Did you know that the largest ice area outside the polar regions is in Argentina? The huge Perito Moreno glacier movesa few meters every day. When standing in front of the ice wall, you’ll see huge blocks of ice dropping down the water every the few minutes. The crackling and booming sound of this natural phenomenon is a unique experience! So in short: a visit to the Perito Moreno is a must on your Argentina and Chile itinerary. These are the 15 best tips for your visit!
#1 Visit the Perito Moreno from the town of El Calafate. This cute lakeside village is the base for your visit. It has the atmosphere of a ski resort. The lively main street has all sorts of shops and restaurants. A good place to stroll around before or after your glacier experience.
#2 El Calafate has its own airport. There is a daily connection to cities such as Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and Bariloche.
#3 So don’t book hotel in Perito Moreno. They may have the same name, but this place is not even near the glacier.
#4 El Calafate has many, many hotels and hostels. The Perito Moreno is popular, so El Calafate is quite touristy. And there are many hotels in many different price categories. Good and affordable options are Folk Hostel, Nau Bed & Breakfast and Patagonia Queen Boutique.
#5 The Perito Moreno is also a highly recommended option for a Chile trip. Are you travelling only in Chile and not in Argentina? The Perito Moreno is very close to the border with Chile and can therefore easily be on your Chile itinerary as well. As the glacier is such a unique phenomenon, I absolutely recommend you to do so.
#6 There are four options: go to the viewpoint, hike on the glacier, take a boat trip or walk through the park. Depending on your budget, you can admire the Perito Moreno in different ways. The cheapest is a walk through the Los Glaciares National Park, where you walk along the viewpoint. You will not see the glacier from up close, but from those viewpoints you can clearly see how impressive it is. If you book the hike on the glacier with a tour organisation, a stop at the viewpoint is almost always also in your program as well.
#7 It is not cheap to enter the glacier. But it’s the experience of your life, so do it! Check with the various organisations in El Calafate for the prices for the best alternative within your budget. Please enquire mainly about the extras of the tour, such as a boat tour or visit to the Glacier Museum, because the prices are pretty much the same. The entrance to the park is usually not included in the price. Make sure to verify this.
#8 You can go to the glacier without a tour, but you will not be allowed on the ice itself. If you are making a road trip through Patagonia, you can just drive yourself to the park as well. There is a bus service from El Calafate as well. The bus ride takes about 90 minutes, but is quite pricey. A taxi ride with 4 people is about the same price. But please note that you can’t enter the ice by yourself. To do so, you must book a tour beforehand. You then travel with your tour organisation to the park.
#7 There are two different hikes on the ice. You can choose the short tour of a total of 8 hours, including 1.5 hours to 2 hours on the ice. The long option includes a 3 to 4 hour hike.
#8 The hiking trails can be very crowded. If you arrive as early as possible in the morning or in the afternoon, you have a chance to have a more peacefull experience. I would highly recommend this, as you want to hear the sounds of the glacier without the chatter of other travellers.
#9 There is no best season to visit the Perito Moreno. In summer, you are more likely to have a clear sunny day for your visit. The ice will melt and break much faster. The temperature is more pleasant as well. But in the autumn, you have beautiful red colours which contrasts beautifully with the blue ice. And during the winter, the park will be much quieter again and the groups for the ice hikes will be smaller. So every season brings something beautiful again.
#10 Visit The Glaciarium Museum for more background information. The museum tells you all about the glaciers and history of glacier expeditions. There is also an ice bar, where you go for no more than 20 minutes to have an ice cold drink.