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18 Wild Issues To Do In El Chaltén, Argentina


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Welcome to El Chaltén, the trekking capital of Argentina! El Chaltén is a small city on the northern fringe of Los Glaciares Nationwide Park, surrounded by beautiful mountains in each course.

Most individuals come to El Chaltén to expertise the rewarding hike to Laguna de los Tres, with its pristine view of Mount Fitz Roy. There are a lot extra outdoorsy issues to do in El Chaltén, together with rafting journeys, mountain climbing, and estancia visits.

Once I advised my guides at Ecocamp Patagonia in Torres del Paine that we had been heading El Chaltén, they might invariably sigh with happiness. “I love El Chaltén,” they’d say, dreamy smiles on their faces.

And as quickly as I received there, I spotted why. El Chaltén is a tiny, idyllic city set between mountains. It’s near all the pieces — the paths start actually proper on the town, and you may hike out of your lodging with out worrying about transportation to the trailhead!

And the hikes? They’re SPECTACULAR. Among the finest in all of Patagonia. You may hike each day for per week and have a unique expertise every day.

I must also let that El Chaltén is a wild place. On this distant city, you need to count on the climate to be different, the wifi to be gradual, and the telephone sign to be non-existent. That is the place for a digital detox! (Although if you really want wifi, head to PAISA Excessive Mountain Espresso. Extra on that under.)

So when you’re seeking to unplug, spend your days climbing within the mountains of Patagonia, and your nights having fun with Argentine lamb and craft beer, you’ll love El Chaltén! Listed below are one of the best issues to do in El Chaltén, Argentina, a mountain city you’ll always remember.

This put up was printed in February 2024 and was co-written by Adventurous Kate and Riana Ang-Canning.

An intensely teal lake surrounded by jagged mountains covered with snow underneath a blue sky.
Laguna de los Tres and Mount Fitz Roy, through Shutterstock

Issues to Do in El Chaltén, Argentina

Hike Laguna de los Tres path to Mount Fitz Roy

Should you’ve seen anybody photograph of El Chaltén, it’s from Laguna de los Tres. Mountaineering to this attractive viewpoint, with the teal lake set in entrance of Mount Fitz Roy, is the primary factor to do in El Chaltén and one of the vital well-liked hikes in all of Patagonia.

Remember, this isn’t a hike for novices. This can be a lengthy hike, and the final half is a difficult uphill slog — however when you’re a match and skilled hiker with the correct gear, you’re going to adore it. 

Laguna de los Tres, or Lake of the Three, references the three mountains that encompass the lake: Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, and Mount Poincenot. Alongside the path you’ll get pleasure from panoramic views and choices to detour to close by lagoons or camp for the evening. 

The Laguna de los Tres path begins from proper in El Chaltén. “Sendero al Fitz Roy” on Google Maps is the trailhead, perched on the tip of city. Costume appropriately — the path experiences robust winds, and in Patagonia, the climate may be unpredictable — convey climbing poles, and be ready for the ultimate kilometer (0.6 miles) to be probably the most tough half.

This out-and-back hike is 22 km (13.7 miles) in complete, with over 1000 meters (3200 toes) in elevation acquire, and will take about eight hours to complete. You may hike independently, because the path is well-liked and well-marked, or you’ll be able to be a part of a climbing group with a information

For climbing lovers in search of a extra intense journey, there’s additionally a two-day guided tour, which incorporates in a single day tenting and visits to close by lakes Laguna Torre and Laguna Capri. 

Kate posing with two peace signs in front of the Fitz Roy mountain range, jagged gray mountains surrounded by clouds.

Hike to the Fitz Roy Viewpoint

If 14 miles of climbing to Laguna de los Tres and again isn’t for you, you’ll be able to nonetheless do a part of this hike and revel in spectacular views — simply cease on the Fitz Roy Viewpoint. That is truly what Charlie and I did, as we had been nonetheless considerably destroyed from climbing to the Base of the Torres del Paine in Chile.

Mountaineering to the Fitz Roy Viewpoint is a few three-hour out-and-back average hike. Simply the correct quantity of climbing whenever you need a satisfying exercise however not fairly an all-day hike.

There’s a level within the hike the place you see a cut up path, one aspect heading to the view of Cerro Fitz Roy, one aspect heading to Laguna Capri. The 2 trails be a part of once more, so you are able to do the path in a circle and return again to El Chaltén.

Enjoyable reality: This view of Fitz Roy is what they modeled the Patagonia model emblem on! And you too can see Fitz Roy from Laguna Capri itself, which is a well-liked spot for tenting. You too can get pleasure from views alongside the best way, like Mirador Río de las Vueltas.

