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

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

Ice hiking on Perito Moreno

Tourist ice hiking on Perito Moreno glacier

There can be few better ways to get an appreciation for Perito Moreno’s untamed nature than to go ice hiking on the back of the glacier itself. After strapping on your crampons and grabbing your ice axe (no experience necessary) you’ll clamber over deep blue crevasses, witness incredible ice caves, splash through rivers of meltwater and finish feeling totally dwarfed by the glacier’s epic grandeur.

There are two different ice hike routes; both take a full day and include your transport to and from your accommodation in El Calafate and a boat ride to the most accessible part of the glacier.

If you just want a taster, the Mini Ice route (also called Minitrekking Perito Moreno) offers around 90 minutes on the ice itself, along with a walk along the side of the glacier and time to enjoy the lakeside scenic viewpoints opposite the glacier cliffs. Ages 8-65 years; maximum group size 20

For those after a more remote experience, the Big Ice route starts from the same location but allows for over three hours on the glacier. Hikers are divided into smaller groups than the Mini Ice hike, and really get the opportunity to head out to enjoy the icy horizons in almost complete solitude. Ages 18-50 years; maximum group size 10

Crampons and other equipment are provided for both excursions, but you'll need to dress for potentially cold and wet conditions while you're out on the ice. 

Mayo Spirit boat & hike

Mayo Spirit boat excursion around Perito Moreno glacier

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 the face of the Perito Moreno glacier.

You'll cruise in a boat that spaciously takes up to 60 passengers, with plenty of outdoor space for enjoying the views. After boarding in Punta Banderas, an hour from El Calafate, you sail for just over an hour to the first hiking point at Bahía Toro, where you walk through the forest to a towering waterfall. After this, the boat takes to a trail leading to mountain views of the hanging glacier at Cerro Negra.

When the hiking is done, the afternoon is spent cruising by Perito Moreno, traversing the famous Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel). The boat that seemed so large when you boarded it seems suddenly reduced to the size of a bath toy when set against the majesty of the ice cliffs.

Back on dry land, there is the final chance to enjoy Perito Moreno from the viewing balconies before returning to Punta Banderas.

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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

Kayaking at Perito Moreno glacier

Experience the true silence of nature while out paddling towards Perito Moreno glacier – a silence that’s only 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 on the water in front of the giant cliffs.

While some kayaking experience will help you get the most out of being out on the water, none is strictly needed, just an ability to paddle for the 90 minutes or so you’ll be out on Lago Argentina. After being picked up and transferred from your El Calafate hotel, you’ll be provided with all the kayaking gear 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 view of the glacier from the viewing balconies along the shore, to put its great size into context – and try to pick out the other tiny kayakers paddling near its base. Minimum age 12 years.

Pioneros Adventure excursion

Hiking on the Pioneros Adventure near Perito Moreno glacier

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 Estancia Nibepo Aike, nearly 40 miles (60km) down a dirt road from El Calafate. Patagonia was built on sheep ranches like this, and you’ll watch the gauchos go about their business on horseback with the sheep dogs, and witness a demonstration of sheep shearing.

After an asado lunch (Patagonia’s classic barbeque), you’ll board a small boat and sail far from where any roads can reach. Disembarking at Playa de las Monedas, guides will take you on a hike along the lake and through native lenga forest to a stunning viewpoint.

Back on board, you sail close to the southern face of Perito Moreno, perhaps toasting the scenery with a piece of glacial ice plucked straight from the water and chipped into your drink. The tour concludes at Perito Moreno’s viewing balconies, where you get to enjoy the views after the majority of visitors have left.

The final leg of the excursion is by road from here back to El Calafate.

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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

Tourist at the viewpoint overlooking Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares

Perito Moreno glacier is so massive that you often need to stand back to get a real sense of its scale. With this in mind, there is a series of modern walkways and balconies on the far shore of the lake to really allow you to drink in the view.

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 explosively calve into the lake.

The walkways are completely wheelchair accessible. Refreshments are available near the top of the walkways by the carpark.

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 boat and hike trip and kayaking.

Touching the Ice

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina

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.

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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 4.4/5 from 295 reviews

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 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

Customer Image

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:

Where to stay around Perito Moreno glacier

El Calafate Cauquenes Nimez Hotel

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 (such as Estancia Nibepo Aike) 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, wildlife watching or exploring by mountain bike.

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).

El Calafate is the main hub for Los Glaciares National Park as well as Perito Moreno. El Calafate airport (code FTE) has multiple daily flights to Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires (three hours) as well as connections to Ushuaia (for Tierra del Fuego, 75 minutes), Bariloche (for the Lake District, 1hr45), Trelew (for Peninsula Valdes, 1hr35) and Cordoba (three hours).

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. 

Travel to Chile Perito Moreno is geographically close to Torres del Paine National Park, but there are no direct flights from El Calafate. Instead, cross-border buses run to Puerto Natales in Chile, taking between 5–7 hours depending on border control. From Puerto Natales it's a further 2½ hours by road to Torres del Paine.

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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