One of the best experiences to do in Patagonia Argentina is trekking to Fitz Roy mountain, an emblematic mountain surrounded by lagoons, glaciers and unparalleled beauty. In this article we tell you how to get there, what to wear, when is the best time and how to do it.
El Chalten is a small town in the Argentinean Patagonia, located only 215 kilometres from El Calafate. It is called the national capital of trekking thanks to its more than ten possible trails, some easy and some not so easy, that run through forests, lagoons, glaciers and mountains.
🔎 Check out this article on things to do in El Calafate, 20 must-do activities.
The most popular trekking to do in El Chaltén is the one that goes to Laguna de los Tres, which allows you to observe as close as possible the pointed peak of Mount Fitz Roy, since climbing up to its summit is only for mountaineering experts.
The Fitz Roy, at 3405 metres high, is a symbol of Patagonia and an essential place to visit on a Patagonia Argentina itinerary. Located within the Los Glaciares National Park, it is part of the so-called Southern Ice Fields.
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Best time of the year to trekking to Fitz Roy Mountain
The best time of year to trek Fitz Roy is in December, January and February, although it is of course the busiest time of the year for tourists.
If you want to avoid the crowds of tourists, November and even March are also good times to hike the Fitz Roy trail.
However, as El Chaltén is located in the middle of the Andes, its weather is totally unpredictable, even if you do the trekking to Fitz Roy in the middle of summer. It may be that you start the trekking with clear skies and when you arrive at the Los Tres lagoon the sky is covered with clouds and you cannot see the Fitz Roy. Or vice versa.
🔎 Check out this article about things to do in El Chaltén, the best trekking in the area.
How long does it take to trekking the Fitz Roy mountain?
The trail to Mount Fitz Roy is 10.2 kilometres one way, and the trail is well marked.
If you go at a normal pace, without rushing, stopping to take pictures and eat, it can take between seven to eight hours in total. In the end, it is a full-day hiking route.
It should be noted that the trek to Mount Fitz Roy is of medium-high difficulty, the climb is very steep on the way up, especially the last stretch. If you are not experienced in mountain trekking, it can be done but at a slow pace and leaving early in the morning to return in daylight.
Trekking to the Fitz Roy mountain on your own, step by step
Starting from the village of El Chalten, there are several must-visit photo stops along the 10.2 kilometre journey to the Laguna de los Tres. Starting from kilometre 0, which is indicated on the Fitz Roy trail sign, the stops are as follows:
- KM 0.7 Río de las Vueltas viewpoint: up to here it is a gentle slope overlooking the valley.
- KM 4 Laguna Capri and views of the Fitz Roy: the path becomes practically flat surrounded by the Patagonian forests until you reach the beautiful Capri Lagoon. Here you can stop for a rest and a light lunch with views of Fitz Roy. Weather permitting, you will be able to see this imposing hill from the lagoon.
- KM 8 Poincenot campsite: the path continues without much ascent to the Poincenot campsite. Surrounded by trees it has a small stream where you can drink and refill water, latrine toilets and camping area. If you want to see Mount Fitz Roy and the Laguna de los Tres at sunrise, this is the mandatory stop to sleep and get up very early the next day.
- Km 10,2 Laguna de los Tres: the last kilometre before reaching the Laguna de los Tres is the most difficult one, a very tough climb but with a great reward.
Once you reach the top you will see, weather permitting, the silhouette of Fitz Roy reflected in the water of the Laguna de los Tres, a spectacle of nature that you will never forget. Here you should take enough time to take pictures, relax and contemplate the beauty of the Patagonian landscape.
The return is along the same path, which takes about half the time it takes to climb, although there is also the option of continuing on to the viewpoint at the Laguna Sucia. This is the path that goes off to the left and leads to a waterfall overlooking the lagoon (which is not dirty at all).
Fitz Roy trekking map
The points marked in red are the essential stops to make on the Fitz Roy trek. From start to finish there is a 770 metre difference in altitude, which is mainly the last kilometre of ascent to the Laguna de los Tres.
Tips for trekking the Fitz Roy mountain
- Take into account the weather forecast before trekking to Fitz Roy. The mountain weather is very changeable and you may even experience a snowstorm while trekking. If the weather is unfavourable, it is advisable to wait until conditions improve.
- Carry a light backpack with the essentials: food, warm clothes, water bottle. The lighter it is, the better, as there are many hours of uphill trekking and the back feels the strain.
- Equip yourself with mountain clothing: even if you trek Fitz Roy in summer, you should bring a hat, sunglasses, gloves, trekking shoes, a mackintosh and a windbreaker. Especially the wind is often strong in the highlands.
- If you are going to sleep on the road, do so in authorised campsites. It is necessary to bring a tent, sleeping bag and enough food as there are no facilities at the campsites.
- Do not throw waste on the road, take it with you back to the village of El Chalten.
- Fires are not allowed, only small gas camping carafes are allowed.
- Pets and bicycles are not allowed.
Other trekkings to do in El Chaltén
Apart from the one already mentioned, there are several trekkings that can be done in El Chaltén. Among the most important are:
Trekking to the Torre lagoon: 10 kilometres of walking without as much ascent as the Laguna de los Tres. You reach a viewpoint of the lagoon and the Torre glacier.
Lago del Desierto: only in 4×4, you can even cross to Chile.
Excursion to Mount Fitz Roy from El Calafate
If you don’t feel like doing the Fitz Roy trek on your own, or want to take a short day trip to El Chalten from El Calafate, there are several options. Our recommendations are as follows:
- Day trip from El Calafate to El Chalten to go to the viewpoint of the Condors and observe the Fitz Roy and Torre mountains, plus a short trek to the Chorrillo del Salto waterfall. Ideal if you are short on time and want to see Fitz Roy in the distance without doing the 10 km trek.
- Two-day excursion from El Calafate to trek the Fitz Roy mountain. Ideal for those looking for comfort as it includes transfer to and from El Calafate, dinner, breakfast, two lunches, accommodation at the Poincenot campsite in a tent and sleeping bag. You will only need to bring clothes for trekking.
How to get to Mount Fitz Roy
The nearest airport to El Chalten is El Calafate. There are frequent minibuses or private vehicles that make the trip from El Calafate to El Chalten. You can book your transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten here.