El Chaltén is a small tourist town in south western Argentina that’s located on the northern edge of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and is known as the Capital Nacional del Trekking. It’s one of the many spots people go to access some of the most popular trails, glaciers, and glacial lakes in Argentinian Patagonia. We spent our few days there doing two hikes, and enjoying our first real taste of Patagonia.
The first hike was on the Senda al Fitz Roy, a trail head named after the Fitz Roy mountain. This was a 10.2 km hike up to the Laguna de los Tres and took around seven hours to complete. The hike was long and the weather didn’t fully cooperate during the hike out, but the views of the Fitz Roy were completely worth it. The weather improved on our way back to El Chaltén, and we were able to capture some beautiful pictures of the area and the mountains.
The second hike that we completed was to the Laguna Torre and was 20 km long. This hike was relatively flat, and we had much better weather, leading up to an amazing lunch spot with views of Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre.
During the hike to the Fitz Roy, we saw some of the areas well known birds. The first bird was the Southern Crested Caracara and is part of the falcon family.
The second bird seen during the hike to the Fitz Roy was the Magellanic Woodpecker. This woodpecker is very large (~16 inches) and is easy to spot with a bright red head.
During our hike to Laguna Torre, we spotted several smaller birds, the first of which was the Rufous Collared Sparrow. This sparrow is found all over South America and was one of the most common birds we saw during our trip.
The second bird that we spotted was the Black Chinned Siskin, which is similar to the goldfinch in North America.
The next bird was similar to a robin, but darker and a bit smaller, and is called the Austral (Magellan) Thrush.
The final bird we saw was the Chilean Flicker, which, unlike its many relatives, has no red markings.