Reasons to explore Perito Moreno glacier

  • Get up close and personal with Argentina's mightiest and most accessible glacier, close to El Calafate
  • Strap on your crampons to go ice hiking and lose yourself on the vast frozen surface of Perito Moreno
  • Take a boat trip to the face of the glacier and feel dwarfed by the dizzying height of its ice cliffs
  • Paddle your kayak close to icebergs floating on the waters of Lago Argentina
  • Watch building-sized chunks of ice calve into the lake from special viewing balconies facing the glacier
  • Hike through the forests around the glacier and visit a traditional working estancia

How can I experience Perito Moreno Glacier?

Illustrated Guide

About Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno's ice cliff wall

Rugged surface of Perito Moreno glacier

It's not hard to see why Perito Moreno glacier is one of Patagonia's biggest attractions. Everything about it is superlative: it's 19 miles (30km) long and three miles (4.8km) wide where it emerges out of the mountains into Lago Argentina.

Perito Moreno is fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world's third largest freshwater reserve. Unlike many glaciers in the region, it is not retreating but maintains a stable size, despite advancing at an extraordinarily rapid rate of over two metres a day. Pacific clouds condensing over the Andes keep it constantly topped up, while at the other end the constant calving of icebergs into the lake draw visitors from across the world.

Very few glaciers are as easily accessible as Perito Moreno while remaining entirely safe for visitors. It is named in honour of the great Argentinian explorer Francisco 'Perito' Moreno, while its proximity to El Calafate makes it a major for modern tourists and adventurers. Going to Los Glaciares and not seeing Perito Moreno would be like visiting Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. Everyone does it – but there's a very good reason why.

What to see & do around Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Big Ice Hike

There can be few better ways to get an appreciation for Perito Moreno’s untamed nature than to do the Big Ice Hike. After strapping on your crampons and grabbing your ice axe (no experience necessary) you’ll clamber over crevasses, witness incredible ice caves, cross meltwater rivers and finish feeling dwarfed by the glacier’s epic grandeur.

The hike takes a full day and includes your transport to and from your accommodation in El Calafate and a boat ride to the most accessible part of the glacier. The Big Ice Hike allows for over three hours on the glacier. You’ll walk out onto Perito Moreno in small groups and head out to enjoy the icy horizons in almost complete solitude.

You'll need to dress for potentially cold and wet conditions while you're out on the ice. Ages 18-50 years; maximum group size 10. 

Tourist ice hiking on Perito Moreno glacier

The Big Ice hike on Perito Moreno

Perito Moreno Mini Ice Hikes

Optional extra - Minitrekking on the ice!

The Mini Ice hike on Perito Moreno

The Mini Ice Hike is the perfect option for those who want to walk on the back of Perito Moreno but want a more condensed experience.

Also called Minitrekking, this full-day excursion includes transport to and from El Calafate and a boat ride to the most accessible part of the glacier. You’ll enjoy around 90 minutes on the ice itself, walking by the glacier side and the lakeside scenic viewpoints opposite the glacier cliffs. On the glacier, you’ll be given crampons for the ice and then follow a set route to show you the best of Perito Moreno’s rugged frozen back. Dress for potentially cold and wet conditions out on the ice! Ages 8-65 years; maximum group size 20; total tour time 9.5hrs

There's a more physically demanding version of the experience - Minitrekking 2 - which covers twice the distance on the ice in the same amount of time as the standard tour and is only recommended for physically fit individuals. Please ask us for more detailsAges 18-55 years; total tour time 9.5hrs

Please note - Both Minitrekking excursions can't be booked if you're pregnant.

Mayo Spirit boat & hike

The Mayo Spirit excursion is a full day trip that gets you away from the crowds by taking you across Lago Argentina to a series of short hiking trails, followed by a long cruise alongside Perito Moreno glacier.

After boarding your vessel, the first stop hiking point at Bahía Toro, where you walk through the forest to a towering waterfall. After this, the boat takes you to a trail leading to mountain views of Cerro Negro hanging glacier.

The afternoon is spent cruising by Perito Moreno, traversing the famous Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel) and feeling dwarfed by the majesty of the ice cliffs. The tour concludes with a final chance to enjoy Perito Moreno from dry land on the viewing balconies.

Mayo Spirit boat excursion around Perito Moreno glacier

Mayo Spirit boat cruise to Perito Moreno

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Felipe says

Getting to ice hike on the surface of Perito Moreno really brings home its epic nature. I felt tiny and insignificant, but in a magical way – the feeling of just how powerful nature really is.

