To this day, I consider Patagonia the most beautiful landscape I have ever visited. From monumental Mount Fitz Roy to breathtaking glacier lakes and granite towers of The Torres, this area has a lot to offer to any backpacker, hiker or climber.
The Climbing paradise of El Chalten
El Chalten sits at the base of Mount Fitz Roy and on the edge of the South Patagonia Ice Cap. From your hotel in El Chalten, you can walk straight out onto hiking trails around Mount Fitz Roy, or use it as a base for 3-4 treks up to passes overlooking the Ice Cap, or 8+ day expeditions onto the Ice Cap itself. El Chalten is a small mountain town and has a similar feel as Durango in Colorado or Chamonix in France. You will find tons of sport related shops as well as bars and breweries. The mountains are super unique-looking, huge, and full of glaciers. Plus, this is a much more accessible part of Patagonia, connecting to Argentina’s larger and more-traveled Ruta 40.
Cerro Fitz Roy and Laguna De Los Tres
The most beautiful trail gets you close to the Monte Fitz Roy, the destination is called “Laguna de los Tres”. You should start at dawn in El Chalten to avoid the day tourists from Calafate. Be prepared as the trail is pretty tough at the end. The starting point can be found in the north-west of El Chalten and is hard to miss (big signs). From there the only way is up, after 1h you reach the viewpoint “Mirador Fitz Roy”. Continue after a little break and follow the signs to the Camp “Poincenot”. After a flat section you’ll arrive at the camp which you have to cross – then you cross some small rivers and get to the final and steepest part (use the chance to fill your water bottle at the river). Follow the steep trail over huge rocks up to the lagoon.
The trail from town to the Cerro Torre is pretty flat and easy for most of the trek, but it is long, about 13 miles total. The whole way there, you’ll encounter various views and photo-ops of the Cerro Torre before arriving at the lake just before the famous mountain. It’s the only one in the area with three continuous peaks, popular with skilled rock climbers.
Backpacking Torres Del Paine
The Torres del Paine W trek is a ‘w’ shaped hiking trail that covers a distance of around 50-miles through Torres del Paine National Park. The Torres are what made the park famous, and when you see them for yourself, it’s obvious why: they’re giant, jagged peaks covered with a glacier and positioned perfectly for the sunrise. The red reflection of the sun on them is amazing, but if you want to get them all to yourself, hike up in the afternoon for sunset. You won’t get the amazing glow on the rock, but there won’t be many others around, which is a nice benefit. The Trek takes about 4 days, you will stay each night at different refugio while trekking all day the distance between these. The refugios offers “fool board” including breakfast, boxed lunch and dinner. You can also stay at the refugios and day hike around, no backpacking. That is the easier way how to see the park. I personally loved the backpacking because most of the time I felt the solitude. Although they were a lot of people in the park, with different itineraries and pace of hiking, it is easy to not see anybody all day long.