El Chaltén is a small mountain village in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. It is located on the riverside of Rio de las Vueltas, within the Los Glaciares National Park (section Reserva Nacional Zona Viedma) near the base of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy spires, both popular for climbing. It is 220 km north of El Calafate. It is also a popular base for hiking numerous trails, such as those to the base of surrounding peaks and glacial lakes, such as Laguna Torre and Laguna de los Tres (near the base of Fitz Roy).
For those reasons, El Chaltén was named Argentina’s Trekking Capital or Capital Nacional del Trekking. Today the sole reason for its existence is tourism. In 1985, Argentina and Chile had a border dispute to gain and claim rights over El Chalten. There was no war in the end, and El Chalten was awarded to Argentina. Homes, government buildings, and flags of Argentina went up to mark the city settlement.
The town is located at the edge of the 12,363 km2 (4,773 sq mi) Southern Patagonian Ice Field and about 350 inhabitants live there throughout all the seasons of the year. Snow and ice mostly fence the town, and the homes are low structured with roads mostly made of rocks and dirt. In October 2014, El Chalten took second place in a ranking of “Best cities in the world to know” of the travel guide Lonely Planet publishing in 2015, being the first city of Argentina.
3 – 6 Days: Trek and explore the world renowned trails around El Chalten over the course of a few days or a week.