After taking the bus from El Calafate, to El Chalten, it’s time to explore the hikes in El Chalten. The bus from El Calafate to El Chalten takes approximately 3 hours, but it’s not 3 hours of just sitting still waiting to arrive. The ride is absolutely gorgeous with scenic views left and right. The bus stops at a few tourist spots, allowing you to take pictures. You’ll be seeing the incredible turquoise rivers and the famed Mount Fitz Roy from afar. Ideally you’d leave in the morning so you’d arrive 3 hours later, in the beginning of the afternoon. Then you will still have plenty of time to do some discovering on your first day in El Chalten. Take a stroll through the town of El Chaltén and prepare for the hikes in El Chalten. Make sure you’re well rested for the hiking you will be doing the following day(s).
The lobby of your hotel is always a great place to socialize with your fellow travelers. It’s always great to hear from others, exchange stories and maybe even open your eyes to something you hadn’t noticed before. When preparing your clothes for the next day, remember to always bring an extra fleece and windbreaker, because the weather can change in a matter of minutes.
It’s highly recommended to hike to Laguna Torre, which sits at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. It normally takes about 3-4 hours to get there, depending on how fast you walk. The hike is very enjoyable itself with multiple amazing viewpoints. The weather is a big factor in this, so check the forecast before you depart; you might want to opt for one of the following days, if you have more than one day in El Chalten. Misty and cloudy days are what you want to be wary of; clouds may inhibit you from getting clear views. If you do get a nice day, you’ll be treated by beautiful flora and fauna, and gorgeous turquoise waters.
The first hike is one of low difficulty; if you’re comfortable with walking for the 3-4 hours it’ll take you shouldn’t experience any problems. Only at the end you will encounter a steep rocky part of the path, which leads to the top of a hill, giving you an amazing view of the Laguna Torre. Because of the length of the hike, and the fact you’ll probably want to spend a moment at the foot of the mountains, it’s recommended to pack a lunch box. This way you’ll be able to relax and eat something while admiring the nature around you. Mind you, that the way back will take the same amount of time as getting there, so all together it’ll be a rather long day.
For this reason travelers usually like to take a day off, maybe explore the city a bit. El Chalten is quite a small place, which allows you to get in touch with some real Patagonian Argentines. When you’re travelling it’s nice to get in touch with the local culture, and the people in El Chalten are characteristically very friendly which makes it a very pleasant experience. However, you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t encounter a lot of people in the town.
There are also some very inviting mountain trails in El Chalten, they’re clearly marked once you have encountered the starting point. That’s not to say the starting point is hard to find, you’ll easily encounter it using one of the maps hotels provide. When booking your holidays with Say Hueque, they’ll provide you with the map to find everything you need. A calm walk to a waterfall called Chorrillo del Salto is a great option. It takes about an hour to get to the waterfall, and as any hike in El Chalten, the walk is just as pretty as any other in El Chalten. The cascade is surrounded by a wall of greenery. There’s also a somewhat secluded trail that leads you to the top of the waterfall, which is definitely worth exploring. At the top of the waterfall you’ll have a great view of the surrounding area!
There is one more trek to talk about, the toughest one. Although being the hardest, the Laguna de los Tres, is usually the favorite. If you think you’ll be able to do it, it’s definitely worth it. The trek takes about 4 hours and ends with a truly spectacular sight. The first hour of hiking is almost all uphill, but the following hours are more or less flat. Then the last hour is literally all uphill, almost as if you’re climbing a mountain. The nice thing about the hike is, when you look over your shoulder, apart from feeling a great sense of accomplishment, you get to see absolutely stunning views. When you reach the top, you’ll see your path behind, the lake below, a glacier in front, and Mount Fitz Roy above you. The place allows some further exploration, and relaxation before heading back down. The way down will take about 3 hours, instead of four, since it’ll be easier to walk back down.