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ULTIMATE Guide to “Mini Trekking” on Perito Moreno Glacier

ULTIMATE Guide to “Mini Trekking” on Perito Moreno Glacier

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Thinking about joining the Perito Moreno Mini Trekking tour? Well, I recently did the tour, and here is everything I wish I know before I went including what to expect, how to prepare, and my general review of the tour from start to finish! 

Having been to El Calafate and Perito Moreno once before and missing out on the infamous Perito Moreno glacier trekking, this time I just HAD to do it!

Skipping this amazing tour from El Calafate was one of Daniel and I’s biggest regrets from our last trip to Patagonia. 

So this time it was a no-brainer, we were going to go trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier – no questions asked! 

But when I went to book, it was all very confusing. There are dozens of “tour providers” online, there are different tours on offer, some longer than others, some with transfers from El Calafate, and it was just hard to know what to book and what to expect from a tour.  

Well, after going on the Mini Trekking tour on Perito Moreno for myself, I’ve found out all of the answers – and I’m going to share them with you here!

That way, you will know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. I’ll also answer the question on everyone’s mind, is it worth it?! 

What is glacier trekking on Perito Moreno? 

mini trekking on perito moreno glacier
Me, trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier on the Mini Trekking tour!

Glacier trekking is an activity where you can actually walk on top of a glacier.

Although generally a dangerous activity, in the right places with the right equipment and experienced guide it is extremely safe. in fact, it is one of the most popular Perito Moreno Glacier tours.

Glacier trekking is a way to touch the glacier, see Perito Moreno Glacier from a whole new viewpoint, as well as get close to massive crevasses. I mean, what could be cooler than walking on a massive chunk of ancient ice, right?! 

Why is Perito Moreno Glacier Trekking special? 

perito moreno glacier
Perito Moreno is one impressive glacier!

You can go glacier trekking on many glaciers all over the world and throughout Patagonia. However, Perito Moreno is a special glacier for glacier trekking as it is one of the most famous glaciers in the world! 

Stretching over 250 square kilometers, and standing up over 74 meters (243 ft) above the water’s surface, Perito Moreno is an impressive sight. This massive glacier is very active as it loses massive chunks of ice every few minutes putting on a show for spectators.

But what makes Perito Moreno unique is that the glacier actually grows just as fast as it recedes, meaning it isn’t shrinking overall (unlike most glaciers currently in the world).

And while most visitors only see Perito Moreno from the front boardwalk, those who choose to go out trekking on the glacier get a whole new perspective and actually get to walk on top of this amazing natural wonder!  

Perito Moreno Mini Trekking vs. Big Ice Tours

rock viewpoint over perito moreno
Looking out at Perito Moreno Glacier!

Despite what you may have seen online, there are actually ONLY TWO different tours you can choose between for glacier trekking on Perito Moreno. They are called Mini-Trekking and Big Ice.

Both tours are operated by the same company (the ONLY company that operates Perito Moreno glacier trekking tours).

The biggest difference between the two tours is the time spent on the actual glacier. Mini Trekking allows for 1.5 hours of walking on the glacier while the Big Ice tour allows for 3.5 hours. This makes the Big Ice tour also more physically demanding.

Mini Trekking on Perito Moreno is the most common tour people choose. It is cheaper, still a full-day activity, and suitable for almost all fitness levels offering a leisurely walk on the ice. People aged 10-65 can participate in glacier mini trekking as long as they have a moderate level of fitness.

Big Ice is more suited for those who don’t mind walking longer and on harder routes. It would be for those who want more of a thorough experience with better views. 

For us, it was the novelty of actually trekking on Perito Moreno that we were really after. So for that reason (and the cheaper price), we opted for the more popular Mini Trekking glacier tour.  

Here is a visual comparison of the two tours:

Mini Trekking:

  • Fitness level required: Moderate
  • Price: $300 USD +
  • Time on the glacier: 1.5 hours
  • Time of the year the tour operates: September-June

Big Ice:

  • Fitness level required: High
  • Price: $500 USD +
  • Time on the glacier: 3.5 hours
  • Time of the year the tour operates: September-May

You can book the exact same Mini Trekking Perito Moreno tour as us online in advance!

