How did I spend 6 days in El Chalten, Argentina, the self-proclaimed trekking capitol of the country? Trekking, of course! After a few days of rest in Puerto Natales, Chile, recuperating from the 9-day Torres del Paine trek and a 8-hr bus ride to get to El Chalten, I was ready to hit the trail. It turned out that Dave (UK), who I’d befriended on the Torres del Paine trek, was heading to El Chalten to hike as well, so we took the bus and trekked together. Besides being a charming small town (perm. population 1,100) with a variety of restaurants and cervezarias, El Chalten is located in the Rio de las Vueltas river valley and surrounded by mountains (hence the trekking and climbing reputation). After just a short walk from town, you enter Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (no entry fee and free camping) and have access to multiple trails. For our first hike, Dave and I dayhiked the 6.8-mi (11-km) Loma del Pliegue Tumbado trail, the only trail in the park where you can view the peaks of Las Torres (10,177 ft (3,103 m)) and Fitz Roy (11,171 ft (3,405 m)) together. From the mirador (view point), the panorama of snow-covered peaks, including the two famous peaks, was spectacular, only made better by the sight of Andean condors soaring overhead. The next day, we started a 3-day, ~22 mi (35 km) loop trek where we watched the numerous peaks, including the Las Torres and Fitz Roy peaks, light up with the rays of the rising sun. Spectacular! All this and we enjoyed amazing weather (sun, light wind, and no rain) during the entire stay in El Chalten! It was a much-needed respite from the cold, windy, wet weather we had in Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales. Back from the trek, I enjoyed the best homemade almond tart ever and spent the rest of that day and the next relaxing at my hostel, chatting with fellow travelers, planning my next destination with glasses of more good, cheap Argentinean wine, and enjoying the views surrounding the charming little town. It’s no wonder that El Chalten is a mecca for trekkers and rock climbers (yes, people climb those peaks!).
Here’s a teaser picture. Click the link to see the full photo album: https://goo.gl/photos/jP2VvvThPnxygVUY8
Travel notes: recommend Travelers Hostel Patagonia (good communal kitchen and spaces, friendly staff, many large windows, great view); the panaderia about a block from the hostel on the opposite side of the street has an amazing almond tort (and other super yummy baked goods); recommend buying groceries, especially produce, elsewhere (cheaper, better selection and quality); tap water and water in El Chalten and in the park is potable (no treatment needed).