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The Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia is one of the most spectacular glaciers in the whole world. And to top it off, it’s actually one of the very few glaciers that is still growing!
What’s awesome is this enormous glacier is super accessible. We’ve even hiked on the surface of the glacier itself. From the safety of the viewing platforms, we’ve watched ice rupture and fall into the gorgeous lake below. Trust me, you’ll want to add this amazing natural attraction to your Argentina bucket list.
However, the Perito Moreno Glacier is the kind of attraction that you really need to know about before you visit. Otherwise, you might not get the most out of your experience. I would know … I’ve visited this glacier twice, and the first time definitely wasn’t as smooth as the second.
So to help you out, I compiled all of my insider knowledge into this blog post. So if you want to know exactly what to do, what to expect, and the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier, keep reading. With the right planning, I’m certain you’ll have an amazing time – just like I did!
- 1. About Perito Moreno Glacier
- 2. Where is Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 3. When is the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 4. When is Perito Moreno Glacier open for visitors?
- 5. What facilities will you find at Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 6. How much is the entrance fee to Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 7. How do you get to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate?
- 8. Can you visit Perito Moreno Glacier without a tour?
- 9. Is there parking at Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 10. What are the best tours to Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 11. How long is the boardwalk at Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 12. What are the best things to do at Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 13. What to wear when visiting Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 14. How long do you need to visit Perito Moreno Glacier?
- 15. Is Perito Moreno Glacier boardwalk wheelchair friendly?
- 16. Tips to visit Perito Moreno Glacier
- 17. What are the best places to stay in El Calafate?
- 18. Is visiting Perito Moreno Glacier worth it?
- Other Activities to do While in El Calafate
- Planning your Trip to Argentina
- Renting a car in Argentina
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
1. About Perito Moreno Glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier is a HUGE glacier. It’s got a total area of around 250 square kilometers (96 square miles), making it larger than the city of Buenos Aires! It’s up to 70 meters (230 feet) tall in places – and it’s still growing fast, at a rate of around 2 meters (6.5 ft) per day.
You’ve heard of the 7 wonders of the world, but have you heard of Argentina’s? This country has its own set of 7 natural wonders, and the Perito Moreno Glacier tops the list! I really can’t stress enough just how incredible it is.
Scientists believe that the Perito Moreno glacier is around 18,000 years old, but it’s only been known to the Western world for a relatively short time.
Indigenous people knew about the glacier long before it became famous globally. However, the first non-Indigenous person to discover it was Juan Thomás Rogers, a Chilean navy captain who visited the glacier in 1879.
Rogers named the glacier “Francisco Gormaz” after another high-ranking naval officer. But in 1899, it was renamed “Perito Moreno” after Francisco Moreno, the famous Argentinian conservationist, scientist, and explorer. “Perito” means “expert” and Moreno played that role in several fields.
The glacier is also the third largest freshwater reserve on the planet, after the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Plus, it’s one of the biggest glaciers you can actually hike on.
Roughly once every five years, the Perito Moreno Glacier advances to the banks of Lago Argentino, creating a dam on the southern section of the lake. As a result, the water pressure rises until the ice ruptures and massive chunks fall! It’s pretty insane.
Now, you probably want to be far away when these huge ruptures happen. However, mini ruptures happen every 30 to 60 minutes on Perito Moreno glacier. You can (and should!) enjoy watching these safely during your visit. The best time is usually during the afternoon, but I’ll talk more about that later on!
There are a couple of different ways to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. The easiest is to visit “the viewpoint.” This is actually a 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) network of walkways with lots of balconies from which you can admire the glacier. Pretty much everyone who visits Perito Moreno checks out the walkways!
2. Where is Perito Moreno Glacier?
Okay, let’s get one thing straight: the Perito Moreno Glacier is NOT in the town of Perito Moreno. In fact, it’s nowhere near it!
The closest town to the Perito Moreno Glacier is El Calafate, which is known as the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park.
