Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most outstanding natural attractions in Argentinian Patagonia. Located in Los Glaciares National Park in El Calafate, visiting Perito Moreno Glacier is an absolute must during your time travelling Patagonia. There are many great organised Perito Moreno tours to consider. Certainly, the ‘minitrekking’ (mini trekking) tour on Perito Moreno is becoming an increasingly popular option. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour. We’ll also cover details about other fantastic tours on offer at the glacier. For the DIY traveller, we’ll also detail how to visit and organise activities independently.
If you’re travelling south to north as part of your Patagonia trip, you may be interested in doing the W Trek before you arrive in El Calafate. Read our W Trek hiking guide for more information.
Table of Contents
About Perito Moreno Glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier (Glaciar Perito Moreno) in the southwest Santa Cruz province of Argentina is the main attraction of El Calafate. In fact, the glacier forms part of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. This is the third largest ice field in the world behind Antarctica and Greenland! Perito Moreno Glacier stretches over 250 square kilometers and rises approx. 75 meters above the water’s surface. Indeed, the Perito Moreno Glacier is absolutely magnificent. So, an excursion to Perito Moreno is a non-negotiable for your Patagonia itinerary.
When it comes to Perito Moreno Glacier tours, you can’t go past the incredible minitrekking tour. The glacier trekking AKA ice trekking tour is a phenomenal way to explore the big ice field at Perito Moreno. This epic Patagonia glacier hike is perhaps the best way to experience Perito Moreno. Below, we’ll dive into all of the details about this full day tour, which above all else, includes trekking Perito Moreno Glacier!
Read here for more information about how to visit Perito Moreno Glacier independently.
Perito Moreno Minitrekking Tours
Also known as the Perito Moreno trekking tour and Perito Moreno glacier hike, trekking Perito Moreno has become a very popular activity. Although, you’ll find there are two main Perito Moreno glacier hiking tour options. There’s the popular Perito Moreno minitrekking tour and the Perito Moreno Glacier Big Ice Trek. Both Perito Moreno tours are run by the same company called Patagonia Dreams. Indeed, only this company runs Perito Moreno trekking tours. So, what’s the difference between the Perito Moreno minitrekking and the Big Ice tour? Let’s find out below.
Perito Moreno Minitrekking and Big Ice Tour: What’s the Difference?
The main difference between the Perito Moreno minitrekking and the Big Ice tour is the time spent on the glacier. During the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour, you’ll spend around an hour trekking on the glacier. On the Big Ice Tour, you’ll have around four hours of trekking on the ice. As you may expect, the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour is far less physically demanding as you’ll do less hiking compared with the Big Ice Tour.
Additionally, given you’ll spend less time on Perito Moreno Glacier, the minitrekking tour is much cheaper. Usually, the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour is around $200USD+, whereas the Big Ice Tour is around $400USD+.
The only other difference is the time of year that the tour operates. The Perito Moreno minitrekking tour runs from September to June, whereas the Big Ice Tour runs from September to May.
Unless you’ve specifically travelled to Patagonia to do Perito Moreno trekking, we think the minitrekking tour will suffice. Having an hour of ice trekking should certainly be enough for most people wanting to explore the glacier. So, that’s the tour we recommend and will discuss further in this guide.
FYI – head to our FAQs for a full rundown of costs associated with doing the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour.
What’s Included in a Perito Moreno Minitrekking Tour?
Below, we’ll cover what’s included in a Perito Moreno minitrekking tour.
- Transport: pickup and drop-off from selected hotels in El Calafate.
- Bilingual guide
- Boat ride: you’ll travel across Lake Argentino (Brazo Rico) to get to and from the glacier.
- Equipment for ice trekking: crampons, gloves and helmets.
What Isn’t Included in a Perito Moreno Minitrekking Tour?
Below, we’ll cover what’s not included in a Perito Moreno minitrekking tour.
- Food: you’ll have to pack your own snacks and lunch. There isn’t anywhere to buy food during the tour. We guarantee you’ll be hungry after ice trekking, so don’t forget to take food!
- Water: similarly, water isn’t provided. Indeed, on a sunny day, you’ll be parched after smashing out some ice trekking. Make sure to take 1–2L of water with you.
- National Park Entrance Fee: $5,500ARS/person ($30 USD) (as of January 2023).
- Tip: it’s customary to tip in Argentina.
