El Chaltén is a small mountain village in Argentina located in one of the most beautiful National Parks in Patagonia. Los Glaciares National Park is home to fantastic mountains, lakes, and forests, that include the magnificent Fitz Roy Massif and Perito Moreno Glacier, highlights of South America. Surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery, the town is a hub for walking and climbing excursions and is known as the National Capital of Trekking in Argentina. Torres del Paine and El Chalten were our favorite camping and trekking spots in Patagonia.
Camping in the tiny town of El Chalten is the best way to experience the mountains and glaciers that make this corner of Argentinian Patagonia unique. El Chaltén is home to some of the best day hikes in Patagonia and there are loads of amazing hikes starting at the town. We rolled out of our tent and started hiking every day! Check out our detailed Guide to Trekking in El Chalten! Plenty of day hikers walk out of this small mountain town in peak season for a short hike or to walk longer routes. There are plenty of awesome camping options in town and in the surrounding park. Many of the campsites offer spectacular views of the two most prominent peaks, Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. We really enjoyed the vibe in the town, everybody was here to hike, and staying in several campsites was a fantastic experience. Many people do one-day routes returning to town every night.
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Camping in El Chalten
There are several campsites in this small town, each with a different vibe and things that make it great or not so great. Here are some of the things we look at when choosing a campsite in El Chalten:
- Kitchen, we did not cook on our camping stoves staying in the campsites in town, is the kitchen big enough for everyone staying in the campsite? Are there enough utensils, pots, pans, and stove burners? Camping you may be on a real budget, is there a ‘shared food section’ (the area where you leave food you do not want) many camper vans and tourists leave things like olive oil, good coffee, gas, etc.
- Common Area, does the campsite have a nice common area where campers can eat and socialize? We made great friends in these common rooms which is a great place for discussing hiking and sharing travel stories.
- Showers and Toilets – are they clean and do the showers have enough hot water, a cold shower in freezing weather after a long day hiking is not good.
- Size, is there enough space not to camp on top of each other
- Location, is it close to the trailhead? it is the best option if you do not have to walk far before or after the hike. Is it close to shops and restaurants?
Campsites in the town of El Chalten
El Relincho Camping
Camping El Relincho is an excellent campsite, spacious, great common room, a good kitchen, hot showers, central location, quite pricey, but we thought it was a good choice for camping. It is a large campsite so I assume in the summer season the facilities will be very busy (common room, bathrooms, etc.). The large grassy campground has some shields for wind shelter, this is great since strong winds sometimes blow at El Chaltén.
The indoor common area for socializing is good, busy room with many outlets and USB ports. It has a good kitchen with sufficient utilities, but limited utensils (pots, pans, etc.). Big spacious campsite, with some trees, and palisades, but not enough shelter from the wind for tents. The central location is a great thing, the campsite is on the main avenue of El Chaltén, very close to everything: restaurants, bars, markets, and the trailhead of the National Park.
- Area to do laundry by hand and washing machines.
- The bathrooms were clean and had nice hot showers (24h).
- Electricity at some sites.
- Barbeque area
- Luggage storage service.
- Waste discharge pit for motorhomes and boxes.
- Price – 11.20$ per person (1200 pesos) plus 3.70$ (400 pesos) per vehicle (camper van). Pay by card or cash (it is more if you pay by card)
La Torcida Camping
Camping La Torcida is a small family-run campsite with only 20 sites available. The location is nice, very close to the starting point for the hiking trail to Laguna Torre. A good place to stay to hike the next day. Located close to the Rio Negro, not much shelter from wind and rain. Common area in the house and a nice kitchen. Dorm room available
- hot showers, toilets
- electricity points
- Kitchen, good utilities, limited utensils.
- Dorm room available
- Price – $8 per person
- Location Camping La Torcida
- Tel +5492966725287
El Refugio Camping
Simple campsite, OK camping. Grass spots. The bathrooms are basic, but the shower is hot. Location in the town center quiet area, good to trek from. Outdoor communal kitchen. Fences/trees for wind shelter.
Casa De Ciclistas EL CHARITO
For donation, this refugio is legendary among cyclists in Patagonia. A lady opened her house to any cyclists to stay for free. I spoke to a couple of people, and they said it has turned into more of a hostel, a business, you can buy cooked meals. Only one bathroom. A reasonable ‘donation’ is expected for staying here.
It is really cheap, which is great if you are on a very tight budget, however, you are literally camping in someone’s small and not very nice back garden. There is no view and there is only 1 toilet/shower for everyone camping, staying in a room, and the family. The family is very nice, a good place to meet adventurers from all over the world. Will not recommend it for more than a night or two.
Location Casa De Cicilistas El Charito
Campsites in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
In Parque Nacional Los Glaciares there are some free campsites on hiking routes leading to sights like the iconic Mount Fitz Roy, Laguna de los Tres, Cerro Torre, and Laguna Capri. These free campsites have very basic facilities. This makes it possible to camp in the park and combine several one-day hikes to create your own multi-day trek. Because the sites are located close to the best views and famous landmarks camping here is the only way to reach famous sites like Laguna de los Tres for sunrise.
These campsites have limited facilities, no light or electricity. There are dry toilets and potable water from a river or stream at each campsite.
Campamento Laguna Capri
Campamento Laguna Capri is the first campsite you will reach hiking from El Chalten on the circuit around Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Capri with an impressive lakefront view of Cerro Fitz Roy. Located a 7 km, 2-hour hike from El Chaltén. Nice 1 hour hike to the Cerro Fitz Roy Mirador from here.
