5 Best El Chaltén Hiking Trails

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Article written by: Rebecca
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Planning to tackle some El Chaltén hiking trails? Here’s your guide to the best hikes plus tips for visiting this gorgeous part of Patagonia.

Known as the trekking capital of Patagonia – and perhaps the hiking capital of South America – the lure of El Chaltén hiking trails draws trekkers from around the globe.

Home to the famous Mount Fitz Roy, what makes El Chaltén so great is that there’s something for everyone. From world-class mountaineers to travellers simply wanting to take in the beauty of the area, there’s an El Chaltén hiking trail for all levels of experience.

But this small town in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina has a lot more to offer than just stunning hikes. There are plenty more things to do in El Chaltén, from horseriding and kayaking, to simply relaxing with a locally made craft beer.

Read on to find out more about hiking in El Chaltén, how to get there, and what to see and do beyond hiking.

Scenic view of a clear river winding through a lush valley with the majestic, jagged peaks of Mount Fitz Roy in the distance. Overcast skies loom above the dramatic landscape, typical of El Chaltén's rugged terrain.

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Useful things to know before visiting El Chaltén

Plan to spend a few days in El Chaltén. The weather here is unpredictable, so having a few days here will increase your chances of a sunny day for hiking – and for seeing the peak of Mount Fitz Roy peeking out of the clouds.

Bring cash with you to El Chaltén because you can’t rely on the ATMs either working properly or actually having any cash. Because of poor wifi, some hotels won’t be able to accept credit cards, so pay in advance if you can, or make sure you have enough cash to foot your accommodation bill.

El Chaltén is remote, so don’t expect much mobile phone coverage or strong wifi, even in town (and definitely no mobile coverage out on the trails). It pays to download any helpful El Chaltén maps and information before you arrive so you have access to any important documents.

I recommend bringing your hiking (and camping if you’re planning on that) gear with you. There are a few places around town that sell or rent out equipment, but they can be quite expensive.

The best El Chaltén hiking trails

So, let’s get into what you came here for: information about the best El Chaltén hiking trails! I’ve outlined five El Chalten day hikes here, listed in order of difficulty and length.

A few things to keep in mind before you head out on your hike:

  • There are no rubbish bins on the trails, so make sure you pack out anything you bring with you (leave no trace!).
  • There are also no toilets, so bring along toilet paper – and remember you’ll need to take that out with you, too!
  • You can fill up on water from streams along the way – the water is safe to drink. But, if you’re a bit worried about this, then bring along a water filter bottle like this popular Grayl bottle.
  • Watch the forecast, as the weather is unpredictable. Be mindful of high winds, especially when hiking the final section of the Laguna de los Tres trek.
  • Most of these hikes are out and back routes, unless I’ve included an alternative.
  • All these hikes can be done independently, but if you’d prefer to have a guide, you can find several companies around El Chalten. Alternatively, you can book full-day guided hikes online (but they’re not cheap), like this Laguna de los Tres hike or this Mount Fitz Roy and Laguna de los Tres combination.
A smiling hiker - the author's husband - wearing a red shirt, sunglasses, and a backpack gives a thumbs-up beside a wooden signpost indicating the direction to El Chaltén. The trail behind him leads through a forested area.
My husband, very happy to be on the way back to El Chalten after a long day of hiking!

1. Mirador Los Cóndores / Mirador Las Águilas

Distance: 4-6 kilometres, 2 hours round trip
Difficulty: Easy

This easy hike is good for everyone. There are a few gentle slopes but for the most part it’s flat. The trailhead begins at the Los Glaciares National Park Visitor Centre. The best time to hike it is early morning, so you can catch the sunrise. If you’re not an early bird, then it’s also lovely at sunset.

The first lookout is at Mirador Los Cóndores, which has spectacular views over El Chaltén and the surrounding mountains, including Monte Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. The viewpoint is named after the condors that fly through the valley.

The path to Mirador Las Águilas is just before the Condor lookout. From Las Águilas, there are panoramic views over Lake Viedma, Cerro Huemul and Cerro Piramide.

2. Chorillo del Salto

Distance: 4 kilometres, 1-5-hour round trip
Difficulty: Easy

Another easy one, Chorillo del Salto is one of the best hikes in El Chalten if you’re short on time. We did this on the afternoon we arrived in town.

The trailhead begins at the end of Avenida San Martín. The first part is fairly boring alongside the road (you could get a lift to the Chorillo del Salto trailhead directly which cuts out 2 kilometres of the walk).