The Perito Moreno Minitrekking Tour Itinerary (What to Expect)
The Perito Moreno minitrekking full day tour takes around 9–10 hours. They usually start with pickup at around 7–8am and drop-off at around 4–5pm. Below, we’ll cover details of the typical itinerary of the tour so you know exactly what to expect!
El Calafate Hotel Pick Up and Arrival at Puerto Bajo Sombras
You’ll be picked up from your hotel in El Calafate between 7–8am. Sometimes, there are only select hotels that the tour operator picks up from. So, if you’re not staying at one of the selected El Calafate hotels, you may need to make your way to one of these hotels to be picked up. Keep in mind that the transfer between El Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park usually costs an additional $30USD. So, if you have your own car, you can arrange to meet the tour group at Puerto Bajo Sombras (more on that below). Read here for details about renting a car in Patagonia.
It’ll take around 1.5 hours to get from El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park. Before arriving at the park, you’ll stop at a nice viewpoint of Lake Argentino, which is the lake that surrounds Perito Moreno Glacier. You’ll then pay the entrance fee – $5,500ARS/person ($30 USD) (as of January 2023). Next, you’ll be driven to the dock at Puerto Bajo Somras. Expect to arrive at around 9am. Soon, you’ll be chillin’ on the boat heading over to the Perito Moreno Glacier!
The boat ride itself, across Lake Argentino, is a wonderful experience. During the boat ride, you’ll cruise right next to the gigantic glacier, enjoying stellar close-up views. It’s understandable why some people choose to do a Perito Moreno Glacier, Boat Cruise & Glaciarium (more on that here). Of course, by doing the minitrekking tour, you shouldn’t need to do a separate boat tour.
After the terrific boat ride, you’ll arrive at a lodge, where your gear will be fitted. Yes, it’s time to put on your helmet, crampons and gloves! Before you set off to do the ice trekking, you can leave your bag and packed lunch at the lodge.
Perito Moreno Minitrekking
The moment has come! Indeed, ice trekking along the immense Perito Moreno is one of the best things you can do in Patagonia. During the ice hike, you’ll often walk in a single file, following a ready-made trek. The trail takes you by amazing deep blue crevasses and spectacular viewpoints. If you’re up for it, you’ll even be able to drink the water from the glacier. Water doesn’t get much fresher and purer than that! Better yet, you’ll be offered some whiskey, served on the rocks, with ice from the glacier!
After your incredible minitrekking experience on Perito Moreno Glacier, you’ll briefly head back to the lodge for lunch. You’ll then board the boat back to Puerto Bajo Sombras. From there, you’ll be driven 10 minutes to a car park near the well-known Perito Moreno Glacier boardwalk.
Other Perito Moreno Trekking: The Boardwalk
A boardwalk system at Los Glaciares National Park is made up of about 4km of interconnected paths. Personally, we walked about 2–3km of these trails. It was easy to follow a set of loops consisting of several tracks. This ensured we saw the glacier from all different angles. It certainly makes for a leisurely stroll after the intense ice trekking.
This humungous glacier is very active, losing chunks of ice every few minutes. Make sure to patiently watch and wait for the spectacular show of a thunderous boom and subsequent ice break and fall.
After enjoying the boardwalk, you’ll soon jump back on the bus and make your way back to El Calafate!
How to Know Which Company to Book With
As mentioned, the only company running trekking tours at Perito Moreno Glacier is Patagonia Dreams. Of course, it’s possible to book on arrival in El Calafate at their office. Otherwise, you can book the tour with either GetYourGuide or Viator. Whether you book through GetYourGuide or Viator, you’ll still do the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour with Patagonia Dreams. The benefit of booking through either of these reputable online tour companies is that they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy.
FYI – although prices are subject to change, we found (in 2023), that the GetYourGuide tour was almost $100USD cheaper than the tour offered on Viator.
Other Worthwhile Perito Moreno Tours
If you do the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour, there isn’t a need to do a boat tour separately. But, you may want to come back to the glacier to do a kayaking tour. The Perito Moreno Kayak Experience with Transport is also run by Patagonia Dreams. Certainly, exploring the Perito Moreno Glacier by kayak is a phenomenal way to explore the ice field. On a kayak, you’ll be able to steer and weave into sections near the glacier that a boat just wouldn’t be able to access.
