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The Best Hiking In El Chaltén, Argentina


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Libbey Arp



Argentina is a country known for its remarkable natural beauty, and one destination that stands out for outdoor enthusiasts is El Chaltén. Nestled in the southern region of Patagonia, El Chaltén is often referred to as the “Hiking Capital of Argentina.” With its stunning mountain scenery, pristine lakes, and diverse flora and fauna, it offers a paradise for hikers of all levels.


El Chaltén is located within Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its glaciers and towering peaks. The town itself is small and charming, with a relaxed atmosphere that caters to visitors who come to explore the surrounding wilderness. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, El Chaltén has a wide range of trails to suit every level of adventure.


As you embark on your hiking journey, you can expect to encounter breathtaking landscapes including the iconic Mount Fitz Roy and its surrounding peaks. The crystal-clear rivers and vibrant forests create a picturesque backdrop that will leave you in awe at every turn.


This article will guide you through the best hiking experiences in El Chaltén, providing information on how to get there, essential tips for hiking, and a breakdown of the different hiking trails available. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging expedition, El Chaltén has something for everyone.


Getting to El Chaltén

Located in the southern part of Argentina, getting to El Chaltén can be an adventure in itself. The most common way to reach El Chaltén is to fly into El Calafate, a town approximately 220 kilometers (137 miles) away. El Calafate has an international airport with frequent flights connecting to major cities in Argentina and neighboring countries.


From El Calafate, you can take a bus or hire a taxi for the scenic journey to El Chaltén. The road trip takes approximately three hours, offering breathtaking views of the Patagonian landscape along the way. It’s advisable to check the bus schedules in advance, as they may vary depending on the season.


If you prefer a more adventurous option, you can also reach El Chaltén by hiking the famous “W” Trek in Torres del Paine National Park. This trek starts in Puerto Natales, Chile, and takes around four to five days to complete. Once you reach the end of the trail, you can arrange transportation from the park to El Chaltén.


Another alternative is to drive from other parts of Argentina, although it is a long journey. The roads are generally well-maintained, but it’s important to check weather conditions and plan accordingly, especially during the winter months when snow and ice can make driving more challenging.


Once you arrive in El Chaltén, you will find that the town is easily walkable, and most hiking trails start from the town center. The visitor center in El Chaltén is a great resource for obtaining maps, trail information, and weather updates.


It’s important to note that El Chaltén is a small town with limited services, so it’s advisable to withdraw cash and stock up on supplies in El Calafate before heading to El Chaltén. There are a few grocery stores and restaurants in town, but options may be limited, especially during the low season.


Now that you know how to get to El Chaltén, let’s explore some essential tips for hiking in this breathtaking destination.


Essential Tips for Hiking in El Chaltén

Before embarking on your hiking adventure in El Chaltén, it’s important to keep in mind some essential tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  1. Check the weather: Patagonia’s weather can be unpredictable, with rapid changes in conditions. Make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out on a hike and be prepared for sudden shifts in temperature, wind, and rain.
  2. Start early: Begin your hikes as early as possible to make the most of daylight hours and avoid crowds. It also allows you to have sufficient time to complete longer hikes without feeling rushed.
  3. Come prepared: Wear suitable clothing and footwear for hiking, including waterproof and windproof layers. Pack essentials such as a hat, sunblock, insect repellent, a map, a compass, a first aid kit, snacks, and plenty of water. It’s crucial to stay hydrated due to the drier and windier conditions in Patagonia.
  4. Respect nature: El Chaltén is a protected area, so it’s essential to leave no trace and respect the environment. Stick to marked trails to avoid damaging delicate ecosystems, and pack out any trash you generate.
  5. Inform others: Make sure to inform someone of your hiking plans, including the route you plan to take and your expected return time. This is particularly important for longer or more challenging hikes, as it allows for timely assistance in case of emergencies.
  6. Be cautious of wildlife: El Chaltén is home to a variety of wildlife, including guanacos, foxes, and even pumas. Keep a safe distance and avoid feeding or approaching them. It’s best to observe wildlife from afar and respect their natural habitat.
  7. Follow park regulations: Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of Los Glaciares National Park, including camping restrictions and trail closures. By respecting these guidelines, you help preserve the park for future generations to enjoy.
  8. Know your limits: Choose hiking trails that match your fitness level and experience. El Chaltén offers trails for all abilities, so don’t feel pressured to take on something beyond your capabilities. Always prioritize safety and listen to your body.
  9. Consider hiring a guide: If you’re new to hiking or want to explore more remote areas, hiring a certified guide can provide valuable insight and ensure a safer experience. They are knowledgeable about the terrain, weather conditions, and potential hazards.

