After one night in Rancho Grande hostel we went looking for a cheaper room in El Chalten, but this proved to be more difficult than expected as almost all the accommodation was booked up. El Chalten is more expensive than other Argentinian towns and there were very few double rooms for less than 100 pesos. In many places we had paid about 60 or 70 pesos for a double so the prices were a bit of a shock at first, but you have to remember how remote an area this is.
The lady in the tourist office telephoned a few places and found us a double room at Residencial Lima, a small, quiet guesthouse a few blocks from the centre, close to Capella Egger. We had a great view of the mountains in the distance from our window, breakfast was included every morning, the lady running the place was friendly and helpful and at 130 pesos for a double it was relatively good value.
Those who visit FitzRoy must choose between camping on the trails or staying in the access town of El Chalten. We decided on the latter, which meant more hiking and no close up views of sunrise on the mountains as we had to trek all the way back every evening, but it also meant a warm bed at night!
New hotels and guesthouses are being built all the time in El Chalten (or so it seems), but demand is almost outstripping supply, and it can be difficult to find accommodation if you show up without a booking.
On our first night we stayed in Rancho Grande hostel, included in the cost of our transport deal with Chalten Travel from Bariloche. We arrived after 11 and were given a double room in an annex to the main hostel. The room was fine, though the walls were very thin - you could hear the people next door showering.
Rancho Grande is like backpacker central, always busy and nearly always full. There is a tiny shared kitchen, and a large bar/cafe which seems to be open all hours. It might be a good place to stay if you're travelling solo and want to meet up with fellow travellers. Rancho Grande's dorm rooms are good value, but doubles were very expensive at 180 pesos, so after one night we went looking for a better value alternative.
Spacious, modern, and clean hostel
Four beds to a room
Private rooms available
Shared bathroom and showers but very clean
Self catering (kitchen facilitiy a bit small but functional)
internet (a bit expensive but only option in El Chalten)
huge common areas
The best option during the low season.
$8USD per bed
Rancho Grande belongs to Hostelling International. It's generally not expensive and it's even cheaper with HI member card. I payed 22 pesos without breakfast. It has a kitchen and also a bar where you can get both cold beer after a long trek and something to eat. The staff is very nice, helpfull and gives you all the tips about the area.
The bus from El Calafate stops right in front of Rancho Grande.
There are 2 campgrounds with view of Fitz Roy mountain. The one closer to the mountain is quite popular and crowded, whereas Laguna Capri campground is more quiet and a perfect place to relax and even have a better view on the mountain itself.
By now, there is a toilet installed (sithouse), nothing else.
Please be careful when cleaning the dishes, as usual min 50 m away from the water (the laguna).
There are some very basic camping areas here in the Fit Roy. Most have pit toilets and nature provides all the clean drinking water at no expense. The Campamento Bridwell (also called D'Agostini) is near Laguna Torre and is one of the easiest campsite to hike to, taking about 1.5 to 2 hours. The trail to Laguna de los tres which sits directly below the Fitz Roy peaks is on the north side of El Chalten and has a basic camp. There are some campsite on the west side of Laguna Capri just off the main trail to Laguna de Los Tres (1 hour from El Chalten). Campamento Poincenot is located right below Laguna de los Tres and has stunning views of the Fitz Roy (2.5 hours).
Make sure you have the proper camping equipment to handle the Patagonian cold and especially the wind. It really blows here!
Among all the growing tourism accomodations in El Chaltén (Home of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre), this place will always be my favourite.
Windshield camping spaces, free hot water showers, free use of washing machine - and the best and most coziest restaurant down in the south.
Further remark (thanks Mark for reminding me to precise that one):
usually, the area around Fitz Roy is known for extreme wind.
This Ruca Mahuida campground is located behind the restaurant / house, and so set between the house and a little hill. They also have a lot of trees and bigger bushes, so there is always a possibility to pitch the tent between the bushes, thus really granting windshield camping :-)
The clothesline then can be fixed between trees in the more windy areas, thus granting quick drying.
The owners are german & rumanian couple, he organizes trips around Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre (Patagonian Ice Cap).
There are many places to stay in El Chalten in from the spring through the Fall. However, this was the only place open during the winter. The owners are really friendly and take an active interest in their guests.
All meals can be arranged. In the winter there really is no option. There is small market that is very limited.
Laundry service is available
Excurrsions can be arranged.
single/doubles $35pesos/$45 pesos (3 to on the dollar)
six room dorms with shared bath
Only place open in the winter.
Owner family is extremely friendly
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