Visiting El Chalten has been a dream of mine for some time now. There’s nothing more relaxing in my mind than going to a small town in one of my favorite countries with top-notch hikes within walking distance. Laguna Torre is one of those hikes and the trailhead was literally five minutes from where we were staying. Unbelievable.
There’s a charm to this town that words can’t explain. You have to experience it for yourself.
In this guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know about hiking Laguna Torre and why it’s a fantastic hike for all fitness levels.
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Why You Should Hike to Laguna Torre (Cerro Torre)
Cerro Torre is the perfect hike to get you in shape and ready to hike to Fitz Roy (Laguna de los Tres). It’s sometimes considered one of the easier, longer hikes in El Chalten, Argentina, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.
This hike offers multiple viewpoints of rivers, valleys, glaciers, and lakes. While some sections have a steady incline, others are flat and relatively easy to do.
Where is Laguna Torre Trailhead Located?
Laguna Torre is located in the Los Glaciares National Park, which stretches from El Chalten all the way down to El Calafate, where the famous Perito Moreno Glacier is.
The trailhead is located in the western part of town, right past the big black staircase/bike ramp.
It’s hard to get lost in this town but it’s smart always to have a set of offline maps downloaded. I love using Mapsme because it’s easy and accurate.
How to Get Around El Chalten
This is going to be a short section because getting around El Chalten and reaching the trailheads is very easy!
El Chalten is a small town, and everything is within walking distance. There is a parking lot for hikes like Laguna de los Tres and Chorrillo del Salto. But a car isn’t necessary.
It’s a different experience when compared to other Patagonia towns like Bariloche but it’s really something unique not having to worry about transportation.
Things to Know Before Hiking
Hiking in El Chalten is pretty straightforward. The hikes are easy to find and there’s normally a lot of people. So you’re never alone.
With that being said, there are a few things I think you should know before setting off on the trail!
Things to Bring
Patagonia is known for its huge mood swings of weather, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. It’s what makes this area unique. But it’s a good idea to come prepared.
During the peak season between the months of December to February, there will be warm weather, cold weather, and rainy weather. Here are some things I suggest bringing.
Best Time to Hike Laguna Torre
If you’re looking for the best odds of having perfect sunny weather, then you’ll want to hike Laguna Torre during the months of December through February. Maybe even into April.
The winter here is brutal; unless you’re experienced and enjoy this type of weather, it’s not recommended to visit during the months of May to September.
Patagonia is known for its high wind gusts at any given moment, but you can expect this in the afternoon, even during the peak season.
Traveling on a budget is hard, especially when visiting Patagonia. But one of the bright spots is El Chalten and not having to pay any money to hike in their national park.
I know money does help keep everything running smoothly and keeps the place better for future generations. But sometimes you just want to go out and hike without the worry of money, and El Chalten has that!
Camping at Laguna Torre
Camping out near the hikes in El Chalten isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you want to view the sunrise with minimal tourists, camping can be an awesome experience!
The best campsite to use if your goal is to view the sunrise at Laguna Torre, I’d suggest camping at De Agostini Campgrounds.
It’s located right near the lake, which means you don’t have to wake up extremely early to view the sunrise!
Is Laguna Torre (Cerro Torre) Hike Difficult?
When comparing Cerro Torre to other hikes in El Chalten, most would say this hike isn’t difficult. It’s long but isn’t overly difficult.
Still, I wouldn’t say this hike is for all fitness levels. It’s possible but due to the length, you’d have to make sure you start early. This will give you ample time to take as many breaks as possible.
Hikes like the Mirador de los Condores is a shorter and easier hike that still offers fantastic views.
Hiking Details for Laguna Torre
- Distance: This is a 10.9-mile out-and-back hike.
- Duration: On average, it will take people 5 – 7 hours to complete this hike. This depends on how long you stay at the top and your fitness level.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of the increased elevation gain and length of hike.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1,643 feet or 500 meters.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public
Combining Laguna Torre with Laguna de los Tres
If you’re looking for an even bigger adventure, you can combine the trail to Laguna Torre with Laguna de los Tres. This would be an extremely long day if you’re looking to do it all at once. Instead, I suggest camping for a couple of nights and really enjoying nature.
Here’s an example of how you can do this:
- Day 1: Hike to Agostini Campground from El Chalten. Set up camp here and get ready to wake up in the morning to view Laguna Torres for sunrise.
- Day 2: Wake up for sunrise and begin your trek to Campamento Pointcenot. Head back down from Laguna Torre like you’re going back into town. Where there’s a bathroom, there’s a left turn. Take a left here and stay left until you reach Pointcenot.
- Day 3: Wake up early and head to Laguna de los Tres to view Fitz Roy for sunrise. Afterward, hike back into town.
How Crowded is Laguna Torre Trail?
Cerro Torre is one of the most popular trails in one of the most popular towns in Patagonia. It’s going to be crowded (unless you go in the off-season).
But with that being said, the town can only fit so many people. So it’s not as crowded as I think it could be.
You will see many people along the trail and at the lake but you’ll still have time to yourself.
Best Places to Stay in El Chalten
- Rancho Grande: This is one of the most popular hostels in the area. It’s large and has its own restaurant with a bar! I didn’t stay here, but we grabbed a couple of beers here and loved it!
- Kau Si Aike: Centrally located, this is an apartment that also comes with free breakfast! The place is clean and has some great mountain views.
- Destino Sur Hotel & Spa de Montaña: Looking for a more luxurious experience? Check out this lovely spa located near many fantastic restaurants!
My Experience Hiking Cerro Torre
This was the first hike that we decided to do when visiting El Chalten. We were here for five nights and wanted to do four hikes. So we decided to start with Cerro Torre and then complete a couple of easier ones after that. And we wanted to end with Fitz Roy.
I haven’t done a long hike like this in two months since I was in Bolivia.
Mirador Cascada Margarita
The hike begins on a small incline up a hill, and I thought, “Here we go”. After this, though, it starts to level up some as you approach the river.
From here were able to go up to a few miradors and get some nice photos. Unfortunately, it was overcast, but that’s Patagonia, right?
Mirador Cerro Torre
From Mirador Cascada Margarita to Mirador Cerro Torre was a decent bit of elevation. It wasn’t anything too difficult but we were rewarded after finishing this section with another mirador.
This time, this mirador gazed upon the forest below that we would now be going down and hiking through.
This next section was easy and flat enough that we were able to cruise through it. We really didn’t stop until we got to the wooden bridge where there were a bunch of people too.
This bridge was a great photo opportunity with a snowcapped mountains backdrop.
Reaching Laguna Torre (Cerro Torre)
After about another couple of hours, maybe a little less, we started to reach the base of Laguna Torre. It was a relief to arrive because I was more tired than I thought I’d to be honest.
And that’s okay sometimes. I was hungry and ready to eat my lunch! There’s no better way to eat lunch than with a view in nature.
We never saw Cerro Torre because the cloud cover was consistent. But it was still a spectacular scene to see.
I scarfed down my sandwich, some chips, and maybe even a dessert, and then we started to head back.
I was looking forward to dinner already, but the views on the way back kept me distracted.
Final Thoughts on Cerro Torre
I truly enjoyed this hile. I thought the views throughout were spectacular, and I almost enjoyed that more than when we arrived at the lake (besides lunch).
If we could see the top of Torre, I think it would’ve been much cooler but we saved the better hikes for the good weather window. Overall I highly suggest this hike!