Perito Moreno Glacier tour from El Calafate – Walking on Ice

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Perito Moreno is one of many impressive glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park in the South of Argentina.

A lot of these glaciers can be visited by bus or boat, but most tourists choose to visit the famous Perito Moreno Glacier.

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.

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.

During our travels in Argentina, we decided to visit Perito Moreno and we also wanted to walk on this massive ice tongue. In doubt about whether we would book the Big Ice Hike or the Mini Trekking of Perito Moreno, we compared both and decided to go for the Mini Trekking.

Keep reading to find out what the difference is between both hikes and how to plan your excursion.

Let’s start of with a little more information about the glacier itself!

Perito Moreno Glacier is located in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina.

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The southern Patagonian ice field 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.

Views from the road
Views from the road

Which Perito Moreno Glacier Tour to choose?

So, now that we established a few facts about the glacier, you probably want to get going and decide on which tour to choose!

You got two major options for hiking the glacier. Both options also include a visit to the regular sightseeing platforms and a few scenic stops on the way to the glacier.

We’ll talk about the exact itinerary of the Mini trekking later.

Let’s first see what the difference between both hikes is!

Mini Trekking Perito Moreno Hike

The mini trekking consists of a 1,5 hour walk over a small part of the glacier.

It’s not a difficult hike and it can actually be done with children and seniors.

That’s why we thought it would be perfect for us as well 🙂

It’s fun to do and accessible.

If you never hiked a glacier before, choose this one.

Keep reading to find out the itinerary for this excursion!

Big Ice Perito Moreno Hike

The Big Ice looks exciting and daunting… and it probably is!

The tour takes you much further onto the glacier and it lasts over 9 hours.

You first hike alongside the glacier, before heading onto the ice.

In total, you spend around 4 hours on the ice and get to see some marvellous iced landscapes.

You have to be between 18 to 50 years old to do this hike. You’re expected to be in good physical shape too.

So, the conclusion is that the big ice is just a little more hardcore and if you have hiking experience, feel free to check out the tour!

Perito Moreno - View from the viewing platforms
Perito Moreno - View from the viewing platforms

What we did: Mini Trekking of Perito Moreno

So we decided to do the mini trekking hike. The entire excursion lasts an entire days, as you also get to visit a few extra stops along the way.

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You can choose to do this tour with or without a sightseeing cruise in front of the ice wall.

Pick up in El Calafate

Early in the morning, we got picked up from our accommodation in El Calafate town.

A small bus picks up other travelers along the way and takes us to a larger bus, where all the small buses meet up!

Expect for this part to last 1 hour or longer.

Scenic drive to the National Park

This trip is fun and scenic!

After leaving the town of El Calafate, you get some beautiful sights on Lake Argentina, which has an interesting shade of blue.

About half way through this drive, you reach the entrance of the National Park, where you have to pay the entrance fee. For some reason, this entrance fee is never included in the tour price.

The second part of the drive is also pretty scenic, as the road takes you along a beautiful part of the lake.

Our 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 disk 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.

Applause!

Great effort of this guy.

He definitely loves his job and made the experience great for us.

Duration: 1h30 min

Entrance fee: 800 ARS – 16/17€

View on Lago Argentino while walking the ice tongue
View on Lago Argentino while walking the ice tongue

Getting to the Mini Trekking starting point

The bus drops you off at a small port, where you get to board a ship to take you near the glacier.

Even though you get good views of the glacier, this is not what people call ‘the scenic cruise’.

This boat trip only takes you across the water to where your hike will soon begin.

Once you reach the other side, you can leave your extra luggage in a large cabin/restaurant. In this place you get ready to start hiking the Magellanic forest.

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Make sure to take a few handy things:

  • hiking shoes
  • sun glasses
  • some water
  • your camera

The hike through the forest is short and fun. It takes around 20 minutes.

The Mini Trek

Right before you reach the actual ice mass, you get to a smal cabin. This hut is bulking with crampons in all different sizes.

The crampons fit around your shoe and someone puts them on for you.

So you can expect to wait a while until everyone is wearing them and is ready for take off.

Make sure that the crampons fit well before leaving.

Lobke putting on crampons before the Mini Trekking
Lobke putting on crampons before the Mini Trekking
Walking on ice during the mini trekking on Perito Moreno
Walking on ice during the mini trekking on Perito Moreno

Walking on ice!

Now that everyone is ready to start the exploration, you’re off onto the ice.

Follow the leader and prepare for some out-of-this world views!

Everyone has to walk in a line until you reach a part on the glacier where you get a few minutes to explore.

You’ll notice some scary deep gaps in between the pieces of ice. The only thing I could think was: if I slide into one of these, I’ll disappear forever… or until this piece of ice breaks off into the lake!

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.

Views on the glacier while doing the Mini Trekking on Perito Moreno
Views on the glacier while doing the Mini Trekking on Perito Moreno

The viewpoints

After the excitement of walking on the glacier, we left our crampons behind and walked back to the forest lodge to pick up our stuff.

The same or a similar boat took us back to the other side of the water, where the bus was waiting for us.

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Our driver took us to the part of the National Park where you can also get by public transportation.

The viewing platforms are nicely laid out on the hillside in front of the location where the glacier hits the lake. So, it’s a great place to wait for the chunks of ice to drop. It is rather difficult to catch this phenomenon on picture though.

You get quite a spectacular view on the glacier from the many viewpoints and walkways on this side of the bay.

We had an hour or two to explore this side of the glacier before we were expected to get back on the bus.

Waiting for the chunks of ice to fall down!
Waiting for the chunks of ice to fall down!

Conclusion - Perito Moreno Glacier tour

In conclusion, this tour is super fun and worthy of your money.

If you decide to venture out to El Calafate and Perito Moreno, we definitely recommend walking on top of the glacier.

But if you have no intend to do either the Big Ice or the Mini Trekking, it’s also possible to visit the viewing platforms on your own, without a tour.

Check out this packing list for trekking in Argentina before you head off!

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Perito Moreno Glacier tour from El Calafate - Walking on Ice

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