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GPT39 (Monte Fitzroy)

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* Start Date to Finish Date (use Format YYYY-MMM-DD) / Duration in Days / Hiking or Packrafting / Travel Direction (SOBO for Southbound or NOBO Northbound) / Chosen Route and/or Option Name (RR for Regular Route) / Names or Alias

Summary with remarks to route that are considered useful for other hikers and packrafters. Include alerts, suggestions and personal perception of attractiveness and difficulties.

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Section Log, Alerts and Suggestions

Season 2025/26

Season 2024/25

Season 2023/24

2024-Feb-13 / 4 day / Hiking / NOBO / RR / Charlie Gardner

Not much to add, super straightforward hiking area. Only addition I’d recommend is hiking through Poincenot camp (or staying there) and taking western route that connects with the trail to Lago Piedra Blancas. This section was empty and georgeous. The short hike up the boulder field to the lake is absolutely worth. Piedra del Fraile is an awesome little campsite and Refugio as well. We didn’t go any further North by hiking on this route.

2023-Jan-13 / 1 day / Packrafting / SOBO / RR + Option 2A / Tom Pieper

Not much to add. The free camping at gendarmeria argentina was indeed my most favourite 'official' camping spot of the entire GPT. Amazing view on Mt Fitz Roy in the evening! Talk to the gendarmeria. They might help organize boat transfer with a local farmer even outside the official hours. Tooked the motorboat in the morning, as wind was too strong to cross by packraft. Packrafting Rio de las vueltas was fun. Swift blue river which might a perfect packrafting river for beginners as there are no major obstacles. After every bend new stunning views on Mt Fitz Roy. Bring fishing equipment - a lot of trouts in there. I did not went for the lower part, but easily catched a ride via option 2A.

  • 2024-Jan-03 / 1 day / Hiking / SOBO / RR / Stiina & Kris

We camped by the border control. It was raining all night and still in the morning but we decided to do the hike along Laguna Desierto. Surprisingly it wasn't as muddy and slippery as we expected but of course the streams were pretty big and everything got absolutely soaked during the rain. We reached the other end of the lake in less than three hours and there were lots of cars and tourists there. No phone signal. We started hiking along the road and after 5km got a ride to El Chalten.

The ferry doesn't go on Wednesdays, on Thursday it went at 11am from the side of the border control. Not sure of the price.

  • 2023-Dec-16 to 2023-Dec-19 / 3.5 days / NOBO / El Chaltén - Lago del desierto / RR/ Alex & Christophe

It was a well marked section with amazing views. You nearly don't need your gps during the entire section and can enjoy the beautiful landscape. It felt like an easy first section for us.

The trail to Laguna torre was full of people but once we turned out of it, it was really ok.

The road walking between puente del río electrico and lago del desierto wasn't the most interesting but everything is better with a nice view!

  • 2023 Anh OH-TL-V + RH-TL-V (Lago del Desierto)

OH-TL-V is easy for Gpt hikers. The trails are easy to find. Just for the left trail of Laguna Torre you have to rent Harness to cross river via Tyrolean traverse.

RH-TL-V along Lago del Desierto is easy to hike, official you should plan 6 hours. I just needed 4.5 hours (slow-normal speed) with heavy backpack (10 days food). Alternatively you can pay 55 USD (one way) for the ferry.

Season 2022/23

  • 2023-Mar-19 to 2023-Mar-20 / 2 days / NOBO / El Chalten to Paso Fronterizo del Lago del desierto / Jess&Paco

Easy and wonderfull section especially the trail from lago Torre to Poincenot Camp passing by Lagos Madre e Hija.

Be carefull after leaving the national park camping El pilar and Laguna Condor are quite expensive. Laguna Condor even refused a group of 5 mochileros without reservation we met the day after. Also the camping Ricanor seems definively closed and the land is to sale. Pitching your tent in the nearby forest is possible but not really authorised. It can be tolerated. But like in the National park and the majority of campsite indicated on the GPT tracks absolutly no fires is allowed.

