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Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier is a bucket-list experience for most people. In fact, it’s easily one of the absolute best things to do in all of Patagonia and one of the best tours you will likely ever book.
This massive glacier is not only impressive in size, but also in activity. Many say that Perito Moreno Glacier is “alive” due to the constant chunks of ice falling from it’s towering glacial walls.
So, it really is no wonder that you also want to see Perito Moreno Glacier.
But which Perito Moreno Glacier tour is the best? Is it glacier hiking on top of Perito Moreno itself? What about a scenic cruise? Kayaking? Or, do you save the cash and visit completely on your own?
It’s a tough choice to make, I honestly don’t blame you for being confused.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Perito Moreno a few different times over the past couple of years, visiting both on organized tours and on my own.
In this blog, I’ll tell you all about the different Perito Moreno Glacier tours as well as help you choose the BEST one – you know, so you can have the best time possible!
About Perito Moreno Glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier is located in the Santa Cruz Provence of Argentina in Los Glaciares National Park. This huge chunk of ice is 1 of 48 glaciers that make up the Patagonia Ice Field (which is the 3rd largest ice field in the world only beaten by Antarctica and Greenland!)
The glacier was named by 19th-century explorer Perito Moreno, and in 1981, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In size, the glacier is 5 km (3.1 miles) wide and 30 km (19 miles) long occupying an area of 250 square kilometers (96 square miles).
From the water’s edge of Lake Argentino, Perito Moreno stands up to 74m (240ft) from the water and is 170 meters (560 ft) thick.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most unique glaciers in the world because of one reason… it’s still growing! Only 2 other glaciers in the world share this key fact that has baffled scientists and caused international attention.
Because of the glacial growth, the Perito Moreno Glacier is alive, and as the glacier grows and retreats huge chunks of ice break off and fall into the lake below. This movement makes the Perito Moreno Glacier one of the best glaciers to visit in the world and my personal favorite!
Perito Moreno Glacier Tours FAQs
Why Visit Perito Moreno Glacier on a Tour
Unless you have a rental car, getting to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate isn’t cheap even on the bus. In fact, when comparing the prices, for the few extra dollars you might as well join an organized tour where your guide will provide info for you to enjoy!
Perito Moreno Glacier tours also provide different experiences you cannot necessarily do on your own. For example, if you want to get up close to the glacier on a kayak then a guided kayaking tour is the only way to go. Glacier hiking is also only available with a registered guide (for safety reasons of course.)
After visiting Perito Moreno Glacier both independently and on tours, I personally recommend joining a tour. Perito Moreno Glacier tours are simply more thorough!
If you’re still not sold on a guided tour read my blog about how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier for all the practical info you should know about visiting without a tour!
3 Different Perito Moreno Glacier Tours
There are many different Perito Moreno Glacier tours you can do around and on the glacier. These tours offer a unique way to explore Perito Moreno and also usually include a visit to the boardwalk for just over an hour!
Below I have information on three very different Perito Moreno Glacier tours so you can choose the best one for you. They’re all great full-day tour options to make the most of your visit to Perito Moreno Glacier.
1. Perito Moreno Glacier Trekking Tours
From the boardwalk, you can see the glacier from pretty close, but the only way to actually touch the glacier is on a glacier trekking tour. The tour was always a “bucket-list experience” for me that I regretted not doing on my first visit here.
So when I returned the second time, I made sure I didn’t make the same mistake!
There are only two different glacier trekking tours you can do on Perito Moreno: Mini Trekking, and Big Ice. Both tours include round trip hotel pick up a drop off where you will take a 10-minute ferry ride where you will meet with your guide for gear and a breifing.
After that the fun begins! You’ll walk along the shoreline to the base of the glacier and with instructions from your guide you will begin to scale it to earn the epic views from the top.
The biggest difference between the two tours is the time spent on the glacier.
On the Mini Trekking tour you’ll spend about 1.5 hours on the actual glacier and on the Big Ice tour you’ll get 3.5 hours. The Mini Trek tour goes for around 10 hours total from pick up to drop off, whereas the Big Ice Trek is a 12-hour day.
If you want more info on the tours you can check out our blog about Perito Moreno Glacier trekking or use the comparison table below.
- Fitness level required: Moderate
- Price: $250 USD +
- Time spend on the glacier: 1.5 hours
- Time of year the tour operates: September to June
- Fitness level required: High
- Price: $500 USD +
- Time spend on the glacier: 4 hours
- Time of year the tour operates: September to May
I have personally done the Mini Trekking Perito Moreno Glacier tour and loved every minute of it! To me, it was more than enough time on the glacier and the perfect way to spend a few hours.
Tip: During the peak season of December to March these tours are booked full well in advance. It is important that you book your glacier trekking tour in advance to avoid missing out.
2. Perito Moreno Glacier Kayaking Tours
Another hands-on tour is Perito Moreno Glacier kayaking. This adventure tour will have you mere inches from the freezing cold water of the lake and paddling past icebergs.
Kayaking was definitely a tour I wanted to do, and if I could do it all I would have! However, watching the kayakers from the viewpoint was all I got to do – and let me tell you, I was extremely jealous!
Kayaking tours to the glacier can be booked either in a package that includes transport from El Calafate, or, at the glacier boardwalk in person once you get there (as long as it’s not already sold out.)