Related Read: Seeing the marble caves in Patagonia is one of the best hidden gems you can do in Chile!

Who is the Perito Moreno Mini Trekking experience for? 

mini trekking on perito moreno group
Our Mini Trekking group, following our guide around the glacier

Everybody! Okay, not really, but the tour is recommended for anybody between the ages of 10-65 with decent fitness levels. You will need to walk for 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace. There are some hills as well, but most people will find the experience very easy and enjoyable.  

On our tour, there were children as well as older people. Everyone had a smile on their face from beginning to end.  

What to Expect on the Perito Moreno Mini Trekking Tour – A Breakdown of the Day 

Here is exactly what you can expect based on what happened on our Mini Trekking Perito Moreno full-day tour

Hotel Pick-Up in El Calafate (around 7-8 am)

You will get picked up right from your hotel in El Calafate first thing in the morning. From El Calafate, you will drive a total of about 1.5 hours making a couple of stops along the way. First, you will stop at a viewpoint over Lago Argentino before entering Los Glaciares National Park.

At the Los Glaciares National Park, the bus will stop briefly and everyone will be asked to pay the park entrance fee (not included in the tour price.) The entrance fee is 4000 ARS (Argentine Pesos) or $23.50 USD per person. 

Note: Your first entrance fee is always 4000 ARS (Argentine Pesos) or $23.50 USD and the second time (if you decide to come back) 2000 ARS ($11.80 USD)! So, if you entered Los Glaciares National Park the day before and already paid the fee, be sure to tell the park ranger and provide your previous ticket as proof. Your second entrance fee will then be reduced to only 2000 pesos ($11.80)!

Arrival at Puerto Bajo Sombras (the dock)

puerto bajo sombras
Puerto Bajo Sombras, where our ferry took off from.

The bus will drop you off at the port just before 9 am. Here, you will have a few minutes to look around or use the bathroom before boarding your ferry! 

Note: If you have your own car, you can drive yourself to the port and get a discount on the tour price! This is what we did and it worked just fine and allowed us to hang out at the boardwalk longer than the tour buses once the glacier trekking was over.  

Scenic Ferry Ride 

ferry ride on brazo rico to reach the mini trekking starting point
Views from the boat!

This was one of my personal favorite parts of the whole Mini Trekking tour!  

Why?  

Well, it was so beautiful! The boat takes you across the lake Brazo Rico and you cruise right next to the glacier. To be honest, I had no idea a scenic boat cruise was included in this tour – and it was amazing!  

Although technically only a “ferry” the boat ride felt like a scenic cruise and lasted about half an hour. In fact, after having this ride I didn’t feel it was necessary to also book a scenic boat cruise! 

We had incredible views of the glacier. Specifically, we saw the side of the Perito Moreno that you can’t actually see from the boardwalk which was really neat.  

views pof perito moreno glacier from a boat
Gorgeous views!

Tip: When you board the boat, sit on the right side. This is the side that offers views of the glacier. Alternatively, as soon as the boat departs, you are allowed to stand up and go to the outside viewing deck. My advice is to jump up and get outside along the right-hand-side railing straight away. I’m sure you’ll be blown away! 

Arrival at the Lodge 

Once off the ferry, we arrived at a small lodge. Here, there were cubbies where we could leave our packed lunches and anything we weren’t going to need out on the ice. There are also bathrooms that the guides advised us to use.  

We were then divided into groups based on the languages we spoke. Our English-speaking group had about 20 people and we had two guides.  

Gearing up 

getting crampons put on for glacier trekking
Me, getting my crampons fitted!

Next, we walked about ten minutes to reach the edge of the glacier where we got geared up and ready to hit the ice! 

First, we were given helmets. We were also asked if we had gloves and anybody who didn’t was provided a pair. The gloves aren’t for the cold, but rather protection from the ice if you were to fall which can easily scrape up your skin.  

Finally, it was the fun part – crampons! Crampons are metal frames you strap to your hiking boots or runners. They have metal spikes on the bottom that dig into the glacier ice allowing you to have grip! Without crampons, the glacier would be nearly impossible to walk on. 

