|El Chalten, considered Argentina’s national trekking capital, is about 3 hours north of Calafate. After exploring Calafate, I took a 1:00 pm bus headed to El Chalten. On the ride there, I met a couple from the Netherlands (Nikki and Hilko) whom had the same general plan for El Chalten and whom were also staying at the same hostel.We arrived into town around 4 pm — an incredibly small town at that — with the sun shining, and the winds fierce. Since we had all spent the last three hours on a bus, we decided to venture out to the two smaller hikes in town: Mirador de Los Condors and Las Aguilas. It took us about half an hour to get to the Mirador de Los Condors, with views overlooking the town and the mountains beyond it. Unfortunately, the clouds were obstructing our view of Mt. Fitz Roy, which seems to be a common occurrence in El Chalten.
Afterwards, it took us another half hour to hike to our next destination, Mirador de Las Aguilas. This viewpoint overlooked Lago Viedma and it was surprising how incredibly sunny the views were over the lake compared to the rain clouds covering Mt. Fitz Roy. The weather can be quite unpredictable it seems within the entire Patagonia region. It can be sunny one second, raining the next, and may even snow in the seconds that follow.
After the hike, Nikki and Hilko were very welcoming and invited me to cook dinner with them that night. We also decided that same night that we would take on one of the longer hikes the following morning. We awoke to rain the following morning with zero visibility of the mountains that surrounded the town. After debating whether or not to venture out in the rain, we decided on waiting until mid-afternoon in hopes of the weather clearing up.
Later that morning, Tony (a guy I had met earlier in Valparaiso) arrived just as we were about to head out and joined our hiking crew. It took us around 5 1/2 hours round-trip (21 km) to our destination, Laguna Torre. When we arrived to the lake, there were too many clouds covering views of the actual Cerro Torre, but we had been lucky enough to enjoy the hike sans rain.
Back at the hostel and after warming up and relaxing, the 4 of us enjoyed leftover pasta from the previous night. By the second night in El Chalten, we had managed a nice little dinner crew that included the four of us — Nikki, Hilko, Tony, and myself — and another guy from Holland, Frits.
We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day outside. Two of the boys, Hilko and Frits went mountain biking while Nikki and I decided on a low-key one since we would be tackling another long trek the next morning. First we decided on a trek to see the waterfall Chorrillo del Salto, which turned out to be a flat and easy 2 hours (roundtrip) of hiking. We did get to sit on a rock, admiring the waterfall while taking in the sunshine and warmth!
After our daily dose of hiking, Nikki and I headed to the spa. I enjoyed a nice leg treatment to heal my muscles from all the hiking and afterwards, the both of us enjoyed a 45 minute soak in the Jacuzzi with views of the Mt. Fitz Roy. It was a perfect relaxation day between two rather long day hikes. That night the dinner crew enjoyed a nice steak with potatoes and vegetable cooked by our chef Frits. The food was delicious, the meat cooked just right, and it was a nice change of pace from the usual pasta.
We were blessed with another gorgeous day in El Chalten the next morning and our trekking crew headed to Laguna de los Tres,which offers the closest views of Mt. Fitz Roy. We took a shuttle to Hosteria El Pilar so we could hike the loop seeing different views along the way instead of going the same way there and back. The final ascent was pretty strenuous and steep, taking roughly around an hour uphill, but the views at the top were more than worth it. It was such a perfect day, we could not have been luckier with the weather. We stayed at the top of the hike admiring and taking in the views for quite some time. I couldn’t take my eyes away from the beauty of the jagged peaks, it was spectacular. We even got to see Fitz Roy without any clouds blocking our view!
After making our way back into town (which took us about 3 hours), we decided to go out to dinner on our last night together. It was a great and really fun four days hanging out with Nikki, Hilko, and Tony. We were a good hiking crew and I was glad they took me in the very first night in Chalten. The following morning we would all part ways to head to different parts of Argentina, but they are and will continue to remain a big part of my solo travels and my adventures in Argentina.
"If we want joy to be the story of our years, joy must be the story of our days. Joy must be a daily choice, a habit, a promise we make to ourselves. Joy must be the way we travel."
-Sarah Ban Breathnach
-Sarah Ban Breathnach