If you are planning on travelling to Argentinian Patagonia, chances are that you may have heard of Perito Moreno glacier. Not to be confused with the town of Perito Moreno in the Santa Cruz region, Perito Moreno glacier is located within Los Glaciares National Park near El Calafate. The glacier is famous for being one of few in the world that is actually advancing, and as an added bonus, it is all kinds of gorgeous.
Getting to Perito Moreno requires you to take a bus ride from El Calafate to the national park. I had read online that you really need to book these bus tickets a few days in advance, but when I visited (November) this was not the case.
Papa Burne and I checked in to our hostel in the morning and asked them if it would be possible to visit the glacier that same day. Within minutes they had booked us bus tickets! We then threw our luggage into the storage, walked to the bus station and were soon on our way.
The most popular buses appear to be the earlier morning ones (7.30, 8.15 etc) but going a little later seemed to have some benefits. We left El Calafate at around 12pm, arriving back in El Chalten at around 7pm. The 90 minute drive is stunningly scenic, and the time flies by.
The bus may seem expensive at 550 ARS, but it is much cheaper than a taxi.
Once you cross into the national park you are required to pay an entrance fee of 500 ARS, which is by no means cheap! But honestly, Argentina on the whole is not a cheap country to travel through, so this shouldn’t come as a huge shock… and, well, a visit to the glacier is well worth the pesos!
From the second you arrive, the sheer size and magnificence of the glacier is truly undeniable. Plus, unlike many glaciers you can get right in front of it thanks to the metal walkways that taper down the side of a hill.
I travelled with my ultra wide angle 7-14mm lens on this day, and even that struggled to get the entire glacier in frame!
There is an optional boat ride available, but it costs an extra 300-400 pesos, which we decided wasn’t quite worth it. In my opinion the views of the glacier from the walkways are spectacular enough and I didn’t find myself desperately wanted to see the glacier from a slightly different perspective.
When we had arrived in El Calafate earlier that day, I had asked one of the guys working reception in our hostel if it was likely to snow. He proceeded to tell me that it almost never snowed in El Calafate anymore, and that he hadn’t seen snow in a couple of years.
So, it is safe to say that I was slightly tickled pink when it started snowing almost as soon as we arrived at the glacier!
On one hand, this could be seen as a bit of a negative. The colder temperatures made the glacier much less active, and for anyone desperate to see a big calving event, this would have possibly made for a bit of a letdown.
However, I was so excited to see snow again that I wasn’t bothered in the slightest, and even on a cold day we were still lucky enough to see a few small calvings. I wasn’t quick enough to capture any of these events, but you can see the aftermath of them in the next few shots.
If you look at the far end of the glacier you can spot disturbance in the water, and this is where the ice calved off.
Standing around and watching a glacier for hours and hours might sound boring, but in reality, it was the furthest thing from it! The longer you look at the glacier, the more detail you can see and observe, and it is amazing how quickly the light can change, and how it dramatically a smattering of sun can change the landscape.
Papa Burne had a grand time too, and found himself utterly mesmerised by the sheer size of what was in front of him.
He mentioned several times that it reminded him of ‘The Wall’ from Game of Thrones, and honestly, the resemblance is definitely there, I was half expecting the Night King to appear at any given moment!
Every so often there would be a break in the dense cloud cover and light would beam onto the glacier…
…making for some pretty spectacular views!
I could have stayed and watched Perito Moreno all day long, and I am sure anyone who visits will feel the same! So, keep reading to find a few pieces of advice that will help make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
First and foremost, buying food at the small shop within the national park is prohibitively expensive, so make sure you pack a water bottle and a few snacks in your backpack. Also, this should go without saying, but any rubbish you bring into the park, make sure you put into bins! The national park is pretty pristine, so anyone who visits should make a conscious effort to keep it that way.
Secondly, avoid climbing on or over the railing in an attempt to get a great shot, you will 110% get yelled at in very energetic Spanish!
Next, make sure you wear something windproof, especially if you visit in the cooler months. There is very little shelter from the elements along the walkway, and it would be such a shame to pay all the moolah to visit the glacier only to have to bail early due to harsh weather.
Lastly – it should go without saying – but do make sure you have plenty of space on your memory cards and a full camera battery or two – you’ll definitely be needing them!
Getting to El Calafate: El Calafate is well serviced by domestic flights and buses within Argentina, as well as international buses from Chile
Day Trips to Perito Moreno Glacier: Day trips can be organised on arrival through the America Del Sur Hostel, but if visiting in high season you’ll probably want to book a few days in advance
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: It’s easy to discount touristy places as “tourist traps” but they are usually so popular for a reason, and in this instance, is definitely worth the visit!