Perito Moreno is one of many impressive glaciers in the south of Argentina. Most of these glaciers can be visited by bus or boat, but most tourists choose to visit the famous Perito Moreno. The huge ice mass moves one to two meters each day. That causes big chunks of ice to break off and plunge into Lago Argentino to feed it fresh, new water.
As a result, it also makes you think about trekking Perito Moreno Glacier and question whether or not it is safe to walk across a moving mass of ice that could easily swallow you entirely. So we did the Perito Moreno Glacier tour and you can read all about it here!
Luckily, the agencies that take you out on the glacier know exactly what they’re doing and they know exactly where it is safe to take visitors. The big chunks of ice dropping into the blue and icy lake look spectacular and attribute to the wow-factor. (Featured Photo by Inge)
Perito Moreno – Photo by Inge
El Calafate – Hub to trekking Perito Moreno
Most visitors make their way to Perito Moreno and the national parks through the Patagonian town of El Calafate. This small town grew big thanks to the thousands of people who visit the El Calafate glacier each year.
Shops and restaurants inside El Calafate aren’t cheap. Neither is accommodation and due to that, there’s not much backpacker vibe. We encountered a lot of tour buses and Argentinian people who visit the town for the weekend. There aren’t any other cities or villages nearby, but there are some activities you can do around El Calafate.
Perito Moreno Glacier Sightseeing
Our hostel offers an easy way to book tours in the area with a competitive price. From there, we book a tour to Perito Moreno and Los Glaciares National Park for the next day.
First, twenty minibusses bring people from different hotels towards a larger maxibus, which will then bring us to this natural wonder. As usual, we are the quietest people on the bus.
Upon entering the national park, the driver tells us the entrance to the park is not included, so we can choose to reach into our wallets or wait at the gate. After a first viewpoint break, we finally reach the glacier.
The bus driver is certainly enthusiastic enough to make an effort for us. He slows down before we get to see the Perito Moreno glacier, puts a cd on with a majestic classical song and waits until the song has built up enough to be worthy of the view to come.
Then he moves on and the massive glacier rolls into view.
Great effort of this guy.
He definitely loves his job and made the experience great for us. The park has a few walking trails and many great viewpoints to watch the ice drop into the water. It is very difficult to catch this phenomenon on film though.
Perito Moreno Glacier – Photo by Inge
Perito Moreno Glacier Tour
A boat brings us to the other side of the water, the side where the glacier meets the water. With a small detour, we hike to the side of the glacier before we actually start trekking Perito Moreno Glacier.
It takes a while before the guide helped everyone into their crampons.
I’ve never walked on crampons before and it takes a few minutes to get used to them. Our group looks a little like a flock of penguins wobbling in a neat row.
The feeling of walking on this glacier and the views we get along the way are priceless. This time we chose the easy-access tour which took us on an easy walk on the first 20 meters of the glacier. The group mostly existed of children and the elderly.
If we ever go back to Perito Moreno, we’ll be sure to take the die-hard tour that goes to another part of the glacier and looks even more spectacular.
Nevertheless, this tour was amazing too and it feels like a once in a lifetime experience.
During our visit the sky was deep blue and so were the little pools of water that collected on the ice. At the end of the tour, we were treated to a glass of whiskey on the rocks, with glacier ice of course.
Perito Moreno Glacier – Photo by Inge
Mini Trekking Perito Moreno Glacier vs Big Ice
Trekking Perito Moreno Glacier has two possibilities. You can either do the mini trekking which consists of a two-hour trekking over a small part of Perito Moreno. This trek is not difficult and it can be done with kids or elderly relatives. It’s fun to do and accessible.
If you never hiked a glacier before, this is the one to go for. The Big Ice Trekking of Perito Moreno Glacier looks daunting and I guess it is. This tour takes you much further onto the Perito Moreno glacier and the hike itself takes longer. You get to see more nature and an ice lake. For us: we decided to do the mini trekking even though the Big Ice looked very cool. We never walked with crampons before and it just seemed an easier hike to get started with.
Putting on snowshoes – Perito Moreno Glacier – Photo by Inge
Perito Moreno Glacier Facts
Perito Moreno Glacier is located inside Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. The southern Patagonian icefield feeds Perito Moreno and 48 other glaciers. The huge ice mass moves one to two meters per day. The Perito Moreno Glacier is 30 km long and 5 km wide. When a large part of the Perito Moreno glacier breaks loose, the water level in this part of Lake Argentino can rise 30 m higher than the regular water level.
Other El Calafate glacier tours
The most visited glaciers are Perito Moreno and Upsala glacier. You can book tours to other ones as well. Lake Argentina has glaciers ending in the lake at many different places and the best way to see more glaciers is by booking a boat trip on the lake which visits many of them.
Perito Moreno Glacier – Photo by Inge
Things to do in El Calafate
While in Patagonia for trekking Perito Moreno glacier, you can combine your stay with quite a few other activities and sightseeing. These are a few options to consider:
Ride with the Gauchos
We’re staying in Calafate for a week and have plenty of time to do other activities. In the end, there’s only one thing I really want to do: horseback riding on the pampa.
The land of the Gauchos is the perfect place to go horseback riding.
We visit a farm where visitors can ride the Patagonian pampa in the company of a gaucho and a dozen fearless dogs. Our gaucho is a good-looking young man who has broken nearly every bone in his body but still loves to ride. We can see why.
For the first ten minutes we were pretty nervous about the dogs that are running so close to the horses, but after a while, we start to realize we actually do need them. The dogs keep other dogs on a distance.
The nervosity makes room for a feeling of safety for having such devoted guardians with us. Even though we’re not experienced riders, we enjoy the ride. It feels great to be riding a horse in a place like this, with the lake and the glaciers within sight.
After all, the gaucho is even better than we could imagine and we’re having a lot of fun talking to him and teaching him English words.
Our thoughts on this lifestyle are as simple as life here itself: we could definitely live here!
Horseback riding on the Pampa – Photo by Inge
In El Calafate, you can also visit the Glacarium to learn about ice and glaciers and there are multiple ice cafés to relax and enjoy an iced drink. The El Calafate Glacarium is a modern building and an interesting experience. Prepare to get more engaged in saving the environment!
The pampa Safari Experience
While you’re in Patagonia, you could easily book a Patagonian Safari Experience and see the wildlife on the pampa. You also get a glimpse of the pampa when you go horseback riding with gauchos, but the Safari experience takes you deep into the National Park and you get a better view of the barren landscape and wildlife in Patagonia.
Trekking Perito Moreno Glacier
As you can read, there is no lack of activities to do. People can easily spend a week or more visiting the area. If you only plan to visit the glacier, you’ll only need a day or two, but we’d recommend staying a few extra days to try some of the other experiences and activities. In conclusion, trekking Perito Moreno Glacier is a definite must do when in Patagonia or El Calafate.