ArgentinaBlogSouth America

A Day Trip to Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

A massive white monster stood just metres in front of us, shedding pieces of its face into the icy water below. That monster was Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the few glaciers left in the world that is actually still growing. It’s one of the highlights of any trip to Patagonia — here’s how we saw it without breaking the bank.

Taking the bus to Perito Moreno Glacier

The sun was shining as we boarded the bus — it was looking like our run of good luck with the weather was going to continue. We had booked a bus ticket the previous day for around 400 pesos (it was part of a deal that also included our return ticket to El Chalten) after deciding not to take one of the expensive tours. We had been informed a few days earlier by some fellow travellers that there isn’t much point taking a boat ride either, as the boats don’t get you as close as the viewing platforms do.

The bus stopped at the national park office where we had to buy an entrance ticket for 260 pesos. Don’t pay with US dollars — they’ll give you the terrible “official” rate.

Getting close to the glacier

One of the best things about visiting Perito Moreno Glacier is the fact that you can get so close to it. The walking tracks snake around the small hill, interrupted by several viewing platforms. These viewing platforms can get pretty busy, but wait around for a while and the numbers will slowly dwindle, before another big tour group comes to disturb the peace.

Perito Moreno Glacier viewing platform, Patagonia, ArgentinaPerito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina

Waiting for the ice to crack

You’ll hear plenty of loud cracking sounds while visiting Perito Moreno Glacier, but you might have to be patient if you want to see huge chunks of ice breaking off the face. It’s an incredible sight (and sound) and it reminds you how powerful nature can be. Some of the pieces we saw fall off were huge (easily the size of a car), and we also saw a big cave completely collapse. We sat for a few hours at the last platform, just watching and listening (and also eating lunch). If you look to the right you can get a good view of the lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Ice falling off Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, ArgentinaPerito Moreno Glacier lake, El Calafate, Argentina

Should you go on a tour or take the bus?

It depends on your budget. The ice trekking would be pretty awesome but it’s well over $100. Patagonia is already expensive for long term travellers (especially after travelling through the rest of South America), but if you’ve got the money you should do the ice trek (and then tell me what it was like). If you’re just planning to walk around the boardwalks there isn’t much point taking a tour — it’s impossible to get lost and it’s nice to be able to sit around on your own for a while, just looking at the massive glacier.

Ice near Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Argentina

El Calafate

If you’re visiting Perito Moreno Glacier you’ll probably end up staying a night or two in El Calafate. It’s not a bad little town and there are plenty of accommodation options, nice restaurants and places to shop. If you’re arriving from Puerto Natales in Chile, make sure you change your US dollars straight away – we searched for about half an hour before settling on a rate of 14 pesos for 1 dollar. There are some cafes across the road from the supermarket, they seemed to have the best blue dollar rate in El Calafate. Don’t change too much money though, the rate is a lot better in Buenos Aires (and most other places in Argentina, I imagine).

Have you seen a glacier before? Where was it? Let me know!

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Jon Algie

Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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8 Comments

  1. November 26, 2015 at 4:38 pm — Reply

    I haven’t been to Argentina yet but when I do go, I will make sure I see the Perito Moreno: looks stunning! Thank you for the tip about the tour: I have small children to I’d say I’ll stick with the boardwalk and save the money 🙂

    • Jon Algie
      November 29, 2015 at 9:42 am — Reply

      It’s the best option and makes for a cheap (for Patagonia) day out.

  2. Betsy
    November 27, 2015 at 8:45 am — Reply

    You’re right about how raw the experience with nature can be in a display with this kind of powerful grandeur. We have yet to visit South America, but Patagonia will definitely be on our itinerary. Thanks for zooming in on this destination for us.

    • Jon Algie
      November 29, 2015 at 9:43 am — Reply

      Thanks Betsy, you’ll love South America!

  3. December 2, 2015 at 8:40 pm — Reply

    Wow, stunning photos!

    I’ve been wanting to go there for so long that I wonder if I’ll ever make it happen once and for all! As you say, it’s not a cheap destination, and that keeps holding me back.

    • Jon Algie
      December 4, 2015 at 11:02 am — Reply

      Thanks Fernando. It’s actually not as expensive as I thought it’d be, and it’s definitely worth the extra money!

  4. December 8, 2015 at 5:59 am — Reply

    I must admit I’ve never been to Pto. Moreno glacier but I would love to.
    I’ve seen a glacier in Chile, though, the San Rafael glacier. I don’t think there are walkaways, or at least there weren’t any when we went, so we had to take a boat. It was an amazing experience. They served whiskey with ice chipped from the icebergs and floats (but I didn’t partake)

    • Jon Algie
      December 11, 2015 at 12:04 pm — Reply

      Sounds like a great experience!

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