Surrounded by the granite peaks of Argentina’s iconic Mount Fitzroy massif which rises vertically out of the desolate Patagonian steppe, El Chalten is a small frontier town, 2 hour’s drive from Calafate perched at the very foot of the mountains. The town was originally built in 1985 to bolster Argentina’s claim to the disputed border but has grown significantly since then as a burgeoning tourist hub. Put quite simply, el Chalten offers some of the finest hikes in Patagonia if not South America. From the village, trails lead off into the massif in all directions taking hikers to the spectacular “Laguna de Los Tres” and “Cerro Torre” viewpoints, both glacial lakes sitting at the foot of towering granite peaks. Allow a night’s camping and walkers are rewarded with jaw-dropping views over the vast southern icefield. Facilities are still simple though rustic lodges and isolated estancias overlooking distant glaciers offer an authentic taste of the rich gaucho culture.