However, I also really like the town in its own right. There are many fun things to do in El Calafate, with my highlight being drinking in a bar made out of glacier ice. You can also visit a toy museum and a traditional ranch. But of course, Perito Moreno remains the top attraction!
There’s an international airport, Comandante Armando Tol, about 21 km (13 mi) from El Calafate. Flying here is usually the best and fastest way to reach the town.
El Calafate itself is located about 80 km (50 mi) from the Perito Moreno Glacier. When we went, it was roughly an hour’s drive.
3. When is the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier?
Technically, the glacier is open year-round. However, the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier is from November to March. Since this is late fall through summer, you can expect more enjoyable weather.
To avoid crowds, the best time of day to visit is early in the morning. The park opens at 8 am in summer and 9 am in winter. If you arrive at this time, you might be able to get the boardwalk to yourself (even during peak season!).
If you can’t get there early, I’d suggest going after 2 pm when the crowd begins to die down.
Related Read: For more stunning wildlife in Argentina, visit Puerto Madryn. You can read my guide with the best things to do in Puerto Madryn here!
4. When is Perito Moreno Glacier open for visitors?
In the summer (September – April), Los Glaciares National Park is open from 8 am until 8 pm. In winter (May – August), it’s open from 9 am until 6 pm. However, the last entry is 2 hours before closing time. So, the latest you can enter the park is 6 pm in summer and 4 pm in winter.
One good tip to remember is that the glacier is super quiet for the first hour after the park opens (before all of the tour buses start arriving!). This first quiet hour was one of my favorite things about visiting the glacier. I’d highly recommend getting here at this time!
5. What facilities will you find at Perito Moreno Glacier?
As you’d probably expect, there aren’t a ton of facilities around the Perito Moreno Glacier – it’s pretty wild.
With that being said, there are a couple of restaurants around here, including El Resto del Glacier and Natives of Patagonia. These tend to be pretty pricey, so I do recommend bringing your own food if you’re on a budget. However, they’re good in terms of convenience … and they offer amazing views!
There is a big free parking lot here. There are also restrooms nearby, which you can use for free.
6. How much is the entrance fee to Perito Moreno Glacier?
Okay, so one thing you need to know about traveling to different places in Argentina is that the inflation here is crazy. I’m talking about over a 100% year-on-year inflation rate, so prices rise all the time.
However, when you convert to USD or another currency, the price stays roughly the same. As such, it doesn’t really affect travelers who are converting from other currencies.
You will need to pay for the entry fee (and most expenses other than hotels and tours) in Argentine pesos (ARS), though. Some countries do use USD on the ground instead of their official currency, but Argentina isn’t one of them! You can pay with either cash, a credit card, or a debit card at the gate.
Another thing to know is that there are two exchange rates going on in Argentina. There’s the official exchange rate and then the “blue” or MEP exchange rate (which is about double the official rate).
You can get this better exchange rate by bringing USD to Argentina and, visiting a currency exchange shop, sending money via Western Union.
More recently, Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards are offering rates almost at the blue rate. In fact, American Express has even started offering the blue rate, but not a lot of people know this yet!
The entrance fee for Los Glaciares National Park is around $20 USD per adult or $3 USD for kids aged 6-16 (according to the blue rate). As of September 2023, that means about 10,000 ARS for adults and 1,500 ARS for kids. But due to inflation, the rate of Argentine pesos may change very quickly.
We wouldn’t worry too much, though. The “blue” exchange rate is adjusted along with inflation, so the price in dollars will remain pretty much the same. You can check current rates for both the official and blue exchange rates online here.
7. How do you get to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate?
Once in El Calafate, you’re just an hour’s drive from the Los Glaciares National Park entrance. From the entrance, it’s an additional hour to reach the Perito Moreno Glacier walkways.
There are several ways to get from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier.
Rent a car
One way to get here is to rent a car and drive yourself.
The second time I visited Perito Moreno Glacier, I did this and loved it. I was able to arrive at the glacier early in the morning, beating the tour buses and avoiding crowds. And for a 10-day rental, I only spent $40 USD per day!
