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The Patagonia region of Argentina is filled with dramatic and beautiful landscapes, and the Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres hike is one of the best trails that the area has to offer – which is really saying something. In fact, I’ve actually done the trail on more than one visit to El Chalten – it’s a staple I never miss!
With amazing views, clear lakes, and dramatic mountain peaks, the hike is a must-visit for any adventurer. It’s also a day hike, so you don’t need to worry about bringing camping gear or spending multiple days on the trail – although you can make it into a camping adventure if you want to!
The hike is known by two names because of the two major landmarks that it visits. The hike takes you to Laguna de los Tres, which is a stunning glacial lake at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. From there, you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the lake and its dramatic surroundings, which happened to feature the towering Mt Fitz Roy.
As always, there are several things that you need to know before you embark on the hike. We’ve got all of the need-to-know info about hiking the Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres trail in Patagonia, Argentina.
1. About Mount Fitz Roy
Mount Fitz Roy is one of the most iconic landmarks in Patagonia. The mountain stands at an impressive 3,405 meters (11,171 feet) above sea level and is part of Los Glaciares National Park. The mountain is also well-known for its unique rock formations, which are caused by wind and weather erosion.
The mountain itself is incredibly difficult to climb to the summit. The first successful climb occurred in 1952, and due to its difficult terrain, the mountain is still only climbed a few times a year.
The Mount Fitz Roy trail takes you to the base of the mountain, where you’ll get an incredible view of its impressive features. At the foot of the mountain, you’ll also find Laguna de los Tres (translates to “Lake of the Three”), which is so named because it’s surrounded by three peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Saint-Exupery.
Along the way, you’ll also see river valleys, lakes, forests, and dramatic mountain faces. You can stop at several viewpoints (or miradors) including the Mount Fitz Roy viewpoint, which is fairly early on in the trail – around 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) or so.
2. Where is Mount Fitz Roy, and where is the trailhead?
Mount Fitz Roy is part of the Patagonian Andes and is located in Los Glaciares National Park, which straddles the border between Argentina and Chile. However, the mountain is firmly on the Argentinian side and can only be accessed from there.
The trailhead can be found in El Chalten, which is a small town in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina. It’s a popular base for hiking many of the trails in the region, and the Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres trailhead is right in town. Since the town is so small, you can probably just walk there straight from your hotel – no need to worry about transport!
There are lots of fun things to do in El Chalten – although the Mount Fitz Roy Hike is definitely the most popular – so you can spend a couple of days here and enjoy yourself. If you’re short on time, some tours also visit from the more popular town of El Calafate, but we’ll talk more about that later.
3. Is the Mount Fitz Roy Hike and Laguna de los Tres Hike the same thing?
The hike takes you to the Laguna de los Tres, which is the bright blue lake at the base of Mount Fitz Roy.
You don’t go to the summit of Mount Fitz Roy because it’s insanely difficult and only very, very experienced rock climbers attempt to do that.
But don’t worry, you’re not missing out on anything by not going to the summit. You get amazing views of the peak from the base, so it’s a great opportunity to see this majestic mountain up close.
So basically, if someone tells you that they’re hiking to Mount Fitz Roy, they mean the laguna at the base, not right to the top (unless they’re a professional rock climber, that is.) In regular terms, the Mount Fitz Roy Hike and Laguna de los Tres Hike are names of the same trail and used interchangeably depending on who you speak to.
4. Can you summit Mount Fitz Roy?
You can and people have, but most won’t and shouldn’t attempt it.
Summiting Mount Fitz Roy is very dangerous. The mountain’s steep rock faces and harsh conditions mean that you need to be a seriously experienced rock climber to attempt this, so it’s out of reach for your average traveler.
In fact, Mount Fitz Roy is known as one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb!
The good news is, though, that you don’t need to summit Mount Fitz Roy. When you hike to the laguna, you get an amazing view of the mountain without risking your life. So take it from us and stick to the trails!
5. How long is the Mount Fitz Roy Hike?
The Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres hike is a 24-kilometer (15-miles) round trip. You hike to the laguna and back in a single day, usually starting out quite early in the morning.
The hike has an elevation gain of 700 meters (2,297 feet) over 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), which isn’t too bad, but much of this occurs during the last kilometer before you reach the laguna, so be prepared for that.
6. How long should it take?
The Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres hike can take between 8-10 hours, including a break at the laguna.