You can by snacks at the camping on the southern shore of Lago del desierto but it is not a good resuply spot.

  • 2023-Mar-23 to 2023-Mar-26 / 4 days / SOBO / Lago del Desierto - El Chaltén / RR + option 1 + variant B / Anna & Christopher

What a contrast arriving from the last section without meeting anybody. At the southern end of Lago del Desierto there are lots of tourists. We continued from there around 3 p.m., when people slowly started to come back from their day trips. Our timing proved to be pretty good, because we got a ride after walking for a couple of minutes. There is also a bus to El Chaltén leaving atound 4 p.m. for 3.500 pesos.

The car dropped us at the bridge at km 31.8 where option 1 starts. That night we camped somewhere between the rocks next to the trail around km 8. Camping at Piedra del Fraile is 3.000 pesos.

The next day we knew it would rain in the afternoon so we got up early at sunrise, left our backpacks behind and went up to km 12.3 to get a nice view of the glacier. When the rain started, we fled to the hut at Piedra del Fraile to wait until it passes.

If one is short in time, we would recommend to skip this glacier, because the other options of GPT 39 are definitely more spectacular.

We loved the detour to Laguna Piedra blanca.

Due to the horror stories of mice at the official campgrounds, we decided to stay away and camped approx. 1km away from the campsite "Poincenot" that night.

The next day we got up early to see the sunrise at Lago de los Tres, which was beautiful, even though there were way more people than expected for sunrise ;)

Up there we saw one possible camping spot surrounded by a stone wall. With strong wind it's probably not the best shelter though.

The stretch to Laguna Torre is amazing. When we arrived there we could enjoy the spectacular view with sunny, windless weather for a while, before it suddenly got extremly windy and everyone looked for a shelter behind some rocks. We decided to return to the woods, camped there and wanted to continue with the options around Laguna Torre the next day.

When we went up to Laguna Torre the wind still was extremely strong and unfortunately all mountains were covered by clouds, so we quickly continued to El Chaltén.

  • 2023-Mar-7 to 2023-Mar-14 / 2.5 days / SOBO / RR + Option 1 / Lago Desierto - El Chaltén / Ondrej

This section offers lot of impressive views of snowy peaks, turquoise rivers and glaciers - if one has the luck of a good weather. If you are going SOBO and want to do the weather-sensitive GPT40 afterwards, one way to reduce potential waiting days is to pause GPT39 once you get across Lago Desierto and hitchhike to El Chalten. This allows you to consult rangers in El Chalten about a good weather window for The Huemul Circuit (GPT40). You can complete the remainder of GPT39 while waiting for the weather window or after you have finished GPT40. I was on a relatively tight schedule and this strategy has worked well for me.

Starting from the Argentinian checkpoint at Lago Desierto around midday, I did the lake stretch in the afternoon (took me around 5 hours) and camped at the official campsite at the other side of the lake. The rates were 3,000 Argentinian pesos per person. They have hot water but the pressure is really really bad. They also have a new common room (more like a big refugio) where you can cook and recharge devices (if you have the argentian plug, which I didn’t). The campsite also sels some biscuits, chips etc. There was also a big restaurant bulding, however, it closed at 6pm so I didn’t have a chance to check it out.

On the second day I walked the road to the point where the trail branches off the road (km38.0). The road was quite scenic but in a hindsight the trail after km38.0 felt much more beautiful. Once you get closer to the trailhead you can observe the monumental Fitz Roy peak, weather permiting. In my case the forecast predicted rain all day. However, at noon the sky suddenly opened and after five gray days granted me beautiful views. This made me to change my strategy and hitch to El Chaltén from the crossroad (km38) hoping that I will be able to use this good weather window for the Huemul circuit (GPT40). This has indeed worked out.

