Argentina’s El Chalten hiking trails are a must-do for the adventurous Patagonia traveller. El Chalten is part of the Los Glaciares National Park, home (perhaps unsurprisingly) to more glaciers than anywhere else in Patagonia. Though there is plenty to do in Los Glaciares, El Chalten is decidedly all about hiking. There are many different hiking trails to choose from, and we’ve got everything you need to know right here. If you’re planning a hiking trip to Patagonia you’ll want to read on.
What are the El Chalten hiking trails all about?
If you’re thinking about attempting any of the El Chalten hiking trails, it’s worth doing a little preparation ahead of time. The trails range from relatively easy and straightforward to difficult and downright treacherous. Wind is often a huge, detrimental factor. Your own hiking ability will play a role for sure, so don’t kid yourself when it comes to that. Deciding which El Chalten hiking trail to undertake can come later, but let’s start at the beginning.
The El Chalten hiking experience begins with the village of El Chalten itself. It’s a remote mountain town, but don’t write it off. El Chalten has the standard gear and supply shops, of course, but also an abundance of bakeries and not one but two breweries. If that’s not reason enough to stay in the region for a few days, we don’t know what is. Our advice is to set yourself up in the village, whether you’re embarking on a short day hike or a longer excursion.
Choosing the right El Chalten hiking trail
El Chalten hiking can be a simple morning affair or a multi-day trek. We’ve picked out four of the most popular El Chalten trails, and we’ll give you the necessary info on each. Your own stamina, experience level and preference will tell you which is right for you.
1. Los Cóndores and Los Águilas Viewpoints
This is the simplest, easiest and shortest of all the El Chalten hiking routes. This is very doable – and popular – in the morning, with many hikers setting out before sunrise. The trek takes around an hour and a half to two hours and covers around 6 kilometres. Your reward is a panoramic vantage point of Fitz Roy, Adela and Torre, and the Río de las Vueltas.
2. Laguna Torre
The most popular of the El Chalten hiking trails, and easy to see why. Following the first steep climb and you’ll reach Mirador Torre and advance towards the icy Cerro Torre. From there, you hike along the Rio Fitz Roy and the magnificent Laguna Torre. The whole trail is exhilarating and challenging, yet ultimately very rewarding. This is a more substantial hike, covering some 24 kilometres and requiring a good six or seven hours. It’s advisable to start this one as early in the morning as possible.
3. Fitz Roy
The foot of the Fitz Roy mountain can contend for the most picturesque spot in all of Patagonia. No El Chalten hiking holiday is complete without a visit to Fitz Roy, which can be accessed on its own or as part of the Laguna Torre trail. The trail is largely flat, affording the opportunity to take in the crystalline lagoon and condors flying overhead. Be warned that the last stretch is very steep though, so hiking poles are advised. You’re talking 26 kilometres here and will probably need six or seven hours too.
4. Huemul Circuit
By far the most difficult El Chalten hiking trail, this one is only for experienced and seasoned hikers. The treacherous environment and real risk of getting lost mean that most people opt for organised group hikes. This is around 65 kilometres of hiking, many of which are steep and uphill. You’ll need at least three or four days to complete this one comfortably, so plan accordingly. The good news is that you can tuck into a well-earned local beer upon your return!