Thursday, January 12, 2012

El Chalten: The Trekking Capitol of Argentina

El Chalten, a town within a national park.
We decided to head over here before going to El bolson since we diiid come down to Patagonia to do some trekking and so far had only done about 5 hours worth. So after spending a terrific New Years at Erratic Rock Hostel we went back to El Calafate, Argentina and that night took a bus up to Chalten. By the time we got there it was pretty late and we decided to camp instead of staying at a hostel. We found a camp site, El Relincho, which cost 35 pesos per person ($9) and we paid for 2 nights. Finally we got to use the tent and stove!! The next day we just got to know the town, buy food (like always, that's all we do) and learned about the trails in the area. El Chalten is known for it's mountain Fitz Roy, which means fire mountain or something in the native language of the peoples that used to live here. We planned out our week, all depending on weather since a cloudy day can ruin a view and probably ate some more.
On our second full day we walked to Laguna Torre where there was a glacier to see and the mountain Cerro Torre. We did it as a day hike but there was a campsite close by for those who wanted to camp. It was about 2 1/2 - 3 hour hike there and we hung around for an hour then hiked back so a 7 hour day. Very nice out but near the laguna it was sooo windy! There were actually walls made of rocks that you could duck behind when it got really bad. On the way back to town we ran into one of the workers at Erratic Rock Hostel who had come over to hike for 8 days, did not expect to see him on the trail but it was awesome that we did!

Our third day we were going to do a four hour hike to a look out point where you can see the whole valley and surrounding mountains but it was pretty cloudy and not worth it to go out. Instead we moved to a hostel for the night and got our bags ready for an overnight hike we doing the next night. Later we walked an hour to see a waterfall, Chorrillo del Salto, and put our feet in the mountain stream. It was cold.

Our fourth and fifth day were my favourites. We headed out at 10 to hike to Poincenot, a campsite close to Fitz Roy. It was pretty cloudy though so we couldn't see the mountains as we hiked and a little chilly. It was a three hour hike mostly uphill (I'm so out of shape, I was dying) through the forest and then through a valley. It was so pretty. We set up tent at 1pm, ate our sandwiches and I passed out! Since the days are so long here we knew we had much light left still to go exploring so at four we set out to see Glacier Piedras Blancas. It was a really fun hike through the valley and over streams, as we got closer to the glacier we stared to see many more big rocks until all we saw were very big rocks. So big we had to start climbing on, around and over them, even jumping from rock to rock. It was so much fun plus a great workout and a bit of an adrenaline rush at times (like when I thought I would fall and get swept away by the river flowing under the rocks). There was barely anyone out this way and when we got to the lake and glacier we could relax and enjoy it with only 5 others there. The rock jungle gym was in a valley so going back we climbed a bit higher up the valley and had a quicker time getting back. Tortellini for dinner.
Next day we were going to hike up to Laguna de los Tres where we could get a terrific view of Fitz Roy. We woke up and it was a beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, clear day. We then began to berate ourselves for not setting the alarm and wake up for sunrise (which apparently makes old Fitzy look reddish) and set out toward the trail. OMG what a trail. It was up, it was rocky, it was dry, and I was huffuing and puffing like the damn wolf. Plus, there were all these annoying horse fly looking flies that kept landing all over us and buzzing around our face and sometimes biting my spandexed legs! I think between us we killed about 70! But it's all so worth it!! At the top it's just a terrific view that you can never capture on camera. There is a lake, there is a glacier, there are the mountains and since you're up high you get a great view of the area and Laguna Sucia and the waterfall that goes from Laguna de los Tres down to it. We did a good thing by getting up and out because there werent' many people there at all when we got up to the top. In fact, we didn't pass anyone hiking our way up but going down there were many people going up (this was about midday) who kept asking if they were close. We just kept saying yes hehe. We also saw the Erratic Rock guy hiking up too.
Got back to the tent, had lunch, had a siesta, packed up and hiked back to town because that night at 11:50pm we had a bus to take us to El Bolson up Rt. 40. The rest of the evening we had a shower at the hostel that we stored our bags at and went out for all you can eat pizza (which later made my stomach hurt cuz I ate too much). Then we sat at the terminal and waited... and waited...

Walking around El Chalten

To the waterfall

Walking to Laguna Torre
A very windy Laguna Torre with glacier

The Waterfall

Walking to Glacier Piedras Blancas, rocks getting bigger!

Piedras Blancas

The rock jungle gym we took to get to it!

Our view from our campsite at Poincenot in the morning

Hiking up to Laguna de los Tres to see Fitz Roy
View of Valley

Laguna de los Tres, Fitz Roy and glacier


  1. El Boson "the sack" I love it. Sounds like a really nice trek. Could you explain how you go about finding a hostel in these places? When you speak to folks, is it in Spanish mostly or
    English? -dad

    1. haha thanks dad. Sometimes we look online and get a reservation, one time we just appeared and called (in spanish) a bunch from the bus terminal to find the cheapest. or, with chalten, we knew there was a campsite so we just arrived and looked for it! El Bolson we had something set up so we just needed to find a taxi (in spanish).

  2. I ENJOY READING ABOUT YOUR TRIP! YOUR PICTURES ARE MAGNIFICENT!!Sounds like you both are having the time of your lives.... Gerrie Ensel