On top of the world




March 2014 • Canon 60D camera

UNESCO World Heritage site
Part of the Los Glaciares National Park

Trek stats

17.7km (11mi)

Distance (round trip)


Highest point

6–8 hrs

Duration (round trip)

Today, on day seven of our tour, was an early start for our group. We were going to have a long day trekking to make up for the trek yesterday that was cut short due to strong winds. The Loma del pliegue tumbado is one of the less busiest trails due to the long distance hike. It can get difficult towards the end, especially if the weather is bad. The reward for making it to the end is the 360° panoramic view of the Los Glaciars National Park. Here the majestic view of the mountains Cerro Torre, Laguna Torre, Cerro Solo and the mighty Fitz Roy stand in all its glory for you to marvel at.

We walked through El Chaltén to the National Park museum where the journey begins. Following the sign to Laguna Torro, the first hour or so is a gentle gradient up to the foothills. This first part is open pastures of grass plains, surrounded by hills and mountains. It was cloudy and grey with the sun poking out from the clouds from time to time. And of course, the famous Patagonian winds singing in the air. Cows grazed in this section, as part of the National Park is still privately owned. Looking back you can see the town of El Chaltén growing smaller.

The sun had now decided to appear and chased the clouds away to reveal a lovely blue sky. It was now feeling warmer and as we were hiking up we slowly shed our clothes layers. We were then greeted with a postcard view of Monte Fitz Roy.

This famous granite mountain is loved by many mountaineers and has a dozen trekking routes to the base. The snowcapped top and swirling clouds against the blue sky, made this a perfect opportunity to stop and take pictures.

We continued trekking for another hour or so. The sun was in strong force and we stopped for a quick break and to put on sun block. I did not expect the sun to be soo strong. This part of the trek changed between open grassy plains to tranquil lenga forests. Meanwhile the imposing mountain of Fitz Roy kept us company in the background.

The forests were a welcomed respite and gave us shade from the sun and a brief rest from the winds. After leaving the final forest on this part of the trail, we came to a clearing where the trail splits into two. On the left the trial continued to Laguna Torro and on the right, was where we continued on for our trek.

Did you know...

High up on the trail ammonite marine fossils can be found. These fossils are excellent 'index fossils' which are used to define an identify geological periods. Estimated to be around 100 million years old, the closest living relatives to these fossils are octopuses, squid cuttlefish and nautilus.

The final third of the trail the terrain changed from grassy plains and forests to rocky gravel. The trek went higher and higher at a steep gradient. It was not as steep or high as Dead woman's pass on the Inca trail, but the chilly wind made it quite the challenge. The weather changed from feeling warm to chilly and cold. The strong Patagonian wind singing in the open air while the sun still shone bright in the blue sky. 

We put our layers back on and slowly made our way up. Like the whole trek this area looked like the wonderful landscapes you had seen in any Lord of the Rings movies. It was also the first time on this hike we met other hikers either coming down or were sitting down taking a breather. I got excited the further I got closer to the top of the horizon to see what was awaiting us...

Finally, we reached the summit of Pliegue Tumbado. And what a sight! A spectacular 180° view of the mountain range was all around us. The mighty Fitz Roy and Cerro Solo mountains stood next to the three–peaked mountain of Cerro Torre. A huge glacier flowing down from the slopes of Cerro Torre that ends with a glacial lake, the Laguna Torre. The mountains were partly covered by snow and looked majestic, out of this world from a special effects fantasy movie.

We decided to take a well–earned break and had our late lunch at the summit. I don’t think I will ever have lunch with such a scenic view like this again. The following photographs below don’t do justice how awe-inspiring the views were. I was genuinely surprised and lost for words on what was in front of me.

After our break and the million photos we all snapped, we made our way back down the path we took. The rocky, slaty, gravel section that we hiked up and now down hid a nice surprise: fossils. This area is of geological interest as millions of years ago everything was under a deep sea. We continued back to town soaking up the final views of this beautiful trek.

This was so far the highlight of the trip and one of the top hiking treks I have done in my life. We all reward ourselves with crepes and ice creams back in El Calefate at the excellent Viva La Pepa that we discovered after visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier. Tomorrow we were crossing the border to the Chilean side of Patagonia for 3 days of camping and hiking.

Final thoughts

As this is the Patagonia region, the weather can change drastically at a minute’s notice. Come prepared with layers that you can strip off and put back on again. The famous Patagonia winds is no joke so bring a warm hat and some gloves. A wind-proof rain jacket is a must! If you plan to take a lot of pictures then the gloves will make it more comfortable in the chilly winds.

Oh and don't forget the sun block! The trek takes you quite high up so you need the extra protection for your skin. Bring snacks/pack lunch and plenty of water/drinks as this is a long hike and will be stopping a fair bit. Our team was quite fit and healthy so we made it up and back down quicker than most trekkers on this trail.

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