Hiking Laguna de los Tres from El Chalten with Mirador del Fitz Roy and Laguna Capri.
If I had to choose just one hike to recommend from our time in Patagonia it would have to be the trek that includes Mirador del Fitz Roy, Laguna de los Tres, and Laguna Capri. Starting and finishing in El Chalten, we did the hike to Laguna de los Tres and back in about nine hours with plenty of extended stops for photography, food, and rest. We chose the route that took us to Mirador del Fitz Roy on the way up, then up and back on the boulder scramble to Laguna de los Tres, and when returning we hiked the loop past Laguna Capri which connects back to the main trail back into El Chalten. Don’t skip the lake route… it is about equal distance as the Mirador del Fitz Roy side of the loop, the trail is easy, and the lake and the view here is really incredible.
How would I do it differently?
It is really the scenery in the middle of the hike that makes it such an incredible trail. In fact, if I were to return to the location I wouldn’t bother with the last push up to Laguna de los Tres again. Not to say that going to the end of the trail and taking in the barren landscape that surrounds the Laguna de los Tres isn’t worth the effort (and it is definitely an effort with the last hour being more a boulder scramble almost straight up a steep pitch than a trail hike) but I was left with more of an ‘Ok… I made it to the top’ feeling rather than a ‘Wow… this is spectacular’ feeling. As a photographer I found myself wishing I was back at the lower elevations where there were great streams and flora to add perspective and variety to my photos.
If I return to El Chalten, I would simply make a loop of the Mirador del Fitz Roy and Laguna Capri options. This would allow for many more hours relaxing, enjoying the scenery, and doing photography along the streams and near the lake. The views of Fitz Roy from these vantage points are framed with wind swept foliage and colorful rock. With every turn of the trail there is another spectacular vista.
As shown in the map at left, the Laguna de los Tres hike is a nice out and back trek with a loop in the middle. On the way out we chose the Mirador del Fitz Roy route (marked with an A) and on the way back we took the Laguna Capri route (marked with a B). The pitch up to Laguna de los Tres (marked with a C) is the part I would leave out if I revisit this area. The base of the climb up to Laguna de los Tres would be a good turn around point.
Full versions of the trail map and expert advice are available at the Los Glaciares Nacional Park ranger station in El Chalten.
Photographer Dominic Urbano is based in Leavenworth WA USA. The information and photography from this trek in Patagonia are from March of 2014.