Laguna Torre Hike: A Guide on a Classic Trek from El Chalten
Laguna Torre Hike is one of the most classic treks you can do from El Chalten, a small town which quickly became the hiking capital of Argentina. Read our guide on Laguna Torre Hike, the iconic trek in Patagonia, including what to pack, where to stay, and what to expect from the hike.
The word about the unparalleled beauty of Patagonia has been circulating in travel and outdoor communities for long, but now we can say it aloud. Patagonia is the must-visit destination, and it does not matter if you are a hiking enthusiast or you rather enjoy the stunning scenery with a glass of wine in your hand.
When you arrive in El Chalten, a small town in Argentina close to the borders with Chile, you will, at least for a couple of days, become an adventurer with your heart and soul.
El Chalten is often nicknamed Argentina's hiking capital, and it is not hard to see why.
Within walking distance from the town, travelers can easily reach trailheads to two of the best one-day hikes in Patagonia. One of the classic one-day treks near El Chalten in Los Glaciares National Park is a trail to Laguna Torre, Cerro Torre, an iconic mountain towering behind and a glacier that spills into Laguna Torre.
Are you planning on hiking the Laguna Torre trek? We've put together a guide where we will describe the hike's difficulty, what can you expect along the trail, what you need to pack for the trek and where to stay.
LAGUNA TORRE HIKE DIFFICULTY
What we can recall, the hike to Laguna Torre was one of the easiest thus most crowded but rewarding hikes we've done in Patagonia.
Although the trek to the lake is quite long - 9 kilometers, you will gain only 250 meters during this distance, and the majority at the beginning of the trail. Once you get to the Mirador Cascada Margarita, the first viewpoint, the hike from this point is not demanding, and you will walk mostly on a flat path, with occasional up and down sections. What we could see, every type of traveler, even elderly and families with kids, were able to finish the trek.
The only disadvantage for inexperienced hikers can be the length of the trek, 18 kilometers total.
Generally, it should take you anything between 6 and 9 hours to finish the trek. In case you have enough energy and want to get a better view of the glacier, it is possible to climb up from Laguna Torre to Mirador Maestri, which will add approximately 2 kilometers one way (it depends on how far you want to go) and minimum 1 hour.
IT IS POSSIBLE TO CONNECT LAGUNA TORRE HIKE WITH LAGUNA DE LOS TRES HIKE
In case you have more time, and you have your camping equipment (you can rent it in El Chalten), there is an option to connect two of the most popular day hikes in Los Glaciares National Park, Laguna Torre Hike and Laguna de Los Trek hike.
The loop is almost 43 kilometers long, so you will have to camp along the trail for one or two nights, depending on your pace.
You can sleep in Poincenot Campground and Agostini Campground. Those camps are free and work on a first come, first served basis. In this post, we will focus on a one-day Laguna Torre hike, but we wanted to let you know this is an option.
What we really appreciated when hiking near El Chalten was the fact that there was no entrance fee to the national park here, and we could have enjoyed the stunning nature without ruining our budget.
It was a welcoming change because we had to pay a pretty steep admission in most of the national parks along Carretera Austral, and also when visiting Perito Moreno, although it is located in the same national park as lake Torre.
LAGUNA TORRE TRAILHEAD
There are several official trailheads to Laguna Torre, but all of them merge in a couple of minutes, so it does not matter which one you choose.
You can get a map with hiking trails in an information center or on the bus station.
We walked from the city center of El Chalten and headed to the south-east part of the town via Jose Antonio Rojo street. Here we climbed up the stairs to the top of the hill, where we turned left and carried on to Hostel Kaiken where the dirt path started to climb once again. On top of the hill, we found a board announcing the beginning of Laguna Torre trail. Generally, once you climb the stairs above Jose Antonio Rojo street, you can also go straight and then turn right, and reach Las Loicas street.
In the end, you will start a short climb to the beginning of the trail.
LAGUNA TORRE HIKE
Once we got on the trailhead, we continued on the dirt path for approximately fifteen or twenty minutes until we reached the first viewpoint overlooking the valley carved by a river. The viewpoint is called Mirador Margarita. The section between El Chalten and this viewpoint climbed all the way up, but from this place, the trail started to be more pleasant without any steep ascend.
From here you will descend to the Valley of Death and Rebirth. At times we walked via forested parts and open areas from where under perfect conditions we would have had views of the mountains around.
Unfortunately, the strong wind brought clouds early that day, and surrounded peaks were shrouded by them.
After some time (every kilometer along the trail is marked so you will exactly know how much you have left), we walked out of the forest, and the trail ran along the glacial river, Rio Fitz Roy.
After about an hour we reached Agostini campground (you can stay here overnight and enjoy spectacular sunset or sunrise), and from this point, it was only a short walk to Torre Lake.
