Reasons to go day hiking from El Chaltén

  • Base yourself in El Chaltén, one of the world's great hiking towns, with an unparalleled network of day hiking trails on its doorstep
  • Hike in the shadow of Mount Fitz Roy itself to the impossiblly blue waters of the glacial Laguna de Los Tres
  • Follow the stunning Laguna Torre trail to the granite peak of Cerro Torre, overlooking an iceberg-filled lake
  • Take in the sweeping panorama of the entire Fitz Roy range on the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado trail high above Lago Viedma
  • Walk in seclusion through the forests of Los Huemules Reserve looking for birds and hidden mountain refuges
  • Cross the Río Electrico on the Piedra del Fraile trail to the Pollone Glacier

Day hikes from El Chaltén

Laguna de Los Tres day hike to Mount Fitzroy

Four hikers at Laguna de Los Tres under Mount Fitz Roy in Los Glaciares

Laguna de Los Tres below Mount Fitz Roy

If you’re only going to do one day hike from El Chaltén, make it the Laguna de Los Tres hike to Mount Fitz Roy – arguably the best viewpoint in all of Los Glaciares National Park.

The route takes you past the extraordinary Piedras Blancas glacier, snaking its way through the mountains high above the treeline. From here ascend – gently at first, and then through a series of switchbacks – towards your final destination, the turquoise waters of Laguna de Los Tres. It takes its name from the three peaks you can see in an extraordinary sweeping 360 degree view from its shores: Fitz Roy, Poincenot and Torre. The trail returns to El Chaltén past the equally beautiful Laguna Capri.

The hike can be done from the El Chaltén town, following the Río de las Vueltas valley, but it’s more rewarding if you transfer to the trailhead at the Río Electrico bridge about 12.5 miles (20km) from town for a more scenic experience (and more moderate inclines).

Laguna de Los Tres can also be turned into a two day hike spending a night at the nearby Poincenot campsite and continuing the following day on the the Laguna Torre hike. 

Distance: 13.7 miles (22km). Time: 7-9 hours

Laguna Torre day hike to Cerro Torre

Two hikers sit by Laguna Torre looking at Cerro Torre on a day hike from El Chaltén

Laguna Torre under Cerro Torre

The Laguna Torre hike to Cerro Torre is El Chaltén’s classic ‘walk out of your hotel on to the trail’ hike.

After an initial steep ascent when you leave town, the trail levels out as you approach Mirador Torre, the first viewpoint to Cerro Torre, a thin granite finger pointing straight up into the sky, as well as one of South America’s most totemic rock climbing peaks. The hike then unfolds in a relaxed manner to take you to the beautiful glacial lake of Laguna Torre. A series of short trails braid their way around the lagoon, under the ever-present gaze of Cerro Torre, or you can simply relax here with your lunch watching the icebergs gently bobbing in the lake and the surrounding mountain panorama.

If you want to make this into an overnight experience, you can stitch it together with the Laguna de Los Tres hike by spending a night at the Poincenot campsite that sits between the two trails.

Distance: 11 miles (18km). Time: 7–8 hours

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Sydney says

The only thing better than hiking all day is hiking all day and then taking a hot shower, slipping into comfortable shoes and eating out at a great restaurant. El Chaltén gives you the best of both worlds: all the wonders of nature with all the conveniences of town when you return.

Sydney Miller Patagonia Specialist

Loma del Pliegue Tumbado day hike

Hiker facing Cerro Torre on the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado day hike from EL Chaltén

Views on the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado day hike

Some hikes are about getting up close and personal with the landscape, while others are about zooming back to take in the big picture. Loma del Pliegue Tumbado – a perennial favourite with local guides – does just that.

This route takes you on a slow and steady climb high above El Chaltén to give you a completely different perspective on the mountains, along with Lake Viedma as it loops south around the Fitz Roy massif. On a clear day the panorama views are truly remarkable. Loma roughly translates as ‘hill’ because of the gentle climb, but the vistas before you are a world away from anything so polite: this is the land of giant granite crags.

