My original plan had been to do the W; a 4 day hike around Fitz Roy. Due to injuries it was not to be, yet I was still keen to visit El Chaltén, where the W starts from.
Even the road leading to the town was stunning . . .
El Chaltén is known as Argentina’s trekking capital with the soaring peak of Fitz Roy shadowing the town. The town itself is small and nearly every shop, café and restaurant is there to serve the many hikers who came through.
It’s an isolated place but there is such beauty there.
I managed one night in a dorm room in El Chaltén with the most uncomfortable mattress, and oddly unfriendly roommates, before decamping to a bed and breakfast. I was still catching up on sleep from my incredible adventures in Antarctica with an amazing bunch of people so wasn’t in the mood to put up with any nonsense.
Sleeping on the floor of this abandoned building would’ve been more comfortable than that mattress.
The skies in El Chaltén were breathtaking. It felt as if the clouds had said “We know everyone is here to see the mountains, but let’s show them what we’ve got!
Big and fluffy. Wild and stormy. The clouds deserved a photo or two.
There are many day hikes that can be done from El Chaltén for those who don’t want to do a multi-day hike. These were my three best day hikes in El Chaltén.
Laguna de los Tres
The most well-known day hike is Laguna de los tres. Do be aware that the last hour of this hike is VERY steep. I choose not to do that final piece so didn’t see the lake itself yet there were a lot of wonderful views along the way.
The most popular view that people want to see when they come to El Chalten is the massif of Fitz Roy. Jagged rock piled high and reaching for the sky.
It’s a stunning sight, complete with glacier.
8 to 10 hours round trip.
The Condores Viewpoint
This viewpoint overlooks the town of El Chalten. You also see spectacular views of the massifs of Torre, Fitz Roy and the Valley of the Vueltas River.
Keep your eyes out for Armadillos – I saw my first one along the trail. He was happy for me to sit nearby him and even came up to sniff my shoes.
2 hours round trip.
Chorrillo del Salta
An easy walk to the water fall. A great spot to go for lunch!
2 hours round trip.
The township is small and easy to walk around. There are a number of cafes that do packed lunches all ready for your day hikes.
- To get to El Chaltén, you take a bus from the bigger town of El Calafate. The trip is around 3 to 4 hours.
- The weather can be wet, windy and horrid in El Chaltén (as well as sunny and warm) so always make sure you go out prepared, even on day hikes, as the weather can turn very quickly.
- Get cash before you come as there are only two ATMs in town and they can run out of cash. Don’t expect places to take your credit card or for your credit card to work here.