Alex of Roam & Thrive is right here to share her final information for mountaineering Torres del Paine in Chile!
As probably the most Southern Nationwide Parks on this planet, Torres Del Paine is a spot you’ll need to go to no less than as soon as in your life. Desolate, wild and unforgiving the Torres Del Paine is pure nature with surroundings that can shock, delight, and have you ever reaching to your digicam repeatedly.
Right here in Patagonia, you’ll expertise a distinct world, one that you simply’ll by no means need to go away as soon as it’s captivated you with its magic. Having lived in Chile for the final 5 years, I’ve visited the park twice now, as soon as trekking and as soon as experiencing the park as a part of a highway journey and I’d extremely suggest the previous.
Right here’s the information for how you can make your journey to Torres Del Paine the most effective journey but!
When to Go to + Seasonal Ideas
Resulting from its excessive southern location, the Torres del Paine is a seasonal vacation spot. Most individuals go to from December – February, throughout Chilean summer time.
Right now, February particularly, you’ll be able to anticipate the park to be at its capability with many individuals on the paths. The wind and rain can be an issue within the park and the windiest and wettest months are January and March.
In my view, the most effective time to go to the park is in the beginning of December or in the beginning of March—a lot of the crowds have dispersed however it’s not but too chilly to not camp.
In the event you’re feeling courageous, visiting within the winter (Could-September) can be an possibility however you’ll have to remain in motels fairly than camp and be ready for restricted hours of daylight.
Go to + Get There
From Santiago, the simplest strategy to get to Patagonia is to fly to Puerto Natales, the city closest to Torres del Paine Nationwide Park. LATAM, Sky Airline and JET Sensible all supply flights to Puerto Natales, however solely in the summertime. In the event you’re touring within the off-season you’ll should fly to Punta Arenas, and from there take a bus to Puerto Natales. The trip takes about three hours.
In the event you’re arriving from El Calafate in Argentina, you’ll be able to take a direct bus to Puerto Natales with a cease on the border.
From Puerto Natales, there are numerous bus firms that shuttle folks to and from the park. The journey takes about three hours to get to the beginning of the paths and buses go away within the morning after which once more within the afternoon. In excessive season it’s value reserving your ticket as quickly as you’ll be able to.
What to Deliver
Outside & Waterproof Clothes
No matter your itinerary you’ll want snug out of doors clothes for all seasons. You might be greater than prone to expertise all 4 seasons in at some point and it’s not remarkable for the temperature to fall to 40°F/5°C within the evenings in summer time.
In the event you’re trekking, a superb pair of already worn-in mountaineering boots are important.
In the event you’re doing the well-known ‘O’ or ‘W’ treks and also you select to camp with out having rented it out from the campsite, you’ll want all tenting gear resembling a tent, mattress, a winter sleeping bag, and cooking gear. It’s value having a top quality, waterproof tent as generally, the rain and wind are relentless.
In the event you don’t have your personal tenting gear however you continue to need to do some trekking, rental retailers can be found in Puerto Natales. Most gear rents for about $5 per merchandise per day. It’s also possible to hire an already assembled tent, mattress, and sleep bag on the campsite and this may be booked when reserving lodging.
On the ‘O’ or ‘W’ treks, once you e book them most campsites have a full board (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) or half board (lunch and dinner) possibility. Going for it will imply you’ll have to hold much less weight and also you get your meals cooked for you.
It’s also possible to deliver all your personal meals and cooking gear and put together all of it your self. That is excellent for these with a decrease funds and needs extra of a wild tenting expertise. Be sure to plan all of your meals forward and purchase all of your meals in Puerto Natales.
Headlamp — for transferring round after darkish.
Kindle/Guide, + Playing Cards — Within the evenings there isn’t a lot to take action you’ll must deliver some leisure. I’d extremely suggest a Kindle- it’s light-weight and suits many titles onto it.
Small Padlock — On the ‘W’ or ‘O’ trek you’ll be leaving your tent unattended a couple of instances, deliver a small padlock so you’ll be able to lock your stuff inside.
Reusable Water Bottle — There are water sources situated in any respect the campsite so deliver a reusable water bottle with you to keep away from utilizing plastic bottles.
Digital camera — Evidently the Torres del Paine is extraordinarily photogenic so don’t overlook your camera- you’ll have it in your hand more often than not.
