Huemul Circuit: trekking in wild Patagonia!

Huemul Circuit: trekking in wild Patagonia!


Huemul Circuit, or Vuelta Huemul, is one of the most challenging treks I have ever done. This wonderful trek, in fact, is marked by some technical passages and weather that could be inclement. Huemul Circuit is a four-day trek, beginning and ending in El Chalten, Argentina.

In its four-day trek, Huemul Circuit offers two passages with a zipline, called tirolesa in Spanish. I must admit that the first crossing was quite frightening to me, as the Rio Tunel flows rushing under the zipline.

The views of the Huemul Circuit are, however, wonderful! Wild trekking, moreover, is an unforgettable experience!


Day 1 Huemul Circuit trek: El Chalten – Campamento Toro

The first day at Huemul Circuit is undoubtedly the easiest. I left, with three other French guys, the town of El Chalten in the direction of El Calafate, and quickly reached the Parque Los Glaciares Visitor Center. From here I officially began the trek. I followed the directions to Laguna Toro and Loma del Pliegue Tumbado (one of the most beautiful treks in El Chalten). The start is immediately uphill, but the slopes are never hard: behind us El Chalten gets smaller and farther away.

After the Laguna Toro – Loma del Pliegue Tumbado junction I entered a forested part. At the end of this I arrived at an altitude of 1,070 meters, ending the day’s climb. The reward is a wonderful view of Lake Viedma! A descent led me to the Rio Tunel valley: wonderful! The walk is never difficult and,
after 17 km and about 800 meters of elevation gain
, I arrived at Campamento Toro.

After setting up the tent, I made friends and drank a mate with a couple from Argentina, Agustin and Agustina.


Day 2 Huemul Circuit trekking: Campamento Toro – Campamento Paso del Viento

The awakening at Camp Toro was traumatic! In fact, the night was definitely eventful because of the strong wind, and upon opening the tent in the morning, I saw snow falling copiously! I admit that at that time the doubts about whether to continue or not. I, the three Frenchmen and the Argentine couple joined in a group and started the walk.

After two kilometers, walked under a blizzard, we arrived at the first topical moment of the Vuelta Huemul: the crossing of the tirolesa! Fortunately, there were two young men in the group who perfectly explained the use of tirolesa. Although this one was easy to use, I admit that I was especially frightened at the moment of arrival: subconsciously I was afraid of slipping down the steep rock to the river once the carabiner was detached! Here is Agustina’s video on tyrolesa!

Once we passed the zipline, we walked for about two kilometers through moraine terrain: climbs, descents, and stony ground did not make it easy! Having finished this hostile part, I began to admire the beauty of the Huemul Circuit. To my right, in fact, the lower and upper Tunel Lagoon and the immense Tunel Glacier stood out.

From the lower Laguna Tunel begins a climb of about 600 meters to Paso del Viento. The slopes are very arduous and you will reach an altitude of 1450 meters! At the top, as the name of the pass says, I was greeted by a strong wind! The descent, on the other hand, was easy and Campamento Paso del Viento was reached after 14 km and 1,100 meters of elevation gain!


Day 3 Huemul Circuit trekking: Campamento Paso del Viento – Campamento Los Tempanos

After the very hard previous day, the third day’s walk begins in a pleasant and peaceful way. The first part of the third day is truly fantastic: the Viedma Glacier is truly spectacular!

One of the most beautiful viewpoints of the entire trek is at the height of the eighth kilometer. The Viedma Glacier, in fact, forms a bay here, full of icebergs (VIDEO)!

From here, a climb begins, again very steep in places, leading to Paso Huemul. Once the 400 meters of elevation gain had been overcome and 1,050 meters had been reached, the climb was completed! From the pass the views are simply marvelous: on one side is the Viedma Glacier, on the other is the lake of the same name!

Upon reaching the pass, however, the most difficult part of the day began. In fact, the descent to Campamento Los Tempanos (iceberg, in Spanish), is very steep and very technical. In three sections there is a rope that tries to simplify the difficult pieces. Making this descent with legs now tired from previous days was a feat!

Once I reached Campamento Los Tempanos, I literally fell in love with the place. I met again with Agustin and Agustina and I had a quick swim in the icy lagoon, full of icebergs (VIDEO)!

