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 Torre and Mirador Maestri, a quieter alternative to Fitz Roy, but with some really interesting landscapes that you don’t want to miss! If you’d prefer to watch a short video summarising the scenery around the walk, click here.
- Difficulty: 6/10 (8/10 if you head up to Mirador Maestri)
- Length: 11km each way, +3km to Mirador Maestri
- Highlights: Rocky canyons with a chance to see Huemuls, expanses of dead forest, Laguna Torre and the Torre glacier at Mirador Maestri.
This hike is not difficult up to the laguna, with a gentle gradual ascent and plenty of beautiful flat plains. The hike winds through a variety of stunning environments with the chance to see a range of plant and animal life. Once you reach the laguna, there is a choice to venture further along the blustery path to Mirador Maestri, which I would highly recommend.
- Kick off by heading up the steep steps on the western side of El Chaltén where you’ll be greeted with a cracking view back across the town. About 150m onwards there is a checkpoint where you may be briefed by a park ranger, and advised on what to do if you’re caught short en route… Beyond you’re faced with a pleasant undulating wander alongside the river canyon for a couple of km.
- Soon you will reach Mirador Torre, where you can see the distant peaks of the Adela range. After this you continue down and pass an eerie forest of twisted dead trees on your left, and beautiful Patagonian bush on your right.
- Follow the path to the left at the fork and continue along the riverside. There is a nearby camp named Agostini, which is recommended if you have the time. Wind up a rockier hill to Laguna Torre, with the Torre Glacier in the background.
- If you’re feeling adventurous you might want to pursue Mirador Maestri, only 1.5 km away up the hill on the right of the laguna. WARNING: this path is a loose scree and rubble ridge, and is very exposed to harsh wind – it is easy to slip and fall. The drop on your left is extremely steep and plummets down into the icy laguna, be very careful and prepared for this next path. It bends round and is slow progress, but eventually you reach an old stone with an eroded plaque “Mirador Maestri”, you will know when you’ve reached it. From here there are wonderful views down onto the glacier, and you are MUCH closer than those left at the laguna’s edge.
- Return nearly all the way to the laguna, and drop off to the north (your right) just before. This winds down through a lovely bit of woodland and past a rather unused campsite (may be a good option for a wilder camp). Keep walking and you reach the fork from Step 3.
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.
This hike could throw up anything. At the start keep an eye out for huemuls (deer) and of course pumas. There will be plenty of birds dotted about the forest, and they are not shy. Also, whilst you are walking through the canyon section, there is a chance to see condors. Condors are much rarer in the south of Argentina, which makes seeing them that bit more special.
Thanks for staying tuned for these three hikes! If you haven’t read the previous too then you can find them in the ‘Argentina’ category. My main tip for hiking in El Chaltén is to camp if you can – I missed out on this due to limit time, but the campsites are beautiful and allow for early morning photography of the area’s highlights. If you want to see wildlife, take your time, wander discreetly 50m off-piste and be very very quiet!