After taking a bus for 24 hours from El Bolson, I finally arrived in El Chalten. This town is one of my favorites so far because it has a ton of wonderful hiking, great mountain town vibes, and more cervezerias than people.
On my first day in El Chalten I decided to do some organizing and get ready for my first multi-day hike. I went to a great cafe for breakfast called Lo De Haydee and then spent the rest of the day getting groceries and organizing my stuff.
On the first day of the trek I left around 12pm with two friends from the hostel and we went to Laguna Torre to camp at Camping De Agostini. The hike took 3ish hours and we were really lucky with the weather. Upon arrival to the camp, we pitched our tents and then made our way up to the laguna. The view of Cerro Torre and the glacier below was really beautiful. (While this trek can also be done as a day trek, we preferred to take our time and spend the night camping for free.) Because we had time, we also hiked along the lake for a better view of the glacier. This added another 2 hours round trip and allowed us to see the glacier a little better.
On day two, we hiked from Camping De Agostini to Camping Poincenot. The hike took 3 hours and had a decent incline in the beginning but then was relatively flat. During the hike, we took a break for lunch along Laguna Madre e Hija and enjoyed the lake and surrounding mountains. Upon arriving to Poicenot, we set up camp and then hiked for one hour to Laguna de los Tres. This portion of the hike was definitely more challenging because it was straight uphill but it was also made out of a lot of stairs which made it easier. Once we arrived to Laguna de los Tres, I could understand why everyone wanted to visit this particular spot. The view of Fitz Roy with the beautiful blue laguna was beyond description. After spending around an hour or and hour and a half at the laguna, we decided to head back down to camp.
Sometime during the night the rain started and, unfortunately, I had to change my plans a little bit in terms of my camping destination for night three from Piedra del Fraile to Ricanor. It rained during the entire morning and my friends decided to leave but I decided to wait and see if the rain would stop. Finally it did stop around 1:30pm at which point I packed up camp and decided to continue trekking. I hiked down from Poincenot to El Pillar and I started walking along the dirt road to Lago del Desierto. While there was supposed to be a camping called Ricanor along the route, I couldn’t find it so around 9pm I decided to go into the woods and free camp. (While this wasn’t technically legal I hoped that I wouldn’t have a problem and luckily I didn’t.)
On day four, I woke up to more rain but I couldn’t wait in my tent like the day before because I wasn’t supposed to be camping there so I walked for 20 minutes and found a beautiful refugio and campground. I stopped to ask about a bus back to El Chalten and they told me it would cost around $450 pesos. For me, this was too expensive and so I decided to brave the wind and rain a little longer and continue towards Lago del Desierto. (If you happen to be passing through and have some extra money I would definitely recommend the Refugio at Laguna Condor. It had a great atmosphere and a fire in the fireplace on this gloomy and rainy day.)
Around 12:30pm and 20 or so kilometers later, I arrived to Lago del Desierto. Luckily for me, the rain continued but sporadically and it didn’t rain very hard. Upon arriving, I set up camp at Camping Lago del Desierto which cost $200 pesos a night and had a refugio to cook in. That afternoon I took a little siesta and then walked along the lake towards the border with Chile. (While it is possible to hike all the way to the border I decided to just hike a portion.) That evening I met two great guys from Buenos Aires while cooking dinner in the refugio. We spent several hours talking and decided to hike to Glacier Huemul in the morning before hitchhiking back to El Chalten.
The hike to the glacier the next morning was very beautiful and only took around 30 minutes. The view from the top of the lake and valley down below was amazing. After the hike, we packed up camp and started walking towards El Chalten. We had some luck and were able to hitch a ride with two Germans after about 10 minutes. I was very happy we found a ride because, if not, it was 45 kilometers back to El Chalten…..
Once back in El Chalten I camped at Camping El Refugio because it only cost $120 pesos per night. Jean and Max stayed there as well and after a hot shower we decided to grab a burger and beer at B & B Beers and Burgers. The burgers were really good and it wasn’t too expensive but I was a little disappointed about their craft beer selection because there are a ton of craft beer places in El Chalten and this restaurant only had 2 beers on tap.
Overall, I absolutely loved this hike and was really glad I was able to combine a couple of day hikes into a circuit verses out and backs. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre were even more stunning in person than the pictures and I can’t wait to return and hopefully do some rock climbing!!