El Chaltén

Frontier Land Plus
Boat ride and trek in Lago del Desierto

Length: 3 days and 2 nights
Grade of difficulty: Moderate
Experience required: Trekking with camping experience
Season: October to April
Group size: 1 to 4 people
Ratio: 1 Guide : 4 Pax


An exciting option exclusively offered by Walk Patagonia in one of the more wild and less visited areas of El Chaltén. It starts with a boat ride across Lago del Desierto, then a trek through lush lenga, ñire and coihue forests, across lots of streams, staying at an old mountain refuge used by scientists from the National Institute of the Patagonian Continental Ice Field, pop our heads into the next valley and admire some glaciers in Chile, trek to one of the least accessible border crossings into Chile and finally along the lakeside of Lago del Desierto. A perfect trek for those who want to get away from the more traditional treks and have an adventure!


Day 1: Boat ride across Lago del Desierto and trek to Refugio del Diablo

We travel from Chaltén along the gravel road to Lago del Desierto - 37km (90 minutes). There will be a few photo stops and picturesque viewpoints en route, too. When we get to the lake we board the boat to navigate the 12km across the lake to its northern point to where our first trekking begins!

After meeting the Gendarmerie that live here (and control the border) we start our walk heading west towards an old estancia (ranch) where one of the oldest families of the area used to live: the Sépulvedas.

We continue on in a dense lenga (nothofagus) forest on a path which often disappears, and we cross a few streams that feed into the Diablo River. After about 5 hours of trekking we will arrive at the Refugio Diablo, which will be our new home for the night. The refuge was originally built for scientists that we were working in the area for the National Institute of the Patagonian Continental Ice Field. We will overnight in the refuge - basic dorm style - all in a line next to one another. After a good hot meal we will be ready to curl up in our sleeping bags for the night. If the sky is clear, we could also admire the southern skies, milky way, etc.

  • Overnight: Refugio del Diablo.
  • Meals: Pack lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
  • Distance: 12 Km.
  • Walking: 5/6 hs.

Day 2: Views of Lake O'Higgins and trek to the Chilean border

After breakfast we start another day of adventure. We start off with visiting a viewpoint nearby that affords great views of Lake O’Higgins and Chico Glacier - you will be standing in Argentina looking across at Chile.

Lake O’Higgins is huge and is shared with Argentina where it is known as Lake San Martin. After a few photos we will head back along the same path as the day before until we reach Lake del Desierto, this will be our camping spot for today. For those who wish we then continue for a few hours more to visit a very off the beaten track route into Chile. We walk through lush forest and across some basic tree trunk bridges that get us safely across a few streams. When we near Laguna Larga we take a turn off the main path to get to the lagoon. From here we’ll enjoy a rest and admire our pristine surroundings. We then continue a bit further until we get to a clearing where we arrive at the border between Argentina and Chile, known as, “Portezuelo de la Divisoria.” After putting a foot in Chile we return to Lago del Desierto to enjoy sunset and a meal with a view across the lake and (hopefully!) Mt Fitz Roy in the distance.

  • Overnight: Tents at Punta Norte del Lago del Desierto.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Pack lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
  • Distance: 12 or 22 Km.
  • Walking: 5/6 or 9/10hs.

Day 3: Trek from Punta Norte to Punta Sur of Lago del Desierto

After a good breakfast we start our return journey, walking along the path that borders the Lago del Desierto. Throughout the trek we are able to enjoy great views of Mt Fitz Roy, the lovely colours and reflections in the lake itself and the impressive Vespignani Range.