Dan and I have used crampons before, but many people on our tour never had. The guides actually strapped all of our crampons on for us and gave us a brief lesson before heading out onto the ice! 

Related Read: Like underrated attractions? Hiking Cerro Tronador is one of the best things to do in Bariloche, Argentina!

Glacier Trekking Time! 

trekking on perito moreno glacier in argentina
The glacier sure makes us look small!

Now, it was time for the fun part. We followed one guide in a single file line onto the glacier. The glacier meets the land in one section and here you can easily walk onto it.

I don’t want to give away all of it, but you will see deep blue crevasses (breaks in the glacier ice), deep pools of water, a small ice cave, and amazing views! 

We also were instructed to drink the water straight from the pools on the glacier, which I happily did! 

drinking glacier water from perito moreno glacier
Drinking pure glacier water – yum!

There were a few places that were dedicated “photo stops” where each of us took turns getting pictures. For the most part though, we moved pretty steadily along.  

The first guide always led the group while the second guide stayed at the back. The front guide provided information about the glacier as we went along. 

a deep blue crevasse on perito moreno glacier
A deep blue crevasse we had to walk over

The walk was fairly easy and felt safe. There were a couple of areas where we were instructed to be careful and a guide would help us step over a crevasse, but overall it felt 100% safe.  

Whiskey on glacier ice, anyone?! 

drinking whisky with glacier ice on the mini trekking perito moreno glacier tour
Don’t mind if I do!

When our glacier trek was over, it was time to celebrate! There was a table with glasses set up on right the glacier for us. Our guide went and collected a bowl of ice straight from the glacier and poured us each a rather large glass of whiskey over the Perito Moreno Glacier ice – it was a great way to end the glacier trekking. 

Lunch Break at the lodge 

walk between the lodge and perito moreno glacier trekking departure point
The walk between the lodge and the glacier is short but breathtaking.

After finishing our whiskey, we headed back off the glacier and took all of our gear off. Then, we walked back to the lodge where we had just over an hour to eat our lunch and explore.  

They do not provide lunch on this tour, it is very important that you pack your own as there is nowhere to buy it at this lunch stop.

There are tables both inside and outside of the lodge where you can eat your lunch with a view of the incredible Perito Moreno.  

After I finished my lunch, I did a bit of exploring up on top of a large rock and watched Perito Moreno Glacier and all of its movements (ice chunks falling) until the boat arrived. We then jumped on the ferry to return to the original port across the lake.

Related Read: Find out when the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier is to avoid the crowds and get great weather!

Exploring the Perito Moreno Boardwalk 

the perito moreno boardwalk
A small section of the boardwalk.

Once back at the bus, it is a short 10-minute drive to the famous Perito Moreno boardwalk. These boardwalks are how most people view Perito Moreno. There are over 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) of boardwalk stretching out over different viewpoints to see Perito Moreno.  

It is spectacular.  

Literally, you could find yourself on a bench and sit here for hours just watching massive chunks of ice break off the glacier face and splash into the water.  

So, on this Mini Trekking tour, it is great that they also include a stop for just over an hour at the boardwalk! This way, you don’t need to make a second trip out this way to check it out another day! 

Once at the boardwalk, you can choose a specific route to walk, or just wander aimlessly (like I did) until it is time to leave on the bus again.

Expect to be back in El Calafate around 5 pm.  

What does the Mini Trekking tour include (and not include?) 

crampons for walking on perito moreno glacier
The crampons we had to wear were supplied for us along with all other equipment.

There are a few things included in the Perito Moreno Mini Trekking tour, and a few things that aren’t.  

Included in the tour price are: 

  • Equipment – Crampons, gloves, and helmets.  
  • Guide – Bilingual, Spanish or English 
  • Boat ride – to cross Brazo Rico lake to the glacier trekking starting point and return 
  • Transport (optional) – Most tours include transport in the booking price, but a discount is offered if you don’t need to take the bus and drive yourself.  

