The Ultimate Guide to Hike Over Perito Moreno Glacier

Ramiro Rodriguez trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier.

Among the most fascinating activities that one can undertake at Perito Moreno Glacier is walking on its ice. This adventure activity is highly sought-after, and while it has some restrictions, it can be an excellent option for travelers seeking a unique experience. Currently, there are two options available, with varying durations and levels of difficulty. Let’s review the details of each.

Types of Perito Moreno Glacier Hike Tours

Visitors to Perito Moreno Glacier can choose from two types of hiking tours, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes. Below are some of the most popular options.

Mini Ice Trekking

The minitrekking tour is an amazing experience. The tour begins with a pick-up from the agreed meeting point in El Calafate. Our comfortable buses provide audio guides in Spanish, English, and Portuguese to provide information about the place, the glacier, and the tour.

Upon arrival at the “Bajo de las Sombras” port (Ruta 11, km 70.9), you’ll board a boat to cross Lake Rico. After approximately 20 minutes of navigating in front of the southern wall of the Perito Moreno Glacier, you’ll arrive at the opposite shore.

Mountain guides will greet you upon disembarking and lead you to a shelter with sanitary facilities. There, you’ll take a brief walk along the lake’s shore and receive a talk on glaciology in general and the Perito Moreno Glacier in particular. Once you reach the glacier’s edge, the guides will form subgroups of a maximum of 20 people each and provide crampons and helmets. After a brief safety talk, you’ll begin the walk on the ice.

With the help of our mountain guides, you’ll enjoy this natural ice paradise. The trek difficulty is moderate, and the route on the glacier lasts approximately one and a half hours, during which you’ll appreciate a variety of typical glacier formations such as cracks, sumps, seracs, lagoons, etc.

After the walk, you’ll return to the shelter via a walkway that crosses the lush Patagonian Andean forest. This tour includes a one-hour guided visit to the walkways of the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is 7 km from the port. There, you’ll enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the glacier and walk along some of the self-guided paths. Shortly afterward, you’ll board the boat to return to the port and see the glacier walls.

Big Ice Trekking

This option called “Big Ice” is more challenging. The tour starts with a pick-up from the agreed meeting point in El Calafate, and on our comfortable buses, a bilingual tour guide will provide you with information about the landscape you are about to discover.

The tour includes a guided visit to the walkways of Los Glaciares National Park, where you can enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of the glacier and walk some of the self-guided trails.

Once you arrive at “Bajo de las Sombras” Port, located just 7km from the glacier, you will board a boat to cross Brazo Rico, and after 20 minutes, you will disembark on the opposite shore. Small groups of up to 10 people are organized, and the hike begins from the southern moraine of the glacier. In just over an hour, you will reach a spectacular viewpoint where you can access the ice. Here, the mountain guides will explain basic safety rules and provide necessary equipment such as crampons, harnesses, and helmets to begin the journey.

Once you have your crampons on, the world takes on a different perspective. You will see blue ponds, deep cracks, huge glacier mills, magical caves, and feel the unique sensation of being in the heart of the glacier. Our mountain guides will always accompany you as you explore the most special glacier in the world for approximately three and a half hours. During the walk, the guides will provide you with more information about the ice and its surroundings. You will also appreciate the size of the glacier and enjoy the view of nearby mountains such as Cerro Dos Picos, Cerro Pietrobelli, and Cerro Cervantes. Additionally, you will have half an hour for lunch on the white blanket and be amazed by a place of unique beauty.

Afterward, you will walk back for another hour to the moraine and embark once again to return to the port, navigating very close to the southern wall of the Perito Moreno Glacier before returning to civilization. By completing this tour, you will have experienced one of the most spectacular ice treks in the world!

Big Ice vs Minitrekking: Which One to Choose?

Trail map for Minitrekking and Big Ice trekking tours in Perito Moreno Glacier.

So, we have two options to enjoy a walk on the Perito Moreno Glacier. Which one to choose? Well, physical condition is essential. Note that age limits are well defined; while the mini trekking can be done by people between 10 and 65 years of age, for Big Ice, it is only possible for people over 18 years and up to 50 years of age. This has to do with the mandatory insurance for each activity. Although there may be people who have excellent physical condition even above those indicated ages, the activity cannot be carried out for safety reasons. It is also important to consider the duration of the walk. Big Ice has a total duration of 7 hours and is more intense than the mini trekking, which takes about 4 hours in total. If you are an enthusiastic tourist who wants to experience this feeling, the mini trekking is perfect. Let’s leave Big Ice for those travelers in excellent physical condition who usually do intense treks on ice or in remote places.