You’ll probably spend around 8 hours actually hiking, but you’ll definitely want some time to soak in the majestic views at the Laguna de los Tres and stop at some other viewpoints along the way. The Mount Fitz Roy Viewpoint is great and the Rio de las Vueltas viewpoint provides an amazing view of the river valley.
The exact time depends on your fitness level, the weather conditions, and how many breaks you take along the way. Generally, though, it’s best to plan for the full 10 hours, so you don’t have to rush.
Related Read: Another neaby experience you have to do is mini-trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier!
7. Is the hike to Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres difficult?
It’s not a walk in the park – in general, this hike is considered moderate to challenging in difficulty.
The hike is mostly uphill, and the terrain can be pretty uneven. By far the most difficult part of the hike is the last kilometer before you reach the laguna, which is very steep and rocky.
Fortunately, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views straight after tackling the most challenging portion of the trek – and trust us, you’ll forget how tired and sweaty you are when you see the view.
You’ll need to pack light and have a decent fitness level in order to complete this hike, but as long as you’re prepared, you should be able to do it.
You don’t need any special hiking equipment, but sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes, a light waterproof jacket, a backpack, and water are essential. If you have bad knees or ankles, hiking poles will come in handy, particularly on the last kilometer that is pretty much straight up!
8. When is the best time to hike the Mount Fitz Roy trail?
The best time of year to hike to the Laguna de los Tres is in the summertime, which is from November to March in the southern hemisphere. This is when the Patagonia region has the best hiking conditions. The days are warmer, there’s less rainfall, and there are more hours of daylight, so you can leave earlier in the morning and don’t need to rush to be done before dark.
Things don’t get too hot in Patagonia during the summer months, either – usually the temperature stays in the mid-teens Celsius during the day (around 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit), so you won’t overheat on your hike.
Naturally, the best weather also draws the biggest crowds, so bear that in mind. The first kilometer or so of your hike might feel a little busy, but it definitely thins out as you climb higher.
There are also more clouds over Patagonia during the summer, but these usually arrive later in the day. Therefore, it’s best to set out first thing in the morning so that you can enjoy clear blue skies as you hike.
The sun rises fairly between 5:30 – 7:45 am in El Chalten during the summer months, so, if you want to avoid the clouds, time the start of your hike accordingly.
Whatever time of year you visit, remember to bring sunglasses and a sun hat, and to frequently reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
9. Where can you stay near Mount Fitz Roy Trail?
The best place to stay to hike Mount Fitz Roy is in the cute town of El Chalten. Here, there are plenty of hotels to choose from and you’ll be within walking distance of the trailhead. Here are our top picks for places to stay in El Chalten:
Budget Accommodation in El Chalten
Rancho Grande – Rancho Grande is a great budget hostel with a very social vibe. They have a 24-hour restaurant and own the brewery next door. We stayed here and it was great! You can book either on Hostelworld or Booking.com.
Hostel Pioneros del Valle – Another really top-rated hostel located in the heart of El Chalten. This place has amazing common areas and a great backpacker atmosphere! You can book either on Hostelworld or Booking.com.
Mid-range Accommodation in El Chalten
Posada y Cabañas El Barranco – This hotel is really a great choice for those with a little extra to spend. Rooms start at around $135 USD and include a good breakfast. The hotel is modern and the staff is very helpful!
Fitz Roy Hostería de Montaña – This hotel is absolutely stunning and has rave reviews. From the modern dining areas to the rooms, the decor is beautiful. The staff here are also notably helpful!
Luxury Accommodation in El Chalten
Chalten Suites Hotel – The Chalten Suites is everything you’d expect from a luxury hotel, modern, well furnished, stunning decor, great location, and extremely attentive staff.
Destino Sur Hotel & Spa de Montaña – Destino Sur is arguably my favorite hotel in El Chalten. The rooms are spacious and the design and styles make you feel like you’re in a Patagonian dream!
Related Read: If traveling with your partner we have some insights you will want to know about how to survive backpacking as a couple in Patagonia!
10. Can you hike Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres on your own without a guide?
Yes, you certainly can – in fact, many travelers choose to do this.
You don’t need a permit or guide to hike the Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres trail. It’s very well-marked, and there are many other people around, so it’s quite hard to get lost.
That said, if you’re not experienced in hiking or you don’t feel confident tackling the trail alone, it’s always a good idea to get a guide. They’ll be able to give you essential information about the hike, as well as advice and tips to make your journey easier. We definitely recommend this if you’re a novice hiker, but if you’re experienced and want to do it alone, then you shouldn’t have any problems.