Laguna Torre is a stunning lake, boasting much lighter color than other famous lagoons in Patagonia such as Laguna Cerro Castillo or Laguna de Los Tres, because it is full of melting icebergs, and the sediment created the light green-greyish color. When the weather is perfect, you can see the iconic peaks of Cerro Torre behind it, but we did not get the full view on the day of our visit. We decided to wait in case the clouds lift up, so meanwhile, we climbed another two kilometers to Mirador Maestri, from where we could see the glacier much better than from the lake's shore.
This path was extremely windy and rocks slippery, so watch out your steps in case you want to extend the classic trek.
After approximately two hours, we gave up, and walked the same way back.
CROWDS ALONG LAGUNA TORRE HIKE
Yes, the hike to Laguna Torre is quite crowded, especially between December and February/March, when is the main hiking season in Patagonia. We are not afraid to say that 75% (maybe even more) of all visitors staying in El Chalten plan on doing this hike.
On the other hand, you can start the hike as soon or as late as you want, so you can easily avoid the crowds.
We met a large group on the first viewpoint, but as their pace was much slower, we left them quickly behind and from that time we met only couples or small groups.
HIKING LAGUNA TORRE HIKE INDEPENDENTLY OR WITH A GUIDE
Possibly the most tricky part of the 18 kilometers long trek was to find the trailhead, which was at the end not hard at all as we were using both paper and offline map.
The trail to Laguna Torre is well-marked, and there was not a single point where we would feel confused and did not know where to go.
Every kilometer of the trail is marked by a pole, so you also know how much distance you have left.
However, those of you who prefer guided tours, or need assistance, there are plenty of options to choose from either online or in El Chalten.
You can search for tours here.
SAFETY ALONG THE TRAIL
We felt absolutely safe in Patagonia, both in the towns, on the road or when hiking in the mountains.
What we think can be the most dangerous when hiking to Laguna Torre is the ever-changing and unpredictable weather.
Always pack a waterproof and windproof jacket and warm layers in case the conditions get worse, or in case you get lost (which is unlikely here). If you plan on climbing (mountains around El Chalten are a climbing paradise), you should be much more experienced to know what to do though.
Almost every year a climber dies in the area, usually because of bad weather conditions.
The advantage of hiking this trail is that there is almost every time someone around, so you can wait for help in case of emergency - the chance is lower in the early spring, late autumn or during winter. There is no cell phone signal, so we always recommend not to hike alone. Even when you are a solo traveler, you can find a companion in a hostel.
FOOD & DRINKS
Laguna Torre is a full day hike, so pack a snack and plenty of water with you.
There are not that many places where you can fill up bottle water from streams, so it is better to start the hike with at least two liters per person. Do not forget that there are no garbage bins and everything you carry in with you must go back out with you.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO HIKE TO LAGUNA TORRE
The best time to hike from El Chalten to Laguna Torre is between late October and the end of April. During this period you should have a higher chance for higher temperatures and sunny weather, although it can rain any time in Patagonia, even in the summer. It is good to know that between December and February strong winds pick up, usually later in the afternoon.
Between May to September temperatures drop significantly, and it can happen that some trails will be closed because of the snow.
We recommend hiking the longer trails only to experienced and well-equipped hikers during this time of the year.
WHERE TO STAY IN EL CHALTEN
El Chalten is one of the most popular places in Patagonia, especially from December to February when thanks to the milder weather the hiking season in Argentina is in full swing. During this time of the year, accommodation is hard to find, prices are higher, so we recommend you to make your reservation as soon as you know your travel dates.
Budget | Lo de Guille - Basic but clean hostel offering private rooms, good wifi, and breakfast.
Mid-range | Pudu Lodge - Perfectly located stylish lodge offers well-appointed rooms and cozy dining room.
Luxury | Destino Sur Hotel & Spa de Montana - Beautiful new hotel with a gym, spa treatments and mountain views from every room is the best you can find in El Chalten when looking for a bit of luxury.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via Hostelworld.
WHAT TO PACK FOR LAGUNA TORRE HIKE
The weather in Patagonia can be harsh and is unpredictable most of the year, so even though you will leave your room in the morning and will return a couple of hours later, you should not underestimate your clothes and equipment, no matter how fine the weather is.
Here are five essential things you should pack for Laguna Torre hike.
Bandana | Bandana is a great little thing which won't take any space in your backpack, and you can use it as a sun protection.
Hiking Poles | For stability, knee protection and better hiking rhythm, we have only word of praise for hiking poles.
HOW TO GET TO EL CHALTEN
El Chalten is a must-visit place when in Patagonia, so during the high season from December to February buses run frequently either between El Chalten and El Calafate, the base for visiting Perito Moreno or between El Chalten and Bariloche in Argentina's Lake District.
It is better to book your onward ticket as soon as you arrive in El Chalten though to make sure you will get your seat.
When traveling in Argentinian Patagonia, you can rent a car, and comfortably get from one place to another as roads are in good condition.
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