Reasons to go to El Chaltén

  • Soak up the laidback atmosphere of El Chaltén in the heart of Los Glaciares, enjoying its funky bars and cafes, while looking up at Mount FitzRoy above the town
  • Hit the trails straight from your hotel on a series of unbeatable day and multi-day hikes to Laguna de los Tres, Cerro Torres and beyond
  • Camp in the shadow of Mount Fitz Roy to watch the sunrise over its peak by a turquoise glacial lake
  • Get wild on the Huemul Circuit trek, climbing remote mountain passes and past glaciers to sleep next to the Bay of Icebergs
  • Kayak on the still waters of Lago del Desierto or saddle up to follow the mountain bike trails by its shores

Our Favourite Treks from El Chaltén

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Laguna de los Tres

Laguna de Los Tres is the hike to do in Los Glaciares National Park. Coined “the hike to the logo,” this route takes you to the lookout for Fitz Roy, the mountain that gives its outline to the Patagonia brand.

Route Distance

20km | 12.4 miles

Route Elevation

+804m | 2,638ft

Route Length

8-9hrs

Huemul Circuit

One of the best and most challenging multi-day treks in Los Glaciares National Park. Windy mountain passes, steep terrain, but your rewards are some of the best views of Viedma Glacier and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

Route Distance

55km | 34 miles

Route Elevation

+2191m | 7188ft

Route Length

4 days

Loma del Pliegue Tumbado

Loma del Pliegue Tumbado is the best way to get off the beaten track in Los Glaciares. This hike is a favourite of local guides’ and gives you the zoomed out perspective of the entire mountain range.

Route Distance

20km | 12.4 miles

Route Elevation

+1,084m | 3,556ft

Route Length

8-9hrs

Ice Field Expedition

This is more than just a trekking adventure, this is an expedition style trip. Looping around the Los Glaciares Massif with Fitz Roy towering above you. You’ll sleep at the feet of Cerro Torre and enjoy a few days of the Huemul Circuit as you exit by the Viedma Glacier.

Route Distance

68km | 42 miles

Route Elevation

+2128m | 6982ft

Route Length

8 days

Laguna Torre

Cerro Torre is the most popular out-and-back hike from town, with an initial ascent to the first viewpoint and then a moderate, undulating path to the iceberg-filled waters of laguna Torre.

Route Distance

18km | 11.2 miles

Route Elevation

+382m | 1,253ft

Route Length

7-8hrs

Piedra del Fraile

A beautiful hike that takes you a little more off the beaten path than others in the region. Stunning mountain views throughout the hike and a great route for avoiding the crowds.

Route Distance

6.5km | 4 miles

Route Elevation

+68m | 223ft

Route Length

2hrs

There’s so much more to El Chaltén and Los Glaciares National Park. You have so much history and culture - the pioneers, the climbers - and you can still feel that in El Chaltén today. You’ve got famous mountaineers, famous climbers and they’re walking the same streets that someone going for their very first trek is also walking.

Antarctic Guidebook Editor

Meet Sarah Patagonia Trekking Expert

What to see and do around El Chaltén

Day hiking around Mount Fitz Roy

El Chaltén’s unparalleled location makes it one of the world’s best destinations for day hiking in the mountains. 

Laguna de Los Tres is El Chaltén’s most celebrated day hike, taking you past the epic Piedras Blancas glacier to an unearthly turquoise glacial lake overlooked by the craggy peak of Mount Fitz Roy

The second most popular day hike is to Cerro Torre, whose narrow pinnacle points to the heavens, while sheltering an extraordinary lake bobbing with icebergs.

The Loma del Pliegue Tumbado route is a slowly ascending day hike to a series of extraordinary panoramas across the entire Fitz Roy massif. 

Between day hikes, El Chaltén also has a series of beautiful short trails to viewpoints to explore closer to town.

Female hiker on a day hike from El Chaltén in Los Glaciares

Day hiking from El Chaltén

Multi-day hiking trips beyond Mount Fitz Roy

The day hikes of Laguna de Los Tres and Cerro Torre can easily be joined together with an overnight camping stop to form a popular two day trek with fantastic mountain sunrises and sunsets.

For those looking to push themselves a little more, the four day Huemul Circuit is undoubtedly one of the best ways to explore the national park. It involves ascents of the dramatic Viento and Huemul passes, takes you hiking alongside the Viedma glacier and wild camps on the shores of the Bay of Icebergs.

The ultimate route in El Chaltén is the eight day South Patagonian Ice Field Expedition which loops around the back of Mount Fitz Roy and involves snowshoeing and dodging crevasses on the South Patagonian Ice Field itself. It requires a high level of fitness and willingness to adapt to unpredictable conditions. The challenges shouldn’t be underestimated but the rewards are immense.

