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El Chaltén is a little mountaineering village, founded in 1985 and located inside the Glaciers National Park in Argentine Patagonia. For many years this secluded place remains the unexplored spot for intrepid travelers whose main delight is to hike and explore nature. Today, though it manages to preserve its little-town ambiance, El Chaltén is visited by many people every year who enjoy hikes of different lengths and difficulty levels. Is in this isolated corner of Patagonia where the famous Mount Fitz Roy can be admired.
Mount Chaltén is another highlight near the village which was named after this colossal and sacred mountain for the Tehuelches, the natives of the region. Its summit, frequently covered by clouds, was called by the Tehuelches “Chaltén” which means “smoking mountain” in the Tehuelches’ language. In 2015, Chaltén was declared “National Capital of Trekking”, but, apart from the descent of hiking trails and climbing routes, travelers can also enjoy other adventure activities like kayaking, horseback riding and sailing.
The most famous excursion with the most spectacular views of the Fitz Roy massif. This natural viewpoint is the closest place to the imposing walls of the Fitz Roy and its granite needles. The head of the trail starts at the end of San Martin Avenue, where the urban area of El Chalten ends.
Difficulty: High Duration: 8 to 9 hours (round trip) Distance: 25 km (round trip) Total height from El Chaltén: 770 m Season: All year round
This beautiful hike takes you to a lookout point over a blue water lagoon surrounded by native forest that can be reached in less than two hours. From here you can appreciate a fantastic view of the Fitz Roy massif. The trail starts at the end of San Martín Avenue, where the urban area of El Chaltén ends and the parking area and the National Parks dome are located.
Difficulty: Medium Duration: 4 to 5 hours (round trip) Distance: 8 km (round trip) Season: All year round
Next to Laguna De los Tres, the other great classic. A valley walk that will take you to an overwhelming site of mountains and glaciers. Cerro Torre is one of the most difficult and extraordinary climbs in the world.From El Chaltén there are two headwaters that lead to Laguna Torre; both trails merge 5 minutes from the start.
Difficulty: Low-medium Duration: 7 to 8 hours (round trip) Distance: 19 km (round trip) Season: All year round
A short, low-difficulty hike along the Fitz Roy River valley to the famous panoramic viewpoint of Cerro Solo, Cordón Adela and the Cerro Torre massif.
Difficulty: Low Duration: 3 to 4 hours (round trip) Distance: 7 km (round trip) Season: All year round
The only hike that is not in a valley, but rises above the valleys of El Chalten. It is one of the most impressive panoramic views of the whole area. The trail starts at the Visitor Center.
Difficulty: Medium Duration: 7 to 8 hours (round trip) Distance: 21 km (round trip) The total height of the path: 850 m Season: October to May
This trekking starts at the back of the Ranger office. A viewpoint frequently flew by condors with a panoramic view over the town and the hills and another one that allows appreciating the Viedma Lake and the steppe. Starting from El Chaltén, we cross the access bridge over the Fitz Roy River and continue to the head of the trail that starts at the National Park Visitors’ Center. Passing a small gate a sign will indicate the way to the left, and a few steps away another information sign will show you a sketch of the trail. From here it will take another half hour to reach the Los Cóndores viewpoint.
Difficulty: Low Distance: 5 km (round trip) Duration: 2 hours (round trip) Season: All year round
This is an easy, short hike into the low hillside forest to a beautiful waterfall over 20 meters high. The trail is mostly flat. You can’t see the mountains from here, a Nothofagus forest and there is also a nice picnic area. The trail starts in El Chaltén, at the end of San Martín Avenue, at the same head of the trail to Laguna De los Tres; you must take the trail that goes to the right.
Difficulty: Low Duration: 3 hours (round trip) Distance: 7 km (round trip) Season: All year round
It is the house/museum of the first inhabitant of foreign origin in the region, Andreas Madsen. He and his wife, Stephanie Tomsen, originally from Denmark, made their home there and lived self-sufficiently throughout their lives. To visit the inside of the facilities you must go with a guide or tourist agency. If not, you can walk to the property and observe from outside.