Planning Your Glacier Hike

Ice hiking on Perito Moreno Glacier is an exhilarating experience that requires careful planning and preparation. To ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure, follow these tips:

  1. Choose the right tour: With several types of ice hiking tours available, it’s essential to pick the one that best suits your interests, fitness level, and schedule. Consider factors such as the tour’s duration, the level of physical activity required, and any additional activities or services provided.

  2. Dress appropriately: Ice hiking demands warm, waterproof clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and gloves. It’s also advisable to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s glare and UV rays. If you don’t have suitable clothing, most tour operators offer rental equipment.

  3. Stay hydrated and fueled: Ice hiking can be physically demanding, so it’s vital to stay hydrated and well-fed. Bring plenty of water and snacks, and consider carrying them in a small backpack.

  4. Follow your guide’s instructions: Ice hiking on a glacier demands some technical skills and safety precautions. Your guide will provide detailed instructions on how to use the equipment, how to walk on the ice, and how to avoid potential hazards. Follow their instructions carefully and ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

  5. Respect the environment: Perito Moreno Glacier is a unique and delicate ecosystem, and it’s crucial to minimize your impact on it. Avoid littering, stay on the designated trails, and do not disturb any wildlife you may encounter. Remember, the goal is to appreciate the glacier’s beauty while preserving it for future generations.

By following these tips, you can have a safe and unforgettable ice hiking adventure on Perito Moreno Glacier that will create memories to last a lifetime.

Best Time to Visit Perito Moreno Glacier and Hike Over It

People trekking over Perito Moreno Glacier.

Deciding on the best time to hike over Perito Moreno Glacier depends on your preferences and what you want to experience during your visit. Several factors can influence your decision, including weather conditions, ice stability, and crowd levels.

During the summer months of December to February, temperatures are milder, and the days are longer, making it a popular time to visit the glacier. However, even during the summer, it can be cold and windy on the glacier, so make sure to dress appropriately. Additionally, during this time, the ice on the glacier is more stable, making hiking easier and safer.

On the other hand, if you visit during the winter months of June to August, you may experience more challenging hiking conditions due to unstable ice. However, you may have the opportunity to see the glacier in a unique and different light, making your visit even more memorable.

Another factor to consider is crowd levels. Perito Moreno Glacier is a popular tourist destination and can get crowded, especially during the peak summer months. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of March to May or September to November.

Whether you prefer milder weather and stable ice or a quieter atmosphere, planning your visit accordingly will help you make the most of your adventure on the glacier.

Necessary Permits and Fees to Walk Over Perito Moreno Glacier

To hike over Perito Moreno Glacier, there are some essential requirements that you need to meet. Firstly, you need to pay an entrance fee to access Los Glaciares National Park where the glacier is located. The entrance fee varies depending on your nationality and age. All visitors, regardless of their intention to hike over the glacier, must pay this fee.

Once you have paid the entrance fee, you need to book your tour with a certified tour operator to hike over Perito Moreno Glacier. The cost of the tour will depend on the type and duration of the tour. It’s crucial to book your tour in advance, especially during the peak season, to guarantee availability and avoid disappointment.

It’s important to note that the entrance fees and tour costs are subject to change. It’s highly recommended to check the latest information before planning your visit to avoid any inconvenience. 

What to Wear & Pack for Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier?

When hiking over Perito Moreno Glacier, it’s crucial to wear and pack the appropriate clothing and equipment to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. The weather on the glacier can be cold, windy, and unpredictable, so it’s essential to dress warmly and stay dry. Here are some essential items to consider bringing with you:

  • Thermal underwear
  • Fleece or down jacket
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Waterproof and windproof pants
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Warm socks and sturdy waterproof boots

Although the tour operator will provide necessary equipment such as crampons and ice axes, you should bring a small backpack to carry your personal items. Here are some recommended items:

  • Small backpack (around 20 liters)
  • Water bottle and snacks
  • Camera or phone (make sure they are protected from the cold)
  • Personal medication if required

Depending on your preferences and needs, you may also want to bring additional items such as walking poles for additional stability, hand and foot warmers, a neck gaiter or scarf, extra batteries or power bank for your camera or phone, and binoculars for wildlife viewing.

It’s important to note that the tour operator may have specific requirements or recommendations for clothing and equipment, so it’s best to check with them before your tour to ensure you have everything you need. By wearing and packing the right clothing and equipment, you can enjoy a comfortable and safe hiking experience over Perito Moreno Glacier.

