Renowned as the trekking capital of Argentina, El Chaltén is a small Patagonian village snuggled beneath the towering Fitz Roy range. Less than a few decades ago, El Chaltén was nothing more than a community of three or four die-hard climbers that were raising their families in this remote paradise. While the village has grown significantly, it remains very small to this day and most of the lodges cater towards backpackers and serious climbers.
Located three hours from El Calafate within the northern reaches of the park, this small climbing village has recently gained international notoriety since the Patagonia outdoor apparel company used the iconic Fitz Roy mountain range as its logo.
Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre
Renowned amongst alpinists and mountain-lovers alike as one of the world’s most extraordinary peaks, Fitz Roy’s jagged, sky-scraping spires have become a symbol of Patagonia’s profound natural beauty.
In addition to Mount Fitz Roy, El Chaltén is also home to another one of Patagonia’s most mythical mountains: Cerro Torre. More than twice the height of Yosemite’s El Capitan and equally as vertical, Cerro Torre is a sharp granite spire of unpredictable hanging glaciers that has earned a reputation amongst savvy mountaineers as an “impossible” mountain to climb. Considering the grandeur of these Andean peaks, it is not surprising that the native Tehuelches considered these mountains in El Chaltén to be sacred.
Hiking Capital of Argentina
As you can imagine, the treks and hikes in El Chaltén are beyond amazing. There is a beautiful and incredibly extensive trail system located in Los Glaciares National Park and many of the main trailheads are located in the village. The wilderness within the park is remarkably clean and untainted, and the glacial streams are so pristine that the park rangers encourage you to drink straight from the creeks without purifying the water. On clear days, the lofty pinnacles of Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torres are ever-present above, providing unrivaled opportunities to photograph what many alpinists regard as the single-most magnificent cluster of mountains in the entire world.
El Chaltén Practical Information:There are a variety of trails throughout the park, each of which have their own defining characteristics.
Lago del Desierto is located 23 km behind El Chaltén and offers spectacular views of Mount Fitz Roy’s lesser seen North Face.
Visitors traveling to El Chaltén are required to check in at the park headquarters for a briefing prior to arrival.
We recommend spending a minimum of three nights in El Chaltén to allow yourself time to explore the park. For avid trekkers with only two full days to explore the park, we recommend doing a Fitz Roy-oriented hike on the first day and one to the Torre Glacier the following day to get a fuller view of the park.