The social and economic driving force behind El Chaltén is tourism, due to which the offer of services is varied and constantly growing. There are many different lodging options, but young people prefer the hostels. For meals, there is a wide choice of restaurants, pizza parlors and bars. El Chaltén's isolated geography precludes such modern facilities as cyber-coffeehouses and the use of cellphones. There are no cash machines/ATMs either.
What you should take with you
- Book your lodging and excursions to avoid surprises. Make sure you have at least three days to explore this fascinating place.
- The high season - when most tourists arrive - is during January and February. That is why it is a good idea to book your lodging needs in advance.
- Basic tourist services such as lodging and transport operate regularly from October to April (Easter week).
- Other services, such as organized excursions, vary according to the availability of the service suppliers.
- If you come by car, you should bear in mind that the access road is a gravel track, so you should drive carefully and at low speed, with all lights on, and wearing a seatbelt.
- Do not forget to take a spare tire and extra fuel in a portable tank.
- In winter check on road surface condition, and for driving on ice or snow use snow chains or spiked tires.
- Although the village can be visited the year round, in winter one must make allowances for roadblocks due to snowdrifts, so calculate some extra time for possible delays on your way in or out of the village.
- Check on available lodging for this time of the year.
This is a forget-me-not list:
- A heavy coat and a raincoat are necessary to provide for the vagaries of the Patagonian climate.
Useful tips on gear and clothes
If you are going camping:
- Trekking shoes (if possible, waterproof)
- Polar-style anorak or parka-type coat (polo-necked is better)
- Rainproof wind-cheater (if possible, with hood)
- Sunglasses with UV filter.
- Sunburn protector cream with UV filter (factor 30 or higher).
- Snug cap.
- Warm socks.
- Spare batteries (cold temperatures reduce their life)
- Photo film.
- A basic first-aid kit (bandages, Band-Aids, gauze strips, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, etc.)
Once you arrive at the village
- Gas heater and gas cylinders (bonfires are forbidden at all free campsites).
- Rubbish bags.
- Frontal oil pressure lamp (suggested).
El Chaltén and most of the excursions that start there are in the middle of the Los Glaciares National Park, due to which you should know the rules about all activities there.
During your stay
- Visit the National Park Information Desk for information related to your stay.
- Know the condition of tracks and campsites.
- Obtain fishing permits.
- All climbing expeditions must be registered.
- Visit the Information Center of the Promotion Committee to get to know details on the services and products available in the village.
- If you do not have your return ticket already, check on transport availability for the date you wish to return on.
- Help to keep this place clean and beautiful so that future generations may find the same magic as you do here.
At the free campsites:
- Try to go accompanied and aware of the difficulties you may face.
- Bear in mind total time of the trip so that nightfall does not catch you unaware.
- Only take the authorized tracks.
- Never stray from your path or try to take a short cut.
- Pay attention to the indications along the way inside the National Park.
- Even though the sun may be shining take a warm coat and a waterproof coat.
- When observing glaciers close up always use the UV glasses.
- Always use sunburn protection cream even on cloudy days.
- Keep tracks and visiting areas clean.
- Avoid contact with the wildlife.
- Do not light bonfires anywhere or for any reason.
- Take your waste back to the village with you.
- Collect no "souvenirs" from nature.
- If you come across litter that others have left on the track, it will help if you can take it back with you to the village.
This area is a habitat of the puma (South American cougar or mountain lion), and although its tracks are rarely visible, you must bear in mind the following rules:
- Keep them tended and clean.
- Only camp where allowed and at a distance of more than 50 meters from the water.
- Make no bonfire at any campsite.
- Avoid leaving food within reach of rodents or other creatures inhabiting the Park.
- Empty no litter, sewage or washing water into streams or lakes.
- Wash no dishes or clothes in the waterways (do this in a bowl).
- Keep soaps and detergents away from rivers and lakes.
- Respect the nocturnal resting time of other campsite users.
- Do not walk alone, or let children stray away from the group.
- Take no pets along with you.
- If you come across one, make sure you remain calm and do not run.
- When facing one, make yourself look bigger - extend your arms, and do not bend down
- Retreat slowly without turning away from the animal.