By keeping these essential tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared for your hiking adventures in El Chaltén. Now, let’s delve into the different hiking options available for beginners in this stunning destination.


Hikes for Beginners

El Chaltén offers a variety of hiking trails suitable for beginners, allowing them to explore the stunning landscapes and experience the beauty of Patagonia. Here are some hikes perfect for those new to hiking:

  1. Laguna Capri: This is a relatively easy hike that offers incredible views of Mount Fitz Roy and the surrounding peaks. The trailhead is located just outside of town, and the round trip takes around 3-4 hours, covering a distance of approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). The hike takes you through beautiful forests and culminates in a breathtaking viewpoint overlooking Laguna Capri.
  2. Mirador de los Condores and Las Aguilas: Another beginner-friendly hike, this trail takes you to two scenic viewpoints offering panoramic views of the valley and the Fitz Roy range. The round trip takes about 1-2 hours, covering a distance of approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). It’s a great option for a shorter hike with spectacular rewards.
  3. Chorrillo del Salto: If you’re looking for a gentle hike that ends in a beautiful waterfall, Chorrillo del Salto is a perfect choice. The trailhead is located just a few kilometers from town, and the round trip takes around 2-3 hours, covering a distance of approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles). The trail meanders through picturesque forests, leading you to the impressive cascades of Chorrillo del Salto.
  4. Laguna Torre: While slightly longer than the previous hikes, Laguna Torre is still suitable for beginners. The trail takes you to the base of Cerro Torre, offering stunning views of the glacier-fed lake and the iconic mountain. The round trip takes around 5-6 hours, covering a distance of approximately 18 kilometers (11.2 miles). It’s a rewarding hike that showcases the captivating beauty of the region.

These hikes provide a taste of the natural wonders El Chaltén has to offer without being too strenuous for beginners. Remember to bring plenty of water, snacks, and appropriate clothing, and always be mindful of the weather and your personal limits.


For those seeking more challenging hikes, the next section will explore intermediate-level trails that will take you deeper into the Patagonian wilderness.


Intermediate Hikes

For those looking to venture beyond the beginner trails, El Chaltén offers several intermediate-level hikes that provide a greater challenge and reward with breathtaking views. These hikes require a moderate level of fitness and are perfect for those looking to push their boundaries. Here are some intermediate hikes worth exploring:

  1. Loma del Pliegue Tumbado: This hike offers a stunning panoramic view of the entire Fitz Roy massif and the surrounding landscape. The round trip takes approximately 8-9 hours, covering a distance of around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). It starts with a steady climb through lush forests and grassy slopes until you reach the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable vista.
  2. Laguna de los Tres: Arguably one of the most popular and rewarding hikes in El Chaltén, this trail takes you to the base of Mount Fitz Roy. The round trip takes around 10-12 hours, covering a distance of approximately 25 kilometers (15.5 miles). You’ll hike through forests, cross rivers, and trek up steep sections to reach the iconic Laguna de los Tres, where the majestic peaks of Fitz Roy and its glacier await.
  3. Pliegue del Tumbado: A lesser-known but equally captivating hike, Pliegue del Tumbado offers spectacular views of the Fitz Roy massif and the Patagonian steppe. The round trip takes around 8-9 hours, covering a distance of approximately 18 kilometers (11.2 miles). The hike starts with a forested trail that leads to a steep ascent, culminating in a breathtaking lookout point with panoramic views.
  4. Laguna Toro: This trail leads to the tranquil Laguna Toro, nestled amidst picturesque mountains and surrounded by glaciers. The round trip takes approximately 10-12 hours, covering a distance of about 28 kilometers (17.4 miles). It’s a challenging hike that takes you through diverse terrain, including forests and river crossings, showcasing the raw beauty of the Patagonian wilderness.

These intermediate hikes offer a greater sense of adventure and allow you to immerse yourself deeper into the stunning landscapes of El Chaltén. Make sure to be well-prepared with proper gear, ample food and water, and a good understanding of the trail conditions and weather forecast.


For experienced hikers looking for a more demanding and exhilarating challenge, let’s explore the advanced hikes available in El Chaltén.


