I had ridden over 400 miles down Ruta 40 through a region that was nothing but open plains of large estancias. Way off in the distance I could make out the snow covered mountains but they looked so far away. Eventually when I turned right and started heading West the view changed dramatically. Directly in front of me were the famous granite towers of Fitz Roy.
El Chaltén is village in Argentina at the base of two of Patagonia’s most famous mountains, Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. Chaltén is a native word meaning smoking mountain. They believed the mountain was a volcano as it was always covered in clouds. Known as the Trekking Capital of Argentina it draws professional climbers, hikers, and plenty of people who come just to snap a photo. Everyone that I’ve met who has been here has said the tall granite towers were behind thick fog so when I arrived to an almost clear blue sunny sky I couldn’t believe my luck.
The trail to Cerro Fitz Roy starts in town and has several options depending on how long you want to hike for and different skill levels. With my almost destroyed Converse All-Stars, snacks, and a bottle of water, I started up the trail to the Fitz Roy mirador.
The trail climbs up from the town and soon I was wandering from fields of tall dry grass into old forests covered in moss. The sounds of woodpeckers working away on the trees was all I could hear.
After 90 minutes or so I climbed over a few boulders and stood in awe at the massive Fitz Roy peak rising above the white glaciers below.
After spending a half hour sitting on a log taking in the view I continued down the trail to Lago Capri. I wish I had a trekking backpack as there is free camping at this lake and a few other spots in the park. This northern part of Los Glacieres National Park is free. You can spend days out here trekking and camping for free. If you have the right gear I definitely recommend it. I didn’t hike further but after meeting other hikers who did, I wish I had trekked to Poincenot or Tres Lagos.
I took the dirt road north from town for about 15 miles to Camping Bonanza. It’s a campground in an old-growth forest along the banks of the river. It’s a beautiful spot run by young Argentinean friends.