Mt. Fitz Roy Hiking Guide: The Most Beautiful Hike in Patagonia
Mount Fitz Roy hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Patagonia, Argentina. Its beauty rivals the Las Torres hike in Torres del Paine. This Fitz Roy hiking guide tells you everything you need to know about this hiking trail in Los Glaciares National Park.
You may not recognize Mt. Fitz Roy by its name, but you must have heard of the clothing brand Patagonia. The Patagonia logo is actually an outline of the Fitz Roy mountain in Patagonia, Argentina.
Mt. Fitz Roy is the tallest mountain in the Argentine Patagonia, boarding Chile and Argentina near the town of El Chalten and it’s one of the most technically difficult for mountaineering.
However the Fitz Roy day hike in Patagonia is do-able for moderately fit person (or even non-fit individuals as long as they take it slow). What I like the most about the Fitz Roy hike is that it’s super beautiful along the way, making it one of the most beautiful hikes in Patagonia.
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Overview of Patagonia
As mentioned in my previous post of Day Hike to Mirador Last Torres in Torres del Paine, Patagonia is a region that spans over both Chile and Argentina in the southern tip of the South America continent.
The Chilean part is famous for the Torres del Paine National Park (the W Trek or O Trek) whereas Patagonia Argentina is famous for hiking near El Chalten as well as Glacier Perito Moreno near El Calafate in the Los Glaciares National Park (more on that in a later post).
There are several day hikes (and multi-day trek) you can do in Patagonia Argentina but since we didn’t have the luxury to spend weeks and weeks there, we decided to do some of the most famous day hikes near El Chalten such as the Cerro Torre hike and the Mt. Fitz Roy (Laguna de Los Tres) hike.
How To Get To El Chalten
The Fitz Roy (Laguna de Los Tres) hike is located in the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina and El Chalten is a small town located in the middle of this national park. Laguna de Los Tres hike and the Laguna Cerro hike (separate post on that) are the best and most beautiful hikes in El Chalten.
Travel to El Chalten By Bus
El Chalten is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, the easiest way to get to El Chalten is to take a bus. There are several different bus routes to El Chalten but the most popular one would be from the town of El Calafate, located 3 hours away. Why is El Calafate important? It’s a much bigger town and it has an airport (see below).
We took a double decker bus with the company Chaltentravel first thing in the morning. Make sure to book your tickets online and book your Chaltentravel bus tickets as early as possible so you can get the first row on top of the double decker bus. The ticket will also give you your assigned seats and we sat right in the front on the second level so we had an amazing view of the drive on Ruta 40.
We visited the Chaltentravel booking office in El Calafate 2 days before and was able to ask them to pick us up from our hotel. If they don’t pick you up from your hotel, take a taxi to the El Calafate bus terminal to catch this bus.
Travel to El Chalten By Plane
If El Chalten is your first stop on your Patagonia adventure, you can fly into El Calafate in Argentina. There is no airport in El Chalten since the town is extremely small. There are several direct daily flights from Buenos Aires to El Calafate.
The airlines that fly between Buenos Aires to El Calafate are LATAM Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas. Based on what I saw at the airport, there are way more flights on Aerolineas Argentinas between Buenos Aires and El Calafate than LATAM Airlines. So keep this in mind when you book your flight between Buenoes Aires and El Calafate.
After you land in El Calafate, you will need to catch the bus from Chaltentravel to El Chalten, 3 hours away.
Travel to El Chalten By Car
Some people rent a car from El Calafate to travel to El Chalten. Renting a car in Patagonia is great if you prefer a flexible schedule but it’s not very cheap to do so.
The one benefit of renting a car in Patagonia is that the route from El Calafate to El Chalten is extremely beautiful and famous (Ruta 40). What makes Ruta 40 is that when you start approaching El Chalten (~40 min away), you will see the outline of Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. It’s a sight not to be missed and driving your own car on Ruta 40 allows you to stop at view points for an instagrammable shot of Mt. Fitz Roy.
Travel to El Chalten By Bike
If you are a Patagonia backpacker on a strict budget, you can bike from El Calafate to El Chalten on Ruta 40. We actually saw some people do that on bicycles/motorcycles. I’m not sure how long it takes though.
