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  • Writer's pictureDave Jackson

3 day/2 night hike from El Chalten - Mount Fitz Roy

Updated: Jun 9, 2023


Mirador Maestri panoramic shot

We did this epic 3 day, 2 night hike in November 2022 and would recommend it to any keen hikers staying in El Chalten. The scenery and landscape are incredible and you are spoilt with the diversity of lush forest, snow capped mountains and sprawling lakes. If you are lucky and the weather is kind (sadly we weren't!) you will be able to marvel close up at the spectacle that is the iconic Mount Fitz Roy, but get ready for some pretty gusty winds and the standard Patagonia 4 seasons in one day!


We love camping and hiking but had never done the two together before, well, except for when we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro but we had a team of 27 porters looking after us then! Maybe I should say we have never hiked all day and then had to put up a tent and cook dinner on a camp stove, pack up the next morning and do it all again! We were already booked to do the O Circuit in Torres del Paine two weeks later so figured this walk was the perfect trial run. Not sure what we would have done if we had hated it! Thankfully, we thoroughly enjoyed it, despite having very wet weather, and would highly recommend giving it a go.


If multi day hikes are not for you, it is possible to take in the main sights on a couple of single day hikes from El Chalten. We have detailed these on our El Chalten post.


This multi day hike takes advantage of the free camp sites in the national park & visits the main highlights of the area; Mount Fitz Roy lookout & Mirador Maestri. It is a moderate to challenging hike as you are carrying your camping gear & there are a couple of steep climbs, but should be doable for all with a moderate fitness level. As we have proved it is possible for people with no multi day hike experience, all you need is a little determination 😊


In this post we have tried to cover everything you need to know when doing the walk & links are provided to maps to help you follow the route. If you have read our El Chalten post already we have covered some of the information about camping gear hire there but don't worry we've covered it all here too.


 

Table of Contents


 

**This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We may be eligible for a small amount of commission, it won't cost you any more, it will just help fund this amazing blog!**


1. Camping gear packing list


You want a 2/3 man small sturdy (Patagonia is known for some pretty strong winds!) hiking tent, as light as you can get your hands on as you are going to be carrying it!


Although they are bulky they are very light & an absolute must. They make it slightly comfier but also lift you off the ground a little to make you much warmer.


Even in the summer you will want a sub-zero sleeping bag. Although it can get pretty warm in the daytime temperatures drop overnight.


Not everyone uses a sleeping bag liner but we swear by them & always take them with us when budget travelling. They are great if you are hiring sleeping bags as you don't know how well they have been washed. Even if you have your own bag, it's easier to wash a liner than a full bag.


After a day hiking in Patagonia even in the summer you have probably been hit with strong winds, may have been snowed on & a bit of rain too. It's nice to end the day with a hot meal & a drink so make sure take/hire some lightweight cooking gear. We took a small burner (and gas), a pan, cutlery & cups (we chose to eat out of cups rather than on the plates provided by the camp place to save weight & avoid the risk of our dinner being blown away!).


2. Personal packing list


Your comfortable, trusty walking boots are a must (obviously you will have these on when you set off!


Not essential if you can't fit them in but it is nice to get your feet out of your walking boots at the end of the day.


Clean pair for every day. Moisture wicking is best, unfortunately, there are no showers on the trek so unless you are planning to go for a swim in a glacial lake your only wash will be wet wipes.


You will be wearing one & take one spare, we like zip off as they give you options depending on the weather. The weather in Patagonia is unpredictable so if you end up getting soaked wet through you will want a spare pair of trousers to change into at night. If you end up getting wet on day one it is still best to put your damp ones on when you set off on day two as if you get wet again you will have no dry clothes. They will dry much quicker with your body heat than rolled up in your bag!


Walking t-shirt (base layer)

Moisture wicking & light. As above, you will wear one & if you get wet you will want to take it off at camp. However, the next day you will want to put the damp one on to dry out to avoid running out of clothes.


We had a zip-up, quick drying, soft shell jacket with a hood.


Down jacket or mid-weight soft shell, even in the summer months the weather is unpredictable and temperatures can fall at night.


As above, Patagonia is known to throw 4 seasons in a day at you. Even if the weather forecast says sun, take your waterproof. Gore-Tex is best!


Patagonia is located close to the Arctic ozone hole so UV is high even if it isn't scorching hot. Take a sun hat, especially if you are 'follicly challenged' like me!


This is not to make you look cooler on the hike it is to protect your eyes (although there is no harm if they do both!). Make sure they are polarised with a high UVA/UVB filter, you want them to be category 3 or 4 lenses.


