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I have personally visited this glacier twice now and honestly, I would love to come back again – it’s just that breathtaking!
When it came to visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier for the second time, it was a breeze. I knew where to go, what to do, and how to do it for a very reasonable price. Plus, I had my own rental car which made getting to the glacier a breeze!
But, as you can imagine my first time didn’t go that way.
That’s why I’ve decided to write this blog about how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier. Because let’s face it, for most, it’s your first time here, and I want your experience to be as magical as mine!
Here’s a guide on how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier, and more specifically, how to get from El Calafate to Perito Moreno.
Where is Perito Moreno Glacier Located
Perito Moreno Glacier is located in the southern region of Patagonia in Los Glaciares National Park.
The closest town to Perito Moreno Glacier is El Calafate. El Calafate is a small touristic town is located only 80 km (50 mi) from the glacier and is the best place to stay to visit Perito Moreno. Besides visiting the glacier, there are lots of fun things to do in El Calafate and I recommend spending a couple of nights there to take it all in.
Despite what the name suggests, the town called “Perito Moreno” is located 595 kilometers (370 miles) north of the glacier and is not at all a good place to base yourself to explore the glacier.
Getting to El Calafate
To first step to getting to Perito Moreno Glacier is to get yourself to the town of El Calafate. El Calafate is easily reached by bus from the neighboring towns of El Chalten, Argentina, or Puerto Natales, Chile.
Both bus routes are common and although I recommend booking your ticket in advance during peak season (November to March) you should have plenty of choices when it comes to departure times.
For a little more freedom, consider renting a car and driving yourself. We rented a car in Patagonia for a couple of weeks and loved it! Plus, as you read further down in this blog you’ll realize that a rental car just makes things a whole lot easier in general.
Getting from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier
From El Calafate, it takes about 1 hour to reach the Los Glaciares National Park entrance gates by car. From there, it’s another 30 minutes to get to Perito Moreno Glacier via a paved, but a windy road.
There are many ways to get to the Perito Moreno Glacier but not all are equally as good. Of course, your decision will likely come down to budget, whether you are doing a tour, group size, and the overall experience you’re after.
Here are the 5 different ways to get from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier:
1. Rent a car and drive yourself
The first option is to rent a car and drive yourself. I personally chose this option the second time I visited Perito Moreno and loved it!
For one, I got to visit the glacier first thing in the morning when almost no one else was there (arguably the best time to visit Perito Moreno.) And two, I could stay as long as I wanted and had way more freedom overall!
Another benefit was that I actually saved money. The reason being is that I did the glacier Mini Trekking Tour on Perito Moreno and that tour offered transport at a cost of $32 USD extra per person. There were 4 of us so that would’ve cost us $128 USD extra!
My rental car only cost me $40 USD per day (over a 10-day rental).
There are some things to know about renting a car in Patagonia. Rental cars vary in price and depending on how far in advance you book it, the duration of booking, the season your visiting in, and the car you choose. The cheapest place I found was on Discover Cars. They also have great customer service!
On this website, you can compare hundreds of suppliers so you get the best deal. Airport Car Rentals is also a very safe and easy-to-use website!
For a one-day rental in town with 1.5 months’ notice, expect to pay around $60 USD. This is much cheaper than the bus, especially for a group of people.
My recommendation is to rent your car for a few days (or your whole trip like I did) so it’s not only cheaper, but you can check out some of the other awesome things to do in El Calafate!
Plus, what could be better than a Patagonia road trip?!
2. Take a taxi
The second option is to take a taxi to Perito Moreno from El Calafate. The first time I visited this is what I did and in my opinion, it’s a great way to get to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate!
Between 4 people, this will work out to cost about the same as the bus and a little more than the rental car. But the upside is that you’ll be able to take your time and visit at one of the less busy times (like first thing in the morning or the late afternoon) and won’t have to worry about driving.
You’ll have to negotiate the price and it will depend on how long you spend at the glacier, but expect to pay around $100 USD. I paid only $80 USD 3 years ago with a little tough bargaining.
This option won’t make sense if you’re planning on joining a cruise or trekking tour as the taxi driver will have the wait around for a long time and this will cost you significantly more. However, if you just want to walk the boardwalk for 2 hours or so then this is a good option.
3. Take the bus
The third option is to take the large buses from the main bus terminal in El Calafate. This option gives you the least amount of freedom but for a solo traveler or couple, it could be the cheapest and most convenient option.
The return bus ticket to Perito Moreno from El Calafate costs about $30 USD per person. There are various departure and return times to choose from. You can book your tickets directly at the bus terminal in El Calafate or through your hotel.
You can also book this shuttle bus from El Calafate to Perito Moreno online if you prefer to have your tickets secured in advance. Prices will vary based on the dates entered.
The cheapest option to get to Perito Moreno is to hitchhike. Of course, this option means you’re at the mercy of others but if you get onto the main highway out of El Calafate at around 7:30 am I am sure you will eventually find a ride.
Lots of people drive this way and almost all of them are going to Perito Moreno Glacier, so just make a sign so your intentions are clear and go for it!
Of course, make sure you allow lots of time on the way back so you don’t get stuck in the park.
5. Tours from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier
A very easy way to get to Perito Moreno Glacier and Los Glaciares National Park is on one of the organized tours from El Calafate. This way, you’ll get transport to the glacier as well as a knowledgeable guide to show you around.
Plus when you consider the price of the bus, you can actually get a full-day organized guided tour for only a few dollars more.
With this tour, you’ll be picked up from your hotel and transported from El Calafate to the National Park to meet your guide. From there you’ll be free to walk along the different trail balconies for view.