How to get to the Fitz Roy Hike Trail Head
Once you are in El Chalten, the Fitz Roy hike trail head is at the end of Avenida San Martín (the main road in El Chalten), at the northern end of the town. There is a car park at the Fitz Roy hike trail head so you can park your vehicle there. If you are staying in El Chalten, it’s an easy walk to the Fitz Roy hike trail head since the town is not that big.
Where To Stay For the Fitz Roy (Laguna de Los Tres) Hike
There are generally two options for accommodation for the Fitz Roy hike: camping or hostels and hotels.
Camping: There are many different camp sites in Patagonia Argentina near El Chalten. You have to bring your own tent and cooking supplies.
There are 2 camp sites along the hike to Laguna de Los Tres: Campamento Poincenot and Campamento Laguna Capri (by the lake). Camping in Patagonia is an extremely good choice for backpackers.
We even saw some families camp near Laguna Capri (one view point during the Fitz Roy hike). You can also drink the water from lakes/streams since there is no pollution in Patagonia. There are portable toilets at camp sites in Patagonia and you cannot use fire to cook your food.
Hostels, Apartments & Hotels: Most people who do day treks to the surrounding mountains find acommodation in the town of El Chalten. El Chalten is an extremely small town but there are a lot of apartments, hotels and hostels in El Chalten.
I personally stayed at Don Los Cerros Boutique Hotel & Spa which was really nice and convenient. The front desk had a weather forecast screen up so you can see the chance of rain, cloud coverage, etc before your Fitz Roy hike.
There are also several nice restaurants and bars in El Chalten. My favorite restaurant in El Chalten is La Tapera. Food was amazing and service was good; we actually ate there both nights when we were in El Chalten.
Details of the Fitz Roy Day Hike:
Length: 20.4km (12.7 miles) round trip, 8-9 hours
Difficulty: Difficult because it’s long and a lot of uphills
Laguna de Los Tres Hike Overview
The Fitz Roy day hike is a long and strenuous hike with an amazing view along the way and at the end, making it the most beautiful hike in Patagonia.
The Fitz Roy day hike starts off steep but levels out until the last hour where you gain 400m of elevation.
The best part of the Fitz Roy day hike is that you get amazing view for most parts of the hike and the view at the end is unparalleled. I literally could not believe nature could create something so beautiful and grand. I couldn’t help but compare the Fitz Roy view to the view of Los Torres in Torres del Paine, and I have to say I actually find the view of Mt. Fitz Roy more impressive!
Make sure to bring plenty of water and food and your hiking poles (for the last part) and a wide angle lens for your shots on the Fitz Roy day hike. I had an iphone with me and it was not wide enough to capture the entire Fitz Roy mountain and the lake below it horizontally.
Fitz Roy Hike Kilometer 0-3: 80% Uphill
The start of the Fitz Roy day hike was completely an uphill battle. The start was quite steep but it becomes less steep (but still uphill) after the first km. But you do come across nice views of the valley. There is also a marker at the end of each kilometer so you know your progress.
After about 2.5 kilometer on the hike it eventually starts to flatten out.
Fitz Roy Hike Kilometer 3-5: Flat In The Woods
You will come across a view point to see the Fitz Roy the first time on this hike around Kilometer 3. There is a sign that interprets the whole landscape right in front of you.
On a clear day, you can see the Fitz Roy mountain so clearly even though it looks so far away. At that exact spot, I knew that this was going to be the most beautiful hike in Patagonia. There is a porta potty at the view point so be sure to use it because you won’t get to see another one for a while.
After that you continue to hike in the woods and you will come across the sign below where there is a split in the trail. It really doesn’t matter which way you go because both are easy and flat and you can always take the other route coming back. At about 5km mark the 2 paths converges.
Fitz Roy Hike Kilometer 5-6: Continue In The Woods
Continue the Fitz Roy day hike in the woods covered in shades and it’s a really easy km because it’s flat with some downhill. At the end of the kilometer you will come to an open area with another spectacular view of Mt. Fitz Roy.
