Discover your inner adventurer as you explore and conquer one of the world’s most awe-inspiring and unique glaciers: The Perito Moreno. This splendid ice giant showcases its mighty glory in the Patagonian Glaciers National Park, which has been declared Mankind’s Natural Heritage site by UNESCO. The park’s vast size not only gives it the distinction of being the largest ice mantle in the world after Antarctica, but also that of being the third largest fresh water reserve on the planet.
Now, picture yourself strapping on your ice spikes, as you begin trekking along this ice giant on a full-day discovery journey along one of the few glaciers in the world, which is actually growing and advancing. This, as opposed to the majority of the world’s glaciers, which are retreating and melting as a result of the effects of global warming. As you traverse your trekking path, you’ll not only be taking in the sheer majesty of Perito Moreno, you’ll also be walking upon one of the most important survivors of the last ice age… a time long-forgotten, when glaciers covered 30% of the world’s oceans and 32% of all land!
Your full day of adventure also includes a close-up navigation of the Perito Moreno Glacier, as you traverse a pristine branch of the largest lake in Argentina: the Argentino. Here, amidst the backdrop of the majestic, snow-capped Andes, you’ll find yourself immersed in an unforgettable glacier experience, which ends with a visit to the seven panoramic balconies facing the front of the glacier where you’ll have amazing picture-taking opportunities. With its rugged landscape, graceful ice bridges, and intricate tunnels, the Perito Moreno glacier is sure to hold you captive with commanding respect for its vastness. The ice that sits above the water measures an impressive 262 feet (80 meters), which is close to the height of a 25-story building! And while that’s an incredibly large size for the human eye to take in, bear in mind that this measurement only accounts for 15% of the glacier’s total height: five times more ice is hidden underwater. That means that Perito Moreno’s total height comes in at a massive 1834 feet (560 meters). Imagine a humongous ice skyscraper that reaches well past the Empire State Building in New York City. Now that truly is a massive “chunk” of ice!
The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the world’s most accessible and popular ice fields, as mentioned in Conde Nast Traveler’s Report “Where to See Glaciers.” Its ease of access is significant, and unique, since most other glaciers require long navigation or extensive trek times in order to have access to the ice. And while the glacier itself is definitely the main attraction, the park also boasts remarkable scenery as well natural works of beauty such as glacial streams, small lagoons, crevasses, gullies, and plenty of impressive ice formations, all of them surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Andes Mountain range, lakes and forest areas.
The tour unfolds as follows: we start off with a 1 hour and 30 minute ride from your hotel to Bajo las Sombras Port. Views along this ride are greatly picturesque, so the ride itself might feel quite a bit shorter with all of the beautiful scenery to behold and snap pictures of! During the trip to the port, there will be one stop along the way. It’s known as the “curva de los suspiros” (the “sighing” turn). This is where we’ll catch a first glimpse of the glacier, and then after the “sighing” turn, the glacier suddenly presents itself before us in all of its impressive beauty, as if revealing itself to us. From the port, we’ll head out on a fifteen-minute navigational tour on the Rico Branch of the Argentino Lake, which borders the southern face of the Perito Moreno Glacier. The sheer vastness of the southern facel alone is a humbling and inspiring sight. Once we cross over to the opposite shore, we’ll be met with experienced glaciology guides who specialize in knowing all there is to know about the glaciers, trekking through them, and keeping you safe while exploring. Snow treads (or crampons of sorts) will be provided by the guides, and are to be attached to your boots or trekking shoes.
These “crampons” will ensure your feet have a good grip on the ice. The journey along the glacier is about a one hour and thirty minute trek, approximately 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) long. As you begin your trek on the glacier, you’ll be able to experience the quiet serenity of your surroundings. Along the glacial hike, we’ll take in all of the many nuances that make the Perito Moreno Glacier so unique and picturesque, including various cracks and shapes of ice as well as the colors of the ice itself; showcasing ranges of white to dark blue, the various tones in color are the results of different layers of ice being subjected to different levels of pressure. Scientists can actually determine the age of the ice by its color, similar to how a tree’s age can be determined by counting its rings!
