The Perito Moreno Glacier: A Visitor Guide
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Argentina News

The Perito Moreno Glacier: A Visitor Guide

6 min read

May 11, 2013


By Rebecca Diaz

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Last updated on January 19th, 2021 at 08:20 am

The Perito Moreno Glacier Essential Guide!

No Tour of Patagonia is complete without a visit to the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier. The Glacier is 19 km long, 3km wide, and covers an area three time greater than Manhattan Island. Located in Los Glaciares National Park the Perito Moreno Glacier forms part of the Patagonian Ice Field, the World’s 3rd largest behind only the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Sheet. Whats more, the Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers in the World that has not retreated giving visitors the unique experience of seeing a major glacier in the same condition that previous generations of visitors have.

Aside from the gobsmacking enormity of the glacier another highlight for visitors is watching sections of the glacier cave and collapse thunderously into Lago Argentino. A labyrinth, multi tiered walkway constructed in front of the glacier allows visitors to view it from multiple angles. For anyone taking a Tour of Argentina a visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier is highly recommended. Read on to learn some traveler tips in our guide to the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Getting there

Perito Moreno Glacier PatagoniaTo get to the Perito Moreno Glacier you will have to stay in the city of El Calafate. If you are visiting El Calfate from elsewhere in Argentina I recommend flying. You can take a bus but the city is very isolated from other places in this enormous country. El Calafate is a 3-hour flight from Buenos Aires or a 1-hour 20-minute flight from Bariloche. If you are coming from Southern Chile, then I recommend taking a bus from Punta Arenas (10h) or Puerto Natales (6h).

There are great hotels in all categories to choose from in El Calafate once there. From El Calafate you can travel to the glacier by, bus, taxi or even cruise ship. The journey there takes around 1-hour, 30-minutes. Along the way you will coast the beautiful Lago Argentina which is dotted with mini icebergs, the broken fragments of the giant glacier that awaits you at your destination.

About the glacier

Perito Moreno GlacierThe Perito Moreno glacier was named after Francisco Moreno, an explorer who studied the area in the 19th Century. It is one of 356 glaciers that make up “Los Glaciares National Park”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of Argentina’s most popular tourist attractions.  This set of glaciers is fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field that is located in the Andes system shared with Chile. This ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. With a 5km (3 miles) wide face and reaching a height of 60 meters (196 feet), Perito Moreno Glacier is the most stunning in the whole park.

Your options

1. Traditional Tour:

There are a number of different ways to experience the Perito Moreno Glacier. A traditional tour involves traveling to the viewing platform where you can view the glacier from numerous angles and elevations on the walk way constructed at the glacier’s base. I highly recommend taking the nautical tour to any visitors. This is a 50-minute boat tour which will take you up close and personal with the glacier and can be done from near the base of the glacier.

2. Mini-Trek:

For more adventurous travelers I highly recommend the mini-trekking option. This is a special tour that allows visitors to walk on the glacier. Once on the glacier you can explore its caves where refracted light give it a deep blue color. Your experienced guide will provide you with all the necessary equipment including crampons to walk on the ice. You will also have a boxed lunch. This is an amazing way to experience the glacier and further enhances your appreciation of it enormous mass. Another nice touch is enjoying a whiskey with ice chipped from the glacier itself!

3. An Elegant Cruise:

For visitors who wish to visit the glacier in style a cruise can be a great option. The Glaciers Gourmet Company offers tourists the option of visiting the glacier on board their María Turquesa Cruiser. Passengers will visit several glaciers including the Spegazzini and Upsala Glaciaers before arriving the Perito Moreno Glacier. The boat is equipped with a kitchen and offers fine dining options. The specially designed viewing deck is ideal for relaxing and enjoying the Glaciers of the region in their full splendor.

Lago Argentino

Lago Argentino is Argentina’s largest lake. Vistors will be struck by the luminous blue hue of the lake which happens as a result of minerals that are suspended in its waters. The lake in which the Perito Moreno glacier floats is separated in half at times due to the advance of the glacier.  Periodically, the glacier advances over the Lago Argentino forming a natural dam, the water level on the Brazo Rico side can rise by up to 30 meters above the level of the main lake. The intense pressure ruptures the ice barrier in a unique spectacle that is repeated every three or four years and is attended by thousands of people from around the world.

El Calafate:

El Calafate is a small tourist town that sits on the shores of Lago Argentino. The town is small and easy to navigate with lots of great shops and restaurants. While here I particularly recommend the lamb which is a local speciality. Aside from the Glacier you can also visit the ice-museum, try zip-lining or. visit a local estancia.

Why visit the Perito Moreno glacier?

This impressive natural wonder has become world famous for several reasons: it is the only one in the whole Patagonian glacier basin that is not retreating; it is easy to access, and the continuous advance and frequent calving. Visitors to Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier take hiking paths of varying difficulty to enjoy the incomparable views of the glacier, as well as wildlife spotting. You can even go trekking on the glacier itself; a truly unforgettable way to experience the size and majesty of the Perito Moreno glacier.

Other highlights of Argentina

Argentina is not only home to glaciers in Patagonia. Visitors can also sip a wine while enjoying a tango show in Buenos Aires. You can go whale watching while sitting on the deck of a boat in Puerto Madryn. Sip wine while enjoying the sunshine of Mendoza! and much much more!

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Last updated on January 19th, 2021 at 08:20 am

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