Visiting El Chaltén With Kids – Breathtaking Adventure New For 2024

Regarded as the trekking capital of Argentine Patagonia, El Chaltén is renowned for some of the world’s most awe-inspiring hikes and as a base for some great outdoor sports. Nestled under the towering Cerro Fitz Roy, it is a pilgrimage for those seeking wild adventure. While much of what the region offers is more suitable for adults, there is plenty to engage and enthral even the most adventurous families when you visit El Chaltén with kids. The town’s unique location makes it an ideal base for children to experience the thrill of true wilderness at the world’s edge.

Family photo over looking the mountains surrounding El Chalten
Just a short walk from El Chaltén and you are in some incredible landscapes.

El Chaltén serves as a base for people looking to explore the incredible Los Glaciares National Park that surrounds it and has a unique charm. By day, it is noticeably quiet; however, come the evening, it springs to life as dusty hikers return from the trail ready for a cold beer and hearty meal. It also has struck us as one of the most international towns we have visited in Patagonia. Dutch, Italian, American, British, Canadian and French accents mingle on a walk through town, reflecting the town’s global appeal.

Even the drive into El Chaltén is an experience in itself, and it rewards you with one of the most stunning arrivals we have ever experienced. As you drive on Route 23, the flat, barren expanse of the Patagonian steppe suddenly gives way to a breathtaking view of snow-capped mountains, including the imposing Cerro Torre with its dramatic clouds and glaciers.

What is really unusual about the drive into El Chaltén is that there is no gradual transition from flat to foothills to mountains. Instead, as you approach, Cerro Torre rears up ahead of you with its cascading clouds and glaciers. King among this vista is Cerro Fitz Roy. This titanic peak, bereft of snow amongst its white-capped cousins, looms over the mountain range. It’s no wonder why the Patagonia clothing brand chose it as their emblem!

The awe inspiring view of the Andes on the approach to El Chalten including Cerro Fitz Roy
It is quite the arrival.

Our Map Of Thinigs To Do In El Chaltén With Kids

Getting To El Chaltén With Kids

Getting to El Chaltén is not as straightforward as you would expect for such a popular destination, as it has no direct air connection. If you are flying into the region, the nearest airport is in El Calafate, about a 3-hour drive to the south. Regular bus services connect the two, and several car hire places are available at the airport. Pre-booking a car is essential if you are travelling at peak season. 

If you are arriving by bus from the airport or further afield, the Terminal de Ómnibus is on the south edge of town and is a short walk to anywhere you could be staying. Being a central tourist hub, the station is well connected with direct busses from Bariloche (24 hours) and El Calafate (3 hours).

We made the drive to El Chaltén over two-days from Chile Chico which involved crossing the border at Los Antiguos, with several stops for rest and exploration. A highlight en route was visiting Cueva de las Manos, where the ancient cave paintings captivated our girls. For added comfort, we broke up the journey with an overnight stay in Gobernador Gregores.

If you are planning a similar, due to its sheer remoteness, Gobernador Gregores feels like a frontier town. That said, it has a petrol station, a good-sized supermarket and a couple of restaurants to make a stay more comfortable. Beyond that, there is little we can find to do here that makes it worth staying an extra night. 

Driving south to El Chaltén on Route 40, this usually easy-driving road gives way to rough gravel about a half hour south of Gobernador Gregores for about 50 km. It then turns back to joyously smooth tarmac and straight road all the way to town.

Driving north from El Calafate, the road is easy tarmac through the rolling hills and barren tundra the entire way.

A view overlooking the town of El Chaltén
The town is set in a naturally sheltered dip, sparing it the worst of the winds.

Where To Stay in El Chaltén With Kids

Pretty much anywhere!

El Chalten is compact; you can walk the entire town in less than 20 minutes, so you cannot go far wrong. 

The main high street is San Martin, where most shops, laundry services, and eateries are to be found. Being a major tourist town, plenty of hotels, hostels, camping, and Airbnbs are available. Accommodation in El Chalten is pricier than in the rest of Argentina, and if you are visiting during peak season with kids, you will need to book at least a few weeks in advance to make sure you find something suitable. 

As we were visiting over Christmas we decided wanted our own space to stay in, and we found a great apartment here at Casa De Montaña. This cosy cabin was well-equipped and had a great mountain view, perfect for morning coffee!

Where to Eat in El Chaltén With Kids

For eating out, El Chalten has to be one of the best places we have stayed. As you can see from the number of pins on the map above, the town is full of great restaurants, bakeries and breweries. There certainly is a tourist tax on food, and eating out is quite pricy by Argentine standards, but it still seems to be excellent value after Chile!

The best bakery in town is Banneton which is at the south end of the main strett. It has some of the best empanadas and cakes we have ever tasted, perfect for grabbing lunch on your way to a day’s hiking. Just opposite is Que Rika, which also offers hearty fayre and some great sandwiches.

On the Western side of town, La Esquina is a cosy, book-lined café that does a tremendous scrambled egg and smashed avocado on sourdough for breakfast or a light bite. Be warned, ordering a slice of cake here will feed at least four people!

The Spencer family walking into  La Cervecería Chaltén. The perfect place for drinks and food on a trip to El  Chaltén with kids
What better place to spend Christmas day?

There is no shortage of hamburguerias for a quick bite, but the best meal we had in town was at La Cervecería Chaltén. This microbrewery and restaurant offers a great selection of home-brewed beers and hearty, delicious meals, perfect when you have spent a day in the hills! In fact, the food here was so good that we decided to have our Christmas dinner here!

