Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park, is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the planet. This massive glacier, which spans over 250 square kilometers, draws thousands of visitors every year who come to witness its awe-inspiring beauty and power.
In this article, we will explore the Perito Moreno Glacier and all the activities that it offers, including minitrekking and Big Ice Trek. We will also take a look at the best places to stay and eat in El Calafate, the gateway city to the glacier.
About Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier is a vast glacier in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. This glacier is unique in that it is still growing, despite the fact that many of the world's glaciers are retreating due to global warming. The glacier is around 30 kilometers long, and it is one of the few glaciers in the world that can be accessed by land.
Visitors to Perito Moreno Glacier can witness its majesty from a distance, but for those who want to experience it up close, there are two options available: Minitrekking and Big Ice Trek.
The Minitrekking tour is a popular half-day excursion that offers visitors the opportunity to explore Perito Moreno Glacier up close. This activity involves walking on one of the biggest glaciers in the world with crampons. You will have the opportunity to explore the glacier's crevasses and experience its stunning beauty from a unique perspective. I did this tour and it was incredible!
You can book this tour in advance or at the agency in town called Hielo & Aventura in El Calafate. They are the only ones offering this tour!
The company picks you up at your hotel in the morning and after a 1h30 bus ride, you arrive at the Perito Moreno Glacier. The tour begins with a boat ride across Lake Argentino, which takes you to the southern wall of the glacier. From there, your group will disembark and walk along a network of trails and platforms to reach the starting point of the trek.
Once on the glacier, you will be provided with all the necessary equipment, including crampons, helmets, and harnesses. The guides will lead the way, taking visitors on a two-hour trek across the glacier's surface. Along the way, you will see stunning ice formations, crevasses, and lagoons. You can even drink water straight from the glacier!
The guides will also provide information about the glacier's history, formation, and current state. You will learn about the glacier's unique ecosystem and the importance of preserving it.
The Minitrekking tour is a safe and well-regulated activity, with experienced guides leading the way and all necessary safety equipment provided. It's important to note that the tour operators are committed to preserving the glacier and minimizing the impact of tourism on the environment.
In terms of what to wear, you should dress in warm layers and bring a waterproof jacket and sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. It is also important to know that gloves are mandatory! Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are recommended.
After your hike you will receive a fresh Whiskey with ice from the glacier and some sweets. An amazing way to end this incredible day on the ice. So overall, the Minitrekking tour on Perito Moreno Glacier is a unique and unforgettable experience that offers visitors a chance to explore one of the world's most beautiful natural wonders. I would really recommend doing this tour as it is worth the money.
To find the recent prices for the tour, you can visit the website of Hielo & Aventura.
Big Ice Trek Excursion
For those who want to spend more time on the glacier, the Big Ice Trek is a must-do activity. This full-day excursion involves hiking for several hours on the glacier and exploring its many features, including ice caves and tunnels. This activity is more challenging than Minitrekking and requires a higher level of fitness, but the rewards are well worth it.
The tour starts the same way as the Minitrekking with a boat ride across Lake Rico, which takes visitors to the southern wall of the glacier. During this tour you will also have the opportunity to drink fresh glacier water and take in the stunning panoramic views of the glacier and surrounding landscape. The Big Ice Trek is a physically demanding activity, as it involves walking on uneven and slippery terrain. It's recommended that participants have a good level of physical fitness and be prepared for a full day of hiking.
This is the main difference with the Minitrekking excursion, the hike is longer and more challenging. I did the Minitrekking but looking back I would have loved to spend more time on the glacier with a more difficult road. I found the Minitrekking a bit too short.
In terms of safety, it's important to note that the tour is led by experienced and certified guides who prioritize the safety of the group. The guides are trained to handle emergency situations and carry all the necessary safety equipment.
Overall, the Big Ice Trek on Perito Moreno Glacier is a truly unique and unforgettable experience that allows visitors to explore one of the world's most beautiful natural wonders from a new perspective.
Visit the website of Hielo & Aventura to inform yourself about the latest prices of this excursion.
