One of the best hikes in the world is
Around Monte Fitz Roy
- Fitz Roy Trek
- Laguna Torre and Fitz Roy
- Los Glaciares
Hikers who visit Torres del Paine in Chile are urged to hike nearby Fitz Roy. A similar fantastical landscape but with even worse weather!
WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE
- ARGENTINA is one of our favourite destinations
- Paine & Fitz Roy are the best two hikes in Patagonia
- the jagged mountains of Paine are surreal but we feel Fitz Roy is even more stunning
- hikes here are slightly easier than Paine, more suitable to all levels of ability and experience
- it's easy to hike independently in Fitz Roy
- no need to speak Spanish, though it helps
- no need to filter water
- no risk of altitude sickness
- chance to see condor, guanaco, fox & nandu (rhea)
- Argentina is less expensive than Chile
- most hikers like El Calafate better than Puerto Natales (the two jumping off points for Fitz Roy & Paine respectively)
- side trip visit to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the best tourist attractions in South America
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Fitz Roy is at the northern tip of gorgeous Parque Nacional Los Glaciers, itself part of Hielo Sur, the largest icecap not in a polar region.The history of these impossible spires adds a special flavour. It's named after Cpt. Fitzroy, skipper of Charles Darwin's Beagle. And Fitz Roy is one of the most famously difficult mountaineering destinations in the world.
The biggest concern for hikers is wind. It can blow steady from November to April. We have never seen wind like this anywhere else in the world.Fitz Roy is colder than Paine. The huge Hielo Sur ice sheet diminishes the maritime influence. At El Chalten:
- February (summer) low maximum 5C (41F) plus wind chill
- February (summer) high maximum of 22C (72F)
In fact, temperatures in your tent, closer to the mountains, will be colder. If you are not there in February, it will be colder again.
- plan for horrible weather: rain, sleet, hail, snow
- hypothermia is a slight risk
- is there any hike in the world with worse weather?
- the summit of Monte Fitz Roy's polished granite spire is usually obscured by cloud
- you need a strong tent & good tie-downs to survive the wind & weather
- you need a stove as fires are prohibited (rent in town)
- most hike independently here. Few are guided.
- November to April are the best months
- January & early February first-come, first-served campsites are crowded, but not as much as Paine
- the days are long in Patagonia during their summer it is light until at least 10PM
- hiking is possible any month though you will be considered loco if you go off-season
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Unfortunately the only hiking allowed in Parque Nacional Los Glaciers is around Fitz Roy. (We wish they would open more routes.)
- start this trek by heading for the bustling tourist town of El Calafate, Argentina
- many hikers fly or bus there from Buenos Aires, Argentina
- some hikers fly to Chile first to hike Paine, then bus to El Calafate
- it is normally easy to cross the Chile - Argentina border
- from El Calafate you need schedule a full extra day to visit must see Moreno Glacier
- from El Calafate you can bus (4.5hrs) to the trailhead town of El Chaltén, entering the national park (free entrance) en route.
- no reservation, trekking fee or permit is required
- it is easy to day hike out of a hostel or hotel in El Calafate. This is particularly advisable if the weather is too dreadful for tenting.
- you can start hiking directly from El Chaltén, which has grocery stores for last-minute purchases.
Accommodation & restaurants are surprisingly good in tiny El Chalten. It is no hardship to relax there, waiting for the winds to drop. There is even a free campground on the edge of town.
For Fitz Roy, independent hikers need budget:
- bus El Calafate - El Chalten return = about US$30
- park entrance = free
- tenting = free
- rental gear, especially a warm sleeping bag, if needed, in El Calafate
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Argentina, since a 2002 currency crisis, has been very good value if you are holding foreign currency. It is far cheaper than Chile. Stingy traveller / hikers spend as little as US$350 a month in Argentina. It will be double or triple that in Chile.
- Around Fitzroy trek as described in Lonely Planet Trekking in the Patagonian Andes is 38km (23.6mi) plus sidetrips
- any variation (often decided on by weather) of this route is excellent
- we recommend 4 days, 3 nights minimum
- the standard route has you tent at Agostini, Poincenot & Refugio Los Troncos (which sells snacks & meals)
- an extra day is helpful in case you need to wait on weather or to add some sidetrips
- extreme hikers could (carefully) consider the Ice-cap Circuit variation described in The Andes, A Trekking Guide
INDEPENDENT OR GUIDED?
Browse the options above to find a guided package which suits you. We want to try some of the intriguing 40° South Expeditions!
Or hike Fitz Roy independently. This is an easy hike as long as you can carry your own gear. In case of trouble, slippery trails or bad weather, you can quickly retreat to El Chaltén.
The most popular trails are rated easy - medium. Children & non-hikers will enjoy this trek, weather permitting. But there sidetrip scrambles aplenty to challenge any hiker. Especially Cerro Electrico Lookout which most hikers opt not to do.
Looking for trekking partners? Plan an extra day or two in El Calafate. Put a note up at your accommodation & check at popular gringo restaurants. It is fairly easy to hook up with others for this trip. And easy to meet other hikers on the trail and in El Chaltén. You won't be alone for long on this hike.
The welcome and information provided the national park visitor centre (Parque Nacional Los Glaciers) in El Chaltén is terrific. It's the best park office in South America we can recall. And a big surprise after the nonexistent help offered when you enter Paine in Chile.No one is too stressed about hiking Fitz Roy, however. Not much can go wrong except the weather. Ask in El Calafate at trekking outfitters for up-to-date news on conditions at Fitz Roy.
BEST TREKKING GUIDEBOOKS
OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS
The Crouch book is ideal reading when tent bound at Fitz Roy.
Two different versions (at least) are available in El Calafate. Other alternate maps are available there, as well.Browse on-line maps:
After this site, the best links are
BEST PHOTOS & TRIP REPORTS