El Chalten is a young town founded in 1985 at the foot of the impressive Mount Fitz Roy. Such an important mount was chosen by Father De Agostini, a restless explorer of the southern Patagonia, as "the lord of the region, the most beautiful and impressive mountain of the Patagonian Andes." Located in Argentina´s Los Glaciares National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the mountain named by Argentine explorer Francisco "Perito" Moreno for the captain of Darwin´s Beagle is an 11,289-foot granite skyscraper that dominates the horizon from hundreds of miles away. Natives, confusing its perennial cloud-covered apex for a volcano, used to call it El Chalten, literally "the mountain that smokes", the same name given in 1985 to the tiny hamlet of climbers, nature lovers, and national guardsmen-for years it was the last army outpost on the disputed Chilean-Argentine border-that sprouted up in its long shadow. (Joshua Goodman).
DAY 01 El Chalten
Bus ticket from El Calafate to El Chalten. Meet & greet at the hosteria. Accommodation. Balance of the day at leisure to explore on own and visit Chorillo Malo and appreciate - if lucky- the chucau tapaculo an endemic bird of the area or hike to the Cerro Torre lookout point to get started with the area.
Accommodation: Hosteria Senderos
DAY 02 El Chalten
Full day dedicated to hiking one Patagonian classic: Fitz Roy mount and Laguna de los Tres. Fitz Roy Mount. After breakfast we will start a hike north towards Fitz Roy with spectacular views of the massif ahead. Sacred and venerated by local Tehuelche groups and believed to be a volcano, they called it "Chalten" (exhaling fumes mountain). We reach Laguna Capri, where Mt Fitz Roy reflects its image in its crystal clear waters. Stop en route for lunch (box lunch not included) and then resume the hike to Laguna de los Tres, at the base of Mt. Fitz Roy. Glacier de los Tres drains into this beautiful high mountain lake with majestic Mt. Fitz Roy towering above. Enjoy breathtaking views to SE Lake Viedma and the endless Patagonia steppe, matchless Fitz Roy and, if you continue down to the lake to the natural balcony onto Laguna Sucia, the Saint Exupéry and Poincenot spires. Although only 2 ½ km and a 400 m drop, this is a steep upwards trail. (One hour from the Rio blanco base camp)
Slope: 1100 m. Approx. hike: 8 hours
Return to the hotel and accommodation.
Meals: Breakfast & Box Lunch
DAY 03 El Chalten
Full day dedicated to hiking another Patagonian classic: Cerro Torre reaching their base camp and enjoying the incredible vistas. Cerro Torre. Mt Torre or better known as Cerro Torre, famous for its beauty but also for its difficulty to climb. Countless expeditions attempt every year to reach the summit, but only a few succeed. The trail begins with a gradual climb towards El Mirador (the Torre lookout), 1 h 30 min. A short way down to the Fitz Roy River valley and a long rather flat section will take us to the last glacial moraine surrounding the lake. The trail ends in the coast of Laguna Torre which offers a beautiful view of Mt Torre surrounded by Egger, Standhard, spires and the Adelas range as a backdrop together with the glacier Torre.
Elevation drop: 200 m. Lake height: 650
Meals: Breakfast & Box Lunch
DAY 04 El Chalten
A "Grand Finale" of the extension; a hike on the Viedma Glacier, the largest glacier in the Continental Ice Fields and one of the most beautiful. This is an amazing excursion which combines the quintessential of a Patagonian Experience. It starts with morning navigation from Bahia Tunel (15 km from El Chalten) on board the Fonrouge, a comfortable and safe boat.
At 09.00AM we board the safe boat and navigate the Viedma Lake, close to the coast, to observe the Cerro Huemul and the Fitz Roy. Arriving at Cape Horn (the South-eastern extreme of the Glacier) we will enjoy a first-row view of the amazing Viedma Glacier and 25 minute of further navigation will bring us to a natural pier to debark. Upon arrival (1015 AM) a short hike (about 30 min) to the glacier. This hike will be on a rocky but smooth and firm terrain. We get to the glacier where we will be able to visit the lateral moraine and the ice caves. Glacier and -weather and local conditions permitting- we will get into the heart of the ice caves, under the huge mass of ice. We will enjoy lunch (at leisure) to then hike back to the pier where we will board the boat back to Bahia Tunel where a car will be waiting to transfer us back to El Chalten.
Children under 8 years old are not allowed to do this tour. There is no age limitation for adults.
Recommended clothing: Apply the layer system, sunglasses, sunblock, comfortable trekking
Meals: Breakfast & Box Lunch
DAY 05 El Chalten
Morning bus ride back to El Calafate.
** A note about hotel recommended:
SENDEROS HOSTERIA - www.senderoshosteria.com.ar
A very nice hosteria located at the entrance of the village; rooms are comfortable; Premium rooms have a view over the Fitz Roy massif. The service is attentive to detail and staff is welcoming. A very nice experience.
FLIGHTS: There are no flights to/ from El Chalten. El Chalten is served by the airport in El Calafate (3 hours drive)
The timetable for the buses from Calafate - Chalten - Calafate is:
Calafate to Chalten: departs 8.00 am; 1pm (From December to February); 6:30pm (From October to April)
Departs from the Calafate bus station.. You have to be at the Chalten Travel Bus Company office at the Calafate bus station 30 minutes before the departing time
Chalten to Calafate: departs 6.30 am (From December to February); 1pm (From October to April), 6pm
Departs from Hostel Rancho Grande, you must be there 30 minutes before the departing time.
2013 Price per person in US$ (till Apr 30/13 & Sep 15-Oct 31/13):
$1310 for 1 person, $832 for 2 in double, $724 for 3 in triple, $714 for 4 in double.
Can quote with other hotels.