• Population: 1,627 habitants (2010 census).
• Foundation Date: October 12, 1985.
• Climate in the South During Summer: Dry, windy, and varies a lot.
• Average Annual Temperature: 7ºC.
• Average Minimum Temperature: -2ºC (winter).
• Average Maximum Temperature: 16ºC (summer).
• National Direct Dialing Code: 02962.
• International Direct Dialing Code: 0054 2962.
• Postal Code: Z9301XAF
• Directions: From El Calafate (215 km) on the roads RN 40 and RP 23.
• Closest Airport: El Calafate (210 km).
Services NOT available in El Chaltén
• Money Exchange Agencies. (*)
* There are two ATMs in the bus station, but they are not reliable and they charge for each withdrawal. Therefore bring backup cash just in case.
Some Dates to Keep in Mind
• October 12: El Chaltén Foundation Day.
• November 10: Day of Tradition.
• February 04: National Festival of Trekking.
Recommendations before you travel
• Plan your stay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Give yourself at least three days to get to know this wonderful place.
• Book your accommodation in advance.
• It is also advisable to book transport and trekking tours in advance.
Increased demand for accommodation occurs during the months of January, February, and the Easter Week, so booking in advance is essential at these times. We recommend no less than 60 days in advance. Walk Patagonia can make the appropriate reservations without any extra charge. Ask Us.
What to Wear
• Good Shoes (preferably hiking boots).
• Dress in layers – like an “onion”
• First Layer: Undergarments that allow for rapid evaporation and drying.
• Second Layer: Fleece jacket or something of this sort.
• Third Layer: Waterproof windbreaker.
• See Personal Equipment
El Chaltén is officially nominated as “The National Capital of Trekking”, making it an ideal destination for hikers. The hikes here range from a few minutes to several hours or even several days. The majority of the paths go up gentle slopes, and for the most part pose no difficulty for a person with a “normal” fitness level.
Except for cases of the expeditions and technical trekking, it is not necessary to have prior training.
If you are a person with sedentary habits, we suggest that you hike some trails before coming out to be better prepared.
Recommendations for your stay in El Chaltén
The town is located within Los Glaciares National Park so please ask our advice on the possibilities and restrictions of activities within this protected area of the National Park. The restaurants during high season require prior reservations. Consult us.
There are shops and hotels that accept credit and debit cards but it is not guaranteed. Be aware of this before using these services.
For your convenience we can book your buses in and out of Chaltén because the system can be a bit complicated at times when done from abroad.
Recommendations for walks
• Always walk with the group and never walk in front of the Guide.
• Be aware of total length of the hike in order to plan you complete day.
• Only walk on the trails, do not make new trails or try to cut corners because this causes erosion. AVOID CAUSING EROSION.
• Tell the Guide or Assistant if you need to make a stop.
• Pay attention to instructions and recommendations on the practices of low impact travel inside the National Park.
• Always bring a small backpack with a coat and waterproof jacket.
• We recommend that you always go out with a Box-Lunch.
• Use sunglasses with UV protection.
• Use sunscreen even when it is cloudy.
• Maintain cleanliness of the trails and places that you visit.
• Maintain minimum contact with wildlife. DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS.
• Do not start fires anywhere for any reason.
• Return to El Chaltén with all of your waste.
• Do not take “souvenirs” of nature. Do not cut flowers.
• If you find paper or other waste, it is a good idea to take it back to El Chaltén with you.
In the campsites
• Inside the National Park you can camp, within the established perimeter, and only in: Capri, Poincenot, De Agostini and Laguna Toro Camps. On private property, only in permitted areas and more than 50 meters away from any water source.
• Maintain cleanliness and take care of the campsite.
• Remember that it is not permitted to start a fire inside the National Park.
• Avoid leaving food accessible to rodents and other animals.
• No littering, fecal matter, or washing products in the water.
