When it comes to the Perito Moreno Glacier, there are several ways to go about a visit. Perito Moreno tours can include anything like glacier hiking, exploring the boardwalks, boat cruises, kayaking, & more.
This overview is here to go through the top Perito Moreno Glacier tours to choose from during a visit. By the end of reading through, you should have a much better idea of which tour is right for you!
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1) Overview & Things to Know
When it comes to glaciers in Patagonia (and the world), the Perito Moreno Glacier is on top of many people’s minds. The glacier is located 75 km / 45 miles from the lakeside town of El Calafate, and there are several ways to go about a visit.
The main 4 options when it comes to Perito Moreno include:
- Glacier Trekking
- Walking the Boardwalks
- Boat Cruise
- Kayaking Tour
This guide will go through each one of these options and talk through some of the top Perito Moreno tours along the way.
To get started though, below are some interesting facts about the glacier to gain a better understanding of what it is all about.
Name: The glacier is named after the Argentinian explorer – Francisco Moreno, who explored the region in the 1800s. The word “perito” translates to expert, so he became better known as Perito Moreno over the years.
Size: Perito Moreno Glacier is quite a large glacier. It comes in around 100 square miles / 250 square km in area. From one end to the other, it is about 19 miles / 30 km in length, and 3 miles / 5 km in width.
Growth: While many glaciers around the world are shrinking, Perito Moreno is actually growing in size. This is certainly on the rarer side and it is what keeps Perito Moreno a highly visited natural attraction year after year.
Rupture: A phenomenon that happens every several years is called a rupture. This is when the glacier reaches the shore of the lake (Lago Argentino) and creates an ice dam between Canal de Los Tempanos & Brazo Rico. Eventually the pressure created by the water will cause a huge rupture in the glacier as large chunks of ice continuously fall off. The cycle then repeats itself over the course of the next several years.
Ice Fields: The glacier is also one of 48 glaciers that jut out of the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields. The Ice Fields are one of the largest contiguous pieces of ice in the entire world. If you want to view the Ice Fields, head to the Huemul Circuit in El Chalten for a once in a lifetime trekking experience.
Read More: Learn all about the glacier in the Perito Moreno Glacier overview up on the site
2) Independent vs Tours
Before jumping into the various tour options, you may also be asking yourself if you can visit the Perito Moreno Glacier on your own.
In general, the only way to visit Perito Moreno without a tour is if you are simply going about a walk along the boardwalks overlooking the glacier. This is surely a top way to experience the glacier as you get to view Perito Moreno from all different angles along the shoreline.
However, if you are looking for a more in depth and unique experience, then taking part of a Perito Moreno tour is the only way to go about it. These include glacier hikes, boat cruises, kayaks, and even guided tours of the boardwalks.
Depending on what you are most interested in will dictate whether or not a Perito Moreno tour is best for you.
Note: if going to the boardwalks independently you can also sign up for the 1 hour boat cruise on arrival.
Learn More: Read about how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier to better decide which option is best for you
Now, let’s talk through all the various Perito Moreno tour options to consider as you plan your trip.
3) Glacier Hike: Minitrekking & Big Ice
One way to experience the Perito Moreno Glacier is to actually hike on the glacier itself. Now, you can’t just walk up and go about a glacier trek on your own though.
Instead, there is one company called Hielo y Aventura that runs two different types of glacier hikes for visitors. These glacier tours are called Minitrekking & Big Ice.
The main difference between the two is how long you spend on the ice (1 hour vs 3 hours) and how far into the glacier you will be hiking. Below is a quick breakdown of the two hikes.
Perito Moreno Minitrekking
While you will just spend 1 hour on the ice as part of a Perito Moreno Glacier Minitrekking experience, this will still be a full day activity.
The day will start with an early drive from El Calafate to Perito Moreno. From there, you will hop on a short 20 minute boat ride to the Hielo y Aventura glacier lodge.
At the lodge, you will be given some equipment, walked through some safety tips, and be broken down into smaller groups.
From the lodge, you will make a short hike along the shoreline to the glacier itself. Here you will be fitted with crampons before getting yourself onto the glacier.
The next hour will be spent enjoying the glacier ice as you continue along a short route on Perito Moreno.
After completing the hike and returning to the lodge, you will head back across the water by boat and be driven to the main Perito Moreno parking lot.
Here you will have an additional hour to walk along the boardwalks of Perito Moreno. This portion of the day will be unguided as you make your way across the various walkways before returning to the parking lot.
From there, it is back to El Calafate to end a fun and exhilarating day out on the ice.
