This is one of the most popular tours among visitors to the City of El Chaltén. Due to its history and its natural beauty, sailing Lago del Desierto really pays off.
Reaching Lago del Desierto -which stands for Lake of the Desert in Spanish- is a fascinating adventure. Not only does it boast its history and nature, but it invites visitors to sail its waters and hike along the many trails offered by its surroundings.
At El Chaltén, we took the road that borders Río de las Vueltas (River of the Bends) and we started to wind alongside this beautiful waterway whose hues range from light blue and green to a complete transparency as we approached the mouth of the lake.
History goes that in 1965, during a routine reconnaissance, a group of Argentinian gendarmes found a settlement of Chilean carabiners a few meters away from the lake. During that episode, an armed confrontation denoted a clear border conflict over this area of the mountain range which had started a century before.
Muelle punta norte
Navegando el Lago del Desierto
Río de las Vueltas
Salto del Chorrillo
In the middle of negotiation between both countries, Argentina resolved to found the town of El Chaltén in 1985 as a geopolitical strategy in the valley drawn by the confluence of Río De las Vueltas and Fitz Roy Rivers, 37 kilometers away from Lago del Desierto.
As the lake is reached, a sign indicates the presence of the Huemul Glacier, accessed through a hike that takes about an hour and features a delightful view across a completely natural forest.
But we left that for the end of the tour. In a few minutes, we would be part of the group that would cross the lake on board a catamaran towards the Gendarmería Nacional station called ”Lago del Desierto”, which lies precisely at the end of the lake.
Thus, we set sail at the pier and observed the lake shores in detail. According to the captain, excellent brown and rainbow trout weighing over 4 kilograms may be caught in the area.
After 45 minutes, we got to the station and, after greeting the staff, we went on a short hike to the top of a small hill that featured the beauty of the lake and the silhouette of this wonderful massif of granitic rock that has come to be called Mount Fitz Roy.
On our way back, we enjoyed the navigation and this time we chose to go hiking up to the Huemul Glacier.
The perfectly sign-posted trail is steep at first but not difficult. On the contrary, it demands a constant pace that gradually leads to the top of a low hill from where the striking glacier is observed.
At the base of the Huemul, there is a pond of emerald waters that enhances its beauty and lets visitors approach its eternal ice formations. Hikers must be very careful not to alter the environment and not to get hurt on the way to the spot where the famous photograph is taken.
On the way back from Lago del Desierto, a must stop before reaching El Chaltén is at the famous El Chorrillo Fall.
At this spot, nature has taken charge of carving a perfect waterfall that lures all visitors.
The river runs between steep walls and a slope leads its waters into the void (thus giving origin to the fall) where they splash into a great pool of fresh crystal-clear water creating a pond of green hues where several rainbow trout may be observed eating insects.
An amazing postcard before returning to El Chaltén: the perfect finale for this picturesque tour.
Pablo Etchevers Pablo Etchevers
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