When it comes to trekking on ice, it does not get much better than a Perito Moreno glacier hike experience. While you can view Perito Moreno Glacier from the boardwalks, getting to walk on the ice is something truly special to take part of.
This guide will focus on the Minitrekking Perito Moreno glacier hike experience – a full day adventure that will include heading onto the glacier itself.
By the end of reading through this guide you will be well on your way to enjoying the glacier during your trip.
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1) Perito Moreno Glacier Hike Overview
When visiting the Perito Moreno glacier, there are a few main ways you can go about a visit. These options include:
- Glacier trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier
- Walking the Boardwalks Overlooking Perito Moreno
- Taking Part of a Boat or Kayak Tour
The main difference between #1 and #2, is that the first option is for those that want to actually hike on the ice itself. The second option is simply walking along the various boardwalks that overlook the glacier.
While anybody can walk the boardwalks by just paying an entrance fee and entering Los Glaciares National Park, taking part of a glacier hike is a whole other type of experience.
However, you can only hike on Perito Moreno Glacier if you join a guided tour. And there is only one company out there that runs tours on the glacier – Hielo y Aventura.
Minitrekking spends around an hour on the near end of the glacier while Big Ice spends about 3 hours deeper on the glacier.
In the next section I will dive into more details about Minitrekking & Big Ice.
Read More: Learn about the glacier and its offerings, in the Perito Moreno Glacier guide up on the site
2) Minitrekking vs Big Ice Glacier Treks
As mentioned, the biggest difference between the two glacier trek options is the amount of time spent on the ice.
If you are someone who just wants a feel for glacier hiking then the Minitrekking option may be your best bet. On the other hand, if you want to have a more in depth experience on the ice and have more time to explore, then the Big Ice is for you.
Below is a comparison between Minitrekking & Big Ice:
Perito Moreno Minitrekking
- # of Hours on Ice: 1 Hour
- Total Duration: 9.5 Hours
- Age Restriction: Between 8 and 65 years old
- Availability: July 15th to May 31st
- Price: ~$300 USD
- Booking: Perito Moreno Glacier Minitrekking
Perito Moreno Big Ice
- # of Hours on Ice: 3 Hours
- Total Duration: 12 Hours
- Age Restriction: Between 18 and 50 years old
- Availability: September 15th to April 30th
- Price: ~$500 USD
- Overview: Big Ice Perito Moreno Glacier
- Booking: Perito Moreno Glacier Big Ice
Glacier Hike Notes
→ Note the age restrictions for these glacier hikes. It is clear on their website that there is no exceptions granted. If you fall above (or below) the age limit, you will need to just enjoy the boardwalks instead.
→ Prices have drastically gone up in the last couple years. Be sure to check the booking links for the latest prices. I have included these in USD due to the consistent devaluation of the Argentinian Peso.
3) How Long is the Minitrekking Glacier Hike?
So, this question really has two answers – the amount of time spent on the ice, and the TOTAL amount of time that the entire tour takes.
For the Minitrekking hike, expect to spend just around 1 hour on the Perito Moreno ice as you explore the ins and outs of the glacier. However, in total, expect the full day to last closer to 10 hours! Yes, I know that is quite the difference in amount of time.
But the full tour is not just about the glacier (as you will soon read more about). Instead, you will also get to take part of the bus ride to/from the glacier, boat rides to/from the glacier hike starting point, hiking to the glacier ice, lounging time by the shore, and an hour to walk the famous boardwalks.
Everything that is part of the day makes this a much broader experience than you may have first anticipated. But it is one of the best days you can ask for from beginning to end.
Book Today: Be sure to reserve your Perito Moreno Minitrekking hike as soon as you know your travel dates
4) How Much Does Minitrekking Perito Moreno Cost?
Without a doubt, taking part of the Minitrekking glacier hike is going to be one of the more expensive things to take part of during a trip to Patagonia.
Expect to pay about $300 (USD) for the entire glacier hike experience.
When going about booking you can save about $45 if you opt to drive yourself back and forth to the glacier. This of course will only work if you have your own car though.
5) Why Choose Minitrekking Perito Moreno?
You may be asking yourself a couple of questions when it comes to a Perito Moreno Glacier hike.
First, you may be wondering if you should take part of a glacier hike to begin with, and second would be whether to do the Minitrekking or Big Ice trek.
