El Chalten

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El Chaltén is in the Patagonian region of southern Argentina. El Chalten was founded in the late 70ties/early 80ies as an outpost of Argentina to anticipate land claims of Chile for that area. It is still a small town that is best known for being the gateway to Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torres, two of the most rugged and impressive peaks in the Patagonian Andes. The growing number of hiking tourist lead to an increase in construction and in summer the town is full of tourists.

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Points of Interest in El Chalten

The information point from the national park (across the bridge, about 500m from busstation) is very helpful with information about the trekkings.

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About El Chalten

Activities

  • Lago del Desierto. A dead-end ripio road (about 37 km one way) leads you to the very remote Lago del Desierto through a wonderful valley along a river. You can do easy hikes and strolls there and enjoy the peace and quiet.
  •    KouSeki Mountain SPA, Cerro Solo 136 (Same block as El Gringuito supermarket). 10-13, 16-20. Offers a variety of therapeutic and relaxing massages, complemented by Thai herbal sauna and steaming compresses.

Hiking

This area is a trekking mecca.

  • Laguna de los Tres. 8 hours (mostly easy) round trip from the town. There are outstanding views of the Fitz Roy range along the way. The trail ends at the cobalt-blue Laguna de los Tres, at the base of Cerro Fitz Roy. The last 1.5 kilometers of this hike are very steep and exposed, and as a result some hikers choose to overnight at the nearby Campamento Poincenot prior to climbing the last, difficult stretch, though its absolutely possilbe to do the whole trek form town. A 500-meter, well marked additional trail winds around to to the left of Laguna de los Tres and leads to a spectacular, cliffside overview of Laguna Sucia, some 200 meters below Laguna de los Tres.
  • Laguna Torre. 6 hours easy round trip that leads to a lake at the base of the dramatic Cerro Torre, which, although only 3100 meters tall, was not summited until 1975, a generation after all the 8000-meter+ Himalayan peaks had been conquered. Cerro Torre's near vertical walls and a permanent, unstable ice veneer at its summit defeated all earlier attempts. Backpackers can combine the Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre treks using connecting side-trails that create a loop.
  • The Condor Mirador and Eagle Miradors are easy climbs (two hours at most combined) behind the National Park office. Great views of the town, and the Fitzroy range and of course Condors.
  • Beside hiking you can do a boat trip combined with a glacier trek on the Lago Viedma and the adjacent Glacier Viedma.
  • In the centre of town you can also pay to go horse riding with a gaucho guide along some of the major walking trails. The horses here are very easy-going and well suited to beginner riders.

Food

The calafate berry ice cream (a bit like blueberry but milder) from the ice cream shop in the middle of the town is worth trying. There are also two small grocery stores that sell food and supplies.

There are a number of restaurants in town.

  • Como Vaca, Lago del Desierto 410. Very nice parrilla restaurant, great steaks and also other home made food at fair prices. Open at 19h. Can be very busy around 21h.


Drinks

What better after a long hike in the mountains then to enjoy a good beer. Home brews (rubia y negro) at the Cervezeria! Good food and friendly staff as well. Though 50 pesos for two beers is a bit pricey.

Shopping

Supermarket with everything hiker and camper might need. Opening hours depend on season but in general closes rather early so better check out upon arrival.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article El Chalten on Wikivoyage.

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