We knew that Patagonia would be expensive but had no clue that Argentina would be so much more expensive than Chile. When looking for a place to stay in El Chalten I was shocked by the prices. After a lot of digging I was fortunate enough to find a discounted room at Pudu Lodge through Booking.com.
It is pretty standard for hotels in South America to book through a website but require cash payments. We made sure that we took out enough cash in El Calafate to cover the price of the stay plus the extremely high 21% hotel tax. While we didn’t try any ATMs in El Chalten, we read that cards with a microchip do not work. Since credit cards aren’t as widely accepted in Argentina as they are in Chile, we didn’t want to take any chances and brought enough cash to cover the room and our food, plus extra, just in case.
We arrived early as we had taken the 7am Taqsa bus from El Calafate in order to have as much time in El Chalten as possible. On the bus into town we could tell that the weather was going to be absolutely gorgeous and were happy that we decided to take the early bus. Once we walked to the lodge, we dropped our bags in the luggage storage room since our room wasn’t ready and headed off to the trails.
Pudu Lodge – Room #5
After 9 hours of hiking, we returned to the lodge to check into our room. We were given room #5 which was located on the lower floor, close to the front desk.
The first thing that we noticed when we entered the room was how hot it was. Fortunately we had our own thermostat so we could keep the room at a more comfortable temperature. The heat actually came from the floor which I thought was pretty cool since I’m used to heat coming from a radiator or forced air.
The room had a king size bed which made us really happy since it had been quite a while since we had anything larger than a full. In addition to our king bed, we also had a twin size bed which was perfect for storing all of our gear.
Everything was clean and the room was a pretty good size so we were pretty happy with it.
The bathroom was split into 2 areas – the toilet, bidet and shower in a room and the sink in the bedroom. It was nice to have the sink split from the rest of the bathroom as it made it a bit easier for both of us to get ready at the same time.
The bathroom itself was done with nice materials but you could tell something was off. I think that when the lodge was built, the contractor used the wrong materials. The tiles in the shower had a gap which you could tell was letting water in behind the wall and was likely causing major issues.
Our shower had really good water pressure and water that was really hot. It was so hot that we had to use quite a bit of cold water to be able to get into the water. We had another bidet, something that I’m learning is pretty common in Argentina. I thought about using it but was still a little nervous.
Our room also came with a hairdryer, something that I haven’t seen too much on our trip. While we didn’t use it, I liked that it was there.
Pudu Lodge – Amenities
Our room rate included breakfast which we were happy for since it was quite an expensive room for us. The breakfast was pretty average and consisted of cereal, fruit, rolls, ham and cheese.
One of the things that drives me crazy about South America is that dairy products are not refrigerated like they should be. The milk and a container of yogurt drink were out on the table, sitting in the sun with no ice. Why this isn’t a concern for anyone I’m not sure. Needless to say, we avoided any dairy products during our breakfast.
Since most people that stay in El Chalten go hiking for hours at a time, there was a sign out at breakfast which stated that no food could be taken on hikes. Next to the sign they noted that there were box lunches available for purchase, but at a hefty price. We mostly followed the rule, each grabbing an apple for our hike.
English Speaking Staff
Since it was a tourist town, we weren’t too surprised when the front desk agents spoke perfect English. We really liked this as it allowed us to be able to communicate clearly with them.
We arrived before check in and were happy to see that there was a locked luggage storage room. We threw our bags in there while we hiked the first day. We also used the luggage storage when we checked out as we didn’t have to be to the bus station until 8pm.
Our room had a safe in it but we didn’t use it. Our method of keeping everything locked in our bags has been working with every place that we have stayed in to date so we continued on with that method. Plus the size of the safe wouldn’t be able to contain all of our valuables which include computers and our DSLR camera.
I put the wifi in quotes since the internet was down the entire time that we were at the lodge. It was extremely frustrating for us because we weren’t able to do anything online – from checking bus schedules to emailing our family/friends and looking up restaurants.
Whenever we asked about the wifi we were told that the internet comes from satellite there and it had been down for a few days before we arrived but they were working to get it resolved. Every day we asked and were told the same thing. Apparently there is 1 guy in town that does the internet and he was very busy since a lot of people were having issues. Based on the fact that we would connect to the network but there was no service means that it was a provider issue.
We took this as another one of the struggles that we have had on our trip. Back home, if the internet is down you expect that in less than 24 hours the situation will be remedied. Abroad you have to be patient and have to wait until someone figures out the issue.
In order to do anything online, we had to go to places that had wifi in town. These were few and far between, many of them using the same provider were also down. Eventually we found a restaurant that not only had wifi but also served good food. We ended up eating there 2x, both times with our laptops in tow.
Movie & Computer Area
On our last day before we left we realized that on the second floor they had an area with a large flat screen TV, DVDs (mostly in Spanish), and a computer. If the weather had been worse it may have been a good place to hang out, but we didn’t need to use it. The computer in the common area was also not very useful at the time either, since the wifi was not working.
On our last day, when we were waiting for our bus, we spent some time in the lobby writing blog posts. Our feet were done with hiking and just wanted to relax a little bit before we headed off on a marathon of bus riding to get us up to Mendoza.
While we were sitting there, I noticed a cat had walked through the lobby door. He came over to me, wanting some attention. Since I miss my cat Gingerbread, I gave him a lot of love. After some good neck scratches, he eventually decided that he would curl up right next to me while I wrote.
Obviously he wasn’t supposed to be in the hotel so shortly after one of the workers saw that he was there, he was exiled back outside.
Depending on what you plan to do in El Chalten, the location could be perfect or highly inconvenient. The lodge is located right next to the Fitz Roy trail but is on the outskirts of town which make it less convenient to get to restaurants, bars and the bus station.
If you plan to do lots of hiking, especially early in the morning, this is the perfect location. This also requires a bit of a walk, around 10-15 minutes, to go anywhere else in town so it’s a trade off.
We enjoyed our time at the lodge – our bed was comfortable and the staff was great. There were also struggles – the fact that the wifi didn’t work at all during a 3 day period that we were there was a huge negative for me, also the walk to town was longer than I thought it would be since I read that El Chalten was so small.
If we were to return to El Chalten, I would probably stay in a more centrally located place. Even though it is nice to be near the trails, after a long day of hiking, the last thing that you want to deal with is a long walk to and from town to get something to eat.