Landscapes

Perito Moreno Glacier: Location and How to Plan a Day Visit

Departure from El Calafate to the Perito Moreno Glacier Walkways

From the campgrounds of El Calafate, the nearest city to Perito Moreno Glacier in Santa Cruz province, it is approximately 1 hour away (80 km) along a fully paved route. The journey through spectacular landscapes, even under cloudy skies and occasional rain, is enhanced by sporadic rainbows, adding a magical touch and promising an unforgettable experience.

Road to Perito Moreno Glacier
Road to Perito Moreno Glacier

Visible from a distance, it is located within the Los Glaciares National Park.

Approach to Perito Moreno Glacier
Approach to Perito Moreno Glacier

While advance booking is not necessary, El Calafate offers a wide range of tours.

  • A small entrance fee is charged at the park gate, so it is advisable to carry cash to facilitate access, especially in areas with poor signal.
  • Once inside the park, by the lakeside, there is a transfer station (where cards are accepted) for boat trips to view the glacier, it is suggested to book the tour for the afternoon as soon as you arrive in the morning, and in the meantime, explore the walkways.

The Walkways of Perito Moreno Glacier

The walkways offer panoramic views of the glacier, allowing visitors to admire the imposing ice front from multiple angles. These structures are accessible without prior reservations, ideal for those who choose to explore this natural heritage.

Perito Moreno Glacier - map of the walkways
Perito Moreno Glacier – map of the walkways
  • Although there is a café for dining, it is suggested to bring sandwiches and enjoy your meal on the walkways, where there are benches and a great view. During the high season (midsummer), the site welcomes visitors from all over the world. It is important to take your trash with you and leave no trace.
  • Be alert, as you can hear the sound of ice breaking in the distance and feel the cold wind that envelops the environment, creating a natural spectacle that captures the essence of the southern tip of Patagonia. This experience allows for a unique connection with nature, in a setting that combines tranquility with the grandeur of the landscape.

The Catamaran Experience: Sailing Close to Perito Moreno Glacier

As mentioned earlier, upon entering the park, it is suggested to book the catamaran for the afternoon after exploring the walkways.
The journey among floating icebergs allows for a detailed appreciation of the glacier’s magnitude and beauty. Sailing this close to the ice is an unforgettable experience that offers a different and more intimate perspective of the glacier.

 

Visiting Perito Moreno Glacier invites reflection on the interaction between humans and natural ecosystems. It is an experience that goes beyond tourism, offering a deep connection with natural history and the need for environmental conservation.

Ending the Day with an Educational Tour: The Glaciarium Museum

The Glaciarium Museum is a center dedicated to glaciology and serves as an educational complement to the glacier visit. It is an essential site for understanding the science and importance of glaciers in our ecosystem.

Glaciarium Museum
Glaciarium Museum

If you plan to visit, be sure to check the opening hours and allocate enough time to explore it.

  • If you are staying in El Calafate and with the boat tour and walkways you do not have time to visit the museum, it can be done the following day, as it is close to the city of El Calafate. It is on the way to Perito Moreno, you can stop by on your way back or go the next day, here is the link with the map of the three locations to see the route: El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier Walkways, and the museum.
  • A guided tour is suggested.

Technical Details of Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Santa Cruz province, Argentina, is part of Los Glaciares National Park and originates from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, also extending into Chile. With a front of 5 km in length and about 60 m above the water, it creates a dam with the Rico arm of Lake Argentino, generating a level difference of up to 30 m. This pressure forms a tunnel over 50 m high in the ice, whose collapse is a prominent natural spectacle in the park. The glacier is named in honor of Francisco Moreno, a renowned explorer of the southern region.

The Breakup of Perito Moreno Glacier

The breakup of Perito Moreno Glacier is a natural hydrological event with variable frequency that occurs in the southwest of Patagonia, Argentina. This phenomenon is characterized by the rapid movement of large volumes of water from one gulf of Lake Argentino to another, leveling their water levels. This process results in the destruction of the natural dam formed by the glacier’s advance, creating spectacular ice collapses.

Breakup Cycle

The cycle begins when the glacier, advancing due to gravity, crosses Lake Argentino and obstructs the natural water passage. This obstruction causes the water level in the Rico arm of the lake to rise, eventually leading to the formation of a subglacial tunnel through which water begins to seep, thus initiating the breakup process.

The breakups have been classified as sudden, progressive, and minor, depending on the speed and magnitude of the event. Historically, breakups have occurred at irregular intervals, with notable events in 1917, 1935, 1966, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2018.

Piedra Parada: a unique experience for lovers of nature and astronomy