My knees hurt for days after the two treks in El Chalten, Patagonia the cutest little village surrounded by mountains also called The National Trekking Capital. But what an experience that was!
In only 3 days I had seen one of the biggest glaciers in the world and experienced trekking, both for the first time. Seeing the glacier was a great moment, but trekking during two days while witnessing the most breathtaking views, was out of this world.
Day 1 – Laguna Torre trek
We arrived in El Chalten at 10am. After checking in, we put our trekking shoes on, and off we went for the first trek to Laguna Torre. It took us 5h to complete the 18km return.
The whole trek had breathtaking views and it was a joy to experience it. Nature is truly amazing! My favorite moment was reaching Laguna Torre and not just because I took a nap :). You feel great like you have achieved something, and your reward is the view.
This trek is very dear to me as it was the first trek I had ever done. You know that feeling when you try something for the first time, and you are amazed and surprised at the same time? You think to yourself: Why didn’t I do this before? :). Well, let’s just say that after this first experience, I didn’t miss any trekking opportunities in South America. From the physically demanding Lost City trek in Colombia to the amazing Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, I found the activity incredibly rewarding.
Day 2 – Laguna de Los Tres trek
The 2nd trek we went for in El Chalten was Laguna de Los Tres, longer (20km in 7h)and much more difficult than Laguna Torre.
When we arrived in El Chalten, which is part of the Parque National Los Glaciares, we had to attend a briefing about the use and regulations of the park. Amongst the information we were given, we were told that for the Laguna de Los Tres trek, the last km is pretty hard. Well, I would say it’s beyond hard. It’s very steep and if the wind is blowing, it’s a bit of a nightmare.
I felt more the strain of the last km because of the 5km detour Bertrand and I did. We just followed a group of people who turned left instead of going ahead (in our defense, it was a bit unclear) and walked on huge stones which lead to a lake that we couldn’t cross. At that point, we decided to go back on the same strenuous path and although we found our way, the damage was done. We had lost 1.5h and were already very tired.
The difficult part
Now we needed to go through the toughest part of the trek, the last km under the pressure of the clock as we had booked a bus back to El Calafate.
Bertrand went for it. He was used to things like this, and although he was tired he still had enough strength to make it to the top.
For me, it was harder. I didn’t have his strength. I was already tired, my knees were weak, and I was ready to give up. But giving up is not in my nature. I will push myself to reach a goal, whatever the nature of that goal is. So I rested for a few minutes, had a cereal bar, drank water, splashed on some SPF and slowly started my way up. I was telling myself that I could do it, one little step at a time, helped by the stick Bertrand gave me. But although I was pushing myself, physically and mentally, I felt like I couldn’t make it. Time was running and we needed to start descending soon…
I made it!
I would have been really pissed off if I had climbed half way without reaching the top. So I continued, telling myself that I could do it, that I could make it in time. And I did.
I reached what I thought was the top, only to realize that there was another little hill to climb. I was ready to give up, I couldn’t do it anymore, I was trembling due to tiredness and emotions. But that would have been a shame, no? Being so close. So I gathered the little strength I had left and started climbing the last bit.
Just as I was starting the ascent, a lady stopped me to say that if I had a friend waiting for me up there, I should go. That the view was worth it and that he was waiting for me. That “friend” was Bertrand. He thought I might give up just at the end so he sent me a message. I had already decided to go up but hearing that from the lady warmed my heart and I went for it.
When I arrived, all the tiredness and emotions overwhelmed me. I saw Bertrand looking for me, I waved and then broke down. He was happy to see me and started recording my arrival but soon noticed my tears and the weak voice. I pushed myself a lot and my body and soul were both telling me off.
Photography by Bertrand Delvaux.
But all is well when it ends well. I sat down, had something to eat, admired the view, took some pictures and it was better.
The descent wasn’t easy either, but there was no time to think about it, we had to go and we had to go fast.
It was painful, especially the steep part which put a massive strain on my already weak knees, but we made it in time. We even had time for a savory waffle in :).
After eating, we went straight for the bus, and we were in El Calafate in 3h.
We still had the strength that evening at the hotel to check the pictures and videos and we were both happy. We saw amazing things. And as Bertrand told me “Pumpkin, you should be proud of yourself”. And I am.
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How and Where to:
How to get there: We took a bus from El Calafate. The cheapest company we found was Taqsa AR$585 return.
Where to stay: We stayed with the same hotel company we had in El Calafate, El Kaleshen and were very pleased with their services. *This post contains affiliate links.
Preparing for the trek:
- We had prepared our lunch boxes from El Calafate as we had read that there were no supermarkets in El Chalten. Rong, there are and plenty of them. Can’t say much about the prices, though.
- If you are not keen on preparing your own lunch, there are lunch boxes offered at most of the hotels and restaurants.
- Prepare for the sun, wind, rain, snow. They can come one at a time, or (almost) all at once :).
- There are also camping options, one of them only one 1km from the Laguna de Los Tres. Not a bad location if you wish to experience the sunrise.
That’s it for now. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my experience trekking in El Chalten, Patagonia. More posts from Argentina coming soon!