To keep your head warm when it's cold of course!


Depending on the time of year you may need a couple of pairs (thick all season & lightweight). We didn't need our waterproof all season ones, it is best to take lightweight, water-resistant, windproof gloves as a minimum though (we carried but didn't use).


Basic toiletries

There are no showers at the camps but wet wipes, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, tissues and hand sanitiser are a good idea.


As above it may not be scorchio but UVA/UVB are high in Patagonia. Take high factor sun cream.


They seemed to be out in the day rather than night but its best to keep the bitey things away.


There are composting toilets at the camp but you need to bring your own toilet roll.


3. Other items to consider


There are plenty of rivers and lakes you can fill up from all the way along the route so you don't need to carry anything bigger than a 1-litre water bottle. The water throughout the park is safe to drink.


We always carry a basic first aid kit when hiking, even on single day hikes, containing pain killers, plasters, blister plasters & antihistamines. For a multi day hike I would also throw in a couple of bandages, dressings, tape, antiseptic wipes & Imodium.


These can be really useful for steep uphill and downhill or even just to help steady you against the wind! Becca has only just bought into poles but I have used them for a while as they are great on downhill sections if you have dodgy knees!


You might just want to use your phone's torch but we find head-torches really useful, especially if you are considering climbing up to Mount Fitzroy for sunrise as it is quite a scramble and better to have your hands free.


To keep you entertained at camp. Realistically the days aren't long days hiking so you will be at camp a while, the main reason you are camping is to try to see the amazing sunrises (well if you are luckier than us!)


The ignition spark doesn't always work on them or if it gets wet!


Washing up liquid & sponge or cloth to wash your dishes.

It's a bit gross to not clean your dishes!


It would be devastating if you get to see the amazing orange glow on Fitzroy but can't capture it as your camera has died (well not that devastating, at least you got to see it!).


Great for emergency repairs to camping equipment and even walking boots!


4. Hiring camping equipment in El Chalten


To hire trekking equipment there are a few options in El Chalten but we only found one place that offered tents for hire, Bajo Zero. The staff were helpful, most spoke English & the equipment we got was all good quality (well apart from the pan was a bit misshaped & the plates not very flat!).


Bajo Zero – open every day 9am – 10pm

Here’s an outline of their charges as of December 2022


Tent 2 person $ 4,000 per night

3 person $ 6,000 per night

4 person $ 8,000 per night


Sleeping bag & roll matt $ 2,000 per night


Kitchen set 1/2 person $ 1,500 per night

3/4 person $ 2,000 per night

Consisting of stove, plates, a pan, cups & cutlery


Trekking poles $ 800 per day *


Walking boots $ 1,500 per day

I wouldn’t recommend walking in hired boots as they aren’t worn in for your feet but if you have no other option….


Waterproof jacket $1,800


*We thought we had been over-charged but once the lady explained the difference between per night and per day it made sense. They charge the trekking poles per day & the camp gear per night. Which means we paid 3 days for the poles but only 2 nights for the camp gear.


The owner of the shop said they normally allow you to pick up the gear the night before or first thing on the day you leave. We went into the shop at 12/1pm & she allowed us to take the gear due to the Argentina game being on that day. Normally there is the option to put your name down during the day & pick the gear up later.


5. Tips for what food to pack

  • Consider the time of year you are walking and what temperatures will be like. You probably don't want to be carrying too much perishable food in the height of summer.

  • Try to pack lightweight food as you are going to be carrying it yourselves and you will not thank yourself for a really heavy backpack.

  • Go high calorie and energy rather than quantity of food - apples may taste great but the energy to weight ratio doesn't do them any favours!

  • Your meals will need to be one pot (unless you are going to hire and carry multiple stoves and pans!)

  • Dehydrated meals can be pretty tasty, extremely lightweight and easy to prepare (you just add boiling water) but are not the cheapest option and not as widely available as pasta and rice!

  • It is a good idea to start the day with something filling like porridge, and always nice to end the day with a hot meal.

6. What food we took

  • We pre-prepared sandwiches for day 1 lunch and wraps for day 2 & 3 lunches.

  • We ate porridge for breakfast with some dried fruit mixed in for flavour and texture.

  • For our two evening meals we fried off some fresh onion and chorizo, removed that from our pan and cooked rice, adding in some dried herbs for flavour. Once the rice was cooked we added the onion and chorizo back in. Not a gourmet meal by any standards but warm and filling. FYI - draining the rice was impossible as we had no strainer or pan lid so we cooked with just enough water for it to all boil off.

