El Chaltén - a sleepy village

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Argentina

The bus ride to El Chaltén was only 3 hours, what a nice change. We sat in the bus and observed the sparse landscape of Patagonia. As soon as the snowcapped mountains or the crystal clear lakes and rivers appeared everything changed into a wonderland.

When we arrived to this small, sleepy town with its 1500 inhabitants, the four of us just fell in love. Anna, Jenny and the two of us where ready for some hiking. Sitting constantly in the bus drove us nuts so we arrived to the so called National Capitol of Trekking in Argentina – El Chaltén.

First we wanted to get a little overview which is not hard when it comes to the small village. With a birds perspective we had a fantastic outlook over El Chaltén and the surrounding mountain ranges. We were ready for more…

And here we are, one day later, on a 22 km hike, on the way to Lago de los Tres, standing at the viewpoint of the Mount Fitz Roy, when we found out, that we have forgotten the spare battery for our camera. Michael, carrying 8 kg of camera gear, was not willing to continue the hike. He decided to run back without bag and get the battery. Good that we just realized it at the beginning of our hike – after 50 minutes uphill.

We told the girls that they could continue the trek without us and while I was observing those fantastic mountains and the scenery, starting to freeze, Michael sprinted down and up again, powered by anger. 85 minutes later – where several people already thought, this fast guy must be a guide – he was back and we could continue our tour followed by the best weather.

Apropos, Mount Fitz Roy is one of the most technically challenging mountains of the world. And we were lucky to see its full face since it is normally in the clouds most of the time. But you guys know, we travel with the sun in our backpacks and we had just unpacked it.

The last bit up to Lago de los Tres with its stones and 700 m difference in altitude was quite strenuous and we arrived at the frozen Lagoon. Guess we won’t take pictures of the mirroring mountains. We enjoyed our sandwich and chocolate with this panoramic view and started ours descend.

Who sad that descending will be easier, so after 2 ½ hours downhill the legs felt like rubber bands. At the Lago Capri the light was just fantastic and we saw some of the magic of Patagonia this day. Back at the hostel we prepared a proper hiker food – carbs and red wine. Michael felt really great even after his extra miles. Well, sure we head flat feet but other than that we were ready for round two.

So the next day we checked out, stored our luggage at the hostel and did the hike to Lago Torre with another glacier. Muscles and weather were on our side and we arrived at the lagoon surprisingly fast. After 1:45 minutes we stood at the mirroring lake and didn’t get the point of the 3 hours one way on our map. On our way back we found a hollow tree with a lot of holes and we enjoyed playing around with the camera.

Back in the hostel, after a hot shower and a proper dinner, we took our stuff and went to the bus station. Anna left a bit earlier so the three of us run into our bus on the way so we had a free ride to the bus station. It came very handy after our sore muscles and hurting feet. And off we went for El Calafate since we want to take the bus at 3 am to the end of the world. You can imagine that we are not looking forward to take a bus in the middle of the night but if you want to go to the southernmost city in the world you have to make some sacrifices.

Accommodation: Rancho Grande Hostel, Ave San Martin, El Chaltén

Price: $ ARG 120 p.P., 4 bed dorm, shared bathroom, slow internnet

Comment: quite big hostel but very clean, except sometimes the kitchen could be cleaner and more
                 organized (always depends a bit on the travelers as well). Internet in this town is very slow
                but you are hear for hiking and nature anyway, so switch off the mobile/computer