El Chalten - Argentina
Nestled in the heart of the Andes at the base of the Fits Roy range, El Chalten is known as the trekking capital of the world. The town is not very old and along with the surrounding trails, its part of the Los Glaciares National Park. The most popular and rewarding hikes are relatively short. Only a few hours to either Lago de los Tres or Lago Torre (see below). Everything can be done in a day but its best to take a week or so and enjoy it. If your feeling really adventurous try Laguna Sucia (see below), the Humeul Circuit, or hike across the border into extremely rural Chile (El Chalten - Villa O'Higgins crossing) and continue up Chile's Carreterra Austral.
There are multiple hostels and small hotels. My favorite was the large Patagonia hostel which was very clean, had OK wifi, and was very clean. Get your own room around $25 or share with 3 others for $15. Another Hostel is above the pizza place for $5. Camping is always an option here. It wont cost you anything and there are several group camps just up the trail. They are at Laguna Capri, Lago Torre, & Camp Poincenot.
Basic food, hiking, and mountaineering supplies can be bought/rented in town. Few restaurants are in the town but its enough to get a meal. There's an empanada shop, taco place, pizza place, crepe & tea, bakery, and cafe. Everything was very tasty. The supermercados don't have anything along the lines of healthy trail food. So get your nuts, quinoa, beans, rice, etc... in El Calafate! In this region you will find the stores don't have bags. If you don't bring your own your going to have an interesting time juggling your groceries back to the hostel/hotel! Keep in mind every store shuts down for siesta between 1-3pm. My favorite place in town was a small kitchen right in the middle of town. A girl named Tamara owns the place and makes a spectacular lunch and dinner. Everything she makes was very healthy, inexpensive, and vegan. She sources hundreds of bags of ingredients, jars of spices, and fresh fruit/veggies all the way from Buenos Aries. She only can seat 3 in her extremely small space but I was the only one ever eating there! She will even make you to go meals for the trail.
Note that Australian & Canadian travelers must pay a reciprocity fee online before being able to enter the country. No longer required for US travelers.
If you fly into El Calafate its quite easy to take the bus or rent a car in manual. But if your anxious to get there like me, getting your supplies quick and hitchhiking outside of town is by far the fastest way to El Chalten. I got there in just 2 hours. The buses are comfortable, but they are dreadfully slow; Especially with the extremely strong winds. Expect 3-4 hours. If you want to save money, having a car here is really not necessary. Busses go multiple times a day and the town is tiny. If your coming from Chile, busses make the route from Puerto Natales to El Calafate daily. Its a 6+ hour journey requiring a customs stop and passport stamps. (Note that there is no bus from Torres Del Paine to El Calafate so you are stuck going backwards to Natales to get to Calafate). The only other way to go from TDP to Calafate would be hitchhiking and it would save you a few hours if you get picked up fast.