However, rental prices will depend on the season, type of car, and how far in advance you book. I’ve found Discover Cars has great prices and customer service. Airport Car Rentals is also a safe bet when booking rentals.
Take a taxi
You can take a taxi roundtrip from El Calafate and ask the driver to wait while you explore the walkways.
You’ll need to negotiate a bit, and most people end up paying $100 USD for the whole cab. If you’re traveling with 4 people, this works out roughly the same as the bus (but more expensive than renting). When we went, I negotiated down to about $80 USD total – but it wasn’t easy!
Take a bus
There are buses heading between El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier all throughout the day. Buses depart from the main bus terminal in El Calafate. You can buy your ticket here or through your hotel, and they cost roughly $30 USD.
You can also purchase a shuttle bus ticket online. This can cost anywhere between $55-$120 USD, depending on your dates.
Hitchhiking is fairly common in this area, and it’s definitely the cheapest way to get to the glacier! I’d recommend heading to the main road (Highway 11) early in the morning. Since lots of people are driving to Perito Moreno Glacier, you’re bound to get picked up eventually. Just allow plenty of time to get there and back (you don’t want to get stuck overnight!).
Take a tour
There are several tours of Perito Moreno Glacier that include roundtrip transportation. They also can include fun activities that get you closer to the glacier itself (like cruises or trekking!). If you’re interested in tours, keep reading. I’ll go over our favorite tour options further down!
Related Read: If you love hitchhiking while traveling, check out our guide on hitchhiking through Chile!
8. Can you visit Perito Moreno Glacier without a tour?
Yes, but you’ll still need transport between El Calafate and the glacier since the two are around 80 kilometers (50 miles) apart. You can get there without a tour by taking a taxi, renting a car, hitchhiking, or taking the bus.
I’ve both rented a car and taken a taxi to Perito Moreno Glacier, and both were great options.
Taking a taxi is a good option if you’re in a group, as you can split the cost and just want to spend a few hours wandering the boardwalk. But overall, I think driving is the best way because you can spend as long as you want exploring!
9. Is there parking at Perito Moreno Glacier?
Yes, there’s a large free parking lot at the Perito Moreno Glacier. But remember that the glacier is a very popular tourist destination, so it does get full! If you want to drive yourself to the glacier, make sure that you arrive early in the morning.
Otherwise, it’s best to save your visit for later in the afternoon. The glacier is at its busiest around 10 am to 2 pm.
10. What are the best tours to Perito Moreno Glacier?
Tours are an amazing way to see and learn about the glacier. They also help you access parts of the glacier you wouldn’t be able to on your own. And if you didn’t rent a car, many tours from El Calafate offer roundtrip transportation.
Since this glacier gets many visitors, there are several tours to choose from. Below are our top four choices!
Note: All tours exclude the mandatory entry fee to Los Glaciares National Park, which must be paid on the day of your arrival. When we went, the entry fee was the equivalent of $20 USD per person (according to the blue rate) and was paid in Argentine pesos. You can check the current entry fee here and rates for both the official and blue exchange rates online here.
Minitrekking Excursion on Perito Moreno Glacier
One of the best things about visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier is that you can actually go trekking on its surface! We did this Minitrekking Excursion Tour and absolutely loved it!
This is a full-day adventure that allows you to see the glacier from multiple angles. After driving to Los Glaciers National Park, you’ll stroll along the boardwalk. This is where almost everyone goes when visiting the glacier. However, you’ll see so much more!
On this tour, we also took a scenic boat ride to the starting point for your trek. Here, we got a basic briefing and learn how to use your crampons (which is very useful if you’ve never trekked with them before!).
Then, we spent 1.5 hours trekking on the surface of the glacier itself. This was truly a phenomenal experience and one of my favorite hikes in South America. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to walk the surface of a glacier – here’s your opportunity!
