Wondering how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate? We’re going to share the different options you have.
No trip to El Calafate would be complete without spending at least one full day exploring Los Glaciares National Park and seeing the iconic Perito Moreno Glacier.
This glacier is the top attraction in the region and it’s the main reason visitors come all the way down to El Calafate in the first place!
But how do you get to Perito Moreno Glacier and what’s there to see and do once you’re there? Well, we’ve got you covered.
This is our complete guide to visiting Perito Moreno Glacier and we’re going to share how to get there, what tours you can take, park entrance fees, opening hours, and lots of other essential info and practical travel tips.
How to get to El Calafate
First things first, if you want to visit Perito Moreno Glacier, you need to make your way to El Calafate. This town is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier.
You do NOT want to go to the town of Perito Moreno. Even though it shares the same name as the glacier, this town is in fact 629 kilometres away in the opposite end of the Santa Cruz Province.
I repeat, you want to go to El Calafate to see the Perito Moreno Glacier, and Perito Moreno to see the Cave of Hands.
This would be a very easy mistake to make, especially if you’re travelling across Patagonia by bus.
How to get to Perito Moreno Glacier
There are several different ways to get to Perito Moreno Glacier, so let’s start with the most affordable option and work our way up from there!
The travel time from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier is 1.5 hours whether you take the a bus, taxi or drive your rental car.
Take a bus to the glacier
The cheapest and easiest way to get to Perito Moreno Glacier is by taking a bus.
Buses depart from the El Calafate Bus Terminal and take you straight into Los Glaciares National Park.
The main bus companies that travel to the park are Cal Tur, Chaltén Travel and Marga Taqsa.
If you’re visiting during high season, I would recommend booking your bus tickets to the park in advance. You can do so via a travel agency in town or by walking over to the bus station on the edge of town (that’s what we did!). There is a limited number of buses making the journey each day, so you want to make sure you get a seat.
Also, book a round-trip ticket so you don’t get stranded at the park at the end of the day! Otherwise, you’ll have to call a taxi to come and get you.
Take a taxi or remis
The next option to get from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier is to take a taxi or remis.
In Argentina, a remis refers to a private car that you can book via an agency. It looks like a regular car (it’s not painted yellow nor does it have any distinguishing features), it does not have a meter, and the prices are pre-determined based on the destination. You know the price of the journey before you even get in the car.
There are several remis agencies in El Calafate and we used them a couple of times to get around and reach some of the further attractions.
These include: Taxi Remis Calafate Viajes Turísticos, Taxi Remis Los Andes, Taxis Remis El Puma and Taxi Remis Condor.
If you’re concerned about paying a fair price, ask for an estimate at your hotel or guesthouse. They should be in the know or at the very least they can recommend a reputable remis agency that they use with their guests.
This might be a good option if you’re travelling with a group of friends and you can split the cost 3 or 4 ways.
Rent a car and drive yourself
Getting from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier by car is another option and it’s the one that provides the most flexibility. You can drive out to Los Glaciares National Park and back when you please and stop at panoramic points along the way.
The only downside is that renting a car in Argentina isn’t particularly cheap and in Patagonia, there often isn’t a lot of availability.
The other thing to keep in mind is that most rental cars in Argentina are manual transmission, while in North America we’re used to driving automatic transmission.
I’ve rented cars in Argentina several times in different parts of the country and what I’ve found is that automatic cars can go for up to 3 times the cost of renting a manual. So that’s a major consideration.
Also, renting a car in Patagonia is more expensive than renting elsewhere in Argentina! Manual cars in El Calafate start out at $60 USD per day and automatic cars go for $100 per day. This is the minimum price, it can go up from there based on demand, time of year, and the type of vehicle you choose.
If you’re interested in driving in Argentina, I would recommend having a look at Discover Cars. They are a car rental comparison website with an aggregate search tool that helps you find the best car deals available.
If you decide to go this route, book your rental car in advance. Don’t try to do so once you land at El Calafate Airport, because you’re almost guaranteed to be out of luck!