A small gray-green lake surrounded by jagged gray mountains with a low-hanging cloud dwarfing them.
The view above Laguna Torre, through Shutterstock

Hike to Laguna Torre

The second huge hike in El Chaltén after Laguna de los Tres is the hike to Laguna Torre. This 17.5-km (11-mile) difficult hike winds alongside the Río Fitz Roy valley, providing mountain vistas and viewpoints alongside the best way.

The path begins from the city of El Chaltén, or you’ll be able to hook up with it from different climbing routes within the space. The out-and-back hike takes about 5 hours (although when you check out the opinions, many hikers report it taking nearer to seven). Some hikers select to camp in a single day and hike again the following day.  

Should you don’t wish to hike the entire thing, you’ll be able to simply hike the primary 20 minutes of the path, till you see a waterfall down within the valley. I received’t lie, this isn’t the massive payoff that the hike to the Fitz Roy viewpoint is — however it’s one thing when you’re up for a mini-mini hike.

A river winding through a valley in Patagonia, tall snowcapped mountains on each side.
This river is fairly mighty when you go additional down!

Raft down Río de las Vueltas

There are extra outside actions in El Chaltén than simply climbing! Among the best non-hiking issues to do in El Chaltén is to go on a rafting journey down the Rio de las Vueltas

The primary part of the river is calm, permitting you to admire the views of Mount Fitz Roy and the native natural world throughout you. Then it’s time for an adrenaline enhance! Dangle on tight as you and your fellow rafters navigate 10 km (6.2 miles) of Class III rapids.

Take into account that this exercise depends on the water ranges. Charlie and I booked a rafting journey, however sadly we weren’t in a position to go resulting from excessive water ranges throughout our go to. If rafting is excessive in your checklist, you may wish to reserve in your first day simply in case it will get postponed a day or two.

A black and white shot of a big white glacier on top of a jagged mountain.
Trekking Cagliero Glacier is likely one of the most adventurous issues to do in El Chaltén Argentina! Through Shutterstock.

Trek on Cagliero Glacier

Patagonia has a set of extraordinary glaciers, and ice trekking is likely one of the finest methods to get to know them! On this guided ice trekking expertise you’ll have an opportunity to discover the Cagliero Glacier and Laguna del Diablo, or Satan’s Lagoon. 

Notice that this can be a difficult tour — way more so than Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate. You and your group will journey from El Chaltén to Los Huemules Reserve for a three-part journey. Half one is a two hour hike alongside the Diablo River by means of a lush forest.

Half two includes taking through ferrata mountain climbing stairways to the glacier viewpoint — not for anybody with a worry of heights!

Lastly, partially three, it’s time to strap in your crampons and trek instantly onto the icy Cagliero Glacier! You’ll be on the glacier for about two hours earlier than turning round to return to El Chaltén. 

A hiker standing on a lookout in front of some jagged green mountains.
A hiker at Piedra del Fraile, through Shutterstock

Hike to Piedra del Fraile 

One other stunning hike within the El Chaltén area takes you to Piedra del Fraile. On this 13-km (8-mile) route, you’ll trek alongside the Eléctrico River and Blanco River earlier than reaching the Piedras Blancas Lagoon.

The Piedra del Fraile path connects with the Fitz Roy path to achieve Laguna de los Tres, if you wish to add on a much less crowded aspect hike. Simply know that it will add as much as an extended day general.

A mountain range with a blue and white glacier spilling between the peaks.
Among the best views in El Chaltén: Piedras Blancas! Through Shutterstock.

Hike to the Mirador Piedras Blancas

Should you’re after a extra average hike in Patagonia that also has beautiful views, the Mirador Piedra Blancas path is likely one of the finest issues to do in El Chaltén.

This 10-km (6.2-mile) out-and-back hike begins from El Pilar or the Eléctrico River, and will take about three hours to finish.

Alongside the best way you’ll see beautiful views of the Piedras Blancas glacier and waterfalls, and chances are you’ll even get to witness a calving!

A waterfall falling between two rock falls, surrounded by red and orange fall foliage.
Chorrillo del Salto has a terrific payoff to your hike! Through Shutterstock.

Hike to Chorrillo del Salto Waterfall

Probably the most accessible trails in El Chaltén is the hike to the Chorrillo del Salto waterfall. This 6.6-km (4-mile) simple hike is appropriate for kids and will take lower than two hours to finish. One of many nicer issues to do in El Chaltén whenever you need a low-key however energetic day!

Should you’re quick on time or have mobility issues, there’s a parking zone nearer to the waterfall so that you solely should stroll the final stretch of the path. 

