the service was excellent.
The menu had other items as well such as salads and sandwiches, but everything on offer sounded very hearty and the portion sizes were decent as well. Our lunch cost us around $40 and it kept us going for a while.
For early dinner, we chose El Restó del Glaciar as the gourmet cuisine sounded like a good way to end the day. The menu was a lot fancier than Native of Patagonia, with a fixed menu consisting of steak and salmon on offer.
This meal was a bit more expensive as well and we ended up paying almost $50. Also, if you decide to dine here then be sure to get here a bit early as the restaurant closes at 5 PM.
14. Things To Bring With You To The Perito Moreno Glacier
The most important thing to remember is a windbreaker since it gets very windy at the Perito Moreno Glacier and, combined with the cold, it can make for an unpleasant experience. Under your windbreaker, you should dress in layers to account for the changing temperatures as you reach the Glacier and explore around it. We visited during summer in Patagonia, and I still wore my Arc’teryx Cerium Down Jacket the whole time. Glaciers create their own climate and are often much colder than elsewhere.
Also make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses with you as reflections of the sun off the ice can hurt your eyes, especially if you go hiking on the surface of the Glacier. Rather than risk a headache because of the bright reflections, it’s much better to just bring a pair of sunglasses. Same goes for sunscreen! You can get burnt even in these temps, trust me, as my face was burnt in Antarctica.
Finally, wear shoes that have decent grip and make for comfortable walking. You’ll be walking a lot here and the wrong shoes will ruin your entire day.
15. Wheelchair Accessibility on the Boardwalk
While most of the Perito Moreno Glacier and Los Glaciares National Park are not wheelchair accessible, there are two major spots where wheelchair users can enjoy views and experience the surrounding beauty. The first is the Accessible Boardwalk, which is one of the most popular boardwalks because of the views it offers of the Glacier, and the parking lot next to ‘Natives of Patagonia’.
16. Bring Food With You
The options for food are scarce and expensive in this area, so you should consider bringing your own food, regardless of whether you decide to eat at the two local restaurants or not.
Many visitors might not be able to fit the prices of the restaurants into their budget, but that doesn’t change the experience at the Glacier in any way. The food at the restaurants might be good, but it’s not something you can’t miss.
Also, if you bring your own food, you’ve still got the backdrop of the Glacier and the surrounding natural beauty to enjoy with your meal.
Pack extra food though regardless. It’s going to be a long day and you’ll be walking around a lot so chances are you might get hungry a few times.
17. Another Natural Wonder Located Right Next Door
Lake Argentina, or Lago Argentino, is located south of the Perito Moreno Glacier and is another sight to behold. On some days, the water sparkles a brilliant shade of blue and it is surrounded by picturesque views of mountains and the Glacier.
If you’re visiting the area, be sure to stop here for some great views and Insta-worthy pictures. We didn’t miss the chance and captured some incredible shots, all while taking in the beautiful surrounding scenery.
18. Stay in El Calafate
This small vibrant town embodies many of the traits of Argentinian culture and society. There are lots of things to do around town, including an artisanal market with artworks by local artists, local craft beers for $2, and incredible Patagonian cuisine featuring delicious heavily meaty dishes.
We stayed in El Calafate and based ourselves out of here for three days while exploring the area. It’s in the center of all the action and less than 1.5 hours to Perito Moreno Glacier.
19. Explore The Rest Of Los Glaciares National Park
The home of the Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park is Argentina’s largest national park, measuring 2800 square miles. So, it’s no wonder there are so many natural attractions here.
In addition to the Perito Moreno Glacier, there is also Upsala Glacier, Spegazzini Glacier, Lake Viedma, and Viedma Glacier if you are feeling adventurous.
20. Can You Visit Without a Tour?
Yes! You can 100% visit the glacier on your own without a tour. This is exactly what we did as we had our own car. While a tour may have been more helpful for learning about the glacier, there are plenty of placards and signs around to help you understand what you are seeing.
However, a tour is never a bad idea, especially if you are a solo travel looking to meet some people or don’t have your own transport to get to the glacier.
- Perito Moreno Glacier Day Trip with Optional Boat Ride from El Calafate: This one takes you from El Calafate to the glacier where you will spend the whole day. Upgrade to include a boat ride close to the glacier front wall
- Full Day Tour to Perito Moreno Glacier with Navigation: This one includes the boat trip and leaves early from El Calafate!
- Full-Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier with optional Boat Safari: Includes all that you need it to plus optional boat ride on Argentino Lake.
21. You Can Walk on the Ice
There is one company that operates tours to take you actually onto the glacier. If you have never been on a glacier before, this is your chance to do it! Plus you can say you have walked on a GROWING glacier, while most are receding. There’s the Mini Trekking experience, as well as the Big Ice Trek.
Neither are cheap experiences, but both once in a lifetime!
Big Ice is a full day ice trek on the glacier, while Mini Trekking is two hours. Big Ice is more physically demanding than Mini Trekking, but both take up the entire day! Also, both provide transport from El Calafate.
22. You Can Kayak On a Tour!
Encounter the Perito Moreno Glacier in a way like never before—at water level. Yes, I’m talking about kayaking next to a growing glacier! Marvel at its extraordinary size, the resonating sounds, and the captivating movements in an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a kayaking novice or an experienced enthusiast, these guides will provide instructions on navigating the stunning glacial waters safely.
Don’t worry you’re equipped with essential gear including a Gore-Tex dry suit, thermal suit, boots, gloves, and a life jacket to ensure you don’t get chilly.Set off on a 1 hour and 30-minute kayaking excursion in front of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
23. Is Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier Worth It?
Yes, absolutely, 100 times over! We live near glaciers, and we had also just come from freaking Antarctica before we visiting Argentina. Even though we see glaciers in Western Canada all the time, and saw what feels like endless glacial activity in Antarctica, I still found the Perito Moreno Glacier incredibly impressive. I hope one day we get to return and see just how much it has grown!
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
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