If El Calafate is small at 20,000, El Chalten is absolutely tiny at around 1,000 people during high season, with many workers coming in from other places in Argentina and heading back before the harsh winter. It is a several hour bus ride north of El Calafate, including passing the location of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s shack as seen in the Newman/Redford movie.
The town was originally created just so Argentina would have something to shore up their border claim with Chile. It continues to exist due to its proximity to Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre (in Chile), so, as with El Calafate, you have loads of turistas and turista dollars during the summer months.
Internet is virtually non-existent, which might sound a negative, particularly if you require immediate gratification in form of FB likes, but in reality is a huge positive. The only thing your gadgets should be used for is taking pics of the simply wonderful scenery.
Absolutely my favorite place we went on this trek. Like there isn’t even a Silver Medal. Loved other places, but this was 1st and 2nd.
After arriving and checking out the town we stopped in out of the cold (it was fairly cold here our first couple days) to the Wafleria for lunch. Not only breakfast waffles, but savory dinner waffles as well. Enjoyed a nice breakfast waffle with eggs, nice slab o bacon and some raspberry hot sauce. More discos for dinner – this time Chicken w/ Mustard. And craft beer. Seems pretty much everywhere in El Chalten serves craft beer. Good way to do business with home brew, as tourists wanting more than Quilmes so your experimentation costs are paid for and then some.
New Years Eve Day was the great Tres Lagos hike. 10km in, 10 km out. It is a difficult hike. Which is to say the first 9k weren’t too bad, a little uphill. The last KM was like Frodo ascending Mount Doom, moving almost as much laterally as ascending. 30 feet across for about 20 feet up, switch back the other way and repeat. Not in great shape, I was not particularly a happy camper. Wanted to keel over several times during the hike but persevered. As the pics show, the view at the top was worth all my whinging on the way up.
Soooo we finally made it to the top, me wheezing wretchedly and just wanting to collapse. Just short of the crest, with a spectacular view of Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and a lake, I had to pause for a couple minutes to allow a man to take about 3,200 pics of his female companion. After I made it another 30 feet, found a nice rock “couch” to sit back on and take in the view… and dude thanked me for my politeness by immediately plopping down in front of me to take another 3 minutes and 5,600 staged pics before some throat clearing or a snide remark on my behalf alerted him that he had parked his ass right in my view. (BitterTip: When traveling to a scenic spot, snap your pics quickly and be aware of those around you doing likewise or just trying to enjoy the view. Don’t be that guy. )
Rant over, more pics.
After the long hike down, which ended with us stuck the last km behind slow moving, trail hogging German tourists. Enjoyed, you guessed it, more craft beer on the way home before taking a nice, well earned nap.
Awoke later in the evening and found an outside table at a craft beer place for a few drinks before limping home.
Followed up on New Year’s Days with a shorter hike to a nearby waterfall. Soaked in some rays and ate more waffles and drank more craft beer. Hooray.
Loved El Chalten. If you ever consider going to Patagonia, make it a priority place to visit.