El Chalten: A Classic Patagonian Experience

El Chalten is a small hiking outpost in the northern region of Argentina’s Glacier National Park.  It’s a picturesque town in the Patagonia region of the Andes, consisting of one main road lined with hotels/hostels, cafes and bars.  The two marquee hikes out of this town are Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre.  They were relatively moderate treks by Andean standards and we were fortunate to get a classic Patagonian experience while doing them.

We reached the summit of Laguna de los Tres with clear skies and a slight breeze.  This backdrop heightened the magnificence of Mount Fitz Roy’s glacier capped peaks and the steady formation of western clouds streaming over the peak as moisture from the Pacific catapulted into the atmosphere.  (It also presented a nice contrast to Joanna’s hot pink shirt!)

The day we ventured up Laguna Torre was overcast and there was a significant increase in wind activity.  As we approached the summit, there was a steady dust storm originating at the mountain peak and heading into the valley the trail traversed.   At the summit, the wind gusts were so strong that they were pushing us around.   It would have been possible to freely lean into the wind, but the dust debris made it uncomfortable to face the wind directly.  While these conditions weren’t ideal for taking in the views (or taking any pictures), Patagonia is known for wind and it was truly impressive to experience it first hand.

One final observation about El Chalten, it is an outdoor adventure town and not a tourist town.  If you are not into hiking, biking, camping, fishing, etc. this is not your place.  If you take pleasure in outdoor adventures, we highly recommend it.