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Hiking in Patagonia is by far one of the most magical and rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had! There are few places that compare to the beauty of this region, with snow-capped mountains and crystal blue glacier water lakes. However, the region of Patagonia is so vast that figuring out exactly where to go and what hikes to do can be a challenge. To make things easier I’ve put together a comprehensive Patagonia itinerary for anyone looking to hike and explore Patagonia in Argentina. Read on to find out more about visiting El Chalten, El Calafate, and Bariloche!
Hiking in Patagonia Itinerary
What You Need to Know
Patagonia is a vast region in the South most part of Argentina, covering some 400,000 square miles. It actually stretches across both Argentina and Chile, but for the sake of this Patagonia itinerary we will focus on Argentina.
What is the Best Time to Visit Patagonia?
The best time to visiting Argentinian Patagonia is from November to February. Since Patagonia is located in the Southern hemisphere, these months span the region’s Spring and Summer. During these months you can expect warm temperatures and clear skies. However, you can also expect more tourists, especially around the winter holidays.
The average temperature during January and February is in the 70s (Fahrenheit), whereas the months leading up tend to average in the mid-60s.
How to get to Patagonia?
Most people arrive in Argentina via the capital, Buenos Aires. There is an international airport in Buenos Aires, with flights arriving from around the work. You can find nonstop flights to Buenos Aires from the rest of South America, the US, and Europe.
El Calafate is a perfect first stop on your Patagonia itinerary, since the city actually has its own airport. There are frequent daily flights between Buenos Aires and El Calafate on both Aerolineas Argentinas and LATAM. While there isn’t a ton to do in El Calafate, it is a great place to get ready for your upcoming hiking adventures. There are plenty of accomodations, restaurants, and boutique shops for any additional hiking gear that you need to pick up.
What to Do in El Calafate
If you’re visiting El Calafate then a trip to El Morado Glacier is a must. We booked our trip with Hielo y Adventura Minitrekking Full Day Tour and it was a fabulous full day adventure. We did the mini-trekking tour, which only consisted of about 30 minutes of hiking on the glacier. While it was super fun to put on my crampons and stomp around in the ice, we didn’t feel the need to do a multi-hour ice hike. Full day tours start cost approximately 8,000 ARS ($120 USD), and are well worth the price.
Where to Eat in El Calafate
Parrilla La Marca
Parilla La Marca is a delicious restaurant, just a short walk from the main street in El Calafate. A must on your Patagonia itinerary! You’ll want to arrive hungry because this cozy spot offers all-you-can-eat parrilla at a very reasonable price. As is standard at many Argentinian parillas, the restaurant offers table grills fun of meat, with a salad bar.
How Long to Stay in El Calafate: 1-2 Days
The town of El Chalten has a laid back hippiesque-feel, providing the perfect base for some of Patagonia’s best hikes!
Which Hikes to Do in El Chalten
There are so many amazing hikes to choose from in El Chalten, but the following are an assortment of my favorites. The hikes range in length and difficulty, with options for every type of hiker. All of the trails in El Chalten are clearly marked, so there is no need for a guide.
- Mirador Los Condores & Mirador Las Aguilas (6 km)
- Salto El Chorrillo (4 km)
- Laguna de los Tres to Mt Fitz Roy (26 km)
- Laguna Torre (20 km)
- Pliegue Tombado (22 km)
El Chalten, Patagonia Itinerary
Day 1: Mirador Los Condores & Mirador Las Aguilas (6 km) and Salto El Chorrillo (4 km)
Get your muscles warmed up on the first day in El Chalten with a couple of easy hikes. If you start in the early afternoon, you should have no problem doing both of these hikes. Although these are both are less strenuous than the rest of the hikes on the itinerary, the view points are definitely impressive and worth the visit!
Day 2: Laguna de los Tres hike to Mt Fitz Roy (26 km)
Now that it’s Day 2 and your muscles are all warmed up from the day before, it’s time to conquer one of Patagonia’s best hikes. Laguna de los Tres is easily the most famous hike from El Chalten, as it leads to the famous Mt Fitz Roy. Fun fact, Mt Fitz Roy is actually the mountain range on the popular Patagonia clothing brand logo.
This hike is challenging with long windy hills. The hike starts at the far end of Avenida San Martín, where the town of El Chalten ends. It starts relatively steep and has a particularly brutal incline during the last hour or so up to the lake! The views at the lake are well worth it though, especially if you are lucky enough to visit on a clear day.
The 26 km (16 mile) out and back hike takes an average of 8-10 hours, depending on your pace and the length of time spent at the lake. The elevation gain is approximately 2,300 feet, or 700 meters. Many also opt to carry their gear in and camp out closer to the lake. This is a great option if you’re looking for a shorter hike, and a great sunrise or sunset view.
This trail is open year round, but weather and conditions will vary by season.
Day 3: Laguna Torre hike (20 km roundtrip)
Although still a long day, this hike is quite easy compared to the Laguna de los Tres hike. The hike takes approximately 6 hours, following Rio Fitz Roy until you arrive at the base of Cerro Torre. It is a striking background, and a great place to snap some shots. Along the hike you’ll find super diverse terrain. The hike’s landscape gave me some serious land of the dinosaur vibes.
Day 4: Pliegue Tombado (22 km roundtrip)
This is a 7-8 hour hike, with a trailhead at the National Park Ceferino Fonzo Visitor Center. You will need some stamina for this hike, as the majority of the hike is at a slight incline, through forested areas. The final hour or so of the high is a steep incline, wiht no coverage, reaching 1500 meters (4920 feet).
Since Pliegue Tombado is one less famous hikes, there will be less tourists on the trails, giving you time and space to take in the incredible panoramic views at the top!
Where to Stay in El Chalten
Condor de los Andes
Dorm and private rooms. Central location. Great kitchen space.
Where to Eat in El Chalten
Prana Bar Natural
Prana Bar Natural is a cozy spot in spot, serving an assortment of vegan and vegetarian dishes. We loved all of the soups, especially after a long day of hike.
Parrilla La Oveja Negra
Parrilla La Oveja Negra is a great option if you’re looking for a traditional parrilla in Chalten.
La Cerveceria Chalten
How Long to Stay in El Chalten: 3-4 Days
Hikes, bikes, and kayaks, this city has got all that — plus a vibrant social scene. A visit to Bariloche is a must on any Patagonia itinerary.
What to Do in Bariloche
Rent a bike and cycle around the 27 km perimeter of Circuito Chico
Take the funicular up Cerro Otto for views of the lakes
There are many tours offering fun excursions such as horseback rides and rafting
Where to Stay in Bariloche
Where to Eat in Bariloche
I’m not usually one to eat at the same place multiple times on a trip, however we came back three nights in a row for Manush’s amazing trout!
How Long to Stay in Bariloche: 2-3 Days
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