Learn how to get there and why you should visit El Chaltén, as well as all the trekking you can do in the surrounding area.
Denominated the national trekking capital, El Chaltén is a small town located at the foot of the Andes Mountains, within Los Glaciares National Park and about 200 kilometres north of El Calafate.
Founded in 1985 and with no more than 2000 permanent inhabitants, it is often referred to as the youngest town in Argentina. Although it was, it isn’t nowadays. However, it doesn’t lose the essence of a new town that is growing little by little.
A few kilometres away from El Chaltén are the Fitz Roy and Torre mountains. They are among the most sought after by adventure climbers, as they present quite a lot of difficulty.
There are also many glaciers, lagoons and Patagonian forests, which makes it ideal for long daily walks from the town to get a close view of these places.
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When is the best time to visit El Chaltén?
Due to its location, the weather is cold almost all year round. The high season and the best time to visit El Chaltén is from November to March, when there is no more snowfall and trekking in the area is possible. Even so, and due to the proximity to the mountain, in summer you should bring warm and waterproof clothes, because wind and sudden temperature changes are very frequent.
Main trekkings if you are going to visit El Chaltén
We will further explain each of these trekkings in more detail later on, dedicating specific articles to them. By far the most popular treks are:
- Trekking to Laguna de los Tres: this is the most famous trekking in El Chaltén, culminating at the Laguna de los Tres, where you can see one of the walls of Mount Fitz Roy. It is also one of the most demanding, although of medium intensity. It takes about 8 hours to complete and has some steep slopes. If you start the hike from the village, you will pass by Laguna Capri, where there is a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the mountain.
- Trekking to Laguna Torre: the second of the most famous trekking along with the one to the Laguna de los Tres. The trail goes to the Torre Lagoon and the Maestri viewpoint, where you can see the Torre Glacier, the ice floes floating over the lagoon and, in the background, the famous Torre Hill, which gives its name to the whole place.
- Salto del Chorrillo: a small waterfall easily accessible from El Chaltén. The trail goes through a forest area, running parallel to the road, until it reaches the course of a stream with the 20 metre high waterfall. It is of low difficulty and takes about three hours to complete.
- Los Cóndores viewpoint: This is one of the two viewpoints near El Chaltén where you can admire the mountain range horizon.
- Las Águilas viewpoint: a little further away than the previous one, but with more spectacular views.
- Trekking to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado: this trail takes you up to a peak of 1500 m.a.s.l. from where you can get incredible panoramic views of the Torre Lagoon and the Torre and Fitz Roy Mountains. It has its difficulty.
- Lago del Desierto: You can get to the lake by 4×4 and from there you can do several trekkings such as Glaciar Huemul, Punta Norte and Lago O’Higgins on the Chilean side.
- Trekking Huella de Glaciares: It is a new tourist trekking that joins all the mentioned ones, starting from Cerro Torre, passing by Cerro Fitz Roy and Laguna del Desierto, and ending in Villa O’Higgins in Chile. It takes several days of trekking and there are companies that offer the circuit helping you with camping equipment and food.
El Chaltén entrance fee
All trails are located in Los Glaciares National Park and access is free of charge.
How to get to El Chaltén from El Calafate
There is no airport in El Chaltén, the nearest one is in El Calafate, 200 kilometres away.
If you are visiting El Chaltén by car or rental car from El Calafate, the route is fully paved and takes about three and a half hours. Take Route 40 heading north and then turn left onto Provincial Route 23 to El Chaltén. On the way you will border both Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma.
You can also visit El Chaltén by bus from El Calafate. Buses leave from the El Calafate bus station, some stop at the El Calafate airport, and run three times a day.
If you want something faster, there are private transfers, taxis or remis that make the trip.