In front of that incredible spectacle I made friends with many trekkers: we were all enraptured by the beauty of the place!

The cold numbers say the stage was long 16 km with an elevation gain of 600 meters, but fatigue cannot be described by statistics!


Day 4 Huemul Circuit trek: Campamento Los Tempanos – El Chalten

From Campamento Los Tempanos the last day began with an easy five-kilometer hike, with Lake Viedma always on the right. An easy 300-meter ascent and subsequent descent lead, at kilometer 13, to the crossing of the Rio Tunel with the tirolesa.

This time the zipline crossing did not put me in great difficulty, thankfully! A final 200-meter climb brought me to a viewpoint over Fitz Roy. El Chalten, by now, was not far away, and was reached after 26 km and 700 meters of elevation gain!



  • The first thing to do before embarking on the Vuelta Huemul is to visit theCentro de Visitantes, located just 500 meters from the El Chalten bus station.

    Park rangers are available to give all the information needed for the trek. In addition, park rangers give weather information-it is important to choose the right weather window to undertake the Vuelta Huemul. For example, I waited two days before starting the trek: despite this, I still found snow!


  • This form must be filled out. At the end of the trek you must send an email to this address to confirm that you have completed the whole circuit.


  • The suitable season for Huemul Circuit is generally from January to late March, but it is definitely subject to the weather.


  • Huemul Circuit is a totally self-sufficient trek. So you need to bring tent, food, sleeping bag (best zero degree comfort), sleeping pad and food for four days. As food, I brought soups, pasta, salami, cookies, tea, chocolate, and frankfurters-I knew the temperatures would be cold, so the latter held up well. You must also bring gas and cooker with you: of course, you cannot light a fire in the whole Park. It is easy to find drinkable water: the only exception is day 4, when water is not safe.


  • I brought with me two technical short-sleeved T-shirts, two long-sleeved ones that are also thermal, two sweatshirts, a windbreaker (essential and excellent one from North Face), a short pant, a long pant, a towel, two socks, two underwear, sunglasses, a pair of neck-warming bandanas and to cover the head, flip-flops.


  • You also need to bring the necessary equipment to cross the ziplines on days 2 and 4. The contraption, carabiner and rope can be rented in El Chalten at the various sports stores. I recommend going around a few before finding the right offer: the price, however, is around ten euros per day.


  • Park rangers do not give information on how to cross the tirolesa. Therefore, it is crucial to know the information to cross the two ziplines safely. Therefore, I very much enjoyed starting the second day as a group.


  • On the second day, the moraine part is quite complicated. It is difficult to find the right route as there are no precise directions. Komoot and MapsMe help with route finding. This is the only section of the Huemul Circuit where it is difficult to find the route.


  • On the third day, however, the most difficult part is the final descent from Huemul Pass to Laguna Los Tempanos. The descent, besides being decidedly steep, includes some rocky sections where ropes have been placed to help trekkers.


  • The third day is absolutely the most beautiful of the entire trek, in my opinion.



  • In total Huemul Circuit is 73 km long, with 3,400 meters of elevation gain. These numbers, however, do not at all explain the difficulty of the trek!



  • El Chalten is the base to reach Vuelta Huemul. El Chalten is a wonderful town, built in 1985. It can be reached by bus about three hours from Calafate, which is served by an airport. In El Chalten you can find many restaurants and especially many breweries, many of which are craft breweries. In El Chalten I slept at Hostal de Trivi, Hostel Aylen Aike and Hostal Comarca: both highly recommended. El Chalten deserves at least three or four days, so many hikes (not forgetting the visit to Glaciar Viedma, splendid!).


  • In El Chalten I ate divinely at Parrilla la Oveja Negra, the Vineria and Patagonia Rebelde. The list of excellent breweries is virtually endless; Zorra, Nomad, and Cerveceria Chalten are among them. In addition, there are two real clubs-Bourbon Smokehouse and Black Pepper.




Andrea, un viaggiatore da lungo tempo con una grande passione per trekking, bici e diving! Su potrete trovare tutte le informazioni e gli itinerari di viaggio scritti da Andrea: cinque continenti e tante vette conquistate intorno al mondo!

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