South America

Patagonia: Hike to Laguna de los Tres

The most popular hike in El Chalten is probably the hike to Laguna de los Tres to see Cerro Fitz Roy. For a day hike from El Chalten there are two options. The first option is to walk from El Chalten to the trail entrance. The trail entrance is located at the opposite end of town from the bus terminal. Look for the weary hikers walking back to town to find the entrance. The other option and the option I decided to go with is purchase a bus ticket to El Pilar.

Glacier Piedra Blancas

By starting the hike from Piedras Blanca you have the opportunity to visit the mirrador for the Glacier Piedra Blancas.

If you decide to start the hike from El Chalten you will be rewarded with this view as quickly gain elevation.

Another look back on the views as you leave El Chalten behind.

Cerro Fitz Roy hiding in the clouds.

The bridges in Patagonia always have instructions on how people can safely cross the bridge at the same time.

Patagonia: Hike to Laguna Torre

The hike to Laguna Torre is one of the two most popular hikes in El Chalten, Argentina. This 9 km hike takes you to the lagoon that sits at the base of Cerro Torre. You can choose to extend the hike to Mirrador Maestri.

Having just arrived from the US a day prior with two consecutive red eyes I decided to take it easy and hike the easier of the two hikes I had planned for my time in El Chalten. The hike takes 6-7 hour with some elevation gain at the start.

This hike has two entrances, the entrance closer to the center of town is marked with heavy signage. The entrance closer to the entrance for Laguna de los Tres is less marked and is the trail I chose. At times I was unclear if I was on the correct trail, I knew the general direction I wanted to head so I just tried to pick trails in that direction. For the most part the different trails were all going the same way.

Hiking the day after Christmas it was to my benefit I started early because I had the whole trail to myself. At times I wondered is this really the most popular trail during peak travel season, maybe there’s a new trail everyone else is on. Later when I was hiking back towards El Chalten I ran into crowds of people.

I wasn’t so lucky to see Cerro Torre that day. Cerro Torre stayed hidden in the clouds. I sat down at Mirrador Maestri to have my lunch while staring up at the clouds and wishing they would disappear. I could hear the glacier breaking every so often.

If you’re thirsty, grab a drink from this river beside the trail, #nofilter needed.

 

Cerro Fitz Roy is viewable from a section of the Laguna Torre trail.

 

Cerro Torre, with it’s head up in the clouds.

 

The view from Mirrador Maestri.

Patagonia: El Chalten, Argentina

El Chalten, Argentina

El Chalten is a small town in Argentina popular with tourists for hiking and climbing. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from one end of town to the other. The town was established in 1985 to settle a border dispute with Chile.

I spent 4 days, 3 nights in El Chalten with plans to do two hikes, Laguna Torres to see Cerro Torres and Laguna de los Tres to see Cerro Fitz Roy. I had wanted to do a short hike on the day I arrived but my flight was delayed and I got in much later than I had originally planned. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in El Chalten as my introduction to Patagonia.

Getting There

From the US I flew to EZE, the international airport in Buenos Aires located 22 km outside the city center. To catch a flight to El Calafate, Argentina you can choose between Aerolineas Argentinas or LATAM Airlines. Aerolineas Argentinas departs from EZE whereas LATAM Airlines departs from AEP, the domestic airport. When I initially booked flights LATAM airlines was cheaper. If you need to transfer between airports you can read more about it here. From El Calafate airport or bus terminal there are multiple bus companies that provide transport to El Chalten, Argentina. CalTur is one of the larger bus companies and charges 450 Argentinian pesos one-way from El Calafate to El Chalten.

Money

In El Chalten it’s good to have cash. It’s suggested you get cash in Buenos Aires or any other major city before arriving in El Chalten in case the ATM in El Chalten runs out of money. At EZE there are multiple ATMs located outside the customs exit. Each ATM withdrawal is limited to $2400 Argentinian pesos with a $6 USD fee. You can read more about using ATMs in Argentina here. There is also a bank located inside the airport that offers a fair exchange rate. There are two entrances to the bank, one inside customs and one outside customs.

Getting Around

El Chalten is small, you can walk everywhere.

Where to Stay

There are numerous hostels and hotels in El Chalten. I stayed at the Rancho Grande Hostel. I found this via Booking.com. The hostel is located 15 minutes by walking from the bus terminal. The location is convenient for the two day hikes I had planned. Breakfast is not included but there is a kitchen and a 24 hour restaurant. I was also able to order a packable lunch to take with me on the hike.

What to Do

Hiking, Climbing