After some 4 or 5 hours we arrive at the southern end of the lake where a vehicle will be waiting for us, for our return to El Chaltén

  • Meals: Breakfast and Pack lunch.
  • Distance: 14 Km.
  • Walking: 5 hs.
    After a couple of days of trekking and camping in the wild the idea of enjoying a few more nights of luxury in the area of Lago del Desierto in Aguas Arriba Lodge is heavenly! Aguas Arriba is an enchanting wooden Lodge built in the heart of a forest overlooking the lake and can only be reached by boat or by foot. This is the place to treat yourself to! Walk Patagonia recommends a couple of nights here to enjoy a bit more walking, fly fishing, admiring the awesome views from the lodge’s gigantic windows and enjoying a good book infront of a log fire!
  • Programme details
  • Requirements:
  • Fit.
  • Trekking with camping experience.
  • No technical experience is required.
  • Prior to the participating in the trek the Personal Information Questionnaire must be filled in and sent to us.
  • Includes:
  • Mountain Guide (AAGM/EPGAMT-APN) .
  • Transport El Chaltén / Lago del Desierto / El Chaltén
  • Boat ride - Punta Sur / Punta Norte LDD.
  • Group camping and cooking equipments.
  • Meals during the trek (*): 2 breakfasts, 3 pack lunches, 2 afternoon teas and 2 dinners.
  • Overnight: 1 night in the BASIC Refugio del Diablo + 1 night of camping at Punta Norte of Lago del Desierto.
  • Doesn't include:
  • Personal equipment (check recommended Kit List).
  • Accommodation pre/post trek in El Chaltén (please ask for advice).
  • Additional porters.
  • Alcoholic drinks or fizzy drinks.
  • Insurance.
  • Gratuities.
  • Anything not mentioned in the programme.
  • Equipment and logistics:
  • Camping and Safety equipment are provided.
  • Any equipment that you don’t have or you forget may be hired in El Chaltén.
  • Clients help with the carrying of group equipment and food.
  • Clients can contract a porter (up to 15kg) for transfering personal/group kit.
  • We have available digital cameras, GPS, Walkie Talkies and VHF radios for hire if you wish.
  • Disponemos de equipos de cámaras fotográficas digitales, GPS y handys Talk About o VHF para alquilar.
  • Equipment provided:
  • 3/4 season - 2/3 man tents.
  • Sleeping bag and sleep mat.
  • Caming stoves and utensils.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • VHF Radio.
  • GPS (Global Positioning System).
  • SPOT (Satellite messenger).
  • Recommended Personal Kit List:
  • Back pack (60 litres).
  • Warm hat.
  • Cap/sun hat.
  • Buff/scarf (something to keep your neck warm).
  • Short and long sleeved t-shirts (synthetic).
  • Thermal layers - top and bottom.
  • Fleece.
  • Waterproof jacket with hood (like Gore-Tex).
  • Trekking trousers (preferably convertibles).
  • Waterproof trousers.
  • Warm gloves.
  • 2 pairs of trekking socks.
  • Light waterproof trekking boots.
  • Trekking poles (optional - or hire locally).
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Sun block (SPF 40) and lip balm (it’s dry in Patagonia).
  • Water bottle - 1 litre.
  • Tape/Compeed - something for blisters.
  • Personal hygiene kit.
  • Personal basic first aid kit.
  • Penknife.
  • Head torch (plus extra batteries).
  • Plastic bags (various sizes).
  • Toilet paper.
  • iPod, small book, camera, etc.
  • Notes:
  • Campsites are basic (they have no conventional infrastructure - they are basically an official place to put up a tent).
  • Campsites don’t have electricity, toilets or showers.
  • Clients help with the carrying of group equipment and food.
  • Please inform us when booking if there are any special dietary requirements or limitations (vegetarians, celiacs, etc.).
  • (*) All meals have been prepared and calculated according to the energy output of each day of the trek. We only use top quality produce that has been recommended by the nutritionist Ma. Eugenia Sánchez (Mat.Prof.LN-025) exclusively for Walk Patagonia.

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The mountains at sunrise. El Chaltén. Los Glaciares National Park.

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Walk Patagonia - Walk & Trek EVT - Leg. 14504 - Disp. 440.
Tourist Service Provider of trekking and expeditions in Los Glaciares National Park
El Chaltén - Santa Cruz - Patagonia – Argentina
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