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Lago del Desierto - Trekking El Chaltén - Argentina

To most travelers, Lago del Desierto is just a sight along the trek across the border to Villa O’Higgins. But this lake is a destination unto itself. At Punta Sur on the south shore you can hike through virgin lenga forest to a lagoon and Glaciar Huemul (Distance: 2 km / 1.2 mi, Difficulty: medium, Duration: 2 hours round-trip). There are panoramic views of the lake and FitzRoy’s south wall. A ferry traverses the steely waters of Lago del Desierto from Punta Sur to Punta Norte in the north. FitzRoy, Cerro Vespignani and their glaciers frame the landscape. Near the Gendarmería Nacional post there is a short, self-guided trail to Mirador Centinela.


Getting There:


The gravel Ruta 23 runs north from El Chaltén to Lago del Desierto. Bus to Lago del Desierto: Las Lengas (summer: 8:30 a.m., 3 p.m.; winter: noon with 2 hour wait, $23). Also by taxi, $57 - 69. Patagonia Aventura operates the Lago del Desierto to Punta Norte (mid-October – Semana Santa: 2 boats daily, weather permitting, 1.5 - 2 hours, $27) (San Martín 56, Tel.: 43-6424, E-mail:, URL:


37 km / 23 mi north of El Chaltén
El Chaltén, Argentina


Travel Tips: The trailhead to Glaciar Huemul is 200 meters (656 ft) before Lago del Desierto. There is an entry fee, as this is on private land. Some companies in El Chaltén offer five-hour ice climbing expeditions on the glacier. You may also explore this lake in kayak or canoe.

There is a private campground near Punta Sur. At Punta Norte’s Gendarmería you can camp for free, but there are no bathrooms or other facilities. Campfires are allowed.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

You Need to Bring: Daypack, snacks, water; warm clothing, including wool or fleece hat, gloves, waterproof jacket and pants, hiking boots; sunglasses, sunblock.

Hiking the trails in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares; in winter, snowshoe or ski them. Boating on Lago del Desierto or Lago Viedma and trekking the glaciers there. Horseback riding. Experienced climbers, tackle the great massifs: Torre and Fitz Roy.

Here are other activities in and around El Chaltén that may be of interest: Hike to Chorrillo del Salto, Piedra del Fraile Hike, Laguna de los Tres Hike , Ice Trekking and Laguna Torre Hike .

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

25 Aug 2009

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