Trekking in El Chalten
After crossing by El Calafate, I continue my way up Patagonia onto El Chalten. This THE city not to miss if you want to trek ! The town is nothing fancy and only for tourism purposes. If you don’t want to trek, skip it because there is nothing to see/do here. And more than that, Internet doesn’t work well in El Chalten, so you will be kind of disconnected… but you will be able to make some whatsapp calls to your family, no worry !
Like I said, El Chalten is hikers’ paradise. Tourists and travelers from all over the world are there to do those trails. Beside, it is there where there was a nice cosmopolite mix of people. When you talk about Patagonia and El Chalten, there are only two words in mind : Fitz Roy ! Yes, the famous Fitz Roy was discovered by Mister Fitz Roy. What is interesting with this story is that for a long time, we thought the mount Fitz Roy was a volcano because it was always covered by clouds and like « smoking » all the time. But no, on one sunny clear day, the peak appeared in its majestic way we all know ! That is why it is so famous ! But yet, there more than Fitz Roy to discover …
Laguna de los Tres
This is THE trail not to miss ! Because this one leads you to Fitz Roy ! Unfortunately, weather is unpredictable in Patagonia. Therefore, choose the best day to hike it (I give more tips down). The trail is pretty long : 10 kilometers one way, so 10 kilometers also to come back ! The first 2 kilometers are climb up, nothing hard but it goes up. Then it is quite flat until the 9th kilometer. You will pass through amazing landscapes with views over valleys, lagoons and Fitz Roy at the horizon. Between valleys, forests, bushes, rocks, this trail has a lot to offer. Then, at kilometer 9, this is the hardest part. It is a rocky steep slope that waits for you. It takes about 1 hour to climb it. Be careful of the wind !
Finally, you will get to the top over the Laguna de los Tres … and for the lucky ones, with a clear Fitz Roy !
Try to go on towards Laguna Sucia, just behind Laguna de los Tres. It is told that its blue is just wonderful ! Unfortunately, still mid-October, the Laguna de los Tres was freezed !
In total, 4 hours are necessary to walk those 10 kilometers. Don’t forget you will need to come back, don’t start too late !
Distance : 10 km (20 km round trip)
Duration : 4h (8h round trip)
Difficulty : medium and high for the last kilometer
This is the other star of El Chalten ! In the same spirit, it is a 9 km trail without any major difficulty. You just have to go up a steep slope to access the beginning of the trail path. Then it goes up until the mirador over Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, if you are lucky to see them both, with some parts over rocks. After that, until the last kilometer, it is practically flat. And the final climb is lightly steep with rocks and gravels. And if it is a wonderful sunny day, without clouds and wind, you can admire Cerro Torre over the Laguna Torre. As for me, I didn’t know what to expect and it was completely breathtaking ! Fa-bu-lous !
The trail can be continued on 2 kilometers to get to a viewpoint over the glacier, which I didn’t do.
Distance : 9 km (18km round trip)
Duration : 3h (6h round trip)
Difficulty : medium
Mirador de los Condores
This is an easy trail, without any difficulty, which will give you a nice view of El Chalten. The idea is to be able to see some condors flying in the valley. When I was there, I just saw one.
Mirador de los Aguilos
Another nice trail where there is a common part with the Condores’ one. So you can combine both at the same time. It will lead you over a impressive view on Patagonia landscape !
There are others trails less known I choose not to do. You can also camp in the park and making a loop of all the amazing sceneries to see ! As for me, my favorite trail was the Laguna Torre one … just incredibly beautiful !!!
I advise you to get informed day by day to know the best weather conditions to hike. To do so, you can use the website WindGuru after some explanations about how to use and read it. 2 major factors are important to make your decisions : wind and clouds ! The trails can become a real nightmare because of the wind, big wind gusts can avoid you to move forward and it can be extremely dangerous on mountainsides ! And clouds obviously … it would be shame to walk 10 km and not see the highlight of the show !
It was my case ! I left at 7 am for the Fitz Roy trail. At 8:30 am, at Laguna Capri, clear sky, sunshine and nice view over Fitz Roy at the horizon. At 11 am, the sky has been covered, the wind has get up and the Fitz Roy was completely disappeared and on top of that, it was freezing cold.
Other tip, if you are more of a cooking person, make your provisions at El Calafate because mini-markets of El Chalten are small, poorly diversified and expensive !
Last but not least, plan more time than usual in El Chalten, if you can, to maximize your chances to see the beautiful peaks of the area ! Indeed, clouds and wind are common here in Patagonia. Get the luxury to choose the best days to trek ! I spend 5 full days there with only 1 beautiful day. Again, my own experience !