Book Today → Perito Moreno Glacier Minitrekking
Perito Moreno Big Ice
Now, if an hour is not enough for you, the Big Ice tour will take you on the glacier for 3 hours instead of 1 hour.
The day will look somewhat similar altogether. After leaving El Calafate, you will first be driven out to the main Perito Moreno parking lot. Here you will have an hour to walk the boardwalks and enjoy the views from the mainland.
After an hour of exploring, it is back on the bus and onto the port, where you will hop on a boat to the Hielo y Aventura lodge. Similarly, you will grab equipment and be broken down into smaller groups before continuing along with the day.
Here is where things are a bit different. The Big Ice trek does not happen in the same spot as Minitrekking. Instead, Big Ice takes you much further along on the glacier, where the glacial landscape is much more diverse.
It is about a 1-1.5 hour hike along the side of the glacier until you reach the point to put on crampons. So, the Big Ice is really a combination of hiking off of the ice and on the ice.
After getting fitted for crampons, the next 3 hours will be full of exploring Perito Moreno Glacier. Glacial rivers, ice caves, small lakes, and more will be viewed throughout a day out on the ice.
Once the time on the ice is complete, you will hike back to the lodge, hop on the boat, and onto the bus to El Calafate.
Book Today → Perito Moreno Glacier Big Ice
4) Boat Tour
Another way to go about your time at Perito Moreno, is to take part of an organized boat tour along the water in front of the glacier. The boat tours usually run for about 1 hour and are frequent throughout the day.
These boat tours head out on the northern arm of Lago Argentino around Canal de los Tempanos as you get to experience the glacier from the water.
If you would like to take part of a Perito Moreno Glacier boat tour, there are two ways to go about it. You can either sign up with a full day tour that takes you to the boardwalks & on the boat, or you can go independently to Perito Moreno and sign up for a boat tour on the spot.
So, in essence a Perito Moreno Glacier boat tour takes care of all logistics for you throughout the day. This will include all transport and it gives you time to explore the boardwalks (2-3 hours) + head on the boat cruise (1 hour)
Similarly to other tours, your day will start with a bus ride from El Calafate to Perito Moreno. You then will have 2 or so hours to explore the boardwalks at your own pace. Having a couple of hours here is plenty of time to walk all throughout the boardwalks.
After visiting the boardwalks, you will be taken to the boat dock, where you will hop on an hour long boat tour of the northern side of the glacier. Once all done with the boat ride, you will be driven by to El Calafate to end your day.
You can also choose this as a private tour option if looking for a more customized experience
As mentioned, another option is to actually do this independently if you have your own transport. You can simply show up to the boat dock, buy a ticket onsite, and hop on the boat tour. However, the tour mentioned above takes care of all logistics for you from beginning to end.
5) Boardwalks Tour
The Perito Moreno boardwalks offer 5 different walkways that make up over 4 km / 2.5 miles in length. These boardwalks take you to various viewpoints overlooking Perito Moreno Glacier and the surrounding landscape.
When it comes to taking a boardwalks tour, you can essentially sign up for the same boat tour mentioned above.
That is because the tour offers the boardwalks for the first portion of the day, and then you can decide whether or not you actually want add on the boat tour.
As you book the boardwalks tour, you will come across the option to add on the boat tour.
Either way though, the boardwalks will be included in any standard tour.
If you do not want to book a tour, you can still visit the boardwalks by car, taxi or bus.
6) Kayaking Tour
Another way of going about a visit to Perito Moreno is taking part of a kayaking tour. Kayaking the waters of Lago Aregentino is surely going to be a unique and exhilarating activity to take part of.
A kayaking tour gives you the chance to view the glacier from a whole new angle as you make your way along the northern part of Perito Moreno.
Similarly to other tours, the day will start out with a pickup in El Calafate followed by a bus ride to the kayak launch point.
Once you arrive, you will need to change into some very warm gear including a Gore-tex suit, thermal suit, boots, gloves and a life jacket.
What is also great about this Perito Moreno kayaking tour is that it welcomes all levels of experience.
So even if you are a first time kayaker, this tour can still be for you. And there is no better way to be introduced to kayaking than in front of Perito Moreno glacier.
The kayaking portion of the day will last approximately 90 minutes before you head back to dry land and change out of your gear.
Before or after your kayaking experience, you will also get to a chance to walk the boardwalks. So, don’t worry about not seeing the views of the glacier from land during the kayaking tour.
Book Today → Perito Moreno Kayaking Tour
7) Glacier Cruise Tours
While the boat tour mentioned above just focuses in on the area around Perito Moreno Glacier, there is also the opportunity to take part of longer boat tours.