And don’t overlook to pronounce it the Argentine method — chor-REE-sho del Salto! Double Ls are SHs right here!

A calm blue lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains.
Laguna Azul in El Chaltén, through Shutterstock

Hike to Laguna Azul

The hike to Laguna Azul is likely one of the finest rewards for the least quantity of effort. It’s solely 90 minutes of climbing alongside a 5.3-km (3.3-mile) moderate-grade loop observe for views of two stunning lakes and a waterfall.

On this hike, you’ll cross over a suspension bridge to go to Laguna Verde and Laguna Azul with mountains and glaciers within the distance. This observe is situated inside Estancia Los Huemules, which is on non-public land, and also you’ll pay an entrance payment.

You may verify opening hours and reserve your entry right here. Take into account that the Argentine trade fee is risky.

Additionally, you need to know that there are many Laguna Azuls in Patagonia — the area is roofed in stunning blue lagoons! Be sure to’re climbing to the one close to El Chaltén earlier than you head out. 

Icebergs floating on a still blue lake, a big purple mountain behind it.
The view whereas crusing Lake Viedma in El Chaltén Argentina, through Shutterstock

Take a ship journey on Lake Viedma

Lago Viedma is likely one of the largest lakes in Argentina and is fed by the Viedma Glacier. From El Chaltén, you’ll be able to take a ship journey out on the glacial lake to see the ice up shut.

You’ll get pleasure from crusing on the intense blue waters and admiring the sights and sounds of the tall glacier partitions. Preserve your eyes peeled for calving ice!

Some Lake Viedma excursions embrace the chance to discover the glacier itself through ice trekking or mountain climbing. Get in contact with the customer middle in El Chaltén, Centro de Informes Turisticos, to see their newest choices, as they’re not posted on-line.

A bartender pouring beers at an enormous, tall bar, with lots of interesting craft beers written out on it.
La Zorra is a must-visit in El Chaltén. I loved their tangerine.

Go to the El Chaltén’s Craft Breweries

Chances are you’ll be stunned to be taught that each El Chaltén and El Calafate are house to a ton of craft breweries — there’s simply one thing in regards to the mountains that draws brewers!

Many of the breweries serve scrumptious meals, in order that they make the proper celebratory spot after ending a hike.

La Cervecería Chaltén is a superb spot for lunch, they usually serve some enjoyable, customizable pastas, along with their assortment of beers — they usually convey you a bowl of popcorn, too!

La Zorra Taproom is one other brewery value visiting (in addition they have one other location in El Calafate, which additionally sells merch), in addition to La Birre del Rancho and Fresco Bar.

A still gray-blue lake surrounded by forests and mountains.
Lago del Desierto brings the attractive views! Through Shutterstock.

Go to Lago del Desierto and Vespignani Glacier

You may get pleasure from a full day of crusing, climbing and epic views on this day journey to Lago del Desierto and the Vespignani Glacier. From El Chaltén you’ll drive out to Punta Sur Port and board a ship throughout Lago del Desierto.

After crusing previous glaciers and mountain terrain, you’ll hike the path of your selection by means of the Glacier Vespignani Reserve. There are three trails to select from with various problem, so explorers of all ranges can take part.

When you’ve completed climbing, you’ll get pleasure from a snack after which head again to El Chaltén. 

A line of hikers walking through a landscape that looks like the surface of the moon, all brown and rounded rocky surface.
La Leona Petrified Forest, through Shutterstock

Go to La Leona Petrified Forest

Stroll by means of prehistoric Patagonia whenever you go to La Leona Petrified Forest. Right here you’ll be capable to discover an eroded panorama with 70 million-year-old petrified tree trunks and dinosaur fossils. It seems to be such as you’ve dropped onto the floor of the moon!

La Leona has climbing trails, historic websites, and many locations value exploring.

Should you’ve rented a automotive and are driving from El Chaltén to El Calafate, and even simply from El Chaltén to the airport, I like to recommend making a cease at La Leona Petrified Forest. In actual fact, that is just about the one worthwhile cease on the three-hour drive.

Should you’re touring between El Chaltén and El Calafate by bus, there isn’t any cease on the petrified forest.

Two men on horseback riding through a valley of golden grass in Patagonia.
Horseback driving in Patagonia is a should! Through Shutterstock.

Go horseback driving

One other nice approach to discover the terrain of El Chaltén is on horseback. Head out on a two-hour horseback driving expertise in Estancia Bonanza the place you’ll cross over rivers and streams, trip by means of forests, and have stunning mountain vistas surrounding you.

There are morning or afternoon rides accessible, and each embrace a lightweight meal. And sure — kids are welcome on this tour!

