Perito Moreno Glacier Day Tour Options from El Calafate

by on 31st July, 2023

Day Tour Options from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier

There are many Perito Moreno Glacier day tour options from El Calafate. This guide will help you choose the best Perito Moreno trip for your travel style.

We cover everything from the standard Perito Moreno day tour options to off-the-beaten-path and lesser-known excursions. Remember, Argentina’s most famous glacier offers something for most visitors.

There is kayaking, ice hiking on the glacier, estancia visits, and luxury cruises, to name a few options.


How Long Do You Need at Perito Moreno Glacier?

Most Perito Moreno Glacier day trips require a full day, ranging from eight to 12 hours.

Tours usually leave El Calafate early morning and return late afternoon or evening. For that reason,  you’ll likely need to factor in two nights’ hotel in El Calafate the night before the trip and for the day it finishes.

There are longer, two-day Perito Moreno Glacier trips that involve overnight stays at estancias for those looking for a more profound experience.

Many people include Perito Moreno Glacier as a day trip before they head to El Chalten or on their way to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.


Perito Moreno Glacier Patagonia Argentina


Is Perito Moreno Glacier Worth Visiting?

The short answer is yes. Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, is one of the most famous glaciers in the world. Considered a Natural Wonder of the World, the Moreno Glacier is an ice field-type glacier that flows down from the Patagonian Icefield.

The reason is that its glacier is advancing, causing huge chunks of its white-blue ice face to crash into Lago Argentino, the largest freshwater lake in Argentina. People flock to see the phenomenon from boardwalks and up close in cruise boats or kayaks.

This natural spectacle is worthy of the attention bestowed upon the glacier, with an estimated 2,000 people visiting daily. We’ve created this guide to the various Perito Moreno Glacier day tour options.


What Is the Standard Perito Moreno Day Trip Like?

Mornings in El Calafate see several buses start the 80-kilometre journey from the town to the Perito Moreno, usually around 0830 am. Most tours stop on the way to the glacier to allow people to take photographs of this beautiful area. There may be condors or eagles flying overhead.

A guide usually explains the region’s history and customs during the drive. It may take a couple of hours to reach the Perito Moreno Glacier.

On arrival, your tour may head directly into a boat that takes 50-150 people on a one-hour navigation close to the Perito Moreno Glaciers ice wall. With luck, ice will calve from the glacier in front of your eyes, making for stunning photographs and videos. Some drops cause powerful waves to ripple across the lake. Sailings often sell drinks made with pure ice floating in Lago Argentino. Refreshing!

After the cruise, there is a chance to walk along the many boardwalks that give lovely views of Perito Moreno Glacier with every step. A packed lunch may be served; it’s worth keeping your eyes on the glacier for a dramatic ice crash.


small group at perito-moreno-argentina


Some tours walk the boardwalks first and then head to the boats. People hop aboard the buses and drive back to El Calafate around 4.30 pm. Return to your hotel, or there may be time to catch the evening bus to El Chalten for those on tight schedules.

Group day trips are the most economical way to visit this natural wonder. For those with smaller budgets, you can buy El Calafate-Perito Moreno Glacier return tickets only and walk the boardwalks independently. The boat trip costs extra.


All times are approximate:

Depart El Calafate:      0830

Return El Calafate:      1630

Tour time:                   8 hours


The Best Alternative Perito Moreno Glacier Tours

The standard Perito Moreno Glacier day trip suits many. There are many alternatives to fit interests and budgets.

These include trekking atop the glacier, kayaking close to it, and experiencing Patagonian life by visiting or staying at an estancia. Many of these trips use alternative routes and timings to the standard ones, meaning there are fewer people when you arrive at Perito Moreno Glacier.

Depending on the trip, some group trips have limits of 8-16 people.



Pioneros: Perito Moreno and Estancia

The Pioneros day trip combines hiking, an estancia visit, and a small boat ride to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. Visitors are treated to views many miss on the standard tour.

Starting in the morning in El Calafate, the bus takes an old estancias road alongside Lago Roca. The one-hour drive covers about 60km to our destination, the historic Estancia Nibepo Aike, established in 1925 by Croatian immigrants.

Nibepo Aike is a working estancia with sheep, cows, and horses. On arrival, guests tour the estancia, which features original cosy fireplaces and photos of Patagonia’s past.



There is a sheep shearing demonstration and the chance to go for a horse ride or a walk around the grounds. Having built up a hunger, visitors can tuck into a famous Patagonia barbecue called an asado.

Early afternoon, the tour sets off for Perito Moreno Glacier, just as many standard trips leave the glacier’s boardwalks.

At Playa de las Monedas, there is a 20-minute hike through beautiful Lenga forests, a deciduous tree native to Southern Patagonia. There are stopping points for unique viewing points of the Perito Moreno Glacier.

