Trekking amongst the peaks of the Fitz Roy Massif
Trekking in Los Glaciares National Park
The FitzRoy Massif offers some of Patagonia's most dramatic mountain and glacial landscapes. Unlike Torres del Paine on the Chilean side you can hike to many of the best vantage points in a day hike and then return to the comfort of your hotel later that day. Alternatively those willing to camp will be rewarded with some great multi-day trek routes.
Here we share our thougths on the trekking routes around Chalten and Mount FitzRoy. You can also read our guide to El Chalten and to the Los Glaciares National Park. Also check our Chalten and FitzRoy map.
These routes take 4-8 hours so that you can return to a comfortable hotel each night. Most trails are well marked and some people choose to hike these independently. However guides offer more than just safety and navigation - they'll help you find the best best vantage points and leave you with a rich sense of the region's climbing history, geography and culture.
Laguna de los Tres
You can trek from Chalten as a there-and-back route retracing your steps, however it's much better to drive out to Hosteria Pilar and set out from there. This is a 22km route, ascending approx 800m and taking around 7-9 hours if you take your time to enjoy yourself and take it all in. The route starts on a forest path with views across to the Piedras Blancas glacier, and then you have a steep ascent up to the Laguna itself - a great place to stop for lunch if conditions permit. The descent takes you to the wonderful Laguna Capri which also offers great views up to the massif.
On this hike you ascend a perfect glaciated valley up to the the Laguna Torre with its wonderful views to Cerro Torre and the glacier. It's an easier hike than the Laguna de los Tres, normally done over 5-6 hours and covering 20km, ascending 250m-350m depending on whether you continue up to the lookout point Mirado Maestri.
Loma del Pliegue Tumbado
Loma roughly translates to 'hill'; as opposed to the dramatic mountain peaks surrounding it, but nevertheless some 1,000m above the town of El Chalten.
This trek takes you to the south of the FitzRoy massif offering a different perspective on the mountains, as well the view south to the Lago Viedma. Although the alititude gain is significant the route is relatively easy going. You should allow 6-8 hours depending on how far up you go, and is around 16-18km round trip. Keep an eye out for the fossils!
Piedra del Fraile
To the north of FitzRoy lies the Electrico Valley and Piedra del Fraile is a charming little refugio and campsite. This is a gentle hike through the forest with very little climb but affords a great view of the vast Electrico Valley and the Marconi Glacier in the distance.
Ice hiking on the Viedma glacier
Another great option for a day trip would be head to the Viedma Glacier to try out some ice hiking for the first time. Whilst you can do this on the Perito Moreno glacier, this glacier just a few miles from El Chalten offers a much wilder and remote opportunity to don the crampons and get up close to the crevasses.
Complete Chalten Trek
THE all-encompassing trek of El Chalten, you’ll be guided in small groups to the best sights, climbs and lagoons of the área. With all ...More details
The best of Los Glaciares
Ideal for couples, this is the way to see the glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park, hike up to the base of Mount FitzRoy, ...More details
For those that are up for some longer days of trekking and camping overnight the rewards are great - off the beaten track routes, views out across the Patagonian Ice Cap and new perspectives on the FitzRoy mountains. These can be tackled in any order or direction but these are the four main areas/routes...
The Fitzroy and Torre loop
You can combine the treks to Laguna de Los Tres and to Laguna Torre into one trip using either the Poincenot or Thorwood campsite, and taking in the Madre & Hija lagoon as well. This is a great two day hike and with a third day with a guide you can cross to Pliegue Tombado as well via Paso Agachonas a more challenging a remote route.
Huemul Circuit and Paso del Viento (south)
This route isn't really accessible for the day hikers and you can therefore expect a much more remote experience as well as views over the Patagonian Ice Cap itself. Cerro Huemul stands at nearly 2,700m and this route circumnavigates the mountain and takes you up to Paso del Viento on the edge of the Ice Cap, and then along the edge of the Viedma glacier and lake. It's a 60km+ route with some tough climbs and terrain, and normally done over 4 days with 6-8 hours each day.
