El Perito Moreno Glacier or Glacier Grey?
When I was planning this trip to Patagonia, I totally planned on skipping El Perito Moreno Glacier. I’ve seen quite a few glaciers already—I did a glacier ice hike in New Zealand at Franz Josef, I’ve seen different glaciers in Alaska, and visited one in Iceland. In addition, a few people I spoke with said Glacier Grey was more interesting than El Perito Moreno. However, one of my friends I traveled with had never seen glaciers before and wanted to see both and now I’m glad I did. Having seen both, I would recommend visiting both. They’re similar, but different experiences and in my opinion, here’s why:
Glacier Grey is enormous. There’s three front-facing sides to it and it’s a grand ice field. It’s wider in scale and scope compared to El Perito Moreno.
El Perito Moreno is taller. While it’s also pretty large, it’s not as majestic as Glacier Grey but the height is noticeable.
Glacier Grey you can see on a boat excursion, which is longer than Perito Moreno’s boat tour. If you do this boat tour, you do NOT need to do the one at Perito Moreno.
The boat ride at Perito Moreno is pretty boring as it only goes back and forth one side of the glacier (whereas in Glacier Grey you visit all three sides).
The platform viewing boardwalks at Perito Moreno is a GREAT way to experience the scope of the glacier and to be above the glacier itself.
Hence, if you have time, visit both. Do the boat tour and glacier hike at Glacier Grey, and do the platform viewing boardwalks at Perito Moreno Glacier. If you only have time to do one, you’re not missing out too much on the other one.
Getting to El Perito Moreno Glacier from El Chalten
So, I can’t offer much advice in terms of public transportation as we took a private transfer service with our lodge, Aires del Fitz. The owner also runs his own car service operation so you can contact him for that separately. Initially we were going to do a side excursion to El Perito Moreno Glacier in the morning before we flew out to Mendoza in the afternoon but we were worried about not having enough time to enjoy the glaciers so we ended up going on our 2nd full day in El Chalten (since we didn’t do any more hikes).
The roads from El Calafate and El Chalten are SMOOTH. I read before the trip that it was bumpy with lots of potholes but maybe that was a long time and they’re repaired? I didn’t find the travel to be difficult at all. In the private transfer, it took us 2 hours and 15 minutes between the two towns. From El Calafate, it’s about another 30-45 minutes to El Perito Moreno Glacier Park. Once you reach the first entrance though, the road and speed limit is bumpier and slower.
The entrance fee as of Nov. 2018 was 600 pesos cash per person. The boat tour runs almost every hour and is another 600 pesos (which you can pay with credit card). The boat tour sells tickets in a booth close to the shuttle buses that take you to the top of the boardwalk platforms.
We left El Chalten at 8:45 am and with one bathroom rest stop, we arrived at El Perito Moreno Glacier at 12:30 pm. We immediately booked tickets for the 1 pm boat tour, which is around the corner from the cafeteria on site. The boat tour was ok; we had just been on one a few days earlier at Glacier Grey so this ride seemed like a repeat for us. Totally skippable either way, unless you just really want to go on a boat tour!
Since we rushed to get on the boat tour, we did the rest of the day wrong! The boat starts where the boardwalk ends, but we thought that’s where the boardwalk begins so walked UP on the platforms. The right/better way to do it is to take the free shuttle buses up to the top of boardwalk platforms and work your way all the way down. Since we realized this too late (we only had 4 hours here and one hour went to the boat tour, the 2nd hour went to eating lunch, so we only had two hours on the platform), we just kept going up the platforms.
However, I loved how close you get to the glacier and the view when you get close to the top is beautiful!
We did hear the ice calving a few times as well which was nice. We would hear calving every 10 minutes or so. We left at 4:30 pm and got back to El Chalten close to 8 pm (there was a bit more traffic thru El Calafate than in the morning).
I do wish we had more time to navigate the platforms as we definitely did not experience all of it. I don’t think we missed that much but if we had 3 hours instead of 2, that would’ve been perfect.