To answer the first question – Perito Moreno is truly one of the most special glaciers in the world. It is a massive piece of ice, coming in at 100 square miles / 250 square km in area and offers some unmatched surrounding natural landscape. Even if you have seen glaciers in the past, Perito Moreno is bound to impress.
Seeing the glacier from the boardwalk is without a doubt going to be a great experience. However, getting to physically walk on the ice is a whole other adventure. Putting on the crampons and seeing Perito Moreno from the glacier itself is a surreal feeling.
Getting to see the blue ice from up close, hiking along ice formations, and having the chance to see the glacial rivers and caves is something that just cannot be experienced from the boardwalks. I have been on several glacier hikes around the world, and this is right at the top of the list.
When it comes to the Minitrekking hike on Perito Moreno, this is going to the ideal choice for those first timers out on the ice. It is a moderate hike, with just around one hour on the ice itself.
However, in addition to the glacier hike, you will also get to enjoy the glacier from the shore, take part of a short boat ride, and still visit the walkways at the end of the day.
Some additional considerations to think about include:
Price: the Minitrekking tour is about $200 cheaper than the Big Ice tour. If budget is top of mind, then Minitrekking is the way to go.
Physical Activity: hiking with crampons is a different experience than regular hiking. Minitrekking gives you a fun filled one hour on the glacier while Big Ice gives you three hours. Most people may be more than happy spending one hour on the ice, and not overexerting themselves with the longer hike.
Age: be very aware of the age limitations for the glacier hikes. Ages 8-65 are allowed on Minitrekking and 18-50 are allowed on Big Ice. If someone in your group is outside of the age limits, then they will not be able to take part.
Hiking Resources & Checklist
Before heading out for the trails, be sure to read up on some of the hiking resources up on the site. These are here to better prepare you for all types of outdoor adventure.
6) Perito Moreno Minitrekking Itinerary
While the above gives you a high level view of what the Minitrekking glacier hike is all about, I also wanted to include a more detailed itinerary view.
- Pickup & Bus Ride: Bus from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Port
- Boat Ride: 30 minute boat ride to glacier hike kickoff point
- Glacier Hike: 30 hours hiking to & from glacier + 1 hour on the glacier itself
- Lunch Break: enjoy a break by the lakeside after the hike
- Boat Ride: 30 minute boat road back to port in front of glacier walls
- Walkways: 1 hour to visit the walkways
- Bus to El Calafate: Bus from Perito Moreno to El Calafate
Expect the day to start around 7:30AM, and ending close to 5:00PM. This is a full day adventure out in the nature of Patagonia, so come prepared!
Glacier Trek Itinerary Notes
→ If you want to save around $45 USD and spend more time on the boardwalks, you can decide to drive yourself to Perito Moreno instead of taking the bus service. This will allow you to spend more than the 1 hour allocated time slot that is given for the boardwalks.
→ You can rent a car for your trip to Patagonia to give you the chance to go about your itinerary at your own pace and on your own schedule. Feel free to check out Rentalcars.com for a variety of car rental options for your trip.
7) Minitrekking Perito Moreno Booking
People travel from all around the world to head to El Calafate just to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. As you can imagine, due to the supply and demand of the glacier hike, Minitrekking sells out consistently.
Since there are just a limited number of openings open per day, you can expect that spots fill up quickly. This is even more so the case during the high season from December to February.
My advice would be to book your glacier hike as soon as you know your dates.
I was also told by the trekking guides that tours are very rarely cancelled, so that shouldn’t be a major concern for you. I’ve had glacier hikes in both Iceland and New Zealand rescheduled due to weather but that doesn’t seem to be frequent on Perito Moreno.
Book Today: Reserve your spot today and book your Perito Moreno Minitrekking Glacier Hike
8) What to Bring
Since you will be hiking on a glacier, you will need to be sure to bring along the appropriate gear. In addition, the weather can turn very quickly in Patagonia, so you will want to be prepared for all types of conditions.
In general, I found layering to be the upmost important part of a trip. For the Perito Moreno Glacier hike in particular, I would recommend the following:
- Hiking Pants
- Hiking Shirt
- Mid Layer Fleece
- Puff Jacket
- Packable Rain Jacket
- Hiking Shoes
- Hiking Socks
- Hiking Backpack & Rain cover
- Water Bottle & Nutrition
- Portable Charger
- Hat & Sunglasses
Food and Drink: Note that food & drinks are not included on the glacier tour. You must bring your own from El Calafate. During the Minitrekking tour, there is a short lunch break at the lodge overlooking the glacier. For water, you should have no problem filling up straight from the glacier itself.