I hitched back to the crossroad (km38.0) few days later and continued with Option 1 (Laguna Piedras Blancas - L. De Los Tres - L. Torre - El Chaltén) with light backpack in a single day as I was short on time. I would prefer to spend at least two days on this portiom, exploring the lagunas further away. Very scenic and mantained trails in general. Easy to jog some parts for those who enjoy trail running.

  • 2023-Feb-17 to 2023-Feb-20 / 4 days / RR / SOBO / also all the optional routes to the various lagunas on the way to El Chaltén / Véronica & Zach

Route: Lago Del Desierto - Río Las Vueltas - resupply in El Chaltén - Lagos Eléctrico y Marconi - Lago Piedras Blancas - Lago de los Tres - Lago Torre

If packrafting Lago Desierto, consult the Gendarmaria for advice about current wind conditions. We can't speak about the trail or paddling along most of Lago del Desierto, thanks to a special encounter with a trail magician with a motorboat. We camped that night in a sheltered cove with a fantastic view of Monte Fitz Roy. The next morning, I walked ~3km to the south side of the lake while Zach packrafted down with a tailwind. We learned the ferry crosses the lake from south to north on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 10 a.m., and returns from north to south those same days at 11 a.m.

We walked a scenic dirt road to the put-in for Río de las Vueltas. From there, Zach packrafted and I walked the road. There were no signs along the river prohibiting paddling, but we heard you need a permit to go all the way into El Chaltén.

We resupplied in El Chaltén that evening, then the next morning hitched back up to Bridge, X {39} [31.7/449], where Option 1 starts. For the next three days, we walked beautiful, well-maintained trails to the lagunas and viewpoints in the vicinity of Monte Fitz Roy. Most of them are out-and-back, and you can easily stash your backpack and walk unencumbered to the glaciers and lakes. Note: Option 39-E requires a harness to cross on a Tyrolean cable, or a burly ford.

  • 2022-Dec-29 to 2023-Jan-01 / Helen and Craig

>Well marked trails. Very busy on sunny days, Incredibly dusty camp sites in high winds (but nicely sheltered)

>Really sad amount of rubbish around the trail. Maybe because of this reason mice are a real proplem around the camp sites. *Secure food* (we have taken to sleeping with all food in the main compartment of our tent and don't trust drysacks and backpacks alone to protect). We picked up the bits we could carry but sad to see. Worst littering we have seen anywhere in Patagonia. Wished I had a bigger trash bag to pick up.

>We walked a very leisurely 3 night loop with side trails in high winds whilst waiting for a weather window for GPT40. Then hitchhiked up to rejoin the trail at Lago Desertio.

>To avoid the crowds, the popular miadors we walked to at odd times of day, sunset for the 'sunrise' veiw. Very much Worth it.

  • 2022-Dec-09 to 2022-Dec-11 / 2 half days & 1 full day walking / SOBO / Frank

I came from Candelario Mansilla & continued on the trail round Laguna del Desierto the same day. It was slow going around the lake with lots of up & down over bluffs. At the end of the lake I crossed over a bridge (inflow stream for the lake) Just after the bridge there is a restaurant, (closed in the evening), campsite & hut. I stayed in the hut (no beds but in good condition, slept on the wooden floor) From the campsite a trail goes up to Laguna Huemul, about 1 hour up. A worthwhile detour with good views of Glaciar Huemul. Next day I continued on the road then on the trail towards Laguna de los Tres. The high campsite was very busy & noisy so I continued down to Laguna Capri & camped there, better but still noisy. Lots of people on the trail also, a big change to the previous sections. From Laguna Capri I continued easily down to El Chalten. 2 half days & 1 full day walking.

Season 2021/22

Season 2020/21

Season 2019/20

  • 2020-Jan-18 / NOBO / Oreste

The campground Ricanor near to Laguna Azul was close for maintenance when I passed there.

  • 2020-Jan-16 / NOBO / Oreste Marquis

Two first day were on the regular route. Could not see the Fotz Roy from close because of the cloud but still enjoyable route. I hitchike at the end of the second day and did not walk on the road to Lago del desierto because the camping Ricanor nesr to Laguna Azul was close for maintenance so I camp at the one close to the Lago.

