I spent four fabulous days in El Chaltén, in Southern Patagonia. This is the trekking capital of Argentina, with the awe inspiring peak of the Fitz Roy massif dominating the surrounding area.
One of the best things about being based in El Chaltén is that many of the walks start from the village, which means that your walking for the day begins as soon as you leave the door of your accommodation. It also means that when you finish the walk, the local bars are ready at hand for a post walk drink!
Paola and I took one of these walks through to Lago Torre, which is the lake in front of Glaciar Grande. It is about a 6 hour round trip to the lake, though if you have the time and inclination you can continue the walk around the lake to viewpoints next to the glacier.
It was a worthwhile trek, with views from early on in the walk, the sight of condors above and the sounds of parrots in the forest.
The other major walk directly from the village is the Fitz Roy trail that takes you to the base of Fitz Roy. On the way it passes Lago Capri and numerous viewpoints, providing a constantly improving view of Fitz Roy. If you only have time for one walk in El Chaltén make it this one.
It was a beautiful sunny day but unfortunately Paola was ill in bed. I put my walking boots aside, put on my trail shoes and went for a run.
Compared to hiking it means that you carry less weight on your back, and go further in less time. Basically in the time a hiker gets to their campsite, you’ve passed them, got to their campsite, looked around, passed them on the way back, had a shower and on your second pint by the time they get around to pitching their tent.
The run reminded me of why I like trail running so much. It has has so much more to offer compared to mindlessly running on a treadmill, or pounding out miles on city streets. You are not as prone to the overuse injuries that plague road runners, you strengthen arms and core and improve balance and coordination. The view is normally better too. In this case much better.
Even if you’re not running the trail is well worth it for the views of Fitz Roy. In fact the next day Paola and I hiked up to the first lookout, and went back to El Chaltén by way of Lago Capri.
We didn’t have the opportunity to walk on any other trails in the area, but a keen walker would be kept busy for many more days, though for some of the walks they would have to either make multiday treks or get transport to the starting points.