Glacier hiking on the Southern Ice Field expedition

Trekking on the South Patagonian Ice Field

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Harriet says

I've spent over 500 days trekking in the Andes, Himalayas, Caucasus and Alps, but nowhere beats El Chaltén for day hiking​. Where else can you walk straight out of your hotel onto the trailhead and be sat next to a glacier and a mile high granite spire to eat your lunch?

Harriet Pike Head of Swoop Patagonia

Rock Climbing & Mountaineering around El Chaltén

Climbers have been coming to the Fitz Roy massif since before El Chaltén was even founded.The many large granite faces its mountains make it the perfect launchpad for climbers and mountaineers, with many one day ascents available.

Cerro Madsen (5925ft/1806m) near Laguna Torre is a suitable introductory climb for beginners, along with Cerro Vespignani (7040ft/2146m),climbing at glacier-level. For those looking for a more technical challenge, Cerro Electrico (7405ft/2257m) is a perfect choice.

Multi-day ascents are also available. Gorra Blanca (2910) stands guard over the Ice Field –  a physically demanding climb, but also one of the less-technically challenging peaks. Cerro Solo (6630 ft/2221m) offers a more technical ascent. 

Climbing Cerro Mojon Rojo near El Chaltén in Los Glaciares

Climbing Cerro Mojon Rojo near El Chaltén

Kayaking & biking around El Chaltén

Kayaking is available in several locations close to El Chaltén. A favourite is at Lago del Desierto – a 90 minute from the town, where you can combine paddling on the lake with a short hike to the Huemul hanging glacier. The northern stretch of the Rio de La Vueltas offers gentle paddling suitable for beginners that takes you past mountains and swathes of lenga forest. Further upriver where the canyons narrow, the river builds in size and strength to sections of adrenaline-pumping Grade 4 rapids that are perfect for whitewater rafting. There are further kayaking opportunities on the river at Rio La Léona between El Chaltén and El Calafate.

The scenic road from El Chaltén to Lago del Desierto is also perfect for trail biking, especially if you’re heading away from town to take advantage of the prevailing winds. Waterfalls, small lakes and sweeping mountain vistas can all be enjoyed from the saddle.

Kayaking on Lago del Desierto near El Chaltén in Los Glaciares

Kayaking on Lago del Desierto near El Chaltén

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Swoop says

Most people spend a minimum of three days in El Chaltén to make the most of the day hikes. However, if you're an experienced hiker we recommend you spend longer to really make the most of the off the beaten track trails – as well as soaking up the town's fantastic atmosphere.

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Exploring El Chaltén town

Tourist sitting in front of the El Chaltén town sign

El Chaltén town sign in front of the FitzRoy Massif

One of the great attractions of hiking around Fitz Roy is getting to spend time in El Chaltén itself.

Although it’s little more than village-sized, El Chaltén in the hiking season can feel a lot like the centre of the outdoor and adventure sports universe. Its streets have a host of funky cafes and bars to relax in as well as all the outdoor gear shops you’ll need if you want to buy extra supplies. On top of this, the local food scene is booming and chefs flock here from Buenos Aires for a taste of the mountain lifestyle.

El Chaltén an incredibly laidback place with a ‘frontier town meets rustic ski resort’ vibe. You’ll find plenty of first time hikers, serious trekkers and avid mountaineers here, all looking forward to adventure or sharing stories from the trail. When the mountains are this close, there’s always something to talk about over a craft beer or glass of malbec – all before you get ready to get out hiking again the following morning. It’s the kind of town where you can easily spend an extra day or so just soaking up between trails.

With so many hikes within easy reach, El Chaltén has little need for formal attractions, but make time to visit the Capilla de los Escaladores, a simple chapel paying tribute to the climbers and trekkers lost in the mountains in modern times.

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Swoop says

When book your trip with Swoop, we'll provide you with our own unique town guide to El Chaltén, with all the inside knowledge on places to eat and drink and things to see.

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What our customers think of El Chaltén

El Chaltén trips scored 4.5/5 from 391 reviews

It is a charming town with hiking all around, the hotel was great and the restaurants all charming. We had no evenings planned — which was the right thing to do — and every place we tried was fabulous. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

Daniel Spiller - USA

The trekking in El Chalten was the most epic trip I have ever taken. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

Zeah Venitelli - USA

Kayaking on the La Leorna River was SO great and a fantastic way to see more of the Patagonian landscape. I highly recommend this - the guides were fun, super knowledgeable, and very keen on our safety the entire time. One of the other main highlights of the trip! Read the full review

