Travel Guide

Villa O’Higgins to El Chalten

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Villa O’Higgins El Chalten, the border crossing from Chile to Argentina off the crushed observe. For all journey seekers and nature lovers crossing from Chile to Argentina (or the opposite manner) at O’Higgins is a must-do exercise. The surroundings is unreal, the panorama is gorgeous with turquoise blue and emerald inexperienced colours. The stroll is brief and difficult however on the similar time, it’s rewarding, the O’Higgins – El Chalten route was one among our favourite treks in Patagonia.

O'Higgins lake, Candelario Mancilla
Candelario Mancilla, the primary cease on the way in which from Villa O’Higgins to El Chalten

Villa O’Higgins is the tip of the Carretera Austral, the final level you may get by street on the Chilean facet that makes every little thing (largely meals) right here dearer however nonetheless inexpensive. The stroll was fairly troublesome because of the heavy baggage we had been carrying but it surely was completely definitely worth the effort. The stroll to El Chalten was good preparation for trekking the O Circuit in Torres del Paine. The principle recommendation right here is to take your time, don’t rush, and benefit from the panorama.

The price of the O’Higgins to El Chalten crossing 

  • Transport. Bus Villa O’Higgins to Bahamondez pier –  CLP 2500/US$3;  boat Bahamondez  – Candelario Mancilla – CLP 60 000/US$65; ferry Punta Norte de Laguna del Desierto to Punta Sur (optionally available, you possibly can stroll as a substitute) – ARS 17 500/US$50; bus Punta Sur de Laguna del Desierto to El Chalten – ARS 8500/US$25. 
  • Meals. CLP 14 000/US$15 pp.
  • Tenting. Candelario Mancilla – CLP 4500/US$5 pp., on the Argentinian immigration workplace – free.

Complete: between US$115 and US$165.

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Villa O'Higgins the starting point of the walk
Villa O’Higgins the tip of the Carretera Austral and the start of the stroll to El Chalten

Methods to get to Villa O’Higgins?

There are common buses from Cochrane to Villa O’Higgins however they don’t go daily, 2 or Three instances per week. Worth about CLP 27 000/US$30 from Cochrane to Villa O’Higgins. Attending to Cochrane is simpler there are day by day buses from Coyhaique and Puerto Montt that go on the Carretera Austral and cease at a number of locations. You may catch it from any city alongside the way in which.

As an choice, you possibly can lease a automotive however you gained’t be capable to go together with it on the ferry and cross to Argentina. Observe! Between Cochrane and Villa O’Higgins, there’s a ferry cross from Caleta Yungay to Rio Bravo – site visitors is determined by the ferry schedule. In summer time there are Three ferries per day; 10 am, 13 pm, and 6 pm. The ferry cross is free for everyone. 

The most cost effective manner of attending to Villa O’Higgins is to hitchhike. Hitchhiking works completely in every single place in Chile; you meet cool native folks, get to know higher the nation, and are extra versatile no want to fret about lacking a bus or not getting a ticket.

For those who like climbing you may get pleasure from visiting different locations in Patagonia that provide nice trails reminiscent of Cerro Castillo, Queulat Nationwide Park, or Pumalin Park.

El Mosco campsite and hostel in Villa O'Higgins
El Mosco campsite in Villa O’Higgins, Chile

Villa O’Higgins

Lodging in Villa O’Higgins

Tenting/hostel/guesthouse El Mosco, in our opinion one of the best campsite in Patagonia! It has sizzling water showers, electrical energy, many retailers in widespread areas, wi-fi, cozy and heat inside space. Our favourite was a kitchen with nice amenities for cooking: range, oven, pots, pans, plates, cups, and so on. Worth CLP 9 000/US$10 per particular person – tenting, they’ve dorm beds as properly CLP 14 000/US$15 pp. Non-public rooms from CLP 45 000/US$50 for a double room.

There are a number of different locations to remain in Villa O’Higgins in case you need extra privateness and tranquility.

