Moon walking on ice – Perito Moreno Glacier

May, 2011

Anyone for a little moon walking on ice on the incredible Perito Moreno? This glacier is absolutely memorable and will leave you grasping for words!

Perito Moreno, glacier, Argentina, South AmericaOrganising the tour

After arriving in El Calafate in the Southwest Santa Cruz Province, we quickly organised a day tour (AR$500 per person) for Perito Moreno. The tour also involves a mini-trek, which I’m super excited about.

Shop around as the prices vary depending on the time of season.

Remember that whatever tour price you pay, add an additional AR$100 for the entrance fee to the Los Glaciares national park.

A rant on entrance fees…

So far in Argentina and Chile, there appears to be a discrimination in pricing of entrance fees.

To give you an idea for this particular park, international tourists pay AR$100, South Americans pay AR$70, and Argentinians pay AR$40.

You may think this is fair and as a tourist, I don’t mind paying more than a local, although not more than double the price as this becomes quite annoying, especially if you’re on a budget or long-term travelling.

As an operator or National Park in Australia, you would never get away with this price structure and to my knowledge, it just doesn’t happen, thankfully.

Onwards to why we’re here…

The incredible Perito Moreno!

A day at Perito Moreno is spectacular!

Although it poured with rain all day, so, quite overcast and moody, nothing prepares you for what is around the corner…

As the bus nears the first viewpoint, taken aback, you will not believe your eyes at the expanse of one of the last advancing glaciers on earth.

Covering 250 square kilometres, measuring 30 kilometres in length, and 5 kilometres wide, an average of 60 metres in height of which 130 metres is below water, this glacier is bigger than Buenos Aires.

Mesmerising and spectacular!

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
Perito Moreno Glacier

The memorable day

Once you arrive by bus, a 30-minute boat trip ferries you to the trekking guide’s meeting point, before continuing on a short walk through the forest.

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
A flashier boat than ours…

Catching glimpses of Moreno along the track, is a tease for what’s yet to come.

Reaching a little base area on the ice with a makeshift crude tent, crampons are sized up, and strapped on to our boots.

Our two guides then lead the way to the start of the trek.

Groups are split up according to language spoken to facilitate instructions, safety, and so on.

Safety instructions and how to walk on ice with crampons are demonstrated to our group of 12 English-speaking travellers, before starting the trek.

The trek

Off we set out, for the little trek…

The sensation of walking with crampons on this mammoth piece of history is incredible!

Apart from not wanting to destroy any piece of this glacier, which you can’t really, I find myself trying to tread very softly and gingerly over the ice.

For those that may be thinking that all these tourists are breaking away and destroying the glacier, rest assured. The trek is only on a particular piece of ice and is very much controlled. Tourists are not allowed to wander off aimlessly from the group, or on their own to walk all over the glacier.

It is a privilege to experience such a natural wonder and believe that everyone should try and make the effort to see this glacier.

I hope that my post inspires you to travel to this incredible destination, which is one that I will never forget.

Although icy rain whips our already wind-swept bodies (my 6 layers of clothes just doesn’t cut it), we push ahead regardless for the hour and a half, albeit very slowly. Climbing up and down the ice, sometimes slipping, but trying to keep a balance on the smooth slippery ice, makes the steep trek exhilarating. Unlike us clumsy tourists, our guide has no problems walking over the ice and instead, is light footed and seems to dance over the ice.

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
Dramatic ice-capped mountains backdrop the spectacular glacier!

The scenery resembles a white and blue multi-hued iced lunar scape – stunning!

Small snippets of sun occasionally break through the gloomy clouds to shine onto the glacier, changing the ice colours dramatically. I would love to revisit when the sun is shining as this whole area would be even more magical.

A lovely touch

Towards the end of the trek and in the middle of nowhere it seems, we stop off by a 30-metre-deep cavern.

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
Whiskey ice

A table is set up and out comes an unopened bottle of whiskey, glasses, and packets of chocolate biscuits, which our guide carried from the base tent.

Our friendly and hilarious guide that sounds Russian but is in fact Argentinian, collects a little ice from the cavern. He is so close to the cavern’s drop that I think that he may fall in, but obviously, has done this hundreds of times before.