You can book the tour with transport for $390 USD per person, and it will include roundtrip transit, all equipment, and your guides. They’ll pick you up around 8 am from major hotels in El Calafate. If you’re staying in a private Airbnb or a smaller B&B, you can choose from the list of meeting points.
If you prefer renting a car, then you can also book the tour without transport to save money. This costs $250 USD per person, so there’s a $140 USD difference. If you’re traveling with others, renting a car and doing the tour this way could save you a fair bit of money, so I think this is really worth considering.
This is one of only two tours that let you actually touch the glacier’s surface. So if that’s something you’re excited about, don’t hesitate to book! You can book the tour with transportation here or opt for the tour without transport here!
Full-Day Tour to Perito Moreno Glacier with Navigation
I love that this full-day tour manages to beat the crowds. Even though it includes hotel pick up and drop off, you’ll still arrive at the Perito Moreno Glacier before the bulk of the other tourists. This gives you time to explore the walkway in peace. My favorite memory of this glacier was getting there early enough to enjoy it quietly – so this is a big advantage in my opinion!
Plus, it includes a 1-hour scenic navigation cruise! After wandering the walkways, you’ll hop aboard a sailing tour around the south face of the glacier. As you sail, your guide will teach you lots of interesting facts about the history of the glacier. These guides are super friendly and really bring the glacier alive with their fun facts and delivery.
Not only is this tour educational, but it offers some seriously stunning views. It’s also a great way to see a lot in a relatively short space of time.
This tour costs $139 USD per person and lasts for about eight hours in total, including travel time from El Calafate. It covers your bilingual guide, all transportation, and the cruise.
If you’re not into trekking but want to get close to the glacier – this tour is for you! It’s also a budget-friendly option. However, it does sell out fast! So for a memorable experience, secure your spot online here!
Perito Moreno Glacier Day Trip
This Perito Moreno Glacier Tour gets great ratings because of its amazing guides. They keep things exciting by sharing lots of info on the drive over, which really builds up the suspense! And once you see the glacier – it doesn’t disappoint. You get an awesome tour of the walkways, with the option to add a boat ride.
This tour takes you over the various walkways. Here, the guide will teach you all about the flora, fauna, and geology of Los Glaciares National Park. They’ll also point out the best photo opps – so bring your camera!
The basic tour starts at $117 USD per person, including roundtrip transport from major hotels and your guides (excluding the entry fee). However, I’d definitely recommend upgrading with a 1-hour boat ride. For an additional $83 USD, you can sail around the glacier’s south face, seeing this natural wonder from a completely different angle.
This option is the quintessential tour of Perito Moreno Glacier – and makes for a stress-free trip! So if don’t want to worry about logistics, book this tour online here!
Kayak experience through the Perito Moreno Glacier
Kayaking is always a fun experience – but kayaking past icebergs is truly next level. We haven’t had a chance to try this Perito Moreno Glacier Kayaking Experience YET. However, we got serious FOMO hearing about it from others. I mean, just look at the photo above!
Like all of the tours we’ve mentioned, you’ll first explore the walkways taking in the glacier from across the water. Then, you’ll head to Lago Argentino to embark on your kayaking adventure.
When I say “adventure,” I mean it. This is an amazing way to experience the Perito Moreno Glacier, and the best part is that you get close enough to actually feel the impact of the glacier’s movement! Believe me, if you’re a fan of novel experiences, this full-day tour is meant for you!
Lunch, hot drinks, and snacks are included, which is a great bonus because food can be expensive around here! Most other tours don’t provide food, so this option really has you covered! Plus, all of your equipment is included (a Gore-Tex dry suit and thermals), which saves you money on pricey gear.
This tour costs $350 USD per person, and there’s a minimum age limit of 14 years old. You get around 2 hours to explore the walkways, and you’ll spend around 1.5 hours kayaking. Pickup and drop off from central hotels in El Calafate are included, so you don’t need to worry about transport.
However, tour dates are limited. So for an all-inclusive kayaking adventure, check availability and secure your spot online here!