ATMs and bank cards in Villa O’Higgins

In Villa O’Higgins, there are not any ATMs, the final ATM on the way in which is in Cochran, you should have sufficient money to pay for lodging and the boat, and all outlets settle for playing cards – Visas (unsure about Grasp playing cards). Somewhat attempt to alternate Chilean pesos for Argentinians at your lodge in O’Higgins or with different vacationers that do the stroll the opposite manner round and are available from Argentina. Purchase gasoline on your range in Chile, in El Chalten it prices way more. 

Villa O’Higgins to El Chalten how one can get?

The route description

  1. Bus Villa O’Higgins – Bahamondez port, 7km/4,Three mi;
  2. Ferry Villa O’Higgins – Candelario Mancilla (Chilean immigration), 2h30min.;
  3. Stroll Candelario Mancilla – Punta Norte de Laguna del Desierto (Chile to Argentina), 22 km/13,6 mi;
  4. Stroll/ferry Punta Norte – Punta Sur de Laguna del Desierto, 12 km/7,Four mi;
  5. Bus/hitchhike Punta Sur de Laguna del Desierto – El Chalten, 40 km/24,Eight mi.
Map of the route from Villa O'Higgins to El Chalten
Map of the route from Villa O’Higgins to El Chalten. 1 – Villa O’Higgins – Bahamondez port, 7km, bus/biking; 2 – Bahamondez port – Candelario Mancilla, boat; 3 – Candelario Mancilla – Laguna del Desierto (Punta Norte), 22km, strolling/biking; 4 – Laguna del Desierto (Punta Norte) – Laguna del Desierto (Punta Sur), 12km, strolling/boat; 5 – Laguna del Desierto (Punta Sur) – El Chalten, 40km, biking/bus/hitchhiking.

Step 1. Bus Villa O’Hggins to Bahamondez (ferry pier), 15 min.

The pier is 7 km from the city in an effort to catch a ferry it’s higher to take a bus in any other case you’ll have to start out strolling very early to get there on time. Most cyclists go on their very own and go away the city at about 1h30min. earlier than the ferry departure. Bus value – CLP 2500/US$Three pp.

Step 2. Ferry Villa O’Higgins to Candelario Mancilla, 2h30min.

  1. Ruedas de la Patagonia CLP 60 000/US$65 (they do switch from O’Higgins to the pier for CLP 2500/US$3), leaves Monday and Thursday at 8.30 am.

*Observe! There isn’t any further cost for bicycles on the ferries. Bikes are usually not allowed.

Boats run from the first of November to the 30th of April. At all times affirm departure instances and costs with the corporate as they could change.

Bear in mind that because of the climate circumstances, you possibly can look ahead to a ship for 2-Four days for those who’re quick on time assume twice earlier than selecting this feature. When you’ve got time El Mosco will not be a foul place for ready; there are a few mountains whereas ready you are able to do day hikes.

Alya on the boat from Villa O'Higgins to Candelario Mancilla
Alya on the ferry from Villa O’Higgins to Candelario Mancilla

Candelario Mancilla

Chilean Carabineros (immigration) is 1 km away from the pier, the workplace is open from early morning until 9 pm. Right here you get your Chile exit stamp, The officers are very pleasant when you’ve got any questions concerning the stroll ask them they know the realm very properly. When you’ve got time and need to do an off-the-beaten-track hike you possibly can go to one of many glaciers on the Chilean facet – O’Higgins or El Chico. When you’ve got further baggage you possibly can go away it on the Carabineros workplace for no further cost. 

Tenting at Candelario Mancilla about 1 km uphill from the pier (you’ll see it on the highest). Worth CLP 4500/US$5 pp. Moreover the campsite, there’s a small restaurant the place you should buy a cooked meal in addition to dwelling bread CLP 300/US$0,5 and jam CLP 1000/US$1,5. For those who arrive early morning we’d counsel beginning to stroll in direction of El Chalten. For those who arrive within the afternoon or night it’s higher to remain at Candelario and proceed the following morning. 

