El Chaltén is popularly known as the trekking capital of Argentina. In this article we propose an itinerary to visit inEl Chaltén in 3 days,to enjoy this town surrounded by mountains and with Mount Fitz Roy crowning the landscape.
The origin of the name El Chaltén, according to popular history, comes from the Tehuelche word Chaltén, which means “smoking mountain“. As Mount Fitz Roy is usually covered by clouds, the tribes thought it was an active volcano. The truth is that with its 3405 meters high, it is the center of the postcards of those who visit this place.
El Chaltén is today a small mountain village with all the services for tourists. It is ideal to complement your trip to El Calafate and enjoy your days among nature.
📷 Book here your transfer from El Calafate to El Chaltén and don’t worry about anything.
If you are traveling to El Chaltén, do not miss the Perito Moreno glacier and El Calafate. We tell you things to do in Calafate in this article.
Tips for visiting El Chaltén
- Los Glaciares National Park is open all year round and access is free of charge.
- The best time to visit this town is between October and April. Longer days and mild weather are great allies for mountain walks.
- During the winter , most hotels and restaurants remain closed. The same is true for trails that are affected by snow.
- Something very important when hiking in El Chaltén is to have suitable footwear for trekking. Although there are trails of low difficulty, the terrain is rocky and usually uphill, so for your safety it is ideal to have sports shoes suitable for this activity or at least have a good grip.
- Do not forget to bring a jacket, even if you go in summer, because in El Chaltén the temperature is very changeable, especially because of the wind.
- Remember to bring your own food to the treks, because in most of the trails there are no places to sell food, at most there is a campsite with latrines.
- Bring your beverages to stay hydrated. Although the trails usually have rivers with water suitable for drinking, it is advisable to bring bottled drinks because these waters are very rich in minerals and if our body is not used to them, they can cause gastrointestinal problems.
- Download your maps to your cell phone or carry a printed one, because cell phone signal in the mountains is scarce.
You can view the trekking trails in El Chaltén from this link to Google Maps of Parques Nacionales. Also the Maps.me app has trails plotted on the map and you can use it without an internet connection.
Map with the places to see in El Chaltén in 3 days
Summary – El Chaltén Itinerary in 3 days
- Day 1: Enjoy low difficulty trails to get into rhythm.
- Day 2: Trekking along the Laguna de los Tres trail.
- Day 3: Excursion to Lago del Desierto and Huemul Glacier
If you have more days to spend in this beautiful place, we recommend you to take a look at our article about what to see in El Chaltén.
Day 1: Enjoy low-difficulty trails to get into the rhythm of the day.
This first day is an opportunity to prepare the body and mind for the great trail that we propose on day 2. For this reason, we suggest you start the day with one or two low-difficulty, gentle trails to acclimatize. To close the day, visit the Casa Madsen Museum to learn about the first inhabitant of El Chaltén.
Condor Viewpoint and Eagle Viewpoint
Towards the south of El Chaltén it is possible to visit two viewpoints that start from the visitor center “Guardaparque Ceferino Fonzo”.
One of them is Mirador de las Águilas, which has a panoramic view of Lake Viedma, Mount Huemul and Mount Pirámide. It is a 30 minute walk with a gentle slope.
Nearby is the Mirador de los Cóndores, named after the condors that frequent it. It is a panoramic point that lets you see the town of El Chaltén, the mountains, highlighting the Fitz Roy hill and Lake Viedma. It is only a 10 minute walk, and it is ideal to close the day watching the sunset.
Chorrillo del salto
This hike is ideal to start touring the area of El Chaltén, thanks to its low altitude and enjoying the forest. It starts at the end of the village at the same point where the Laguna de los tres trail starts, only you have to go to the right.
If you start from the town, you will travel about 4 kilometers, but if you approach the starting point from the parking lot inside the national park, it will be 500 meters. The tour will take you walking among ñires, the native tree of the area, orchid plants and the mountains in the background.
At the end of this trail, you will reach the Chorrillo del Salto waterfall, a small waterfall, which flows into the Arroyo del Salto. It is an ideal place to take some time to enjoy the place and why not, if the weather is nice, refresh your feet.
To get to the viewpoint you have to take a 2 kilometer long trail, starting from the Laguna Torre trail, which will take you through the ñire forest and following the course of the Fitz Roy River. Slowly, the road rises to reach the panoramic point at 500 meters above sea level. From here you can see the valley of the Fitz Roy River, Mount Torre and of course the majestic Mount Fitz Roy.
Madsen House Museum
To round off the first day, a guided tour of the house of pioneer Andreas Madsen. Of Danish origin, he arrived in these lands in 1905 to work with the surveyor Pascasio Moreno and built the first house in El Chaltén.
Today you can see the original construction with walls made of lenga trunks cut with an axe. Inside they tell you the personal reasons that brought Madsen to this corner of the world and also honor the history of several Patagonian pioneers.
Looking for ideas to travel to Patagonia? Check out this article on where to go on vacation in Patagonia in summer
Day 2: Trekking along the Laguna de los Tres trail.
To do this trail to Laguna de los Tres it is essential to start early in the morning. The hike takes approximately 4 hours one way and 3 to 4 hours return, so daylight is important for this trek.
It is a medium-high difficulty trail and although it is not necessary to have mountain experience, it is important that you are equipped to spend the day walking on slopes.
