Where to visit
- The famous Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre hikes can both be done straight from El Chalten, and offer unparalleled views
- Get off-the-beaten-track in the Huemules Reserve, or some of the hidden valleys
- The many sparkling glaciers are fed by the huge Southern Patagonian Ice Cap, which you can visit on a multi-day trek
- Relax on a few shorter hikes up to viewpoints and crystal lakes
Types of hiking in Los Glaciares
The day hiking in Los Glaciares is superb. Base yourself in the bustling mountain town of El Chalten, from where you can walk straight out onto the trails and return each evening to a comfortable hotel and streets lined with great cafes and restuarants.
The most famous routes are Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Torre, but venture out a little further and you'll find a sprawling network of trails across the mountains and into valleys and nature reserves.
For some, sleeping out amongst the stars, waking up amongst the mountains and setting off early along the trails brings a very different hiking experience. Not only do you get a privileged view of the mountains at sunrise, you can really immerse yourself in the national park, taking your time on the routes and venturing further into some of the less visited areas.
Porters will carry your tent and cooking equipment, and you can choose the level of challenge you're after, from simply combining the most popular day hikes, to including some mountaineering, or ice hiking over the ice cap itself.
When Mount Fitz Roy appeared out of the clouds where I would have expected to see sky, my jaw dropped - no wonder the tehuelche people worshipped this peak!
Harriet Pike Trekking, Mountaineering & Cycling Specialist
What's special about hiking in Los Glaciares?
World class day hikes: There are few places in the world where you can sleep in a comfortable hotel, fill your pockets with pastries, hike straight into the mountains and be sat under a glacier in time for lunch.
Unexplored valleys: The Tunel, Electrico and Diablo valleys are largely unexplored and can be visited on either a multi-day hike or day hike from El Chalten. You'll see gnarled Lenga forests, hanging glaciers and climb to get unique views of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre without any of the crowds.
Proximity to the ice cap: You can reach the ice cap after a few days on a multi-day trek, when you can either sit back and gaze upon the impressive expanse of ice, or pitch yourself against the wind and extremes and take an expedition across the ice cap itself.
Flora and fauna: On all trails you are bound to see magellanic woodpeckers, caracaras and chucao. Keep your eyes peeled for an endangered huemul deer, a skittish and rare animal what only reveals itself to a lucky few. The magical Lenga and Nirre forests abound, and underfoot there are Calafate shrubs (bearing fruit in the Autumn), yellow orchids and all manner of other dainty flowers.
What our customers think
The scenery is breathtaking everywhere: high jagged mountains covered with hanging glaciers, fantastic pinnacled ridges, from which huge screes fall to the timber line, imposing rock towers, enormous rounded granite bluffs, vast alluvial valleys with braided rivers, blue lakes and lagoons, precipitous gorges and water-courses.
Mark and Katie UK March 2017
Highlight was waking up to see Mt Fitz Roy, bathed in the glory of the morning sunrise, with a surreal deep golden reflection, in a cloudless blue sky. It happened to coincide with my brother's birthday, which was an added bonus, and a priceless birthday gift at the same time.
Parag UK January 2017
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.
Sarah and Jason Colorado, USA November 2017
El Chalten was great, the main trail to Fitzroy is totally overcrowded even early in the season. Never the less it is worthwhile on the second day we took a trail far less travelled with stunning views from a bit further away and just a few people on the trail.
Georg and Katy New York, USA November 2017
The famous viewpoints of Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre are mesmerising, but try to make the time to get a little more off-the-beaten-track as well.
Where to base yourself
El Chalten is a hiking, mountaineering and climbing hub with gear stores, bakeries, waffleries and two breweries. Its prime location right in the mountains means you can step out of your hotel door and onto the trailheads, eat your lunch beneath a hanging glacier, and be back in time to swap stories with fellow hikers over a craft beer. What else do you need to make a happy hiker?
Estancias are dotted around the region, often a two- to three-hour drive from El Chalten. These are old working ranches that have been modernised to accept guests, but still retain their rustic charm. They're spread out on acres and acres of land, away from the tourist hustle and bustle, and offer a more authentic, relaxed experience.
Estancias are often located on the edge of the national park, so don't have access to the main trails in the Fitz Roy range. However, all offer their own excursions, anything from trails around their land, to group hikes around the mountains and lakes. Visit an estancia after your time in El Chalten to make the most of everything Los Glaciares has to offer.
Top trekking trips in Los Glaciares
FAQs about hiking in El Chalten
The minimum that we recommend is three nights, so that you have a chance to do the two main day hikes and see the famous peaks. Five nights in El Chalten, or doing a multi-day hike, means you are more likely to get a good sighting of the main views and enjoy some off the beaten track hikes. Experienced trekkers looking to really get under the skin should spend a week to ten days in the area.
A guide is not entirely necessary on the main trails, but is advisable. The guies are often local and extremely passionate about the area, keen to share their knowledge of the flora and fauna, and local history and culture. In peak season, guides book up ahead of time so it is advisable to book before you get to El Chalten.
You can camp in the park or there are a wide range of different hotels in El Chalten. See our El Chalten Hotels page.
El Chalten has shops where you can buy new gear or rent gear. It is advisable to bring your own boots and rucksack because you are likely to get a much better fit than those on offer in El Chalten. For technical treks, good quality gear is available form local trekking and mountaineering guides.
Explore more of Los Glaciares
Day hiking from El Chalten
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Patagonia is a vast and varied region, with a wealth of things to see and do, a range of places to stay and a limited transport network.
Why not let us do the hard work for you? Our team of experts will work with you to design a 2–3 week adventure to your exact requirements, from hiking and horse-riding trips to wine-tasting tours and undiscovered lodges.
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