It’s a flat walk through a forested area, the Ñires forest. The hike ends at the Salto Falls, a 20-metre waterfall.

A view of a waterfall cascading down a sheer cliff amidst a dense forest. Autumnal colored leaves stand out among the green foliage, highlighting the changing seasons in El Chaltén. The Chorrillo del Salto hike in El Chalten leads to a lovely waterfall.
Salto Falls

3. Laguna Capri

Distance: 8 kilometres, 4-5 hours round trip
Difficulty: Easy

An easy but long-ish hike that begins from Avenida San Martín, it does start with a fairly steep ascent. After that, the trail is flat, weaving through forested areas until arriving at Laguna Capri.

The reward for the hike is the stunning views of Mount Fitz Roy, perfectly framed above the lake (if you’ve got a sunny day and can actually see the peak!).

If it’s a hot day, brave the chilly waters of Laguna Capri (even in summer they are frigid!).

There is a free campsite here if you want to stay the night (and have the necessary camping equipment with you).

4. Laguna Torre

Distance: 18 kilometres, 7-8 hours round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

A trail sign providing information for hikers heading to Laguna Torre. The sign details the trail's distance, difficulty level, and points of interest, with various symbols indicating the trail's regulations and guidelines. The Laguna Torre hike in El Chalten is well signed.

One of the most popular hikes in El Chaltén, the Laguna Torre trail is a full-day hike so come prepared with sufficient food and water.

Start early so you can return to town before darkness. It’s well signed, and the trailhead is on a hill just behind town (from here there are great views over the town).

A panoramic view of El Chaltén village, nestled at the foot of a large hill with colorful houses scattered across the landscape, framed by distant mountains under a clear blue sky. The lure of El Chalten's hiking trails draw trekkers from all around the world. Located in Argentine Patagonia, this small town is perfect for whiling away a few days and getting adventurous. Just don't get lost on one of the El Chalten hiking trails! Read on for what to expect, how to get to El Chalten and where to stay. | #argentina #patagonia #elchalten #elchaltenthingstodo #elchaltenhiking #elchaltenpatagonia #travelguide #hiking

Like all the other hikes in El Chaltén, the views are jaw-dropping (so make sure you have a camera with you). The beginning is quite steep. The trail runs alongside a stream, through a forest, and then leads to views of Cerro Torre and the Torre Valley.

A breathtaking vista of a forest opening up to reveal the imposing, snow-capped peaks of the El Chalten, with clouds casting shadows over the mountains, creating a dramatic and beautiful natural scene.

When you arrive at Laguna Torre, you may see floating icebergs (I dare you to take a dip in the water!). There’s an additional track from here which leads to Mirador Maestri for views of the glaciers and lake below.

There’s a campsite here, De Agostini. If you stay the night, plan to get up early to watch the sunrise over Cerro Torre, which lights up the rocky face of the mountain in flaming orange.

5. Laguna de los Tres

Distance: 25 kilometres, 8-9 hours round trip
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

This is one of the more challenging hikes in El Chaltén, but it cannot be missed! One of the most famous Patagonia hiking trails, Laguna de los Tres leads to the most spectacular views of Mount Fitz Roy.

While it’s mostly on flat ground through forest, there are some steep inclines, particularly the last section which shouldn’t be attempted in high winds.

Similar to Laguna Torre, start this hike early, as it’s a long, long day (even longer if you make a wrong turn, as we did…).

The trailhead for Laguna de los Tres begins at the end of Avenida San Martín – you can’t miss the huge sign. BUT, I recommend getting a taxi or shuttle to Hostal El Pilar, a few kilometres outside of town. If you start here, it means you won’t be hiking in and out on the same track, so there’s a bit of variety to your day of walking.

The hike from Hostal El Pilar is mostly flat and pleasant. The trail winds through a tranquil forest for several hours.

A breathtaking vista of a forest opening up to reveal the imposing, snow-capped peaks of the Andes, with clouds casting shadows over the mountains, creating a dramatic and beautiful natural scene.
A tranquil scene of a man - the author's husband - in black hiking gear standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking a river with a dense forest leading up to rugged mountains in the distance.

There are a few clearings with glimpses of Mount Fitz Roy and the Piedras Blancas Glacier.

The iconic Mount Fitz Roy peeks through the canopy of a dense forest, with a branch hanging into the frame, offering a unique perspective of the famous peak shrouded by clouds.
A majestic mountain range with sharp peaks, partially covered in snow, towering over a valley with orange and green foliage under a cloudy sky. This is Mount Fitz Roy in El Chalten, Argentina.