Not included: 

  • Lunch – it is a long day so be sure to pack a lunch. There is nowhere to buy lunch at the lunch stop. 
  • Water – You can drink the water on the glacier but be sure to bring a bottle for before and after the glacier trekking.
  • Tip – If your guide is awesome, be sure to tip! It is customary in Argentina.  
  • National Park Entrance Fee – 4000 ARS per person or about $23.50 USD (as of September 2022). Tip: save your ticket stub if you plan to come back for a second consecutive day because your fee will be reduced to 2000 ARS ($11.80 USD).
  • Travel Insurance – For all of your travels you should have adequate travel insurance just in case of the unlikely event something happens. We personally use Safety Wing because of their amazing long-term pricing.

What should you pack for glacier Mini Trekking? 

hiking on perito moreno glacier
We had a very nice day without any wind or rain, but layers were still needed, and definitely sunglasses!

There are a few things you should be sure to bring with you when going glacier trekking on Perito Moreno, including: 

  • Sunglasses – these are a must! Even on a cloudy day, the ice can get bright and the weather changes very quickly in Patagonia.  
  • Rain jacket – in case it rains – duh! Even if it isn’t forecasted, it is better to be prepared.  
  • Layers of clothing – it can be very cold out on the glacier so be sure to wear layers to stay warm.  
  • Hat – a warm hat or ear covers to keep our ears warm as well as a sun hat to protect you from the sun. 
  • Lunch – lunch is not included so be sure to pack one.  
  • Hiking boots or runners – True story, there was a girl on my tour wearing UGG boots. She still managed to get crampons on them, but it definitely isn’t recommended. Hiking boots or runners are preferred.  
  • Sunscreen – the sun is harsh, especially when reflecting off of the ice, so sunscreen is a must.  
  • Gloves – they will provide you with gloves if you need them but you might as well wear your own if you have them.  
  • Camera – You can bring your camera out on the ice so you can remember all of the best moments.  

How much does a Perito Moreno Mini Trekking tour cost? 

Ah, the question that’s on everyone’s mind…

Prices do vary depending on the time of year and who you choose to book though (read below to book with the cheapest provider). However, expect to pay around $390 USD per person during peak season for the Mini Trekking. The Big Ice tour costs more at about $640 USD.  

As I said before, if you don’t need a transfer out to the port and back to El Calafate (have your own car) then you can expect to save about $40 USD per person off this price.  

How to book and which company to choose? 

While you can book in person at a tour office when you arrive in El Calafate, I don’t recommend it. Tours often sell out. To avoid missing out you really do need to book online in advance to secure your spot. You can book the exact same tour as us here with Viator, a trusted company operated by TripAdvisor.

Related Read: We have a guide that cover all the different ways on how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier.

Is it worth it? (My overall honest opinion and review) 

rock viewpoint over perito moreno
To me, this tour was worth every penny – just look at the views I had!

In short, yes.  

Sure, it is a lot of money for a one-day tour. But as I said, I missed out the last time I was in Patagonia and immediately regretted it. And now that I’ve actually experienced Mini Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier, I would highly recommend it.  

The truth is, it is a touristy activity. There will be a boatload of people doing the same tour as you and the tour groups aren’t exactly small. But with that said, it is still an amazing experience.  

The day is very structured and organized. The guides were friendly and informative and in terms of the overall operation of the tour, it was great.  

If you’ve never walked on a glacier before, then you need to. And in all honesty, there is no better glacier to experience glacier trekking than Perito Moreno (in my opinion anyway!)

It was truly a day I will remember for the rest of my life.  

Related Read: Glacier trekking is definitely one of our top Patagonia highlights, find out what our other favorite things to do in Patagonia are here!

Other Activities to do While in El Calafate

HAving fun at an ice bar
Dan and I having fun at the ice bar!
Bailey sits on a rock at Mount Fitz Roy Laguna de los Tres
Don’t rush seeing these views at Mt Fitz Roy!

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

Hostel Lago Argentino, El Calafate
Hostel Lago Argentino, 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.

Luxury hotels

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.

Planning your Trip to Patagonia

two people looking at king penguins in parque penguino rey chile
Dan and I, taking a selfie with King Penguins!

