El Chaltén, Argentina - Hilary Lex

We landed in El Calafate, Argentina at a tiny, two gate airport. BE AWAKE and stare out the window because the aerial views flying into El Calafate were breathtaking. Once at the airport, we found Las Lengas Shuttles on the main floor. FYI they only take cash - thankfully, there was an ATM in the airport lobby. Though we had a reservation, it felt like we didn't. They refilled out all our information at the counter and we waited about 45 minutes until the shuttle had enough people to start our 3 hour drive to El Chaltén. Point being, I wouldn't worry about reserving your spot before you get there. 

The drive to El Chaltén was beautiful! Emerald rivers and lakes, glaciers, and wild guanaco everywhere! We were starting to get a taste of why so many people are drawn to the Patagonia region in southern Argentina and Chile. 

We arrived in a cloud-covered, overcast and windy El Chaltén where Las Lengas dropped us at the door of Patagonia Hikes. We dropped our bags in their office and walked up and down the main 'strip' in El Chaltén. THE WIND y'all! The wind was wild. Thankfully, we found a cute, little spot to grab a vegan lunch called Prana Bar Natural. It was cozy and the food hit the spot! After, we stopped in a small grocery/market to load up on some snacks for the next couple of days before making our way back to the Patagonia Hikes office to grab our things and catch a ride to our lodging for the next two nights - Patagonia Eco Domes

The drive out to the domes was about half an hour on a gravel road that ran alongside a glacier-fed river. Again, we couldn't see anything and it was raining so we were a bit bummed. We were here for the views! Alas, we arrived at the domes and felt like we had just stepped into a magical land. Secluded, private, quiet. The main dome has a check in area and is connected to the dining room. Upon check in, they walked us to our dome and got a fire started in our wood-burning stove.

We had some time to settle in. I ended up taking a brief nap and a shower while Harry decided to wander around the property a bit. We then went to the main dining room, sorry ONLY dining room, and proceeded to have a delicious, gourmet dinner. Y'ALL! This dining experience far exceeded any expectation we could have had! Plus, it was just the most romantic place for dinner we could have imagined.

After dinner, we headed back to our private dome, got the fire roaring in the wood burning stove, got our daypacks ready for our Fitz Roy hike the next day, and cozied up in our big bed. This place was worth every penny we paid for it, folks! Highly recommended.

So the next AM, we woke up to THIS VIEW.

We then enjoyed breakfast in the dining room and they had sack lunches packed and ready for our hike. The wonderful part about staying at the Eco Domes is the trail to Laguna de los Tres starts right out your front door (on a map this would be starting from El Pilar). Laguna de los Tres is the popular trek that takes you to the lakes that sit just below Mt. Fitz Roy.

We were told the hike would take about 6 hours, but you guys... this hike took us nearly ALL DAY. We were gone for 9 hours! Granted we did spend over an hour at the top once we reached Laguna de los Tres. But let's just set proper expectations here. If you have any desire of sauntering and not just hiking there and back, give yourself plenty of time. Also, it's not a simple hike. You hit some elevation gains towards the end that's basically an hour of straight up stair stepping. It was not the hardest hike we've ever done, but it's a full day's hike with some challenges that will make you really appreciate the reason you went out there in the first place. It is absolutely breathtaking all along the way with a lot of beautiful, sweeping views and unique viewpoints.

Our only regret about our time in El Chaltén was not staying longer. We would have loved to have been there for 3-4 FULL days to do some of the other hikes in the area. After reading more on the area, there is so very much more to see. It is such a friendly, unique little town that I'd recommend spending a bit more time if you're able.

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