From El Calafate, a kayaking tour at Perito Moreno glacier costs around $350 USD including transport. It lasts for around 10 hours and includes time to enjoy the boardwalks on the shore. This particular kayaking tour includes all that I just mentioned and snack and hot drinks – a bonus!
3. Scenic Cruises at Perito Moreno
If you want to see the glacier in the most relaxing way possible then a scenic cruise is your best option. Of course, there are many different cruises available with the main difference between them all being how long the cruise is and how many glaciers you’ll get to see.
The shortest cruise leaves from the boardwalk area and only lasts for around 40 minutes to an hour. Cruises such as this one is a great short-but-sweet option that visits the Perito Moreno Glacier only before letting you walk around some of the different balconies and walkways for different views of the glacier. You can book it here in advance.
However, if you want a longer experience that explores more of the national park, then this 11-hour cruise that visits 3 glaciers and cruises to the north side of Los Glaciares National Park is a top seller. You will also get to enjoy a gourmet boxed lunch – the ideal day if you want to spend it relaxing out on the water! Don’t forget to book it here in advance!
Of course, because this cruise spends all day on the water you’ll have to come back the next day if you still want to visit the boardwalk too.
There is a heap of other cruise options you can check out here!
The BEST Perito Moreno Glacier Tour
So, what is the best Perito Moreno Glacier tour?
To be honest, this is totally a matter of personal opinion and it should differ from person to person.
However, if you want to know what I think is the best tour then I would have to say Mini Trekking. Not only do you get the closest to the glacier (because you actually walk on it), but you also enjoy a scenic cruise to where your glacier trekking begins – almost like a 2-for-1 deal!
Related Read: Find out when it’s the best time to visit Perito Moreno to avoid any crowds and see the most action on the glacier!
What to Pack to visit Perito Moreno
It’s best to pack lots of layers because the weather in Patagonia is so unpredictable. On a sunny day with winds, it can be very cold but without wind, it can be extremely hot!
It can also rain at any time so pack for any weather. Some other things to pack are:
- Sunglasses – The sun really reflects off the ice so sunglasses will come in handy (and on the glacier trekking are a must!)
- Sunscreen – Don’t be fooled by the cool temperatures, the sun here is really strong!
- Good shoes – There isn’t that much hiking to do on the boardwalk but comfortable walking shoes are a great idea.
- Water – You can fill up right from the lake if you want, but be sure to bring a large bottle filled with water just in case you don’t go to the lake’s edge.
- Lunch – There is a restaurant but expect to pay around $30 USD for lunch.
- Camera – That’s a no brainer!
- Cash – The restaurant does take card but just in case, some cash would be wise.
- Lip Balm – To save your lips from the wind, dry air, and sun.
- Rain jacket – the weather changes so quickly so it’s best to be prepared regardless of the forecast.
- Warm clothes – it can be super-hot or freezing cold, just be prepared.
Related Read: Make sure to read my guide on visiting Torres del Paine National Park in Chile before you go!
Where to Stay in El Calafate
Almost all of the Perito Moreno Glacier tours offer hotel pick-up in El Calafate. Below are some great places to stay in El Calafate if you want to visit Perito Moreno Glacier.
Budget Hostels in El Calafate
Hostel Lago Argentino – This hostel is a good cheap option that I have stayed at before. The hostel includes a nice breakfast, a large kitchen, and helpful staff. The location is also central!
Red House Hostel – This highly rated hostel comes at a really cheap price. The hostel is very well designed, clean, comfortable, and has a great social atmosphere.
Folk Hostel – This is one of the best budget hostels in El Calafate. It’s a great option (if it’s available.) The staff are amazing, the facilities are modern and clean, and the location is perfect!
Mid Budget Hotels
Posada Karut Josh – This small little hotel is located as close as you can get to the middle of town and Argentino Lake. It’s simple but clean and a great place to stay for those looking to be close to town.
Posada Larsen – A nice cozy hotel surrounded by mountains and a garden. There is a 24-hour help desk and they offer a traditional Patagonian breakfast. There are amazing reviews about the staff who go out of their way for guests.
Del Glaciar Libertador Hotel – Simple hotel located only 10 minutes from town. Includes a good breakfast and they also have an amazing social bar and restaurant.
Aparts Calafate Suites – This place rents self-contained apartments for optimal privacy. The apartments are modern, well furnished, and perfect for those wanting more comfort and quality in El Calafate.
Boutique Hotel La Cantera – If you really want a slice of luxury then this hotel is one of the best options. The building itself is stunning and the location and views are amazing. They serve a buffet breakfast and have their own restaurant and bar.
Related Read: Check out all of the epic things to do in El Calafate after your done with your glacier tour!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4-weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
World Nomads is a good option for anybody looking for fully comprehensive travel insurance including things like trip cancellation and adventure activities. They included coverage for over 250 different adventure activities, everything from snowboarding to whitewater rafting! You can also buy the insurance in advance in case your travel plans are interrupted, or, while you’re already on the road.
We’ve personally used both SafetyWing and World Nomads for different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive.)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
And there you have it – a complete guide to the best Perito Moreno Glacier Tours. I hope this blog has answered some questions you might’ve had and that now you’re ready to visit the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier!