Argentinean Patagonia – El Chaltén

Three hours by bus from El Calafate and two and a half on foot through the mountain and you reach the view below! This is what attracts so many people to El Chalten, a.k.a. the hiking capital of Patagonia!

traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina

This is Torre Lagoon, one of the many that can be seen from the north side of Los Glaciares National Park. In the heart of the landscape is the village of El Chaltén. It is founded especially for tourists. There you can eat and sleep and organize trips, walks, hikes, etc. There are 2-3 designated exits, which lead to different parts of the mountain. There are trails of 3-4 km, but also ones 11-12 km long. They are with different levels of difficulty and demand different levels of experience.

We started with a hike of 11 km to Torre Lagoon, which took us 5-6 hours in both directions combined. There are climbs and descents, at some points, the land is completely flat. The road passes by the river, created by the water from the glaciers in the area. On the subject of water, we should mention that the park is so well preserved that is safe to drink all water in it. There is nowhere to buy it from since you can fill your bottle from any source – the river, a stream, the lagoon.

Hiking to Torre Lagoon

The Torre Lagoon lies at the foot of Cerro Solo and Cerro Torre and the Big Glacier (Glacier Grande). The water in it is quite cold, we don’t know the exact temperature, but some of us tried to go for a swim and it was freezing.

traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina

We made ourselves and improvised lunch because the stores in El Chaltén lack in variety and we had to work with what was there.

traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina
The award after the long hike
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina

There was two and a half more hours hike on the way back to the village where we cooked for ourselves. Definitely tired we fell in the arms of Morpheus.

Hiking to Laguna Capri and the view to Fitz Roy

The next morning we woke well-rested before the alarm. We were smiling, with no sore muscles or at least not noticeably sore. We had a breakfast, shopped for lunch, put it in the backpacks and took off. This time we are head for Capri Lagoon. There is a unique view of the highest peak in the area – Cerro Fitz Roy. The climb is an hour and a half long and if you go to the special mirador (a viewing point) at the top it becomes two hours.

traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina

We had the lovely view in front of us and the cold water of the lagoon when we sat down in the sun to have lunch. We were incredibly lucky, those kinds of days are rare – you can count on the fingers of one hand the days of the year with so much sun and little wind. We are here for two days and both were like this.

traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina

Hiking to Laguna de Los Tres

It is starting to get windy, clouds are gathering around the peak. We add sweatshirts and jackets to our t-shirts. Our plans to go to Laguna de Los Tres seem inadvisable. We packed and slowly descended. Also, we’ll need rest before visiting the biggest glacier in Argentina, Viedma Glacier, tomorrow. We use the time left for a walk along the main street of El Chaltén. We go shopping and then we go for a beer and journaling. We need the time, so we can share the magic of traveling with more people.

traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina

Chorrillo del Salto waterfall

The next days brought us enough time to rest and document our journey. It was rainy and windy and we mostly lazed around, cooked, read, and socialized with the other people who did nothing. The nasty weather in El Chaltén put us in this bad situation, but as soon as the sun peeked through the clouds everybody was out the door. We decided to use the last afternoon to go to the waterfall Chorrillo del Salto using the easiest path. It was amazing that by a 3-kilometer walk on flat land you can reach such a marvel of nature. It is like this in El Chaltén – there is something for every kind of tourist. It is deserving of its name capital of trekking. It also deserves its motto “Viento, mucho viento”.

traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina
traveling to El Chaltén in Argentina

Practical advice on visiting El Chalten

1. The shops in El Chaltén are more expensive and lack in variety than those in El Calafate. Stock well and don’t forget that there are no plastic bags anywhere in the national reserves.

2. The flies are big and insolent. They annoy the sweaty climbers and trekkers. They are slow and can be killed swiftly in the throes of rage.

3. Comfortable shoes for the mixed terrain – going up and down, rocks and sand, dust, and mud. There are many branches and similar comforts on the road.

4. The Internet is satellite and it is very slow (if there is any).

5. Get yourself an empty bottle. The stores don’t sell water and it isn’t necessary – every stream, lake, or tap offers clean and sweet water.

El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina
The green steppe calms the eye and the soul

Let’s travel to South America! Here’s our 2-month South America backpacking itinerary.

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One Response

  1. […] El Chalten is a small mountain village within the Los Glacieres National Park at the base of the Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy Mountains. It is a good place to reach the nearby mountains and lakes. El Chalten is considered to be Argentina’s Trekking Capital. Chalten means smoking mountain in the local native language. It was believed that there was a volcano there hundreds of years ago. El Chalten is an ideal base to do hikes from to the nearby mountains. The most sought trek is the climb up to the Laguna de los Tres. It takes about 5 hours to reach the lagoon, where travelers can take beautiful pictures of the lake and the Mt Fitz Roy in the background. The first 4 hours of the climb is fairly easy. The scenery is very beautiful. The last hour becomes very steep. The temperature drops and it is very windy and cold when you reach the top. The view from up there is really spectacular. It is the closest you can get to Mount Fitz Roy. There are many other treks to other stunning cites around El Chalten. I also visited the nearby waterfalls. It was only about half an hour hike away from the village. The challenging part about hiking around el Chalten is that the weather changes and a sunny weather can quickly turn into a storm in a second. It is recommended to always carry around a raincoat. […]