Pollone and Electrico Valleys (north)
The Electrico valley leads up to the other major access point to the Patagonia Ice Cap, the Marconi Pass. The Piedra del Fraile campsite is a nice staging post along the way, and as you progress further up the valley the landscape changes dramatically: witness the giant glacial boulders of the Pollone Valley and the other wordliness of Lago Electrico, at the base of the Marconi glacier's terminal morraine. A 2-3 day hike here will give a sense of the vastness and remotess of the Patagonian Andes.
Lago del desierto and Refugio del Diablo (30km north)
To the north of El Chalten lies Lago del Desierto with a 20km trail around it's eastern edge north to the frontier. There's also a trail to the north west up to Refugio del Diablo which offers 1-2 days very much off the beaten track and a good option for people spending a night or two at Lago del Desierto's lakeside lodge.
Torre Glacier 3 day trek
An intense and exciting 3 day trek deep into the FitzRoy massif. You'll hike the most famous trail in the area and then trek ...More details
Cerro Huemul lies at the centre of this challenging 4 day trek in the south of the FitzRoy massif. You'll trek all the way ...More details
Gorra Blanca Ascent
Climb a 2,900 metre peak overlooking the Patagonian Ice Cap. This is physically very demanding but does not require any technical mountaineering experience. With ...More details
Chalten Mountain Escape
A 5-day escape deep into the Los Glaciares national park for the fit and adventurous. Trek from El Chalten to the top look-outs and ...More details
Map of Chalten peaks, glaciers, campsites and Lodges
Find glaciers, lagunas, peaks and trekking landmarks on our interactive map of El Chalten and Fitz Roy:
When are you
thinking of going?
See Patagonia at the height of the season, when you'll have 18 hours of daylight and feel Patagonia's infamous wind at its strongest. There are just so many options open to you in addition to hiking, why not try glacier trekking, mountain biking and white water rafting on the rapids of the Futaleufu River?
If you want to visit last minute, the key is moving quickly and booking your flights. Availability in Chalten shouldn't be too difficult but in Torres del Paine it's likely that refugios will be fully booked. Don't worry though, it's warm enough to camp under the stars. If you're still in the planning stages of your trip but hope to go this season, it's a good idea to get flights booked as early as possible and make the most of Patagonia's summer before autumn sets in April.
February is a great time to trek Patagonia's national parks, in particular Torres del Paine quietens down as Chilean visitors head back to their cities. In Feb you can expect temperatures of between 5 and 19 degrees in Torres del Paine, and this could be a good time to trek the W Circuit independently if you want to save some money to go kayaking for example.
If you want to go in February but you've left it last minute, you may be able to find a late deal on our Exclusive Deals page. Your best bet is finding a Patagonia Tours which tend to have lots of departure dates to join during February.
If you're considering visiting next season, (starting in October), why not getting your flights booked good and early? If you're lucky you may be able to get flights from London to Punta Arenas for £850.
March is the tail end of the season for adventure in Patagonia so the infamous Patagonian wind will be on its way out, there'll be fewer people in the national parks so generally quieter on the trails. This is great as you may find prices come down slightly as the locals and tourists leave, but it's more difficult to get a group together, so could be harder if you're travelling alone (although we'll strive to pair you up with someone). However, most longer, multi-location trips run by our global operator partners still run in March and they tend to have bigger groups, but prepare for rain if your trip visits the lake district!
In April the season is coming to an end, so try to get there in the first half of the month for more availability and better weather conditions. If you're hoping to stay in the Eco Camp in Torres del Paine or do an adventure cruise round Cape Horn, they finish for the season in early April, so get going! Luckily it's about this time that skiing in Bariloche becomes available in the Argentinian Lake District. Remember that many mountain lodges and estancias close around this time making it hard to do the W or Full Circuit for example. Plus certain services become unavailable such as the catamaran across Lago Pehoe in Torres del Paine and glacier hiking, so it may be a good idea to go earlier in the season if these are on your list of things to do.