Physical Fitness and Heath Considerations to Walk Over Perito Moreno Glacier

When hiking over Perito Moreno Glacier, it’s crucial to ensure that you are physically fit and in good health to enjoy a safe and comfortable tour. Here are some things to keep in mind:

While you don’t need to be an athlete to hike over Perito Moreno Glacier, it’s recommended that you have a moderate level of fitness. The tour involves walking on uneven and sometimes steep terrain, and the altitude can also be a factor, so it’s important to be prepared. Some tour operators may have minimum age or fitness requirements, so it’s best to check with them before booking your tour.

It’s essential to be in good health before hiking over Perito Moreno Glacier, as the tour can be physically demanding. Certain health conditions or medications may affect your ability to complete the tour, so it’s important to discuss any concerns with your doctor before booking your tour. If you have any allergies, such as to cold temperatures or certain foods, make sure to inform your tour operator so they can take appropriate measures.

Even though Perito Moreno Glacier is not at a high altitude, some people may still experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, or fatigue. To minimize the risk of altitude sickness, it’s important to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and tobacco, and acclimatize slowly if you have recently arrived in the area.

Walking over Perito Moreno Glacier can be dangerous if not done properly. It’s important to follow the instructions of your tour guide and use the provided equipment, such as crampons and ice axes, correctly. Additionally, weather conditions can change quickly, so the tour may be cancelled or rescheduled for safety reasons.

It’s important to discuss any health or fitness concerns with your doctor before booking your tour and to follow the instructions of your tour guide during the tour to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Perito Moreno: What to Expect on a Glacier Hike

Hiking over Perito Moreno Glacier is an exciting and unique experience that offers breathtaking views of ice formations, glacial lagoons, and snow-capped mountains. The tour operator provides all necessary equipment, and the hike generally involves walking on uneven terrain with plenty of rest stops. The length of the hike can vary, but it usually lasts between 3 and 6 hours. Additionally, there may be opportunities to see Andean condors, eagles, guanacos, and foxes. It’s important to wear warm and waterproof clothing due to the cold and changeable weather, and the tour may be canceled or rescheduled in case of adverse conditions.

Transport to the Glacier

Most tour operators provide transportation to and from Perito Moreno Glacier, which can include a shuttle bus, private van, or a combination of both. The journey from El Calafate to the glacier takes you through the picturesque Patagonian landscape, showcasing the stunning views of mountains, lakes, and forests along the way.

It’s important to note that some tour operators may offer longer or shorter transfer times as part of their tour packages. Some may include additional stops or activities along the way, while others may prioritize a faster transfer to maximize time on the glacier. To ensure that you have a clear understanding of the transfer time and any additional stops or activities included in your tour, it’s recommended to check with your tour operator.

Arrival at the Port & Boat Ride to the Lodge

When you arrive at Bajo las Sombras Pier, you will need to check in with the tour operator. You’ll be asked to show your ticket or confirmation, and you may need to sign a waiver or provide additional information. From Bajo las Sombras Pier, you’ll board a boat that will take you across the Rico Arm of Lake Argentino to the southern end of the glacier. The boat ride lasts about 20 minutes and offers stunning views of the glacier and the surrounding landscape.

Once you arrive at the southern end of the glacier, you’ll disembark from the boat and meet your guide. You’ll be provided with all necessary equipment, including crampons, helmets, and harnesses, and you’ll receive a safety briefing and instructions on how to use the equipment.

Getting Set: Gear & Necessary Equipment

Proper gear and equipment are essential for ice hiking over Perito Moreno Glacier to ensure your safety and comfort on the ice. Here are some of the essential items you’ll need:

Warm, waterproof clothing: Dress in layers with a base layer of thermal underwear, a mid-layer of fleece or down, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don’t forget to wear waterproof pants and a jacket to stay dry and comfortable.

Sturdy hiking boots or shoes with a good grip and ankle support are necessary. Your footwear should be waterproof and able to withstand cold and wet conditions. Crampons, metal spikes that attach to the bottom of your boots, are provided by the tour operator for added traction and stability on the ice.

A harness is necessary for safety reasons and will be provided by the tour operator if required. For minitrekking, it is not used. It will be used to attach you to a safety rope, which will be anchored to the ice to prevent falls.

Warm gloves and a hat are essential to keep your hands and head warm in the cold and windy conditions. Protect your eyes and skin from the sun’s glare and UV rays with sunglasses and sunscreen.

