Our first couple of days in El Chalten, Patagonia were shrouded in grey clouds and drizzle, until on the third day we woke up to this magical winter wonderland. It was the first time we’d seen the magnificent Fitz Roy mountain range, and it was made all the more spectacular by the fact it’d been hiding for days. We felt like we were in Narnia.
El Chalten travel tips
We went to El Chalten in May, which is Argentina’s autumn. Most of the town shuts at this time and there’s a high likelihood that the walking trails will also be shut and the famous mountians shrouded in cloud. This was indeed the case for the first couple of days, but then the clouds cleared, the snow came, and oh my it was incredible! We’ve written about why we think Autumn is a good time to visit El Chalten here.
The most popular time to visit El Chalten is in the summer when the hiking season is in full swing. The most popular hikes are to Laguna de los Tres, which is a round-trip from the town that takes eight hours, and another to Laguna Torre that takes six hours. We did the trek to Laguna Torre in the snow and it was perfectly doable. We didn’t go to Laguna de los Tres as it would have been treacherous in the snow. Ask at the visitor centre for advice as they can tell you which routes are safe to pass that day.
You can get to El Chalten via El Calafate. A bus runs twice every day between the two towns, even in the snow. There is also a once-weekly bus to Rio Gallegos.
Although most of the town closes in Autumn, there are still some supermarkets, travel agents and restaurants. The ATM is unreliable so bring enough cash to last your trip.