O'Higgins Lake, O'Higgins - El Chalten walk
View of the O’Higgins Lake from Candelario Mancilla, Chile

Step 3. Stroll Candelario Mancilla – Punta Norte de Laguna del Desierto, 22 km/13,6 mi

From Candelario Mancilla to Argentinian immigration (Punta Norte de Laguna del Desierto) is 22 km

  • 17 km to the border, dust street on the Chilean facet, largely flat, some ups, to start with, will be cycled.  
  • 5 km from the border to the lake and the Argentinian immigration workplace. This path is a small path within the forest, with some ups and downs, inconceivable to cycle – you push your bicycle by the forest.

In complete, it takes between 5-6 hours to stroll 22 km, relying on how a lot baggage you have got, climate circumstances, and naturally your health degree.  On the immigration workplace, you get an Argentinian entrance stamp. There’s a free tenting space subsequent to the workplace the place you possibly can cease for the evening.

Observe! For those who don’t need to stroll with all of your baggage or simply realized you’re too drained to stroll in any respect you possibly can organize transportation to the border with carabineros. Worth between CLP 10 000-15 000/US$10-15. They will drop you on the border however from there you’ll should stroll the final 5 km by yourself.

A welcoming board on the Chile and Argentina border
An indication on the border between Argentina and Chile on the O’Higgins to El Chalten crossing

Step 4. Stroll/ferry Punta Norte – Punta Sur de Laguna del Desierto, 12 km/7,5 mi

From Argentinian immigration, you possibly can stroll alongside the lake for 12 km or take a ferry to Punta Sur de Lago del Desierto (South Level). The ferry takes about 1 hour, value is ARS 17 500/US$50 pp. All of the cyclists take the ferry as a result of the stroll alongside the lake is similar to the final 5 km to the Argentinian border management, and it’s inconceivable to cycle. 

We determined to stroll, in any case, it was a lovely path with some wonderful viewpoints overlooking the glacier, lake, and mountains. The trail is obvious and simple to observe but it surely takes time – about 5-6 hours as a result of fixed up and downhill, typically fairly steep.  

The complete stroll will be simply accomplished in 2 days. On the primary day – ferry O’Higgins to Candelario, then stroll from Candelario Mancilla to Punta Norte de Laguna del Desierto and camp at Argentinian immigration. On the second day – stroll Punta Norte to Punta Sur de Laguna from there take a bus to El Chalten.

Laguna del Desierto, Argentina, the final part of the walk
Laguna del Desierto, the final a part of the stroll from O’Higgins to El Chalten

Step 5. Bus/hitchhike Punta Sur de Laguna del Desierto – El Chalten, 40 km/24 mi

As soon as you might be at Punta Sur de Laguna del Desierto (South Level) you have got two choices to get to El Chalten which is 40 km away; take a bus to El Chalten for ARS 8500/US$25 or hitchhike. The bus journey takes about 1 hour.  You may proceed your Patagonia journey by trekking in El Chalten, Laguna de los Tres is a not-to-miss hike. After El Chalten, you possibly can go to Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate. You will get from El Chalten to Torres del Paine and do one of many climbing routes there.

El Chalten

El Chalten is an even bigger city with higher infrastructure in comparison with Villa O’Higgins. There are extra lodging choices right here yow will discover. There are some good campsites in El Chalten which are nice for assembly folks.

  • Motels
  • Hostels
  • Campsites
  • Eating places
  • Bars
  • Outlets
  • Pharmacies
  • Gear rental locations
  • ATMs
  • Tour businesses

Lodging in El Chalten

There are numerous lodging choices in El Chalten from price range tenting and dormitories to luxurious lodges.

Funds choices – Hostel Rancho Grande – one of many top-rated hostels within the city – a giant home positioned simply outdoors El Chalten. There are dorm beds and personal and household rooms.

Helpful objects to pack for climbing in Patagonia

For extra particulars on gear and clothes for Patagonia for women and men test our Patagonia packing listing publish.

Really useful books and guidebooks

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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