Laguna De Los Tres. If only I had known what was in store for me when starting this challenging day hike in El Chalten, Argentina.
But was it worth it? Of course!
With Mount Fitz Roy as the backdrop, Laguna De Los Tres, otherwise known as the Fitz Roy hike, is an iconic trail in the hiking mecca of Patagonia.
But it’s a strenuous hike – one that I completely underestimated!
Here’s everything you need to know about hiking to Laguna De Los Tres.
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Laguna De Los Tres hike summary
- Distance: 22km
- Time needed: 5 hours up, 4 hours down
- Difficulty: Strenuous
- Route type: Out and back
- Laguna De Los Tres elevation gain: 800m
How long is Laguna De Los Tres
Laguna De Los Tres is a 22 km hike. Because it’s an out-and-back track, you’ll walk the same path up as you would back down again.
It takes 7 to 9 hours to complete but this is dependent on where you start the trek and your fitness levels.
You’ll need to come prepared with food, snacks and water as there are no shops along the trail. However, there are a few streams where you can refill your water bottle.
Laguna De Los Tres hike difficulty
The Fitz Roy hike is not easy, and I found it to be one of the more challenging treks in El Chalten. But it’s worth it!
Here’s what you need to consider if you’re wondering how hard it is.
- The distance of 22km
- The steep section you need to ascend just before arriving at Laguna De Los Tres
The first 3 km of the trail is uphill. But this won’t seem too bad as you’ll feel strong and excited for what’s to come. That was my experience, at least (but later that day was a completely different story).
After that, the trail becomes flat… until you’re 8 km in.
It’s all uphill from here, and the last 2 km to Laguna De Los Tres are a slow slog. I found this section to be extremely difficult and the heat only makes it worse.
Still wanting to take on the Fitz Roy hike? Here’s a step-by-step guide!
How to get to the Laguna De Los Tres hike trailhead
There are two starting points for the Laguna De Los Tres hike.
The most popular route is from El Chalten where you’ll find the trailhead located on the far end of town.
To get here, follow San Martin Avenue until you reach a big parking area that has a sign to the Laguna De Los Tres trailhead. You can’t miss it.
Here’s the exact location.
Alternative Trailhead to get to Laguna De Los Tres
The alternative starting point is at Rio Blanco, 15 km from El Chalten.
To get there, you’ll need to drive or book a taxi. Don’t try to walk it!
This alternative starting point at Rio Blanco is popular because it cuts out the first 3 km hike from town – which is mostly uphill.
Many people hike from Rio Blanco and then come back down via the regular route to town.
So which is better? I recommend the standard route from the trailhead in El Chalten to Fitz Roy and back again.
It’s the route I took and easiest to coordinate – especially if you don’t want the admin of organizing taxis at 5am!
The start of the Fitz Roy Hiking trail
The Laguna De Los Tres hike starts with a bang!
It’s pretty much all uphill for the first 3 km. You’ll gain 400m of elevation during this section (and another 400m during the last 2km before reaching Laguna De Los Tres).
You’ll pass beautiful viewpoints along the way, and the trail is well-marked throughout.
Mirador Fitz Roy
About 90 minutes into your hike, you’ll reach a fork in the road.
You can either take the left route to Laguna Capri (Campamento Capri) or the right path to Mirador Fitz Roy.
Both lead to the same point.
I recommend taking the right path to the Fitz Roy Mirador (viewpoint) on your way up. When you come back down, you can take the route via Laguna Capri.
Shortly after taking the trail to the right, you’ll pass a stunning viewpoint of Mount Fitz Roy.
Enjoy the next 3 km as they are flat and scenic!
The Uphill Climb from Poincenot Campsite
After 3 hours into your hike, you’ll reach Campamento Poincenot. This is where the alternative trailhead (Rio Blanco) meets with the standard one.
After walking through the picturesque campsite, you’ll cross a river. Keep walking straight, and soon you’ll notice a gradual incline through the forest.
This will ease you into the next part!
The trail soon becomes very rocky and uneven with little shade.
It’s steep – very steep! But keep your head down and take as many breaks as you need.
As you get closer to the top, there is a “false summit.” This means that the end is in sight, only for you to arrive and realize that you have one more section to climb. But don’t worry, it’s not nearly as harsh and long as the one you would have just conquered.
Arriving at Laguna De Los Tres
5 hours after starting your Fitz Roy hike, you will reach Laguna De Los Tres.
Most travel guides say it takes around 4 hours – and I thought I would do it quicker as I’m relatively fit – but it took me 5 hours!
The view is magnificent, and you’ll have an “aaaah” moment after getting the first glimpse of Mount Fitz Roy up close.
Take some time out and have a well-deserved break and a bite to eat.
Even if you don’t have the energy, I highly recommend walking down to the base of the lake.
If you follow the track that hugs the laguna on the left, you’ll reach another epic viewpoint of Laguna Sucia.