  • We also had some cuppa soups that we could enjoy whilst waiting for our rice to cook - 2 course meal, flash-campers I hear you say!!

7. The route


Day 1


El Chalten (400m) to Camp Poincenot (750m)


Elevation gain 440m


Distance 8.4km


Time required 2 hours 45 minutes


Difficulty rating Moderate, the first 3km has a 350m elevation gain which is a little tricky due to the backpack




Set off late morning or early afternoon & walk north out of El Chalten on the Avenida San Martin to Sendero la Fitz Roy, where the trail starts, which is about 1.5km from the centre of town. The start of the trail is uphill & you gain 350 meters in the first 3km. During the ascent you are rewarded with some great views of El Chalten town below & the surrounding mountains. Upon reaching Mirador Fitzroy you have finished your climb & the next 5km is fairly flat. The last 1-2Km was very windy on our hike as it is a bit more exposed, catching you off guard with some pretty big gusts! On the final leg into camp, you have to cross a few waterways which were a little hairy in the wind with a backpack on as there is no hand rail & you are basically walking across a couple of logs. However, don’t panic too much, if you were to fall in it would only result in an icy ankle rather than being washed away in a torrent!


When you get to camp, set up your tent & drop your bags. At this point I would recommend leaving your gear behind, grabbing your water & heading to the Mirador Piedras Blancas.


Camp Poincenot is located under trees offering shelter from the wind. There is a long drop toilet & water source** close by.

We hired our gear from Bajo Zero in El Chalten, for details see our El Chalten post.




**You can safely drink from the lakes and rives in the National Park which is why it is so important not to contaminate the waters. Use the toilets provided and take water from the river to wash yourselves or any pots and pans far from the water’s edge.



Camp Poincenot (750m) to Mirador Piedras Blancas (750m) and return


Elevation gain 107m


Distance 4.7km return


Time required 1 hour


Difficulty rating Easy

This is an easy flat hike, but why take your bag if you don’t need to!




Retrace your steps back out the campsite. You will see a signpost where you turn left towards the Mirador Piedras Blancas. The viewpoint allows you to look across to the Ventisquero Piedras Blancas (glacier) which runs into the Laguna Piedras Blancas. Take a few customary shots for the ‘gram 😉 then head back to camp.


If you are feeling particularly energetic & the weather is clear it may be a good idea to head up to Laguna de Los Tres as the weather in Patagonia is very changeable & you could miss your chance to see Mount Fitzroy up close (see day 2 for details). Unfortunately for us it was raining by this point in the day & covered in cloud, so we stayed at camp.


Day 2

Camp Poincenot (750m) to Laguna de Los Tres (1,175m) and return


Elevation gain 470m


Distance 5.3km return


Time required 2 hours 30 minutes


Difficulty rating Difficult







If the weather is clear, you will want an early alarm for this one! We set our alarm for 3am in the hope of setting off to see first light at Mount Fitzroy (first light, not sunrise, which is about 45 minutes before sunrise) however it was raining quite heavily & extremely windy as it had been all night, so we opted for a few more hours in bed as we weren’t going to be able to see the famous orange glow of Fitzroy at first light anyway.


Dave taking a break from the climb up to Laguna de Los Tres
Dave taking a break from the climb up to Laguna de Los Tres

Leave your gear at camp for this one too. After a short walk across a few more logs over waterways you start your accent. To begin with the accent is fairly steady before turning into a bit of a scramble at parts. The hike is a difficult one as it’s likely to be windy & you may be with other unsavoury conditions as it is exposed & it is Patagonia (we had some horizontal hail near the top!).

After the main part of the climb you think you are reaching the top which turns out to be a false summit. It’s another 15/20 minutes from here where you cross some scree & bit more climbing before being rewarded with your view across Laguna de Los Tres. Even in adverse conditions like we had the lake is beautiful & we were able to see some of the surrounding mountains but not Fitz Roy unfortunately!


I would not recommend taking children/less able-bodied people on this part of hike, especially in adverse conditions. Unfortunately, in Patagonia the weather can change in an instant, so be prepared for anything. If you are gifted with favourable conditions and can get to Laguna de Los Tres for first light take lots of warm clothes & ideally a hot drink as its best to get there early & wait. We spoke to a couple who had missed first light by 6 minutes & it was too late for the famous orange glow!


Mt Fitz Rpy hidden behind the clouds
Believe it or not, Mt Fitz Roy is behind there somewhere

Once you have taken in the lagoon & hopefully Fitzroy it’s time to descend via the same route you came up back to Camp Poincenot. People with bad knees, poles are useful, as it’s pretty steep in parts.


