El Chaltén: the hiking capital of Argentina

Argentina South America
El Chaltén

After our short visit to El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier, we travelled onwards towards El Chaltén. This tiny city, with only 3000 inhabitants, is known as Argentina’s hiking capital. Of course, this meant we mainly did hikes while we were here. All hikes leaving from El Chaltén are very well indicated and easy to find, it’s almost impossible to get lost. Read about our hikes and adventures here.

El Chaltén 

Day 1: Condor lookout

On our first day in Chaltén, we only arrived in the afternoon. In order to prepare ourselves for the longer hikes on day 2 and 3, we decided to go for a short afternoon hike to the Condor Lookout. The trail to the Condor lookout starts at the visitor’s centre and the whole hike only takes about 1 hour. Ideal to get some walking rhythm in those legs!

The trail up to the lookout is very accessible and not steep it all. It gradually makes its way up to the lookout from where you get a gorgeous view on the Torres and Mount Fitz Roy. As the name indicates, it’s a great spot for condor spotting. We were up there for about 5-10 minutes and spotted 3 condors!

El Chaltén

View on Mount Fitz Roy and the Torres from Condor lookout

Day 2: Laguna de los Tres

On day 2 of our stay, we decided to do the longest hike: Laguna de los Tres. All blogs I’d read said this hike was a must since it boasts the most spectacular views on Mount Fitz Roy. However, it’s a very long and tiring hike. The whole hike takes between 7 and 9 hours and is 22 km long (round trip).

El Chaltén

Most popular hike in El Chaltén

The hike starts from the parking lot at the end of San Martin road. We decided to start the hike at around 10.15, aiming to be back at 18.15. The first part of the hike is gradually uphill, offering some gorgeous views of the neighbouring valley and the Rio de las Vueltas river. 

El Chaltén

Beautiful view on the neighbouring valley and the river

Very steep last kilometre

Basically, the first 9-10 km of the hike are very doable and not too demanding. Some parts are a bit steeper than others, but it’s generally not very hard. The hardest part is the last kilometre. The first 9 km took us about 3 hours, while the last one took us a whole hour! That says a lot… The last kilometre is basically straight up. The trail zigzags up and our calves were hurting a lot. Everyone was out of breath and impatiently waiting to reach the lake.

El Chaltén

Mirador del Fitz Roy

We had to take several breaks to catch our breaths, that last kilometre was killing us! At some point I thought we had finally arrived, only to see another hill just around the corner. It was merciless. Finally after an hour of suffering, we reached the Laguna de los Tres.

El Chaltén

Gorgeous views

In my opinion, the suffering was worth it. Simen didn’t entirely agree since he felt like the effort didn’t weigh up to the reward. Also, the views reminded him a lot of our hike to Mirador base de las Torres in Torres del Paine. We had lunch at the lake, enjoying the views of Fitz Roy and the gorgeous blue lake, before making our way down again. We were back in Chaltén by around 6 PM, happy to give our tired legs some rest!

El Chaltén

Day 3: Laguna Torre

The last hike we did in El Chaltén was Laguna Torre. This is also a longer hike, 18km, but only takes about 6 hours. This hike brought us to the Laguna Torre, which gave us beautiful views on the Torres (the 3 towers).

The start of this hike was a bit more difficult to find. From San Martin street you’ll spot a sign pointing you in the right direction, but at certain points the road forks and the signs disappear. Not very convenient… You basically have to keep walking straight (don’t take a right) towards the hill. The trail starts behind the houses at the back of Las Loicas street.

El Chaltén

The start of the hike is quite a lot of uphill and downhill, but all in all the road goes up quite gradually. The first part is mainly uphill, while the second part is mainly downhill. After walking through a valley for about an hour, you’ll reach a forest (the most boring part). After the forest, it takes about another 2 km to reach the lake. Those last 2 km are relatively easy.

After our heavy hike from the previous day, we were very happy to reach the Laguna Torre. The lake itself isn’t as beautiful as the Laguna de los Tres, since the water has a more greyish colour. However, the views are still very beautiful!

El Chaltén

Laguna Torre

After a quick lunch and some pictures, we decided to walk back. We were both happy to take a hiking break after our many hikes in Torres del Paine and El Chaltén.

Next stop: Bariloche

Our next stop was San Carlos de Bariloche. But to get there, we had to travel for 24 hours by bus! More about that in my next blog.


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