Address: In front of the Río de las Vueltas viewpoint Season: October to April Price: USD 15.
Explore a site of petrified logs and fossil bones in an impressive eroded landscape. Season: October to April
Difficulty: Moderate Total time: 8 hours
San Martín 342, Tel: (02962) 493243. Regional food
One of the most popular restaurants, the waiters here are a bit grumpy, but the food is delicious. Very original dishes and at a good price. Highly recommended: sweet potatoes with walnuts and roquefort and cheese salad!
San Martín 430, Tel: (02962) 493042. Minutes / Homemade food
Although the owners have recently changed, this place continues to be the workers’ restaurant, also for the gauchos from the nearby estancias. That is why the food is also simple, cheaper dishes, made at home.
Lionel Terray 104, 9301. Tel: (02962) 493018. Pizzas
One of the most intimate places, at the far end of the city, hidden at the bottom of a pretty garden. In this restaurant they always make a mess with the bill – check before paying – but the food is amazing and has a very romantic style.
San Martín 564, Tel: (02962) 193109. Brewery
It is the most popular restaurant in the city. It is always packed, not only because of its craft beer, but also because of its wonderful pizza and generous homemade casseroles, just perfect after a long day of walking!
M. de Güemes 140, Tel: (02962) 493025. Minutes
Pizza, sandwiches and burgers. If you like palm hearts pizza, you have to know that Patagonicus makes pizza as good as in any pizzeria in Buenos Aires.
Cerro Solo 86, Tel: (02962) 493069. Vegetarian / Regional
Good vegetarian options, pastas and calzones cooked in an earth oven. This restaurant opens only in high season (between September and April), the rest of the year it takes orders only for delivery.
Antonio Rojo and Cabo García st. Tel: (02962) 493195 Meats/ Pasta
Very good dishes, generous portions and good quality. The service is excellent. The atmosphere of the place is very warm and makes you feel at home. The dishes are usually well presented and the desserts are delicious. Advance booking is recommended, if you don’t want to wait for a table the place fills up fast.
Av San Martín 640 Tel: (02962) 493093. Waffles
A very varied menu of waffles, both sweet and savory. Any option is delicious! Large portions at a reasonable price. Ideal as a snack after long walks. There are tables for groups like two people. You can also find a variety of juices and smoothies.
The best thing is to sleep there 2 nights to be able to do 2 full day treks, but if you don’t have time it is possible to visit it for 1 day from El Calafate.
The best time to visit El Chaltén of the year is during the summer. The season is from October to April, but the truth is that you can visit all year round. In winter there are fewer hotels and restaurants available and the climate is harder for outdoor activities, such as hiking, but it is still possible to visit in winter.
The town is in an eco-region called ecotone, the transition between the steppe and the forest. The plain abruptly gives way to a mountainous system with forested valleys crossed by rivers and streams.
The seasons are well defined throughout the year:
Yes, both ways. From October to March there are at least 3 options per day. In winter the frequency is low but there is daily service.
There is only one ATM and sometimes it runs out of cash, so we recommend having cash with you because otherwise you may run out of money. Also the phone and internet signal is sometimes not good and that makes it difficult to pay by card in some places. We recommend that you have cash with you.
Yes, but the signal is not very strong and is usually intermittent.
No. The access to the Northern Zone of Los Glaciares National Park is open all year round.
In the winter months -from June to September- the trails in certain sectors may be impossible to walk due to the accumulation of snow or mud due to thaw, so you should always check the condition of the trails in the National Park Visitors’ Center first.
No. You do not need to have any experience in trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting, etc.In fact, the majority of activities are concentrated on self-guided trails, which run along well-marked roads in good condition so that you feel safe at all times. For longer or more difficult hikes it is advisable to be in good physical condition. Only in the ascensions or expeditions it will be necessary to have some experience in climbing or trekking.
