Is El Chalten Worth It Hero

Is El Chalten Worth Visiting? 12 Great Reasons To Visit Argentine Patagonia

Nestled in the southern reaches of Argentine Patagonia, El Chalten is a haven for adventurers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. If you've been contemplating a trip to this remote corner of the world, the answer is a resounding yes. Here are 12 great reasons that make El Chalten a worth-while destination.

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Is El Chalten Worth Visiting?

El Chalten is not just a destination; it’s an adventure into one of the most remote places on earth.

 

Is it worth it? Absolutely. It’s a journey to one of the last frontiers of untamed nature and pristine wilderness. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a nature lover, or someone in search of an escape, the Argentinian side of Patagonia has something for everyone.

 

From rugged mountains ranges to turquoise blue glacial waters, and lush evergreen forests to contrasting wild flower fields, the vistas you will see in Los Glaciares National Park are unrivalled.

 

Along with the single and multi-day hikes being known as the best in the world, visiting this part of Argentina needs to be on every travellers bucketlist. 

 

Here are 12 reasons why you must visit:

1. Views of Mt. Fitzroy from Everywhere

El Chalten welcomes you with open arms, and everywhere you turn, the majestic presence of Mt. Fitzroy graces the horizon.

 

Whether its driving in along the scenic RP23 or simply sat at a cafe enjoying a coffee, the sheer grandeur of this snow-capped giant against the backdrop of azure skies is a sight to behold.

 

Mt. Fitzroy’s presence is a constant reminder of the beauty that defines this region. Whilst it’s a beautiful sight from the town itself, it’s only a taste of the views you’ll get. Once you begin trekking into the park, the epic scale of this mountain range truly hits home.

Visiting El Chalten is one of the highlights of a trip to Argentina. But there’s so much more to see in this incredible country.

 

To see how to combine Patagonia into a three-week or one-month itinerary that covers the entire country, head to one of the posts below:

 

 

Pictures of the Argentine Patagonia Mountains

2. The Laguna De Los Tres Hike

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Timing: 8-9 hours
  • Distance: 15.5 miles / 25km
  • Max Elevation: 2,300ft

El Chalten is the hiking capital of Argentina, rivalled only by its Chilean neighbour, Torres Del Paine, which sites on the other side of the border.

 

People travel from all around the world to come here, strap hiking boots and embark on some of Patagonias best hikes—one being the Laguna De Los Tres hike.

 

This challenging yet rewarding trek takes you through pristine forests, across babbling brooks, and finally, to the breathtaking Laguna De Los Tres.

 

Once you reach the summit, the panoramic views of Mt. Fitzroy reflected in the crystal-clear waters below will take your breath away.

 

You also have the option to camp here overnight which ha a number of benefits. Firstly, it splits the challenging trek in two so you have less walking to do. Secondly, you can watch up and watch the sunrise over the lake in the morning.

 

For more information, head to the official El Chalten website below: 

 

3. The Laguna Torre Trek

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Timing: 7-8 hours
  • Distance: 11.8 miles / 19km
  • Max Elevation: 2,300ft

Whilst Laguna De Los Tres is the most sought after, El Chalten is home to several other incredible trails which all offer something different. Another hiking marvel awaits you with the Laguna Torre Trek.

 

This trail grants you an up-close encounter with the awe-inspiring Cerro Torre, offering breathtaking vistas of its majestic peak and surrounding landscapes.

 

Witnessing the iconic spires and glacial lakes along the way is a truly rewarding experience that captures the essence of Patagonia’s unparalleled beauty. After reaching Cerro Torre, you can carry on to the De Agostini base camp where it is possible to spend the night in your tent.

 

And from here it is possible to go down to the Torre lagoon. At the shore of the lagoon you can find numerous icebergs which have fallen off from Grande Glacier.

 

For more information, head to the official El Chalten website below: 

 

TOP TIP: If you want to get the best photos of Cerro Torre, you will need to camp overnight. The mountains are always seen from the west, so they are directly illuminated by the sun only in the morning. You'll get the best photographs at sunrise, when the color of the granite walls become bathed in the golden glow of the morning sun. 

El Chalten - lake and glacier

Preparing for your first trip to South America? 

Here are 22 FAQ’s to help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime: 

4. White Water Rafting In Los Glaciares National Park

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Timing: 2-3 hours, tours start at 10.00 AM or 14:30 AM
  • Cost: $55 per person
  • When: Between October and April

For adrenaline junkies seeking something different from hiking, white water rafting down the Vueltas River Canyon is a must.

 

Embark on a heart-pounding rafting adventure as you navigate the turbulent waters surrounded by the rugged beauty of Patagonia’s landscapes. The rush of the river combined with the stunning scenery makes for an unforgettable trip that will leave you craving more.

 

The first section of the river consists of calm and winding waters, and gives you the opportunity to take in Cerro Fitz Roy, the Andean forest, the the native fauna and flora. After some time practicing rowing and having the safety techniques explained, you’ll reach grade III rapids where the adventure begins.

 

Check out Comarka Expediciones if you’re interested. With a 5-star rating from 91 reviews, you know you’re in good hands.

If you want to combine a trip to Chile alongside Argentina, then there are several ways to do this with a simple border crossing. The three itineraries in the post below can help you cross the borders a 3 different points in Argentina to see Chile:

 

 

Is El Chalten Worth It - image of the river winding among the mountains (Patagonia)

5. Chorrillo Del Salto Hike / Waterfall

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Timing: 2-3 hours
  • Distance: 4.3 miles / 7 km

The Chorrillo Del Salto hike is perfect for your first day in El Chalten or for a rest day where you don’t want to head out on another 20km hike.

 

This is a short hike through lush forests that eventually leads you to a secluded waterfall. It’s 6km round trip with little elevation which is perfect for stretching the legs after a couple of days of tough hiking.

 

This large waterfall offers a serene escape from the town for a few hours and is ideal for those seeking a gentler hike in El Chaltén.

 

For more information:

 

Picture of the waterfalls in El Chalten, (Argentine Patagonia)

6. Mirador Los Condores and Mirador Aguilas

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Timing: 2-3 hours
  • Distance: 4-6 miles / 6.5-9.5 km

This is another short but fun trek ideal for your first day in El Chalten to get a feel for the area and get a good view of the town.

 

This scenic viewpoint offers a bird’s-eye perspective of the town and its surrounding landscapes, allowing you to soak in the vastness of Patagonia. 

 

Make sure you sit for a while and pay attention. As the name suggests, this is a great place to see condors as they fly through the valley.

 

Begin at Parque de los Glaciares ranger station and follow the path, turning left after a quarter mile from the trailhead. The trail ascends steeply, granting panoramic views of Chaltén, Adela, Fitz Roy, and Torre massifs, plus the Río de las Vueltas valley.

 

You can also continue to Mirador Las Águilas, roughly 20 minutes further, for panoramic views of Lago Viedma. 

 

TOP TIP: If you can, plan your hike to you reach the top for sunset. This is when you'll get the best snaps!

7. Enjoy Great Craft Beer

After a day of exploration, unwind with a cold, refreshing craft beer at one of the cevecerias in town. For such a small town, El Chalten boasts a diverse selection of handcrafted beers.

 

La Cerveceria was my favourite due to the great selection of beers and great food. The portions are huge, so this is also a great place to eat after a day of hiking. I recommend the locro stew or lamb ravioli. They also have a nice beer garden if the weather is good.

 

La Birre Del Rancho is another good spot for craft beer and the burgers here are great too.

 

Are you struggling to work out how many days you need in Argentina overall? Head to the post below to see a selection of itineraries that can help you:

 

 

El Chalten sig, Argentina - Patagonia

8. Relax At Yaten Spa After A Long Day Of Hiking

Whilst Yaten Spa may not look like a high end spa, you can still get some great treatments here to soothe your tired muscles.

 

They offers massages and have jacuzzi pools and a sauna which is all you really need. It may not look the part, but the 130 5-star reviews on trip advisor tell a different story.

 

Indulge yourself in one or two rejuvenating spa treatments to revitalises those tired legs and get you ready for another day of adventure.

 

I recommend going earlier in the day before big groups arrive after their full-day hikes. You may also want to book ahead for massages as it will be busy during the summer.

 

If you are thinking of planning a long stay in Argentina and South America, then seeing an extended backpacking itinerary is essential to help you plan your trip. Check out the post below to help you plan your next trip:

 

 

9. The Best Alfajores At Chaltenos

Start your day on a delightful note with a visit to Chaltenos, a cozy café that serves up the best coffee and alfajores in town.

 

Alfajores are soft shortbread cookies with a creamy dulce de leche filling that are a popular pastry in South America, especially Argentina.

 

Either come here after a trek to treat yourself, or stock up on alfajores for a big trek the next day. They pack them up in a box so they are easy to take with you, whether its on a hike or on to your next destination in Argentina.

 

When looking at the reviews before I went, lots of people were saying that these are some of the best alfajores they had in Argentina, not just Patagonia! I was unsure, having spent 3 months in Buenos Aires working, I had sampled almost every alfajores possible. But after trying Chaltenos, I tend to agree.

 

El Chalten

10. Top Quality Restaurants To Fuel Your Adventures

For such a small town, El Chalten has an impressive culinary offering. The local businesses understand visitors are going to be tired and need of good feeds to help fuel their adventures into Los Glaciares National Park.

 

The craft beer, coffee and alfajores are all on point, but the restaurants here are some of the best in Argentina too.

 

Refuel at El Parador, known for its hearty Patagonian inspired barbecue, or indulge in the flavours of Italy at Maffia Trattoria.

 

11. Take A Day Trip To El Calafate

Most people will visit both El Calafate and El Chalten whilst in this part of Patagonia. However, if you are short on time and are only staying in El Chalten, a short-day trip to El Calafate is a must.

 

The town of El Calafate is a three hour bus ride from El Chalten. It’s from here you can witness the awe-inspiring Perito Moreno Glacier, a colossal mass of ice that seems to defy the laws of nature. 

As mentioned, I would recommend actually staying in El Calafate, but if you are short on time then do it as a day-trip instead. Use the guide below to help you plan out your time in Patagonia:

 

El Calafate - Perito Moreno Glacier

12. Embark On The Ultimate Adventure - The 4-Day Huemul Circuit

The Huemul Circuit is a 4-day trek that takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Southern Andes including glaciers, crystal-clear lakes, rugged mountains, lush valleys, and dense forests.

 

The circuit provides awe-inspiring views of landmarks like Lago Viedma, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, and the towering Mount Fitz Roy all from a different perspective of the one you would get when on the Laguna De Los Tres trail.

 

The trek involves camping in the wilderness, which allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural environment. Camping in the Patagonian wilderness under starlit skies is an experience like no other.

 

While the popularity of the circuit has been growing, it’s still far less crowded than some of the more famous treks in the world. This allows for a more personal and intimate experience with nature.

 

It’s important to note that the Huemul Circuit is not an easy trek and requires proper preparation, including physical fitness, appropriate gear, and a good understanding of the trail and weather conditions.

 

However, the challenges are well worth the rewards, and those who undertake the journey are often left with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the rugged beauty of Patagonia.

Parque Nacional Lose Glaciares Sign (with mountains in the background)

Why Should You Skip El Chalten?

There are several reasons why El Chalten might not be worth it for you. Here are some reasons why you might want to give it a miss:

 

 

  • It’s an expensive trip and won’t be for budget backpackers. Firstly, you need to get to Argentina, then book return flights from Buenos Aires to Patagonia. Whilst the trekking is free, accommodation and food will be more expensive compared to the rest of Argentina, especially during the summer (peak season).

 

  • If you aren’t in to multi-day hikes or tough single day hikes, then also give it a miss. The Laguna De Los Tres and Laguna Torre hikes are tough and require a good level of fitness. 

 

  • It can get busy. This is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and if you are visiting between Dec-Feb in the summer, the trails will be packed with tourists. The better times to visit to avoid the crowds are during the spring and autumn shoulder seasons. Visit between Sep-Nov or March-May to avoid the crowds but still have warmer weather.

When Is The Best Time To Visit El Chalten?

Argentina is blessed with sunny days and ideal temperatures most of the year, especially from November-March.

 

However, in Patagonia the weather is unpredictable. Ideally, visiting El Chalten year-round is do-able but the summer months (Dec-Feb) are most popular due to the hotter weather.

 

However, the shoulder seasons (September-November and March-April) are also great to avoid the big crowds.

 

Avoid the winter months from June-August if you can as it will be cold and wet. 

Downloadable PDF timetable demonstrating the best time to visit south America

To download this chart in a handy infographic, head to the link below:

 

 

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