The path leads through the Poincenot camping ground, a good place to stop and eat your packed lunch.

It’s after here that you face the tough part: the 1-kilometre ascent to the lagoon. This is very challenging and we saw many people turn back. It’s a steep, rocky, slippery path, and there are signs clearly warning hikers not to attempt this part if it’s windy or raining. We luckily had a clear, still day.

A hiker in a red top and blue backpack stands on a rocky trail in El Chaltén, gazing at the panoramic view of the valley with a river winding through it and mountains in the background under a partly cloudy sky.
Hikers on a rocky path with the sharp, towering peaks of Mount Fitz Roy in the distance. The mountain's dramatic profile and glaciers are a stark contrast against the barren landscape in the foreground.

From the lagoon there are views from the foot of the rocky peaks of Mount Fitz Roy above the deep turquoise water. We saw some people strip off and jump into the freezing water – their shocked shrieks echoed around the lagoon, which was a clear sign I wouldn’t be getting in there.

The serene blue waters of a glacial lake in the foreground, with the imposing Mount Fitz Roy and its surrounding glaciers towering in the background under a cloudy sky.

After spending a while here admiring the view, head back down and follow the signs that point back to El Chaltén.

Just don’t do what we did and not pay attention! We somehow missed the sign pointing back to El Chaltén and made our way along a path that connects the Laguna de los Tres trail with the Laguna Torre trail.

While we got lucky and ended up with some unexpected views of Cerro Torre, it added another 18 kilometres on top of the 16 kilometres we’d already walked that day! By the time we realised our mistake, we were too far along the path to turn back, so we spent our final hours of hiking alternating between laughing at our stupidity, frustration and tired anger. But it makes for a great hiking story!

What to do in El Chaltén beyond hiking

While El Chaltén is known as a hiking town, there are other things to do in El Chaltén to keep you occupied.

Go horse riding through the beautiful valleys around town. There’s some stunning scenery around the town.

Two horses, one black and one cream-colored, saddled and ready for riding, stand tied to a wooden rail. They are equipped for trekking, with the forested landscape of El Chaltén behind them. There are plenty of things to do in El Chalten, Argentina, beyond hiking - try horseriding or sip some local craft beer.
The beautiful horses we rode

After all that hiking and exercise, get a spa treatment. I had a sublime foot massage at Spa Yaten on Avenida San Martín.

Make sure to try some of the local beer. La Cervecería Chaltén is a great place for a fun, low-key night out.

Simply chill out and enjoy being off the grid! There aren’t many places in the world where you can really disconnect these days in a place of such beauty, so go ahead and relish the opportunity.

El Chalten travel guide

When to visit El Chalten

The best time to visit El Chaltén is between November and April. December to February are the peak months for visitors travelling to El Chaltén, so make sure you book accommodation in advance if you’re planning Patagonia trekking at this time of year. March and April are still busy but definitely calmer with fewer visitors.

However, even during the summer months the weather can be unpredictable and erratic. Summer is when the Patagonian winds are strongest through El Chaltén. But at this time of year you’re more likely to get sunny days and there’s little chance of snow to interrupt your El Chalten trekking adventures. Plus, the days are longer which means more time for being outdoors.

Autumn brings the changing of the leaves, so expect red and gold leaves framing those famous views of Monte Fitz Roy.

May to August is winter and, with strong snowfalls, many businesses shut down during this period. It can be hard to find accommodation willing to accept guests at this time of year.

How to get to El Chaltén

From Buenos Aires, fly into El Calafate (which is also the hub for visiting Perito Moreno Glacier). The El Calafate airport is quite modern. From here, head into town and take the three-hour bus trip to El Chalten.


From El Calafate, you can hire your own car (check out my full guide to renting a car in Argentina) or arrange a transfer to El Chaltén.

There are several companies that operate the El Calafate to El Chaltén bus route, including TAQSA and Caltur. We went with Chalten Travel. The buses are comfortable and usually depart on time. You can book tickets online (recommended in high season) or buy a ticket at the office. Check online for the latest timetable.

We booked the front seats on our double-decker bus so we had an amazing view of the trip. The drive is stunning, with glimpses of turquoise lakes dotted among the flat, barren and windblown landscape.

Along the way you may be lucky to see small groups of guanacos (brown, llama-like animals) huddled beside the road here and there, or even a fox like we did. The little guy darted out across the tarmac in front of our bus, causing us to be thrown forward in our seats as the bus driver quickly braked (the fox safely made it to the other side of the road!).

An open road stretches through the arid Patagonian landscape under a vast sky with dynamic cloud formations, leading towards distant mountains and a lake. The journey from El Calafate to El Chalten is really beautiful.
Views from the bus to El Chalten

The bus makes a stop halfway at a café for snacks and a toilet break, but be warned that it is windy here!

The bus also stops at the ranger station on the edge of town for a compulsory briefing. El Chaltén is located inside the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and care is taken to maintain the ecological value of the area. Rangers provide a briefing, hand out an El Chaltén hiking map, and encourage visitors to report any rare animal sightings.

The entrance to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, marked by a rustic wooden gate with a sign overhead. A cautionary sign to the right advises hikers about trail safety and conduct.

After the briefing, buses terminate at the El Chaltén bus terminal at the edge of town. From here, you can walk to your accommodation or take a taxi.

Around El Chaltén, you won’t need a car very much as the town is small and walkable. To get to some trailheads you can walk (most are only a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town), take a taxi, or hostels can arrange shuttle services.

Where to stay in El Chaltén

There are a range of El Chaltén accommodation to suit all budgets. If you’re visiting in December, January of February, book well in advance.

Located close to the trails, you’ll beat the morning hiking crowds when you book a room at Destino Sur Hotel de Montaña & Spa. This mountain lodge has spacious rooms with plush beds, and the sauna provides relief after a long day of hiking. Check rates at Booking.com or Expedia

Looking for something off the grid? Then book one of the spacious, padded dome tents at Patagonia Eco Domes. There’s definitely no mobile phone coverage or internet here so you really will feel remote. Solar energy powers each dome. Book a room online with Booking.com or Expedia

You’ll find competitive rates at Condor de los Andes. There’s a mix of shared dorms and private rooms and breakfast is included in the rates. A fully-equipped kitchen and living room with fireplace will make your stay comfortable. Check rates online

Where to eat in El Chaltén

There are plenty of restaurants in El Chaltén. A few recommended places to eat include:

  • La Oveja Negra for asado (barbecue) meats
  • Fuegia Bistro for delicious lamb dishes
  • Domo Blanco for ice cream
  • Don Guerra for rustic loghouse vibes and homely meals

There’s a supermarket in town but prepare to be disappointed. The selection is limited, so if you do want to prepare your own meals, then bring food with you.

What to pack for a trip to El Chaltén

Come prepared for all types of weather, and have good hiking gear, especially if you’re planning to tackle the full-day hiking trails.

Here’s a list of El Chaltén hiking essentials:

  • Daypack with a water bladder
  • Hiking boots or trail running shoes
  • Quality hiking socks (like these Darn Tough ones)
  • Hiking pants or leggings
  • Packable windproof and waterproof jacket (like this lightweight, breathable jacket)
  • Layer up with a lightweight, wicking t-shirt and maybe a long sleeve depending on the weather
  • Cap to protect against the sun (or a hat with a brim and drawstring so it doesn’t blow off your head on windy days!)
  • Gloves for cold mornings / evenings
  • Reusable water bottle (I use this Nomader bottle which also compresses and rolls up when it’s not full)
  • Minimum SPF50+ sunscreen (I like this brand for its non-greasy formula which means I can use it on my face as well)
  • Sunglasses
  • Toilet paper (or tissues)
  • Snacks and water for your hikes
  • Head torch or handheld torch
  • Camera
  • Portable charger (I don’t leave home without one of these lightweight chargers!)
  • Travel insurance – no matter where you’re going, don’t leave home without travel insurance! Get a quote at Travel Insurance Master or World Nomads

Hopefully this guide has got you dreaming of El Chaltén hiking trails!

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Have you been to Patagonia? Which of these El Chaltén hiking trails would you like to tackle?

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I'm a travel junkie who started dreaming about seeing the world from a very young age. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. A former expat, I've lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Argentina and the United States. I share travel resources, tips and stories based on my personal experiences, and my goal is to make travel planning just that bit easier.

6 thoughts on “5 Best El Chaltén Hiking Trails”

  1. Your pictures are stunning, Rebecca! I am planning a trip to Argentina later next year and El Chalten is on my list! Bookmarking your post for the future reference, would love to do this hike too!

  2. Lucky, lucky you, Rebecca! Most bloggers I follow were not that lucky when they went to El Chaltén. Mount Fitz Roy was always very shy to show its grandeur and the thick clouds always conspired. I guess your detour teaches us all about life itself, doesn’t it? Sometimes we have to take unwanted detour from our plan, but in the end things work just fine, or even better.


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