El Chalten - A MUST-SEE when travelling through Patagonia
We had initially only intended on spending a few days in this charismatic little town, but fell in love almost instantly and extended our 3 night stop-over to around 10! This beautiful town is a trampers haven - with so many diverse hiking and free camping opportunities straight from the village, there is no need to organise any public transport or accommodation during your stay if you are equiped with your own tent and sleeping bag (and if you’re not, you can easily hire one from the camping stores in the main street), which was perfect for our backpackers budget!
Be aware that the one and only ATM machine in El Chalten is often empty, and most places in the town (including hostels) will only accept cash. If possible, try and get money from a town prior to travelling here, as this left many fellow backpackers in sticky situations!
We firstly stayed a few nights in Aylen-Aike, a hostel run by an absolute mountaineering legend by the name of Sebastian! The first few days in El Chalten we did a couple of day-hikes which rewarded us with incredible view points of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the village, hidden waterfalls that Sebastian kindly shared his knowledge of the secret paths to, and a spot of rock-climbing to access cliff-tops (as pictured), providing us with stunning views of the village below.
As we were itching to head-out and pitch our tent in the snow and under the stars, we ventured off for a 3 x day tramp, to visit two of the laguna’s that El Chalten is most famous for - Laguna De Los Tres, and Laguna Torres. Most hostel’s are more than happy to look after your extra belongings while you’re away on a multi-day tramp, which meant that we were not needing to carry around our entire 25kg backpack’s with us up to the mountains, our bodies were very thankful!
After hiking, camping for the night, & then hiking some more early the following morning - we reached this pictured breathtaking viewpoint of Mount Fitz Roy at Laguna De Los Tres just after sunrise. Blue skies and sunshine, we were so incredibly lucky to score a crystal clear day as quite often clouds can be masking these crazy-tall mountain peaks (reaching 3,359 metres high) making visibility difficult. The fact that we had set-up camp close-by the night before, meant that we could wake up early and complete the last 1 hour up-hill hike to this view point, beating the other day-hikers, and spending hours enjoying and exploring in the snow & by the lake. Mish's favourite trek yet! We loved that the campsites and national park access are free of charge, just make sure you pack yourself a lunch & arrive as early in the morning as possible, as you will want to spend the rest of your day up here!
After lunch, we made our way back to camp, packed up our tent and ventured off to our next destination for the night - the campsite by Laguna De Los Tres. We were once again blown away with the beauty before us once arriving. Due to Patagonia's wild weather, this was a very special & rare occasion to be lucky enough to capture a perfect reflection of these mountains in the still alpine Laguna below (as pictured below). It was such a peaceful place that we found ourselves falling asleep, perched on a rock that had been pleasantly warmed by the days sun, with this view all to ourselves..
We also have fond memories of El Chalten for the wonderful people that we met during our stay at Aylen-Aike. Chelsea, Tyler, Jenna & Brant - you awesome foursome we will remember for always for being so full of life, adventurous, kind, & the hundreds of stories shared. We are lucky to have had further opportunities in Argentina to continue our travels with you.
Much to our dismay, our time in El Chalten needed to come to an end - we bid farewell to this magical village and “see you soon” to some fabulous friends that we had made, and jumped onto a very bumpy 24 hour bus to our next stop - El Bolson (check-out our El Bolson blog-post for more info!)