For those who are chasing a picturesque hike that’s somewhat off the beaten track (yet is (almost) as impressive as the infamous Laguna de los Tres), then the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado trail is for you.
With access from the west of El Chaltén, it’s a 20 kilometre return trek and takes a suggested 4 hours each way. I feel this is a generous amount of time however, and anyone of relative fitness could cover it off in 3 hours (or less) with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the many beautiful vistas along the way.
Unlike the Laguna de los Tres, Tumbado is a consistent uphill battle. At times testing, it will be sure to get the heart pumping, though is comfortable for the most part. However, to keep you distracted from its sometimes challenging moments, the incredible panoramas of both Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, and the Rio Tunel Valley will draw you in.
On leaving El Chaltén head towards the APN office (this is the National Park advisory centre for the area). About 100m further along you will arrive at the first trailhead. Take the path to the right (also in the direction of Laguna Toro) and follow this across a small creek and continue for a couple of kilometres until you reach the Lenga Forest. These first few moments are the steepest and you might wonder what you’re in for. Relax, it’s all good.
At approximately 4.5 kilometres the trail splits with an option to Laguna Toro (14km return). It’s signed well so you really can’t miss it. Continue straight on the path toward another forest. This natural woodland is a beautiful green space with another gentle uphill climb; all the while winding between the trees and shrubbery. Trying to avoid the small armies of caterpillars on the forest floor for hundreds of metres unfortunately distracted from the silence and tranquillity of the stunning surrounds. Otherwise, it’s bliss.
The incredible panoramas of both Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, and the Rio Tunel Valley will draw you in.
Once reaching the top of the forest and leaving it behind you, the final accent is in view – phew. The climb to the top is quite exposed to mother nature and the winds are epic! But, this is what Patagonia is all about – all the elements at any time. The trail is well marked and continues for another 2km or so to the top. Navigating granite and loose river stones, and pushing into the wind keeps things interesting. As you come over the rise toward the summit, you will be blown away. Quite literally. By the wind, and the incredible untouched beauty of this place.
As you come over the rise toward the summit, you will be blown away. Quite literally. By the wind, and the incredible untouched beauty of this place.
Now, stay a little while to take it all in, snap a few pics and hightail it back to the bottom of the rise to defrost. Enjoy!