Bite Size Travel: El Chalten, Argentina

12 Aug 2015

Mountain village of El Chaltén, Argentina – a hikers paradise in Patagonia. 

Why you should go?

If you’re a nature lover, it doesn’t get much better than this. You don’t need experience or a guide, nor do you need to spend 6 months in the gym before coming here. You also don’t need to be equipped with expert trekking gear. A solid pair of water proof trainers with grip will get you through and depending on which time of year you head, some good wind and weather jackets to keep you warm and dry. Patagonia lies in the southern hemisphere so the warmer months are between October to March. There are walking paths for different levels of fitness and all are in fantastic condition and show off an uninterrupted display of scenic points. Detailed maps are available at the local tourist office.

One of the main treks is the ‘Sendero al Fitzroy’, the trek towards Fitzroy mountain. The path offers lakes that reflect the neighbouring mountains, forests which change their colour schemes to deep reds and oranges in autumn and rivers of pastel blue glacier’s milk, so called for the milkiness from the minerals in the water. Some of the glacial run offs are so clear you can re-fill your drinking water with it. Last but certainly not least is the incredible sight of Fitzroy himself, a steep and sharp cliff face surrounded by ice and glaciers.

El Chalten is a very small village which exists purely for hikers and tourists. Accommodation is mainly in guest houses and lodges to suit many different budgets. It’s a great place to get to know some local Argentinian families, many of whom come here only in summer to work the tourist season. Supplies are available in the village and there are a growing number of good quality restaurants and even a brewery come wine bar with hearty food.

Good For:

Hiking and mainly hiking. You can do treks from a few hours to a few days. Beware the weather can be dramatically different in a matter of hours!

Best to get to:

El Chaltén is accessible only by road. The nearest airport is at El Calafate which is 215km away and serviced by domestic flights from all over the country, including both the international and domestic airport in the capital, Buenos Aires.  Buses from El Calafate to El Chaltén depart 3 times a day (7am, 8am and 8pm) and take 3 hours. Cost is around US$30 one way. CalTur and Chalten Travel run very comfortable and safe buses from the main bus terminal in El Calafate.

El Chalten, brewery and wine war
El Chalten, Fitzroy and foliage
El Chalten, Fitzroy trekking path

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