Are You searching for an ultimate multi-day hike in Argentinian Patagonia? Then You are in the right place! Trekking El Chalten circuit, especially to Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, is definitely one of the best treks in Patagonia. Get ready for the next adventure of your life and explore the Argentinian wilderness.
The complete gallery of El Chalten circuit hike
El Chalten Circuit (Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre) – Jewels of Patagonia
El Chalten circuit is a multi-day trek and it´s definitely the top trekking destination in Patagonia in Argentina. Despite it´s very popular, I still consider this hike as a much more relaxed destination than hikes in Torres del Paine. This multi-day trek will take You to the best corners of Argentinian Patagonia. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre both spiky summits are magnets to the world´s adventurers and are considered as a holy grail for climbers. Both located in Southern Patagonian Ice Field in South America a region which is a reason for disputes between Argentina and Chile. With just a little bit of preparation, you can easily observe both peaks and hike in Los Glaciares national park on Your own.
Best time to go
The best time for trekking the circuit is definitely the summer period. Patagonian peak season start in late October and ends in mid of April. Due to a relatively narrow range of activities out of the season, the majority of hotels and services are closed at that time.
Getting there, accommodation and services.
There are many ways how to reach relaxed town El Chalten which is actually the Argentinian base camp for climbers. Despite its quite remote place, it´s quite easy to arrive here.
- Airplane – The closest airport is located in a larger town El Calafate which is an important tourist destination and also the hub to visit different destinations in the area.
- Bus – The bus goes from El Calafate and after a 2,5-hour scenic ride reaches El Chalten.
- Car – Last and not least and definitely the best way to reach the El Chalten circuit is by rented car. Before setting off or leaving El Chalten to make sure You have enough petrol in your tank. There are not so many petrol stations along the way. The Petrol station in El Chalten is very busy at a peak season.
Once You rach You will have plenty of options for accommodation in various price ranges. It all just depends on Your budget as you can sleep in campings for just a few dollars per night to hundreds of dollars per night in luxury hotels.
El Chalten is a small town so don´t expect a wide range of services. Despite there are a few options to get good food in restaurants as well as one large supermarket and bars. If You need to get some trekking equipment at the last moment You will also find shops selling essential stuff for trekkers and adventurers.
Maps and navigation in El Chalten circuit
It´s relatively easy to navigate on the trek thanks to signposts and many people on trails. Despite obvious paths I still recommend to take a map with You which are available in El Chalten. If You feel more comfortable to use GPS I provide You a downloadable file for Your GPS device below.
Download El Chalten circuit GPS file for Your device including route, it´s alternatives and points of interests HERE
Plan Your trip what suits You best
Due to relative close distance to main attractions, You can decide how You approach. Not only multi-day trip is an option, but also you can divide your trip to two-day trips starting from El Chalten. The best option for those who want to go light and enjoy the comfort of town after demanding hike.
- 1st Day – El Chalten – Laguna de Los Tres – 22 kilometers return journey. On this day trip, You will reach the iconic lakes Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Sucia. From that viewpoint, You get amazing views of iconic Mount Fitz Roy.
- 2nd day – El Chalten – Laguna Torre – 18 kilometers return journey. Second rewarding day trip to Laguna Torre with a stunning view of the glacier and breathtaking Cerro Torre.
El Chalten multi-day trek – 34 km
Connecting all the best from the area in the multi-day hike is most probably the most common option. Most of the hikers are completing this 34 kilometers long circle in 2-3 days.
What to take? Where to sleep?
Once You choose the multi-day trek You will need many more things than day hikers. Prepare to carry a heavy backpack with all essential gear and food
- Sturdy shoes, waterproof clothes – As the terrain is demanding definitely take sturdy shoes! The weather here is unpredictable. You may encounter strong wind and rain You will need water and windproof jacket and trousers.
- Caps, Gloves, Warm clothes – Even is summer it can get ridiculously cold at night! Starting from El Chalten with shorts and a t-shirt? Why not, but in the evening You will thank for having warm clothes.