• Do not wash dishes or clothes in water sources (do it in a container). Keep soap or detergent away from rivers and lakes.
• Be respectful at night of other campers trying to sleep.
• Pets are not permitted within the National Park.
Principles that govern the activities of Walk Patagonia: Leave No Trace.
How to Arrive
The closest airport is El Calafate airport and from there you continue by bus until El Chaltén (215 Km/ 3 hours). From Buenos Aires there are daily flights to El Calafate. (Approximately 3hs. on direct flights).
Airlines that typically operate with El Calafate: Aerolíneas Argentinas/Austral, LADE and Lan Argentina
Domestic flights from or to El Calafate:
• AEP (Aeroparque, Buenos Aires). 3 Hs, 15 min.
• EZE (Ezeiza, Buenos Aires). 3 Hs. 20 min.
• BRC (Bariloche, Río Negro).1 Hs. 45 min.
• USH (Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego).
• RGL (Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz).
• PMD (Puerto Madryn, Chubut).
• CRD (Comodoro Rivadavia, Chubut).
• GGS (Gobernador Gregores, Santa Cruz).
• GDE (Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego).
• COR (Córdoba, Córdoba).
• REL (Trelew, Río Negro).
Because of its remote location, the only possible way to arrive directly by bus is from El Calafate (215 km drive). It is approximately 3 hrs away. From El Calafate there are daily buses all year round. The are more daily departures in the summer months than in the winter.
Some possible bus combinations from other towns (In high/summer season):
|Buenos Aires > Río Gallegos > El Calafate > El Chaltén||3150 Km.||TD||48 Hs.|
|S. C. de Bariloche > Perito Moreno > El Chaltén||1340 Km.||DI||48 Hs.|
|Río Gallegos > El Calafate > El Chaltén||520 Km||TD||12 Hs.|
|Ushuaia > Puerto Natales > El Calafate > El Chaltén||1305 Km.||TD||24 Hs.|
|Puerto Natales > El Calafate > El Chaltén||580 Km.||TD||24 Hs.|
|Punta Arenas > El Calafate > El Chaltén||820 Km.||TD||24 Hs.|
For some journeys you have to change bus en route
Total travel distances are approximate
Departures: TD- Every day, DI- Every other day
Arrival time may be delayed at times
There are two principal roads used to access El Chaltén. The first is National Route (RN) Nº 3 that borders the Atlantic coast and is well maintained (All of the road is paved). The other is National Road (N° 40) that runs parallel to the Andes mountain range. (Is in the process of being paved).
From Buenos Aires from RN Nº 3:
From RN Nº 3 (Passing through the towns of Bahía Blanca, Puerto Madryn, Trelew, Comodoro Rivadavia and Caleta Olivia, among others) until the town of Cte. Luis Piedra Buena in the province of Santa Cruz. Take the detour along Provincial Route (PR) No. 288 (passing through the town of Tres Lagos) to Route No. 40 and finally RP No. 23 to El Chaltén. The total distance travelled will be 2755 kilometres.
Frequent questions if travelling by car
What should I have to know about driving on a gravel road?
Before driving on gravel roads it is important to remember to have tyres that are in good condition, a fire extinguisher, flares, and two spare tyres. As for your speed, the average should be around 60 Km/h.
What documents do I need for the vehicle?
When driving bring your green card, liability insurance, driver´s license and national identity card or passport. In addition, it is important to have the car registration number engraved on the glass of the car windows. Do not forget the necessary and required elements such as a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, tyres (2 are recommended), triangular beacons, equipment needed for towing, etc.. It is always a good idea to travel with drinking water, food and warm clothing in case of a mechanical problem..
Is there mechanical aid?
There is mechanical assistance in many of the towns within the province. In El Chaltén there is mechanical assistance that provides services in tyres and lights.
What are the precautions I should have in the case of snow?
