About El Chaltén
A young tourist village in Patagonia, at the foot of the unmistakable Cerro Chaltén or Fitz Roy. It is known worldwide as the “National Capital of Trekking in Argentina” for its multiple options for mountain sports in a natural scenery like no other.
Country: República Argentina
Province: Santa Cruz
Department: Lago Argentino
Latitud: 49° 19’ 53.07” South
Length: 72° 53’ 10.06” West
Average elevation: 450 m.a.l.s
El Chaltén is located in the Southern Andes, within the Los Glaciares National Park, in a valley where the rivers De las Vueltas and Fitz Roy meet. Cerro Chaltén or Fitz Roy is the predominant figure of the landscape.
Its name is due to the mythical mountain that stands out from the rest of the peaks. Chaltén is a term of the Aonikenk language by which the ancient Tehuelches named this mountain they considered sacred. Its meaning is “Smoky Mountain”, because that is the impression it gives when the clouds are columned by the wind at its top.
Geography and climate
The town is in an ecoregion called ecotone, the transition between the steppe and the forest. The plain abruptly leads to huge rock formations with forested valleys crossed by rivers and streams. The seasons are well defined during the year, summer is mild with average temperatures of 12ºC, days with many hours of sunlight, usually windy and moderate rainfalls. The winter is cold, with an average temperature of 2ºC, short days, little wind and sporadic snowfalls.
In this almost uninhabited latitude of the planet, wildlife finds in its valleys and mountains a virgin paradise. Many living beings can only exist in these ideal conditions. The best example of the fragility of this environment protected by the National Park is represented by the Huemul, an endemic deer in danger of extinction.
Capital of Trekking
On January 12, 2015, through National Law 27,055, El Chaltén was declared "National Capital of Trekking”. In this way it is officially recognized adding value to the extraordinary combination of elements that are given in El Chaltén for mountain sports: a pristine and protected natural environment, numerous trekking circuits with varying grades of difficulty, dozens of climbing routes of very high technical requirements, and a town where social and economic developments grow in relation to the active tourism.
The infrastructure of services is very varied and in continuous growth. There are many options for accommodation being hostels, cabins and apartments the most popular ones. According to your needs you will also find campsites, mountain huts, hotels and inns.The local menu offers regional flavors and international cuisine in its restaurants, pizzerias, bars and tea houses.
This small town was founded on October 12, 1985 as a geopolitical decision at a time when Argentina was facing a sovereignty conflict and dispute with the neighboring country of Chile over the Lake Del Desierto and the Southern Continental Patagonian Ice. Los Glaciares National Park gave in an area of 135 hectares to the province of Santa Cruz for the new settlement.
Currently the population is around 3000 inhabitants, and the number changes year after year. Since its creation, the population of El Chaltén has been constantly growing, moderated only by the limitations of its geographical extension. In the 1991 census there were 41 inhabitants, in 2001 it reached 371, in 2010 it got up to 950 and in 2012 it exceeded one thousand. Urbanization and tourism ventures continue to develop, which is why there are still many public and private constructions underway.
Local Government: Autonomous Municipality.
Provincial Government: Autonomous.
National Government: Republican, democratic, representative and federal.
Initially the government administration worked through "Development Commissions" dependent on Río Gallegos, the provincial capital. These administrations had limited management and budget resources and their officials were not representatives elected by the people. Once the necessary number of permanent inhabitants has been reached and in a pressing situation of having its own government, in 2010 the provincial Constitution was partially reformed so that El Chaltén was taken to the status of Municipality, which was formally confirmed on November 24, 2011. In October of 2015, the first elections for Mayor and Councillors were held, and the elected representatives began to exercise their functions on December 12 of that year.
As it stated in the Article 5 of the Law 1771 by which the town was created, the Emblem is constituted by four quadrants separated by gold borders that also bind the entire figure possessing in its crest a rising sun also made of gold. The left upper quadrant contains on a pink background (own coloration of the hills that frame the town) the image of an ice crystal, as a symbol of glaciers and eternal snow. In the upper right quadrant, on a blue background (represents the night sky) four golden stars symbolize the Southern Cross. In the central quadrant on a light blue background the inscription "EL CHALTÉN” is written, and in the lower quadrant on a light blue background is the silhouette cut out from the summit of El Chaltén."
As described by its designer “the Light Blue and White stripes are represented just like in our National Pavilion. The pink stripe represents the colour of the mountain range that frame the Town. The banner also includes the "Cruz del Sur" tilted 30º from the horizon, it is the emblem of the Aonikenk, who inhabited these southern lands; the "Mountain Ranges of Cerro Torre and Mount Fitz Roy", representatives of Trekking and Climbing in the area and the contour of the "Confluence of the Rivers Fitz Roy and De las Vueltas", for their importance in the location of the Town."