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El Chaltén, Patagonia, Argentina



We departed El Calafate on the 8am Chaltén Travel bus to El Chaltén, which took roughly 3hours with a 15 min stop at a pleasant hosteria. The town is small and very much caters to walkers visiting the area, the town coming into existence in 1985.  There are a few sealed roads in the town, but again expect to get dusty feet as you go from one place to another.

We arrived to the constant westerly wind we were becoming familiar with and lashing rain. The Chaltén Travel buses drop off at the Rancho Grande Hostel, which was fortunate for us as our accommodation at Hosteria Koonek was just in the “street” behind the hostel.  We dumped our packs and then set off for some cosy nook to shelter from the weather, which was set for the day. On the main road we found La Cerveceria, a lovely wooden chalet with a cosy feel, artisan wooden tables and chairs and newspaper print papered walls.  It’s a microbrewery so their beers are local and I can confirm they are great! We settled down to some beer and soup – cream of Pumpkin and the Kiwi had Onion soup – then later we had their fab chocolate brownies. The staff are friendly and happy, and the music played is great. It was an ideal spot to while awaY a few hours hibernating from the weather conditions.

A visit to the National Parque centre (just as you enter the town on the left, before the bridge) ensured we had a map of the different treks possible from the town.  There is no mobile phone reception here and internet connection is available only sometimes.  At the centre they couldn’t confirm the weather conditions for the following day as there was no internet connection at that time, but they thought it was to be better than Sunday.  At the centre and on the map of treks there are regulations listed that require to be adhered to. The area was declared a Unesco site some time ago.  Interestingly, despite having to pay $60 each time we entered the Parque to see the glaciers, due to El Chaltén being in the Parque there is no need to pay the fee – not even on arrival in the town! Anyway, when walking always be prepared to take your rubbish back with you, no bins are provided (which is fair enough, it’s not a play park!) and also practical things like being careful where you go to the loo, etc.

Walk to Laguna Torre

On Monday the weather had picked up and so we set off for the trek to Laguna Torre.  In all this is a 22km round trip offering stunning views of the mountains and after the initial incline and walk through forest you have the glaciar beconing you to the Lago for a closer look.  The mountains are splendid and you can’t get enough of them with their stunning colours and amazing shapes and peaks, and with the clouds possessively hiding the peaks the scenery is constantly changing to keep you amused along the trek, as well as passing condors and parrots on the way!

Glacier and Laguna Torre

Glacier and Laguna Torre

Of course the nearer we got to the glacier the cooler the wind blew! By the time you reach the campsite you need an extra layer to protect you from the, by then, gale force gusts.  There is a latrine at the campsite – hold your breath and be quick! Another 10 min walk takes you to the vantage point of the Lago, looking straight over to the Glaciar Grande and the majestic mountains it clings to with their colourful veined rocks and sheer rock faces.  There are some stone shelters to afford a little protection from the winds that blow across the lake whilst offering an opportunity to lunch with a view. The walk was a good day, around 6 hrs, and most satisfying.

Unfortunately that night we went out for dinner and I ended up extrememly ill – I suspect food poisoning as it was soo severe.  The following day I couldn’t get out of bed – which was a complete bummer as it was a  beautiful day of clear blue sky and even the wind was tamed! The Kiwi went out in the afternoon and did a run along the Fitz Roy view route, up to Lago Capri.  Stunning.

Fitz Roy and Lago Capri

Fitz Roy and Lago Capri

The following day when I was back on my feet we did the walk at a slower pace, not as nice a day as Tuesday but still aforded us handsome views and when the clouds became less possessive even a full view of Fitz Roy himself! This route has various options, so it can be a shorter route or a long trek right up to the glacier at the foot of Fitz Roy.  Since I hadn’t eaten much I was only up for a 3 hr round trip, but it was a stunning walk nonetheless, also gives lovely views down the valley in which the town sits, the lovely peaks tending to be ignored for the grandure of Fitz Roy and his friends.

For a small town El Chaltén did very well for decent places to eat and not too bad prices in comparison to El Calafate! Lots of hits and not so many misses –

La Cerveceria – Microbrewery with charm, atmosphere and more importantly great beer and good food.

Fuegia – Great menu as it has some different choices – try the steak with almonds and spring onion with rice, delicious! Also the stuffed chicken is great.

La Chocolaterie Josh Aike – Cute cabin full of walkers memorabilia serving great, bitter hot chocolate, cakes and a nice range of chocolate with various additions, with a great view to Fitz Roy (on a clear day!).

Patagonicus – Pizza place with a nice vibe and great smell of lovely pizza. ….Unfortunatley it was after eating here that I fell ill,…but can’t say for sure it was the pizza that caused it as the Kiwi ate half of mine and was fine! Good steak here too.

el Muro – Located in the North of the town when we first saw this restaurant it seemed to lack atmosphere, but when we returned later it was buzzing.  Good local dishes – try the Locro, a bean and meat stew which hit the spot after a long walk.

Info –

There is now a Bank ATM in the town! Situated near the entrance to the town, by the information centre.

There is Wi-fi available at ChalteNet, but it was incredibly slow when we tried to use it. $3 for 15 mins.  There are also a number of computer terminals available too. Chalten Travel and Rio Grande Hostel also offer internet access for the same price.

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