Accommodation in Patagonia

Booking accommodation is one of the biggest aspects of your trip, and we should know as we stay in a new hotel up to 40 times per year! Funny enough, we make 99% of these bookings on one website and that’s Booking.com – and there are a few reasons why we use this site!

Number one is the website is easy to use and sorts accommodation options. That takes the stress out of planning which honestly still affects us and we do it more than not.

Second, is the price guarantee. We have literally booked a hotel months before and then 1 week out found it cheaper (we always do a quick search) and they’ll match that price from anyone’s website including the hotels!

And third, is the Genius loyalty program. If you make a certain amount of bookings per year you get a Genius discount. We are level two geniuses because we make more than 5 a year. At participating hotels, we get things like free breakfast included, early check-in, and up to 15% off.

You can check out all their accommodation options throughout Patagonia!

Renting a car in Patagonia

Our rental car in Patagonia
Our rental car!

We enjoyed a rental car for our second trip to Patagonia – and wow, what a way to travel! But the best part was that we only paid $40 USD per day for a 5-person sedan!

But how? Well if you’re renting a car the cheapest company is Discover Cars. We often get questions from readers asking us if the website is fake because it seems too cheap!

If you do want to compare prices (and you should) do a quick search on Airport Car Rentals too. They’re another big competitor and each company often has its own deals to offer!

Tours in Patagonia

drinking glacier water from perito moreno glacier
Drinking pure glacier water on our glacier tour!

Tours are a tricky one. We love booking online because we can check reviews of that exact tour but they can be pricier than booking directly in person. So for this, we often do it 50/50 – half of the time in person and the other half of the time we book tours online in advance.

When we do book online we use Viator. This company offers the same service with different selections of tours and reviews on each tour.

Related Read: Flying into Santiago International Airport? Check out the best things to do in Santiago before you get there!

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading!

We’ve written tons more informative blogs about Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina, and Chile! We also have some particular favorites including these:

15 Absolute BEST Places to Visit in Argentina

Things to do in Punta Arenas

Things to know about renting a car in Patagonia

Torres del Paine Camping Guide

Like it? Pin it for later!

P S

Saturday 13th of April 2024

What month were you at the glacier? What was the temp then?

Destinationless Travel

Sunday 14th of April 2024

Hey,

We have been more than once but always in November and December. We had sunny weather and it was warm enough for long summer hiking pants and a wind breaker with long sleeve underlayer. If it is not sunny, you'll want warmer clothes so I suggest bringing layers.

Thanks Daniel

Mike

Tuesday 21st of November 2023

Thanks for this trip tips. I’m on budget and have only one question / how to get on this trail without paying over $300 organized tours? Can I just go myself and walk there ? Thanks

Destinationless Travel

Tuesday 21st of November 2023

Hey Mike,

You cannot get onto the glacier without a tour. You need a boat and it's also heavily restricted for safety reasons.

You can however see the glacier from he boardwalk without a tour.

Thanks Daniel

Belle

Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Do you think this would be safe for someone who is pregnant? About 10 weeks along? Thank you.

destinationlesstravel

Wednesday 10th of May 2023

Hey Belle,

Yes, the tour is very safe and the area they take you is easy to walk along.

Thanks Daniel

Dan

Friday 27th of January 2023

I'm also pretty shocked at how expensive this tour is compared to other similar tours I've taken in S America. Is it cheaper if you book on-site instead of in advance online? Are there any other options?

destinationlesstravel

Friday 27th of January 2023

Hey Dan,

I completely agree with you. This was the most expensive tour we took and prices have gone up significantly in the last two years. I'm not sure if this is due to government permits to access the glacier or price gouging by companies, but you really won't find a better deal in town. There are only a few companies that offer the tour.

Thanks Bailey

Ben

Sunday 8th of January 2023

I've noticed some substantial price differences between companies for mini trekking and I am wondering if there is much of a difference in the tours?

destinationlesstravel

Monday 9th of January 2023

Hey Ben,

Great question. To be honest, there isn't a huge difference (aside from tour length). Prices have just gone through the roof lately. Just make sure when you get a price, it is in USD. Inflation is out of control in Argentina and getting the price in USD is the best way to know what you are paying.

Hope this helps Daniel