El Chaltén, a small town in Patagonia, Argentina is a hiking heaven. There are three major hiking paths in El Chaltén, and all of them are easily accessible from the town. One is located in the south, the other two are in the north-west and north-east side of the town, respectively. Here’s my recommendation on how to do all those hikes in three days.
Day 1 – Tower Lake (Laguna Torre)
Start the day with a 20-km round-trip hike to Laguna Torre. If you plan it well, you can even take a walk on the Glacier at the end. The hike is pretty well marked and it is hard to miss the trail. It took me about 2-1/2 hours to reach the lake. And a further 30 more mins to reach the final viewpoint, Mirador Maestri. It takes about 6 hours to finish the hike.
I would recommend carrying a towel to take a dip in the lake with the pieces of Glacier floating around.
Day 2 – Laguna De Los Tres/Fitz Roy Hike and Chorrillo Del Salto Waterfall
Start the 22-km round trip hike for Laguna De Los Tres early in the morning. The hike is well marked except for the last 1 km where there is a 40% incline to climb to get a view of the lake. Check out the small Laguna Capri on the way.
It takes about 3-1/2 hours to reach the final point of this hike, Laguna Sucia.
While returning, take a small detour on the right to hit Lago Madre (Mother Lagoon) as well. It is nothing majestic but worth visiting.
And if you return in time, you can continue on the hike to Chorillo Del Salto waterfall. It is a very small hike and you can reach the waterfalls in about 40 mins of a flat hike.
Day 3 – Pliegue Tumbado & Mirador Los Condores
Pligue Tumbado is a 20-km round-trip hike to the viewpoint of Pliegue Tumbado Lake. My day of hike coincided with the first day of the snow season. It took me about 2 hours and 45 mins to reach the final viewpoint. The return hike, all downwards, is easier and can be done in less than 2 hours. This trail is a bit less well-marked compared to Laguna Torre and Laguna De Los Tres.
Now, on returning, continue onto the next small hike of Mirador De Las Aguillas (Eagle viewpoint). It takes about 30 mins one way.
And while returning, you can do the Mirador De Las Condores (Condor viewpoint) in another 20 minutes. This gives a nice view of El Chaltén town.
Starting at 10 AM, one can finish all three hikes by 4 PM. This leaves ample time before the 6 PM bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate.
- The easiest way to get to El Chaltén is to fly to El Calafate (FTE) airport. And then take a ~2-1/2 hour bus journey to El Chaltén. It costs 4600 AEP. Do check bus schedules while planning.
- The bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate is for 5800 AEP.
- On the bus journey, all the interesting things are on the west side. Left side while going to El Chaltén and right side when returning to El Calafate.
- There are buses to continue further north to Bariloche as well.
- At the time of this writing, 1 USD ~ 466 AEP (blue dollar rate).
- If you have time to drive/take a bus consider going to Lago Del Desierto or the desert lake.