Day hikes in Los Glaciares
El Chalten's location, at the start of the main trail heads into the Fitz Roy range, allows you to stay in the comfort of a hotel, eat good food in the many restaurants and enjoy wonderful day hikes during the day. The Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Torre treks are the most popular and are not to be missed, but there are also a number of other trails to explore close to El Chalten. By allowing extra time in the area you can ensure that Patagonia's changeable and unpredictable weather doesn't prevent you from seeing the peaks.
Laguna de Los Tres: Mount Fitzroy
This route provides arguably the best viewpoint in the national park, as the name refers to the peaks of Cerros Fitz Roy, Poincenot and Torre, all of which can be seen in the magnificent 360 degree views from the shores of the lake.
While it can be done as an out-and-back hike from El Chalten, it's a more interesting day if you get transport to Hosteria Pilar and start from there. That way, the trek starts out on a forest path looking out to the Piedras Blancas glacier, before a steep 800m ascent to the laguna itself, which makes a great lunch stop, and a return to El Chalten past the wonderful Laguna Capri with views to the massif.
Duration: 22km, 7 to 9 hrs
Laguna Torre: Cerro Torre
This is a reasonably gentle hike up a perfect glaciated valley to wonderful views of Cerro Torre from the lake. The climb is only 250m or 350m if you continue on up to the Mirador Maestri lookout point.
Duration: 20km, 5 to 6 hrs
Loma del Pliegue Tumbado
Loma roughly translates as 'hill', but this route still takes you some 1,000m above the town of El Chalten, offering a different perspective on the mountains and giving you great views of Lake Viedma as it loops round to the south of the Fitz Roy massif. Although the altitude gain is significant the trail is relatively easy going and you can always cut a couple of kilometres off the end. The rocky terrain is a great place to find fossils.
Duration: 16-18km, 6 to 8 hrs
Los Huemules Reserve
Los Huemules Reserve is a 5,800 hectare private reserve, to the north of El Chalten. It was created 15 years ago to preserve the ecology of this area and protect it from development. A series of trails of different difficulties have been developed so that tourists can do a number of hikes. The rest of the park has been left to grow wild and hopefully the huemules, foxes, magellanic woodpeckers, condors and puma will find sanctuary there. Although the trails will not get the spectacular views that you will get from Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Torre, these hikes are special because of their solitude, exploratory nature, the pristine landscape and diversity of species within the reserve through which they pass.
Piedra del Fraile
To the north of Fitz Roy lies the Electrico Valley and the rustic refugio and campsite at Piedra del Fraile. The hike out is along gentle forest paths, with little climbing and views along the valley to the distant Marconi Glacier.
Duration: 8 to 9 hrs
Ice hiking on the Viedma glacier
The Ice Hike on Viedma Glacier is no longer possible to do as the glacier is in rapid retreat and isn't stable enough to support trekkers.
There is an alternative ice hike that can be done in the Los Huemules Reserve just north of El Chalten on the Cagliero Glacier. It is more of a via ferrata style excursion and involves a 2 hour hike to get to the ice. This ice hike is not suitable for beginners.
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.
- The Condores Viewpoint, overlooking the town of El Chalten. This viewpoint lends itself to spectacular panoramic views of the massifs of Torre, Fitz Roy and the Valley of the Vueltas River.
- Glaciar Huemul can be combined with a boat trip on Laguna del Desierto to get you close to a glacier in just one hour of walking.
- The two main day hikes can be cut short for less intrepid hikers. Hike to Mirador del Torre on the way to Laguna Torre for views of Cerro Torre. Hike to Laguna Capri on the way to Laguna de Los Tres for good views of Mount Fitz Roy.
What our customers think
Los Huemeles reserve was a particular favourite...we only passed 2 people all day!
Rachel UK December 2016
Making it to Laguna De los Tres, jumping in the frigid waters and camping with the range in sight. Incredible!
Nic and Julie Iannarone October 2016
FAQs about Day Hiking in El Chalten
The three main day hikes are challenging with 20km (14 miles) of hiking and climbing up to 1000m. The steep climb on scree at the end of the Laguna de Los Tres hike is particularly tough, especially in bad weather, so you do need to be comfortable hiking for a full eight hour day. If you think this is too much of a challenge, the main hikes can be shortened and there are some great alternatives to the north of El Chalten. You may want to use the Aguas Arriba Lodge as a base for shorter hikes.
It is a good idea to have a layered approach to clothing when day hiking in this area with base layer, thermal mid layer and a waterproof outer layer. Wear good waterproof walking boots with ankle support and carry a 30 litre day pack with an extra layer, water bottle, a sandwich from the bakery in El Chalten and your camera - don't forget the sun cream!
Carry a one litre bottle of water that you can fill up from streams along the way. There are no grazing animals within the park so you can drink from all the streams.
The campsites are very basic with just a long drop toilet but they do allow you to get views of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre at sunrise when they will glow pink and orange. By camping you can also walk shorter distances each day and still get to the main viewpoints or explore some of the less well known valleys close to the Ice Cap. See our Multi-day hiking page for more.
El Chalten is a three hour drive or bus from El Calafate airport and town. We suggest most people take the bus because it is comfortable and fast. There are also some overland ways to travel to El Chalten which you can see on our How to get to Los Glaciares map.
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El Chalten Hotels
A climbing and hiking mecca; El Chalten is the heart of Los Glaciares National Park. The town lies within the park's boundaries, making it possible to enjoy adventurous day hikes to some of its best spots (such as Laguna de Los Tres and Glacier Torre) before returning to El Chalten at night to eat, relax and sleep in a comfy bed.