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El Chalten, north of Los Glaciares National Park

Santa Cruz

This is one of the most sought-after destinations for those who love nature, the mountains, trekking and climbing. Known as the National Capital of Trekking, the mountain village of El Chalten is located at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy or Chalten and Mount Torre. Here, you will find a wide network of trails with stunning landscapes. 

The best time to visit El Chalten is from October to March. During summer, visitors can go on excursions to the Ice Fields. During autumn, the forests turn into orange, reddish and yellowish colours.

What to see
Trekking trails

Trekking is the most enjoyed activity in El Chaltén. There are trails of different duration, distance and difficulty that reach the most emblematic hills and other iconic places. Among the best known are:

  • Laguna de los Tres: it reaches the foot of the famous Mount Fitz Roy – or Chaltén – and the beautiful lagoon that is at its feet. In total, it is 25 km (round trip), it is of medium/high difficulty and takes between 8 and 9 hours. Within this route, there is an intermediate alternative that reaches the Capri lagoon with incredible views of the hills (8 km round trip, medium difficulty, between 3 and 4 hours).
  • Laguna Torre: you can choose to take a short walk that reaches a panoramic viewpoint from where you can see Cerro Torre (5 km round trip, low difficulty, approximately 2 hours). The longest and most complete option is to continue through the valley to Laguna Torre (19 km round trip, low difficulty, between 7 and 8 hours).

In addition, short, low-difficulty trails leave from the town to the Los Cóndores viewpoint and the Águilas viewpoint, where you have incredible panoramic views of the valley, the hills and the Las Vueltas river. The path that reaches Chorrillo del Salto, a classic in El Chaltén, goes into the forest and reaches a waterfall.

Desierto Lake

36 km from El Chaltén and taking the Río de las Vueltas scenic route (RP 41), you can reach the Lago del Desierto Provincial Park, where navigation, trekking, horseback riding, snorkeling and many other activities are carried out.

It is a beautiful path to take by car or bicycle, since it runs parallel to the Vueltas River and enters the native ñires and lenga forest. In addition, it is framed by two impressive mountain ranges: the Vespignani range to the west, with hanging glaciers, and the Forest range to the east. Once at Desert Lake, there is a viewpoint to appreciate the landscape and a campsite. There are no services since it is a wild area.

Viedma lake

Starting from El Chaltén, 18 km away, you can reach a port from where boat trips to Lake Viedma depart. One of its main attractions is that it passes in front of the Viedma glacier, to contemplate its icebergs, cracks and turquoise walls.

Southern Patagonian Ice Field

“La Vuelta a los Hielos Continentales” is an eight-day semi-technical expedition that must be carried out in the company of qualified guides, and that goes through the Southern Ice Field, the third largest area of ice in the world after Antarctica and Greenland.

How to get there and move around

From the city of El Calafate (where there is an airport) to El Chaltén, there are 212 km of asphalt. You can get there by car, bus or with excursions. Behind the Desert Lake, the Punta Norte pass allows you to cross into Chile on foot or by bicycle.

Where to stay

In El Chaltén there are accommodations of different categories such as cabins, aparts, campsites and hostels, as well as a great gastronomic offer.

There are also three free camping areas without services: Padre de Agostini (next to Laguna Torre), Laguna Capri (near Laguna Capri) and Poincenot (road to Laguna de los Tres). It is mandatory to have a tent and heater for camping as it is prohibited to make fires.

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