There isn’t one way to experience the Torres del Paine and there are non-trekking ways to see the park too. The most popular way to experience the park is by trekking the infamous ‘O’ or ‘W’, routes named after the shape of the trail they take.
Trekking the ‘W’ Circuit
The ‘W’ is the park’s most popular circuit and it can be trekked in either direction. It takes 4-5 days to complete and I’d highly recommend you assign a full 5 days to not feel rushed.
The trail has a ‘W’ or a pitchfork shape which means that you do have to double back on yourself often, however, due to this, there are sections that you can walk without your heavy backpack. On the ‘W’ you can expect to see stunning high passes with views for miles around the park, pristine lakes, glaciers, rugged granite peaks as well as a variety of local flora and fauna.
Trekking the ‘O’ Circuit
The ‘O’ Circuit consists of hiking the ‘W’ trail with a northern extension. It’s this extension, especially the steep John Gardner Pass that makes this trek longer and more difficult than the ‘W’ but absolutely worth the extra effort.
It takes about 7-9 days to complete and due to the lack of refugios in the Northern Side of the park you’ll have to camp, making camping gear essential for this trek.
As a result, this trek is definitely less crowded than the ‘W’ and the views from the John Gardner pass are simply incredible. Note that the ‘O’ should only be trekked in a counter-clockwise direction due to the steepness of the pass.
This is my exact 5-day itinerary for what I did when I trekked the ‘W’. I chose to walk from west to east to get the most difficult part of the trek out of the way first. The West side is the steepest. You can also condense it and do it in 4-days if you’re pushed for time.
Day 1 – Puerto Natales – Pudeto – Paine Grande – Glacier Grey
Catch the 7/7.30am bus from Puerto Natales and get off at Pudeto ready to take the ferry across to Paine Grande. Prior to getting to Pudeto, you’ll pass through Laguna Amarga, the main park entrance. You’ll have to get off here to pay the park entrance fee.
Once in Pudeto board the ferry to Paine Grande. From Paine Grande, start walking to the Grey campsite. Once at the Grey campsite, check-in and set up camp for the night. For the rest of the afternoon, you can relax, walk around the lake and take in the views.
Day 2 – Glacier Grey Viewpoint – Grey Campsite – Paine Grande
Wake up early and start the day with the 1.5hr trek to the spectacular viewpoints of Glacier Grey. When you’ve finished admiring their beauty head back to Grey campsite, have lunch, pack up camp and trek back to Paine Grande. At Paine Grande check in to your campsite and set up camp again. Spend the day relaxing and resting.
Day 3 – Paine Grande – Mirador Frances – Mirador Britanico – Frances Campsite
After an early breakfast pack up camp and make your way towards Mirador Frances. To save you having to carry your backpack any further, stop at Italiano campsite and leave your big rucksack in their reception area. You can then continue on with a lighter pack.
We managed to get to Mirador Frances and continued to Mirador Britanico—however, if the weather isn’t good, people say there is no point as you can’t see anything. We had good weather so we did it and the views were stunning. From there make your way back to Italiano campsite, grab your rucksack and head back down to Frances campsite, set up camp and rest.
On this day you can choose to stay at either Italiano or Frances campsite depending on the distance you want to walk. If you prefer a slightly shorter day (2km shorter) you can stay at Italiano.
Views over Nordenskjold Lake
Day 4 – Frances – Los Cuernos – Chileno Campsite
Pack up and leave Frances campsite in the early morning, making your way towards Los Cuernos, from where you can view and admire the expanse of Nordenskjold Lake. Continue along the side of the lake until you reach Chileno campsite. Check-in and set up camp. Spend the rest of the day relaxing and make sure to get an early night.
Day 5 – Chileno – Mirador Las Torres – Puerto Natales
Wake up before sunrise to start the trek to Mirador Las Torres, the most famous viewpoint in the park. The best time to see it is at sunrise. The trek takes about 2hrs 15 mins from Chileno campsite, so you’ll need to check the sunrise time and plan accordingly.
After taking in the amazing view of the sun lighting up the three jagged peaks and taking some photos, make you way back down to Chileno campsite. Have lunch and pack up your things and descend down to Hotel Las Torres. From here either catch the shuttle bus that goes to Laguna Amarga or walk. From Laguna Amarga take the bus back to Puerto Natales.
Where to Stay
When trekking the ‘W’ or the ‘O’ you might choose to camp. Camping is the cheapest type of accommodation and ranges from $8-$20 a night depending on the campsite. Most campsites are equipped with bathrooms and showers and a restaurant where you can get meals for about $15-22 per dish.
