If you want an exciting adventure amongst some of the most iconic mountains in Patagonia, then the Fitz Roy trek is not to be missed.
Jagged, snow-capped peaks rise up sharply, reaching over 3000 metres elevation and creating an awesome landscape. It’s no wonder that this is a haven for hikers and mountain climbers.
Mount Fitz Roy is also known as Cerro Chaltén, and lies in the Los Glaciares National Park, on the Patagonian ice field between the border of Argentina and Chile.
- Striking, jagged peaks
- Beech forests
- Glaciers and lagoons
- Wild plants, flowers and wildlife
The Fitz Roy trek takes you through 30 kilometres of dramatic alpine landscape. The breath-taking views of Mount Fit Roy as it sharply rises to 3375 metres is a sight worth seeing.
Beginning at the small town of El Chaltén, the trekking centre of the region, this hike takes you around the mountain, with a visit to Mout Fitz Roy/ Cerro Chaltén base camp, before returning back to El Chaltén.
This route is a multi-day hike with camping. However, there are shorter, day hikes around the area if you prefer.
Food supplies for trekkers is available at El Chaltén, as ae shops that sell trekking gear.
Water is readily available from glacial streams along the route. While the water is fresh, purification is recommended. `
The nearest international airport to El Chaltén is 200 kilometres away, called El Calafate.
It is a three our drive to get to El Chaltén and there are bus services available. The cost of a bus ticket can be expensive, so you will see plenty of people hitchhiking to El Chaltén.
The Fitz Roy Trek is around 30 kilometres in length, and takes 3-4 days to complete on average.
Grade and difficulty of the walk
This hike is graded 3-4.
Even though there is spectacular scenery of high peaks, the terrain on the Fitz Roy trek is fairly level throughout with no large elevation gains, yet there are one or two steeper climbs.
The main challenge is having the stamina for a multi-day hike in changeable and sometimes strong weather conditions.
Along the route are ranger stations, so there are experienced people within reach if you need help for any reason.
The route is clearly marked, so no navigational skills are needed.
You need to be of good fitness to enjoy this trek, as you will be hiking for multiple days and carrying a backpack. Other than that, you don’t be experienced in alpine hiking.
This trek is a great starting point for hikers who want to learn more about alpine walking and may want to develop their skills to try more challenging terrain.
You do not need a permit to enter the Los Glaciares National Park. You do need to register at the national park if you want to hike further than the viewpoints, such as on a day hike. Registration is free.
Guided or Self-Guided
As this route is well-marked, many hikers opt for a self-guided walk. There are regular national park signboards that give you detailed information about upcoming terrain.
Guided hikes are available from tour companies. Each may have varied itineraries, or may be able to tailor an itinerary to suit your preferences.
The benefit of having a guide is that you can learn about the Los Glaciares National Park, and have a feeling of community by walking in a group. Food supplies and cooked meals may also be taken care of.
The Fitz Roy trek can be hiked all year round. Each season comes with its own beauty, as well as challenges.
Spring (September to November) – Then best thing about hiking the Fit Roy trek in spring is the clear skies and amazing views. The temperatures are still chilly but still acceptable for camping if you have a warm sleeping bag. In spring, there is a burst of new growth and flowers.
It is also a quiet time on the trail.
Summer (December to March) – The temperatures are at their warmest during the summer months, but there are also more people on the trail.
If you prefer to avoid the tourists, choose another time to hike.
Autumn (March to June) – The autumn colours make this landscape a feast for the eyes. The trails are quieter. The temperatures begin to turn cooler.
Winter (June to August) – Only the most rugged hikers will be on the trail during winter. There are cold temperatures and strong winds, yet you can enjoy solitude as you trek.
Whatever the time of year, be prepared for strong winds and storms. It is said that you can experience all four seasons in one day!
A typical itinerary would be:
El Chaltén to Laguna de Los Tres, camping at Poicenot
From Poicenot, trek to Mount Fitz Roy base camp. Return to Poicenot.
Trek to Lagoons Madre, before joining the Cerro Torre Trail to Laguna Torre.
Trek back to El Chaltén.
For overnighting along the Fitz Roy trek, you will be camping at designated campsites.
Day hikers have other options. The town of El Chaltén is well set up for hikers, and you will find a range of accommodation options.
For those on a budget, there are plenty of places to camp. There are small hotels and B&Bs, as well as luxury lodges. Or, if you want to relax after a day’s hike, choose one of the spa hotels.
Time your hike from Poicenot to Laguna de Los Tres to coincide with seeing the sunrise light up Mount Fitz Roy. This does mean hiking in the dark with headlamps!
Los Glaciares National Park is a world heritage site of outstanding natural beauty. If you are a keen photographer, you won’t get many better views or colours on this trek. Pristine ice glaciers, soaring peaks and turquoise glacial lagoons make for some amazing photos.
Look out for birdlife such as woodpeckers, Andean condor, torrent duck and lesser rhea. Mammals include guanacos and deer.
If you have a guide, there may be an option to take a side trip to get closer to one of the glaciers, or even hike on top of it. Do not attempt this alone, or if you are not experienced in ice hiking.
Because this is an area with many other hiking trails, you might like to continue your trip to explore more in the national park.
|Difficulty||3/5 - 4/5|
|Starts at||El Chaltén, Patagonia|
|Finishes at||El Chaltén, Patagonia|
|Length of route||30 Km|
|Average time to complete||3 - 4 Days|
|Possible to complete sub-sections||No|
|Highest point||1200 metres|