The Best Hiking and Trekking Routes in El Chalten, Argentina

Cerro Fitz Roy, El Chalten
Cerro Fitz Roy, El Chalten | © James Byrum/Flickr
Sorcha O'Higgins

The tiny mountain town of El Chalten in Argentine Patagonia is renowned for the wealth of hikes and treks that it offers. From beginner walks to challenging multi-day hikes, there is no shortage of trails in the area. We round up the best routes for hiking and trekking in El Chalten.

Cerro Fitz Roy and Laguna de los Tres

Cerro Fitz Roy, El Chalten

Duration – 8 – 10 hours

Difficulty – Medium
Perhaps the most popular hiking route in the area, as it brings you to the base of the famous Cerro Fitz Roy, the form behind the logo of the Patagonia clothing company, this trek is suitable for beginners but can be challenging at points, mainly due to the steep incline right before you reach the Laguna de los Tres at the foot of the Cerro Fitz Roy. It can be done in a day if you are prepared and set off early, but to avoid any complications with weather and nightfall, it is best to spread the hike over two days – that way you can see the sunset and the sunrise if you factor those into your timescales. Stay overnight in either the Poincenot or Río Blanco campsites.

Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre

Duration – 6 – 7 hours

Difficulty – Easy
The perfect choice for anyone who has only a short time to spend in El Chalten, the hike to Cerro and Laguna Torre will bring you along the Rio Fitz Roy, past the Mirador Torre and through beautiful forests where you can see a host of local flora and fauna. Often considered the “classic” El Chalten hike, the route is suitable for beginners and can be done in a day but, again, be mindful of what time you leave, as it is best to make your return before it gets dark.

Mirador Los Condores and Las Aguilas

Duration – 1.5 – 2 hours

Difficulty – Easy
These two viewpoints afford visitors to El Chalten a bird’s eye view back over the town, and are perfect for those days when you just want to take it easy, but don’t want to miss out on all of the incredible sights that the town and its surroundings have to offer. Only a short hike from the center, the route is clearly signposted and from the two lookouts you will get a 360 degree panorama of both the Torre and Fitz Roy massifs and the valley below. A must-do on any hiker’s list.

Salto El Chorrillo

Salto El Chorrillo, El Chalten

Duration – 1 – 1.5 hours

Difficulty – Easy
This natural waterfall is just a short walk from the center of town and is another great option for those feeling a bit trekked out after a few days scaling the mountains. A flat route takes you through a woodland to reach this cascade which flows over a cliff edge and into the river below. If you have arrived in El Chalten later in the day, this is an excellent chance to see some of the area’s amazing natural beauty without going too far, and it’s also a great choice for the morning of your departure if you’re unable to get any longer hikes in.

Sendero Loma del Pliegue Tumbado

Duration – 8 – 10 hours

Difficulty – Medium
This lesser-known route is perfect for people who want to avoid the crowds that can clog up the routes on the other hikes. It can be done in a day, and it is a great alternative to the classic El Chalten routes. One of the best things about this route is the different vantage points you get of the area’s biggest highlights, namely Cerros Fitz Roy and Torre, which you can see from the southerly vantage point this route affords hikers. Along the way you will ascend and descend three separate hills and see lots of beautiful local wildlife.

Huemul Circuit

Huemul Glacier

Duration – 4 – 5 days

Difficulty – Hard
This route is for experienced climbers only, as there are some very challenging passes and it is considered the most difficult of all the hikes in the region. For trekkers that fear getting lost in the wild, there are organized tours that can be undertaken, but for the more adventurous spirits, the route is started from the visitor’s center heading towards Rio Tunel. Along the way you can stay at Laguna Toro and Laguna Ferrari campsites, but prepare yourself for the final day’s 25km trek back to base camp, as this is often the hardest part after four days climbing.

Laguna Capri

Duration – 3 – 4 hours

Difficulty – Easy
Another of the area’s classic hikes, the trek to Laguna Capri is good for hikers of all levels and ticks all the boxes of a Patagonian trek. Hike up to lookouts that give expansive vistas over the river plains and valleys, then head into the forest where you can see woodpeckers and babbling brooks, before arriving at the peaceful shores of the Laguna Capri, where you will see the outline of the massive Fitz Roy peaks in the background.

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