Perito Moreno Glacier
This is our ultimate guide to Perito Moreno Glacier with 5 secret must-know tips before you go, including the best time to visit: 1) Highlights 2) Avoiding Tourist Crowds 3) Weather 4) How to Visit 5) Getting to Perito Moreno Glacier. And a lot more incredibly useful advice as well as stunning photos:
1. Highlights (Thunderous Sound of Cracking Ice)
To hear more of the deep thunderous sound of the cracking ice you should visit during sunny weather in the late afternoon (see options below). You will hear those sounds even in the morning hours quite often, but they are more frequent and intense in the (late) afternoon when the ice is warmed by the sun. The light to take photos is great in the morning as well as in the late afternoon, before sunset.
2. Avoiding Tourist Crowds
During high season (southern summer, Nov-Mar) it gets crowded between 9:30 AM and 5 PM. Dodge the crowds and you won’t have to fight for the best viewing spots. Even more important: Being able to listen to the cracking sounds of the glacier without other noise distractions from groups of visitors is just magical. Three ways to avoid those large groups of people:
Late Shuttle Bus:
The best way to avoid the crowds while using the public shuttle bus is to take the late one: Departing at 1 PM (or 2 PM) and going back at 7:30 PM. Using the late bus you have about 1-2 hours left later in the early evening at the glacier with significantly fewer tourists, as most of them leave between 4 PM and 5 PM. However, choosing this option you’d have to stay overnight in El Calafate as the last bus from El Calafate to El Chalten, for example, departs at 6 PM.
Go Early or Late (Rental Car/Taxi):
A rental car gives you the highest flexibility to dodge the crowds: You could either get there very early in the morning before any of the crowds arrive. Or preferably arrive around 4 PM to stay late and experience a magical sunset after most tourists have already left. You could also pay a taxi, including staying a couple of hours at the site. For both options it only makes economic sense when you are in a group of at least 3 people or money is not an issue.
It usually starts to get busy from mid-October until March. The peak months with the most crowds are December/January/February. Moderate month (still/already slightly busy): October/November, March/April. Late September until mid-October or mid-April until early May are great times with fewer tourists, lower rates and decent weather. However, it's not as warm as in the peak summer months. Monthly weather overview (you can switch between F and C): El Calafate Weather. A travel blogger who visited in late May: Read his article
The glacier is an amazing year-round destination. During southern summer (November - March) the weather is pleasant with the most sunshine but it also gets very crowded. The temperatures are mild, especially in Dec/Jan/Feb: 44-74°F (7-24°C). However, please keep in mind that the weather is unpredictable. Always bring rain gear and dress in layers. Visiting in the Winter (late May - August) means virtually no crowds, but really cold, rough weather (sometimes below 32°F/0°C) and less agencies offer tours to the glacier.
Perito Moreno Glacier is in the Parque National Los Glaciares. It's ice walls stand 70 meters tall and are very impressive. Near the glacier, it's very surprising to hear the Cachaña (South American Parakeet). In nearby Lago Argentina you can see flamingos and other water birds.
4. How to Visit
In general you can visit the glacier in 3 ways or combine them (recommended El Calafate Tours):
Walkways / Platforms: Getting there by either shuttle bus, taxi or rental car from El Calafate. Some even choose to hitchhike.
Boat Tours: Using the bus you can hop off at the first bus stop, for a reserved boat tour. Without a reservation, you can get off at the second bus stop and book it right there (250 ARS or USD $18). Many say the boat tours can be ignored, as you can’t get closer than at the closest viewpoint on the platforms. Others like the boat tours. In high season the boats definitely get heavily crowded.
Hikes on the Ice: Most agencies/tour operators offer two kinds of ice hiking tours: A short one between 1 and 2 hours. A longer one between 3 and 4 hours.
5. Getting to Perito Moreno Glacier (from El Calafate)
For a visit to the glacier the town of El Calafate is the ‘main base’:
Shuttle Bus: The bus from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier takes about 1 ½ hours. Tickets can be purchased the same day. However, it’s better to purchase a day in advance, as the demand is high. The common buses are: Departures at 7:30, 8:15, 9:30 AM or at 1:00, 2:00 PM Driving back: 4:00, 4:30, 7:00, 7:30 PM You have to check the bus schedule for yourself. It may vary depending on the month/season. Also be careful and clarify if the bus really drives back at 7:30 PM before going there. Some visitors report that the late bus didn’t drive
Taxi or Rental Car
- Booked tour: On the main street of El Calafate you’ll find many agencies offering tours to the glacier. They take care of everything and you can book a boat tour as well as walks on the ice: In high season most of the tours are quite busy/crowded. You should ask the agencies/tour operators if there are less busy ones at certain times. Some locals recommend Mundo Austral. We recommend booking a tour in advance: Perito Moreno Tours (safe booking)
- Park closes at 10 PM
- No smoking, no pets allowed
- There is always a fee per person, per day at the entrance to the park/glacier: 130 pesos, only cash. (children under 15 years are free). Not included in any pre-bookings.
- Bring your own food/water for a day trip
- There are no toilets at the viewing platforms, the closest are in the restaurant
Where to Stay (bookmark hotel links with low rates)
- EOLO - Patagonia Spirit (between El Calafate and the Glacier): Close to Perito Moreno, unique location with a breathtaking view. Luxurious, comfortable rooms, very clean, exquisite food, friendly staff.
- America Del Sur Hostel (El Calafate): Budget Tip! This hostel is recommended by most guidebooks. They are right: The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, the rooms are very clean, good breakfast and all-you-can-eat BBQ. Private rooms available. Small downside: About 15-20 walking minutes from the bus station.
- More Hotels/Lodges/Hostels: El Calafate Properties. Enter your preferred dates and then check the list of hotels. Make sure to change the search criteria to your liking at the top bar. We usually select 'Review Score & Price'. Check for 'Deal of the Day'!