Flanked by some of the most famous of Argentine landmarks – the three peaks of Mount Fitz Roy, Aguja Poincenot and Cerro Torre – Laguna de Los Tres is a picturesque lake that draws hikers and lovers of sublime natural landscapes from across the world.
It’s also the starting point for attempts on one of the world’s most challenging ascents: Mount Fitz Roy. But for most visitors to the region, a day’s tough but rewarding and visually stunning hike into these jagged mountains is more than enough.
Hiking to Laguna de Los Tres
Set in the imposing but bewitching landscapes of Los Glaciares National Park in the far south of Patagonia, El Chaltén is Argentina’s premier hiking destination and the trek to Laguna de Los Tres starting from the edge of the town is the most celebrated of all.
Winding through landscapes of frozen lakes, vast glaciers, granite spires and native woodland, this hike is both stunning and accessible for those with some trekking experience.
The Laguna de Los Tres hike can be walked in one day or even split into two days with overnight camping a short distance from the lake to allow for an early morning trek to its shores and a memorable sunrise.
The Route to Laguna de Los Tres
Distance: 8-miles (12.5km)
Time: Eight hours return
Elevation: 2,300 ft. (700m)
Beginning from the northern rim of El Chaltén at the end of Avenida San Martín, the trail is initially quite steep and passes through forest containing native species of ñirre and lenga, as well as yellow-flowered calafate bushes. Early on, breathtaking views of the Río de las Vueltas riverbed are possible before you reach a diversion that takes you along a well-signposted to Laguna Capri, a beautiful lake with its own campground. However, if you wish to see Laguna de Los Tres at sunrise the following morning, it is best to press on.
From here, continue following the river and cross over the wooden bridge to arrive at Campamento Poincenot, the main campground for those planning on splitting the trek into two days.
If hiking to Laguna de Los Tres in one day, take the path as it peels away westwards to cross Río Blanco, the location of Campamento Río Blanco (the campground reserved for mountaineers climbing Mount Fitz Roy).
Take the path to the left of the campground where a steep, sharp ascent over loose scree is the final hurdle to overcome before reaching the impressive cobalt blue waters and bobbing icebergs of Laguna de Los Tres and the looming “croissant-shaped” spires of the three granite peaks behind.
For even more views of the surrounding area, wander along the well-marked half-a-mile (500m) trail to the left of Laguna de Los Tres, where a viewpoint grants spectacular panoramas over nearby Laguna Sucia.
Recommendations for trekking to Laguna de Los Tres
- During winter, parts of the trail can be covered in snow, so always confirm the suitability of the route with the park rangers in the tourist office in El Chaltén.
- Take sturdy walking boots, particularly for the final section of the trek where loose rock can be dangerous for those without suitable footwear
- Only camp in the designated campgrounds along the route and do not make fires. Bring a camping stove if you intend to camp overnight.
Others hikes from El Chaltén:
Laguna Torre: the most popular of all the trails, this 7-mile (11km), six-hour hike follows Río Fitz Roy to arrive at the foot of Cerro Torre, where another pasted-colored glacial lake makes for some impressive photographs.
Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado: with 360° panoramas of the whole area, this 12-mile (20km) hike has the best views of Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and Lago Viedma. Gaining 3300 ft (1000m) over 6-miles, this route involves a gentle ascent and descent that altogether takes eight hours.