Loma del Pliegue Tumbado Hike – El Chalten, Argentina

Hiking is huge around the El Chalten area, but sometimes you just wish you could have the trail to yourself, right? If that sounds like you, check out this Loma del Pliegue Tumbado hike – the scenery is simply stunning!


Loma del Pliegue Tumbado

It might not be as popular as the other walks around El Chalten, but the hike to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado (which translates very roughly as ‘hill folds’) was our favourite by far!

The dark silhouette of a circling vulture was an extremely unusual way to start a hike – we’re more used to wallabies and wedge-tailed eagles – but it’s the perfect way of letting you know right from the start that this is the real Argentina!

And that’s just the start. Through thigh-high grass, along mossy riverbanks and under the twisted branches of the unmistakably beautiful fagus trees crowned in Autumn’s russet, we were transported to another world the likes of which we’ve never encountered since.

Words aren’t enough. You need to experience this wonderful hike to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado for yourself.

Hiking to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado from El Chalten

  • From the centre of El Chalten walk south along the main road to the rangers office where you should let them know that you are starting this walk, as the weather conditions can be extremely variable and harsh. Follow the gravel path to west where you will pass through a turnstile and there will be a sign indicating the start of the track to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado.
  • For the first hour or so the hike steadily climbs up into the foothills. There is an incredible balancing rock about 15 minutes in, a worthwhile destination in itself if you haven’t got time to do the full walk. There is the occasional grove of trees, but for the most part the hills were covered in tussock grasses.

Balancing rock

Half way there…

  • At this point the terrain changes from bare hills to lush, ancient fagus forest. Running streams, dappled sunlight and the smell of damp earth permeate the air as you walk up into the forest for the next few hours. If you’re lucky you may even spot a native huemel (deer)!

Fagus

  • The forest ends abruptly as you reach what we’re guessing must be the snowline for much of the year. Here the track passes across rocky shale, interspersed with fragile mossy sections. Climbing steeply in sections for the next hour you’ll climb up and along the ridge line to the point at which the vista unfolds with a stunning view across the valley towards Cerro Torre, Lago Torre, Cerro Solo and the Rio Fitz Roy. In autumn it’s extremely cold and windy experience, but well worth it!

The view from the top!

More from the top!

  • At this point you can opt to extend the walk up even higher (to the left of the photo above), however we were running out of time and didn’t attempt it. From all reports the view is similar, but for considerable extra effort.
  • To return you simply follow the same trail back the way you came, to a mug of hot chocolate or pint of thirst-quenching beer!

Returning to El Chalten

  • This hike took us about 7 hours in total (including obligatory photos and a few stops for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea) and was moderately difficult, particularly as this was the third day in a row of hiking for us! Stunning scenery and well worth the effort!

Snake count: 0 (yay!)
Leech count: 0 (double yay!)
Reward for effort: 10/10


Are you looking for other options for hiking in El Chalten? Check these out!

  • Cerro Torre – A great little day walk up to the lake at the foot of Cerro Torre. Pick the right time of year and you’ll see glacial ice bobbing about!
  • Laguna de los Tres – Most people hike in and out the same way to get to Laguna de los Tres. Not this hike! This one takes you along the Rio Blanco through more gorgeous fagus forests and very few hikers, before ascending to the majestic Laguna de los Tres.

10 Comments

  1. Great description! Do you know how long (miles or km) the hike is? My husband and I are trail runners so pure distance is easier to estimate for us. We’re planning on going there in April and are trying to figure out how to best budget our time. Thanks!!

    1. Thanks Samantha!

      The hike is roughly 9km in and then 9km back out. The incline isn’t steep at all, but it is constant. If you’re fit then I’d take a guess and say that it would be a really enjoyable run!

      There is a final ascent to an even higher view point (which we didn’t do), that is extremely steep, so you can assess that once you get to the normal view point.

      It’s been a few years since we did this, but honestly it’s still one of the best hikes we’ve ever done. There were so few people that we encountered (unlike the other more popular trails in the area) and the forest/views are simply amazing.

      Best of luck with your planning!

    1. You certainly won’t regret it! Have you got plans any time soon? We went in March and were quite lucky to get such good weather. I think it snowed only a week or so after we left 🙂

        1. Sorry for the delay, just got back from work.

          If you mean in terms of where to get the info, our main travel resource for our South American travels was Trip Advisor. There’s obviously some dodgy reviews in there, but if you read enough of them you get a good feel for what’s good/bad.

          In terms of what to do and where to go, we started our 6 week holiday in Rio (5 days), then travelled down the coast to Ilha Grande (4 days), then Iguazu Falls (4 days, 2 on each side), Buenos Aires (5 days), El Chalten via El Calafate (4 days), El Calafate (2 days), Bariloche (4 days), Mendoza (4 days), finishing in Santiago (2 days).

          El Chalten is the base for all the hikes in the region. We did three awesome ones and I’ve written up hiking notes for each of them over at my photography website at http://strikis.smugmug.com/Hiking/Argentina. I’m in the process of shifting them across to the blog, but for now that’s where they sit.

          While there we also noticed that Torres del Paine looked pretty amazing, but it was further south and we didn’t have the time to explore any further. It’s definitely on our list of places to come back to!

          This is obviously only scratching the surface, so if you’ve got any more questions feel free to ask! 🙂

          If you’d prefer to do it by email you can contact me at [email protected]

          Cheers!
          Andrew.

    1. No problems! El Chalten was the absolute highlight of our whole time spent travelling through Brazil and Argentina. We’ve promised ourselves that we have to visit Torres del Paine next time we travel to South America!

      This hiking guide is the first of many that I’ll be transferring across from my photography website, as I feel they suit the blog layout a little better. So you can look forward to a few more reminders of Patagonian hiking! 🙂

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