- Tent – There is no option to sleep in a warm staffed hotel of any kind of this. You will have to sleep in one of 5 camping sites on the trail. A waterproof tent is essential.
- Food – There are no shops! OK except one tent in the campsite close to Laguna Torre, which is more from climbers and doesn’t offer much. In order to survive to take all the food with You for the entire period.
- Drinks – There are plenty of pristine rivers and streams on the way which I consider safe to drink. In fact, you will very unlikely to get thirsty. Just take a bottle with You and refill on the way.
- Sunglasses and cream – The sun in summer can be very sharp. Take with You suncream and sunglasses to protect yourself to avoid unexpected surprises.
Day 1 – El Chalten – Poincenot campsite
Starting from the park gate at a Parking lot at El Chalten. Surprisingly there are no entrance fees as are usual at other top attractions at Patagonia. After initial ascent not further than 1 km, You reach Mirador Río de las Vueltas. Don´t be lazy and go to the edge you will get a sweet reward to see the river valley. Ascending more through the forest full of singing birds and beating woodpeckers to the point where the route divides.
You can deliberately choose as both alternatives lead to the same point. One takes You to the Lake Capri, where is also one of the campsites. The alternative leads to a wonderful viewpoint. There You have a chance to see majestic Fitz Roy for the first time.
From the point where both trails connect You will continue on a leveled path free of dense trees. Crossing few streams being rewarded by views until You reach the campsite Poincenot. I recommend You to leave Your backpack here, as You will return the same way from Fitz Roy viewpoint back here. Also, the trail starts to be hard from this point on.
El Chalten a.k.a Fitz Roy – The highlight of the day.
From the campsite, You have to get over 400 elevation meters via the zig-zag path. Once You reach You will never regret climbing the scree! Isn´t it beautiful? Lago de Los tres, rugged ridge so high that one’s breath goes shallow. Don´t be lazy get up on the small hill on the left side and You will be struck by another surprise. Laguna Sucia a deep blue gem with a waterfall dropping in it flowing from the glacier above.
Unfortunately, You have to go the same way back to the campsite Poincenot. Sometimes is very crowded and if You are searching for privacy continue to another campsite as we did, but be aware that it´s 11kilometers far.
Day 2 – Poincenot campsite – Laguna Torre – El Chalten – 20km
As most of the trekkers do start in the morning from camping Poincenot following the trail west. This easy leveled section gives You plenty of time to enjoy all possible view angles of Mount Fitz Roy. Passing along two Lagunas Madre and Hija (mother and Daughter). This section is not that interesting and can be a bit exhausting and stereotype.
That changes quickly as descending to the valley where the main trail from El Chalten to Laguna Torre leads. Passing one viewpoint and reaching the alternative route to the campsite. In that campsite, there is a small tent with a shop mostly used by climbers attempting Cerro Torre. It´s also an opportunity to spend a night here as we did and prolong day 1. Or just in case You want to go 3 days trek. This campsite is usually much more relaxed and free than Poincenot.
Cerro Torre another spike pointing to the sky
It´s just a few hundreds of meters to very impressive place Mirador Lago Torres. Massive glacier flowing to the grey lake with sharp guardian Cerro Torre in background. To get closer to this majestic spike I recommend to follow the narrow trail on the right side of the lake to Mirador Maestri.
Going down to El Chalten is approximately 9km hike mostly downhill. Don´t worry still many great viewpoints on the way down! If You´ve left the car at the parking lot take the way down taking the left alternative on the map. If your destination is a center of El Chalten go straight from the mirador Dos Condores and soon You will reach your destination.
Looking back from El Chalten
Once You reach the town You will feel a bit pitty and would love to undertake it again! I´m sure if You decide for this trek nature will truely amaze You and if still searching for more there are plenty of other treks in the region to prolong your stay in El Chalten. What do You think? Was it worth it? Let us know Your comments and thoughts to improve this post, or just leave your experience in the comments below.