Packing List: Be sure to check out the Hiking Packing List guide I put together that will go through all of it and more.
While the above items are what you should plan to bring along with you, there are some items that will be provided for you. These include:
You will not be able to trek on the glacier without crampons. For the hike there is a “crampon point”, where you will be fitted with crampons before heading onto the ice.
Helmet, Harness & Gloves
After getting off of the boat and to the glacier kickoff point, you will be given a helmet, harness and gloves. These are necessary to protect yourself in case you take a fall. You can also bring along your own gloves if you wanted to come with something more comfortable.
9) Perito Moreno Minitrekking Glacier Hike Map
In the following section I will go into detail about the Minitrekking Perito Moreno Glacier hike and what it entails. Below though you can find a map that clearly lays out what a day at the glacier will look like.
You will find the main parking lot & boardwalk area, the boat port, Hielo y Aventura lodge, and the Minitrekking / Big Ice hiking routes.
For this overview, the smaller red line is what you will embark on during your glacier hike adventure.
10) Minitrekking Perito Moreno Glacier Hike
Now that you have some background on how to take part of the glacier trek, let’s go through what to expect on the tour itself. I will break it down into the various sections of the day and include many photos all along the way.
Please note that schedules are subject to change!
El Calafate to Perito Moreno
The first part of the day is getting from El Calafate to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Hielo y Aventura offers pickup in El Calafate or simply meeting at their offices. When you book, they will give you the options.
The drive from El Calafate is 80 km / 50 miles long and should take around 1.5 hours altogether. Around one hour into the ride, the bus will pass by the entrance of Los Glaciares National Park.
Here you will need to purchase your ticket to enter the park (around $25 – $30 USD). The entrance tickets are not included in the tour price. You can save some time and purchase these online through the park’s website.
After getting through the park entrance, it is another 30 minutes of driving along the lake as you soon see the Perito Moreno Glacier come into view.
Brazo Rico Boat Ride
After arriving at the Bajo de las Sombras port, you will get onto a boat to cross the glacier lagoon and towards the kickoff point for the glacier hike.
While it is a short boat ride across, it is a great way to experience the glacier. Sit on the right hand side to get the best views!
Prep & Hike to Glacier
Before beginning the hike to the glacier, you will first be welcomed to a lodge to prep for the trek. You will be supplied with gloves & helmets, and be split into smaller groups.
There are also lockers here to leave anything you won’t need for the ice itself (such as your lunch). In addition, you can use the restrooms before embarking on the hike.
Once everyone is all set, it is time to begin the hike to the glacier trek starting point. The hike should take just around 15 minutes as you walk along the shoreline and to the crampon point.
This portion in of itself is a beautiful experience to take part of as you will have a view looking right at the glacier out in front of you.
Soon enough you will reach the crampon point. Here you will be fitted with crampons over your hiking shoes, and then make the short walk over to the glacier.
Minitrekking the Perito Moreno Glacier
For the next hour or so, you will have the unique opportunity to hike on the glacier ice. The glacier is absolutely massive so you will just focus on somewhat of a loop hike taking you to various highlights along the way.
You will get to walk by glacial rivers, deep crevasses, photo op spots, and potentially even some ice caves. While the glacier may seem pretty much the same from a distance, you will be surprised by how much the landscape can truly change once you are on it.
Along the way, your guides will also continuously give you additional background and helpful facts about the glacier. So, this is also an opportunity to learn what Perito Moreno is all about and how it is one of the more unique glaciers in the world.
After a bit more exploring, the glacier trek will take you back towards the starting point to end a successful day out on Perito Moreno Glacier.
Be ready to be welcomed back to a glass of whiskey right on the glacier as you are ending the hike! They also may give you a little crampon keychain souvenir for you to take back home.
Check out plenty of photos below to get an idea of what to expect out on the glacier (note that some of these were taken from the Big Ice trek as well):
Hike Back to Kickoff Point
The hike back from the glacier to the lodge should be nice and quick. You will simply drop off your crampons after getting off of the ice, and make the walk back down.
You will then give back the helmet, gloves, and harness, and then make your way to the lodge.
There will be some extra time to have a lunch break and explore the lakeside before getting onto the boat. Nearby the boat dock, you can head up the rocks to get some more fantastic views of the glacier across the lake.