Filling our glasses with glacier ice then topping these with a generous amount of whiskey, our contented little group gathers together for a toast all round. Think everyone is glad not only of surviving the one and a half-hour trek, but also the bitter cold and freezing rain.

The whiskey certainly warms the body and the chocolate biscuits contain enough sugar sustenance for the short walk back to our base – everyone is more than ecstatic but also grateful!

An excellent touch to the end of an even more memorable experience – one for the library of memories.

Argentinians really know how to enjoy life but also in style.

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
Whiskey on the Rocks anyone?

After the trek, the day allows time for you to walk along the boardwalk to catch better views of Moreno and from different angles.

I strongly recommend that you do this walk, regardless of how cold and miserable the weather is on the day. Don’t succumb to staying indoors in the café drinking coffee or a warming hot chocolate, as many tourists did.

We brave the bitter cold and walk everywhere that we can in this park, for as long as possible, and until it is time to leave.

For me, it isn’t feasible to pass up the opportunity of taking photos but also absorbing the spectacular nature presented before us in this park.

When travelling, I never know if I will ever return to a destination. I make the most of the time whilst in any destination, regardless of the conditions – it’s not just ticking something off a To-do list. More often than not, you are probably only ever going to be here the once, so enjoy the incredible vistas and absorb this amazing region!

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
Boardwalk’s incredible view


Take your own lunch and snacks as you do work up a hefty appetite, especially in the cold, but also as the shop does not open until 3 pm. The park’s shop is a cafeteria-style restaurant that serves overpriced ordinary food and beverages.

More Perito Moreno tours and boat trips

If you have the time and cash, think about doing the different 7-hour boat trip (AR$340) to Moreno, but also takes in other glaciers around the area. This boat trip would also be an excellent experience.

Tourist companies offer the same trips to Moreno at almost set prices, which are sadly similar, and without much discounting. You can book the one-day sight-seeing to Moreno only for AR$130 or with a short boat trip across to the glacier for AR$150 – special price.

For those that are fit and into their trekking, depending on the weather and season, there is also a 9-day trek to Moreno and several other glaciers available, so check this out if you have some time to spare.

Returning to El Calafate

For now, it’s time for the return bus trip to El Calafate for a wonderful and well-deserved hot shower, a warm beverage, some hot food, and a very long rest…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Argentina at Image Earth Travel.

Perito Moreno, Argentina, South America
Another angle…

50 thoughts on “Moon walking on ice – Perito Moreno Glacier

Add yours

  1. I am not sure if it is the correct answer but I think the differences in prices for locals is in part subsidized by the local taxes. Besides usually the quality of life and salaries for the locals is different from first world countries, mostly lower so if the authorities of National Parks would ask the same for everybody actually… we couldn’t afford it :S
    I think that’s the reason. By the way wonderful photos and I understand also the chore to get fresh film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Francis,
      I understand your point, however, the tourist prices are extortionist so expensive even for a tourist. Also, if I could see where the extra money goes, then I would gladly pay the extra; typically, it goes to someone’s pocket and not the people. Also, it doesn’t explain why a local of that country pays a different price to a another of a different South American country – it’s still the same continent.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Certainly I cannot talk about Argentina but I can talk a bit about how works in Peru as we have a similar structure of prices. In first place prices should be fair, not higher or lower. In National Parks the payments not go to the pockets of the functionaries (it goes to the State as they are not private business except in some colonial properties whose institutions still remain active) but as a kind of social service is encouraged to the locals to know their (our) history subsidizing in possible the culture so when I travel to Cusco city if I want to go to a museum I pay a bit more than somebody living in that place (and it is fair in my point of view as the residents have to know their history as the museums show the work of their ancestors and with their taxes they are already funding them directly), it is the same in the rest of cities, if a Peruvian goes to another city in other region inside the country he/she pays the normal fee. It’s harder here to subsidize the culture in the magnitude of a first world country as the economy in great part is informal so there are not many resources for our historic patrimony so concerts, museums, or national parks tend to be expensive, even with the reduction of prices, to us as well. The minimum salary in Peru in formal economy is equivalent to 259 US dollars or 268 euros (the informal economy pays far lower). I think in your country you have higher salaries and also bigger taxes so a ticket for the museum has to be directly more affordable. In Peru the money helps to build highways, maintenance of museums and national parks, the salaries of staff, airports, infrastructure and archaeological investigation. Despite the corruption that each time I believe is less things I think work reasonably well.
      A local of a different South American country pays more because he/she is not directly a tax payer, we are neither not like Australia that is a continent-country nor like Union Europe that is a political and customs union (even inside Peru we have different cultures and nations). I think probably the structure of prices correspond also to the quality of life. I recall a student from Germany that said his friend was working a summer there to have a touristic trip in Peru-Bolivia-Argentina. Well, me, being an architect in Peru, to me travel to Europe is like a travel to the Moon, an imposible x_x even go to a neighbor country is complicated so when I pay more in Chile or Bolivia to be in a place I am happy to pay more than the locals in order to help to sustain their cultural offering but also happy to have a reasonable amount to pay according to our real economy.
      Said that I dislike when particulars that have private business as taxis or restaurants want to ask more to a person just because he/she looks like a tourist, to me that is extortion and wrong and that happens to us as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Hi, wow and thank you for the explanation!

      Yes, our salaries and taxes are higher in Australia, as is the cost of living, which is much higher in Australia than Peru, or other Sth American countries.

      I guess my question is that if you came to Australia, would you think it’s fair to pay around 10 times the amount that a local pays for entry to a museum, national park, internal flights, bus tickets, etc., just because you’re a tourist? Don’t forget that our flight from Australia to Sth America is very expensive and also when we arrive in Argentina we need to pay Immigration cash. From what I’ve seen after a year of travelling through Sth America is that a lot of the money is not spent on infrastructure.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Hi, certainly I don’t agree with abuse, but there is a rationality about the difference of prices at least in Peru. I would consider fair to pay more as a foreigner in Australia, if it were ten times then I would ask my government to fill a complain (another story is if my government would listen me xD)
      In Peru the difference between what we pay and foreigners is not so much as ten times. For example I am seeing the cost of a touristic ticket to the imperial city, Cuzco, for us national visitors is US$ 21, (for residents of the city it less but I cannot find the data) and for foreigners (including from Chile or other South American countries) it is US$40 The difference to me is fair as the minimal monthly wage in Peru is 250 dollars and in Australia is 2596 dollars, is ten times 😲!!!. I have investigated to study in other countries and one requirement is also to bring immigration cash, in this article speaks about what is have to be paid in Canada
      Then again I don’t know the structure of prices but if there was abuse I am totally opposite to that.
      I born in eighties, I can asure you that there is a big change indeed in infrastructure, a really big leap, of course not as the level of Australia as otherwise we would be a first world country, but big indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Thanks for the comparisons. Although you quote Australia’s minimal wage in comparison to Peru’s minimal wage, you have to remember that you cannot survive in Australia on $250 per month.

      I know that a good way to get into any country and have a better chance of staying long term is through studying. Regardless of what country you study in or live in for a long time, you have to show that you can support yourself and thus, bring cash from your country – this is nothing new.

      Perhaps infrastructure has improved since I was there in 2011 and travelled overland (as flights were too expensive for me) from Bolivia to the south of Peru and right up through to the north of Peru before crossing into Ecuador. Mine was not a 10-month ‘packaged tour’ but we travelled independently and overland through the various countries by whatever transport was available. One trip from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia (Argentina) was on 3 buses over 52 hours. You see much more when you travel by road, as you know. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Everything is very open with a clear description of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your website is very helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WOW, what an experience- these photos are surreal. The fact that you got to spice up your drink with actual glacier ice made me both laugh and long to go here.
    Thanks for sharing yet another great adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nilla, I haven’t been around since April… Still don’t have much energy to properly visit and comment… Your Perito Moreno trip picture are breathtaking. Some places are truly unique.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Inese, are you OK?
      I thought you had just been a little quiet or had writer’s burnout. Thanks for taking the time to comment and yes, Perito Moreno is an incredible experience – I didn’t want to leave.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh that is a wonderful project. I have got health problems and it changed all my activities. I manage to put up a blog, but commenting is just too much for me at this stage.

      Liked by 1 person

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