Related Read: If you love tours, read about the best tours in Buenos Aires, Argentina. These are all vouched for by locals, so you can rest assured they offer only the best experiences!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
11. How long is the boardwalk at Perito Moreno Glacier?
So, there’s not really one long boardwalk along the glacier, but rather a network of boardwalks that are about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long in total.
There are maps displayed in the park that are useful, but they really overestimate the time you need to walk each trail. The truth is, you can do them all in an hour!
The busiest paths are the Central and Accessible trails. They’re pretty short (at 600 meters and 565 meters, respectively), offer incredible views, and are wheelchair-accessible. They both take you from the parking lot to the glacier and then connect to other trails.
Naturally, these are the two most popular trails and are almost always busy. However, you’ll definitely see fewer crowds if you check out the other trails.
The Coast Trail is 1.1 km (0.7 mi) long, while the Wood Trail is about half a kilometer (0.4 mi).
However, my favorite one is the Lower Trail. Since it’s marked as difficult, lots of tourists choose to skip it. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s actually no more difficult than any of the others! It’s a 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) loop, and the sign says it’ll take you 75 minutes, but in reality, it’s more like 20.
12. What are the best things to do at Perito Moreno Glacier?
Minitrekking Glacier Tour
Admiring the glacier from the walkways is amazing. But trekking on its surface took my visit to a whole new level!
This Perito Moreno Mini Trekking Tour allows you to see the glacier in three different ways: from the walkways, from a boat, and by trekking on it!
I keep saying it, but trekking on the surface of a glacier really is the experience of a lifetime, and I can’t recommend it enough. The Perito Moreno Glacier is absolutely stunning, and the trekking really isn’t difficult. Plus, the guides are super supportive and will be on hand to make sure everything goes smoothly.
The guides will set you up with crampons and go over what to expect. I felt super comfortable and confident before heading out. Then, you’ll have 1.5 hours to trek over the glorious glacier! We even stopped to enjoy some scotch on glacier rocks!
I really felt close to the glacier on this active tour and was able to see it from all angles. Aside from the ice hiking, we also did the classic stroll around the boardwalks and took a boat ride. Trust us, if you’re an outdoor adventurer like us, you’ll absolutely love it!
The price of the tour depends on when you book, but it’s typically around $320 USD if you choose to join at the meeting point near Perito Moreno Glacier. You can add on round-trip transport from El Calafate for an extra $45 USD. There’s a minimum age of 8 and a maximum age of 65 on this tour, so it could also be a great experience for families with older children. Tours last around 5-11 hours, with different departure times between 7 am – 3 pm.
You can’t get closer to the glacier than hiking on it! So for the ultimate Perito Moreno experience, book your tour online here!
Big Ice Glacier Tour
The mini trekking experience gives you about 1.5 hours of trekking on the glacier. But if you really want to go all out, opt for this Big Ice Tour. You’ll have 4 whole hours to walk on its frozen surface, covering lots of glacier ground!
You’ll start with a boat ride across Lago Argentino, inching closer and closer to this natural wonder! Then, you’ll secure your crampons and step out on the glacier’s surface. Trust me, this is a hike that you’ll never ever forget. You’ll explore ice caves, crevasses, and even waterfalls!
This tour is super well organized, and everything runs like clockwork. Plus, the guides will teach you all about the history, geology, and ecology of the glacier as you go. You’ll come away feeling like a true glaciologist. I also like that there are 10 people in a group at most, so you’ll have lots of opportunities to ask questions.
This full-day tour is for adults only (ages 18-50) since it’s more physically demanding than the mini trek. You need to be relatively fit since you’ll be trekking for hours. Make sure to dress weather-appropriate for hiking on a glacier and bring your own packed lunch, water, and snacks – there aren’t exactly dining options on the top of a glacier!
It’s definitely not a cheap tour at $1,372 USD per person. But if can afford it – I say go for it! It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plus, the price includes all of your gear and round-trip transportation from El Calafate. You can expect to be picked up around 7 am from your hotel to embark on this epic 12-hour adventure.