Next, you’ll be transported 6 km (3.7 mi) to the Bajo las Sombrasto pier where you’ll spend around 20 mins going across the Brazo Rico for stunning views of the glacier. Finally, the trekking part of the tour begins! You’ll put on your crampons and learn how to use them before beginning the glacier walk. After you’re finished a return trip back is included. You can reserve your spot on this tour here in advance.
Otherwise, you can simply choose a guided tour like this one that just goes from your hotel to the glacier boardwalks and viewpoints. The boat tour at the end is an optional upgrade activity making this tour very versatile depending on your budget and schedule.
Even though there is no trekking on this tour it is pretty much still a full-day activity and it is a bit cheaper than the glacier trekking one.
Note: this tour does not include is the admission price to enter Los Glaciares. It will be an additional fee of 4000 ARS or $23.50 USD (as of September 2022) which is the same one-time rate I mentioned below. It can only be paid in person with cash or by credit or debit card.
Related Read: Checkout what we feel to be the most amazing things to do in Patagonia!
Entrance Fees and Other Info About Los Glaciares National Park
The entrance fee (as of September 2022) to Los Glaciers National Park is 4000 ARS (Argentine Pesos) or $23.50 USD. This entrance fee is only valid for 1 day. However, your second consecutive day entrance fee is reduced to only 2000 ARS ($11.80 USD). This is only valid for the very next day (and then on the third, you will have to pay 4000 ARS again.)
The entrance fee can be paid in cash or with a credit or debit card at the national park entrance gate.
The gate to the national park opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm (summer) and 9 am to 4 pm (winter.) But, you can stay in the park for two hours after the last entrance time.
From the entrance gate, you are 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the glacier which takes around 30 minutes to drive due to the windy road. Along this road, there are also other viewpoints of the glacier that are clearly marked.
Please Note: Due to hyperinflation in Argentina, the entrance fees continue to rise in Argentine Pesos but more or less cost the same when converting to an international currency based on my visit from 3 years ago.
The Perito Moreno Viewpoint and Boardwalk
The most commonplace to see Perito Moreno Glacier is from the boardwalk, often referred to as “the viewpoint.” It is important to understand that these are the same thing.
If you take a taxi, bus, tour, or drive yourself this boardwalk will be your end destination to check out Perito Moreno. Even glacier trekking tours make a stop at this boardwalk before returning to El Calafate.
The Perito Moreno Boardwalk is not one small viewing platform, but rather a 4-kilometer-long (2.5 miles) stretch of boardwalk offering multiple viewing platforms all with different angles from which you can see the glacier.
Navigating the Perito Moreno Boardwalk
Once you arrive at the Perito Moreno Boardwalk/viewpoint, you’ll be dropped off at the north edge of the boardwalk in a large parking lot. On the map above you can see this area labeled as “Lower right side”.
From this parking lot, you have two options:
- Get on the boardwalk straight away and begin walking the blue track (on the map above) towards the yellow and black tracks. This walk is about 1.5-2 km long (0.9-1.24 mi).
- Take a free shuttle that will drive you to the “Upper left side” (labeled on the map) and begin exploring the boardwalk from there.
Please Note: Both of these options also work for getting back to the main car parking lot when you’re ready to leave.
All of the different colored paths link up one way or another and there are maps and information posted along the way so you won’t get lost.
In my opinion, the yellow and orange trails have the best views. So, if you’re short on time, consider skipping the blue and instead take the shuttle straight to the black and explore from there.
Other Activities to do While in El Calafate
Since you’ll most likely be staying in El Calafate while visiting Perito Moreno Glacier, there’s plenty more to see and do while you’re here. When I first visited, I didn’t realize how many amazing experiences there were! It took me another visit and really exploring the town to find out all the incredible activities to do in El Calafate. Here are just some of the things I love about this corner of the world.
- Eat! – The food in El Calafate is mouthwatering good. One dish you can’t leave without trying is the Lamb al Asador. La Zorra also makes great lamb stew in town. For a sweet treat, stop into one of the chocolatiers specializing in artisanal chocolate that’s locally made and really cheap. Chocolates Patagonia had some of my faves!
- Drink at an ice bar – For a cold one (literally!), head to a bar where everything, including your drinking glass, is made of ice. There are a couple ice bars in town and we really liked Yeti Ice Bar. For $28 USD, we had 30 minutes to drink as much as we wanted. It was definitely chilly, so that was the perfect amount of time before I was ready to warm up!
- Visit El Chalten – The drive from El Calafate to El Chalten is incredibly scenic, but the big draw is arguably the most beautiful hike in Patagonia with the trek to Mount Fitz Roy. You can drive yourself or plan for this tour if you want a day trip, although, this two-day tour is my personal recommendation so you aren’t rushed.
- Go to the Glaciarium – Even if you’re not a museum person, the Glaciarium Ice Museum is worth a stop. The outside even looks like a glacier! There are lots of interactive exhibits inside including a 3D movie and an ice bar made with glacier ice.
- See a fossil forest – Visiting La Leona Petrified Forest is a pretty amazing stop. In this fossilized forest, the trees have literally turned to stone! There are even dinosaur fossils among the petrified wood. So cool! The forest is on private land, so you’ll need to book this tour to see it.
Where to Stay in El Calafate
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! It’s also easy to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
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. You’ll want to book in advance on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Folk Hostel – This is one of the best budget hostels in El Calafate. It’s a great option (if it’s available). The staff is amazing, the facilities are modern and clean, and the location is perfect! Folk Hostel can also be booked on Hostelworld here or Booking.com.
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.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
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They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)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.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Thanks so much for visiting our travel blog! We really hope you found what you were looking for and now have all the info you need to enjoy an epic trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier!
Please, if you have any questions leave them below and we will get back to you!