If you’re not sold on doing the Perito Moreno minitrekking ice tour, but want to still do an organised tour, it’s easy to book a boat tour of the glacier. As mentioned previously, the Perito Moreno Glacier, Boat Cruise & Glaciarium tour is a good choice for those wanting to explore the glacier by boat. This option is much cheaper than the minitrekking tour. At the same time, you’ll get to see incredible views of the glacier, that you wouldn’t otherwise see by just walking along the boardwalk. This is another tour operated by Patagonia Dreams and gives you access to the Glacarium, the day after the tour.
FYI – it’s possible to organise the approx. three-hour return boat tour independently upon arrival at the Los Glaciares National Park. In 2020, prices were around $1200–1500ARS ($18-24USD). For more information, check out Why Not Talk’s experiences on doing the boat tour.
If you’re looking for the cheapest organised tour of Perito Moreno Glacier, we recommend the Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise. By doing this tour, all transport will be taken care of. The highlight will be the magnificent boardwalk. Best of all, if you decide you want to do the boat tour, you can simply organise that when you’re there.
How to Get to the Perito Moreno Glacier (Visiting Independently)
It’s possible to get to and from Perito Moreno Glacier independently from El Calafate. You can experience the boardwalk and organise a boat tour independently. Although, you can’t do any ice trekking without doing an organised tour.
Luckily for us, we met our friends in El Calafate who had rented a car and kindly drove us to and from the glacier. If you don’t have the same luxury, you’ll need to get the return shuttle bus as there is no public transport option.
As of 2022, it costs around $800ARS ($20USD) for a return ticket. You’ll catch the shuttle service from the bus terminal in El Calafate. Caltur and Chalten Travel are the two main companies offering shuttle buses. But, tour companies such as Patagonia Dreams, Always Glaciers and Taqsa also run shuttles. The most common departure time from El Calafate is around 8–9am, returning by 4pm. There’s usually also a less popular later service, departing at 1pm and returning around 7pm. The journey takes 90 minutes so this will give you ample time at the glacier!
Booking the shuttle bus to Perito Moreno Glacier the day before departure is highly recommended. So when you arrive in El Calafate, we know it’s tempting to head straight to your accommodation. But, considering the main bus station is on the outskirts of town, we’d recommend booking these tickets there and then. This will save the hassle of having to head back to the bus station later that same day.
Getting to El Calafate: The Gateway to the Perito Moreno Glacier
It’s easy to get to El Calafate by bus. Using Busbud, we paid $20USD/person for a bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate. Usually, the time quoted for the bus is around six hours. But, be aware that the border crossing can take around two hours. So, in reality, the bus usually takes around eight hours. You’ll catch the bus from the main bus station in El Calafate.
If you’re coming from the opposite direction, you’ll likely be catching a three hour bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate for around $18USD/person.
Leaving El Calafate
If you’re heading north to El Chaltén, it may be possible to get a bus the same day after going to Perito Moreno Glacier. We booked a 9pm departure through Busbud with Chaltén Travel for $17.50USD/person. We got this bus on the same day we visited the glacier. The bus arrived in El Chaltén around midnight. This maximised our time in El Chaltén, which is an amazing town for outdoor enthusiasts.
Alternatively, if you’re getting the bus to Puerto Natales, leaving El Calafate on the same day as seeing the glacier may not be possible. That’s because the only departure times from El Calafate to Puerto Natales during peak season are usually only early morning (7:30–8am).
Accommodation: Hotels Near Perito Moreno
There aren’t hotels at Perito Moreno Glacier or the Los Glaciares National Park. Most people visiting Perito Moreno Glacier will do so from El Calafate. If you’re staying in El Calafate and are looking for the best budget option, you’ve come to the right place!
Using booking.com, we booked a private room for two people for one night at Hostel Aves del Lago for around $25USD. The location was really nice, with views of Lago Argentino. The accommodation is quite small with only a few tiny rooms. But, there are two separate kitchens so there were no queues to cook! The host was lovely and offered a currency exchange service that was a better rate than in town.
By staying at Hostel Aves del Lago, you’ll also be within walking distance of Reserva Laguna Nimez, where there are other El Calafate trekking opportunities. The reserve even has flamingos! Admittedly though, we thought the $500ARS ($8USD) entrance fee was steep. But again, our good friends at Why Not Walk checked it out and liked it, so click here for more details about Laguna Nimez.
