Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier

Patagonia is full of bucket list experiences and the Perito Moreno glacier tour is at the top of this list. Dare I say it’s one of those goosebump-forming, chill-inspiring things to do in Patagonia that you won’t be able to forget.

This Patagonia travel guide shares my experience of doing a Perito Moreno tour and what you can expect when you visit this breathtaking Patagonia glacier.

Are you ready to go trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier? 

Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier - Planning a trip to Patagonia? Perito Moreno glacier is a must. Use this guide to plan your ice trek onto Perito Moreno, as well as get travel tips for how to visit the glacier without a guide. #patagonia #travel #southamerica
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Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the southern part of Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park.

This glacier is the reason why all Patagonia itineraries must stop in El Calafate, the nearest town (5o miles away) and access point to the glacier.

Perito Moreno Glacier tour
Perito Moreno Glacier

Leaving at 7:30 a.m. on a bus from El Calafate, the sky was still dark. I was set for a day of mini trekking on Perito Moreno.

From the moment I began planning Patagonia, I was sure I wanted to be on this glacier and not just view it from a distance. But, the Big Ice Perito Moreno Tour was more expensive, and I needed to make sure I caught the 6:30 p.m. bus from El Calafate to El Chalten that night. Mini trekking Perito Moreno was just right for my time and budget.

After arriving at the National Park and paying the $500 Argentine Pesos (about $13 USD) park entry fee (not included in day tour fees & cash only), the bus made 1 stop at a viewpoint before dropping us at the shores of Lago Argentina.

Perito Moreno tour
This viewpoint gives the first glimpse at the glacier’s incredible size.
The boat is docked and ready to get us up close and personal with Perito Moreno.
The boat is docked and ready to get us up close and personal with Perito Moreno.

Heading out toward Perito Moreno, the sky was overcast, with morning fog still hovering close to the glacier top. The temperature dropped and I was glad I’d worn my fleece under my jacket.

Not worried about the cold, I focused my attention on the breathtaking blue ice. The older and denser the ice, the bluer it appears. Ice can absorb all the colors in the color spectrum except blue, which is what creates the illusion of blue ice. Even Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine National Park didn’t appear as blue as Perito Moreno!

Patagonia glacier
Early morning boat ride to Perito Moreno Glacier. This photo doesn’t even hint at the gorgeous, sunny day that eventually developed.

From the pictures, it can be difficult to imagine the glacier’s size. How about some Perito Moreno Glacier facts?! It’s 97 square miles of ice. Seriously, hard to even imagine! It’s 19 miles long, 3 miles wide, and towers 240 feet above the lake’s surface. Part of the Southern Patagonia Icefields, the Perito Moreno is one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world.

Using the boat for scale helps to get a sense of how incredibly massive Perito Moreno is!
Using the boat for scale helps to get a sense of how incredibly massive Perito Moreno is!

Arriving at the shores and completely mesmerized by the southern face of the glacier, we made the short and easy trek to the glacier’s entry point. Before trekking Perito Moreno, I needed a pair of crampons to keep steady on the ice, which the tour company provided. Outfitted with crampons, my excitement and confidence grew…maybe I should be an ice climber!

Within a few minutes of beginning the tour, I was surrounded by deep crevasses filled with blue water and ice mountains sculpted into peaks and tunnels.

Seeing Perito Moreno, first from a distance and then from on the glacier, you are reminded of how small and powerless we all are in the face of nature. Breathtaking might be an overused word in travel blogging, but just look at the photo below and decide for yourself whether it’s accurate.

minitrekking perito moreno
Exploring the ice deep within Perito Moreno is unforgettable!

ProTip: Be sure to dress for glacier weather. Even if the day itself is pleasant, temperatures will be lower and wind will be stronger on the glacier. The warmest ice-trekkers had winter hats and gloves, as well as winter pants to protect against the wind and from getting wet.

An hour and a half of mini trekking Perito Moreno lands you deep into the glacier, to a place where you’re totally surrounded by ice. I honestly could have stayed here for hours…just looking and trying to comprehend what my eyes were seeing!

We kept moving a bit more before it was time to turn back. But not before we all had a chance to take photos. (Not sure what I was thinking wearing all black!)

IMG_4358

After the Perito Moreno glacier hike finished, I reluctantly gave back my crampons and set myself atop a rock to watch the glacier and eat my bagged lunch. The faces of Perito Moreno are constantly changing. It’s one of the few glaciers still advancing, although thinning at the same time.

