How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier!
We were absolutely BLOWN away by our visit to Perito Moreno Glacier ~ it’s a sight that CANNOT be missed when visiting Patagonia or Argentina!! Though photos of the glacier are magnificent, nothing substitutes seeing it for yourself. It’s a MUST!! During our Patagonia planning, though, we found it difficult to find reliable information online, which is why I’m writing this guide on how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier ~ including my best tips for saving money & making the most of your visit!
Info About Perito Moreno Glacier
- Closest Major Town = El Calafate, Argentina.
- Entrance Fee for Perito Moreno Glacier = 500 Argentinian Pesos (approx. $30 US). YOU MUST BRING CASH!!! They do NOT accept credit cards at the entrance. (My friends didn’t have enough cash, & had to borrow money from people on the bus!) There are several ATM’s in El Calafate ~ so make sure to take cash out there.
- Best Way to Get There = By bus. Buy tickets online at busbud.com or in person at the bus station. If you have a specific day you want to go, buy tickets in advance! Cost is 600 pesos (round-trip), or $30 US. You can choose either a morning departure (8:30AM or 9AM) or afternoon (1PM or 2:30PM), with returns at 4PM & 7:30PM. The ride takes about two hours, each way.
- Quick Tips = Bring wine & snacks to enjoy at the glacier, especially if you’re spending the whole day there! There’s a restaurant at the glacier (with beautiful views), but you probably won’t want to spend too much time there. Bring your own food & enjoy it at one of the many lookout points around the glacier!
- Don’t Confuse Perito Moreno Glacier with the Town of Perito Moreno! Just to make things confusing, there’s a town called “Perito Moreno” in the very northern part of Patagonia, also in Argentina. ALWAYS add “Glacier” at the end, to make sure you’re going to the correct Perito Moreno! The glacier is two hours from El Calafate, while the town is several hundred miles north & over 12 hours by bus!
Take a Tour…or Go On Your Own?
Several tour companies in El Calafate offer tours to Perito Moreno Glacier. While it will cost you about $60 US to go by yourself, tour companies will often charge much more than this to take you there! If you prefer to pay less money & have the freedom to explore on your own ~ then by all means, just take the bus there yourself. Trails are very well-marked at the glacier, making for an easy self-guided tour.
If you’re staying in El Chalten or Puerto Natales, Chile (other popular Patagonian towns), many companies will also offer glacier tours from those cities. I DO NOT recommend taking these!!! Puerto Natales, for instance, is over FIVE HOURS away, & in Chile ~ meaning you’ll be on the bus ALL day, & need to cross through immigration TWICE, both ways. Terrible idea!! Likewise, El Chalten is over FOUR hours from the glacier, meaning you’ll be spending most of your day on the bus ~ & not at the glacier. My best advice? Stay in El Calafate for at least a night & visit the glacier from there.
How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier!
The map below shows where Perito Moreno Glacier is in relation to El Calafate. It’s located almost directly west of town, & is easily reached via a two-hour bus ride. You can also rent a car to get to the glacier ~ but here’s something to consider: there is ONE gas station in El Calafate, & the line for gas was often over an HOUR long!! So when considering how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier, you can understand why I say taking a bus is the absolute easiest way to get there!
Perito Moreno Glacier
Here are three items you’ll be VERY glad to have at Perito Moreno Glacier: 1) Good sunscreen, 2) A good, winter jacket (we were there on a “warm,” summer day, & still needed jackets), & 3) Binoculars, to get the best possible view of the glacier. Even with 20/20 vision, it’s hard to see details without a little help.
Perito Moreno Glacier Info & Photos
Now that you know how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier ~ what’s it like when you’re there? You’ve got miles & miles of metal walkways with wood handrails, offering gorgeous, non-stop glacier views. Our bus dropped us off at the lowest parking lot, next to a large restaurant. We used the restrooms there, then started along the path towards the glacier.
The walkway is mainly flat, but you’ll encounter several staircases along the way ~ especially as you get closer to the glacier. Also, as you get closer, you’ll start to hear massive cracks in the ice that are bone-chilling! We saw huge columns of ice simply fall away into the lake. It’s impossible to describe this phenomenon in words, & is absolutely thrilling to witness.
Where to Stay by Perito Moreno Glacier
I used El Calafate as a base for exploring Patagonia, & stayed there for several days. To save money, I stayed in a hostel….& it ended up being one of my favorite hostels EVER!! America del Sur Hostel ($17-120+) has some of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen (see photo below). Their common area is fantastic, with lots of tables set up along panoramic windows & surprisingly great Wi-Fi. They offer breakfast in the morning (with eggs!) & have private rooms too, not just dorms. The staff are helpful & efficient, & as with most hotels in Patagonia, they’ll store your bags if you go on a longer trek.
If a hostel just isn’t your thing, a couple of good mid-range options (around $50-75 US/night) include Glaciares de la Patagonia & Fuerte Calafate Hotel, which is set on a hill overlooking Lago Argentina. Or, if luxury is more what you’re after, try the Xelena Deluxe Hotel & Suites or the Mirador del Lago Hotel ($120+).