The village of El Chaltén, just over 200 km north of El Calafate is known as a climber's paradise: i treks are among the best in all of Argentina and they should be on anyone who loves walking in the mountains.
What the Cerro Fitz Roy looks like along the path of the Laguna de Los Tres
Ok, often and especially in the high season they can be very crowded and walking is not always easy due to the strong Patagonian wind, but the views over the Cerro Torre and on Fitz Roy they pay for anything.
Although I can't define myself as someone who goes up the mountains every Saturday and Sunday, I love walking very much, so I have planned to spend the time in El Chaltén to explore its paths in a leisurely fashion.
All the treks you find in this list they have been traveled by me personally (and therefore they are within everyone's reach) and each of these is viable in just one day leaving El Chaltén.
Clearly there are also more demanding treks, which require more days and therefore overnight stays in tents, or which require skills that I personally do not feel I have.
1 - Chorrillo del Salto
Chorrillo del Salto
Distance: 2 km
Duration: 1 hour to go and 1 to return
More than a real trek, it is a flat walk of a couple of km that can be done easily in just over an hour and leads to a clearing with a waterfall called Chorrillo del Salto.
Unfortunately you get there along the dirt road that runs through the valley of the Rio de las Vueltas and therefore, in addition to chewing dust every time a motor vehicle passes, upon arrival you may find it very crowded with Argentine families who come to have picnics.
However, I liked it a lot, the air is fresh and the waterfall is pretty. If, like me, you arrived in El Chaltén in the afternoon, you could have it as your first taste after leaving your luggage at the hotel.
2 - Los Condores e Las Aguilas viewpoint
The view from the Mirador Los Condores, below me the cheerful town of El Chalten
Distance: 1,5 km
Duration: 1 hour to go and 1 hour to return
Probably the shortest of the treks that can be done in El Chaltèn, these two Miradores, in addition to being easily accessible, offer beautiful views of Adela, Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy.
The trail starts from the visitor center and climbs fairly quietly to the branch of the two Miradors. On the one hand you reach the Los Condores viewpoint with views of El Chaltén and Fitz Roy, while the Las Aguilas viewpoint leads to the opposite side and boasts a magnificent panorama over the Argentine steppe and the Lake Viedma.
3 - Laguna de Los Tres (Fitz Roy)
Behind there is Cerro Fitz Roy, I know you can't see it but trust me I swear it's there ...
Distance: 10,5 km
Duration: 4,5 hours to go and 4 to return
The most popular trek of all, the one to Los Tres Lagoon, can not disappoint even those like me who reached the top without seeing a pipe since the Fitz Roy was completely covered by clouds.
Many trekkers decide to camp overnight in the two campsites that meet along the trail, but the trek is feasible in just one day, starting quite early in the morning.
To get there you have to reach the opposite side of the village, where the main road ends Avenida San Martin (in Patagonia Argentina all the main roads are called that so you can't really go wrong). Here a well-marked path climbs into the woods and already after the first half hour offers unforgettable views of the valley below and the River of Las Vueltas.
The view over the Rio de Las Vueltas Valley, from the path towards Fitz Roy
After 4 hours of walking more or less easy, you reach the first Camping, the Poincenot (free) and after crossing the Rio Blanco you arrive at the campsite White River.
THElast hour of trekking is very tiring: in one km you cover 400 meters in altitude on a disastrous path full of rocks and steps for which my knees and kneecaps will hate me forever.
But when I got to the top, now practically crawling, the only thing that came out of my lips was a very long wowwww (a little for the wonder, a little for the breathlessness, it took me half an hour to recover from the fatigue ).
From here you should have the best view ever of Cerro Fitz Roy with the stunning emerald lagoon at its feet.
I say you should have indeed you have, but I have not seen it because it is completely covered by clouds.
But thank goodness that two of my friends went there the next day and so they gave me this photo:
There he is! The Laguna de Los Tres and Cerro Fitz Roy behind it ... I told you there was ... Thanks to Simone Nicolini of Argentario Divers for photography
On the way back I also caught the rain. In short, it was not the day I was hoping for, but you can't always win even if the boxes have turned me a bit.
4 - Laguna Torre (Cerro Torre)
Even at Laguna Torre the clouds have harassed me: Cerro Torre is there but you can only see a small piece of it!
Distance: 9 km
Duration: 4 hours to go and 4 to return
Feeling like a kind of diva for being able to get to Laguna de Los Tres, the next day I decided to do the other super recommended trek: the Torre Lagoon.
The path is considerably less tiring than that of the Laguna de Los Tres (thank goodness I would be dead) and apart from some initial ups and downs up to the Margherita waterfall and the subsequent mirador, you walk flat along the valley for most of the time. until you get to this lagoon from which you should see the Cerro Torre.
Meetings at the Laguna del Cerro Torre. This cute fox has understood that tourists are a source of food, even if you should never feed wild animals
I say you should because clearly I have just glimpsed it. The clouds that had haunted me the day before, I don't even have to do it on purpose they decided to harass me the next day too.
Patience, so much against bad luck it is not that we can do it, but the lagoon is beautiful, with large blue icebergs and I was accompanied by a nice fox who was trying to collect food from tourists.
5 - Huemul Glacier
The remote and lonely Huemul Glacier Lagoon
Distance: 9 km
Duration: 40 minutes to go and 30 to return
Of all the most famous treks in El Chaltén in the end, this one that few people know is what I liked most probably because we were the only ones who went there. To get there you must in fact take the bus to Lake Desierto and when you arrive at your destination (right where the bus stops) you cross a small estancia and walk up the woods.
Apart from the steep final stretch, the path in the woods is pleasant and peaceful and you reach the lagoon under the glacier in about 40 minutes.
The loneliest trek in El Chaltén
This was probably the only time we had during all days of travel completely alone.
From the top you overlook an incredible valley, completely unspoiled, you feel a bit watching it as protagonists in the film Jurassic Park.
The Jurassic Park Valley from the top of the Huemul Lagoon
The time before the bus came back to pick us up was more than enough to go up to the lagoon, come down, stop to eat (or rather I to see eat) a sandwich with sausage and take a short stretch on the shore of Lake Desierto.
The ones I have proposed here are the 5 treks that everyone can do alone (without a guide therefore) and in one day.
If you are braver or more trained, or you like adrenaline, the agencies offer the most varied treks of several days with overnight stay in a tent or refuge. Find the complete list on the page of activity of El Chaltén.