Hello again and welcome back to my quick rundown of walks from El Chaltén, in the heart of Argentinian Patagonia. I had three days so packed in three hikes, just enough to give me a breathtaking snapshot of this part of the world. Here you’ll find a little about the route, wildlife, and features of each walk. Today we’re off to Laguna de los Tres and Mount Fitz Roy, this is the most famous hike in the area, and the view at the top is one you’ll see topping photography charts worldwide!
If you’d prefer to watch a short video summarising the scenery around the walk, click here.
- Difficulty: 8/10
- Length: 13km each way, or a 26km different round route.
- Highlights: Stunning scenery and mountains throughout, glimpse of glacier Fitz Roy and Laguna Piedras Blancas, rest at the amazing Laguna de los Tres, Laguna Sucia and the Fitz Roy range.
This is easily the most famous walk in the area, if not one the most famous in South America. Although known by the picture postcard view of Mt. Fitz Roy at the top, the rest of the walk is what won me over (not that I needed winning over…). Every step you’re surrounded by beautiful wildflowers, expansive plains framed by dramatic peaks, and the odd glacier thrown in for fun. There are a few options for the walk, and often a ‘there and back’ is done from El Chaltén, however I’ll be describing the far superior round route which requires a drop off to begin.
There is a beautiful campsite at Poincenot which I’d highly recommend if you have the time. A benefit to camping here is not only the serenity, but getting up early to scale the last section and see a cloud-free Mt. Fitz Roy. When I go back here, this is an absolute must for me. Sadly, I had a day to rush through each hike, so my pictures will be rife with clouds!
- Make sure you book the drop off from your hostel the day before, the drop off point is ‘Hosteleria Pilar’ which is a 25 minute drive from El Chaltén. When you get off the bus there will be a red sign to Laguna de los Tres, and it’s continuously well signposted along the way. Everyone will be heading the same way, and you begin passing mountain backdrops, winding alongside the river and eventually enter some nice woodland.
- It’s incredibly peaceful walking alongside the river in the woods, and you’ll weave in and out, up and down for a while. Watch your feet in the early months of the year, as there are hundreds of caterpillars crossing the trail! Soon you’ll pass the awesome Glacier Fitz Roy and Laguna Piedras Blancas on your right, and emerge up at a viewpoint where you’ll get your first glimpse of the Fitz Roy range. Eventually you’ll wind up at a junction pointing to Camp Poincenot or El Chaltén, go right to the campsite.
- After passing through the amazing campsite, the going gets tough. Cross the river (fill up your bottle from the stream – it’s totally safe!) and start the long climb uphill. Try to stick to the yellow arrows as the path is becoming increasingly worn. It’s a one hour slog to the top, and gets increasingly steep. When you get there, take in the amazing views of Mt. Fitz Roy, Laguna del los Tres, and Laguna Sucia to the left.
- Head back down when you’re ready, turning right at the same junction after the campsite, following the signs for El Chaltén. There are great views of the range all the way back here, so remember to look behind you! I’d advise turning right to pass by Laguna Capri. Although much less dramatic, it’s a great place to wind down, dip your feet in the cold water, or relax with a book.
- Now it’s the gentle wind back to El Chaltén. It is a long route but the only really challenging part is the last couple of kilometres to the top (and back down). The rest is truly amazing scenery and a gentle trail.
I’d definitely advise the round route if possible, and even more try and camp at the Poincenot. Beware in the colder months, the trail can become icy and quite dangerous, you can check with your hostel about the weather conditions and they’ll advise you accordingly. Make sure to bring layers, as the cold wind can be biting, but then the sun is also warm – you may spend most of the hike changing clothes!
The flora and fauna around Patagonia is beautiful. Although not the widest diversity of life, you’ll become familiar with the animals, flowers and general feel that Patagonia is so famous for.
On this hike you’ll see a fair bit of amazing wildlife, in particular amazing wildflowers. Keep your eyes peeled for the Robust Woodpecker with it’s bright red head, and always check those distant hills for a puma, they are around somewhere! Occasionally you’ll also see condors here, and it’s much rarer than further north in the Andes, other rare sights are the protected Huemlos (like deer) and also the Andean cat.
Good luck with this hike! If you’re heading to Argentine Patagonia then it’s pretty much the best hike to do, and fingers crossed for the weather. If you have the time, do this one over two days, if not it’s still great! Join me next time for my last hike of the three days, where I wandered to Laguna Torre and faced the windy path up to Mirador Maestri.