If you’re an avid hiker, there’s nothing quite like a glacier trek! So check availability and book your tour online here.
Go on a boat tour
This boat tour is another fantastic way to view the Perito Moreno Glacier. You can sit back, relax, and admire the majestic south face of the glacier while your guide will provide interesting commentary. It’s one of those experiences that makes you feel tiny and sends shivers down your spine (and not just because of the cold).
This full-day tour isn’t just a boat ride, though! Aside from the hour-long boat ride, you’ll have 2 hours to explore the walkways and get return transport from El Calafate. Honestly, for $139 USD per person, I think it’s really good value for money.
It’s an 8-hour tour starting around 9 am, which feels like the perfect pace. You have just the right amount of time to do everything without feeling rushed or waiting around. Tours are limited to 20 people, so you get an intimate experience for a bargain!
To take advantage of this awesome deal, book this boat ride and guided tour online here!
Enjoy a meal at Natives of Patagonia or Restó del Glaciar Perito Moreno
There are two restaurants at Perito Moreno Glacier: Natives of Patagonia and Restó del Glacier Perito Moreno.
The draw at both of these restaurants is really the views and the convenience since there isn’t anywhere else to eat nearby!
Natives of Patagonia has amazing views of the glacier if you can get close to the window. They offer salads, sandwiches, and a few hearty stews, which is just what you need when you’re dining next to a glacier!
The restaurant is open from 10:30 am until 5 pm daily. The prices in pesos change regularly due to inflation, but you’re looking at spending at least $15 USD on a meal here. To make a reservation, you can email them at email@example.com. I’d recommend this if you’re heading there around midday.
Personally, I think El Restó del Glaciar is the nicer of the two options. Again, you’ll get excellent views here as you dine on gourmet cuisine. When we visited, we enjoyed a set menu that included local specialty starters, grilled salmon or steak, and a glass of whiskey with ice taken straight from the glacier!
Depending on what you order, lunch here will cost around $20 USD. El Restó del Glaciar is open daily from 10:30 am to 5 pm, and I’d recommend making a reservation just to be safe.
To be honest, both of these restaurants are pretty expensive in relation to most places in Argentina, but you’re really paying for the view. I mean, how often do you get to eat a meal while staring straight at a huge glacier?
Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier was incredible, but I still got serious envy watching the kayakers. And when I go back, I’m definitely doing this Kayaking Experience Tour.
You get 1.5 hours to kayak along the south face of the glacier. You’ll be paddling past icebergs, looking up at the ginormous glacier from the water – which must be a breathtaking sight! And there’s no need to be nervous. The guides give you a briefing, sharing lots of useful info and making you feel super comfortable before heading out.
While kayaking sounds like the highlight, it’s not the only activity on this small-group tour. You also get two hours to explore the walkways, which is more than enough to see everything from the land. Plus, the tour includes lunch and snacks (which aren’t covered on most tours here).
All of your gear will be provided for you, including a dry suit, thermals, boots, and gloves, so you don’t need to worry about getting too cold. And you don’t need any prior kayaking experience. Beginners are welcome – and wow – it would be a pretty epic first kayaking trip!
Round-trip transport from El Calafate is included, so literally, everything is taken care of for you! It’s a full-day adventure, and pick-up starts around 8 am. There’s a minimum age of 14, so it’s suitable for families with teens. Also, there’s a maximum of 10 people per group, giving you a much more personalized experience.
The tour costs $350 USD per person (excluding the national park entry fee). Seeing this glacier from the water level is definitely on my bucket list. And since this tour has limited dates and small groups, I’d book it well in advance online here!
Watch huge chunks of ice fall from the glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier ruptures at least once per hour – and sometimes several times! Don’t worry, though, these ruptures are only classed as “mini” (although the chunks of ice that fall are pretty huge!).