A tour is also a good option if you’re keen to learn more about the flora and fauna in Patagonia and spot some of the local wildlife along the way. Tours are also a good way for solo travelers to make new friends – nothing bonds you together like swearing furiously as you tackle that last kilometer of the Laguna de los Tres hike!
11. What are the best guided hiking tours to Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres?
Tours departing from El Chalten
Laguna de los Tres Hiking Day Trip from El Chaltén
This is a full-day guided tour of the Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres hike that departs from El Chalten at 8 am. You’ll be accompanied by a guide the whole time, so this option offers peace of mind for those who are nervous about hiking. There’s a maximum group size of 8, so you won’t have to worry about large crowds either.
You’ll also see the Piedras Blancas glacier on your way back from La Laguna de los Tres, and stop at Laguna Capri, too.
Hotel pickup and lunch are included as part of this tour, which costs $160 USD per person. Travelers need to be at least 15 years old to participate.
2-Day Self-guided Adventure El Chalten: Laguna de los Tres, Fitz Roy & Torre Mt
This 2-day self-guided tour starts in El Chalten and ends at Torre Mountain. On day one, you’ll head to El Pilar and from there you’ll hike to the Piedras Blancas glacier before continuing onto the Laguna de los Tres for amazing views of Mount Fitz Roy.
You’ll then spend the night camping at Poincenot, a quiet and beautiful wilderness area. A tent and sleeping bag will be provided for you, and you’ll have a 3-course dinner, which is usually something along the lines of soup, risotto, and chocolate mousse.
The following day, you’ll have breakfast before trekking to the Laguna Madre y Hija (Mother and Daughter lagoon), two lakes connected by a stream. From there, you’ll make your way to the Torre lagoon to admire the Torre mountain before heading back to El Chalten in the late afternoon.
In addition to everything listed above, you get a packed lunch on both days and all necessary transfers. This tour involves around 35 kilometers (21 miles) of hiking across two days, and it’s do-able for anyone with a moderate fitness level.
What’s great about a self-guided tour is that all bookings, meals, and transfers are taken care of for you, but you still get to enjoy the independence and flexibility of doing the hike yourself. This tour costs $325 USD per person, and has a minimum age limit of 12.
Tours departing from El Calafate
Instead of departing from El Chalten, you can also join a Mount Fitz Roy tour from El Calafate. El Calafate is further away from the trail, but it’s also a more popular town with more to do than El Chalten.
El Calafate is 213 kilometers (132 miles) from El Chalten, and it takes around 3-3.5 hours to get there via car or tour bus. Day tours from El Calafate to Mount Fitz Roy can be long, but they’re a convenient and cost-effective option if you’re short on time and don’t want to stay overnight in El Chalten.
El Chalten Full-Day from El Calafate with Lunch
This full-day tour from El Calafate will take you along Route 40, where you’ll get to admire the Patagonian landscape before arriving in El Chalten.
From there, you’ll make your way to the Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres trail and be accompanied by a guide the whole time. Or, if you prefer, you can tackle the trail independently – the choice is yours.
You’ll have a packed lunch along the way and be driven back to El Calafate in the evening, being dropped off at your hotel between 8-10 pm at night, depending on the time of year and conditions.
This tour starts at 7 am and costs $150 USD per adult, with a minimum age limit of 12.
Related Read: Be sure to also learn about the best tours in Torres del Paine National Park!
12. What is better: The hike to Mount Fitz Roy or Laguna Torre?
Just as people hike to the Laguna de los Tres to admire Mount Fitz Roy, people also hike to Laguna Torre for its amazing views of Torre Mountain. In fact, the Laguna Torre hike from El Chalten is equally as popular, so many people in El Chalten plan to hike to both. However, if you only have time for one day hike, you might be asking yourself the question: which is better?
Our personal preference is Mount Fitz Roy. Both are great and certainly worth doing, but in terms of natural beauty, a rewarding hike, and breathtaking views, Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres just can’t be beaten.
We will say, though, that the Laguna Torre hike is easier than the Laguna de los Tres trail because it’s mostly flat. It takes around 7 hours to complete for your average Joe, or less if you’re a pro hiker.
However, if you really can’t decide, this 2-day tour we mentioned earlier will take you to both of these beautiful viewpoints!
13. Can you camp near Laguna de Los Tres?
Yes, there are three campsites in the area.
The most popular is Poincenot, which is the closest campsite to the Laguna de los Tres trail. This is a free campsite and bookings are not required. There are latrine toilets and running water from a stream.