Join a tour to Perito Moreno Glacier
Another way to get to Perito Moreno Glacier is by joining a guided tour that includes transportation to and from the park. These tours are done as a day trip from El Calafate.
There are all sorts of tours to Perito Moreno Glacier including ice trekking tours, scenic boat tours, and even walking tours of the boardwalks.
- Mini Trekking Excursion on Perito Moreno Glacier: This glacier trek includes transportation to and from the park. Once you arrive at the park, you board a vessel at Bajo de las Sombras and cross over to the glacier. You are then geared up with crampons and ice axes to begin the trek. This glacier trek has a maximum of 20 participants per guide.
- Perito Moreno Glacier with Navigation: This tour to Perito Moreno Glacier includes hotel pick up and drop off. Once you arrive at the park, you have time to visit the walkways and balconies for different perspectives of the glacier. During the navigation, you will sail around the south face of Perito Moreno which rises 60 meters above the water. The boat ride is 1 hour in length.
- Footbridges of Perito Moreno Glacier: This tour is basically private transportation to Perito Moreno Glacier. Once you arrive, you have free time to explore the walkways on your own. This is where you get to see Perito Moreno Glacier from the balconies. At the end of the day, you ride back to El Calafate and you can get dropped off at your hotel or in the centre of town.
Note: Keep in mind that even if you book a tour to Los Glaciares National Park, you will still need to pay the park admission fee separately. More on that below.
Los Glaciares National Park Info
Los Glaciares National Park was created in 1937 and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981. It is home to the third-largest continental ice field on the planet and to numerous glaciers, including Perito Moreno Glacier, which is one of the few advancing glaciers in the world.
Hours of Operation
From September 1 to April 30, the park entrance is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (and you may remain in the park until 8:00 pm). This is the summer schedule.
From May 1 to August 31, the park entrance is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (and you may remain in the park until 6:00 pm). This is the winter schedule.
As of 2024, the admission fees to Los Glaciares National Park are as follows:
- General rate: $12000 ARS
- National residents: $2500 ARS
- Children 6 to 16 years old: $1500 ARS
- Provincial residents: $1000 ARS
The general rate is the equivalent of $15 USD per person for a 1-day pass. If you book a 2-day pass, you get 50% off the second day’s tariff.
About Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most impressive natural wonders in South America.
The glacier is named after Francisco Moreno, an early pioneer who studied the region during the 19th century and played a crucial role in defending Argentina’s territory in the conflict surrounding a border dispute with Chile.
Francisco Moreno was locally known as Perito, which means ‘specialist’ or ‘expert’ and that’s how the name Perito Moreno came to be.
This sprawling glacier covers an area of roughly 250 square kilometres and forms part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which is the third-largest freshwater reserve in the world!
What sets Perito Moreno Glacier apart from other glaciers it that its very active. In fact, it’s one of the few advancing glaciers on Earth.
The glacier’s tip reaches the shores of Lago Argentino, and as it advances, it periodically forms a natural dam that blocks the waters of the Brazo Rico from the rest of the lake.
Pressure builds up during this period, eventually causing a massive calving event where the ice dam breaks and giant chunks of ice fly into the lake in a dramatic fashion. This event is something that occurs every 4 to 5 years.
Boardwalks and Trails
There are different boardwalks and trails to enjoy when visiting Perito Moreno Glacier. The Pasarelas section of Los Glaciares National Park has the following options:
- Central Circuit: 600 metres – 1:00 hs – Easy
- Lower Circuit: 1100 metres – 1:15 hs – Challenging
- Forest Trail: 570 metres – 0:45 hs – Moderate
- Shoreline Trail: 1117 metres – 1:30 hs – Moderate
- Accessible Circuit: 565 metres – 0:30 hs – Very easy
Tip: For the best hiking in Los Glaciares National Park, you’ll want to spend a few days in El Chaltén. This town is considered the trekking capital of Argentina and it’s located inside the northern portion of the park. In contrast, El Calafate is in the south end of the park and La Leona is in the middle.