Renting a Car
As mentioned, having your own set of wheels will make the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour much cheaper. That’s because you’ll avoid paying for the transfer. Simply, you can arrange to meet the tour group at Puerto Bajo Sombras in Los Glaciares National Park.
If you decide to hire a car for your Patagonia trip, we recommend using RentalCars.com. They have an unbeatable free cancellation policy. Additionally, by booking online in advance, you’ll guarantee car availability. Indeed, booking upon arrival at a local car hire agency may be riskier in terms of availability, reliability and cover if something goes wrong.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Beck and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future. Use the widget below to suss out a quote today.
Help With Planning Your Patagonia Trip
Personally, Beck and I spent well over a month in Patagonia. We started in Ushuaia and ended in Bariloche, making many stops along the way. If you need help planning your trip or need some travel inspiration, check out our Patagonia guides.
Other Awesome Patagonia Tours
During our Patagonia trip, we did two other brilliant tours, which we highly recommend. Firstly, the Marble Caves boat tour in rural Chilean Patagonian was simply unforgettable. This tour is easy to organise once you arrive in Río Tranquilo. The other tour we highly recommend is an Ushuaia penguin watching tour. Personally, we recommend the Ushuaia: Penguin Watching Tour by Catamaran.
FAQs About Perito Moreno Minitrekking
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about the truly breathtaking Perito Moreno minitrekking tour.
What Exactly Is Glacier Trekking on Perito Moreno?
Basically, you’ll walk on the ice of the glacier using specialist gear such as crampons. Patagonia Dreams organises glacier trekking tours on Perito Moreno.
Why Is Perito Moreno Glacier Trekking a Popular Activity?
Let’s be honest, the glacier is simply immense. By ice trekking on the glacier, you’ll experience Perito Moreno in all its glory.
Who Is Perito Moreno Minitrekking Good For?
Anyone that likes the great outdoors and enjoys thrilling activities! Previous experience doing ice trekking isn’t required. Indeed, this ice trekking experience would be ideal for a beginner.
How Much Does a Perito Moreno Minitrekking Tour Cost?
Generally speaking, the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour costs around $200–$300USD. Keep in mind that tours don’t cover the entrance fee, which is roughly $5,500ARS/person ($30 USD) (as of January 2023).
What Can You Do At the Perito Moreno Glacier?
Other than ice trekking, you can simply walk along the famous boardwalk. In terms of water activities, you can do a boat tour and kayaking around the glacier. Find out more about these other activities and tours here.
What Makes Perito Moreno Unique?
This glacier actually grows at the same speed it recedes. That means, despite global warming contributing to its melting, the glacier isn’t shrinking in over all mass. This is unlike most glaciers in the world that are shrinking in size due to global warming.
Is Perito Moreno Worth Visiting?
The Perito Moreno Glacier is one the most outstanding natural attractions in the whole of Patagonia. Despite being a tourist hotspot, the glacier is certainly still worth visiting. To that end, make time to visit El Calafate so you can go and enjoy the breathtaking glacier.
How Do I Get to Perito Moreno From El Calafate?
For information about getting to Perito Moreno from El Calafate, read here.
If you’re doing the Perito Moreno minitrekking tour, make sure to pack your own snacks, lunch and drinks. To avoid glare from the glacier on a sunny day, make sure to wear a pair of sunglasses. I usually wear Ray-Ban Polarised Clubmaster Square Sunglasses – stylish and practical (if I do say so myself). To that end, you’ll want to take other measures to protect your skin from the sun. We recommend wearing a hat and putting on plenty of sunscreen.
- Save your entrance fee ticket if you visit more than once: if you plan to go back for a second consecutive day, show your ticket from the previous day for a cheaper rate. Your entrance fee will be reduced by around half price – $2,000 ARS/person ($15 USD).
- Position yourself on the right side of the boat: this will ensure you enjoy the best views on the boat ride during the Perito Moreno Glacier minitrekking tour.
- Groceries in El Calafate: there is a small cafe at the entrance office of Los Glaciares National Park. But, as usual, packing your own food is a wise investment! We stocked up on lunch and snacks at La Anónima in El Calafate.
- Unpredictable costs: the economy in Argentina is often unstable. So, the value of the Argentine peso ($ARS) is constantly changing. This means prices are always changing too. As a general rule, you should travel with and exchange $USD to account for inflation.
Who will you do the Perito Moreno mini trekking tour with? Share this guide with your Patagonia travel buddies on Facebook.
Leave a comment