Travelled: March 2023

Zeah Venitelli - USA

El Chalten is a small town completely dedicated to helping tourists enjoy some of the most amazing mountains on earth. The trekking is relatively easy. The views of the mountains are almost unbelievable. We were blessed with clear sunny weather the whole time. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Peter Heywood - UK

We also loved the horseback riding and lunch at Estancia Bonanza. What a special place!!!!! The best lamb we had in all of Argentina and the staff made us feel like part of the family. Gorgeous property!! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Andrea Cohen - USA

Wonderful mountain range; beautiful valley with curving river; cute little town. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Mei-Mei Kirk - USA

This is a most beautiful part of the world and to have the opportunity to explore it on foot was truly wonderful. We were also very lucky with the weather! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Lynne Harris - USA

It was the most epic, best trip of our lives. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Shannon Foutz - USA

Go to El Chalten!! It was totally worth the extra leg of travel. Don’t be intimidated by the hike lengths. You find that extra gear when surrounded by the scenery. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Alexander Miller - USA

This trip has definitely opened our eyes to what is possible to plan and do in a few days, especially with help from Swoop. Having the opportunity to experience such a unique part of the world in such a seamless way was amazing. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2019

Katherine Cappellacci - Costa Rica

Both El Calafate and El Chalten were fun to spend time in. Great shopping and food, showers too! Read the full review

Travelled: February 2019

Brian McIntyre - United States Of America

Amazing! It's a land of immense beauty, I've seen nothing like this. We saw Fitz Roy in the best weather possible and it takes your breath away. Grueling hike to the base of the towers in Torres del Paine brings a magical moment of first seeing them in the clearing in the clouds and staying in full view. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2019

Elen Ace - Canada

El Chalten turned out to be our favourite place of the trip - such a lovely, charming town with amazing restaurants and bars! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Anne Marie McGonigal - United Kingdom

I really enjoyed El Chalten – it's a great size for a trekking type town and a fantastic base from which to explore the surrounding areas. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Amil Patel - United Kingdom

Our guide was awesome. His knowledge and commitment clearly made the difference – and was the primary reason why you should do this trip with a guide, and not just on your own. What would we tell family and friends? Go there! You won't regret it. Read the full review

Travelled: October 2018

Henrik Sand - Denmark

Pay guide gratuity in euros or US dollars rather than the local currency so that you don't get stuck with too many AR Pesos – their currency is not accepted outside of their country, including Chile. Read the full review

Travelled: September 2018

Tracie Wingo - USA

El Chalten is special. Although a remote town, we (as outdoors people) felt at home with the vibe and the people. The popular hiking trails were well-maintained, but we were very glad to have our guide lead us on the lesser-travelled paths as there were areas we would have had a difficult time determining our way.

Travelled: November 2017

Sarah and Jason - Colorado, USA

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If you happen to be in Chalten, get a completos from the food truck if it's there - you won't regret it.

Travelled: November 2017

Sonia - Canada

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El Chalten was our favourite town. Loved the funky, hippy, healthy vibe of the place.

Travelled: March 2017

Ellen and John - Georgia

Overall El Chalten was my favourite place! I hiked every day and it was very easy to find the routes and they all led to stunning viewpoints.

Travelled: February 2017

Hannah - UK

Some of the most beautiful hiking we have ever done.

Travelled: December 2016

Rachel -

Review:

Where to stay in El Chaltén

One of the greatest attractions to El Chaltén is being able to walk straight from your hotel door onto a hiking trail and the town has plenty of accommodation options to choose from. According to your taste and budget options include basic guesthouses (hosterías) charming B&Bs, alpine-style lodges and upmarket hotels.

If you want to range slightly further from El Chaltén, you can find a number of excellent luxury lodges for total seclusion. There are also several excellent estancias close to El Chaltén if you're after more of a gaucho experience.

There aren't refugios on the hiking trails around El Chaltén in the same way as you'll find in Torres del Paine, but there are some excellent upmarket camping (or glamping) options near to El Chaltén.

Sunset view of Mount Fitz Roy from Chalten Camp in Los Glaciares

Glamping at Chaltén camp

When to go to El Chaltén

How to get to El Chaltén

El Chaltén is 135 miles (215km) north of El Calafate and its airport – the main gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. There are regular buses between the two, though as El Chaltén's bus station is on the edge of town it's often easier to take a shuttle or private transfer direct to your hotel. The journey takes around three hours.

The road from El Calafate to El Chaltén is a particularly scenic route, passing close to Lago Viedma before the massed peaks of the Fitz Roy range loom above you in the final approach to the town. Rarely does a mountain range so dramatically announce its arrival. If you're driving this route, you can break the journey with a stop at the petrified forest at La Leona, roughly halfway between the two towns.

El Chalten How to get there

The road to El Chaltén from El Calafate

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