If we talk about hiking, we talk about El Chaltén. It is not for nothing that this young and small Patagonian town is known as the National Capital of Trekking – also listed in our guide to the most beautiful treks in South America.
The offer of activities and excursions is very wide. But today I am going to make your task easier. In this post, I am going to tell you which are the 10 best trekking trails in El Chaltén, divided by difficulty.
Although most people usually spend very few days or hours visiting this town, I recommend you spend at least 3 nights. Moreover, if you are a hiking lover, you could spend a whole week and never get bored. Voyagers Travel also offers an extensive guide to all of Patagonia.
Put on your boots and let's discover the hidden wonders at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy, or as it was originally called, Cerro El Chaltén.
Voyagers travel offers fully organized tours that last several days and include the main highlights of Patagonia and visits to El Chalten, all trips are customizable and can have trekking and other adventure components. Here are a few itineraries for inspiration:
Enjoy learning the different hikes that include visit to mountains, lakes, forests and glaciers.
These trails are recommended for:
People who are not used to walking in the mountains.
Those who have little time or want to do a short trek through El Chaltén but without spending the night in the town.
And for those traveling with small children or elderly people.
3 hours – 7km
This trail begins in the town and offers no difficulty. During the journey, you will cross a stretch of plain and another native forest that will lead you to a picturesque 20-meter waterfall where you can enjoy a moment of contemplation.
Before the final stretch of the road, there is a parking lot. For those who want to get there by car, from there, they only have to walk 10 minutes.
2 hours – 4 and 6 km
The trailhead is at the National Park Visitor Center. The path is well signposted and you will also find informative signs.
The first viewpoint is that of the condors, which, as its name indicates, is a strategic point to observe these immense birds, owners of the Andes.
The second viewpoint, called Las Águilas, offers a wide view of the steppe and Lake Viedma.
It is possible to visit the 2 points on the same day since they do not offer any difficulty, but I recommend you finish with the viewpoint of the Cóndores at the end of the afternoon so that you can enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Chaltén hill and the town.
3, 4 hours – 7 km
This viewpoint is located halfway to Laguna Torre.
The first section has a gentle slope and crosses a lenga forest until reaching the first viewpoint called Las Margaritas. From there you will have the first panoramic views of Cerro Solo, Cerro Torre, and Cerro Chaltén.
4, 5 hours – 7 km
The head of the trail is at the end of the town on Av. San Martín.
The first route is a bit steep until you reach the first viewpoint over the Valle del Río las Vueltas.
Then you will continue for 1h30 through the Valle del Salto stream to the fork between the Laguna Capri trail and Fitz Roy.
Once in the lagoon, you will have a wonderful view of Cerro Fitz Roy. And if you dare to go a little further, 40 minutes away you will find the Mirador del Fitz Roy with even more spectacular views.
5, 6 hours
The excursions depart from Chaltén to the interpretation center where data is left and an entrance fee is paid since the reserve is private. Most of the excursions include this entrance, the cost of transportation, and lunch in the price.
The trail is not very popular, so you will not cross many people, this will give you more chances to see Huemules (indigenous deer in danger of extinction
The first 2 or 3 hours are uphill (although not very steep) and you can see the Green and Blue lagoons before reaching the Devil's lagoon.
Once in the lagoon, you will have incredible views of the hills and the Cagliero glacier. There is also a shelter where you can have lunch.
It is possible to sleep in the refuge it is an excellent option for group trips.
5 hours – 13 km
The head of the trail is about 17 km from the town. The path is all flat, so it is ideal for people who are not used to walking in the mountains.
In the first part of the journey, you will cross a lenga forest that borders the Eléctrico River, until you reach the log shelter where you can make the first stop to have a hot drink.
Then continue to the Pollone Glacier, where you can also appreciate the north face of Mount Fitz Roy.
8 hours – 21 km
The trailhead is at the National Park's Ceferino Fonzo Visitor Center.
The path at the beginning crosses a lenga forest until it changes abruptly to a rockier landscape. There you should be careful as it is very easy to find fossil remains.
The trail has a significant slope, but the prize for those who dare to walk it is one of the most spectacular views of the region.
In principle, from the Pliegue Tumbado viewpoint, you will be able to appreciate a panoramic view of most of the mountains in the area together with the Fitz Roy River and Laguna Torre from above.
On the other hand, if you continue climbing for another hour you will be able to enjoy a full 360º view!
The idea is to do it when it is clear because it is a very open view.
There is a shorter version for those who are not staying in El Chaltén and come from El Calafate. You walk 2 hours there and 2 hours back on average.
The first part is a bit demanding (1 hour) until the first viewpoint where one of the first views of Fitz Roy can be seen. Although the views improve as you go up.
The excursions come with lunch included, but if you want to do it on your own, do not forget to bring your picnic.
9 hours – 25km
This is undoubtedly the emblematic trekking of El Chaltén. One of the most impressive views of Patagonia is the reward for those who complete the entire trek. From there you will see the Fitz Roy, the Laguna de Los 3, and the Laguna Sucia.
From the beginning of the trail, it is a 3-hour walk to Laguna de Los 3, and 4 hours to go down to the town. In total 8 hours walking, plus the time of the stops and lunch.
If you do not get to the Laguna de Los 3, it is possible to get to a refuge in the Blanco River. Some people who hire the excursion usually stay here due to the impossibility of continuing for physical reasons.
The return can be done by a different path than the one on the way, passing through the Capri lagoon until reaching El Chaltén. For this reason, as I mentioned before, if you take this path it is like doing 2 treks in one.
The park may close if the weather is not optimal to ensure the safety of hikers.
7 hours – 19 km
The trek starts from the town. An hour and a half from the start you will already be able to see the first panoramic view of Cerro Torre. Remember that this hill is not visible from the town.
The path is quite calm until Laguna Torre and from there, you can see the Glaciar Grande, the lagoon, and the hill.
For those who dare to go a little further, you can reach the Maestri viewpoint to have a view of the lagoon and the glacier from above.
11 – 12 noon in total 8 hours of walking
This path on the Cagliero Glacier can only be done through a guided excursion since it involves not only hiking but also a section via Ferrata and trekking on the ice of the glacier.
It is not comparable with the Perito Moreno Glacier Mini Trek as it is much more intense and requires more physical effort.
It begins by taking the Laguna del Diablo trail but turns off towards where the via Ferrata stretch that borders the lake begins.
Once on the glacier, the equipment is tested. The walk on the glacier takes about 2 hours.
Before starting the return, the group goes to the Vivac Cagliero Dome where it is possible to rest and have a hot drink before starting the return.
To do this excursion it is necessary to spend at least 2 nights in the town. The necessary equipment is included with the price of the excursion.
The minimum age limit is 13 years accompanied by adults.
Check out our short blog on what to wear in Patagonia so all these treks are done comfortably and you are prepared for the different weather conditions.