How to get there
Take a taxi from El Chalten to Hosteria el Pilar. This should cost approximately 40-45 pesos per person (Mar 2010) and only take about 20 minutes.
1. Hop the gate and follow the meandering path to Hosteria El Pilar, a beautiful bed and breakfast on the bank of the Rio Blanco. The path tends to diverge and recombine a few times, but they all lead to the same place.
2. Walk along the eastern bank of the Rio Blanco for about 1.5hrs, passing through forests full of fagus, moss, and chattering birds; all interspersed with breathtaking glimpses of Mt Fitz Roy, Mt Poincenot and Glaciar Piedras Blancas to the west.
3. Starting at Camp Poincenot, cross the Rio Blancas and commence the climb up to Laguna de los Tres. This section starts out flat but rapidly steepens until it becomes quite a challenging climb. In the dry this walk was tough but not overly dangerous, however in wet conditions only the extremely sure-footed should attempt it.
4. After about 1.5hrs you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view of Laguna de los Tres framed by Mt Fitz Roy in the background. Depending on the time of year there may be a skin of ice across the lake, or a selection of icebergs bobbing in the icy water! Make sure you follow the southern edge of the lake around to the massive waterfall linking Laguna de los Tres with Laguna Sucia hundreds of metres below. Scary, but breath taking!!
5. Return the way you came, remembering that the descent is always more dangerous than the ascent. Along the way you’ll enjoy great views of the valley and Cerro Polo to the east.
6. From Camp Poincenot take the path to the south east, following the river to Laguna Capri. Featuring a fine gravel ‘beach’ Laguna Capri is the perfect place to rest the legs and take a break.
7. From Laguna Capri walk the remainder of the track along the ridge face and down into the northern outskirts of El Chalten. Keep an eye out for woodpeckers in the forest!
If you’re a fit walker and only take short breaks you could probably do this circuit in around 6 hours. However if you’re of average fitness, are keen on taking a few shots of the surrounds, and like to take extended breaks at various places along the track then you’ll be up for a total of about 8hrs. Plan for a full day, leave early, and you can’t go wrong!