A few more houses have been built in the area but we still received the same warm welcome. I do not think it will be my last visit.
We started our hiking in Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine in Chile and then returned to El Calafate for a few days enjoying the local beer and wine before going to El Chalten. The nature reserve on the shores of Lago Argentina is worth a visit.
El Chalten was founded on October 12th 1985 by a decree that ordered its creation in order to promote human settlements in the Andean range of the province of Santa Cruz. The provincial government built El Chalten to reinforce its border with Chile which was in dispute at the time. This has now been settled.
El Chalten has not changed since my last visit in 2010. If you are a backpacker, or mountaineer it is a great place to visit, whatever your level of experience. The trails start on the edge of town. We spent 5 days hiking and enjoying the many good restaurants and bars every night.
Besides the main campsite, there are several small ones in the residential area of town that cater for a few tents. Every street has at least one B&B.
There are stores selling expensive camping gear. I did not see a good selection of dehydrated food. You can purchase partially used propane bottles if you are only doing an overnight camp.
Below are pictures of the places we visited. You can click on the thumbnail image to see a larger image with captions.
I have been asked several times which I prefer, the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in Chile or Parque Nacional Las Glaciores in Argentina.
If you want to spend each night in a B&B and have a good dinner and breakfast before choosing what trail to do then El Chalten is the one to choose.
If you want to do a multi-day hike but want to spend each night in a different bed the Torres De Pine W- Circuit is the one.
If you want to do a multi-day hike camping, there is not much difference between the two parks. Both have good trails, scenery and campsites. Once you move away from the main areas you will be on your own. In either you can hike for days and only meet other backpackers.
In El Chalten the trails end in the town so you can get a Burger and Beer as soon as you finish. In Chile there is a long ferry and bus trip to get back to Puerto Natales, but that is part of the adventure.
I hope to return and do the O-Circuit in Torres Del Paine.
Below are some of my previous South American adventures:
- Antarctica | December 2005
- Ushuaia – Argentina | December 2005
- Mount Roraima – Venezuela | June 2009
- El Calafate & El Chalten – Argentina | December 2009
- Circuit of Cordillera Huayhuash – Peru | August 2010
- Parque Nacional Torres del Paine – Chile | October 2016
- Return to El Calafate & El Chalten – Argentina | October 2016