Prepare to discover your inner adventurer as you explore and conquer one of the world’s most unique and awe-inspiring glaciers: The Perito Moreno Glacier. This grandiose glacier 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 it’s also the third largest fresh water reserve on the planet as well.
Now imagine yourself equipped with your ice spikes, trekking along this ice giant on a full-day discovery journey along one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually growing and advancing. This is opposed to the majority of the world’s glaciers that are retreating and melting due to the effects of global warming. As you traverse your trekking path, you’ll not only be taking in the sheer majesty of Perito Moreno, but you’ll also be walking upon one of the most important survivors of the last ice age… a time 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 while traversing a pristine branch of the largest lake in Argentina: the Argentino Lake. 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 a commanding respect for its sheer vastness. The ice that sits above the water measures at an impressive 262 feet (80 meters), which is close to the height of a 25 story building! And while that’s an incredibly vast size for the human eye to take in, imagine that measurement is only 15% of the glaciers 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 is truly 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 accessibility is significant and unique since most other glaciers require the need of long navigations or very long trekking times in order to have access to the ice. And while the glacier itself is definitely the main attraction, the park also boast quite remarkable scenery as well like glacial streams, small lagoons, crevasses, gullies, and plenty of impressive ice formations surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Andes mountain range, lakes and forested areas.
The tour develops 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 definitely picturesque, so the ride itself might feel quite a bit shorter with all of the beautiful scenery to behold. 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 be able to catch a first glimpse of the glacier, and then after the “sighing” turn, the glacier is suddenly there in all its impressiveness as if it’s finally revealing itself to us. From the port, we head out for a fifteen-minute navigation on the Rico Branch of the Argentino Lake, which borders the south wall of the Perito Moreno Glacier. The sheer vastness of the south wall alone is a humbling and inspiring sight. One 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. Pickets (poles) can also be provided upon request to help with your trek across the glacier.
The journey along the glacier is about a one hour and thirty minute trek that is about 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, like various cracks and shapes of ice as well as the colors of the ice itself. Ranging from white to dark blue, the various tones in color are the results of different layers of ice being under 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 told by counting its rings!
After your exhilarating excursion across the glacial wilderness, we will briefly hike through a Magellan forest to a lovely lookout point. Here we will enjoy lunch as we gaze out at the uninterrupted views of the Perito Moreno Glacier you have conquered just a short time ago.
After our lunch break (lunch is not included), we’ll head back to the boat and cross the Argentino Lake back to our initial launching point of Bajo las Sombras Port. On the way back, however, we’ll be stopping about 985 feet (300 meters) away from the south wall of the glacier for some epic picture-taking opportunities that will showcase the grand scale and beauty of the glacier. This navigation takes around thirty minutes to arrive back at the port.
After your triumphant morning conquering the Glacier, the second part of the tour takes you on the panoramic boardwalks overlooking the Perito Moreno Glacier, where we’ll enjoy some amazing photo opportunities. This will be a completely new perspective of the glacier from that of the glacier trek and the navigation. Plus, you’ll be able to put your newfound glaciology knowledge to the test as you observe the different shapes, colors, and intricate nuances of the ice.
There are actually seven different panoramic boardwalks or balconies located in strategic places that provide 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 heading down a long, descending path. However, the extra effort for this trail is definitely worth it because of the unique panorama overlooking the Perito Moreno Glacier that awaits you at the end of it.
If it’s your lucky day, you may be able to witness the crackling noises from the ice as it begins to give way and slides off the glacier into the water 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 as a normal cycle of the moving ice. When a large rupture occurs, huge chunks of ice plummet down into water in a spectacular fashion. While travelers doing this tour with group transfers can only stay at the boardwalks for just 40 minutes (which is not enough to visit all the balconies without rushing), you’ll be able to stay way longer enjoying the amazing views of the Perito Moreno Glacier from the panoramic balconies, because you have a private transfer to return to El Calafate. The day ends with a relaxed drive back to the comfort of your hotel in El Calafate with the satisfaction of having successfully conquered the mighty Perito Moreno!
Since you’ll be doing this tour with your own private vehicle and guide, you may stay at the panoramic boardwalks after the group tours return, having the possibility of a more exclusive experience at the panoramic boardwalks. You’ll also enjoy more convenient and faster transfers from and to your hotel, as there will be no other travelers to pick up or drop off at other hotels. The glaciers trek portion of the tour is done on group basis.
Important: 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 maximum group size for the glacier trekking is 20 travelers). For the visit to the panoramic boardwalks overlooking the Perito Moreno glacier you’ll have a private tour guide.
Vehicle: private vehicle. Approximate traveled distance: 100 miles (160 kilometers). While travelers doing this tour with group transfers can only stay at the boardwalks for just 40 minutes (which is not enough to visit all the balconies without rushing), you’ll be able to stay way longer enjoying the amazing views of the Perito Moreno Glacier from the panoramic balconies, because you have a private transfer to return to El Calafate.
Includes: entrance ticket to the Glaciers National Park.