In this case it is advisable to have snow chains or studded tyres for ice but we suggest that if there is snow or bad weather, it is better to go back than forward. Likewise with any questions check with the department of transportation.
What is the state of the roads?
National Route 3 is in good condition while Route 40 has some sections under repair. Like as on any route it is good to exercise caution when travelling at night, in the rain, or on frost/ice.
What sections of the route are under construction?
The northern section of Route 40 between Bariloche and Tres Lagos still has portions that are under construction.
Vialidad Provincial (A.G.V.P.)
Vialidad Nacional (D.V.N.)
Are there tolls in the province?
No, the province does not have any type of toll.
Where are there petrol stations?
You can find petrol stations in the towns of: El Chaltén – El Calafate – Las Heras – Perito Moreno – Pico Truncado – Puerto Deseado – Puerto San Julián – Río Turbio – 28 de noviembre – Los Antiguos – Puerto Santa Cruz – Cañadón Seco – Esperanza – Fitz Roy – Gobernador Gregores – Tres Cerros.
What type of fuel is available and what are the costs?
Petrol and diesel are available. Costs are just over a US dollar per litre.
It is convenient to rent a car?
It is convenient to rent a car if you are travelling around the area for several days and especially if you are trying to visit El Chaltén.
Is it possible to cross into Chilean territory with a rental car?
Yes you can always cross the border with a rental car when it has the authorisation to leave the country. It is therefore desirable to note this detail when you choose to rent the car because not all companies offer this service.
What documentation is required to cross into Chile?
To cross the border you must have the green card of the vehicle with the name of the owner (or notarised authorisation), personal documents (ID or passport), and car registration engraved on the windows.
For some foreigners, passport with Chilean visa is needed. For minors travelling unaccompanied by their parents, notarised authorisation to leave the country is necessary.
When you enter Chile you most go through the following controls:
• Police (Driver´s license and green card).
• International Police (Personal Records).
• Customs (Documents of the vehicle).
• Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), with strict control over everything edible, plantable, and whose entry is not allowed.
For the return, remember to always check the closing time of each border.
If you go with a Chilean vehicle, they will ask you to display your third party insurance with international coverage. For Argentines, this is required.
Always drive with the lights on and put on your safety belt. Note that there are stretches of gravel in certain sections of the route, so you should always drive with caution and at a slow speed. (Not more than 60 km/h). Check the condition of the spare tyre and it is not a bad idea to bring a container with extra fuel in case you have some problems along the route or find that the petrol stations are empty.
Table of Distances
|City||Province / Region||Distance|
|Tres Lagos||Santa Cruz||130 Km.|
|El Calafate||Santa Cruz||215 Km.|
|Gobernador Gregores||Santa Cruz||297 Km.|
|Cte. Luis Piedra Buena||Santa Cruz||345 Km.|
|Paso Cancha Carrera||Santa Cruz||446 Km.|
|PN Perito Moreno||Santa Cruz||455 Km.|
|Río Gallegos||Santa Cruz||460 Km.|
|Pto. San Julián||Santa Cruz||470 Km.|
|Cueva de Las Manos||Santa Cruz||510 Km.|
|Puerto Natales||XII Región (Chile)||550 Km.|
|Perito Moreno||Santa Cruz||582 Km.|
|Puerto Deseado||Santa Cruz||740 Km.|
|Punta Arenas||Chile||745 Km.|
|Río Grande||Tierra del Fuego||823 Km.|
|Caleta Olivia||Santa Cruz||837 Km.|
|Comodoro Rivadavia||Chubut||915 Km.|
|Ushuaia||Tierra del Fuego||1060 Km.|
|Puerto Madryn||Chubut||1340 Km.|
|San Carlos de Bariloche||Río Negro||1370 Km.|
|Mar del Plata||Buenos Aires||2546 Km.|
|Ciudad de Buenos Aires||Buenos Aires||2755 Km.|
Note: The distances specified are approximate and correspond to the main routes and traffic conditions..