El Chalten trekking guide. Hiking around Fitz Roy mount.

In this entry: Why is El Chalten called the trekking capital of Argentian. Our El Chalten trekking guide. Accommodation and campsites reviewed. Budget. Transport and hitchhiking from El Chalten. Food and shopping prices.

El Chalten is considered the trekking capital of Patagonia by just about every book and website on the topic. This status can be attributed to quantity not quality; it is not the best trekking in Southern Patagonia, but is definitely the most touristy. We have done several hikes on our way south through Patagonia and were looking forward see the two most prominent peaks, Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre while camping and trekking here.

El Chalten Approaching the Fitzroy mountains!

Approaching the Fitzroy mountains!

There are several trails leading to the main viewpoints, each taking between four and eleven hours to hike from the town. The trails are well marked and free maps are available all over the town. Eventually you can combine several trails to make up a hike to suit your needs. There are four free campsites in the park. We saw all the main points in the park over two days trekking, camping one night, you can see the route we followed below.

El Chalten trekking guide. Hiking for everybody

The park is truly for everybody, hiking is not too tough and people from 8 to 80 walk around happily swinging trekking poles. As I mentioned before the trails are well indicated besides there are many people walking around, so getting lost is very unlikely. I don’t think a guide is necessary actually El Chalten is a great place to do your first independent hike. This is not an off the beaten track place for wild adventurous hiking, but the views are spectacular and we enjoyed it.

El Chalten, Cerro Fitzroy. El Chalten trekking guide

Cerro Fitzroy mount. El Chalten trekking guide

Our hiking route in El Chalten

We started in the afternoon and hiked the following route (indicated distances are from the start of the route):

Day One

Located outside of town, trail starts here, you have to register if you are planning to camp or walk further than the viewpoints, registration is free of charge.

Map trekking routes around El Chalten. El Chalten trekking guide

Map of the trekking routes around El Chalten. El Chalten trekking guide

  • Laguna Capri (4km)

This is a nice viewpoint of the Fitz Roy Range, the walk here starts with a bit of uphill and some steps but then becomes flat. It was overcast and rainy on our first day for this reason we saw almost nothing on the first day.The laguna is 4km about 1 hour and 15 minutes’ walk from the visitors centre.

El Chalten, Laguna Capri

Laguna Capri, unfortunately it was very overcast and rainy during our first day spoiling the views a bit.

  • Campamento Poincenot (8km)

The campsite is located just over an hour’s walk further. On the way we could see the glacier Piedras Blancas, almost at the start to the trail to Laguna Los Tres. The campsite had a dry toilet, water was available at a close by river. The campsite was quite full with some groups being loud until late.

Day Two

  • Laguna De Los Tres (10.5km)

The lake is spectacular by any standards, the trail starts close to the campsite, Campamento Poincenot. Unlike the previous day that day we were very lucky to have a perfect sunny weather with no wind.

Laguna De Los Tres, we were luck to have a completely windless morning, allowing for a perfect reflection of the mountain in the lake.

Laguna De Los Tres, we were luck to have a completely windless morning, allowing for a perfect reflection of the mountain in the lake.

It is only a 2 or 3km walk from the campsite, but is a steep climb most of the way. There are two lakes (Laguna De Los Tres and Laguna Sucia) and a glacier that you can see on the top. If there is no wind the reflection of the mountain in the lake is amazing. Get up about 2 hours before sun up if you want to see the sunrise from the top.

El Chalten Laguna Sucia. El Chalten trekking guide

There are two amazing lakes and a glacier that can be seen on the top of the mountain, this is one of the lakes, Laguna Sucia. El Chalten trekking guide.

We broke down our tent before summiting and walked up with our full packs and our tent, if you get up for the sunrise come back and break down your tent after descending, this will also make the climb a bit easier

  • Mirrador Glacier Piedras Blancas (10km)

This viewpoint is about 2km from the Campamento Ponenot campsite. We had a really nice view of the glacier. We walked here after coming down from Laguna De Los Tres and had breakfast.

El Chalten The view of the glacier from Mirrador Glacier Piedras Blancas was amazing, it was also a great stop for breakfast!

Glacier Pedras Blancas, the mirrador was a great stop for breakfast. El Chalten trekking guide

  • Laguna Torre (9km)

This was a long walk from Mirrador Glacier Piedras Blancas at the end of the day. It was overcast again and we did not have great views, but the views of the Torre range is supposed to be good from here. The view of the lake and it’s glacier was nice.

  • Mirrador del Torre (3km)

Nice views of the Cerro Torre Range, was our last stop on the way back.

Laguna Torre. El Chalten trekking guide

Laguna Torre. El Chalten trekking guide

Our budget

We spent 5 days in El Chalten spending a total of A$735 ($50, R750) thus A$147 ($9.80, R150), a little bit less than $10 per day.

Food

Total: A$335 ($22.50, R343), thus A$67 ($4.50, R68) per day

Accommodation

Total: A$400 ($27, R410), thus A$80 ($5.37, R81) per day

Accommodation in El Chalten

  • Camping

El Relincho Camping

A$ 120 ($8, R127) per person, this was the first campsite we stayed. Fantastic hot showers. Very nice indoor common area for socializing. It has a good kitchen (utensils are limited) as well as an area to do laundry by hand. Supermarket across the road. In the main road. It is the most popular as a result most expensive campsite. By the way a shared food section here was very good (area where you leave food you do not want) many camper vans and tourists left things like olive oil, good coffee etc.