Advanced Hikes

For experienced hikers seeking a more challenging and rewarding adventure, El Chaltén has a range of advanced hikes that will test your skills and endurance. These trails will take you to remote and untouched areas of the Patagonian wilderness, offering unparalleled beauty and a true sense of accomplishment. Here are some advanced hikes to consider:

  1. Cerro Fitz Roy: Reaching the summit of Cerro Fitz Roy is a dream for many mountaineers. This technical climb requires advanced mountaineering skills and equipment, as well as experience with glacier travel and rock climbing. It’s a multi-day expedition that should only be undertaken by experienced climbers with the necessary training and knowledge.
  2. Campo de Hielo Sur: This is a challenging multi-day trek that takes you across the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, one of the largest ice masses outside of the polar regions. This extreme adventure requires proper mountaineering equipment, navigation skills, and experience in glacier travel. It’s a true test of endurance and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for seasoned adventurers.
  3. Paso del Viento: This demanding hike is known for its stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and its glaciers. It involves steep ascents, river crossings, and sections of rugged terrain. The total duration for this trek is around 4-5 days, and it requires advanced hiking and navigational skills, as well as camping gear and experience with remote wilderness camping.
  4. Lago del Desierto and Huemul Circuit: This challenging trek combines stunning views of Lago del Desierto with a multi-day circuit around Cerro Huemul. The total duration for this hike is around 5-6 days, covering approximately 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) of rugged terrain. It requires advanced hiking and navigation skills, as well as camping gear and experience with long-distance hiking.

These advanced hikes in El Chaltén offer a unique opportunity to push your limits and immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of Patagonia. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety and ensure that you have the necessary skills, experience, and equipment before attempting these challenging expeditions. Consider hiring a professional guide or joining a guided tour if you’re unsure or unfamiliar with the area.


Now that you’re aware of the various hiking options in El Chaltén, let’s explore the best time to visit and experience these incredible trails.


Best Time to Hike in El Chaltén

The best time to hike in El Chaltén largely depends on your preferences and the type of experience you are seeking. However, the prime hiking season in this region is during the summer months of November to March. During this time, the days are longer, temperatures are milder, and the weather is generally more stable, making it ideal for outdoor activities.


During the summer, you can expect temperatures to range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F), with occasional spikes on hotter days. The longer daylight allows for more time to explore the trails and enjoy the stunning landscapes at their best.


Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are also good seasons to visit El Chaltén for hiking. These shoulder seasons offer more solitude and cooler temperatures, with average highs ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F). The colorful autumn foliage and blooming wildflowers in spring add an extra touch of beauty to the hikes.


It’s important to note that El Chaltén experiences strong winds throughout the year, and these winds can significantly impact hiking conditions. Be prepared with windproof and layered clothing, especially during the summer when winds tend to be stronger.


Winter (June to August) is the low season for hiking in El Chaltén. The temperature drops considerably, with average highs ranging from 0°C to 10°C (32°F to 50°F), and the trails can be covered in snow and ice. Winter hiking in El Chaltén is only recommended for experienced mountaineers and those with proper equipment and skills for winter conditions.


Regardless of the season you choose, it’s always essential to check weather conditions and trail information before heading out. Weather can change rapidly in Patagonia, and being prepared and flexible is vital for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


Now that you have an idea of when to visit El Chaltén for hiking, let’s go over some important safety considerations before you embark on your adventure.


Safety Considerations

When embarking on a hiking adventure in El Chaltén, it’s crucial to prioritize safety to ensure a positive and risk-free experience. Here are some important safety considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Know the trail: Familiarize yourself with the trail you plan to hike, including its length, difficulty, and potential hazards. Gather information from reliable sources such as the visitor center or experienced hikers.
  2. Check the weather: Patagonian weather can be unpredictable, so check the weather forecast before heading out. Be prepared for rapid changes in conditions and plan accordingly.
  3. Hiking with a partner: It’s always recommended to hike with a partner, especially on longer or more challenging trails. Having someone with you provides an extra level of safety and support in case of accidents or emergencies.
  4. Leave no trace: Preserve the natural beauty of El Chaltén by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Pack out your trash, minimize your impact on the environment, and respect the flora and fauna.
  5. Stay on marked trails: Straying off the designated trails can lead to accidents or damage to fragile ecosystems. Stick to the marked paths to ensure your safety and help in the conservation efforts of the area.
  6. Stay hydrated and nourished: Carry enough water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized throughout your hike. It’s important to replenish your body’s fluids and fuel to maintain your energy levels and avoid dehydration or exhaustion.
  7. Be aware of wildlife: El Chaltén is home to wildlife such as guanacos, foxes, and occasionally pumas. Admire wildlife from a safe distance, avoid feeding them, and dispose of food waste properly to prevent attracting animals to camping areas.
  8. Inform someone of your plans: Before heading out on a hike, inform someone you trust of your plans. Share details about the trail, estimated return time, and any emergency contacts. This ensures that someone knows where you are and can alert authorities if needed.
  9. Bring essential equipment: Carry a map, compass, first aid kit, extra clothing layers, waterproof gear, and a headlamp in case of unexpected delays or emergencies. These items are crucial for your safety and well-being during the hike.
  10. Listen to your body: Pay attention to how you’re feeling throughout the hike. If you experience extreme fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, or any other concerning symptoms, take a break, hydrate, and reassess. Pushing beyond your limits can lead to accidents or health complications.

