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Published: February 2nd 2010
Fitz Roy Mountain Range and approaching the town, El Chalten, Argentina
I spent a few days in El Chalten in the north of Los Glaciares National Park, three hours north from El Calafate. The scenery was of an interesting contrast, one side of the bus was of Patagonian steppe and on the other side was of lakes, rivers and mountains! We had comfort stop at a cafe on the Ruta 40 before continuing and eventually turning off on the Ruta 23 towards El Chalten.
Before arriving in El Chalten, we stopped twice. First stop was for a photo of the village and the surrounding mountains then the second stop was a visit to the Information Centre where we were briefed about the National Park including the dos and donts. For example, there is the huemel, a type of deer, which is endangered and dogs are a threat to the animal. Thus our responsibility was to prevent dogs entering into the park and trails and it looked a challenge as there are loads of dogs, some have a habit of following you, in the villages including a big one at the hostel I stayed. I had a couple of dogs barked at me and followed me whilst I was walking down a
Welcome to El Chalten
The trekking capital of Argentina!
street during my time here. Fortunately, I never had to encounter them on the walking trails. We were also given a map of the town and the walking trails available.
I stayed in a great hostel, The Rancho Grande
, which serves as travel centre, bus station, meeting point and cafe. It was also the bus terminus for our bus so I did not have to go far to check in!! The hostel is the starting point for the infamous Ruta 40 journey up to Perito Moreno, a rural town further up north in the province, and eventually onto Bariloche. This is a journey I plan to do when I return to Argentina in December (now February 2011). The dorm sharing arrangements and the hostel kitchen were something to be desired but apart from this it was a great place to relax and hang around with friendly and helpful staff.
I did quite a bit of walking over a couple of days and did the following trails: Chorillo del Salto
I did the trail to Chorillo del Salto. The trail was so easy even for a non hiker like me. The fact that I reached the falls in 45
minutes than the hour as stated on the map and I was not walking fast! The falls were pretty even if I have seen so many on my travels. At the falls, I was interviewed by Argentine TV on what I thought of El Chalten. So I had my short lived fame on Argentine TV! Mind you, I had a "rehearsal" before answering live in my very basic Spanish. Mirador Torre
I met Ken and Rhona, an American couple, and they recommended the walk to the Torre Mirador for the views. Because I am not a serious hiker and I did not want to stray too far away from the village because I would be walking alone, I thought it would be a good idea and it is only approximately 1.30 hours to the viewpoint. I also had plenty of time too and also it did not get dark until 10.00pm! Ken and Rhona dropped me off at the start of the trail where I began my ascent. It was steep at the beginning but apart from that it was a nice walk with occasional steep but balanced terrain. I got to the mirador just under two hours
A sign regarding Huemels
Dogs aren't allowed on the walking trails as they're a threat to the animals.
where I had my lunch and spent time admiring the Torre and Fitz Roy Range and the Glacier Grande. The weather was in our favour and we got almost clear views of the mountain range. After spending half an hour at the mirador, I returned whilst rest of the hikers continued on to Laguna Torre. If I was fitter and was with friends, I would certainly have continued on. However, I was satisfied and began my descent to El Chalten. I got lost int he village because I was disorientated but I eventually made it to my hostel. I was glad that I did the recommended walk to the mirador. Los Condores and Las Aguilas
The following day, I did a combined walk to both viewpoints where you got views of the village and Lago Viedma. I ascended from the information centre and it took around an hour to get to the Las Aguilas viewpoint and another 45 minutes to get to the Los Condores viewpoint. The views down below were great before the heavy rain and wind caved in. After having a very quick snack on the Los Condores viewpoint, I descended down to the village and
to the hostel for a relaxing afternoon.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in El Chalten. What I love about the place is the variety of walks and expeditions offered for everyone of different walking abilities. I am sure I will be returning there on a future trip.
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