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Best Hikes in El Chalten: The National Trekking Capital of Argentina

Discover the best hikes and treks in El Chalten, ranging from short and easy to epic multi-day backpacking trips.

Hiking Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Severe

Laguna de Los Tres
Photo: Greg Heil


Few mountain towns have the ability to immediately capture the imagination the way that El Chalten does. This quaint commune of hikers and climbers, and the locals who serve this burgeoning tourism industry, clings to the banks of the glacier-fed Rio de Los Vueltas and spreads to the lower edge of the Andean foothills. The paved highway literally ends at a trailhead parking lot, and beyond, extensive singletrack hiking trails lead deep into the Andes (along with a few dirt roads that skirt around the foothills).

Thanks to the absolutely incredible hiking opportunities available directly from "downtown" El Chalten, the town has earned the superlative of "National Trekking Capital of Argentina." And the title is undoubtedly deserved! One of the most famous hiking objectives in the region is the Laguna De Los Tres overlook, which offers up-close-and-personal views of Monte Fitz Roy. Rising to a sky-scraping 3,506 meters, the Fitz Roy is one of the most famous mountains on Earth! If you don't think you've heard of it before, take a close look at the logo for the apparel brand Patagonia. Their logo features a stylized outline of the Fitz Roy.

The other exceedingly-popular hiking destination is the Laguna Torre, a viewpoint on the shores of a glacier-fed lake that provides views of the Cerro Torre. The Cerro Torre is a beautiful granite spire that attracts climbers from all over the world, with a knife-sharp summit that captures the imagination of all that see it—even the throngs of day hikers on the shores of the lake far, far below.

While both of these hikes are undoubtedly the top "trade routes" departing from downtown El Chalten, the hiking opportunities in the region are much, much more extensive! In this guidebook, you'll find a deep cut of hikes ranging in distance from a short 2.6km hike to the top of Mirador de Los Condores to the epic 65km trek on the Huemul Circuit, along with tons of other hikes and treks scattered across the entire spectrum. But the true allure of this incredible region? Every single one of these routes begins directly from downtown El Chalten!

Logistics: Getting There

While to many foreigners it might seem like El Chalten is located in the absolute middle of nowhere on the southern tip of the South American continent, getting there is actually quite achievable due to the well-developed tourism industry in the region. Here's the best method of getting to El Chalten that I was able to find.

First, book your long-haul round-trip flight into Buenos Aires, Argentina. Your international flight will land at Buenos Aires' EZE airport, which is located outside the city. From there, you'll need to book an in-country flight to the El Calafate airport. Depending on which flight you choose, it might depart from either the EZE airport or the AEP airport, which is located closer to the city center. AEP serves most of the in-country flights, so you might have to switch airports betweenm flights. Be sure to plan enough time for this, and consider spending a day or two (or more) on either end of your trip in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires.

Once you land at the El Calafate airport, you have the choice to either go to the city of El Calafate and spend some time there or head directly to El Chalten. The airport is located between El Calafate and El Chalten, so if you prefer, you can skip straight to the heart of the mountains.

The best way to get from the airport to El Chalten is via one of many bus services that are available. While you can rent a rental car at the airport, the prices are fairly steep, and if you book lodging directly in El Chalten, you don't even need to use a car to reach the trailheads. So, I recommend the bus. There are many options, and you can run searches to see which schedule fits your itinerary best at busbud.com.

The bus will drop you off at a bus station on the edge of town, but El Chalten is easily walkable, no matter where you choose to stay.

Logistics: Food and Lodging

As of 2023, El Chalten has grown to offer almost every kind of lodging and food option available. You can choose lodging ranging from tent camping in a campground to a hostel, a straightforward hotel, an AirBNB rental, or even a high-end resort. No matter your budget, you can find lodging to fit.

The restaurant and pub options in town are endless, and a couple of small grocery stores also sell any staples you'll need to survive. Despite being such a small town, El Chalten is perfectly outfitted to serve the swarms of tourists that descend on the town during the peak season. While plenty of other hikers and climbers will undoubtedly have the exact same idea as you, don't let that dissuade you—hiking in this region of Patagonia is a magical experience that you absolutely can't miss out on!

Routes included