Patagonia is an enormous amount of land shared by both Argentina and Chile. It’s full of outdoor activities and other attractions for nature lovers and is home to the most impressive landscapes. One of the jewels in the deep south is El Chalten, where you will find the Glaciers National Park: Argentina’s trekking and climbing capital.
Even though Chalten (Argentina’s newest town in 1985) is in the north of the park, you can access it more easily through the south. Granite massifs conquer the horizon: Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Poincenot, and Egger are some of the most difficult climbs in the world, and are only for the most experienced hikers.
All visitors must stop in the entrance to check in and receive instructions to preserve this wonder of nature. Chalten offers all levels and lengths of treks for hikers depending on how many days you plan to stay. The path most hiked is the super famous trek to Laguna de los Tres and the hike to Cerro Torre. Both trails can be self-guided if you feel confident enough, if not, you can always hire a local guide. So if you have two days and want to spend the whole day hiking outdoors, these are a MUST:
Laguna de los Tres
This is a trek that can be done in one long day. It is of medium difficulty (easy if you are an experienced hiker) where no trekking experience is needed, but a good fitness level will defiantly make it easier. You will walk 8 – 10 hours and can combine and do a stay in the Poincenot campsite or Rio Blanco campsite. This natural viewpoint is the closest to the Fitz Roy walls and its surroundings.
The trek begins with a climb that’s quite steep until you get to a valley that takes you towards the Fitz Roy massif. Along the way, you cross Ñires forests and go through a well-marked viewpoint. There is a sign that details the horizon landscape.
Around 4 hours after leaving Chalten, you arrive to Poincenot Basecamp, (one of the park’s most popular camping sites) and ten minutes further you’ll reach Rio Blanco basecamp. At this point, the climb will steepen for about 450 yards until you get to the Laguna de los Tres. This part is quite demanding and will take one more hour to complete, but ends up being totally worth it. Upon arriving at the highest point on the path, you’ll be rewarded by the majestic views of Fitz Roy, the Glacier de los Tres and its lagoon. Magnificent. This is the closet walk to access the view of Mt Fitz Roy.
Maybe the second most popular trek for world hikers in Chalten, this will take you a full day. Slightly less demanding than the Laguna de los Tres hike, there are two paths starting from Chalten that rejoin again shortly after. The path leads into the Fitz Roy River, following it to its origin. Just a few minutes after starting, you already get a magnificent view over the ravine of the Fitz Roy River offering splendid panoramic views of the Solo, Adela, Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy. On the other side, you’ll discover the Margarita Waterfall, where halfway in, you’ll find another natural balcony with an astonishing view of Adela’s Belt, Cerro Torre and the granite surroundings. You cross the Agostini campsite and just 15 minutes later, it ends up in Laguna Torre. This lake has several icebergs that form the front of the Grande glacier.
If you have more days to spare, there are several short walks that will only take a half day or less to get great views of the massiffs, the valleys, rivers and with some luck, vultures. Check this out to get our suggestions for quicker, less-challenging hikes.
Written by Patricia Wissar