El Chalten is considered the Trekking Capital of Argentina for a reason. Every traveller you meet in this cute town is in his hiking boots, carrying a pole, dressed in their trekking attire and ready to hit the trail.
El Chalten is full of beautiful trails. It has something to offer for everyone, be it a novice hiker or a professional one. But choosing which hike suits you best based on your interest, duration and hiking experience can be pretty daunting. So here are our recommendation on best hiking trails in El Chaten, Argentina (Patagonia)
1) Laguna de Los Tres / Mount Fitz Roy
Total Distance – 26 Km (to the summit and back to the town)
Time Taken – 9 to 10 Hours
Difficulty Level – Medium
This is the most beautiful and hence the most popular trek in El Chalten. This hiking trail offers the best view of Mount Fitz Roy and the surrounding glaciers. This can be done within a day but those who want to take it easy can also camp on the way. There are free camp sites available on the trail. The trail is a moderate uphill trek and goes through the forest and open fields. It offers magical views of El Chalten itself, lagoons around and Mount Fitz Roy.
The last couple of kms appear as a steep climb and this is where it could get a bit challenging, especially if the weather is not in your favor. However, the climb is totally paid off once you reach the summit and see Laguna de Los Tres and Mount Fitz Roy on its backdrop.
2) Laguna Torre / Cerro Torre
Total Distance – 24 Km (to Laguna Torre and back to the town)
Time Taken – 7 to 8 Hours
Difficulty Level – Easy
The other famous trail in El Chalten is Cerro Torre or Laguna Torre. This is an easy day hike, no hiking experience is required for this trail. But trail is really beautiful. You will witness panoramic views of the Cerro Solo, Cerro Torre, the Adela range and Mount Fitz Roy. Trail is full of surreal waterfalls and fresh water rivers where you can stop for a quick picnic breaks.
3) Loma del Pliegue Tumbado
Total Distance – 24 Km (to the summit and back to the town)
Time Taken – 10 Hours
Difficulty Level – Difficult
This is one of the more difficult trails in El Chalten. Most of the trail is uphill but trail is again very scenic full of picturesque mountains, waterfalls, alpine flora and lagoons. Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with a 360 degree view of the whole National Park. You will be awestruck appreciating the gorgeous valleys of Fitz Roy, Lake Viedma and Patagonia steppe.
4) Los Condores and Las Aguilas
Total Distance – 6 Km
Time Taken – 1.5 to 2 Hours
Difficulty Level – Easy
This is the shortest and easiest trail in this area. You can enjoy the stunning view of the town, Lake Viedma, Laguna Torre and Mount Fitz Roy from these 2 viewpoints. The trail starts from the same place and split halfway. If you are short on time, it is a perfect hike to plan for half a day.
5) Chorrillo Del Salto
Total Distance – 2 Km
Time Taken – 1 Hours
Difficulty Level – Easy
This is another easy hike near the town. It is just 8 km away from the town. It goes through the forest along the mountain. At the end of this trail you will witness a stunning waterfall.
- All the trails are well marked in El Chalten, so there is no need to hire a guide. It can be easily done on your own.
- Pack your lunch on all your day hikes, as nothing is available on the way.
- Carry 2 to 3 liters of water. There are fresh water lakes along the trail, just in case you run out of water.
How to get there?
The nearest airport to El Chalten is in El Calafate. You can take a shared cab from the airport to reach El Chalten. You will find companies offering shared cab at the airport itself. It takes 2.5 hours and costs around 50 USD. (Bonus Tip: Don’t blink an eye on your way, as you are entering the highway to heaven).
Where to stay?
Stay in El Chalten town. Almost all the trails are at the walking distance from the town. For the trails where the starting point is a bit remote, all the hotels/hostels provide transportation to the starting point at additional but reasonable cost (approx. 10 USD). A wide range of accommodation is available in town from 20 USD backpack hostel to a 100 USD luxury hotel. We stayed in Kospi Posada Bed & Breakfast for 25 USD per person. It was pretty decent and all the necessary facilities were available.
How much time to spend in El Chalten ?
3 to 4 days is good time to get the feel of hiking in Patagonia. All the 5 trails recommended above can be done is 3 days (if pushed) to 4 days (comfortably).
For 3 days trip our suggested budget is 300 USD PP.
Break up is as below:
Accommodation – 75 USD PP (@25 USD PP per Day).
Food – 75USD (@25 USD PP per day). Food is not cheap here and not many options are available but you can reduce the cost drastically by cooking it in your hostel kitchen. Most of the hostels/hotels provide such an option.
Transportation (from El Calafate airport to El Chalten and back) – 80 USD.
Transportation within the city – 20 USD (in case you don’t want to walk to the starting point of a trail).
All the hiking trails are free of cost.
Miscellaneous – 50 USD.
Total – 300 USD PP for 3 days