Travel Guide - Patagonia Travel Tips

By Matt & Jody Pritchard

Please Note: It's been about 4 years since we wrote this guide. Since then it's been viewed a few thousand times, and we have received a lot of positive feedback. Much of the information is still relevant, but we've made no substantial efforts to keep it updated. At the very least, the prices are probably out of whack. Keep this in mind as you plan your trip. We hope you enjoy Patagonia.

PN Los Glaciares Continued

How to Get There - The Perito Moreno area of Los Glaciares is usually visited during a one-day bus trip from El Calafate. Several bus companies run daily tours into the park and several have English speaking guides. Check the central bus terminal for rates and schedules. We paid 50 AGP ($16 USD) per person for our trip, which seemed to be the going rate. Buses leave between 7:00 - 9:00 AM and return in the late afternoon. The Fitz Roy sector of the park is accessed via El Chalten. In fact, El Chalten is inside of the park and several trailheads exist within the town. See above for information on getting to El Chalten

Highlights - Los Glaciares is a land of mountains and ice. Massive glaciers flow through the park and define a landscape that is harsh and beautiful at the same time. The Perito Moreno and Upsala Glaciers are two of the most popular glaciers to visit. The Perito Moreno glacier has an unbelievable 60 meter face and is advancing at 2 meters per day. Watching massive chunks of ice calve off into Lago Argentino is a case of Mother Nature putting on a great show. As the name implies, the Fitz Roy sector of the park is defined by the Fitz Roy massif and its various peaks and needles. Visits to the base of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy are a must do for any armchair mountaineer, as both mountains serve as proving grounds for the world's finest alpinists.

Trail Descriptions and Campsites - Again, we have listed a few trails within PN Los Glaciares below. The scope and order of these descriptions are based on our route through the Fitz Roy sector of the park during our trip. We have included approximate distances and brief descriptions about the trails and the campsites. All campsites in the Fitz Roy sector of the park are available free of charge and have no services other than pit toilets.

El Chalten to Campamento D'Agostini/Bridwell ( 6.8 mi, 11.0 km) - Several trailheads in El Chalten provide access to this route. Many trail markers may indicate the destination as Laguna Torre. The trail climbs steeply out of town and then rolls a bit before descending toward the valley of the Rio Fitz Roy. Once in the valley, the trail mellows out with only two brief climbs before arriving at Campamento D'Agostini/Bridwell. Keep your eye out for the turnoff to Campamento Poincenot (Sendero Laguna Madre e Hija), which you may use later in your trip. From Campamento D'Agostini, you can continue 10 minutes up the moraine to arrive at Laguna Torre and good views of Cerro Torre (weather permitting).

Campamento D'Agostini/Bridwell - Older maps and guidebooks refer to this as Campamento Bridwell. Newer maps and guidebooks and almost all trail signs refer to this site as D'Agostini. The campground is very large and is somewhat protected from the wind. Pit toilets are available at D'Agostini.

Campamento D'Agostini to Campamento Poincenot ( 5.6 mi, 9.0 km) - The trail is open! Several guidebooks and maps indicate that the "shortcut" trail between D'Agostini and Poincenot is closed. They are wrong - it is open! Moreover, the ranger indicated that the trail has been open since 1996, calling into question the accuracy of some guidebooks. The trail begins by back-tracking for about 1 hour toward Chalten. A sign marks the turn-off to the trail that is officially called Sendero Laguna Madre e Hija. From this junction, the trail climbs steeply through a wooded section and crests at a boggy area that is dotted with several lush, beautiful meadows. The majority of the climbing is over at this point as the trail continues along the shore of Laguna Hija and Laguna Madre. As the trail descends into the trees again, it becomes very difficult to follow. Look for pieces of red and white surveying tape tied to trees and bushes. When the trail emerges from the woods, you arrive at a junction with the trail between El Chalten and Campamento Poincenot. From here, the trail is well marked and Campamento Poincenot is only 10 minutes further.

Campamento Poincenot - This campsite is located directly below Cerro Fitz Roy, near the shore of the Rio Blanco. The site is huge and probably has room to accommodate 100 or more tents. The site is pretty well protected from the wind and several windbreaks have been erected with deadwood. Campamento Rio Blanco is a climbers-only campground that is located 10 minutes away, on the other side of the Rio Blanco. A pit toilet is available at this site.

Campamento Poincenot to Laguna de Los Tres ( 2.0 mi, 3.2 km one way) - The hike to Laguna de Los Tres is often done as a long day hike from El Chalten. Doing a roundtrip from Poincenot offers a more relaxed way to tackle this tough hike. From Poincenot, the trail crosses the Rio Blanco and then goes straight up. It may be short, but it is steep. The trail is easy to lose in many spots, but if you continue going up, you'll eventually get there. Laguna de Los Tres is as close to Fitz Roy as most mere mortals will ever get. The views are spectacular. If you descend the moraine to the shore of the lake and continue around the western (left) side of the lake, you can see beautiful views of Lago Sucia. Laguna de Los Tres can also serve as a launching point for those looking to climb Cerro Madsen, one of the most accessible peaks in this area of the park. The climb looks straightforward, but crampons, an ice axe, and experience using both is definitely necessary. Anyone seeking to climb Cerro Madsen would be wise to hire a guide familiar with the route and the hazards.

Campamento Poincenot to El Chalten ( 6.2 mi, 10.0 km) - This is a pretty straightforward hike back through a beautiful section of the park. A short side trip to Laguna Capri is worth the effort. The trail is relatively flat the whole way and most of the descending comes in the last mile or so. The trail ends at the northern end of town near the Campamento Madsen (see places to stay - El Chalten).

continued...

Questions or comments about this article? Let us know.