You can rent camping equipment from El Chalten before your hike, and then, since the campground is about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) into the trail, you can leave it here before tackling the most difficult final section, which is nice and convenient.
What’s cool about staying in Poincenot is that you can wake up early and head back to La Laguna de los Tres to watch the sunrise early in the morning, which is a pretty amazing experience.
There’s also Campamento Laguna Capri, which is on the shores of Lake Capri and has a beautiful view of Mount Fitz Roy. It’s 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from El Chalten and about an hour’s hike away from the Mount Fitz Roy Viewpoint. This is another basic, free campsite which is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Alternatively, there’s Camping de Agostini, which is closer to Laguna Torre. Again, this is a free site with basic facilities. This is a better option if you’re doing the Mount Torre trek, but it is further away from the Laguna de los Tres trail.
14. Can you do an overnight hike to Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna Torre?
There’s no official trail connecting the Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre hikes, but lots of people do both.
Since both trails are round trips, lots of people hike one trail, return to El Chalten for the night, and then complete the next trail the following day, but this wastes a lot of time.
What many people don’t know is that there is a small walking track between the two trails, so you can make your trip into a circuit rather than wasting time hiking back and forth from El Chalten.
You can camp for one night at Poincenot, the next night at Agostini, and then return to El Chalten the following day. This is a great way to maximize your time and enjoy both of these amazing hikes!
For example, you could visit Laguna Torre and spend your first night at the De Agostini campsite. Then, you can hike from De Angostini to Poincenot for a second night, and then head to Laguna los Tres on your third day before hiking back to El Chalten.
This is an epic three-day trek across the Patagonian wilderness and you will get to see some of the most beautiful spots in Argentina. And, of course, you can always do it in the opposite direction if you prefer! The Laguna Torre hike is easier so you might want to save that for your second day.
Alternatively, the self-guided tour we mentioned has a faster version of this and everything is handled for you – including your camping equipment! You’ll hike to Mount Fitz Roy on your first day, then spend the night at Poincenot and hike to Laguna Torre the next morning before heading back to El Chalten.
15. Is the hike to Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres worth it?
The Mount Fitz Roy/Laguna de los Tres hike is one of the most beautiful in the Patagonia region, which is famous for its breathtaking landscapes.
You get to see some incredible views, and the hike itself is varied and exciting, with plenty of fascinating sights to keep you occupied.
It’s also suitable for most travelers with a moderate fitness level and you can do it in a day if you wish, or turn it into a camping adventure if you want to. But regardless, you really shouldn’t miss it!
Related Read: Of course while you’re in Patagonia you should plan on hiking the w-trek in Torres del Paine National Park.
Planning your Trip to Patagonia
Accommodation in Patagonia
Booking accommodation is one of the biggest aspects of your trip, and we should know as we stay in a new hotel up to 40 times per year! Funny enough, we make 99% of these bookings on one website and that’s Booking.com – and there are a few reasons why we use this site!
Number one is the website is easy to use and sorts accommodation options. That takes the stress out of planning which honestly still affects us and we do it more than not.
Second, is the price guarantee. We have literally booked a hotel months before and then 1 week out found it cheaper (we always do a quick search), and they’ll match that price from anyone’s website including the hotels!
And third, is the Genius loyalty program. If you make a certain amount of bookings per year you get a Genius discount. We are level-two geniuses because we make more than 5 a year. At participating hotels, we get things like free breakfast included, early check-in, and up to 15% off.
You can check out all their accommodation options throughout Patagonia!
Renting a car in Patagonia
We enjoyed a rental car for our second trip to Patagonia – and wow, what a way to travel! But the best part was that we only paid $40 USD per day for a 5-person sedan!
But how? Well if you’re renting a car the cheapest company is Discover Cars. We often get questions from readers asking us if the website is fake because it seems too cheap! The truth is, they are a great company that we actually used for our own rental car.
If you do want to compare prices (and you should) do a quick search on Airport Car Rentals too. They’re another big competitor and each company often has its own deals to offer!
Tours in Patagonia
Tours are a tricky one. We love booking online because we can check reviews of that exact tour but they can be pricier than booking directly in person. So for this, we often do it 50/50 – half of the time in person and the other half of the time we book tours online in advance.
Thanks for reading!
I hope that you are even more excited to hike to Laguna de los Tre/Mount Fits Roy. I promise you, this is one trail to remember and one definitely worth doing.