With loud, booming, thunderous cracking, the glacier face frequently calves off small and large chunks of ice into the lake below. This process continues in a cycle, with the lake water evaporating, more snow falling in the mountains, creating more ice, and pushing older ice to the front face.

Quite possibly, the best lunch view ever...
The best lunch view ever…

If you are lucky (and have a quick trigger finger on your camera), you might catch a chunk of ice calving off.

Boom! Crack! Calving Ice!
Boom! Crack! Calving Ice!
Splash! Into the Water!
Splash! Into the Water!

When lunch was finished, the boat and bus took us to the viewing platforms across from the glacier. From here you can see the front and north faces, which are not visible from the spot where the Perito Moreno mini trekking happens.

Perito Moreno Glacier with the fall foliage

I visited in late March, which is the Fall in the Southern Hemisphere. The oranges, reds, and yellows of the foliage surrounded the glacier for an incredible display of nature.

The north face of Perito Moreno Glacier seen from the viewing platforms.

You can also see the north face of Perito Moreno from the viewing platforms.

Where trekking Perito Moreno allowed you to see parts of the glacier you’d never see from a distance, the viewing platforms give as close to a birds-eye perspective as you can get to truly understand what a glacier this size looks like.

Having spent over an hour walking the platforms for glacier views, it was time to board the bus back to El Calafate and catch that bus to El Chalten. I was only just starting my Patagonia adventure but I knew then that when I finished up my trip in Ushuaia, this day spent at Perito Moreno would be one of the best of the trip.

Practical Planning for a Day at Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Tour

Since writing this guide, I’ve been asked by several readers if it was necessary to do the ice trekking on Perito Moreno. And the answer is no. You can certainly visit the glacier on your own, although you won’t be able to go onto the glacier, just see it from the viewing platforms.

The biggest question becomes how to get to Perito Moreno glacier if you’re not part of a day tour. There are buses from El Calafate to Perito Moreno glacier which cost about 500 Argentine Pesos + tax. You can buy these tickets at the bus terminal in El Calafate.

The 90-minute bus ride gets you to the entrance of Los Glaciares National Park. You’ll pay the park entrance fee in cash (500 Argentine Pesos) just as I did on my trekking excursion. At this point, you can hike or take a boat to the glacier. Boat tickets were between 300 and 400 Argentine Pesos.

There are also numerous Perito Moreno excursions available besides trekking out onto the glacier. From bus tours to kayaking to boat safaris, you can choose which Perito Moreno experience is right for you.

Whether you choose a Perito Moreno glacier tour like I did or plan to visit this incredible glacier on your own, it’s an absolute can’t miss on your for your Patagonia trip.

Would you like to do a Perito Moreno glacier trek? 

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30 thoughts on “Trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier”

  1. Wow! breathtaking images for sure, very very beautiful! even if the sky was overcast the blue looks unreal. This is definitively something I would love to do one day!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Oh Mar, my jaw-dropped when I first glimpsed that blue ice! If you can make it to Argentina, be sure to visit Perito Moreno Glacier.

  2. I would love to go Trekking onto Perito Moreno Glacier. Was it hard walking with the crampons? I guess they are like an extended version of what I sometimes wear on icy streets. I can imagine the blue of the ice would be stunningly beautiful

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Paula! The hardest part about the crampons was actually reminding yourself to trust they would actually do their job and keep you firmly planted on the ice. The blue ice was even more unbelievable in person!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      You will love it for sure, Anna! If you have questions when you start planning, feel free to reach back out. I’d be glad to help, if I can.

  3. Such an incredible experience that you rightly describe as breathtaking. I was this close to a glacier walk in New Zealand last year, similar to your activity here, but was hugely disappointed when it was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather. Well, this one looks even better, I would totally love to experience this.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Ohhh! That stinks, Natasha! I’m sure it would have been great! Definitely, head to Perito Moreno Glacier if you find yourself in Argentina. It’ll surely make up for the missed chance in New Zealand!

  4. Ah, WOW!! This sounds like an incredible adventure. I was lucky enough to get in some glacier hiking while we were in Alaska recently, though that was ametuer stuff compared to this. No crampons needed, we were just able to run out onto the ice. Was the highlight of our trip, but no-where near as incredible views as Patagonia! Even though it was overcast you got some incredible pics!