A man checking on sides of lamb roasting over a fire.
A Patagonian parrilla is all in regards to the lamb!

Get pleasure from an Argentine parrilla at an estancia

You’re invited to a Patagonian lamb roast on the ranch Estancia Bonanza! Whereas Argentina could also be all in regards to the beef, many individuals don’t notice that cordero, or lamb, is what dominates menus in Patagonia.

From El Chaltén you’ll head out on a scenic route — together with strolling throughout a suspension bridge and driving in a 4×4 — till you attain El Establo (the barn) the place your conventional grilled meal awaits. 

Your meal will embrace chorizo, grilled lamb, roasted greens, and grilled fruit with cream for dessert.

A big, thick steak on a plate, next to some steak fries.

Eat Argentine steak

Should you’re a meat eater within the least, you’ll be able to’t come to Argentina and never get pleasure from their most well-known culinary achievement! You’ll discover loads of eating places in El Chaltén dishing up massive steaks to hungry hikers. 

I actually loved the steak I had at La Tapera, a bife de chorizo (which surprisingly doesn’t comprise chorizo — it’s an Argentine minimize), pictured above. Different nice steak spots in El Chaltén embrace La Viňeria; Butch, Bar de Carnes; and The Asadores.

You too can get pleasure from a glass of Patagonian crimson wine together with your steak, although remember that the native wines are usually not as deep and complicated because the reds you’ll discover additional north in Argentina, just like the Malbecs of Mendoza. 

A big cabin in El Chalten reading "Paisa HighMountain Coffee" on the sign.

Drop into PAISA Excessive Mountain Espresso

Every time I journey, I at all times seek for one of the best espresso on the town. And PAISA was completely the winner in El Chaltén. In actual fact, they made one of the best flat white I had in all of Argentina! What a discover, particularly for a tiny mountain city!

Should you’re a espresso drinker eager for one thing nicer than burned filter espresso (usually the default in Patagonia), I extremely advocate you go to PAISA and deal with your self to their scrumptious espresso drinks and fabulous desserts.

It’s additionally value noting that they’ve quick wifi, which is difficult to return by in El Chaltén. You won’t even have telephone sign right here! So if you could textual content your loved ones or put up a number of envy-inducing photographs to Instagram, that is the place to do it.

An enormous blue and white glacier surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and in the foreground, a walkway covered with dozens of people posing for photos.

Take a day journey to El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier

Whereas technically you can take a day journey from El Chaltén to El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier, I don’t advocate it. It’s a three-hour drive to El Chaltén, after which an extra hour to Perito Moreno Glacier — and driving eight hours in a day is simply nuts.

That mentioned — I do know that loads of individuals will try to do that anyway, so I’d as effectively provide you with recommendation on tips on how to do it safely. You’ll solely be capable to pull this off when you’ve got a rental automotive; the buses received’t make it potential.

As a result of Patagonia has lengthy hours of daylight in the summertime, I like to recommend you get up early and head straight out. Cease in El Calafate for one thing to eat, then head to Perito Moreno. From there you’ll be capable to hike up and down the intensive platforms, permitting you to see the glacier from plenty of angles.

Head again to El Calafate whenever you’re completed and seize some extra meals, or possibly a beer when you’re not the designated driver. Perito Moreno Glacier is the principle attraction within the space and the explanation why individuals go to El Calafate, however the city of El Calafate is a enjoyable place to stroll round and maybe do a little bit of procuring earlier than heading again.

Now — when you’re set on doing a glacier trekking tour, which I did and completely liked, you’ll have to time your go to across the arrival and departure of the tour. And also you’ll be driving again after sundown, which may be dangerous in such an remoted space.

Should you REALLY wish to do this, I like to recommend you in a single day in El Calafate earlier than heading again to El Chalten.

Learn Extra: 25 Epic Factor to Do in El Calafate, Argentina

A hiker with a backpack walking underneath a wooden gate reading "Sendero al Fitz Roy."
Prefer to hike? Come keep for per week.

How A lot Time to Spend in El Chaltén

How a lot time you spend in El Chaltén actually will depend on how a lot climbing you wish to do. I might advocate a minimal of two full days to slot in one huge hike and one different exercise, like rafting or horseback driving, or maybe one other hike. 

Should you’re coming for the hardcore trekking expertise, you’ll need 3+ days to discover this area. Possibly even per week or longer. Loads of individuals do that, together with plenty of Argentines.

It’s potential to do a day journey from El Calafate to El Chaltén, so long as you’ve a rental automotive — and I believe it’s simpler than doing the reverse as a result of it’s a three-hour drive because you’re not coming all the best way from the glacier itself.

