El Chaltén 3 days 3 hikes : Day 1, Chorrillo del Salto
Updated: Dec 5, 2017
Hello again and welcome to my quick rundown of walks from El Chaltén, in the heart of Argentinian Patagonia. I had three days so packed in three hikes, just enough to give me a breathtaking snapshot of this part of the world. Here you’ll find a little about the route, wildlife, and features of each walk, so without further ado let’s kick off with Day 1 -Chorrillo del Salto.
If you’d prefer to watch a short video summarising the scenery around the walk, click here.
Length: 4km one way, 8km round route.
Highlights: Waterfall views from above and below
This is the shortest and simplest walk from El Chaltén, perfect for the evening you arrive, or the morning you depart. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a rewarding walk, and for me on my first day, it was the perfect introduction to Patagonia.
Follow the purple line!
The route is direct from the north side of El Chaltén. There are a few variants:
If you follow the gravel road (stay alert for cars and dust) you can’t go wrong. Eventually you will come to a car park on your left, turn in to the car park and follow the footpath that heads in the same direction, but inside the woods. Soon you will hear and then reach the falls from below.
View from the roadside looking away from El Chaltén
Looking back to El Chaltén we can see the road below
As you leave the north side of El Chaltén, take the left fork through and up to the wooden sign for FitzRoy. You will see a small sign for the chorrillo, and a narrow straight ahead. If you take that you will wind parallel to the road, eventually meeting up with it. This detour is for those who’d rather not walk on the road, I recommend it.
A small winding trail flanked by wildflowers
Roughly 1km into the walk, after you reconnect with the road, there is a path on the right which winds into the trees of the plain. This is a short but beautiful little detour that meets up with the cycle path, once you’re on the cycle path, veer left until you meet the road once more. Once you hit the road, there is a path virtually opposite which meets up with the left hand trail until you get to the car park.
Just before the right turn, you pass swampy plains with stepping stones
Once you pass the car park, keep an eye out on your left the ‘no smoking’ sign which comes after a couple of hundred metres. When you see it, look for a vague trail into the woods and up the hill on your left. Keep going up the hill and follow the rocky climb up to the top. You’ll find yourself above the waterfall, looking down on everyone below! It’s not for the faint hearted, and be careful because there’s some loose rock on the path – but you’ll get great views up the river and across the valley, well worth the effort!
The view from the top looking out
Looking back up the river from the top
Whichever version you take brings you to the waterfall one way or another. It’s relatively busy here, I recommend sunset for the sun dropping behind the falls, or sunrise to see the water lighting up at dawn. I also wouldn’t swim here, the water is extremely fast (and also cold), although I don’t see how dipping your feet in can hurt!
Chorrillo del Salto just before sunset
The flora and fauna around Patagonia is beautiful. Although not the widest diversity of life, you’ll become familiar with the animals, flowers and general feel that Patagonia is so famous for.
On this walk, we are fairly close to the road at all times, so don’t expect to see any large mammals. However, here is a selection of the wildlife I saw on this trail:
So that’s it for this short hike! Remember to stick to the paths as much as possible and enjoy wandering through these beautiful foothills. Next time we increase the intensity for the slightly more well known trek to Laguna de los Tres and Mount FitzRoy.