Fitz Roy Hike Kilometer 6-7: Flat Hike With Amazing View
For half of the Fitz Roy hike, you actually walk on very flat ground with beautiful view. Once you exit the forest, you will be hiking near all the shorter trees (uncovered) towards Fitz Roy Mountain. This is the reason why the Fitz Roy hike is my favorable hike in Patagonia; unlike the los torres hike in Torres del Paine where you don’t see the 3 granite towers until the very end.
Fitz Roy Hike Kilometer 7-8: Change of Scenery
After seemingly forever towards the Fitz Roy Mountain, you will end up in a nice flat and open path with different views.
Fitz Roy Hike Kilometer 8-9: Camping Site
You enter the woods again just when you’ve had enough of the uncovered trail with the sun blazing down on you (it was really hot and sunny when we were there with no wind).
This time you will reach the camping site Poincenot. There is a portable bathroom here so make sure to use it. It’s also a good idea to take a break here because after this it’s straight uphill for one hour with no shades.
Fitz Roy Hike Kilometer 9-10: Steep Uphill Till The End
Once you’re all rest up, leave the campsite and cross an open area before you reach the start of the most steep part of your Fitz Roy day hike.
You will start seeing warning signs everywhere on how steep and strenuous the last part of the Fitz Roy hike is and people with heart conditions are advised to take caution.
This last part of the Fitz Roy hike gains an elevation of 400m so you can imagine how steep it gets. What I hated about this part of the hike is that the gravels are loose on the ground, it’s unbelievably hard to go back downhill because you can easily slip. It also felt quite hopeless as the uphill path never seem to end. The only motivation I had at this point was to see Mt. Fitz Roy up close.
Just when you think you’ve reached the top of the hill, you will come across another small hill with an open steep area full of small pebbles (very slippery). This is the last steep part of the Fitz Roy hike before you are greeted with the most amazing view (I personally think it’s even more spectacular than Torres del Paine because Mt. Fitz Roy is just SO big).
The Monte Fitz Roy hike, although very long, is one of my favorite hikes in Patagonia. Partially because we had beautiful weather and partially because of the view along the Fitz Roy hike was amazing making it the most beautiful hike in Patagonia. Comparing it to Mirador Las Torres in Torres del Paine, I would rank this hike much higher in terms of enjoyableness. The view of both places are amazing though!
If you only have time for 1 hike near El Chalten you should do the Fitz Roy hike. If you have more time in El Chalten, then consider doing the Cerro Torre hike, which is much easier and shorter than the Fitz Roy hike but still has an amazing view.
Patagonia Frequently Asked Questions Answered
Where is Patagonia? Patagonia is located in South America. Patagonia is a region in the southern part of Chile and Argentina. It’s about a 3 hour flight from Chile or Buenos Aires.
Patagonia Chile is known for Torres del Paine and Patagonia Argentina is known for the Perito Moreno Glacier as well as hiking near El Chalten (Mt Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre, etc)
When is the best time to travel to Patagonia? The best time to visit Patagonia is December to March (summer in the Southern Hemisphere).
The weather is warmer and trails are dry. It’s much windier in the summer time in Patagonia than the winter time however. Patagonia weather in November is probably the windiest time of the year and it can rain/snow all in the same day.
How Much Time Do I need For Patagonia? It really depends on how much time you have and what you want to see in Patagonia. Patagonia is a big region covering both Chile and Argentina.
In Patagonia Chile alone you can spend as little as 3 days and as much as weeks and the same for Patagonia Argentina. My 10 day Patagonia itinerary covers some of the highlights of Patagonia but you can always stay for much longer to see everything else. If you plan to do the W trek in Torres del Paine, then you will need a minimum of 4-5 days in Patagonia Chile.
Can I go to Patagonia in the winter (June – August?) You can definitely visit Patagonia in the winter in southern hemisphere, however, you will need a guide to do the hikes because snow will have covered the hiking trails. The snow will also make it harder to hike to many places so plan accordingly.
What’s the weather like in Patagonia? Weather in Patagonia is extremely unpredictable. Due to its location, it can be extremely windy especially in early summer (end of November/early December) and the temperature is high 70 and low 40s.