It’s from the Playa de las Monedas beach that the group boards a small boat for navigation close to the Perito Moreno glacier. Many guests report that the smaller boat makes the glacier’s size even more impressive from the water.



The following two hours are spent wandering the now quieter boardwalks, having viewed the dramatic ice wall up close, to contemplate this wonder in peace. The bus takes the group back to El Calafate, arriving around 7 pm.


All times are approximate:

Depart El Calafate:      0930

Return El Calafate:      1900

Tour time:                   9.5 hours



Spirit Mayo Trek: Perito Moreno and Patagonia Forests

Spirit Mayo gets people right into the wilderness areas of Patagonia. There are forests, waterfalls, and more than one glacier to feast your eyes on with this trip.

Another morning departure from El Calafate and an hour-long drive through the Patagonia steppe leads to Punta Bandera. A catamaran awaits and sails along the Seno Mayo stretch of Lago Argentino.

The first destination is Bahía Toro. From here, a quick walk (15 mins) into Patagonian Andean Forest to see a unique tree and a stream. This stream’s water comes from a 180m high and 100m wide waterfall.

A short sail to a second landing leads to a 1km walk (25 mins) through another forested area with views of Cerro Mayo and Cerro Negro mountains and their hanging glaciers. This scenery is something to behold.



The catamaran now heads to the Perito Moreno Glacier’s north face for sailing in front of the ice wall. The afternoon is whiled away exploring the walkways, with fewer people, and then a drive back to El Calafate.


All times are approximate:

Depart El Calafate:      0800

Return El Calafate:      1730

Tour time:                   9.5 hours



What Is the Difference Between Mini Trekking and Big Ice Perito Moreno?

You can trek on top of the glacier at Perito Moreno! These are tougher hikes with restrictions but present a rewarding, up close, and spiritual connection to this ice giant. The colours, sounds, and feel of the ice under your feet are unforgettable. The water that runs through the icebergs and crevices is enchanting., as are the blue lagoons they carve.

There are two ice trekking options: Mini and Big Ice.



  • Leave from and return to El Calafate and last 10-12 hours.
  • Include a boat trip in front of Perito Moreno Glacier.
  • Give people time to explore the boardwalks.
  • Walk on top of Perito Moreno Glacier.
  • Require the use of crampons.
  • Both have restrictions, including no pregnant women on either.


Mini trekking:

  • Full day trip lasts about 10 hours.
  • 5 hours trekking on the ice.
  • Lunch in a refuge.
  • Minimum age of 10 years.
  • Maximum age of 65 years.


Big ice:

  • Full day trip lasts about 12 hours
  • 3 hours of walking on the ice
  • Lunch on the ice.
  • Minimum age of 18 years.
  • Maximum age of 50 years.


Other Perito Moreno Glacier Day Trips

People can kayak close to Perito Moreno Glacier, paddling around 600 metres away. Distance is essential because of the calving of ice and subsequent waves.

The luxury cruiser Maria Turquesa glides across Lako Argentino in a full-day trip lasting 12 hours. The boat visits the Upsala and imposing Spegazzini glaciers before heading to Perito Moreno Glacier. Gourmet food is served, and there are chances for short walks ashore.


Navigation Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina


2 Days / 1 Night: Gran Aventura — Perito Moreno and Estancia Stay

The Gran Aventura tour extends your time in the region and includes an overnight at Nibepo Aike Estancia.

The trip gets people well and genuinely off-the-beaten-track. There are two treks on the first morning, coming after an hour’s drive from El Calafate to the south shores of Lago Argentino in Los Glaciares National Park.

It’s an up-and-down one-mile trek to start, towards Lago Frías. Cross the waters (5-15 minutes, depending on the wind) to our next trekking point.

The second trek is a longer 4 miles (7km) walk that should take around two hours. The path winds through thousand-year-old Lenga trees to a valley formed by glacial movement. The target is the upper part of Lago Frías, covered with icebergs.

Views from here reveal the Dickson, Cubo and Grande glaciers. It’ll be a surprise if we see anyone else on this day.



We make our way to Estancia Nipebo Aike, where we’ll spend the afternoon and evening. There are optional horse rides, walks, and demonstrations over the next 24 hours.

After overnighting at the estancia, the net day, leave for the Perito Moreno Glacier in the afternoon, following the Pioneros itinerary above, with an evening arrival back in El Calafate.


Day Tour Options from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier

The standard Perito Moreno Glacier day trip is a fabulous, quick, and budget-friendly way to see this natural wonder of Argentine Patagonia.

However, often for a few more dollars, several exciting routes take you to remote parts of Patagonia. Added value comes from visits to estancias, treks through ancient forests and glacial valleys, and smaller boat rides for a more intimate experience.

Ask our travel consultants for travel advice in Patagonia and South America.



Perito Moreno Glacier Patagonia Argentina


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