My name is Gaston Avendano and welcome to my article on the best hikes of El Chalten! I’m a 36-year-old photographer from Tierra del Fuego who has lived in several Chilean cities and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. By profession, I’m a physical education teacher but lately I’ve worked as a tour guide and have been developing my passion for landscape photography.
Trekking was the primary influence that led me into photography. I started taking photos with my phone and as I experienced different trips and treks, I realized that landscapes (especially at sunrise) were the thing I loved the most and that I had to capture them with a better camera. So I decided to take photography courses and finally bought myself a professional camera!
Introducing El Chalten as a Destination
El Chalten is one of my favorite places in the world because you can trek, camp, and photograph different landscapes with a varied climate and impressive sunrises. I’ve been there four times now and the best season to capture photos is definitely autumn, since nature is showing its maximum expression of colors. It was during this time of year when I was able to photograph the famous Laguna de los Tres with the reflection of Fitz Roy.
In regards to the town, El Chalten is relatively small. However, being a touristy village, you can find all the comforts of a city. It’s a charming place, and the local people are friendly and willing to help. Arriving into the town at the bus terminal, you can find many tour options since it’s also a highly visited place to see Perito Moreno Glacier. El Chalten boasts a range of quality restaurants as well, where you can try the local cuisine.
The surroundings of El Chalten are dominated by mountains, among which Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are highlights. The area also boasts forests that add a contrast of colors in autumn when the leaves change to golden and reddish tones. Patagonia is amazing as a whole, however El Chalten stands out for its proximity to mountains, glaciers and lakes. There are endless opportunities for outdoor activities, all within a compact area, making it an ideal destination for those who want to do a lot in a short time!
5 Awesome Hikes in El Chalten
1. Laguna Capri Hike
The Laguna Capri Hike is a captivating adventure offering a natural experience that’s not to be missed. This trail will transport you to the serene beauty of Laguna Capri, where you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring vistas of the Fitz Roy massif and native forest. The hike commences in the charming town of El Chalten and extends for a duration of approximately two to three hours (return), making it accessible to hikers of various skill levels.
As you meander along the path, the grandeur of Patagonia unfolds around you. The blue waters of Laguna Capri mirror the towering peaks of Fitz Roy, creating a picturesque scene that’s nothing short of incredible! This setting is perfect for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike, providing the perfect backdrop for capturing unforgettable memories.
Additionally, Laguna Capri is an excellent spot for camping. The campsite is equipped with basic amenities, making it an inviting place to spend the night under the starry Patagonian skies. Whether you’re a passionate hiker, a camping enthusiast or simply seeking a moment of connection with nature – the Laguna Capri Hike is an experience that you’ll cherish forever!
2. Laguna de los Tres Hike
Laguna de los Tres is one of the best hikes from El Chalten, despite it being a challenging and long journey (24 kilometer out-and-back hike). Located in Los Glaciares National Park, this trail is a gateway to one of the most remarkable vistas in the region. It unfolds through the pristine Patagonian wilderness with lush forests, crystal-clear streams and alpine meadows – ascending towards the Laguna de los Tres viewpoint.
The crown jewel of this trek is the vista it offers. At the end of the trail, hikers are greeted with a majestic panorama of Fitz Roy, a jagged peak that towers over the landscape, and the equally spectacular Laguna de los Tres nestled at its base. The turquoise waters of the lake reflect the peaks, creating a reflection that is out of this world amazing! Keep in mind too that there is another fantastic viewpoint in the area called Laguna Sucia.
While this hike is hard – taking the entire day or two days to complete with a night of camping – the rewards are massive! It’s a test of endurance and determination, but the feeling of accomplishment and the visual feast that awaits make every step worthwhile. The Laguna de los Tres Hike is a journey into the heart of Patagonia, where the beauty of nature and the spirit of adventure converge to create a once in a lifetime experience.
3. Laguna Torre Hike
The Laguna Torre Hike is a leisurely four to five hour trip that begins in El Chalten, nestled within Argentine Patagonia. This trek leads you through some of the most extraordinary natural landscapes in the world. The highlight is undoubtedly the Laguna Torre viewpoint, which rewards hikers with awe-inspiring vistas of Cerro Torre and its unique granite spires.
The trail offers hikers a glimpse of the region’s diverse flora and fauna. As you traverse this rugged terrain you’ll encounter forests, rivers, streams, mountains and more. Then, upon reaching Laguna Torre, you’ll be greeted by a mystical sight. Cerro Torre, a peak that stands at over 3,000 meters, dominates the landscape. The glacial lake, Laguna Torre, mirrors the grandeur of the peaks, creating a scene of natural splendor for visitors.
The Laguna Torre Hike is an experience that will stay with you forever, etching the wild landscapes and the spirit of adventure into your memory. To enhance your experience, consider staying at the Agostini Campground and waking up to see the granite walls saturated by the warm embrace of the morning light. The best photo-ops are definitely presented at sunrise!
4. Loma Del Pliegue Tumbado Hike
The Loma Del Pliegue Tumbado Hike is perhaps the most unique trail on this list of the best hikes of El Chalten, as it’s a trek that doesn’t actually go into a valley but rises above it! As you ascend, you’ll be treated to epic views that include the famous peaks of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, standing tall against the vast expanse of the Rio De Las Vueltas valley below.
The moderate level of the hike makes it accessible to all, whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a newcomer to hiking. Taking four to five hours to complete the round trip, the Loma Del Pliegue Tumbado Hike offers a perfect day excursion from El Chalten. Along the way, you’ll traverse diverse terrain – from open plains to beautiful forests to scrubby vegetation to stony scrambles – and be rewarded with a deep connection to nature.
5. Cerro Huemul Summit Hike
The Cerro Huemul Summit Hike is a thrilling experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts seeking a challenge in the Patagonian wilderness. This hike takes you to the summit of Cerro Huemul, a prominent mountain in Argentine Patagonia, and rewards you with phenomenal panoramic views of Lake Viedma and the imposing Viedma Glacier.
The journey to Cerro Huemul is not for the faint of heart, as it requires a considerable amount of stamina and endurance. Hikers can expect to dedicate approximately eight to ten hours to complete the trip, making it a full-day expedition. Another option is to take on the four-day Cerro Huemul Circuit Hike, with several campsites organized along the way!
My Favorite Hike from El Chalten
Laguna de los Tres is the most complex and beautiful hike from El Chalten, since you arrive at the foot of a lagoon that has some impressive granite mountains in the background. Also, because it’s very difficult to see them 100% clearly due to the particular climate of Patagonia. In my case, I was unable to see the mountains on two occasions since there was cloud cover and the winds were strong. However, on my third expedition attempt, I was lucky enough to see the peaks for several hours – a memory I’ll never forget!
Are the Hikes of El Chalten for Everyone?
The hikes of El Chalten can be completed by anyone who enjoys (and is capable of) long walks. The trails are well marked, and you can reach different viewpoints depending on your physical abilities and return to the town of El Chalten safely. That being said, if you wish to hike to summits or go camping, then you would need to have the proper experience and gear.
Final Tips for the Hikes of El Chalten
Investigate the clothing requirements for the season you’re going, research the weather conditions, learn about the trail restrictions, carry a map, eat and hydrate properly the day before (and after) the trek, and understand the methods of payment and currency exchange. All of these things will help you have a safe and fun experience on the hikes of El Chalten! Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you following me on Instagram (@gaston_aven) where I share my adventures and photos with the world!