If you spend an hour exploring the boardwalks or take a Perito Moreno Glacier tour, you’ll definitely see a mini rupture. When we did, it was pretty exciting, and I did get a slight rush of adrenaline just from watching. Believe me, it’s an amazing thing to witness!
13. What to wear when visiting Perito Moreno Glacier?
It gets super windy at the Perito Moreno Glacier, so a windbreaker is a must! In the summer, a light jacket is okay. But in the winter, you’ll need something thicker and more substantial, like a parka.
Even if it’s warm when you leave El Calafate, it will be cooler at the glacier. I mean – it is made entirely of snow and ice!
The weather is pretty unpredictable and can change throughout the day, so layers are a must. I’d wear some extra layers underneath your windbreaker, such as a T-shirt, plus a sweatshirt or hoodie. Make sure to bring a hat, too – especially if you’re going to trek on the glacier!
Sunglasses are absolutely essential! Even though the weather is often cloudy, the light reflecting off the glacier is pretty bright. Without sunglasses, it can actually hurt your eyes. Plus, you’ll get a headache from squinting for hours.
if you have them, polarized sunglasses are a really good idea. They’re great at reducing the glare off of the ice and water. But whatever sunnies you go for, make sure they have good UV protection.
In a similar vein, sunscreen is a must because you can easily get burned from the sun reflecting off of the ice or the water. There’s also not much shade on the walkways at midday. And when it’s windy, you often don’t realize that you’re burning until it’s too late. I recommend a high SPF to be safe.
If you’re going trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier, comfortable shoes or hiking boots are an absolute must!
Even if you’re sticking to the walkways, you need to wear closed-toe shoes that are suitable for walking a few kilometers/miles. If you’re going to trek on the glacier, then hiking boots are a good idea. However, you’ll probably be fine with running shoes since the tour company will provide you with crampons. When I went, I also wore thick socks – which kept my feet warm and comfy.
Related Read: If you’re a planner (like me!) and considering a trip to Iguazu, here is everything you need to know before visiting Iguazu Falls.
14. How long do you need to visit Perito Moreno Glacier?
At least four hours, but ideally longer.
You’ll need two hours to travel roundtrip from El Calafate. Then, you’ll want at least 1-2 hours to explore the walkways without feeling too rushed. Plus, you don’t want to miss seeing the mini-ruptures, either!
But if you ask me, I’d recommend allocating at least six hours to visit Perito Moreno Glacier. This will give you time to explore the viewpoint and enjoy an experience (like kayaking, mini-trekking, or a boat ride). This will allow you to see the glacier from more than one perspective – which is well worth it!
15. Is Perito Moreno Glacier boardwalk wheelchair friendly?
Wheelchair users can see the glacier by taking the Accessible walkway from the parking lot. Also, you can park next to the Natives of Patagonia restaurant and enjoy the views from there, too. However, a lot of the experiences we mentioned aren’t suitable for wheelchair users.
16. Tips to visit Perito Moreno Glacier
As we mentioned, the weather at Perito Moreno Glacier can be unpredictable. You’ll need to wear layers you can easily remove and put on again. I recommend a T-shirt followed by a warm layer like a sweatshirt, and then a windbreaker or a thicker waterproof coat (if you’re visiting close to winter).
Visit in the morning
When I did my mini-trek on the glacier, we parked as soon as the park opened – and it was fantastic. This is the quietest time to visit. Exploring the boardwalk without the crowds is a super special and peaceful experience – and worth getting up slightly earlier! It makes you appreciate the majestic beauty of this glacier so much more.
Plus, when you visit in the morning, the sun is behind you, which is amazing for photographs. The lack of crowds also means you can capture some beautiful, unobstructed photos.
Don’t walk on the glacier without sunglasses
You know how all skiers wear sunglasses to protect their eyes? Well, the same rule goes when you’re walking on the surface of a glacier.
Ice reflects very bright light, so if you walk on the glacier without sunglasses, you’ll definitely regret it. Trust me, I took my sunglasses off for a second and immediately felt the burn!
