El Chalten | Hiking, Wine and Olives

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

30th November - 4th December 2018

After a (VERY MINOR) bus-related meltdown (on my behalf), we left El Calafate and 3 hours later arrived in sunny El Chalten. El Chalten is a baby of a town, having only been established in 1985 after a kerfuffle between Chile and Argentina… (I imagine that someone literally walked there and thought: “Yeah, it's proper lush here. I'll build a town.”) The roads are open and straight, leading from one middle of nowhere to another, and the town is nestled at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. It's dreamy.

Laguna Torre Day Trek

We settled in on our first day, which required a two-hour nap. We lounged in ‘our’ comfy chairs in Hostel Kaiken (dripping with hikers of all nationalities), cooked, then had an early night.

A male, Giant Woodpecker

The next day, we walked 18km to and from Laguna Torre. The day started cloudy as we wound our way through glorious woodland, spotting Giant Woodpeckers and trying to get our heads around the stupendous scenery.

The lagoon was breathtaking, and a magical picnic spot. As we arrived the sun came out and the towers rose above us as we paled into insignificance. Icebergs floated peacefully and water gently chattered as it lapped against them.

Laguna Torre

We finished this excellent day with a (carton) litre of vino tinto, pimento-stuffed olives and the most delicious pasta we've made to date (aubergine all day errrrr'day).

Day 2 of hikes, took us on a delightful, 20km, circular route to Laguna de Los Tres (Top Tip! Get the bus to El Pilar first, to avoid returning the same way). This walk involved more glorious woodland which was flanked by the most ridiculous mountain range we've ever laid eyes on. The walk cumulated in a large (bloody massive) hill which revealed two unbelievable lagoons. I've never seen a blue quite like it. We picnicked at the top, got very chilly and returned via beachy wilderness and more marvellous miradors.

Laguna de Los Tres Day Trek

Dat me

We finished this excellent day with a (carton) litre of vino tinto, pimento-stuffed olives and the most delicious pasta we've made to date.

Our third day of hiking was a more leisurely affair as we rose late in the day to head out to a gorgeous waterfall. It was SO. WINDY. This short, blustery trip did not deter us from our new-found habit of finishing the day with a (carton) litre of vino tinto, pimento-stuffed olives, this time with the incredible addition of blue cheese. We are on a budget, we promise.

Sarah at overlooking the road out of El Chalten at the Condor Mirador

Our fourth and final day of hiking took us to two beautiful miradors just outside of town. We spotted Condors soaring above El Chalten and I fell on my arse coming down the hill. We had also planned to be super productive before our bus back to El Calafate, but we got distracted by our new hostel buddies, Noosa and Jo'burg, and chatted to them instead which was way more fun. Queue, Sarah and Jessica legging it to the bus stop.

Laguna de Los Tres

As we drove away from this wondrous place, I'm reminded of the otherworldly, Norse realm of Asgard and how similarly ethereal and mystical they seem. The scenery takes your breath away and i feel like I've forgotten something, like part of my soul is hovering over a lagoon or embedded in the mountains… which sounds to me like another return trip is on the horizon.