El Chalten is a famous hiking destination within Argentina’s Patagonia. It might be famous because Patagonia’s (the brand) founder used this mountainscape as the inspiration for his logo. Or perhaps it’s because it’s just a small village that makes trekking so accessible – El Chalten itself is only 15 blocks and all of the major hiking trails start right in town. The hikes all lead to these absolutely stunning views of the jagged peaks towering above the beautiful blue lakes.
We spent three days in El Chalten, primarily to see Mt. Fitz Roy and do the Cagliero Glacier Trek.
The Torre Trail
On our first day, we had to get from El Calafate to El Chalten, which is about a 2.5 hour drive. Fortunately, given the sunsets around 10pm, even arriving mid-day allowed us to get a hike in. We were keen to take it easy since we knew we had a long day coming up, so we were for the “orange trail” to Laguna Torre.
We then made our way back, had dinner at La Cerverceria and got ready for our next day.
Cagliero Glacier Ice Trek and Via Ferata
We were eager to get some time on a glacier but didn’t want to do the heavily trafficked route on Perito Moreno so we opted for Cagliero. This glacier is not as easily accessible and requires going through private ground and to a via ferata, all which requires a guide.
We started the morning with a 16 kilometer drive on a bumpy, gravel road to Reserva Provincial Lago del Desierto, the private reserve. We walked through the forest alongside the river for several miles, with views of the north face of Mt Fitz Roy appearing throughout.
We then arrived at a dome, where the guides housed the via ferata gear.
We were able to leave some things, gear up, and then head out towards Laguna del Diablo. We then walked through some stony terrain and began the via ferata.
The via Ferrata starts with some traversing along the rockface along the lagoon. Eventually we made our way up a steeper section until we arrived at the base of the glacier. The winds were intense as we made our way up the mountain – so much at that times, we just had to stop, crouch and wait the gust out to literally not get blown aside.
Once at the top, we put crampons onto our boots and started walking on the glacier. The ice was beautiful with blue hues shining in spots, and huge crevasses with waterfalls going down them. We had lunch on the glacier, before retracing our steps back. It was a full day event, getting us back in town at about 7pm.
e had a dinner reservation at The Asadores that evening – we knew the reviews were great (which is why we booked it), but we had no idea what treat we were going to be in for. The restaurant was filled with great energy, an open kitchen, and wonderful staff. It was a 5 course tasting menu so we chose to get one meat and one veggie and share them. Each of the courses were delicious – perfectlly grilled veggies, amazing grilled provoline cheese in small bites filled with garlic, a tomato confit jam that was a great pairing for many items, and of course, great asado. During our meal, some musicians came in and played a couple of tunes, and at the end, Guillermo came over and chatted with us to make sure our meal went well. It was just such a special experience and a perfect way to end this day.
Sendero Fitz Roy
We were hoping to wake up before sunrise and start the Sendero Fitz Roy hike, a 20 kilometer hike roundtrip.
As it turned out, Adam had a minor knee injury (from the wind pushing him the day before!) so we decided not to push it. Instead we slept in, and just did a shortened version of the trek, to the Fitz Roy lookout. The trail is likely the most well trodden, so it’s easy to navigate and there is no shortage of people along the way. The view doesn’t disappoint and I’d highly recommend doing it if you can!