To give you an example, when I went to Patagonia the end of November, I had to wear 1 sweat shirt and 1 sports jacket during the hike. Of course it gets warm during the hikes in Patagonia but you should have enough layers so you won’t be cold. You may also experience all four seasons in one day (sun, rain, hail, snow, wind, etc.
The wind speed in Patagonia can be as much as 80 mile per hour, it is not safe to hike during those times. The catamaran also gets shut down when it’s that windy. If the windy speed is 30-40mph you can still try to hike, but use caution as the gusts can be quite sudden and powerful and can knock you down to the ground.
What is a good website for Patagonia Weather Forecast? We used mountain-forecast.com for all the forecast and it was great.
El Chalten: https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Cerro-Fitzroy/forecasts/500
The website tells you wind speed by the hour so you can see if you should go hike on a certain day.
What to see in Patagonia without hiking? Is Patagonia worth going without hiking? You don’t need to hike to enjoy the beauty of Patagonia and I highly recommend adding some non-hiking days to your Patagonia itinerary.
There are plenty of activities you can do in Patagonia without hiking. In Torres del Paine you can rent a car and drive around the park and walk to see waterfalls and Lago Gray.
In El Calafate Argentina, you can take a boat to get close to the Perito Moreno Glacier to go to the observation deck to see the glacier up close.
Many luxury hotels in Patagonia also offer full day tours to certain view points or to places where you can just walk and enjoy the scenery with no hiking required.
How much money should I budget for Patagonia? Patagonia can be done cheaply or extremely expensively, depending on your budget and travel style.
If you want to do a budget travel trip to Patagonia then plan to camp and cook your own food, It would be $5-$20 a night for Patagonia budget trips; private rooms in guest houses can be between $20-$60 and hotels can range from $200 – $500 a night.
Similarly if you want to take buses around, it will be pretty cheap but renting a car can cost about 100 USD a day or taking a private tour can cost between $150 – $200 a person a day.
Is Patagonia Safe for Solo Travel? Since Patagonia is so remote, people are mostly locals who work in the tourism industry or tourists/backpackers. I felt pretty safe in Patagonia so if you don’t mind hiking alone, then you can totally solo trip it.
The most danger you will experience is probably getting lost or fall although the trails are very well marked so I’m not sure how anyone can get lost. Hikers on the trail are also very friendly and encouraging, so it’s pretty nice for solo travel. There are also many refugios (hostels) on the hiking trails in Patagonia so you can always make new friends hiking Patagonia.
How to get to Patagonia? There are 2 airports in Patagonia you can fly into. If you want to visit Patagonia Chile first, then fly through Santiago to Punta Arenas. If you want to visit Patagonia Argentina first, then fly through Buenos Aires to El Calafate.
How to get around Patagonia? There are bus companies that have affordable bus rides among different popular towns such as Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine in Chile and buses from El Calafate to El Chalen in Argentina (among other routes, read my post below). To see how to get to Torres del Paine, read my post here. To get from El Calafate to El Chalten, read this post.
What Camera lens should I bring to Patagonia? I highly recommend bringing both zoom lens as well as a wide angle lens to Patagonia.
I didn’t bring a wide angle lens and it was difficult to take photos at Mirador Las Torres (Torres del Paine) and the Fitz Roy (Argentina) because the mountains were so big. Iphones are generally pretty wide angle but if you plan to use a camera with interchangeable lens, then I highly recommend a ultra wide angle lens for your Patagonia trip.
Can I use credit cards in Patagonia? Many restaurants and hotels in Patagonia accept credit cards.
However, I would recommend getting cash from ATMs/Cash Machines at the airports if possible because not all places accept cash. There is no ATM in Torres del Paine or El Chalten, so plan accordingly.
Can I use drones in Patagonia? From what I read, Chile requires a permit to fly drones and the process is quite long. Also, it may not be a good idea to fly a drone in Patagonia since it’s very windy and the wind speed is between 20mph to 80mph depending on the season and the day. Your drone will probably crash in such turbulent weather. [no_toc]
In Patagonia Argentina there are specific signs saying no drones are allowed, so please don’t be a jerk and disturb the peace and quietness for other hikers. Nobody wants to have a drone in their photo when they’ve hiked hours for the view!
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