If you are staying in El Chalten, have a couple of full days, and don’t mind spending most of the time walking through the pristine landscape of the Glaciers National Park, we recommend both the Laguna de los Tres trek and the Laguna Torre trek.
Even though El Chalten hiking season is from October to May, the difficulty of the trail also depends on the amount of snow, especially in the final parts of the trails. We always advise to find out about the trail conditions in the visitor center of the National Park. Walks are full days up to 10 hours, so it’s very advisable to start any of these trails early: before 8am, especially the long Laguna de los Tres hike.
If you want, we recommend you have one strong trekking day, another more relaxed, followed by the Laguna de los Tres and the next day, one of the short half-day hikes. The half-day hikes are easier and give you opportunities to spot some vultures at the Condor & Eagle viewpoint.
As with any long walk, bring power snacks, good trekking shoes, layered clothing, windproof/waterproof jacket and plenty of space on your camera’s memory card.
Laguna de los Tres.
This is the most popular trek that can be done in one long day. It is of medium difficulty (easy if you are an experienced hiker) and no trekking experience is needed. However, a good fitness level is necessary as you will walk 8-10 hours (you can also 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 quite steep climb, until you get to a valley that takes you towards Fitz Roy. 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 10 minutes further, Rio Blanco basecamp (this is the base camp for the most adventurous climbers who attempt to conquer these granite masses). At this point, you start a steep climb of 1300 feet until you get to Laguna de los Tres. This part is quite demanding and will take around one more hour to complete, but it’s totally worth it (make sure you sabe some energy!). On arriving at the highest point on the path, you are 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.
This is another very popular full-day walk and slightly less demanding than the Laguna de los Tres hike. There are two paths starting from Chalten that rejoin soon 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 a splendid panoramic view of the Solo, Adela, Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy.
On the other side is the Margarita Waterfall. Halfway there, you find another natural balcony with an astonishing view of of Adelas Belt, Cerro Torre and the granite surroundings. You cross the Agostini campsite and just 15 minutes later, it ends in Laguna Torre. This lake has several icebergs that form the front of the Grande glacier.
If you want simpler, shorter hikes, make sure you read up on the day hikes here. El Chalten is full of natural beauty that will be sure to astound you, and the longer treks are 100% worth it to see the outcome.
Written by Patricia Wissar