El Chalten: The Home of Hiking
Back to Buses
Bright and early we checked out of Hotel Bahia Redonda, walked to the bus station and hopped on the very busy bus to El Chalten. The bus was expensive for a 3 hour journey, but I guess they know they can still fill up the bus.
As is usual for me on any kind of journey, I slept the whole way. The bus made two stops so I was forced to wake up a couple of times. At the first stop Greg made friends with other passengers by throwing hot coffee over them and himself. What a charmer! Just before the bus station at El Chalten we stopped at the National Park office for a presentation on the area. With both English and Spanish presentations, we learnt where we could hike, how long the hikes take and the history of the area.
The town itself is pretty tiny. We were staying almost as far from the bus stop at the south end of the town as you could get in Hostel Koonek. This was still only a 10 minute walk.
Everything in El Chalten is extraordinarily expensive. Our hostel cost us c.US$100 a night and was worth about US$20. Each meal that we had cost us around US$20 a head. It’s a good job that we aren’t staying long! I was pleased with the vegetarian selection though, I managed to get some decent food with vegetables and everything!
El Chalten is known as the national capital of trekking, so it’s the only reason to come here. The best hike is up to Mount Fitz Roy. Unfortunately for us, I had to do some work for a previous employer so that reduced our free time and so struck off this full day hike.
At the bus station you can pick up a map that includes details of all the hikes. These hikes range from easy to hard, 45 minutes to 7 hours. There are places to stay overnight throughout the park too.
All around El Chalten there are people climbing. Greg and I enjoyed watching people eat up a vertical slope like spiderman.
Incorrectly Named Viewpoints
Left with one day to enjoy the charms of El Chalten, we decided to hike up to Mirador de los Cóndores. The hike wasn’t too strenuous and we were blessed with a beautiful clear sky. El Chalten can be quite cloudy meaning that the stunning scenery cannot be fully appreciated. Boy, was it windy though, I thought that I might get blown off the mountain. This is definitely feels like the coldest place that we’ve been.
At the top of Mirador de los Cóndores, we stopped to soak up the view. Disappointingly there weren’t any condors to be seen. Perhaps they should consider renaming the viewpoint something else so not to misled people. We saw another trail up to Mirador de las Aguillas, so decided to go up to there too. Again, El Chalten consider the naming of your view points as we didn’t see any eagles here. The only animals we saw were cows, so Mirador de las vacas??
You can see why North Face put the view of Fitz Roy on their shoe boxes, as it is really a hiker’s paradise. The views are simply stunning (so long as you have a clear day). We enjoyed a lovely couple of hours in this area.
After a spot of lunch, we decided to walk to a waterfall, Chorrillo del Salto. The walk here wasn’t as enjoyable as it was often along a road. We perhaps should have chosen a different hike. Still, we had lovely views and met some pretty horses along the way.
The waterfall was a lovely, tranquil spot. A couple were meditating there; it was that kind of place. Greg and I stayed for an hour or so, just chilling.
Goodbye to Patagonia
Our original plan was to go from El Chalten to Bariloche, but the thought of a 24 hour bus journey on bumpy roads, on standard bus put us off. Paul and Christina (Antarctica) have sent us photos of a place they have been staying in Mendoza. It looks lovely, great weather, wine and a pool and all for less than our hostel in El Chalten. An added bonus is that Maeve-Ann and Luke (Antarctica) will be there too, giving us a second chance for gate-crashing their honeymoon.
So, Mendoza here we come.
We hope you enjoyed this post, if you did, you may also want to take a look at our blog on our time in El Calafate. As usual, all comments welcomed.