    This is now on my bucketlist. Thanks for the inspiration – so glad you enjoyed your day 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Meg! Trust me, I had a similar glacier experience as you in the Canadian Rockies. It wasn’t until I saw Perito Moreno Glacier that I realized how different the 2 experiences would be. Patagonia is beyond incredible. No matter how many photos you see, you’ll still be blown away by the landscapes in person. Yay! Love that you’re feeling inspired!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Karilyn! I was trying so hard to have my camera pointed in just the right spot, at the right time!

  5. Absolutely stunning! Wow, my face dropped while looking at all your beautiful photos. I am blown away by this beauty. I would love to check this place out. I am putting this on my bucket list. Was it a hard trek? It looks freezing haha but this looks like a great, fun, unique experience 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Lieurene, if you can believe it, it’s more stunning in person! The trek wasn’t hard. This was their mini-trekking tour, which gets you out on the ice for a few hours. There’s also a tour called “Big Ice” that is a full day of trekking. I’d love to give that a try! I was there in April, so it’s like their fall. But, the closer I got to the glacier, the chillier it became. Honestly, though, I didn’t notice it once we started moving. Thanks so much for your comments!

  6. I love glaciers!! I have seen a few other travel bloggers post about this one but never as extensively, I can’t wait to visit for myself some day!! 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Me too, Cailin! Every since I was in the Canadian Rockies and saw glaciers and icefields, I’ve been obsessed!. Perito Moreno was by far the most magnificent glacier I’ve seen to date.

  7. Wow this looks amazing! I never imagined somethingn like this in Argentina of all places! I picture it in Northern Canada or Greenland! When we get to South America I am definitely going to check this out!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I know, right Lindsay? You think Argentina and you think warm. Head south, though, and the landscape changes drastically. When you make it to South America, definitely put this glacier experience on your Top 10 list!

  8. I had no idea there were glaciers in Argentina let alone one that is 97 square miles! It is so beautiful! Being in Alaska I am always floored by how magnificent glaciers are and now I have one more to add to my Bucket List to see!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I thought the same thing, Kristi. But, once I started doing some research on Argentina, I was amazed at the range of different landscapes. Perito Moreno is stunning and hope you can make it someday!

  9. I am planning a trip for this upcoming December, and your blog has been incredibly helpful and insightful! Looks like I will be following in your footsteps!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      That’s awesome, Kelli! So glad the posts have been helpful! You are going to absolutely love Patagonia! It’s just incredible.. Enjoy and thanks for reading! 🙂

  10. Hi Jackie,
    Did you find it absolutely necessary to have hiking boots for this mini-trek? I ask because i’m hoping to limit the amount of space I take up in my bag to Argentina and would like to only bring 1 pair of daily-use shoes (like doc martens). I just want to get an idea and find out if what i am considering is nutso or not! Thanks 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Bree. I’m sure you could get away with daily use shoes for a mini-trek like this. They do give you crampons for traction. I’d just be mindful of the weight, particularly with doc martens. That boot and the crampon could be heavy together. For my trip, I packed the hiking boots you see in the photos and 1 other pair of hiking/trail sneakers from Columbia Sportswear. Between the 2 pairs, I was covered for all activities. If you plan to do any other hiking, in Argentina or Patagonia, I highly recommend having something geared more toward hiking than a boot like doc martens, though. I hope you have a great trip to Argentina!!

  11. Your posts are really informative and interesting. Would it be possible for your to share the company I can book the mini trek on the perito Moreno glacier. Appreciate your help.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Vaibhav. The article has a link for you to book the Perito Moreno tour. This is the one I did. Have a great trip to Patagonia.

  12. Very informative article. I will be in Patagonia next February and still undecided if to spend a full day at Perito Moreno including an hour by boat to get closer to the glacier or taking a day cruise that navigates the Lago Argentina visiting glacier Spegazzini, glacier Upsala and Perito Moreno on Cruceros Marpatag. What would be your recommendation? We are seniors and trekking is not on in our plans. But would love to see the glaciers as close as possible.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Diana. I can’t say about the Lago Argentina day cruise because I didn’t do it. But, Perito Moreno is spectacular and the boat gets very close to the glacier. There are boardwalks to walk along to see the glacier from all angles. I’m biased 😉 but I wouldn’t miss Perito Moreno.

  13. Hi I will be doing the mini ice trek in Dec 2019, as im not entitled to do the big ice trek due to age restrictions by the tour operators.
    The big ice trek will not allow anyone over the age of 50, so settled for the mini trek.

    I will be taking goretex hiking boots but they are not crampon rated stiff boots is that ok?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Zac. I think you should be fine. I used my regular hiking boots and was fine. Enjoy the mini-trek!

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