Take into account that the climate in Patagonia may be wild and different. It’s common to expertise all 4 seasons in a single day. That signifies that unhealthy climate days can occur.

Giving your self a little bit additional time in El Chaltén will provide you with a buffer in case you’ve unhealthy climate days — or high-water-can’t-go-rafting days, like we had.

A small town of colorful small houses, surrounded by tall mountains on all sides.
El Chaltén is snuggled up between the mountains!

How one can get to El Chaltén

The best approach to get to El Chaltén is to fly into El Calafate Airport (FTE), a regional airport you’ll be able to attain from different hubs in Argentina, together with Buenos Aires. From there, you’ll board a 2.5-hour bus to El Chaltén. Should you’re coming from El Calafate city, the bus trip is three hours lengthy. 

Buses from El Chaltén proceed north, stopping at extra factors in Patagonia, making El Chaltén a terrific addition to an extended Patagonia journey. From El Calafate, you’ll be able to fly or take a LONG bus trip to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.

Do you have to lease a automotive to your journey to El Chaltén? I believe it is sensible to lease a automotive when you’re visiting each El Chaltén and El Calafate, and completely important when you’re planning to day journey between them.

However when you’re solely heading to El Chaltén and planning to hike and do outside actions, I don’t suppose it’s well worth the expense — simply take the bus and hike straight out of city. That’s one of many nicest issues about El Chaltén — your entire city is the trailhead!

A small hotel room with a big bed covered with a golden bedspread.
My cozy resort room at Hosteria Senderos in El Chaltén.

The place to Keep in El Chaltén

Whereas El Chaltén is a small village in a distant a part of Argentina, there are inns and guesthouses to swimsuit each funds. Nonetheless, most of those locations are small institutions with restricted rooms, so it’s essential to guide forward of time.

One factor to needless to say even when a resort claims to have wifi, it won’t be at a practical pace to do something past learn plain textual content.

Prime-Rated Luxurious Lodge in El Chaltén: Should you’re in search of probably the most scenic place to remain in El Chaltén, you’ll wish to splurge on Patagonia Eco Domes. They’re situated a bit outdoors of city however the views don’t get higher than this! You too can benefit from the on-site bar, restaurant, solar terrace, therapeutic massage companies, and day by day breakfast. 

Prime-Rated Mid-Vary Lodge in El Chaltén: I stayed at Hosteria Senderos and located it to be a wonderful mid-range choice. It’s proper throughout from the bus station, which may be very handy when you’ve got an early departure or heavy luggage. There’s a restaurant on website with first rate meals and the rooms are snug, although small. The wifi is so gradual it’s barely practical, however that’s what you get in El Chaltén! 

Prime-Rated Funds Lodge in El Chaltén: Funds vacationers can take a look at Andino Asides for an apartment-style keep in El Chaltén. The flats include a separate kitchen and eating room, and a continental breakfast is served day by day.  

Discover offers on locations to remain in El Chaltén right here.

A sign for a hostel with another sign pointing to different cities around the world with arrows pointing in different directions.
Early December was pretty in El Chaltén!

Finest Time to Go to El Chaltén

Peak season in Patagonia is from December to March, which is summer time in South America. That is whenever you’ll have one of the best climate – although needless to say the climate nonetheless varies wildly on this area – and the longest days.

You’ll have probably the most hours of daylight in December and January, which can also make these the busiest and costliest occasions to journey to El Chaltén. To keep away from the crowds however nonetheless get good climate, I’d advocate going on the tail ends of excessive season — suppose late November to early December, or late March.

I went to El Chaltén in early December and it labored out very well. Whereas we didn’t have the countless blue sky days that we had in Torres del Paine (significantly, take a look at these photographs when you haven’t but), we had been in a position to get pleasure from clear views of Fitz Roy, even when it was overcast.

No large rain clouds, no hoards of individuals — labored for us!

Kate and Charlie taking a smiling selfie in sunglasses and hiking gear, in front of the Mount Fitz Roy jagged mountain viewpoint.
We liked El Chaltén!

Is El Chaltén Value It?

Sure, El Chaltén is value it! I completely liked my time in El Chaltén; it nearly felt like a fairy story. El Calafate may appear like it has extra on paper, however you completely can’t evaluate it to what El Chaltén looks like.

I believe the nicest factor about El Chaltén is that the climbing trails begin proper from the city. That makes it a lot simpler to get out and discover with out worrying about transportation. Think about if all cities had this!

So sure, a number of days in El Chaltén is a trip effectively spent. I hope you’ve probably the most great time in El Chaltén — and Patagonia!

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Have you ever been to El Chaltén? Any strategies? Share away!