Delicous plates of food served at La Cervecería Chaltén
We don’t usualy share pictures of food (this is not Instagram!) however this was too good not too!

Our final mentions go to Fresco Bar, which is excellent for a drink and with some simple, if delicious, offerings. We also wanted to visit the well-recommended Asadores for a meal, but it was fully booked or closed for Christmas when we were there. 

If you are looking to prepare some meals in your accommodation, then there are two small supermarkets in town, although they did seem to have minimal offerings and simple things like butter and cheese were out of stock. That said, we were there over Christmas, which may have restricted their delivery schedules.

Day Hikes From El Chaltén For Kids 

El Chaltén is famous for its hiking however many of the longer trails may be beyond younger children. Certainly, our eight and nine-year-old daughters were not up to multi-day treks like the four-day Huemul Circuit!

Happily, there are several great child-friendly hiking trails from El Chaltén that can be completed in between just a few hours to a half-day hike.

Views do not get much better.

Laguna Capri Trek

Starting at the north of the town, this beautiful family hike is our favourite in Patagonia. The walk up to Laguna Capri is just incredible with stunning panoramic views over the surrounding valleys, Mount Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and glaciers. You will spend at least an hour of the walk taking in the vistas!

View of Laguna Capri with Cerro Fitz Roy looming in the distance on a child friendly walk from El Chalten with kids
Cerro Fitz Roy, Fitz Roy Glacier, and Laguna Capri

Although classed as “hard” on AllTrails, Georgia and Eva managed it without too much bother at eight and nine. The trail starts with a reasonable climb for the first 3 km, then levels out. It took us about 3 hours to complete, with a stop for lunch. 

Chorillo del Salto Trek

Starting in the same place as the Laguna Capri Trek, this is an excellent mostly flat hike to stretch out the legs. Although a little dusty in places, you take in views of the Río de las Vueltas and finish at a beautiful waterfall!

Eva sat on a rock by Chorillo del Salto waterfall. A child friendly walk from El Chalten
Eva just needs a fishing rod.,

Mirador Cóndores Trek

The walk up to Condor Lookout is a must, with spectacular views over the surrounding area. The walk should take about 2 hours, with a vigorous climb at the start. The path is easy to follow; watch out for the strong wind!

A Magellanic woodpecker on a tree on a walk from El Chalten with kids
We didn’t see any condors on this walk but we did see a woodpecker!

Other Things To In El Chaltén With Kids

There is no shortage of other outdoor activities; however, if you visit younger with kids, you may find many of them restricted by age limits due to insurance requirements and having spoken to several tour operators, they will not take any children under 12 on many of the activities. Local options include:

Horse Riding

No minimum age, but the child must be comfortable riding solo –  At the top of town, Bonanza Adventures offers several options for short or full-day rides. A two-hour ride costs USD 60 per person (no discount for kids), or full-day riding and trekking with a meal costs USD 120. If you do not get a chance to stay at an Estancia, then this is a great option!

Eva riding a horse with two gauchos by her side on the plains in Argentina
Eva bringing home the cows.

Mountain Biking

Minimum Age 12 Years – If you don’t like your transport with its own brain, then this is for you! Bonanza Adventures also offers this service and is classed as “easy to medium”, taking in some of the incredible local wildlife. Tours cost USD 50 and include transfers and snacks.


Minimum Age 12 Years – Several outfits in town offer kayaking, but the most popular is Fitz Roy Expeditions on the high street. It is a pricy option at USD 250 per person for half a day, but it gives unique views from Río de las Vueltas of Cerro Fitz Roy. How often do you get to the glide through glacial runoff?

Other Useful Things To Know When Visiting El Chaltén With Kids

Getting Hold Of Equipment

Several places offer equipment hire, but we only found one outdoor shop on the high street with anything for kids, Finisterre Chaltén. If you can, bring any equipment you need from home, as buying anything here is very expensive. 

One warning from fellow travellers is that you can’t bring trekking poles as carry-on luggage on a plane! A charming couple from Honolulu we met had their costly, super lightweight ones confiscated and had to hire more in town! 

And especially don’t do what we did and pick up some last-minute Christmas shopping! Santa was very generous.

Fitz Roy Glacier

Paying on Cash Or Card

Some parts of Argentina, even Buenos Aires, have a reputation for not taking bank cards, but we had no issue using our cards for anything during our visit. 

That said, the card machines in town rely on a shaky internet connection, so it would be prudent to carry some cash in case it fails. 

Getting Online

El Chaltén is one of the few places we struggled to get online on our Movistar E-Sims, which have zero coverage in the area. This is bizarre, given how popular a location it is. 

We were told Claro has excellent coverage, and patchy community wifi is available in places. Most accommodation offers free WiFi. 

Medical Attention

We had the misfortune of needing minor medical attention while in town, and our host directed us to the local Puesto Sanitario. A doctor saw us very quickly, and we were only asked to contribute to the charity supporting the hospital for her time.

Stray Dogs

Like most towns in Patagonia, El Chaltén has a stray dog problem, with several roaming the town. At no point did we feel threatened by them in any way, but if you have a child who is not fond of dogs, it is worth knowing that they are about.

Make sure you try a Pisco Sour!

Have We Missed Anything To Do In El Chaltén With Kids?

We hope you find this guide useful, we had an incredible time in this charming little town and we hope you do to. If you think we have missed anything or if any info here is outdated, please let us know in the comments below.

The Spencer Family

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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