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Patagonia trek - Local gauchos

Lace up your boots for El Chalten

Patagonia trek

Route: El Calafate - El Chalten - El Calafate

El Chalten is one of the best places to go on an Patagonia trek. This tiny village lies in the heart of the Andes at the foot of the Fitzroy Massif and the Cerro Torre. Trekking around El Chalten is an excellent alternative to the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

You can reach El Chalten by bus from Calafate. At the visitor centre, you’ll be given a map with the trails, distances and walking times clearly indicated. With the help of this map, you can just walk out of the front door of your guesthouse and up in the mountains - no need for transfers or a guide. There are several trails to choose from on your Patagonia trek - easy, medium or challenging and you can set your own pace. At the end of the day, you’ll arrive back in the village where you can swap trekking stories with your fellow travellers over a glass of wine by the crackling fire.

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Duration 3 days - 2 nights, extension on request
Departure daily from Calafate

Accommodation

Simple - Modest guest house - category 2 - photos
Standard - Comfortable Hosteria - category 3
(see our accommodation page for more details)

Price

£148 per person - Simple
£198 per person - Standard

Both based on 2 people sharing

Includes

Bus transfers, 2 nights accommodation with breakfast

Transport

Bus Calafate - Chalten (return)

Excludes

Other meals, entrance fees, excursions

Day 1 - Calafate to El Chalten

At Calafate bus station you can exchange your voucher for bus tickets to El Chalten. The bus station is in Calafate village (taxi ride 4 pesos). The bus trip to El Chalten takes about 4 hours. Departure from Calafate is usually around 8am and the bus will make one stop on the way.

The views from each side of the bus are completely different so take your pick: the view from the left side is across the shimmering blue lakes of Lago Argentino and Lago Viedma. To the right, all you’ll see is bare, desolate landscape. It gives a good sense of the vast emptiness that you'll experience on your Patagonia trek.
Patagonia trek - El Chalten skyline
Patagonia trek - El Chalten
Pulling in to El Chalten, the bus will stop at the Visitor Centre where you’ll get an English briefing about the area and all the necessary information for your Patagonia trek. The trails are marked and, at every fork in the trail, the direction, distance and hiking times are clearly indicated. You’ll also be informed whether any of the trails are closed due to snow and be given a good, useable map of the area.

The bus will then drive to the bus station on the other side of the village. It’s just a short walk to your hotel but you’ll soon learn that El Chalten only has a few tarmac roads. If you’ve got a suitcase on wheels it means dragging it all the way to the hotel. The dirt roads also mean that if there’s a wind blowing, as it quite often does, you’ll be fighting your way through a dust cloud to get to the hotel. The guesthouse has rooms with private bathrooms.

Day 2 - El Chalten

Today it’s time to lace up your hiking boots and set off on your Patagonia trek. There are three interesting routes to choose from. If you’d like to take it easy or if the weather’s not so good, you can follow the one-hour trail to the Chorillo del Salto waterfall. For part of the way, you’ll follow the wide river bed against a backdrop of towering peaks. The waterfall is hidden amongst the rocks.

If you are looking for something more challenging on your Argentina holiday, there’s also a spectacular full-day trek to the foot of the Fitz Roy massif. For the first three hours, you’ll follow the trail past a couple of beautiful lagoons up to the viewpoint. From there, you can continue climbing up, or take the slightly easier option of hiking 2 hours along the glacier to Hotel Pilar. When you get there you can warm up by the fireplace with a cup of tea and ask the owner to order you a taxi back to El Chalten.
Patagonia trek - around El Chalten
Patagonia trek - fancy a picnic
For more experienced hikers, there’s also the challenging day trek up to Cerro Torre. It’s four hours climbing and three hours back. It’s a strenuous trek but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views across the Massif. You could always extend your stay with an extra day or two so you can do both day treks. 

Hiking is probably the best way to experience the natural beauty of Patagonia, but if you’re not into hiking you could always go on a horse-riding trek on your Argentina trip. You’ll be accompanied by a local guide and treks can be booked locally.

In the late afternoon, hikers start trickling back into the village for the end of the Patagonia trek. El Chalten's a tiny place so you’re bound to meet other travellers. You may well bump into some familiar faces from Calafate or your Perito Moreno boat trip and, before you know it you’ll be cracking open a bottle of red wine and swapping Patagonia trekking stories.

Day 3 - El Chalten departure

Today you’ll be making your way back to Calafate by bus as your Patagonia trek comes to an end. In November- April there’s a bus leaving in the morning, afternoon and evening. In May – October there are two daily buses in the morning and evening.

Your Patagonia trek ends on arrival back in Calafate. Rather than travelling straight on to your next destination, we recommend spending an extra night in Calafate before making your way to the airport the following morning. From Calafate, there are direct flights to our Patagonia adventure which takes you around the seven lakes of the Andes, or perhaps head further south to Ushuaia for our Tierra del Fuego Patagonia trip.

If you’re planning on continuing your trip with one of our Chile tours, you can travel overland to Puerto Natales.
Patagonia trek - scenic view
Patagonia trek - Fitzroy
Travel tips:

The best time to travel to El Chalten for an Patagonia trek is in November- April, but be aware the weather here can be unpredictable all year round.

There’s almost always a strong wind blowing which means the weather can change in an instant. Wear plenty of layers when you’re going hiking and bring gloves, a warm hat and a windbreaker.

If there are blue skies and sunshine, don’t forget the sunscreen.

A Peek at Your Modest Guest House (Click to enlarge)

A Peek at our In Style Option


During your Patagonia trek, you might like to stay somewhere a bit more spacious, with a bit of extra comfort after a long days trek. If so, we can upgrade you to a comfortable small-scale hotel in El Chalten. The accommodation is characteristically decorated with wood and stone and the communal areas offer wonderful views of the Fitz Roy. The rooms are all en-suite with central heating and a locally sourced buffet breakfast is included during your stay.

You can find the price for this option in the table above.

Click here for the quote request form
 
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