Perito Moreno is one of the most spectacular, accessible and famous glaciers in the world. To see this wonder at the edge of a lake, among mountains, to hear the creaking of the ice as it advances, all this at the end of the world, is something you should not miss.
Its “numbers” are spectacular: 60 meters high over Argentino Lake, 50 km long, 4.5 km wide, 250 km2 of surface and 700 meters of advance per year.
It is located in the natural park Los Glaciares, in the Argentine Patagonian steppe. El Calafate is the nearest city, at 80 km, which in turn is 2,760 km from Buenos Aires.
In addition, due to its location on the shores of Argentino Lake, it is easy to access it, enjoy its views and, if you like the adventure a bit, do a trekking on the same glacier.
How to get to the city of El Calafate?
There are several options to get to this city, depending on the trip you are undertaking:
- From Buenos Aires: Air travel from the capital of Argentina. It is the most direct and fast way to get there.
- From Chile. The Perito Moreno is relatively close to the Torres del Paine (about 200 km). You can see these 2 natural wonders on the same trip.
- Via Puerto Natales (273 km). Travel by plane from Santiago to Puerto Natales. From there, cross the border and travel by car or coach to El Calafate.
- Via Punta Arenas (500 km). Travel by plane from Santiago to Punta Arenas. From there, cross the border and travel by car or coach to El Calafate. It is further away than Puerto Natales but has a better air connection.
We arrived from Punta Arenas, within our trip to Torres del Paine. It is difficult to find words to describe the sensation of traveling this inhospitable region in a 4×4 for 6 hours, with nothing around you, stopping to refuel in a town called Esperanza, in the middle of nowhere…
We leave you indicated the map of the area so that you can organize the best way your trip.
Accommodation in the city of El Calafate
It is a tourist site, you will have no problem finding accommodation. Prices vary from 20 euros for a hostel to 80 euros per person for a luxury hotel.
Rates and excursions in Perito Moreno
To visit the Perito Moreno you have to pay 500 pesos for the entrance to the Natural Park Los Glaciares, which will be dedicated entirely to the maintenance of the park.
The excursions that you can realize are:
- Minitrekking: Includes the boat trip, explanation of activity, small walk through the forest until reaching the base of the glacier and 1:30 hours tour by Perito Moreno. It does NOT include the entry ticket to the park.
- Long Trekking: Includes the boat trip, explanation of activity, small walk through the forest until reaching the base of the glacier and 3:30 hours tour by Perito Moreno. It does NOT include the entry ticket to the park.
- Boat Tour: Boat trip to see the front of the glacier. Duration of the tour: 1 hour.
We did the minitrekking with the main tour company, Hielo y Aventura, and we had a blast!
When is the best time to visit Perito Moreno?
The best time is between December 15 and end of February, which is when it is best time (austral summer). However, you can find temperatures quite low also in these dates. We went in early February and had temperatures of 2-5 degrees at night.
What clothes to wear?
The climate in Patagonia is very changing. It can be hot and cold, rain, snow and sunshine … all on the same day.
For this reason we recommend to wear several layers of clothes to adjust according to the heat or cold, as well as:
- Waterproof warm clothing.
- Food and water.
- Sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Gloves and cap.
- Trekking boots or waterproof footwear.
How to get to Perito Moreno?
The glacier is located 80 km from the city of El Calafate. To get there you can go with the mobility of an agency, by bus leaving from the terminal (companies Taqsa and RP) or in your vehicle (which is as we did).
It is a route in which you can enjoy the typical landscape of these latitudes: great plains, mountains in the distance and little vegetation.
Until a few kilometers to reach, at the edge of the road, you see this great glacier in the distance, surrounded by mountains and the shore of Argentino Lake.
We arrived at the boarding area, parked the 4×4 in the parking lot and went to look for our boat.
We set off on the boat and began the adventure enjoying the views of the lake, with its calm waters and mountains in the distance.
We went forward until we could see in the distance … the majestic Perito Moreno!
We were impressed by the 60-meter-high front, equivalent to a 20-story building. And this is the visible part, being below between 100 and 160 meters (depending on the area).
As we approached more we could appreciate in detail the whole front, with its impressive blocks of ice.
You can also see some glacier cave in its imposing front.
From this close position, we had the best views to contemplate some detachment of ice blocks… and we were lucky! Impressive the crunch that is heard when the ice breaks, see the tremendous block ice fall and how the water breaks … It generated a little wave, but without importance. The boat barely moved.
What an incredible combination of colors: lake, glacier and sky!
On one of the sides, we could see the remains of the so-called “Bridge”. This is formed with the advance of the ice and is destroyed by the pressure and the water flow of the lake from time to time (last times in 2008, 2012 and 2016).
Trekking in Perito Moreno
Once in the landing zone, we look for the guide hired by the agency to take us to the glacier.
Firstly, the guide explained how a glacier is formed, what features it has and how it glides up to the lake.
Unlike most glaciers in the world, its geographical location makes it less vulnerable to global warming. This is why year to year it grows, unlike other glaciers in other parts of the world (like the glaciers of the Alps).
The guide also indicated how to walk on the glacier and in what parts take more care to make the ride safely.
Once the explanation about the glacier and the route to follow is finished, we go through a wooded area to the base of the Glacier, from which we would begin the trek.
At the end of the road, and to the side of the glacier, we were provided with the necessary equipment: crampons (metal piece with sharp points not to slide on ice) and a ice ax. We were already equipped for the tour!
We stepped on ice for the first time, we turned around and could contemplate a splendid view of the lake, the mountains and the immense ice that makes up the glacier. What a great experience we were about to start!
We began to walk behind the guide, with a calm step, and feeling very small inside this immense ice tongue.
Already a little more to the interior of this glacier we find some stronger slope, but with the crampons and with the help of the guide we had no problem.
In this zone we already begin to contemplate capricious forms of nature carved in ice.
It is surprising the contrast of colors: dark blue of the sky, clear blue of the ice and mountains with their snowy peaks in the surroundings …
we walked a little longer, until we reached the end point of the walk. We made the last photos of this natural wonder and we returned by a different way of going, since …
… the guide had prepared us a surprise: Toast with Whiskey and Ice of the Perito Moreno Glacier!
A great experience. Totally recommend this hike on the glacier.
We left the crampons and the ice ax and headed to the rest area, where we would eat something to recover strength.
Even from this area there are good views of both the glacier and surrounding mountains (with Mount Pietrobelli as the highest point of the place with 2850 meters).
Once we rest, we cross by boat to the walkway area (at the beginning of the excursion).
It is in this area where you can see closer, and with better perspective, the Perito Moreno.
And with a good zoom, you can take photos of the impressive ice field of the glacier.
We never tired of admiring this natural beauty (and of taking photos). It really is one of the places to visit at least once in a lifetime.
We had been in the park for several hours, but they flew by. It was time to return and continue our trip to the Natural Park of Torres del Paine (Chile). We took the 4×4 and continued…
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Kiss and hugs.