Find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
Winter is getting into full swing now so you may want to try out volcano skiing in the Patagonian Lake District or tailor made tours that take into account the potentially difficult weather conditions. As many operators and lodges wind down for the winter, fewer travellers visit the trails and parks so private departures on most trips are likely. The weather will be a bit like trekking in wales in Dec, are you up for that challenge?
Find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
At this time of year, the snow is starting to settle in Torres del Paine National Park and the trees are brown and orange, a very beautiful time to see the highlights. June is also when operators launch their Winter W Circuit and Fitz Roy trips, which vary from the usual itineraries as many refugios are closed and van transfers are required because the catamaran across Lago Pehoe stops. Although days are short and weather temperamental, if you can see Patagonia in winter, it will be serene and picturesque.
Find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
Mid winter, July is equivalent to our January in terms of weather. This is a great time to take advantage of the skiing Patagonia has to offer, particularly in the Chilean and Argentinian Lake Districts. Araucania offers off piste skiing, whereas Bariloche is home to the popular Cerro Catedral Resort but also caters for off piste skiing. For adrenaline junkies, you can ski down the slopes of several volcanoes on certain trips. If you're planning a trip for next season, start looking at flights as the sooner you book them, the cheaper they are.
If you hope to visit Torres del Paine this month, find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
This is a great time for snow shoeing in Bariloche, or skiing in the Patagonian Lake District. There are also some winter trips in the Torres del Paine & Fitz Roy areas. Come prepared - cold temperatures, snow and short days means that your trip may not go 100% according to plan, Chalten is known for snow blocking the roads for a day or 2. Alternatively, August is a great time to plan and book trips for the early part of the season ahead, at this time operators will be starting to release availability and rates to help with that.
August is the last month to take advantage of specially designed winter trips in Torres del Paine. If you're keen to see the park covered in snow, find out more about hiking in Torres del Paine in winter >>
In September, it's still pretty chilly in Patagonia, with snow and temperatures of 5 degrees in El Calafate for example. If you're hoping to trek the main national parks, you may find that operators don't have any groups heading out, so you may have to go on a private trip with just your guide. The season really kicks off at the end of September/beginning of October with W Circuit and Full Circuit trips as well as estancias and lodges opening their doors to clients.
However, winter trips are still running in Torres del Paine. Find out more here >>
Get in before the crowds - you won't see many people on the W Circuit and you'll have the northern part of the park pretty much to yourself on the Full Circuit (you may even come face to face with the endangered Huemul deer). It's still a bit too early for horse riding and rafting trips, you're best off doing these from November onwards. So if you're thinking about visiting Patagonia this season, get your flights and trips booked, as availability really starts to tighten up over October/November.
November is a good time to visit: late spring/early summer. Not too busy but a full range of trips and itineraries to choose from. If you want to visit this month, you need to move fast. Refugios are getting booked up until January, but the operator will work hard to fit you in. Don't forget it takes at least a week to organise a tour, so don't leave it too late!
Mid summer, 18 hours of daylight and there will probably be days when you're hiking in shorts and t-shirt. Many Chileans and Argentinians will come down to Patagonia for their Christmas break so availability may be tight and you should expect the National Parks to be busier.
It's essential that you get your flights and tours booked asap, as flight prices are also increasing.
Guide to Patagonia
Patagonia spans over 1,000 miles north to south and landscapes ranging from forests, to glaciers, to volcanoes and deserts. Read our Patagonia Guide to find out: how to get there, when to go, what to see and how to find the best trip. Or find out about:
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Tours of Patagonia
One way to see the very best that Patagonia offers is to join a tour that takes you to 2 or more different destinations in one trip. With these tours you'll be able to spend a few days in each area, hiking and exploring; and have all the logistics, transport and accommodation organised for you as you move around Patagonia. See all of our Patagonia Tours, or consider:
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