Price: Free, can not book
Facilities: Camp toilet, potable water is available from the lake
Seeing Mount Fitz Roy at sunrise over Laguna de los Tres is one of the most famous images in Patagonia. To reach the lake in time for sunrise you can overnight at Campamento Poincenot.
Located in a forest about 11 kilometres from El Chaltén town the campsite is close to the starting point for ascending to Laguna de los Tres. If you get up 2 hours before sunrise you should have enough time to catch this spectacular sunrise. Next to Laguna de Los Tres also go and see the beautiful Laguna Sucia.
Poincenot campground has two dry toilets, and no electricity or lights. A stream provides drinkable water to the campsite. Since the campsite is in a forest there is some protection from the wind.
Camp Poincenot was very busy the night we camped there and was quite noisy until late.
From Campamento Poincenot, the climb to Laguna de Los Tres is roughly 2 kilometers and around 400 meters elevation gain. If you’re going for sunrise, allow at least an hour for the ascent. We set off at 5 a.m. for a 6:15 a.m. sunrise, and made it just in time!
Price: Free, can not book
Facilities: Camp toilets on site, Potable water available from a stream
Camping de Agostini
This is the campsite closest to Laguna Torre. The tent pitches are just a couple of minutes walk from a fantastic view of Cerro Torre over the lake.
Camping de Agostini is about a 9-kilometre hike from El Chaltén, clearly signposted all the way. There are kilometer markers, making it easy to place your trek.
If you’re taking on a multi-day hike, it’s approximately 17 kilometers hiking distance from Campamento Poincenot.
Price: Free, can not book
Facilities: Camp toilets on site, Potable water available from a stream
Glamping El Chalten
Do you love the outdoors, but still want your luxuries? Glamping is for you!
Chalten Camp – Glamping with a view
Chalten Camp – Glamping with a view – Stay in beautiful domes with incredible views. The bathroom is private and includes a walk-in shower. Enjoy luxuries like slippers and free toiletries. American, vegetarian, and vegan breakfasts are served. The luxury tent has an outdoor fireplace. Chalten Camp is located on the outskirts of town on the river bank.
Tips and Rules for Camping in El Chaltén
- Pack a headlamp, there are no lights in the national park campsites.
- Get drinking water upstream from camp, don’t go to the bathroom or wash in the water source.
- Don’t camp anywhere in the national park other than in official campsites;
- The best sunrises are from the viewpoints don’t miss Fitz Roy and Lago de Los Tres!
- Pack for all weather very hot to freezing.
- Remember sunscreen!
- Get up early, you’ll have the trails and views to yourself.
- Get to the campsites early to pick a nice spot to pitch your tent.
- Bring a phone and download Maps. Me, the trails are well mapped.
- Pack a power pack for recharging your phone.
- No fires in the national park
- Don’t hike alone and keep an eye out, this is puma country.
- No wild camping, only camp in the official campsites.
Accommodation in El Chalten
El Chalten has a huge range of accommodations to cater to every budget from camping to luxury lodges. Camping is nice, but it is fantastic to return to a warm lodge, and have your own bathroom and a comfortable bed after a long day hiking in the chilly Patagonian weather!
Super comfort – Los Cerros Boutique Hotel & Spa, a beautiful boutique hotel with amazing views 5 minutes from the trail, breakfast is included.
Destino Sur Hotel & Spa de Montaña – 5 Star luxury hotel, with excellent ratings
Mid Budget – Hosteria El Paraiso Alpine-style cabin with panoramic views of Fitz Roy hills. Good value for money.
Backpacker Budget – Rancho Grande A large hostel with stunning views of the Patagonian Mountains.
Best Time to Camp in El Chalten
December – February: Summertime is the high season in El Chaltén with warm temperatures and long days. This is a nice time for camping, but the park is very busy with tourists. The average maximum temperature around this season is 69.1°F (20.6°C). Strong winds do blow in summer with little rain.
March – April: Fall is still possible to camp It is colder with a bit more rain. Maximum temperatures are around 67.7°F (19.8°C). The wind calms down in the fall.
September – November: Spring is a great season for trekking and good for camping in Patagonia. Most routes are possible. Spring daily highs range around 63.9°F (17.7°C)
What to pack for hiking in El Chalten?
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- We love our MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent– it’s very light (1,3kg), packs small, easy to pitch, waterproof, it’s shape is great for strong wind and it’s durable. For a more budget option, check out the MSR Elixir tent.
- An inflatable camping pad is great for sleeping on.
- Pack a sleeping bag, for summer synthetic such as Teton Sports TrailHead is sufficient, down Vitals Summit 20 is necessary for cold weather.
- A portable camp stove and a cooking set is important for cooking and boiling water while camping.
How to get to El Chalten
The easiest way is to fly to El Calafate, about 220km away, and continue by bus. You can fly to El Calafate from many airports including EZE (Ezeiza, Buenos Aires). The road is paved in excellent condition. The bus trip takes about 3 hours from El Calafate to El Chalten.
– Book a bus transfer from El Chalten to El Calafate here.
Travel insurance for hiking in Patagonia
Having an accident in a foreign country can be very expensive Want to know what insurance will cost? Get an instant online quote from World Nomads here.World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers. If you leave home without travel insurance or your policy runs out, you can buy or extend while on the road.
The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.