After packing up camp it’s time to get your backpack back on & head to Camp Agostini.



Camp Poincenot (750m) to Camp Agostini (620m)


Elevation loss 130m (start-finish, you go down to 560m before climbing back to 620m)


Distance 11km

Time required 3 hours 30 minutes


Difficulty rating Easy




The hike from camp to camp is a fairly easy. You retrace your steps from the day before across the logs over the waterways before heading south along the Sendero Madre Hija, so named as you pass Laguna Madre & Laguna Hija (mother & daughter).


Upon reaching the end of Sendero Madre Hija turn right towards Laguna Torre, from here there you have another 3.5km to Camp Agostini which is all pretty easy going but seemed a little long for us as on the official map it doesn’t state the distance & we didn’t think it looked that long.

Upon reaching camp, get your tent set up & then check out the Tirolesa lookout across the laguna before dinner & turning in for the night


Becca showing off her culinary skills at Camp Agostini
Becca showing off her culinary skills at Camp Agostini

Camp Agostini is located under trees offering shelter from the wind. There is a long drop toilet & water source is a little further out marked on the map so may be worth refilling your water before arriving at camp.


Day 3

Camp Agostini (620m) to Mirador Maestri (810m) and return


Elevation gain 190m


Distance 4.3km

Time required 1 hours 30 minutes


Difficulty rating Moderate







If you have clear skies a sunrise hike to Mirador Maestri is recommended. On our trip it was serious rain at 4am but the forecast said things improved after 10am so we opted for a lie-in.

The hike from Agostini to the Mirador isn’t a long one, after leaving the camp turn left & head back towards the Laguna Torre. Upon reaching the lake follow one of the paths around the lake anti clockwise (you can see the way the whole route but many different paths have been forged).

The route itself isn’t too challenging but the path is a rocky & a bit uneven. The only challenge when we experienced it was the wind, which was driving at us on the way out to the mirador but we had a tailwind on our return. The mirador offers amazing panoramic views from the Glacier Grande all the way down the valley. It looked as though we had all seasons in the one view, from the barren snow-capped mountains behind (it was also snowing on us), the glacier to your right, panning left there were icebergs in the Laguna Torre & last all the lush green of the valley bathed in sunlight.


On the return trip the tailwind was fun at first, making us feel like we were flying but it then got a little strong so we opted to take a route below the ridge for a little more shelter.





Camp Agostini (620m) to El Chalten (400m)


Elevation loss 220m


Distance 8.7km

(ignore the way markers, for some reason the trail starts/finishes 500m into the park. We were a little dishearten as we had seen the countdown of kms between El Chalten & Laguna Torre only to find the trail start wasn’t even in view of El Chalten).


Time required 2 hours 30 minutes


Difficulty rating Easy


The walk back to El Chalten is mostly flat or downhill with a couple of small up-hill stretches. We were blessed with the best weather we had for our whole trip on this leg & enjoyed sunshine and less wind. The terrain is a little rocky & uneven in parts which can be a little annoying on tired legs. About 2/3 of the way down take in an impressive series of waterfalls at Mirador Cerro Torre.

You will notice during this walk (as with most of the park) there at way markers counting down the kms to Laguna Torre. Don’t make our mistake & think when you get to zero you are at the end of the trail, for some reason the trail starts 500m into to the park.


Upon your return to El Chalten, drop your bags, take a shower & have a nice chilled beer to celebrate your journey!


Hopefully you have found the above useful, to follow the maps above, follow this link to my AllTrails list. However, please note as I have set them as 6 individual walks to allow you to follow them at each step of the way. You would need to be a AllTrails Pro member to download all the trails individually & follow offline. The last trail on my list all 6 walks combined which you can open as a basic member (free) whilst in phone service area to follow & will stay open once you leave service (there is no phone network for most of the trail) but you would not be able to track your progress quite so easily.


8. Summary


Despite being a little unlucky with the weather and missing out on sunrise at Mount Fitz Roy we had a fantastic time. We found carrying our all our camping gear and equipment surprisingly satisfying and were really pleased with ourselves for completing this 3 day hike! The scenery is unreal and whether you visit this amazing national park for one day or three you are going to enjoy it.

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1月07日

This sounds great! Will definitely do this in El Chalten. I just had a couple of questions. Did you leave you tent etc at Camp Agostini when you went to Mirador Maestri then collected on return? And were you able to leave a bag in El Chalten during this hike? And lastly, were there many others doing this hike? I'll only have about 3 and half days in El Chalten so wondered if it is worth doing this multi-day hike or stay in town and do day hikes :) Appreciate this detailed post!!

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