If you don’t want to carry your own camping gear, everything can be rented from all the campsites except the free CONAF ones.
Tents are already assembled and you just have to set up your mattress and sleeping bag. It’s a great option for those not wanting to have to assemble camp after a full day’s trek.
Bear in mind that these tents have to be reserved in advance.
Another type of accommodation, perfect for those not wanting to camp or carry heavy camping gear with them. Refugios are basically beds in a shared cabin—exactly like a hostel dorm or sometimes in a private cabin.
The benefits of refugios are that they are warmer than tents and you’re protected from the elements a lot more.
Depending on the refugio, you can expect to pay between $60-80 per bed. If you’re planning to stay in them during high season, you’ll need to book them in advance and by in advance I mean 6 months or even more, in advance. It’s safe to say beds sell out extremely quickly.
There are many hotels scattered around the park, most of them occupying beautiful locations in front of deep blue lakes and windswept valleys. They are mostly luxury hotels and a night can set you back about $300 in high season. A spa treatment, champagne breakfasts, and dips in their heated pools are great ways to celebrate the end of your trek.
Refugio in Torres del Paine
How to Book Your Accommodation
If you’re planning to hike the ‘W’ or ‘O’ circuits, it’s crucial to make reservations in advance for camping spots and refugios.
Due to the growing popularity of the park, there simply aren’t enough campsites and space for everyone who wants to visit. It’s not uncommon for all campsites to be booked out completely for the summer trekking season (Jan/Feb) by the previous November.
There are three different companies that own all the campsites in the Torres Del Paine Park and it’s more than likely that you’ll have to reserve with them all. They are Fantastico Sur, Vertice Patagonia and CONAF. To order your lodging you are able to do so instantly from their web sites.
First determine which manner you’ll be strolling the circuit, then plan your route and which campsites or refugios you’ll be staying in, and at last go on to every of the web sites and reserve all of them.
Here’s a listing of which firms personal which campsites to make it simpler so that you can make your reservations. Solely the CONAF campsites are free and primary. All of the others have showers with scorching water, bathrooms, cooking areas, cafeterias and so on.
- CONAF: Tenting Italiano (free campsite with no showers and primary facilities), Tenting Torres
- Fantastico Sur: Tenting & Domes Frances, Refugio & Tenting Los Cuernos, Refugio & Tenting Torres Norte/Central, Refugio & Tenting El Chileno
- Vertice Patagonia: Refugio & Tenting Paine Grande, Refugio & Tenting Gray
What to Count on
The Torres del Paine actually has what I consider to be a number of the greatest mountaineering in South America, if not the world. Count on unimaginable views, icy deep blue lakes scattered with icebergs, large glaciers creeping down craggy valleys, and the enduring towers—fingers crossed it gained’t be too cloudy to see them.
Count on to see numerous different trekkers and make pals alongside the way in which. In the event you’re you’d prefer to hike the paths solo and in case you’re questioning if the park trails are too remoted the reply isn’t any, no less than not in excessive season. Going solo is completely protected and also you’ll make pals very quickly.
Know Earlier than You Go
The doorway ticket for the Torres del Paine is $21,000 CLP for international adults (about $27 USD). You don’t want any form of mountaineering or trekking allow.
There are numerous sources of ingesting water alongside the trek on the campsites and refugios so that you don’t want to fret about bringing bottled water with you. I might strongly suggest bringing a reusable water bottle with a robust micro organism blocking filter which is able to can help you additionally refill from lakes and streams. The water right here is extraordinarily pure however it by no means damage to be just a little extra cautious.
You’ll be able to hike each the ‘O’ or ‘W’ independently or as a part of an organized tour.
The primary benefit of the tour is that you simply gained’t have to hold any tenting gear and you may select the place to sleep. It additionally includes little planning. When doing it independently you’ll should plan the trek your self and reserve all of your lodging months upfront, if going within the excessive season. The associated fee is, nonetheless, significantly decrease.
Wild tenting will not be permitted. You’ll be able to solely camp in designated campsites.
There are numerous locations to eliminate your litter on the campsites. Please don’t go away litter wherever else exterior of those designated areas. Let’s preserve this wonderful nook of the planet clear.
For extra details about Chile and different locations to go to earlier than or after your trek, take a look at my web site, Roam and Thrive. Different posts you would possibly discover helpful are: