Hiking in El Chalten: Best Day Hikes and Multi-Day Trekking in El Chalten

By Lucas Vega

Hiking in El Chalten: Best Day Hikes and Multi-Day Trekking in El Chalten

By Lucas Vega

Nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of Patagonia, El Chaltén proudly stands as the undisputed trekking capital of Argentina. Surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Andes and adorned with pristine lakes, this charming town has evolved into a haven for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts since its establishment in the 1980s. This comprehensive trekking guide provides you with everything you need to go hiking in El Chaltén. If you’re staying in one of the many hostels in El Chaltén, you can complete these as day hikes. You can also string together these hikes into a multi-day trek, enjoying some of the free campsites in Los Glaciares National Park.

Mt Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Hiking in Patagonia

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Short Day Hikes in El Chaltén

Embark on these short day hikes to get a glimpse of El Chaltén’s beauty, where each trail unfolds a unique story of the region’s charm and natural splendour.

Mirador Los Cóndores

  • Time Required: 1 hour
  • Distance: 2km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Start / Finish Points: El Chalten
  • Highlights: Panoramic vistas of surrounding mountains, ideal for sunrise views, and potential sightings of majestic condors

Our journey into El Chaltén’s hiking wonders begins with the enchanting Mirador Los Cóndores. A brief yet immersive two-hour trek offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, providing an ideal spot for sunrise enthusiasts. This easily accessible trail, starting from the Parque de Los Glaciares Visitors Centre, promises not only breathtaking views but also the potential for glimpses of the majestic condors soaring through the Patagonian skies.

Chorrillo del Salto

  • Time Required: 3 hours
  • Distance: 7km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Start / Finish Points: North side of El Chaltén
  • Highlights: Picturesque Ñire and Lenga forest, mesmerizing 20-meter waterfall, accessible by car for a convenient nature-filled experience

For those seeking a nature-filled escapade, the Chorrillo del Salto hike is a must. Covering a distance of 7 kilometers and taking approximately 3 hours, this easy trail begins at the north side of El Chaltén. Winding through the picturesque Ñire and Lenga forest, the path leads to a mesmerizing 20-meter waterfall. Accessible by car, this is an excellent option for a refreshing stop, providing an immersive experience in the heart of El Chaltén’s natural beauty.

Laguna Capri

  • Time Required: 4 hours
  • Distance: 8km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Start / Finish Points: El Chaltén
  • Highlights: Diverse landscapes including ñire and lenga trees, open valley with views of Mt Fitz Roy, tranquil Laguna Capri

The journey continues to the captivating Laguna Capri, a moderately challenging four-hour hike starting from the north side of town. Ascend through diverse landscapes, including ñire and lenga trees, to reach an open valley with stunning views of the Fitz Roy Massif. Laguna Capri, with its tranquil waters and Fitz Roy as a backdrop, offers a perfect setting for relaxation and appreciation of the surrounding Patagonian wonders.

Full-Day Hikes in El Chaltén

Explore the diverse landscapes and breathtaking views of El Chaltén with these full-day hikes, each offering a unique perspective of the region’s natural beauty. Whether you’re drawn to the iconic Fitz Roy trek or prefer alternative routes with minimal crowds, El Chaltén has something for every hiking enthusiast.

You can complete these as day hikes from El Chaltén, or combine a couple of them to create a multi-day hike. See suggested itineraries below.

Laguna de los Tres (Mt Fitz Roy Trek)

  • Time Required: 8 hours
  • Distance: 24 kilometers
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Start / Finish Points: Av. San Martin, El Chaltén
  • Highlights: Iconic trek to the base of Mount Fitz Roy, traversing through diverse landscapes including frozen lagunas, including a steep ascent rewarded with breathtaking views of Laguna de los Tres

Embark on the Fitz Roy trek, a challenging but rewarding full-day hike that takes you to the base of the majestic Mount Fitz Roy. The trail winds through forests, plains, rivers, and streams before a steep ascent to the turquoise waters of Laguna de los Tres. The iconic views of Mount Fitz Roy reflecting in the lake make this trek a must for avid hikers, rivalling the views of Torres del Paine in Chile.

Laguna de Los Tres, El Chalten, Hiking in Patagonia

Laguna Suica (alternative view of Mt Fitz Roy)

  • Time Required: 1-2 days (can be done as a day hike)
  • Distance: 19 kilometers
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Start / Finish Points: El Chaltén
  • Highlights: Expansive views of Mt Fitz Roy with minimal crowds, scenic blue lake surrounded by towering mountains, an alternative and arguably superior perspective of Mt Fitz Roy

For a unique perspective of Mt Fitz Roy away from the crowds, consider the hike to Laguna Suica. Unlike the conventional path to Laguna de los Tres, this route offers arguably better views and the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of a serene lake with fewer visitors.

Day Hike to Laguna Suica, El Chalten, Hiking in Patagonia

Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre

  • Time Required: 7-8 hours
  • Distance: 19 kilometers
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Start / Finish Points: El Chaltén
  • Highlights: Views of the stunning granite spire Cerro Torre, picturesque Laguna Torre and Mirador del Torre

Discover the beauty of Cerro Torre with this full-day hike. The trail takes you through lush meadows, changing glaciers, and unveils stunning views of Cerro Torre and its neighboring peaks. Extend your journey to Mirador Maestri for an added touch of beauty before retracing your steps or opting for an immersive camping experience at Campamento de Agostini.

Multi-Day Treks in El Chaltén

3-Day El Chalten Trekking Itinerary

  • Time Required: 3 days (option to complete in 2 days)
  • Distance: 46km
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Start / Finish Points: El Chalten
  • Highlights: Views of Laguna de Los Tres (Mt Fitz Roy), Laguna Sucia, Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre

Embark on a thrilling two-day adventure in El Chaltén, the trekking capital of Argentine Patagonia. This meticulously planned itinerary ensures you make the most of your time, experiencing the iconic Laguna de los Tres and the majestic Cerro Torre. Though the map and information below are useful, we suggest you download maps.me to access the trail offline (this is very useful for turn-by-turn instructions when you have no reception).


  • There is no entrance fee to the National Park
  • Camping in El Chalten is free and first-come-first-serve
  • Campsites have access to drop toilets and water collection points (make sure to bring water purification tablets)

Day 1: El Chaltén to Campamento Poincenot via Laguna Sucia (15km, 6-7hrs)

Depart from El Chaltén in the early morning, around 9-10am. The trail head begins at the end of Avenida San Martin (follow the signs to Laguna de los Tres).

You will walk about 3hrs to get to Campamento Poincenot. Along the way, you will enjoy views of Laguna Capri and glimpses of Mt Fitz Roy.

Set up camp at Campamento Poincenot when you arrive. Try to get a spot which is sheltered, as it can get very windy.

The hike to Laguna Sucia takes about 2 hours, across difficult terrain without a clearly-marked path. You should only embark on this journey if you are fit, able and willing to scramble over some rocks.

Walk from the campsite toward the Laguna de los Tres trail. Continue until you have crossed over the riverbed. Instead of ascending, take a hard left to follow the riverbed. You essentially need to follow this path, with the riverbed on your left, all the way around to the laguna.

As mentioned above, we highly recommend you download the free maps.me app. This trail is clearly marked on the map and you will be able to follow directions offline, without reception – provided you download the necessary map area before you leave town.

After enjoying some time at Laguna Sucia – or even having a swim if you’re willing to brave the ice-cold water – head back to Campamento Poincenot. Enjoy dinner and rest up for an early start in the morning.

Day 2: Laguna de los Tres to Campamento D’Agostini (18km, 6-7hrs)

Rise early for a breathtaking sunrise at Laguna de los Tres. The walk from Poincenot Campsite to the laguna is 2km and takes 1-1.5hrs. Consider departing at 5am to get to the top for a beautiful sunrise over Mt Fitz Roy.

As with all of Patagonia, the weather is unpredictable and changes quickly. Although the sunrise at Laguna de los Tres is stunning, you should be prepared for high winds, rain and clouds to disturb your view.

Return to Campamento Poincenot and enjoy a well-earned breakfast. Then pack your bags and traverse across to Campamento D’Agostini, via Laguna Madre and Laguna Hija. This is a 14km  trail which is mostly flat, which should take about 4hrs to complete.

Set up camp and enjoy your dinner.

Day 3: Cerro Torre & Return to El Chaltén (13kms, 4hrs)

Getting to Laguna Torre is only a short walk from Campamento D’Agostini. It is a stunning lake, with a much brighter turquoise colour than other famous lagoons in Patagonia. When the weather is perfect, you can see the jagged peaks of Cerro Torre behind the lake. 

You can continue to the Mirador Maestri viewpoint, which is a short but rewarding 2km trail (each way). This round trip will take about 1hr. 

Return to camp, pack your bags and return to town. The trail back to El Chaltén via Mirador del Torre offers a final 9 km stretch, taking about 3 hours. Relish the diverse landscapes and the sense of accomplishment upon reaching El Chaltén.

Make it a 2-Day Itinerary

You can complete this 3-day itinerary in 2 days by combining Day 2 and Day 3. This makes for a challenging, but achievable day. 

To make this more achievable, we suggest you:

  • Remove Laguna Sucia from Day 1, instead continuing straight onto Laguna de los Tres. This allows you to leave for Cerro Torre as soon as you wake up on Day 2.
  • Remove the extra trail to Mirador Maestri and enjoy the views of Cerro Torre from the laguna, to save yourself some time.
  • Be prepared to arrive back into town in the late evening. This means having accommodation booked for the night.

Huemul Circuit

  • Time Required: 4 days
  • Distance: 63km
  • Difficulty: Difficult, for advanced hikers
  • Start / Finish Points: El Chalten
  • Highlights: Panoramic views of Southern Patagonia, including Laguna Toro, Paso del Viento, Paso Huemul and Lake Viedma

The Huemul Circuit is not for the faint of heart, but it rewards intrepid hikers with a unique Patagonian experience. This trek takes you through breathtaking landscapes, including the majestic Mount Huemul and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. It is known for its challenging terrain, river crossings, and rugged paths. It’s a trek for those seeking adventure, and the relative isolation of the route ensures a sense of solitude and connection with the wilderness.

While hiking the Huemul Circuit, you may encounter a variety of wildlife, including guanacos, condors, foxes, and numerous bird species. The trek also takes you through diverse ecosystems, from lush forests to alpine meadows. Be prepared for a difficult hike, but the views are worth every effort. Hiring a local guide is advisable for this demanding trek.

Day 1: El Chaltén to Laguna Toro (15km, 6-7hrs)

  • Start from El Chaltén
  • Trek to Laguna Toro
  • Campsite setup and considerations

Day 2: Laguna Toro to Paso del Viento (12km, 7hrs)

  • Trekking from Laguna Toro
  • Reaching Paso del Viento
  • Camping at Paso del Viento

Day 3: Paso del Viento to Paso Huemul (18km, 6-7hrs)

  • Traverse from Paso del Viento
  • Reach Paso Huemul
  • Camping and challenges along the way

Day 4: Paso Huemul to Lake Viedma & Return to El Chaltén (18km, 7hrs)

  • Descend from Paso Huemul
  • Arrival at Lake Viedma
  • Boat crossing (if applicable) and return to El Chaltén

El Chaltén Hiking Logistics

Best Time to Visit El Chaltén

When planning your hiking adventure in El Chaltén, timing is crucial. The optimal period to visit is from October to April. During these months, Patagonia experiences warmer temperatures and longer days, providing ideal conditions for hiking. However, it’s essential to be prepared for the unpredictable Patagonian wind, which can influence your hiking experience. While summer (December-February) offers warmth and extended daylight, the fall season (March-April) provides a quieter experience with manageable weather for trekking.

Patagonian Weather

Patagonia is known for its ever-changing and unpredictable weather. Hikers should be prepared for a mix of sunshine, rain, wind, and even snow, regardless of the season. Layered clothing is recommended, allowing you to adjust to varying conditions. It’s crucial to check the weather forecast regularly, especially before embarking on longer treks, to ensure you’re adequately prepared for the elements.

What to Pack for Hiking in El Chaltén

Packing appropriately is key to a successful hiking trip in El Chaltén. Consider the following essentials for your adventure:

  • Good Hiking Shoes: Sturdy, waterproof footwear is essential for tackling diverse terrains.
  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Pack layers, including a waterproof jacket, to adapt to changing weather conditions.
  • Backpack: A comfortable and spacious backpack to carry essentials like water, snacks, and extra layers.
  • Navigation Tools: Maps, a compass, and possibly a GPS device to navigate the trails.
  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated with a refillable water bottle and carry energy-boosting snacks.
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect against Patagonia’s intense sunlight.
  • Camping Gear: If planning overnight treks, ensure you have a reliable tent, sleeping bag, and cooking equipment.

Gear Shops in El Chaltén

For any last-minute gear needs or replacements, El Chaltén has several gear shops catering to outdoor enthusiasts. These shops offer a range of equipment, clothing, and accessories suitable for various hiking adventures. Popular options include:

  • North Face El Chaltén: A well-known brand offering quality outdoor gear.
  • Patagonian Expedition Race Shop: Specialising in adventure racing gear and equipment.
  • Deportes Fitz Roy: A local shop with a variety of outdoor equipment and clothing.

Camping and Permits

For hikers planning multi-day treks with overnight stays, it’s essential to understand the camping and permit regulations. Los Glaciares National Park, where El Chaltén is located, has designated campsites. Popular campsites include Laguna Capri, Poincenot, and Padre De Agostini. These are free and do not require permits. It’s advisable to check the park’s official website or visit the park ranger station in El Chaltén for the most up to date information.

Amenities in El Chaltén

El Chaltén, despite its remote location, offers amenities to ensure a comfortable stay for hikers. Some key amenities include:

  • Accommodations: A variety of accommodations ranging from budget hostels to luxury lodges, such as Hosteria El Alamo and Chalten Suites Hotel.
  • Restaurants and Cafes: Several dining options serving local and international cuisine to refuel after a day of hiking.
  • Grocery Stores: Stock up on supplies at local grocery stores for your trekking adventures.
  • Medical Services: Basic medical services are available in El Chaltén, but it’s advisable to carry a basic first aid kit.

Understanding the logistics of hiking in El Chaltén is essential for a smooth and enjoyable experience. From choosing the right time to visit and packing appropriately to securing permits and exploring local amenities, careful planning ensures you make the most of your trekking adventure in the Argentine Patagonia.

Additional Information

Non-Hiking Things To Do In El Chaltén

While El Chaltén is renowned for its hiking trails, there are plenty of non-hiking activities to enjoy in this charming town. Explore the following options for a well-rounded experience:

  • Visit the Viedma Glacier: Take a boat trip to the Viedma Glacier, a spectacular ice formation near El Chaltén. Witness massive ice walls and the stunning blue hues of the glacier.
  • Bird Watching: El Chaltén is a haven for birdwatchers. Grab your binoculars and explore the diverse bird species that inhabit the region. Condors are a common sight in the Patagonian skies.
  • Photography Tour: Capture the breathtaking landscapes of El Chaltén. Consider joining a photography tour to learn the best techniques for capturing the stunning scenery.

Restaurants and Eating in El Chaltén

After a day of hiking, indulge in the local culinary delights that El Chaltén has to offer. Explore the town’s restaurants and eateries for a taste of Argentine flavors:

  • La Vineria: A popular spot offering a selection of Argentine wines and delicious tapas. Perfect for a relaxed evening.
  • La Tapera: Known for its hearty Argentine barbecue, La Tapera is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  • Rancho Grande Brewery: If you’re a beer enthusiast, don’t miss the local craft beers at Rancho Grande Brewery.

Accommodation Options

El Chaltén provides various accommodation options catering to different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re seeking a cozy hostel or a comfortable lodge, you’ll find suitable places to stay:

  • Hosteria El Alamo: Centrally located with spacious rooms, a short walk from trekking routes.
  • Chalten Suites Hotel: A luxurious option with an onsite restaurant, close to trails.
  • Hostel Rancho Grande: A budget-friendly hostel with dormitory-style accommodation, ideal for backpackers.

How to Get to El Chaltén

Reaching El Chaltén involves a journey through the stunning Patagonian landscapes. Here are the primary transportation options:

  • By Air: The nearest airport is El Calafate International Airport. From El Calafate, you can take a bus or arrange private transport to El Chaltén.
  • By Bus: Regular bus services operate between El Calafate and El Chaltén. The journey takes approximately three hours, offering scenic views along the way.
  • By Car: If you prefer a more flexible travel schedule, renting a car provides the freedom to explore at your own pace. The drive from El Calafate to El Chaltén is picturesque and allows you to stop and appreciate the surroundings.

As you plan your visit to El Chaltén, consider incorporating these non-hiking activities, savoring local cuisine, choosing accommodation that suits your preferences, and exploring the scenic routes that lead you to this trekking paradise.


In the heart of Argentine Patagonia, El Chaltén emerges as the trekking capital, beckoning adventurers to explore its unparalleled trails amidst the Andean grandeur. From the short Condor Lookout to iconic Laguna de los Tres and the challenging Huemul Circuit, each hike unveils pristine lakes and towering peaks. Navigating El Chaltén’s logistics — choosing the right time to visit, preparing for Patagonian weather, and packing essentials — is key to a seamless trekking experience. Beyond the trails, the town offers diverse activities, delightful dining, and proximity to glaciers.

Photo of author
Written By Lucas Vega

Lucas is a travel writer with deep experience exploring South America. He enjoys hiking through mountain ranges, cycling across deserts and paddling down rivers.

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