It’s important to note that while the tour operator will provide some necessary gear and equipment, such as crampons and harnesses, you must bring your warm and waterproof clothing, footwear, gloves, and hat to ensure your comfort and safety on the ice.

On the Hike: What You Need to Know

Once you are properly equipped, you will set off on your hike. You’ll traverse over the ice, exploring crevasses, ice caves, and other stunning features of the glacier. You’ll also have the opportunity to witness the unique flora and fauna that exist on and around the glacier, such as mosses, lichens, and small animals like penguins or seals, depending on the location.

During the hike, your guide will provide information on the history and geology of the glacier and the surrounding area. They may also share stories and anecdotes about their experiences hiking on the ice.

Minitrekking is a physically demanding activity, but it’s not necessary to have any previous experience with trekking or climbing to participate. The pace of the trek is usually slow and steady, with plenty of opportunities to rest and take in the scenery.

After the Hike

After completing your ice hiking tour on Perito Moreno Glacier, you’ll return to the southern end of the glacier and board the boat for the return trip to Bajo las Sombras Pier. Before departing, some tour operators offer a traditional treat of whiskey and chocolates to celebrate the achievement of completing the trek and to warm up after the experience.

Guides will typically set up a small table with a selection of chocolates, and pour whiskey over chunks of glacier ice to create a refreshing drink. The whiskey is poured over the ice to chill and slightly dilute it, making it a perfect way to enjoy a post-trek refreshment.

Exploring the Catwalks of the Perito Moreno Glacier

After your hiking adventure on Perito Moreno Glacier, you have the opportunity to explore the catwalks and viewpoints located near the glacier. The catwalks offer a breathtaking panoramic view of the glacier and its surrounding mountains, providing visitors with an opportunity to admire the beauty of the glacier without stepping onto the ice.

There are several catwalks and viewing platforms around the glacier, including a main platform that offers an excellent view of the glacier’s face. The catwalks are well-maintained and provide safe and easy access to the best viewing spots. You can spend as much time as you want to explore the catwalks and taking in the stunning views of the glacier and the surrounding landscape.

Practical Information for Hiking the Perito Moreno Glacier

If you’re planning to hike over Perito Moreno Glacier, here are some practical information and tips to keep in mind:

  1. Safety first: Ice hiking on a glacier can be a dangerous activity, so it’s essential to listen to the guides and follow their instructions. Wear the provided safety gear, including crampons and a harness.

  2. Physical fitness: Ice trekking requires a moderate level of physical fitness, as you’ll be walking on uneven terrain and using crampons to walk on the ice. Ensure you’re in good health and able to handle the physical demands of the trek.

  3. Weather conditions: Weather conditions on the glacier can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature, wind, and precipitation. Be prepared for all types of weather and dress in warm, waterproof clothing.

  4. Duration and difficulty: The duration and difficulty of the ice trekking tour can vary depending on the tour operator and the specific trek chosen. Choose a trek that suits your fitness level and experience.

  5. Age restrictions: Some tour operators may have age restrictions for ice hiking tours. Check with your tour operator beforehand.

  6. Photography: Bring a camera to capture the stunning views of the glacier and surrounding landscape. However, keep in mind that extreme cold can drain camera batteries quickly. Bring extra batteries or a backup camera.

  7. Food and water: Most tour operators provide snacks and water during the trek, but bring some extra snacks just in case.

  8. Leave no trace: It’s essential to follow the “leave no trace” principles and take all your trash with you when you leave the glacier.

Overall, ice hiking on Perito Moreno Glacier is an incredible experience that requires proper preparation and safety precautions. By following these practical tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking adventure on the glacier.


The last question is: Is it worth doing the ice hiking over Perito Moreno Glacier? Yes, doing the ice hiking over Perito Moreno Glacier is definitely worth it. It’s an incredible experience that allows you to get up close and personal with one of the most spectacular glaciers in the world.

Walking on the ice of the glacier is an unforgettable experience that will give you a unique perspective of the glacier and its surrounding landscape. You’ll have the opportunity to see the stunning blue ice formations, crevasses, and meltwater streams that make up the glacier.

Additionally, the ice trekking tour is led by experienced guides who provide you with safety equipment and instructions on how to navigate the glacier safely. The guides are knowledgeable about the glacier’s history and ecology and will share interesting facts and stories as you trek.

Picture of Ramiro Rodriguez

Ramiro Rodriguez

25 years working in travel market, as Sales & Marketing Manager in RipioTurismo, Marketing Manager in Nuevas Ideas Travel Consulting Group. Writer and travel lover.

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