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.
- 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)!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.