Eating in the national park
Whether you’re visiting Perito Moreno Glacier independently or as part of a tour, you should be prepared to spend most of the day in the park and outdoors. That means you will get hungry at some point, so it’s good to think about lunch.
You can bring your own packed lunch which is what most visitors do. There are benches on the balconies that overlook the glacier, so you can stop to rest and enjoy a bite (granola bars, nuts, fruit, a sandwich, etc). Just remember that everything you bring in must also be carried out!
Alternatively, there is one restaurant inside the park and that’s Nativos de la Patagonia. This is a good option if you’d prefer a sit-down meal and a place to warm up. The restaurant offers both a la carte and buffet dining options. We got some grilled sandwiches and baked goods for our meal.
What to wear at Perito Moreno Glacier
Another important consideration when visiting Perito Moreno Glacier is what to wear. Keep in mind, it’s going to be much colder at the glacier than it is in the town of El Calafate.
Your best bet is to dress in layers that you can add and remove as the weather changes, and the weather will change, because this is Patagonia!
I would recommend 3 layers: a quick-drying shirt, a fleece and a rainproof jacket. You’ll want something heavier if you’re visiting in winter.
Plus, a hat, scarf and gloves. You’ll want these in the early morning and late afternoon year round.
In terms of footwear, trekking shoes are fine – you’ll pack these anyway if you’re planning to visit El Chaltén! The boardwalks and trails are super easy so you won’t need trekking poles here.
Perito Moreno Glacier Quick FAQs
To visit Perito Moreno Glacier, you’ll need to fly into El Calafate Airport (FTE), locally known as Aeropuerto Internacional Comandante Armando Tola de El Calafate.
There are multiple daily flights that connect Buenos Aires with El Calafate. In Buenos Aires, you can fly out of either Aeroparque or Ezeiza. Aeroparque is in the city and more convenient.
From El Calafate, you’ll head west along Provincial Route 11. It’s a 1.5-hour journey to reach Los Glaciares National Park where you can visit Perito Moreno Glacier.
Yes, you can see Perito Moreno Glacier without a tour by making your way to the park and walking the boardwalks and balconies circuit that offers views of the glacier from various vantage points.
You can enjoy a range of activities at Perito Moreno Glacier including scenic boat tours, guided glacier trekking tours, kayaking tours and more.
Where to stay in El Calafate
Now let’s talk about where to stay in El Calafate. I’m going to highlight a few options to fit different budgets, but you can also view our complete El Calafate hotel guide here.
- Xelena Hotel & Suites – This luxury 5-star property sits on the outskirts of town on the shores of Lago Argentino so book a room with a lakeside view. The hotel offers spacious rooms with modern decor, some rooms have private balconies, and guests can enjoy a spa, fitness center, indoor pool, and on-site restaurant.
- Hotel Kosten Aike – This 4-star hotel is set in an Alpine-style building and it has a warm and cozy feel. This property is centrally-located so it’s a good option for travellers who plan to move around on foot. It has spa facilities including a hot tub and sauna.
- Hosteria Posta Sur – This 3-star guesthouse is in the east end of El Calafate. This is a quiet area just a 5-minute walk from the centre of town. The rooms have heated floors and they serve a buffet breakfast.
- América del Sur Hostel Calafate – This hostel is a good option for budget travellers and independent travellers looking for a more social experience. The hostel has 6-bed dorms as well as private rooms, plus a communal kitchen and laundrette.
GROUP TOURS – If you’d rather join a group tour to travel in Argentina, check out Gadventures.
CAR RENTAL – To explore Argentina beyond the cities, the best way to do so is by renting a car. Discover Cars offers rentals across the country.
BUS TICKETS – Bus travel is a great way to see Argentina. BusBud offers numerous routes.
TRAVEL INSURANCE – Don’t leave on your trip without booking travel insurance. You can get a quote on SafetyWing.
HOTELS – Booking.com offers accommodations to suit all budgets and travel styles.
TOURS – For a variety of tours and activities, have a look at Viator.