A mere hour or so from El Calafate, inside the southern part of Parque Nacional de los Glaciares, lies the icy giant Glacier Perito Moreno. An easy and outstanding day trip brings you face to face with one of the worlds few stable or advancing glaciers. With a round trip bus ticket you can spend hours gazing at the vividly aquamarine blue crevices and frosty white towers with the occasional gun cracking crash of ice sheets calving into the surrounding lake. The bus drops you off at the beginning of a network of catwalks that allow you to view the glacier from all angles with stress free ease. You can either spend your approximate 3 hours hiking as much of the ‘trail’ as you can, or post up on one of the many benches while you eat your sandwich. Because there are so many catwalks and viewing opportunities, the crowds do not detract from the once in a lifetime chance to see one of the worlds disappearing wonders. We’ll never forget the vast beauty of this stoic giant and the thrill we got watching an entire ice tower detach and crash into the water with a thunderous explosion. Pictures could never do this sight justice.
We visited the park in February 2014.
What: Perito Moreno Glacier, Parque Nacional de los Glaciares.
How to get there:
Bus from El Calafate, Argentina (approx 2 hours).
Bus Company: Interlagos, TAQSA
You can purchase tickets from almost any hostel or directly at the bus station (same price).
When to go:
The bus company has a morning and an afternoon option. Best to take the afternoon option as more ice crashes from the glacier after getting warmed by the sun all day.
Costs (February 2014):
Bus Ticket (RT): 190 pesos (incl. a 5 peso bus station tax)
Entrance to Parque Nacional de los Glaciares: 130 pesos (non-argentinian price)
Where to stay in El Calafate:
As a budget traveler, El Ovejero offers affordable campsites about 10 minutes walk from the bus station. Each site has an Argentinian parilla (grill) so you can cook up your own steak or lamb dinner. Beware of the many stray dogs here though. (50 pesos pp per night)
- Bring a bagged lunch, you’ll want to stay on the catwalks while you eat and there is only one overpriced restaurant as an alternative.
- On the way to the viewing areas the bus will give you an additional drop off/pick up option to take a 1.5 hour boat cruise around the glacier. I believe this cost around 120 pesos. The bus will then pick you up and bring you to the catwalks with the rest of your group for the remaining time. We got many mixed reviews of this boating experience (gets you close but boats can be very crowded thus impairing the view) and decided to save our money and just go to the viewing area.
- There is also the opportunity to walk on the glacier, which allows you to view the ice up close. Travelers we met loved this experience. The one drawback is that you don’t get a chance to view the glacier from afar for too long, which is how you see the ice walls crashing down. Might be worth a two day trip if you do the Big Ice glacier walk.