Five things to do in El Chaltén

  • Spot Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre on the famous day hikes, starting right from the town.
  • Swap stories with the locals at one of the two breweries.
  • Fill your rucksack with pastries (and try to resist eating them all in the first hour of hiking...).
  • Stock up on outdoor essentials before setting out on a multi-day trek.
  • Pore over maps in preparation for an expedition across the ice cap.

Things to do

Day Hiking

The hikes to the viewpoints of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are the most popular in the park. At 20km they are both full day hikes but the rewards are worth it!

For those looking to escape the crowds, consider going off-the-beaten-track treks to places like the Electrico Valley, the Los Huemules Reserve and the Tunel Valley where few other hikers venture to. The landscape around El Chaltén has been carved out by ancient glacial formations to form deep valleys so the approach hiking here is relatively easy compared to the steep mountainous main trails.

el chalten Day Hikes

Multi-day hikes

Linking together the day hikes with overnight camping means you can spend longer in the mountains with the added reward of evening sunsets and early morning sunrises. For those seeking a more remote trek, the Huemul Circuit leads you further south to a distant corner of the Park.

The ultimate route in El Chaltén is the multi-day Ice Cap Expedition which loops around the back of Mount Fitz Roy and involves snowshoeing and dodging crevasses on the South Patagonian Ice Cap. This is not just a hike, but an all-encompassing experience over varied terrain. Although technical experience isn’t required, it is recommended and a willingness to adapt to continually changing and unpredictable conditions is a must! The physical strenuousness of this expedition cannot be underestimated. An equivalent wild experience, which is slightly less demanding both mentally and physically, is our Los Glaciares Wilderness Trek.

El Chalten Multi Day Hike

Climbing and mountaineering

Given it's proximity to the South Patagonian Ice Cap and the many large granite rock faces, El Chaltén is the perfect launchpad for climbers and mountaineers. Cerro Madsen (1806m) is a suitable introductory climb for beginners, whilst Cerro Vespignani (2146m) is a good glacier-level introductory climb further north. Gorra Blanca (2910) stands guard over the Ice Cap, and although it is a physically demanding climb, it is also one of the less-technically challenging peaks. For a more technical challenge, Cerro Solo (2221m) or Cerro Electrico (2257m) are perfect choices.

Experienced rock climbers have a whole host of routes to choose from and there are plenty of equipment shops in town to rent gear if required.

El Chalten Mountaineering
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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.

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What our customers think of El Chaltén

El Chaltén trips scored 4.4/5 from 243 reviews

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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

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

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

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 -


How to get there

El Chaltén is three hours north of El Calafate. There's a direct public bus service that departs both ways three times a day. The bus station in El Chaltén is on the edge of town whilst the bus station in El Calafate is more centrally located. Alternatively you can take a shared shuttle service that takes you door-to-door to your hotel.

You can break the journey up with a stop at the petrified forest, a collection of fossilised trees.

You can fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate in three hours, or if you're coming from Chile and from Torres del Paine, you'll need to take a bus across the border which takes around five hours.

El Chalten How to get there

Where to stay

There are a range of different accommodations to choose from in El Chaltén including basic hosterias, homely B&B's, alpine style lodges and upmarket hotels.

For a more unique experience, the Fitz Roy Adventure Camp north of town is a great choice whilst the Aguas Arriba Lodge offers luxurious seclusion on the edge of Lago del Desierto.

El Chalten Where to Stay

Food and drink

El Chalten Tapera

El Chaltén's food and wine scene has rapidly grown over recent years as chefs flock from Buenos Aires for a taste of the mountain lifestyle. It takes no longer than 20 minutes to walk from one end of the town to the other so everything is fairly central. Our favourites are:

Techado Negro - Warm, art-decorated, family-run restaurant focusing on traditional dishes using local ingredients.

La Vineria - Wine bar with over 250 wines from 10 different states in Argentina. Also offer a selection of 50 craft beers including pales ales, porters, pilsner, lager and stouts.

La Ceveceria - Cosy alpine lodge offering locally-brewed pilsner and homemade food. The locro (spicy mountain stew) is a firm Swoop favourite.

La Tapera - Wooden-furnished grill restaurant set over two floors serving up the best steaks in town with a decent wine selection.

Curcuma Natural Kitchen - Small home kitchen offering lots of healthy vegetarian food including juices/smoothies, wraps, salads, soups and stuffed vegetables.They're vegan and celiac friendly and can make nutritious lunch-boxes too.

Waffleria - Stock up on sweet waffles with chocolate sauce and ice cream. The hot chocolate and coffee is also some of the best in town.

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Sydney says

El Chaltén is unassuming, but don’t be fooled, it’s full of secret treasures to discover: breweries, restaurants, cafes… and did we mention the mountains?

Sydney Miller Patagonia Specialist

Visit El Chaltén

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