Staying at Explora El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

Patagonia has long been one of our favourite destinations in the world. We had a chance to visit the Chilean side back in 2017 and absolutely loved our experience. 

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Hiking the W Trek and exploring the region only made us more curious about Argentinian Patagonia. It was a destination that topped our bucket list for years! So when our Trip Planners at Adventure Life suggested that we combine a visit to Argentinian Patagonia with our Antarctica Cruise, it was a no-brainer. Excitement levels were high! 

Argentinian Patagonia covers a vast area extending across the southern parts of several provinces, including Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego. With its vast expanse of rugged terrain and beautiful scenery, it is known as the region with endless opportunities for exploration and adventure in an area larger than many European countries combined. 

Fitzroy Mountain Range, El Chalten, Patagonia
Fitzroy Mountain Range, El Chalten, Patagonia
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We opted to spend 2 nights in El Calafate and 4 nights in El Chalten, giving ourselves a good chunk of time for hiking in and around Los Glaciares National Park. Deciding where to base ourselves during our time in Argentinian Patagonia was the next hurdle. 

The area is surprisingly underdeveloped, with the majority of El Chalten hotels located in town at the base of Los Glaciares National Park. But there was one hotel that stood out from the rest – Explora El Chaltenan eco-conscious luxury lodge nestled in the Los Huemules Conservation Reserve, just outside of El Chalten. 

Continue below for a behind-the-scenes look at our time at Explora El Chalten. Spoiler alert: Our stay was incredible!

About Explora

Explora is an award-winning eco-conscious lodge operator in South America. Their brand began in 1993 with the flagship lodge in Torres del Paine National Park and has since expanded to offer the iconic Explora experience at their lodges in Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, Atacama and Uyuni, and Easter Island, to name a few. 

The lodge’s ethos resonated with us deeply. It offers an all-inclusive elevated experience that encourages in-depth exploration in some of the most remote corners of the world. 

Experiencing El Chalten’s beautiful natural landscape with minimum environmental impact is one of Explora’s biggest commitments, as well as ours.

Beautiful view of the valley form Explora El Chalten Lodge
Beautiful view of the valley from Explora El Chalten Lodge

Explora El Chaltén 

Don’t let the inconspicuous minimalistic design of Explora El Chalten fool you. The simple design is intentional, highlighting and complementing the natural surroundings in a stunning location. 

Explora El Chaltén sits among a dense forest of lenga and ñirre trees, right in the heart of the vast 14,000-acre Los Huemules Conservation Reserve. With the sweeping vistas of the Marconi Glacier and Electric Valley, it’s the perfect location away from the hustle and bustle of El Chalten town. 

The lodge consists of just 18 rooms, making for a very personalized stay. 

Sustainability At Explora El Chalten

Explora’s commitment to sustainability goes well beyond reducing water usage and eliminating plastic from their property. As active stakeholders in Los Huemules Conservation Reserve, the lodge is devoted to the preservation and conservation of the environment in which it operates. 

Explora El Chalten actively engages in initiatives to protect local wildlife, preserve cultural heritage, and support sustainable tourism practices. Through partnerships with local communities and conservation organizations, they strive to minimize their ecological footprint while enriching guests’ experiences with a deeper understanding of the region’s natural and cultural significance. 

Rooms at Explora El Chalten

We loved the minimalistic design of Explora El Chalten. The rooms have a stripped-back decor that complements the silence, privacy, and spaciousness of the surrounding landscape. The interiors are nature-inspired, decorated with wood-panelled walls, calming earth-tone palettes, and earthy ceramics. 

The rooms are the epitome of calm and comfort, a stark contrast to the harsh environment at its doorstep. The views of the Marconi Glacier and Electric Valley bring the scenery indoors. 

The interior is spacious, with plush king-sized beds, private bathrooms, and plenty of space for all your hiking gear. An extra bed for children or a crib for infants are also available upon request. Heating, a hairdryer, slippers, and bathrobes are also included, as are small but thoughtful welcome gifts provided to each guest upon arrival—insulated water bottles, waterproof bags, luggage tags, and a personal care kit. 

Welcome kit awaits
Welcome kit awaits


Aside from the rooms, the dining area, the bar, and the spacious sitting area, Explora El Chalten also boats an on-site spa. There are two massage rooms, two saunas, and five open-air jacuzzis offering amazing views of the ñirre forest. Outside is a lounge area with six lounge chairs and a shower with a view of the valley and the Eléctrico River. 

It’s not the most extravagant spa, but it’s equipped with everything you need to soothe your muscles after a long day of outdoor excursions. 

The hot tubs were a hit with all guests, us included. Reservations are encouraged but not always required. Soaking our sore muscles at the end of long hiking days was by far our favourite way to wrap up our days at Explora. 

Food & Drink 

The full-board dining experience at Explora took our stay to another level. In line with the sustainability focus, Chef’s at Explora El Chalten build the menu daily, featuring local seasonal produce, sourced directly from small farmers. 

Breakfast consisted of an incredible buffet spread featuring dishes like smoked trout, chia pudding, and homemade pancakes. Eggs and other hot options were also on offer, but for us, the highlight was their incredible home-based gluten-free bread. 

The lunch menu varied daily and typically consisted of plant-based sharing plates. There were elaborate salads, protein-rich grains, spreads, and dips. We never left the table hungry!

The star of the show at dinner was usually a cut of meat, barbecued over a wood fire, along with a variety of vegetables, salads, stews, and legumes. Excellent wines from the Patagonia region, as well as other regions in Argentina, were on offer to complement every meal.