⚠️ The trail is inside Los Glaciares National Park. Pets and bicycles are not allowed in the National Park.
There are two points from where the trail can be started, one is the “Senda el Pilar“, 17 kilometers from the center of town, and the “Sendero Laguna Capri“. The ideal is to start with the first one and go around the second one to see the complete landscape that this trekking has to offer.
The first relevant point from the Senda el Pilar is the Piedras Blancas viewpoint, from where you can see the Piedras Blancas glacier. Between the Madsen and Eléctrico hills there is a mass of ice that is impressive for its white color. If you are lucky you will even witness a landslide.
From there, continue on your way to Poincenot Camp, an ideal stop for a snack and a rest before continuing on to the lagoon. A few meters away you will cross the Blanco River over a small wooden bridge. If you ran out of water, it’s a good place to load up supplies and if you go in summer this spot usually has a lot of people moving in both directions.
You will already see the needles of the hills in the distance, the ideal impulse to face the last part of this trail, which involves an ascent of 400 meters in a rocky and uneven terrain.
And at the end, the magnificent Laguna De los Tres. Nearby we see the peak of Mount Fitz Roy and its eternal snow. This natural water reservoir is formed by glacial meltwater and snow. Take a moment and enjoy thisincredible postcardthat nature gives you.
Bordering the lagoon you will find a panoramic view of the Laguna Sucia, a beautiful mirror of turquoise and green water with some small waterfalls.
To start the return trip, we take the trail back to the Poincenot camp and continue along it until we reach the Laguna Capri camp. Here you will find Laguna Capri in all its splendor, contrasting a spectacular view of the Fitz Roy with its blue waters.
If you still want to see one more viewpoint, we recommend passing by the Fitz Roy viewpoint, which deviates a little from the trail, but it is only a few meters and does not represent a major difficulty. At 750 meters above sea level, you have a panoramic view of the mountain and its surrounding hills such as Pioncenot, Saint Exupery and Mermez.
📢 Always consult before starting the status of the trails at the Visitor Center. From April to November there may be snow/mud on the most difficult section.
📷 Do you want to hike the trail to the Los Tres lagoon with a guide who will accompany you all the way? Book here the excursion to Los Tres Lagoon.
Day 3: Excursion to Lago del Desierto and Huemul Glacier
On the last day of the itinerary in El Chaltén in 3 days we suggest you to make the excursion Lago del Desierto and Huemul Glacier.
To reach the area you have to travel 37 kilometers from the town. The route will take you in the company of the forest, waterfalls and the Vueltas River, which as you get closer to the lake, its water becomes more and more transparent.
⚠️ The road is on a gravel road, which depending on the season is in better or worse condition. If you are traveling on your own in a rented car, ask about the road conditions and carry a full tank of fuel because there are no gas stations along the way.
Lago del Desierto is located within the Lago del Desierto Provincial Reserve. An entrance fee is required to gain access. The reserve area protects the huemul, an endangered animal that is a species of deer native to the Patagonian forest.
On the shore of the lake, at the southern end, you can take a 30-minute boat ride that will take you between two mountain ranges: the Vespigniani and the Forest. In these ranges you can see the Huemul and Crestón glaciers from afar , among mountains, native forests and streams.
This navigation culminates at the Lago del Desierto campsite, where you can access the trail that leads to the Vespignani glacier. The tour lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and you walk through a Patagonian forest. Along the way, you will enjoy panoramic views of Lago de Desierto and the north face of Mount Fitz Roy, until you reach the great Vespignani glacier.
Another trekking we recommend you to do is to the Huemul glacier. The trail goes through a forest while bordering the watercourse. At the end you reach the lagoon of an impressive light blue and green color, and of course, the Huemul glacier. The route is only 2 kilometers long and uphill. The last stretch has a medium-intensity slope with ropes to help you move through the rocks.
The trail to Huemul Glacier is on private property and an entrance fee is required to access it.
Another alternative on the way back is to stop at Laguna Condor. Here you can visit its viewpoint or if you are in the mood for a little adventure you can go kayaking.
📷 Book here the Desert Lake excursion for free, which includes transfers and guide. If you want something more complete, book the Vespignani Glacier and Desert Lake trek which in addition to the above includes the boat ride on the lake and the trek to the Vespignani Glacier.
Where to stay in El Chaltén
To choose the best place to stay in El Chaltén, you have to evaluate what kind of trip you are making and luckily there are many options. Our recommendations for where to stay in El Chaltén are as follows:
- Rancho Grande:budget lodging in El Chaltén. It offers shared rooms with shared bathrooms and private rooms. Restaurant with low prices and excellent service.
- Kalenshen Inn: this inn, located north of the city, has the advantage of having a heated swimming pool to relax after a hike. Buffet breakfast, fitness center and spa are more of the amenities offered.
- Guille’s place: the 3 B’s in the center of El Chalten (good, nice and cheap). Private rooms with several beds to go with family or share with friends, large breakfast room and communal kitchen and first class service. They lend walking sticks for your trekking.
- Destino Sur Hotel & Mountain Spa: a five star hotel with all the comforts to relax completely. Spacious alpine-style rooms with mountain views, heated pool and spa.
🏨 Want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in El Chaltén.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
- Rent a car with Auto Europe
- Interrail Pass
- Eurail Pass
- Train Tickets with OMIO
- Bus tickets with OMIO
- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
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