Although the altitude gain on this hike is significant, the trail is relatively easy going and you can always cut a couple of kilometres off the end by stopping at the first viewpoint. Don’t forget to look down while you’re walking: the rocky terrain is a great place to find fossils from an unimaginably distant past when these mountains lay beneath the sea.

Distance: 10-11.2 miles (16-18km). Time: 6-8 hours

Los Huemules Reserve day hike

Hut at Puesto Cagliero in Huemules Reserve day hike from El Chaltén

Los Huemules Reserve day hike

Los Huemules Reserve is a 5,800 hectare private reserve on El Chaltén's northern doorstep with an extensive trail system. It’s beautifully forested and offers some charming mountain and glacier views (as well as the chance of bird watching) but despite being open for over 20 years it still receives relatively few visitors.

As a result, hikers who hit its pocket-sized trails are often rewarded with the illusion of having the place almost to themselves: a big contrast to El Chaltén’s big banner treks. While you won’t get the spectacular vistas of Laguna de Los Tres or Cerro Torre, the solitude, pristine landscape and rich ecology all make hikes in the reserve a special experience.

One of our favourite hikes in Huemules is to the mountain refuge at Puesto Cagliero, tucked between the trees with its own tiny lagoon and hanging glacier. The hut is staffed, and there’s often a log fire to sit next to with a hot drink and maybe even a fresh crepe straight off the stove.

Distance: 6.8 miles (11km). Time: 3–4 hours

Piedra del Fraile day hike

Views along the Electrico river valley on the Piedra Fraile day hike from El Chaltén

Piedra del Fraile day hike

To the north of Fitz Roy lies the Eléctrico Valley, where a gentle hike winds through forest paths, bringing views across the valley to the distant Marconi Glacier.

The trail begins at the bridge across the Río Eléctrico and tracks closely to the river, weaving in and out of open forest that gives shelter from the wind. After a couple of hours you’ll reach a simple refuge hut with a campsite and small restaurant where you can get refreshments. Beyond the campsite the trail rises quickly above the Eléctrico Valley to the Piedra del Fraile viewpoint and its panorama of the needle-like Chaltén Mermoz and Guillaumet peaks.

If you want to extend the hike further you can continue to the Pollone glacier – but you’ll be stretching a lot more of the Patagonian summer’s 18 hours of daylight to complete the hike in a single shot.

Distance: 8 miles (12km). Time: 5-6 hours

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Felipe says

I’ve been to El Chaltén more times than I can remember, but I never get tired of the endless possibilities that it’s hiking trails offer, tempting me to grab my backpack and head out into Fitz Roy’s wild beauty.

Felipe Cruzat Patagonia Sales Consultant

Shorter hikes from El Chaltén

It’s worth noting that just as El Chaltén’s two main day hikes can be extended into overnight camping trips, they can also be cut short for those pressed on time but who still want to experience the region's most iconic views. 

Laguna de Los Tres can be shortened by stopping at Laguna Capri for good views of Mount Fitz Roy, while the Laguna Torre hike can finish at Mirador del Torre, where you’ll still get the views of Cerro Torre. 

Laguna Capri near El Chaltén

Laguna Capri

Huemul Glacier hike

If you want to head a little further out of El Chaltén, there are still yet more short hikes to be explored. One of the best is the hike to the Huemul Glacier, which can be easily combined with a day spent on nearby Lago del Desierto, which is a popular location for kayaking, trail biking and other adventure sports.

The lake is a 90 minute drive from El Chaltén, but from here it’s just an hour’s climb to a delicious viewpoint where the glacier feeds into another one of those unearthly blue mountain lakes the region seems to excel in. Taking a quick (and cold) dip is a great way to refresh yourself after the walk. 

There’s a simple guesthouse at Lago del Desierto if you want to extend your exploration here even further.

View over a hiker's feet to the Humuel glacier lake near Lago del Desierto

Huemul Glacier hike

Mirador Condores hike

If you're short on time or just want a quick walk without roving too far from town, the Mirador Condores walk is the one to go for. 

