El Chaltén – List of treks [Patagonia]

  • How to reach: I took a bus from El Bolsón
  • Cost: ARS 1920 for Semi – Cama. This includes dinner and breakfast (About Rs. 8200 for Semi sleeper)
  • Departure Time: 14:30
  • Travel time: Approximately 21 hours
  • Other Details: Most of the buses in Argentina are very comfortable with clean toilets and regular water supply. The buses To El Chaltén are not every day. Please check the availability before planning. I took the bus on a Friday. So, it’s available on Fridays for sure.

EL Chaltén is almost synonymous to Patagonia and that made it one of my travel goals. I was elated when I made it but to my disappointment, the weather was at its worst. The wind was too strong, it was drizzling all the time and according to weather forecasts, it was going to get worse. As they say ‘In Patagonia, the weather can be anything at any time of the year’. I couldn’t wait for three days there for the weather to be alright owing to its high cost of living and my limited time in the country.

So, I decided to head out the very next day. As luck would have it, I had an opportunity to stop here again on my way north and this time, the weather was just perfect.

My first view of Rio Fitz Roy

I was very excited about this place because whoever has been to Patagonia and/or whoever intends to come cannot stop bragging about this place but as soon as I reached, I felt intimidated by all the professional trekkers. They were a bunch of people checking out the maps, discussing prospective routes, most of the people had professional gear in place. I felt like a kid in the wrong place. I was too embarrassed to even ask anything at the tourist information desk because of my complete lack of knowledge about this place.

I managed to grab a map from the tourist information desk and just left to look for a cheap hostel. The very first hostel I stopped by was cheaper than the cheapest option available online so I took it.

It wasn’t great but I rarely look for ‘luxury’. A bed in a warm place was all I was looking for. The only problem I saw there was the toilet door didn’t lock, I mean did not even latch (Toilets without locks are common in Argentina). I put dustbin by the door each time I had to use the washroom.

I met an Israeli couple in my hostel who invited me to join them to the waterfalls nearby. I was more than happy to. It was also the place where I learned a lot about Israeli culture. I later often joked that South America is being taken over by Israelis and there are probably more Israelis here than there are in Israel right now. You would believe it if you were there.

I learned a lot from my varied interactions with different travelers from Israel. From cooking efficiently in hostel kitchens to trekking fearlessly. Israelis come very close to Indians in spirit, I feel.

Waterfall Chorrillo del Salto:

  • Distance: 3 km
  • Time: Around 45 min

It’s a short walk from the town and not difficult at all. The terrain is pretty flat. The only difficulty was the strong wind and walking like a penguin with all those layers of clothing. It was too much to handle so we hitched a ride while returning.

Chorrillo del Salto

The weather was too cold to take a dip in the water but it was pretty good to just sit by it and relax.

Hike: Mirador de Los Cóndores and Mirador de las Águilas-

  • Distance: 2 km (One way)
  • Time: About 1 hour for both (one way)
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Other Details: The hike is same till one point. Mirador de Los Cóndores is a little detour from Mirador de las Águila
Till this point the trek is same

Next day evening I had plans to leave for El Calafate and I didn’t want to leave without having done any hikes. The place is popular for good hikes. So, the crazier version of me won and left for a hike even though the weather was not the kind where you should be stepping out of the hostel at all.

Next day evening I had plans to leave for El Calafate and I didn’t want to leave without having done any hikes. The place is popular for good hikes. So, the crazier version of me won and left for a hike even though the weather was not the one where you should be stepping out of the hostel at all.

The hike was better than my expectations as it was only drizzling most of the time and I had made my peace with the strong winds. I met some equally retard people while hiking which made me feel better about my decision.

At Mirador de los Cóndores
Returning after braving the winds I would say

Hike Sendero al Fitz Roy (Laguna de Los Tres):

  • Distance: 10 km (One way)
  • Time: About 4 hours at an average pace
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Other details: The first km is a steep but the next 8 km are pretty flat and easy. It’s the last km that is the highlight of the hike and makes it a ‘difficult’ category hike

This 3405m high mountain will stare at you in all its might and make you smile with it.

The clouds play along with the mountain and let you take a sneak peak of what’s in store for you

This is the most popular hike around here and it’s really no exaggeration. It deserves to be on the ‘must-do’ random lists available online. Naturally, I was disappointed when I couldn’t do it the first time around. So, when I got a chance to stop here again, I grabbed the opportunity to go on this hike. The weather was perfect but there was still one problem.

There are only two ATM’s in the town- one does not accept chip cards and the other was out of cash. I used my cash to pay for my hostel and was out of money. I made myself pasta with just one tomato for dinner but what about snacks for the hike? It’s an intense hike of 10 km and the last km is a steep climb.

I had just reached and was leaving the next evening so couldn’t even borrow money from anyone. The hostel served no breakfast (By the way, I managed to find a cheaper hostel than the last time).

I decided to go ahead with my hike in spite of this little situation of mine. This is what I had with me – one tomato, a packet of cereals, and some marmalade.

The hike is extremely beautiful with multiple streams of water, a beautiful lake in between, camping area by the lake, and of course mount Fitz Roy is a sight to watch.

Laguna Capri
Camping by Laguna Capri could be a very good idea if you have time

The last km is very challenging I would say, as it’s very steep with loose rocks. There was some work going on to make a better track there which would make it slightly less dangerous.

Just this view will make you forget what you had to deal with in the last km
It looks easier than it is. Return route from the top

On my way back, I met these amazing people again, whom I had met in Buenos Aires. We parted ways quickly as I had a bus to take and they were in their first km of the trek. I did not have the heart to tell them that the first 9 km put together is not as difficult as the last one km.

What were the odds?

List of Treks to do around here (From the pamphlet I for at tourist information desk):

Distance Time Difficulty
Sandero Al Fitz Roy
Laguna Capri 4 km 1:45 hs Medium
Campamento Pincenot 8 km 2:45 hs Medium
Mirador Piedras Blancas 10 km 3:30 Hs Medium
Laguna de los Tres 10 km 4:00 Hs Hard
Laguna Madre e Hija 8 km 2:15 Hs Medium
Sendero Al Torre
Mirador del Torre 3 km 1:15 Hs Medium
Laguna Torre 9 km 3:00 Hs Medium
Mirador Maestri 11 km 4:00 Hs Hard
Other Trails
Mirador de los Cóndores 1 km 0:45 hs Easy
Mirador de las Águilas 2 km 1:00 Hs Easy
Chorillo del Salto 3 km 1:00 Hs Easy
Pliegue Tumbado 12 km 4:00 hs Hard
Laguna Toro 16 km 7:00 hs Hard
Piedra del Fraile 6 km 2:00 hs Easy
  • The distance is from the starting point of the trail
  • Time is for one way of the trek

 **The other most popular trial is – Laguna Torre

My favorite thing in Patagonia – Longer days. Important Bus information next to it.

The ATM’s were working when I returned, I hogged on a lot of food and took my lesson of always keeping eatables on me. Since then I’m never out of bananas and bread.

Did you ever have to do a hike with almost nothing to snack on?


2 thoughts on “El Chaltén – List of treks [Patagonia]

  1. Boiled eggs are also a good choice. They have lovely beautiful plastic shell to keep them on trekking. If you get them anywhere, just buy a few of life, a rate commodity in my view. I saw them only in Australia trekking gear shop.


    1. A very good option. I’m a vegetarian though and started eating eggs only when I reached Bolivia. As it was really difficult to eat out minus the meat and egg.
      I’m not sure what what is this egg of life. Could you share a picture or anything.


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