The town of El Chalten in Argentinian Patagonia has made a name for itself as one of the best hiking destinations in the world.
But after a few intense hikes to Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Torre, I was eager to rest my legs. That’s when I realized that white water rafting in El Chalten is one of the most underrated activities in the area.
Here’s everything you need to know, including costs, the rapids, and what else to expect when river rafting in El Chalten.
Overview of rafting in El Chalten
- Location: Rio de Las Vueltas | Here
- Course length: 16 km
- Time needed: Half day (3 hours)
- Best time: October to April
- Best tour: Las Vueltas Rafting Experience | Check availability here
What to expect
Rio de Las Vueltas is the main river that runs alongside El Chalten. It’s a beautiful glacial river and marks the start of all rafting tours in El Chalten.
The scenery throughout the course is spectacular and offers impressive views of Mount Fitz Roy as the backdrop.
The rapids aren’t too intense. If you’re hoping for adrenaline-pumping drops and wild waters, you may want to reconsider doing this.
But there are a few fun class 3 and 4 rapids near the start. From then on, it’s mostly class 2.
Toward the end of the rafting tour, our group all jumped in the calm waters and enjoyed a refreshing dip, which didn’t feel too cold, thanks to the gear we were wearing. We then met with a van waiting for us and returned to El Chalten.
What makes white water rafting in El Chalten so spectacular is the scenery. It gives you a completely different perspective from being up in the mountains.
You’re far away from the crowds of hikers, with nothing but nature surrounding you. It’s peaceful, picturesque, and a great way to experience the Patagonia landscapes.
You’ll need a half day to go rafting in El Chalten. You can either pick a morning or afternoon session.
The actual rafting lasts about 2 hours, and an additional hour is needed for your safety briefing and the drive back to El Chalten at the end of your tour.
To check times for rafting tours, click here.
Things you need to know about rafting in El Chalten
Best time to go
The best time to visit El Chalten is between October and April.
I went rafting in January, and the weather was perfect! We had a warm, sunny day and enjoyed a swim in the glacier river during our rafting tour.
December and January are the busiest months in El Chalten, so prior bookings are necessary, especially if you’re limited with time.
I made the mistake of not booking in advance, and there was no availability on my preferred date. Luckily, I had a flexible itinerary for Patagonia, so I spent a few extra days in El Chalten and waited around until there was space.
Is it safe
Yes, rafting in El Chalten is safe, as the rapids aren’t too intense. Our guide, who spoke both English and Spanish, gave us a thorough safety briefing before starting.
Two people in our larger group weren’t confident swimmers, and they felt safe and wanted to hit the rapids again!
There’s little chance of you falling into the water – unless you ask your guide to make you tip purposely!
Can children go rafting in El Chalten
Children must be older than 12 years. This is a great activity to do with your family.
What to wear
Las Vueltas River is a glacier-fed river that’s freezing cold, no matter what time of year you visit.
You’ll be given all the necessary equipment, including a life jacket, helmet, dry suit, booties, and neoprene gloves. This will allow your body to stay dry and warm – despite the ice-cold water temps.
What to pack
- A change of clothes for after your rafting tour
- A swimsuit, tights, or t-shirt to wear under the gear they provide
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Do you have any questions about river rafting in El Chalten? Drop me a message in the comments section below!
Looking for more Patagonia travel inspiration? Check out my other posts!