Accommodation in El Calafate
El Calafate is the gateway city to the Perito Moreno Glacier, and there are many accommodation options available for visitors. Whether you are looking for a budget-friendly hostel or a luxury hotel, there is something for everyone in El Calafate.
For budget travelers, Red House Hostel is a popular option. This hostel offers dorm rooms and private rooms at an affordable price, and it is located in the heart of the city, close to all the amenities.
For those who want a more luxurious experience, the Xelena Hotel & Suites is a top choice. This hotel features spacious rooms with stunning views of Lake Argentino, as well as a spa and an indoor pool.
Here are some other accommodations in El Calafate that I could recommend:
Hotel Posada Los Alamos: This 4-star hotel is located in the center of El Calafate and offers comfortable rooms with mountain views, a spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a restaurant serving regional cuisine.
Hostel del Glaciar Libertador: This hostel offers affordable dormitory and private rooms, a communal kitchen, a shared lounge, and a bar. It's located just a few blocks from the main street of El Calafate.
Bla Guesthouse: This guesthouse offers cozy rooms with private bathrooms, a communal kitchen, a shared lounge, and a garden. It's located in a quiet area of El Calafate, a short walk from the main street.
Koi Aiken: This hotel offers spacious rooms with lake views, a restaurant serving Patagonian cuisine, a spa, and a garden. It's located just a few blocks from the center of El Calafate.
Titan Hostel (I stayed in this one): This hostel offers multiple dormitories and private rooms, a communal kitchen, a shared lounge, and a garden with barbecue facilities. It's a short walk from the center of El Calafate and offers travelers a friendly and social atmosphere.
These are just a few examples of the many accommodation options available in El Calafate. Whether you're looking for a luxury hotel or a budget-friendly hostel, you're sure to find something that meets your needs and budget. I stayed at the Titan Hostel, which was truly unique! As it is located a bit further from the center, I hitchhiked most of the time. I felt really safe doing this, and I had a lot of nice conversations with the locals.
Best Places to Eat in El Calafate
El Calafate has a thriving food scene, and visitors will find many options for delicious meals in the city. Here are some of the best places to eat in El Calafate:
La Tablita: This traditional Argentinean restaurant serves delicious steak and other meat dishes.
Pura Vida: This restaurant specializes in seafood and has a fantastic selection of wines.
Isabel Cocina al Disco: This restaurant offers a unique dining experience, cooking food on traditional Argentinean discs.
Mi Rancho: This cozy restaurant offers excellent homemade pasta dishes and other local favorites.
Western Union in Argentina
One reason that you may choose to use Western Union in Argentina and in El Calafate is because of the so-called "Blue Rate" or "Dolar Blue" and "Euro Blue." The Blue Rate is an unofficial exchange rate for US dollars and euros that is used on the black market in Argentina. This rate is often higher than the official exchange rate, which means that tourists may be able to get more pesos for their dollars or euros by using the Blue Rate.
While using the Blue Rate is technically illegal, many tourists and locals still choose to use it because it can offer significant savings. Western Union offers a convenient and secure way to transfer money using the official exchange rate, which can be especially useful for tourists who may not have access to other forms of currency exchange.
If you are in El Calafate there is currently (2023) only one Western Union present. They always ran out of money while I was there, so you should go early in the morning to get your cash. They will also ask for a printed copy of your passport that you need to give to them on top of showing your real passport. You can print a copy in the print shop down the street.
While the Blue Rate is a real problem nowadays for Argentinians, you will find that a lot of shops offer discounts when you are paying in cash. Western Union is a secure way to get more pesos for your home currency. By paying for your excursion in Cash, you will get a significant discount.
Now it's your turn!
Perito Moreno Glacier is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Argentina. Whether you choose to experience it on foot with Minitrekking or spend a full day exploring its many features with the Big Ice Trek, the glacier is sure to leave a lasting impression on you. And with so many accommodation options and delicious restaurants in El Calafate, it's easy to turn a visit to Perito Moreno. Let me know when you visit the Glacier or tag me in your beautiful photos on Instagram using @fly_along.
Keep on exploring & Fly Along!