Returning from Laguna De Los Tres
Give yourself at least 4 hours to get from Laguna De Los Tres to El Chalten.
Hiking down is tough on the knees, and the last 3 km will feel like they go on forever.
My legs, knees, and feet were absolutely exhausted (and aching) by the time I returned to the starting point. So I headed straight to the closest bar and got an ice-cold coke and beer!
Where to stay when hiking Fitz Roy
Most people doing the Laguna De Los Tres trek stay in El Chalten. It’s easy to walk to the trailhead from town, and there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from.
I stayed at Hosteria El Alamo and highly recommend it. It’s well-priced given the prime location and breakfast is included. The staff are so friendly and were happy to help me plan my hike to Laguna Los Tres. Check availability here.
If you’re looking for something more luxurious, you can’t go wrong with Chalten Suites Hotel. This is the perfect place to come home to after a long day of hiking. There’s an onsite restaurant and it’s just a stone’s throw away from the trailhead to Fitz Roy. Check availability here.
Camping Laguna De Los Tres
One regret I have is not camping in El Chalten.
While I loved coming home to a hot shower and comfy bed, I wish I had spent one night camping closer to Fitz Roy.
There are two campsites along the trail to Laguna De Los Tres: Campamento Capri and Campamento Poincenot.
Both offer scenic sites, allowing you to get closer to the iconic location. This means you don’t have to walk 22 km in one day and you can also make it to Laguna De Los Tres for sunrise.
If you choose to camp, you can then combine your Fitz Roy hike with a few other trails in the area.
Unlike the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, you don’t need to know pre book campsites in El Chalten. They are free and you can rent camping gear from town.
Best time to do the Laguna De Los Tres hike
To avoid the crowds, I recommend starting your hike at 5am.
This is when I started, and I was surprised to see no one else on the trail for at least 2.5 hours!
Even then, the trail wasn’t busy, and I enjoyed the views of Fitz Roy with very few other tourists. This was at 10 am.
On my way down at about 12 pm, the trail was extremely crowded and congested. This hike is on most travelers’ Argentina bucket list, so it’s understandable!
In my opinion, the reason to hike Fitz Roy earlier is not only to experience Laguna De Los Tres with few other tourists.
It’s also to enjoy the uphill trail without crowds and without being rushed. It gets super busy, and this last section is a narrow path meaning you could constantly be stepping aside for other tourists.
It takes an average of 8 hours to do the Laguna De Los Trek hike, so don’t leave too late, as you might end up walking alone in the dark.
Hiking Laguna De Los Tres independently
You do not need to book an organized tour to hike to Laguna De Los Tres. In fact, this is one hike you should avoid doing with a tour!
Because it’s a difficult trek and you’re going to want to walk at your own pace – whether that’s slow or fast.
The route is clearly marked and you won’t get lost.
costs to hike Laguna De Los Tres
The Laguna De Los Tres hike is completely free and there is no park entrance fee.
You don’t need to pre-book anything. Simply get on the trail and start walking!
What to pack from the Fitz Roy hike
- 2 Liters of water which you’ll need for the hike up. Once you’ve reached Laguna De Los Tres, you can refill your bottles with glacier water.
- Food: I bought rolls, ham, and cheese from the supermarket and made a sandwich at the top.
- Snacks: The trail is long, so bring some fruit and chocolate to keep you going.
- A packet for your trash.
- Warm top.
- Hiking poles are useful, but not necessary.
- Flashlight if you’re starting the hike before sunrise.
Laguna De Los Tres vs Laguna Torre
When I first arrived in El Chalten, I was overwhelmed by the number of hiking trails available.
Here’s the low down!
There are two main hiking trails that you should do: Laguna De Los Tres (Fitz Roy hike) and Laguna Torre.
And while they both offer incredible views from the lagunas, the trails leading to them couldn’t be more different.
Laguna De Los Tres: 22 km with a grueling 90-minute hike to the summit, which offers the best views of Mount Fitz Roy.
Laguna Torre: 20 km hiking trail that’s easy compared to Laguna De Los Tres but with equally impressive views (but of Cerro Torre, not Fitz Roy).
If you have the time, I recommend doing both!
Is the Laguna De Los Tres hike worth it
Yes, if there’s one hike you should do in El Chalten, it’s Laguna De Los Tres.
It’s a challenging hike, but the views of the stunning turquoise waters of Laguna De Los Tres and the jagged peak of Mount Fitz Roy are breathtaking.
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Mount Fitz Roy dominates the Chalten skyline, and hiking to Laguna De Los Tres is the closest you’re going to get to the spectacular peak.
It’s a popular trail for a reason, as it’s a gorgeous sight that should be on your El Chalten bucket list.
Are you looking to hike to Laguna De Los Tres and Mount Fitz Roy? Do you have any questions about your trip? Drop me a message in the comments section below.