El Renchio Camping, a very nice campsite, super hot showers and a good kitchen an social area, easy to find as you enter town, great for campers, big tents and cars, most expensive campsite.

El Renchio Camping, a very nice campsite, super hot showers and a good kitchen and social area, easy to find as you enter town, great for campers, big tents and cars, most expensive campsite.

La Torcida Camping

A$80 ($5.50, R85) per person, Hot showers. Very nice indoor common area for socializing. Good kitchen. Small, cosy, great place to meet other travelers. Located close to the start of the trail.

camping la torcida

Camping La Torcida this was a great campsite, it looked very full when we arrived, but ended having a lot of space, cheap, nice social area, close to the trails.

El Refugio Camping

A$70 ($4.80, R75) per person. Located next to El Rencho. Kitchen. Showers. We never stayed here

Casa de Cyclistas

Donation, legendary among cyclists in Patagonia. A lady opened her house to any cyclists to stay for free. I spoke to a couple of people, they said it has turned into more of a hostel, a business, you can buy cooked meals A$30 ($2, $32). Only one bathroom. A reasonable ‘donation’ is expected for staying here.

Casa Cyclistas, "free" campsite, legendary among cyclists in Patagonia

Casa Cyclistas, “free” campsite, legendary among cyclists in Patagonia

  • Dormitory

El Relincho Camping,  A$150 ($10, R160) for a dormitory bed

Many hostels over town advertising for A$150 ($10, R160) for a dormitory bed

Shopping prices

Argentina Pategonia is very expensive, European prices. Mince, wine, bread and Dulce de Leche (boiled condense milk) was cheaper than on the Chilean side.

Below a typical shopping receipt.

X2 Bread French Baguette A$20 ($1.35, R21), tomatoes A$38 ($2.60, R40) per kg, onion A$1.76 ($0.12, R1.90), spaghetti A$, mince A$80 ($5.50, R85) per kg, dulce deleche A$25 ($1.70, R26) 250g, apples A$20 ($1.35, R20) per kg, oranges A$20 ($1.35, R20) per kg

Transport

The price for transport in Argentina is very high, from El Chalten to El Calafate is about 220km and takes 3 hours by bus. The cheapest ticket is A$350 ($24, R360). We hitchhiked everywhere in Chile and Argentina for months. In El Chalten crazy bus prices force many backpackers into their first hitchhiking experience. As a result we had to wait a whole day for a ride along with about 20 others. It was funny to see someone with a backpack walk in to the bus station only to come and stand next to the road a couple of minutes later with a painful expression.

Other

Buy enough gas in Chile it is much cheaper, Doite gas was $3 at most places in Chile, about $8 more north in Argentina and cost $15 in El Chalten.

We cooked in the campsite kitchen, for our hike we cooked some rice before and took it along in a Tupperware container saving on gas.

Alya busy making a morning coffee for us at Laguna De Los Tres.

Alya busy making a morning coffee for us at Laguna De Los Tres.

Glacier Piedras Blancas

Glacier Piedras Blancas

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4 Responses to El Chalten trekking guide. Hiking around Fitz Roy mount.

  • Super helpful post. Thanks! Questions: we are a couple and here in mid November. I’m hoping it will be warmer than it was for you. How much did it cost to rent a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, basic cooking equipment (small pot, stove, gas can for stove)? per day? What was the best place to rent gear? Patagonia Hikes? Also, we have a basic Dome 2 tent from REI that sleeps 2 and I have a decent sleeping bag that I’d like to bring. Just can’t tell if my tent will be good enough for Patagonian weather/wind. Thoughts on that? Did rentals have fancy tents or do you think a basic REI tent will do us good. We are also camping for a couple of days in Terra del Fuego — so trying to see if it’s worthwhile bringing this equipment from home. In Peru before this and finishing in Brazil — so we will be carrying gear around a bit. arthi.deiva@gmail.com THank you!!

    • Hello, Arthi! Thank you for reading!
      I don’t think in the mid November it’ll be warmer than in February-March, November is very beginning of the summer there. We didn’t rent anything we had our own gear and bought everything for very cheap in Cusco, Peru. You can check how much we paid for everything here http://stingynomads.com/choquequirao-trek/. Renting camping gear in El Chalten or Puerto Natales is possible but very expensive, rental prices in Puerto Natales you can find here http://stingynomads.com/torres-del-paine-hiking-guide/, El Chalten was even more expensive. If you plan to hike in Patagonia and Peru it’s definitely worth to have your own gear you’ll save a lot of money on accommodation.
      About your tent, I’m not sure if it has proper rain cover all over which is important for the rain and very strong wind. Our tent National Geographic OTTAWA 2 wasn’t expensive or fancy but it worked good we had no leaking or any other problem. Most rental tents we saw were local Doite tents they are quite expensive. We used our camping gear everywhere from Peru through Chile and Argentina and in Brazil for us it was worth to have it and saved a lot of money.
      Hope I ansered your questions.
      Good luck!

  • Wow guys! So beautiful! 🙂

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