Not only will sunglasses protect your eyes from damage, but they’ll make your experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
Either bring food or be prepared to pay high prices
Food is pretty expensive at the restaurants by the glacier. So, bringing a packed lunch is a good way to save money.
Plus, you can eat it on the glacier if you do the Big Ice Trek. There’s nothing quite like picnicking on the top of a glacier! You can even bring some Argentinian wine to enjoy while you admire the views (assuming you’re not driving!).
Obviously, you can still choose to go to one of the restaurants. They have spectacular views – but bear in mind that you’ll pay a premium for them.
You can use your credit or debit card to pay for most things at Perito Moreno (and you’ll still get a much better exchange rate than the official one). However, you still get the best value for money by paying in cash.
Argentina is also a very cash-based society, and cash is generally preferred. It just makes life easier. And in some places, you even get a discount for paying with cash!
Plus, many tour operators request that you bring cash to pay for the national park entrance fee. This isn’t covered in the price of the tours, and when I went, it was roughly $20 USD (at the blue rate).
Take your time, you can see some huge chunks of ice fall!
The mini-ruptures at the glacier happen at least once an hour and even more often during the afternoon! So if you take your time here and don’t rush your visit, you’re bound to see some massive chunks of ice falling from the glacier. It was really incredible to witness – I felt like I was in a nature documentary!
Related Read: For more incredible nature in Argentina, visit Ushuaia! To get an idea of what to expect, you can read about our favorite tours of Ushuaia here.
17. What are the best places to stay in El Calafate?
Hostel Lago Argentino – A really good budget option that I have stayed at before. These guys include a nice breakfast, a good kitchen, and very friendly staff. The location is also perfect! It’s also really easy to book on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Folk Hostel – This is arguably the best budget hostel in El Calafate. It’s a great option (if it’s available) with bunks at $25 USD. The staff is amazing, the facilities are modern and clean, and the location is good! Folk Hostel is available to book online on Hostelworld or Booking.com.
Hotel Amado – This beautiful hotel is located as close as you can get to the center of town. It’s clean, modern, and a great place to stay for those looking for a quiet room. Rooms start at $81 USD per night which is a steal for this location. I’ve found the best rates on Booking.com.
Del Glaciar Libertador Hotel – Simple hotel located only 5 minutes from town. Includes a yummy breakfast and really spacious rooms around the $150 USD mark. They also have a social bar and restaurant. You can check availability on Booking.com.
Aparts Calafate Suites – This place specializes in private apartments giving you tons of space and amenities. The apartments are modern, well-furnished, and perfect for those wanting more comfort and quality in El Calafate. You’ll need to book a minimum two-night stay starting around $275 USD. The apartments can be booked on Booking.com.
Boutique Hotel La Cantera – If you really want a slice of luxury, then this hotel is perfect. The building itself is stunning, and the location and views are amazing. They serve a buffet breakfast and have an onsite restaurant and bar. Rates are typically around $200 USD per night and can be booked online.
18. Is visiting Perito Moreno Glacier worth it?
Perito Moreno is one of the last glaciers in the world that is actually growing! It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and exploring it is so much fun. Plus, how often do you have the opportunity to kayak next to or trek on an actual glacier?
I’ve been twice, and I would most definitely go again!
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.
Planning your Trip to Argentina
Accommodation in Argentina
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 Argentina!
Renting a car in Argentina
On one of our visits to Patagonia, we enjoyed renting a car – 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 in Argentina, the cheapest company is Discover Cars. We often get questions from readers asking us if the website is fake because it seems too cheap! It’s a great website and the one we used for our rental.
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!
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 $45 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.
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!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
Perito Moreno Glacier is a must-see destination in Patagonia, Argentina. This expansive glacier is absolutely stunning, and witnessing it up close is like no other. Plus, the walkways are easy to navigate and have epic views. Whether you choose to drive yourself or take a guided tour, I highly recommend it!