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Getting There

By Plane -- All transportation to El Chaltén originates from El Calafate, which has daily plane service from Ushuaia and Buenos Aires. From El Calafate, you need to take a bus or rent a car; the trip takes from 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

By Car -- From El Calafate, take RN 11 west for 30km (19 miles) and turn left on RN 40 north. Turn again, heading northwest, on RP 23 to El Chaltén. The only place for a midtrip pit stop is the historic Estancia La Leona, where you can grab a snack and a coffee. The route is now almost entirely paved.

By Bus -- Buses from El Calafate leave from the terminal, and all cost about $30 (£20) round-trip. A giant new bus terminal is being built in El Chaltén at the entrance to town. In the meantime, buses continue to use their normal drop off/pick up locations listed here. Chaltén Travel, with offices in El Chaltén at Avenida Güemes and Lago del Desierto (tel. 02962/493092; www.chaltentravel.com), leaves El Calafate daily at 8am, 1pm (Jan and Feb only), and 6:30pm, and El Chaltén at 7:30am, 1pm (Jan-Feb only), and 6pm, departing from the Rancho Grande hostel. Chaltén Travel can arrange private tours and day trips to outlying destinations such as Patagonian ranches, as well as summer-only transportation up RN 40 for those crossing into Chile. Caltur, which leaves from El Chaltén's Hostería Fitz Roy, at Av. San Martín 520 (tel. 02962/493062; www.caltur.com.ar), leaves El Calafate daily at 7:30am and 6:30pm, and leaves El Chaltén at 3pm.

Visitor Information

There is a $10 (£6.80) fee to enter the park, which is charged when buses stop at the APN Intendencia (park service) at the entrance to town (tel. 02962/493004). Park wardens give a good intro to the park in English. El Chaltén also has a well-organized visitor center at the town's entrance -- the Comisión de Fomento, Perito Moreno and Avenida Güemes (tel. 02962/493011), open daily from 8am to 8pm. Here you'll find maps, pamphlets, and brief interpretive displays about the region's flora and fauna. In El Calafate, the APN Intendencia (park service) has its offices at Av. del Libertador 1302. Its visitor center is open daily from 9am to 3pm (tel. 02962/493004).

There is neither a bank nor an ATM in El Chaltén. Many inns, restaurants, and stores don't take credit cards, because phone lines are sketchy. So be sure to stop in for cash at a bank in El Calafate.

Finally, I can't emphasize enough how prepared you must be for the weather in El Chaltén. Often, there are severe winds, rain, and storms that will keep you indoors for your entire stay and offer not a single glimpse of the glorious peaks. Dress appropriately, and try to embrace the wild weather that brings so much character to Patagonia.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.