El Chaltén

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By David - The City of El Chaltén, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3738442
By David - The City of El Chaltén, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3738442
El Chaltén is a village in southern Argentina. It is located on the Río de las Vueltas, in the Los Glaciares National Park, 220 kilometers north of El Calafate.in the Lago Argentino department of the province of Santa Cruz in southern Argentina, in Patagonia.

El Chaltén was founded in the late 1970s / early 1980s as an outpost in Argentina to anticipate Chile’s land claims for that area. It is still a small town that is best known for being the gateway to Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torres, two of the steepest and most impressive peaks in the Patagonian Andes.

El Chaltén has become a continuously growing tourist center, For fans of mountaineering and trekking, El Chaltén is an unavoidable destination, due to its privileged location between Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre, the two highest peaks in the region.
The village provides free campsites and national park information for visitors, as well as paid campsites  and a limited number of beds, mostly catering for backpackers.

The tourist trade has spawned many restaurants and sporting goods stores in the city, and some accommodations provide internet, telephone and show movies.
Tourists’ access to El Chalten is organized in a clever way. First, everyone is brought to the tourist information center,divided into English-speaking and Spanish-speaking groups and crammed in an educational conversation about how to behave in the park so as not to damage its ecology, They instigated, intimidated – And then, finally, they can go in search of a hotel.

Access : Coordinates: -49.331408, -72.886129 / There are two main roads to access the El Chalten area: National Route (RN) No. 3 that borders the Atlantic coast is the busiest (asphalted throughout) and RN No. 40 parallel to the Andes Mountains (mostly gravel).
/ By Air :  The nearest airport is El Calafate International Airport, and from there you can continue by bus to El Chalten (215 km / 4 hours). From Buenos Aires depart daily flights to El Calafate (3 hours on direct flights).
/ By bus : Due to its remote location, the only possibility of arriving by bus directly is from the town of El Calafate (215 km.) To the south of the province of Santa Cruz or from the town of Perito Moreno (220 km.) to the north of the province of Santa Cruz. From and to El Calafate, daily buses run from October to May, from and to Perito Moreno, the transportation service is not regular.

Highlights :

  •  El Chaltén is the closest town to the Campo de los Hielos Patagónicos. Its name comes from the first indigenous settlers -the Aonikenk, a subgroup of the Tehuelches- who called Mount Fitz Roy El Chaltén (in their language, chaltén means “blue mountain” or “smoking mountain”).
  •  El Chaltén is it the capital of trekking , Recognized as the Argentine capital of trekking, the Santa Cruz town of El Chaltén also offers other crossings, such as Lago del Desierto, Lago Viedma and Lago San Martín.
  •  The information point of the national park (on the other side of the bridge, about 500 meters from the bus station) is very useful with all the information about trekking and activities.
  •  Desert Lake – Lago del Desierto: It is reached through a gravel road one way (about 37 km one way) that takes you to the very remote Lago del Desierto through a wonderful valley along a river.
  •  Trekking to the Laguna and Huemul Glacier : This trekking begins at the southern tip of Lago del Desierto (40 km), so you can take a round trip transfer from El Chaltén. It is a 45 minute climb, with panoramic views while ascending the Lago del Desierto and Fitz Roy.
  •  Trekking to the Caprí Lagoon : It starts from the path at the end of the town, which begins with a somewhat steep slope, which continues for 1h30 ‘over a gap of about 350m, to access the first viewpoint.
  •  Trekking Laguna de los Tres : This is the most classic hike and one of the most beautiful in the area, as it leads us to the foot of the mythical Mount Fitz Roy. There are two ways to start this route.
  •  Trekking to the Piedras Blancas Glacier : The path that starts from El Pilar, 20 kms from El Chaltén, so it is necessary to take a one way transfer and another one back.
  •  Trekking Piedra del Fraile : The trekking starts from the Río Eléctrico Bridge 18 km from El Chaltén, a round trip transfer is necessary to this point. Until El Fraile, it is a very simple walk without unevenness, Transfer by minibus vehicle, from El Chaltén to the Río Eléctrico Bridge 18 km.
  •  Trekking to the Pollone Glacier:For those who have more energy, this trek continues to the Pollone Glacier (5 km. 2 hours). You will walk up the river until you reach Lake Eléctrico, contemplating the North wall of Fitz Roy, and the Mermoz and Guillaumet needles.
  •  Hill of the Lying fold : This trail begins at the entrance of the town, more precisely at the National Parks Information Center. It is the trek with the best panoramic views, where you can see the two main hills: Fitz Roy and Torre, the one with the thickest forests.
  •  Laguna Torre Trek – Cerro Torre Viewpoint : El Chaltén – Camp De Agostini – Laguna Torre: This is another of the most classic hikes in the area, which leads to one of the most beautiful and difficult mountains on the planet: Cerro Torre. The path starts from the town and goes up the Fitz Roy River.
  •  The most famous image of the mountain range of Patagonia is associated with its main natural attraction – the Fitz Roy peak, like the fangs of a fabulous dragon of incredible size, sticks out of the mysterious rocky surface of the Torre Valley.

Activities : sightseeing / photo opportunities / trekking : Called the capital of trekking, the Santa Cruz town of El Chaltén is the starting point to venture on the roads of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, the two highest peaks in the region. / Excursions to the nearby Lago del Desierto depart from El Chalten.

Go next : El Lago Viedma – Lake Viedma : One of the most spectacular destinations in the Argentine Patagonia / Lago del desierto – Desert lake , is located just 38 kilometers from El Chalten

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