Felipe Cruzat Patagonia Sales Consultant

Kayaking to Perito Moreno

Experience the true silence of nature while out paddling towards Perito Moreno glacier – a silence punctuated by the crashing of ice as icebergs calve from its face. You’ll be observing the spectacle from a safe distance of course, but you’ll still feel like a tiny speck as you float in front of the giant cliffs.

No kayaking experience needed, just an ability to paddle for the 90 minutes you’ll be out on the lake. After transferring from your El Calafate hotel, you’ll be provided with all the kit you’ll need and given a full safety briefing. After some practice paddling you’ll push out with Perito Moreno in your sights.

After kayaking, you’ll have time to experience the classic sight of the glacier from the viewing balconies along the shore, to put its great size into context.

Ages 14 -75 years old.

Kayaking at Perito Moreno glacier

Kayaking at Perito Moreno

Pioneros Adventure excursion

Want to combine Perito Moreno with a taste of traditional Patagonian culture and a dash of wilderness? Over a long day’s excursion, the Pioneros Adventure offers the whole package.

In the morning you transfer from your accommodation to a traditional estancia, where you’ll watch the gauchos go about their ranching business on horseback, and witness a demonstration of sheep shearing.

After lunch, you’ll board a small boat to take you to a hiking spot along the lake and through native lenga forest to a stunning viewpoint. From here you’ll sail along the majestic southern face of Perito Moreno itself.

The tour concludes with time to enjoy Perito Moreno’s viewing balconies, before returning to El Calafate.

Hiking on the Pioneros Adventure near Perito Moreno glacier

Hiking on the Pioneros Adventure near Perito Moreno

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Sydney says

Nothing quite prepares you for how extraordinary Perito Moreno is when you approach it up close from the water – or the explosive crashes when building-sized chunks of ice shear off its blue cliffs into the lake.

Sydney Miller Patagonia Specialist

Viewing balconies

Perito Moreno glacier is so massive that you need to stand back to get a true sense of its scale. This is best done from a series of modern walkways and balconies on the far shore of the lake.

The walkways stretch for around three miles (5km) in total, which gives you an idea of just how much there is to see. You can easily lose yourself gazing at the glacier for an hour, listening for the tell-tale cracks and groans that suggest an iceberg is about to calve into the lake.

The scenic walkways are easily accessible if you’re self-driving but several of the excursions also include the change to walk to the viewing balconies. These include the Mini Ice hike, the Mayo Spirit boat trip and kayaking. The walkways are fully wheelchair accessible.

Tourist at the viewpoint overlooking Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares

Looking out at Perito Moreno glacier

Touching the Ice

This is a relaxed trip for people who want to experience Perito Moreno at its most fundamental essence without committing to any adventure activities. It’s perfect for those travelling with children or who have reduced mobility.

After transferring from your El Calafate hotel, you’ll take a boat trip across Lago Argentina for a gentle scenic walk along the beach for about a mile. You’ll get closer and closer to Perito Moreno until you can literally reach out and touch it, communing with its icy heart. After returning to the port, you’ll take a short hop in a bus to the viewing balconies, where you’ll have two hours to sit, stroll and enjoy the spectacle of icebergs crashing into the lake before returning to El Calafate.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina

Touching the ice of Perito Moreno

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Swoop says

Just observing Perito Moreno from the walkways is an unforgettable experience, but if you have more time or are feeling more adventurous we highly recommend a boat trip up to the face of the glacier, and an ice hike on its surface.

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What our customers think of Perito Moreno Glacier Tours

Perito Moreno Glacier Tours trips scored 4.5/5 from 346 reviews

The glaciers were spectacular and a beautiful experience. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2023

Alizé Riley - USA

Being able to kayak around the glacier was so powerfully charged! I didnt think we would be able to get so close - but we were pretty darn close! What a spectacular view from a kayak! Read the full review

Travelled: October 2023

Tracy Neumann - USA

The most memorable moment of my trip was kayaking in the waters near Calafate amongst floating debris from a glacier. Read the full review

Travelled: October 2023

Miguel Zavala-Allen - USA

Hiking on the glacier was such a cool experience. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

Claire Doyle - USA

One of the highlights of our holiday. The glacier is beautiful and to approach it from the water made it look magical. To climb above it and look down on the immense size, listening to it crack and groan, made you realise the power these glaciers had creating the country we see today. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

Chris Gibbs - UK

The Perito Moreno Glacier was a unique experience. The trek requires walking with crampons. I walked over the gentle hill of ice and saw chunks of glacier tumbling into the water...so cool! Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Rina Patel - USA

The visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier was spectacular. We had perfect weather with clear, blue skies and both the boat trip to the edge of the glacier and the walkways were memorable. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Jacqueline Heywood - UK

There were many amazing moments of the trip, but the Perito Moreno glacier was remarkable. I have never seen anything like it. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Sara Wynne - UK

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a must-see of course. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Leanne Lockhart - USA

Loved it. The glaciar was amazing, such a well done trip. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Henry Richmond - UK

It was really magnificent and haunting to see a glacier up close. To see large chunks regularly fall into the water made the impacts of climate change feel more urgent. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Emily Tapp - USA

Stunning. I don't know what I expected for Los Glaciares park and the glacier walk, but the day exceeded whatever expectations existed. We were lucky to have a friend that's a professional photographer on the trip, she managed to capture the beauty of the glacier and so many memories for our group. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2022

Mariel Sabraw - USA

The trip to Perito Morino was excellent which also included two off shore walks through the really interesting woods which we didn't expect. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2022

Peter Williams - UK

Must include a visit or trek at Perito Moreno Glacier. Another jaw dropping place and a site to behold. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2022

Rozini Mohd Amin - Malaysia

Big Ice trek was an outstanding experience - staff were great! We would never have thought of such an experience and that’s a credit to Swoop! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Anne Marie McGonigal - United Kingdom

The glacier was a surprise--we weren't expecting it to be so impressive. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2018

Jen Keister - United States Of America

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The hike on Perito Moreno glacier was so cool! I have hiked on other glaciers when the weather was bad, and we happened to get a bright and sunny day for this tour, so it made it very enjoyable.

Travelled: December 2017

Alysha - Colorado, USA

The Perito Moreno Glacier is breathtaking and easily accessible from the raised walkway in the park. We also did the boat tour, which offers history and closer view of the glacier.

Travelled: October 2017

Richard & Susan - Canada

Review:

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El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park and springboard to Perito Moreno glacier, located between El Chaltén and Torres del Paine.

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Where to stay around Perito Moreno glacier

There is no accommodation at Perito Moreno itself; visitors to the glacier base themselves in and around nearby El Calafate. This gateway city to Los Glaciares National Park has a wide variety of accommodation options, from simple guesthouses (hosterías) and B&Bs, to a selection of boutique and upmarket hotels. Many of our favourites have a lakeside position with views across Lago Argentina.

A great alternative for those looking to experience more of the Patagonian wilderness is to stay in a luxury lodge or an estancia, several of which can be found in close proximity to Perito Moreno. Basing yourself in one of these allows you to take advantage of their private guides and enjoy a variety of activities from horseback riding, hiking or exploring by mountain bike.

El Calafate Cauquenes Nimez Hotel

How to get to Perito Moreno glacier

Information sign for Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno glacier is around 59 miles (80km) from El Calafate. It takes around 90 minutes to get there, including the time needed to stop at the park entrance and show your tickets (in peak season, queues are possible).

Los Glaciares National Parks’ hiking and trekking hub of El Chaltén is about 195 miles (295km) from Perito Moreno by road via El Calafate. Allow around 4½ hours for the trip: the final approach to El Chaltén is trull spectacular as the Fitz Roy mountain ranges looms up above you. 

FAQs about Perito Moreno Glacier

  • How do I get to Perito Moreno?

    Perito Moreno Glacier is accessed from the town of El Calafate, which can be reached by air from Buenos Aires or other domestic airports in Argentina, or by bus from Punta Arenas in Chile.

  • How do I combine this with hiking the Fitz Roy Range?

    The Fitz Roy Range is accessed from the mountain town of El Chalten, which you can reach by bus (three hours) from the town of El Calafate, near to Perito Moreno.

  • Can I combine this with a visit to Torres del Paine?

    Yes, you can access Torres del Paine by bus from the nearby town of El Calafate. The journey is approx five hours long to Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine, from there it is another few hours into the park.

  • Do I need to have ice hiked before?

    No, there is no experience required for ice hiking on Perito Moreno.

  • Is there an age limit for the ice hike?

    Yes, the shorter 'mini ice' hike has an age restriction of 8-65 years old, and the longer 'big ice' hike has an age restriction of 18-50 years old. This restriction is in place because of the excursion provider's insurance policy. 
    While we appreciate this may be frustrating for some travellers, it's possible to hike without any age restrictions on Grey Glacier across the border in Torres del Paine.

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