By following these safety considerations, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in El Chaltén. Additionally, it’s always beneficial to take a moment to review and pack the essential items needed for your trek. Let’s explore the packing list for hiking in El Chaltén in the next section.


Packing List for Hiking in El Chaltén

When preparing for a hiking adventure in El Chaltén, it’s essential to pack the right gear and supplies to ensure your comfort, safety, and enjoyment on the trails. Here’s a comprehensive packing list to help you prepare:

  1. Hiking boots: Invest in a sturdy pair of waterproof and comfortable hiking boots that provide good ankle support.
  2. Appropriate clothing: Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions. Include a lightweight base layer, insulating mid-layer, and waterproof outer layer. Don’t forget to pack a hat, gloves, and a warm and breathable jacket.
  3. Backpack: Use a comfortable backpack with sufficient capacity to carry your essentials, including water, snacks, extra clothing layers, and gear.
  4. Water and hydration system: Carry an adequate supply of water, and consider using a hydration bladder or reusable water bottles to stay hydrated on the trail.
  5. Navigation tools: Bring a detailed map, compass, and/or GPS device to navigate the trails effectively and ensure you stay on track.
  6. Sun protection: Pack a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays during your hike.
  7. Snacks and meals: Carry lightweight and nutritious snacks such as energy bars, nuts, or dried fruit. If planning for longer hikes, pack a meal or consider lightweight dehydrated meals.
  8. First aid kit: Include essentials such as bandages, blister pads, pain relievers, antiseptic wipes, and any prescription medications you may need.
  9. Emergency gear: Carry a headlamp with extra batteries, a whistle, a multi-tool, and a lightweight emergency blanket in case of unforeseen circumstances.
  10. Rain gear: Pack a waterproof jacket and pants or a poncho to stay dry in case of rain or unexpected weather changes.
  11. Insect repellent: Protect yourself from pesky bugs by bringing insect repellent, especially during the warmer months.
  12. Extra clothing: Pack extra layers of clothing, including socks, to ensure you stay warm and dry if you encounter unexpected weather or changes in temperature.
  13. Camera or smartphone: Capture the stunning landscapes and memories of your hikes with a camera or smartphone.
  14. Cash and identification: Carry some cash for emergencies and ensure you have your identification and any necessary permits with you.

Remember to adjust your packing list based on the duration and difficulty of your hikes. It is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared when exploring the beautiful trails of El Chaltén.


Now that you’re equipped with all the necessary information and gear, you’re ready to embark on your unforgettable hiking experience in El Chaltén. Stay safe, make memories, and enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of Patagonia!



El Chaltén, Argentina, is a true paradise for hikers of all levels. From its towering peaks to crystal-clear lakes and dense forests, this region offers breathtaking natural beauty and exhilarating trails that are sure to leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, El Chaltén has something to offer everyone.


In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know to make the most of your hiking adventure in El Chaltén. We started by discussing the best time to visit, highlighting the prime hiking season during the summer months when the weather is milder and the days are longer. We also explored the essential tips for hiking, emphasizing the importance of being prepared, respecting nature, and prioritizing safety on the trails.


We then delved into the various hiking options available in El Chaltén, from beginner-friendly hikes with stunning viewpoints to intermediate trails that take you deeper into the Patagonian wilderness. For the experienced hikers, we discussed advanced hikes that offer a true test of your skills and allow you to explore more remote and untouched areas of this remarkable region.


To ensure your safety and comfort on the trails, we provided a comprehensive packing list that covers the essential gear and supplies needed for your hiking adventure. From sturdy boots and appropriate clothing to navigation tools, hydration systems, and emergency gear, we highlighted it all.


El Chaltén is a place that will captivate your senses, inspire your spirit of adventure, and create memories that will last a lifetime. As you explore the incredible trails, be sure to take the time to appreciate the stunning landscapes, respect the environment, and enjoy the serenity of this untouched wilderness.


Now that you’re armed with knowledge and equipped with the right gear, it’s time to lace up your boots, grab your backpack, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the spectacular hiking trails of El Chaltén. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Patagonia and create memories that will stay with you forever.