  • 2019-Dec / 2 days / NOBO / Matthieu

Trail easy to follow for the parts in the wood before the road. Long road to The Lago Desierto, and a possibility to take a boat on the Lago to join the post of Gendarmeria. The walk by the lake is beautiful though, worth it.

No special difficulties.

  • 2019-Dec-14 / Arnaud et Adriane

It was a very rainy, windy and cold day so we walked to the road 12km (along the lago del desierto) and after 6 km on the road, we finished hitchhiking directly to El Chalten. Everything was covered with clouds so we sadly saw nothing.

  • 2019-Nov-9 / 2 days / Regular hiking route / NOBO / Lea Geibel, Kevin Moe

The highlight of this section for us was visiting all the lagunas in the national park! We cheated and hitch hiked along the road when we hit it after El Pilar. It was not difficult to get a car in the morning when tourists are heading out to Lago Desierto; it might be harder to find one northbound in the evening would be my guess. It's necessary to pay to camp at Desierto, 800 Argentinian Pesos each, and it is not allowed to camp along the road.

Season 2018/19

Season 2017/18

  • Route description by Kara Davis after Season 2017/18:

Section GPT39 begins on the northern bank of Lago del Desierto. According to the Gendarmería, the Argentine Border Control, the wind patterns on the lake are unpredictable and shift frequently. There is also no good access to the trail on the east side if bailing becomes a necessity, so have caution when deciding whether to packraft or not.

Comment by Jan Dudeck: Lago del Desierto is an innocent looking beast. While very calm at the put in heavy wind at the middle of the lake can make a traverse demanding and dangerous.

There is a well-established trail that runs along the east side of the lake. However, it isn’t flat, and the 11 or so kilometers takes longer than expected. There is an option to take a ferry across the lake which is popular with Carretera Austral bicyclers. More information regarding times and prices can be found at the Argentine border control station on the north side of Lago del Desierto.

Hungry hikers are rewarded when they reach the south end of the lake. A burger stand with some snack options is located here along with an established campground with showers, flush toilets, and a communal kitchen.

Walk along RP23, a gravel road, for several kilometers until reaching the put-in for the packrafting section of Río de las Vueltas, which is a sloped rocky beach. The serpentine river section before Lago Condor is fairly swift with no rapids, only some wooden snags. After Lago Condor, the river widens and forms many braided channels.

Alternate: Instead of exiting Río de las Vueltas onto RP23 as shown by the GPS track, we floated the river al the way to El Chaltén and took out just after the bridge crossing east of the town.

Comment by Jan Dudeck: To my knowledge packrafting the Rio de las Vueltas all the way to El Chalten requires a permit by the park rangers. Without this permit park rangers might get very nasty and may even confiscate your packraft. So better leave the river before this river enters the national park. Packraft track OP-RI-1@39-02-# only if you have a permit.

Season 2016/17

Resupply and Accommodation

Resupply and Accommodation in nearby Towns

  • El Chaltén is a medium sized town with several hostels, restaurants, and decent resupply options. There were also a few outdoor gear outfitters which offered rentals for the famous Huemul Circuit (GPT40).

Resupply and Accommodation along the Route

  • 2023 / Jess&Paco

You can by snacks at the camping on the southern shore of Lago del desierto but it is not a good resuply spot.

Transport to and from Route

2023: There is a bus every evening at 8PM from El Chalten to Los Antiguos, arriving at about 7AM. The bus continues to Esquel, El Bolson & Bariloche. From Los Antiguos you can go by local taxi or hitch to the border & Chile Chico (there is no longer a bus across the border) There is also a bus once a day from Los Antiguos to El Chalten.

Permits, Entry Fees and Right-of-Way Issues

Links to other Resources

Retired Section Article GPT39 - Monte Fitz Roy