Desert was always a hit, it was hard to say no after a day of hiking, but no dish could ever compete with their Dulce de Leche flan – it tasted so rich and so decadent we had to have it twice!

Snacks were widely available throughout the day, with nuts and dried fruit throughout the morning and naughty sweets in the afternoons (you bet we had some). 

food at Explora El Chalten
Impressive variety of dishes served at every meal
Wine tasting at Explora El Chalten
Wine tasting at Explora El Chalten

While every meal at Explora was stellar, our absolute favourite food and wine experience was the private wine tasting in the smokehouse room. We had a chance to taste of a number of wine varieties from their cellar and learn more about the subtle differences of Malbec, the renowned Argentinian grape variety. 

What we didn’t expect was for our wine tasting to come with the most delicious tasting platter consisting of freshly baked pita, dips, olives and veggies, and straight off the grill beautiful slices of lamb. It was the same food that was being served at the restaurant at dinner, but having it in the smokehouse with the chefs serving it to us straight from the grill made everything taste that much better! This experience was not well advertised, so if you are going to stay at Explora, be sure to ask for it – trust us, you won’t regret it!


Explora El Chalten offers no shortage of activities to keep guests occupied for days. With over 30 different trails ranging from 30 minutes to 10.5 hours, there is something suitable for every fitness level and preference and something new to explore every day. They don’t call it Explora for nothing!

Shortly after arrival, we sat down with Alex, one of the guides at Explora. After taking our fitness levels and preferences into consideration, Alex suggested an amazing plan for our three days at the lodge. Here are the hikes we chose.

Laguna Azul

The hike to Laguna Azul (Blue Lagoon) was the perfect way to start our hiking at Explora. It was an easy 3 hour 7km hike with just 100m of elevation change. The loop trail led us straight to the beautiful Laguna Azul, which radiated deep blue shade under the midday sun. We opted to hike this trail in the morning for the best chance of clear views and got really lucky with the weather. 

Laguna Azul hike trail
Laguna Azul hike trail
Lush-green scenery during our hike at Laguna Azul
Lush-green scenery during our hike at Laguna Azul

Valle Eléctrico (Electric Valley) 

Located in Reserva Los Huemules, this slightly longer trail of 8 km and 300m of elevation was a great option for an afternoon hike. We didn’t get very lucky with the weather but pushed through the rain to complete the hike in about 3 hours. The main attraction on the trail was the unobstructed view of the Marconi Glacier. 

Argentina Patagonia Explora El Chalten Valle Electrico 6700283
Valle Electrico

Lago del Desierto

Located about an hour from Explora, this wildlife enclave with a variety of ecosystems is not easy to reach for anyone staying in El Chalten. To get there, we had to take an hour-long transfer from Explora, then a boat at the lake to get deeper into the area and to the start of a hiking trail. 

Once there, we followed the Glacier Vespigniani trail, a 7 km loop path towards the Glacier lookout. Despite being rated as medium difficulty, the trail was very manageable for us, as well as a number of older and less fit travellers in our group. 

The excursion took around 8 hours, with only a quarter of the time spent hiking. When it comes to scenery, the boat ride around the lake was definitely the highlight! 

Argentina Patagonia Explora El Chalten Lago del Desierto 08768
Lago del Desierto, Patagonia, Argentina
Lago del Desierto, El Chalten
Lago del Desierto, El Chalten

Laguna de los Tres

For our last day at Explora, we opted for the most famous and one of the most challenging hikes in the area – Laguna de los Tres, offering views of the majestic Mount Fitz Roy. We started early and clocked in around 25kms(15.5mi) on the trail with a total elevation gain of around 700m. 

We learned that the descent is just as challenging as the ascent, but the views at the top were well worth it!

Hiking Laguna de los Tres
Hiking to Laguna de los Tres
Hiking Laguna de los Tres
En route to Laguna de los Tres
Argentina Patagonia Explora El Chalten Lago de los tres OM 08893
At Laguna de Los Tres

READ NEXT: 9 Off-the-Beaten Path Treks from Puerto Natales, Patagonia

Explora Connects Program

Explora Connects Program is a unique offering by Explora Lodges to facilitate stress-free exploration of Patagonia’s diverse landscapes on the Chilean and Argentinian sides. With Explora lodges strategically situated in Chile’s Torres del Paine and Patagonia National Parks and Argentina’s El Chalten, it’s possible to link a stay at Explora El Chalten Lodge with a stay in one or both of the Chilean Explora lodges. 

Explora private flights once a week make the connections easy and take only 1 hour. A land transfer between the lodges is also possible, with the drive taking about 5 hours. 

Tailored itineraries for the Connect Programs start at 8 nights and are ideal for those seeking a comprehensive experience. They offer a unique opportunity to discover both Chilean and Argentine Patagonia while immersing themselves in local traditions and conservation efforts.

The Bottom Line

We absolutely loved our time at Explora. From the comfortable, spacious, minimalistic design of the rooms and incredible food and wine experiences to fantastic guides and stellar hiking opportunities, Explora over-delivered on all of our expectations. 

It’s not a cheap lodge to stay at, but the experience is definitely worth it! 

We can’t wait for an opportunity to explore more South American destinations with Explora (see what I did there?). 


Disclaimer: Big thanks to Explora El Chalten and Adventure Life for hosting us on this incredible leg of our Patagonian adventure. As always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own, no matter who is footing the bill. 

READ NEXT: 7 Things to do in El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

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