These boat tours not only visit Perito Moreno, but also other glaciers within the Los Glaciares National Park. So, overall the focus of these tours will be less so on Perito Moreno itself but more so on the overall glacier landscape of the area.
In addition, expect to spend a much longer time out on the water. Instead of the 1 hour cruises around Perito Moreno, you will be spending several hours all along the waterways of Lago Argentino. There are two tours I will mention here – one just a boat ride & the other including the boardwalks.
Glaciers Gourmet Experience
The highlights of the Glaciers Gourmet Experience include:
- Escuadra Bay
- Condor Nesting Wall
- Seco, Heim and Spegazzini Glaciers
- Upsala Canal
- Upsala and Bertracchi Glacier
- Perito Moreno Glacier
So, this option heads to many glaciers including the Perito Moreno Glacier at the end of the tour before returning to port.
Book Today → Glaciers Gourmet Experience
Gourmet Glacier Cruise & Footbridges
This is a similar tour to above, however this will also include the boardwalks of Perito Moreno. While the exact route may differ a bit, it does give you the chance to include the walkways at the end of the day.
So, if you want to combine a longer glacier boat tour experience with the walkways of Perito Moreno, then this is the perfect option for you.
Book Today → Gourmet Glacier Cruise & Footbridges
8) Perito Moreno Tours Recap
I hope by now you have a better understanding of all the various Perito Moreno tour offerings. To recap though, here are the main tours to choose from when going about your time in El Calafate.
There are two glacier hike options that take you onto the ice itself. Minitrekking gives you an hour on the ice and Big Ice gives you three hours.
The main tour offering includes a 2 hour boardwalk walkway experience with an 1 hour boat tour add on.
This will go through the same booking link as above. When going about your booking you can choose to exclude the boat tour add on option.
If you want to kayak the waters, you can book a 1.5 kayaking tour that also takes you to the boardwalks.
Lastly, you have longer glacier cruise options that take you throughout the Los Glaciares National Park. The first option just gives you the chance to see Perito Moreno from the boat while the second also includes walking the boardwalks.
9) Best Time to Visit
Patagonia is in the southern hemisphere, meaning that its summer runs from December to March. During this period you can expect to have longer days, calmer weather, and the chance for a better overall experience.
Visiting in the shoulder months of October, November & March, April are not bad choices either. You will have fewer tourists around and will still have the chance for some optimal weather days.
When it comes to Perito Moreno tours, many of these will sell out during those peak time periods. So, once you know your dates, I would recommend putting some bookings down just to guarantee you a spot.
With that said though, the weather in Patagonia can be very unpredictable. One day can be nice and sunny while the next may bring some snow (even in the summer months).
If you book a tour and see a very poor weather condition day, try to see if there is any flexibility with moving around your schedule.
Seeing Perito Moreno is surely going to be a highlight during your trip, so I would recommend doing what you can to visit in the best weather possible.
10) Los Glaciares Entrance Fee
While tours will charge you money for taking part of a particular activity, the entrance fee for Los Glaciares National Park is usually not included.
Los Glaciares National Park is the protected landscape outside of El Calafate that includes Perito Moreno in addition to many other glaciers in the region. Due to it being a National Park, there are particular hours and an entrance fee to consider.
Expect a one day entrance fee to be around $25-$30 USD. You can also opt for a two day pass which will give you 50% off on the second day of a visit. The use of the 2nd day can be made up to 72 hours after the first entry.
These entrance tickets can be bought ahead of time, or you can pay at the National Park entrance in cash. The entrance to the park is approximately 30 minutes prior to reaching the Perito Moreno Glacier parking lot.
11) Patagonia Packing List
Patagonia is all about layers and proper footwear. Since the weather can turn very quickly, 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. On all days in Patagonia, I brought along the following layers:
- Hiking Shorts
- Hiking Pants
- Short Sleeve Shirt
- Long Sleeve Shirt / Sun Hoodie
- Mid Layer Fleece
- Puff Jacket
- Packable Rain Jacket
While layers are important so will be your footwear. You want to be sure to bring appropriate waterproof hiking shoes along with solid hiking socks as well.
Additional day hike recommendations include:
- Hiking Backpack & Rain cover
- Water Bottle & Nutrition
- Portable Charger
- Hat & Sunglasses
- Sunscreen & Bug Spray
Be sure to check out the Hiking Packing List guide I put together that will go through all of it and more.
12) 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.
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:
- Mirador del Lago Hotel
- Calafate Parque Hotel
- Lagos Del Calafate
- Xelena Hotel & Suites (luxury)
- Calafate Hostel (budget)
That wraps up a Perito Moreno Glacier tour breakdown. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below.
Have fun out there and safe travels!