El Chaltén is a very young town founded in 1985. It’s at the North of Lago Viedma and 210 kilometers from El Calafate, at Los Glaciares National Park.
The main attractions are the Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and the Southern Ice Field.
The town has about 1500 permanent inhabitants, its small but you will find it quite developed, due to a high demand of visitors during the summer season (October to march). During the winter, the services are reduced: 1 daily bus between Calafate and Chaltén, 2 or 3 restaurants and a few Hotels will stay open.
There are also supermarkets, gas station and ATM. By the way, it´s always good to have some pocket money, because the ATM might not work and not many places will accept credit cards.
The town owes its name to the nearby peak. The name "Chaltén" comes from the “ahonikenk” or “Tehuelche” language, and means "steaming mountain", due to the clouds that almost always crown their summit, which together with the ancestral denomination has led to mistakenly believe that it was a volcano.
The mountain was considered sacred for the native populations and forms part of its cosmogony. Francisco Pascasio Moreno baptized him Fitz Roy on March 2, 1877 in honor of HMS Beagle captain Robert Fitz Roy, who crossed the Santa Cruz River in 1834.
Although the official Argentine cartography has preferred, in recent years, to recover the ancestral denomination and call it El Chaltén. "The surroundings of El Chaltén combine the magic of the nearby glaciers, the hidden lagoons, the celestial lake Viedma and the mystical presence of the Mount Fitz Roy or Chaltén you can see its imposing figure dominating the landscape from the village.
In October 2014, El Chaltén was ranked second in a ranking of the "best cities in the world to know", published in 2015 by the Lonely Planet travel guide. The town had ahead only Washington DC, and it was ranked on first place both from Argentina and Latin America.
We recommend visiting the National Park Visitor Center located at the entrance of the village, before doing any activity, as you will receive important updated information about the trails, obtain permits for wilderness areas, read the weather forecasts, and learn about the low impact technics before starting your activity, especially if you are not planning too hire a guide.
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