Brazo Rico Boat Ride
Same as earlier, it is now time to cross back over Brazo Rico by boat and get back to the Bajo de las Sombras port area.
This time, sit on the left hand side of the boat to get those Perito Moreno Glacier views once again from the water.
Once back at the port, it is time to head to the boardwalks of Perito Moreno.
Perito Moreno Boardwalks
After arriving back at the port, simply board the bus and make the quick ride to the Perito Moreno parking lot.
Once you arrive at the main parking lot, you will have one hour to explore the several boardwalks overlooking Perito Moreno.
Since you only have an hour here, you can focus one one or two main areas of the boardwalks as you enjoy the vast glacier out in front of you.
You need to pay close attention to your timing in order to give yourself enough time to get back to the main parking lot. Once there, it is back on the bus to get back to El Calafate.
Bus from Perito Moreno to El Calafate
The day ends with the 1.5 hour bus ride back from Perito Moreno to El Calafate. Along the way, you will get some final views of the glacial lake before heading out of the National Park and back to town.
While it will certainly be a long day out on the trail, it will be a memorable one. The day is full of unique activities, viewpoints, and experiences as you are sure to enjoy your time during a Perito Moreno Minitrekking experience.
11) Where to Stay in El Calafate
El Calafate is a beautiful Patagonian town built to cater for tourists, who fly from all over the world to visit Perito Moreno. You will find hotels within walking distance to town center and also some that are further out from town. If taking part of a tour, most of them do pick people up directly from hotels.
More Perito Moreno Tours: If you would like to take part of other offerings, check out the other Perito Moreno tours in El Calafate.
Below you can find some highly rated and reviewed hotel options to choose from during your trip to El Calafate. During high season, top options can sell out.
I would recommend booking your accommodation as soon as you know your dates:
- All Around Option #1: Mirador del Lago Hotel
- All Around Option #2: Calafate Parque Hotel
- All Around Option #3: Lagos Del Calafate
- Luxury Option: Xelena Hotel & Suites
- Budget Option: Calafate Hostel
12) El Calafate Itinerary
The Perito Moreno Glacier is going to be one part of a longer El Calafate itinerary. Most people who visit the area spend around 2-4 days on average there. This will give you time to dedicate a day to Perito Moreno, and enjoy other nearby highlights.
Here is a 3 day El Calafate itinerary that offers some of the best of the best that the area has to offer.
Day 1: Perito Moreno Glacier
Your first full day in El Calafate can be fully dedicated to the Perito Moreno Glacier. That means you can simply take part of the Minitrekking glacier hike that this overview just went over.
Spending a day seeing the glacier by boat, from land, on the glacier itself, and from the boardwalks, is going to be a top tier day.
Remember though – be sure to book your Minitrekking hike in advance to reserve a spot.
Day 2: Los Glaciares Boat Trip
While Perito Moreno is the most well known glacier in the area, it is definitely not the only one out there. The national park is named “Los Glaciares” for good reason.
One of the best ways to see the glaciers is by boat tour as you get deeper into the National Park. There will be glaciers everywhere you turn as you get to see the natural landscape in a whole new way.
There are several different types of boat tours to take part of, but this Todo Glaciares tour offers the opportunity to head to the Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers.
Learn More: Read all about the Todo Glaciares Boat Tour and what to expect
Day 3: El Calafate & Cerro Frias
On your final day in El Calafate, you can split it between enjoying the town center and visiting Cerro Frias.
The town itself is quite enjoyable to walk through as it is filled with restaurants, shops, and even some beautiful views of the nearby lake.
Another nearby highlight to visit is Cerro Frias. This privately owned mountain offers some of the best views you can ask for over Lago Argentino.
When going about booking Cerro Frias, there are actually several unique experiences to choose from. These include 4X4, horseback riding, ziplining, and hiking. In addition, you will end the tour with some light snacks and refreshments from their beautiful lodge.
Patagonia Itinerary: Check out this Patagonia Itinerary that will better help you plan your overall trip to the region
That about wraps up a guide to the Perito Moreno Glacier Minitrekking Hike. If you have any questions about the day, feel free to add them in below.
Also, don’t forget to check out the other Patagonia itineraries and guides up on the site. These include:
- Best hikes in El Chalten
- Trekking Ushuaia
- Huemul Circuit
- Laguna de Los Tres
- O Trek Torres del Paine
- Among plenty of others
Have fun out there and safe travels!