Yes. Depending on the age, you should consider certain cares:
Some excursions have age restrictions such as rafting, kayaking, etc.
Yes, it is possible to go on horseback rides, fishing outings, car or bike rides, guided tours of historical sites, etc.
We estimate around USD 50/100 per day, per person for daily expenses like eating, shopping and transportation, depending on how much money you want to spend on these.
Credit cards and US dollars are widely accepted, but it will be more convenient for you to exchange pesos rather than using US dollars because the rate that shops or restaurants use might not be the most convenient.
El Chaltén is a very young and developing town, so some facilities do not exist yet: Hospital (the nearest district hospital is in El Calafate), banks and exchange offices, cinemas, theaters, cultural centers, auditoriums or convention centers.
Patagonia is famous for its changeable climate and for the strong winds during the austral summer. Particularly in the El Chaltén area, cloudy or rainy days are frequent in the summer and the temperature contrasts between day and night are accentuated due to the proximity of the Southern Continental Ice.
If you are going to spend the night in a base camp, you should bear in mind that it is not unusual for small snowfalls to occur, especially in the months of October, November, March and April. Good footwear (preferably trekking boots) and clothing using the layering method (first an undergarment that allows rapid evapotranspiration and drying, then another warm garment and finally a windbreaker) is the most recommended.
To enter Glaciers National Park we do not have to pay for the entrance. Unlike the South Zone (where the Perito Moreno Glacier is located) in the North Zone of Los Glaciares National Park there is no entrance fee.
You can enter freely to all the trails that start from El Chaltén and run inside the National Park. There are trails located outside the National Park on private property where you will have to pay the entrance fee, as in the cases of the Laguna Azul and Laguna Diablo in the Estancia Los Huemules or the trail to the Huemul Glacier in Lago del Desierto.
Everything in El Chaltén is a running track. Nature everywhere and huge spaces to run there are millions. A very nice walk is to skirt the Río de las Vueltas, a zigzagging route with spectacular landscapes.
El Chaltén offers several places of peace and contact with nature to meditate. So much so that the well-known Buddhist monk of French nationality, Matthieu Ricard, passed through the town and meditated in the Los Huemules Reserve, in the Cagliero post and in the Poincenot Camp area.
In addition to these places, you can also meditate in the great viewpoints of El Chaltén. You just need to separate yourself from the crowds a bit and find quieter spots.
In El Chaltén, more than watching the sunset, you must see the sunrise. It is a unique experience. There are different places to see it, the most complicated (but also most incredible) is to go up to the Mirador del Fitz Roy at 4 in the morning. It is a 2-hour hike that must be done at night. If you are not so adventurous, another alternative is to go up to the Mirador del Pueblo, which is a short and achievable path that is next to National Parks. If you do not want to climb any mountains, you should go to the bridge at the entrance to the town, where it also looks beautiful, and it is faster and easier. The important thing is not to miss it.
Tools and objects made of wood, metal and textiles. Mates, accessories, looms. In Sirio Artesanías you will be able to find souvenirs from this region.
Address: Lago del Desierto 330, Z9301 El Chaltén. Days and hours: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Price: Free entry.
It is a coffee with artisan elaboration of alfajores and sweets from the region. You can go to enjoy tea time and, if you like their products, buy to take away or give as gifts.
Address: Av. Del Libertador Gral. 249, El Chaltén. Days and hours: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Price: Free entry.
Guido Grando is a craftsman who, in addition to traditional blacksmithing, creates other objects, such as making cutlery. Although he is not a native of El Chaltén, he fell in love with the city when he met it and now lives there. He inaugurated the first art gallery in El Chaltén, “La espatula rosada”, and he exhibited a sculpture of a large metal condor with outstretched wings.
Address: Antonio Rojo 236 Phone: +54 2962 493251
It is a municipal soup kitchen created to give food to people affected by the pandemic. Although it was first a private action, the Municipality took over and now these activities are carried out at the Municipal Headquarters. Address: Av. Martín M. de Güemes 21
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