After your exhilarating excursion across the glacial wilderness, we will enjoy a brief hike through a Magellanic forest, and to a lovely lookout point. Here we will enjoy lunch, as we gaze out at unencumbered views of the Perito Moreno Glacier, conquered by you just a short while back!
After our lunch break (lunch is not included), we’ll head back to the boat and cross the Argentino Lake, returning to our initial launching point of Bajo las Sombras Port. On the way back, we’ll be stopping about 985 feet (300 meters) away from the southern wall of the glacier, for some epic picture-taking opportunities that will showcase the grand scale and beauty of the glacier. Navigation will take around thirty minutes as we head back to port.
After your triumphant morning conquering the Glacier, the second part of the tour will take you on to the panoramic boardwalks overlooking the Perito Moreno Glacier, where we’ll enjoy some amazing photo opportunities, to further create memories of this unique trip. This will make for a completely new perspective of the glacier from that of the previous glacier trek and navigation. Also, you’ll be able to put your newfound knowledge of glaciology to the test, as you observe the different shapes, colors, and intricate nuances of the ice.
You’ll be able to enjoy seven different panoramic boardwalks or balconies, located in strategic places, and providing beautiful and impressive views of the glacier. These boardwalks range in length from 460 to 2100 feet (140 to 640 meters). In general, these boardwalks are easy to access. The one exception would be the southern balcony, which requires descending a long path. However, the extra effort for this trail is definitely worth it, because of the unique panorama overlooking the Perito Moreno Glacier that will await you upon your arrival.
If lucky, you may be able to witness the crackling noises from the ice as it begins to give way and slide off the glacier into the frigid waters below, with an impressive crash.
It’s definitely an experience you won’t soon forget… and that’s only a small rupture! Larger, more forceful ruptures occur every two years or so in a normal cycle of the moving ice. When a large rupture occurs, huge chunks of ice plummet down into the waters in a spectacular fashion, creating thunderous and deafening roars.
The day ends with a relaxed return drive back to the comfort of your hotel in El Calafate with the satisfaction of having successfully conquered the mighty Perito Moreno!
This tour has an age restriction. Travelers must be at least 10 years of age and not older than 65. Pregnant women, those who are significantly overweight, and persons with a motor disability or related health issues cannot take this tour.
Please note that lunch is not provided on this tour, and there is no place to purchase food in the refuge facing the Perito Moreno Glacier where you’ll have lunch, so you’ll have to bring your own lunch box along for the tour. Lunch boxes can be ordered from your hotel or a local food shop the day before the tour.
The tour’s exact itinerary and duration may change subject to weather conditions and decisions of the tour guide to optimize your tour experience.
Availability: this tour operates usually from August to May.
Difficulty: for the glacier trekking portion of the tour is moderate, while the rest of the tour is easy.
Approximate trekking time: 30 minutes in the forest to get to the glacier, an hour and a half on the glacier (total trek distance on ice: 1 mile or 1.6 kilometers) and another 30 minutes in the forest to return.
The activities were designed and planned for beginners with no experience at all. Strict security measures are followed throughout the tour. Crampons are specifically designed to make you feel stable on the ice, and will only be used for the part of the tour where we walk across the Glacier. This tour has an age restriction. Travelers must be at least 10 years of age and not older than 65 (if you are over 65 or have children under 10, let us know so we can suggest another very nice full day tour, which does not include the glacier trekking). Due to the degree of effort and difficulty that this excursion presents, is not allowed for pregnant women, people with overweight, some type of disability, or health problems.
Duration: full day (approximately 10 hours from the time you leave your hotel until you return).
Guide: group guide for the glacier trekking, the visit to the panoramic boardwalks which overlook the Perito Moreno Glacier (which lasts approximately 40 minutes) is self-guided. The maximum group size for the glacier trekking is 20 travelers. The vehicles used for the transfers for this tour have capacity of up to 40 travelers.
Vehicle: group vehicle. Approximate traveled distance: 100 miles (160 kilometers).
Includes: entrance ticket to the Glaciers National Park.