This short trail of just 1.8 miles (3 km) starts at the El Chaltén visitor’s centre and then leads uphill to a brilliant viewpoint that gives spectacular panoramic views of the massifs of Fitz Roy, Torres and across the Río Vueltas valley. It's the perfect spot to look down on El Chaltén and see how snugly it fits into its mountain surroundings. Bring some pastries from one of the town bakeries to munch on while you enjoy the view. 

As the name suggests, you can often see condors on the wing from here.

Mirador Condores viewpoint over El Chaltén

Mirador Condores viewpoint over El Chaltén

Chorillo de Salto hike

Another lovely short walk from the centre of El Chaltén is to the Chorillo de Salto waterfall.

This short trail of 4.3 miles (7 km) is all about putting you into the landscape rather than looking down on it like most of the walks around here. Instead, you'll follow a footpath that winds through open lenga forest before revealing a pretty waterfall tumbling more than 20 metres down a cliff. From here, it feeds into the Vuelta river that runs past the edge of El Chaltén.

If you do this walk in spring, look out for the pretty Magellanic orchids growing along the side of the trail. Should you be here for winter, you'll fid the waterfall frozen into a surreal ice sculpture instead. 

Chorillo de Salto waterfall hike from El Chaltén

Chorillo de Salto waterfall near El Chaltén

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What our customers think of Day hiking from El Chaltén

Day hiking from El Chaltén trips scored 4.5/5 from 359 reviews

Scenic views of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Glenn Gruner - USA

What was your most memorable moment? Hiking to the base of Fitz Roy. The views, weather, and quietness was truly unbelievable! Read the full review

Travelled: October 2022

Alex Nikle - USA

Hiking to Lagos De los Tres to see Mount Fitz Roy. It was an incredibly beautiful and clear day. Also, Perito Moreno Glacier was quite memorable. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2022

TJ Devine - USA

We had great weather and clear skies. The trekking was more than I imagined. Beautiful trails and views. It's truly an amazing place. The trekking lives up to the reputation. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2022

TJ Devine - 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

Seeing Mount Fitzroy almost completely free of cloud was probably my most magical moment. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2019

Jacky Wu - United States Of America

Amazing experience. Accommodation excellent, the 2 best guides we've ever had and the area breathtakingly beautiful. Juli and Pablo our guides looked after everything. Their explanations of what we were doing, their timings, making sure we had everything, their walking pace for our group and Juli organising some delicious snacks for our border crossing, every detail was covered. Not only that, they were extremely knowledgeable and fun! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Lena Altinger - Australia

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

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

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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.

Travelled: January 2017

Parag - UK

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Los Huemeles reserve was a particular favourite...we only passed 2 people all day!

Travelled: December 2016

Rachel - UK

Making it to Laguna De los Tres, jumping in the frigid waters and camping with the range in sight. Incredible! Read the full review

Travelled: October 2016

Nic and Julie Iannarone -


What day hikes can I do in the Fitz Roy range?

Illustrated Guide

FAQs about day hiking in El Chaltén

  • How hard are the day hikes in the Fitz Roy range?

    The three main day hikes are challenging with 20 km (14 miles) of hiking, and each climb 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.

    The main hikes can all be shortened, but if you're looking for more of a relaxed hiking experience there are many alternatives just outside of El Chaltén. Aguas Arriba Lodge, a short drive north of the town, is a great base for some of the alternative, shorter hiking in the region.

  • What do I need to carry on day hikes in El Chaltén? Do I need to carry water?

    Layering is key: pack a 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 Chaltén and your camera - don't forget the sun cream! 

    You only need a one-litre bottle of water, you can fill up from streams along the way.

  • Do I see more if I camp rather than staying in El Chaltén?

    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. 

  • How do I get to El Chaltén?

    El Chaltén 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 Chaltén which you can see on our How to get to Los Glaciares map.

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Originally a climbers' mecca, El Chaltén is peppered with hotels that are still mainly run by staff dying to help you get out and about in the mountains. Spend your days amongst …

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