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Patagonia’s Torres Del Paine National Park – Mikestravelbook
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Patagonia’s Torres Del Paine National Park

Booking your trip to Torres del pain will be a hustle. You need to book multiple camp sites through three different companies and this early enough to be sure to get a free spot.
Among the companies you will find
Conaf: it is a governmental organization that offers free camp sites that do require prior booking. These campsites are kind of shady and dirty, but free.

Link To Conaf

Fantastico sur: they own the camps on the w side of the park. Because of that, they are more expensive and poor quality. The dorms require you to take your own sleeping bag. The campsites have poor quality showers and toilets, no electric plugs in most cases as well as no closed cooking spot. They just have a cheap tent with restricted space that is windy and wish. Staff is not really friendly and looks annoyed most of the time.

Link to FantasticoSur

Vertice: they have the camps on the O side of Torres del pain. To my point of view the prices are lower compared to fantastico sur and the quality is far better. The price of the refugio is lower than fantastico sur and you have fresh and clean bedsheets. Showers and toilets are quite good and staff is friendly in general. Most important are the closed houses for eating at the campsite. They are warm, protect you from the wind and have electric plugs. Therefore, far better than fantastico sur.

Link to Vertice

To book your flight from santiago you have two options:
Direct flight to puerto natales or flying down to punta arena. There are more flights to Punta arena and only around 2 flights per week in the summer to puerto natales. Flying to punta arena requires you to take a 3-4h bus trip to puerto natales.
We picked the option of flying directly to puerto natales as the time required for the O trek fitted well with the flight schedule.

We took sky airways as it was quite cheap for that trip. While booking, don’t choose any “special offer package”. Simply book the flight without any option and add afterwards what you need (check-in language and so on).

Arrival in Puerto Natales:
Transport from Puerto Natales airport to hotel. We took the shuttle service which turned out to be more or less the same price as the taxi (if you are up to two persons). 4000 CPS per person.
They drop you off at the hotel/hostel you are staying at.
The day after we went shopping to buy the last few things for the breakfast as well as some instant noodles. The day was extremely rainy, and we were slightly concerned about the weather we would expect for our 2 weeks trek.
To go back to the airport at the end of the stay we took a taxi that cost us 7000 CPS.

Starting the trek of Torres Del Pain:
Total 45 hours hiking, 8 days, 123.2 km

Day one: Puerto Natales – Central
Day started at 5:45
We first took the bus from Puerto Natales’ terminal  (7500 CPS per person) and arrived after around 2h at the park entry of Torres del Pain. The entry cost us around 21000 cps per person, you then watch a short movie, sign a couple of papers and move over to the next shuttle that brings you to central base. This shuttle takes 15 min and will cost you 3000 cps.
Alternatively you can walk to central which will take you around 1h or jump back into the same bus you arrived with and continue your journey to the catamaran stop to Pain Grande.
Arrived at central you have to go through some paper work again, sign papers and show your booking confirmations for each campsite and finally, you are ready to start the trek.

Central to Séron- 4h36, 13 km
Weather clear sun and clouds
Some rain at the end of the day for a few seconds. The start begins with a small climb of a couple of meters (maybe 100?) But remains more or less simple till you reach Séron. Due to heavy rains of past days, the road was really wet and we had to cross multiple muddy sections that took us more time than expected. We also found the remains of a dead horse a couple of km before Séron.
Séron has a shower with warm water
Day 2 Séron to Camp Dickson
Start at 7 am waking up, 8 am packed our gear and 830 on the way
Today we have 18 km to walk in 6 h
We managed the first half in 2h30, made a 15 min snack break at the ranger station and hit the road again.
The first half goes up about 200 m and ist extremely windy.
Second half was good and we arrived at camp Dickson after a day hike of 5h 32min.
The camp is located right next to lake Dickinson with a small forest around it. Looks really quiet and peaceful. Next to the camp, you could enjoy Lake Dickson with a special view on the glacier. if you were lucky (or the glacier was unlucky) you can even see pieces of Glaicer!
Weather was with us today as well. We started with clouds, did 2/3 of the track with sun and arrived just before rain.
We had to wait a while before mounting the tent.
The camp is quite nice, has a shower that is inside as opposed to Séron where you were waiting outside.
Slightly warmer choice=)

Day 3 Camp Dickson to Perros
4h21 with 1 h break ( pictures, discussing, recovering forgotten stuff)
Hike was quite easy, going up the whole way almost with some downs and flats. Today’s elevation was about 400 m. Weather was beautiful. We had sun the whole day but we also hiked most of the time in the forest. It started to get cloudy at the end of the trail. Before reaching the camp we had a beautiful view on the Perros glacier and lake. From there it is only 3 minutes to the camp. Unfortunately, or depends on the season I guess, the camp is in the forest. Therefore, it is quite cold as you don’t have any sun.
There we set up our camp at around 14h and got lunch. Today was instant noodles, luxury compared to our cliff bars the past days. Now it is all about resting because tomorrow it is going to be a long and hard day 😅🙌 probably the most difficult as we will be full gear.

Day 4 El Paso
We just sure experienced a terrible night. Heavy rain, super cold, bit windy… I couldn’t sleep well because we were not sure how the situation would be when we would start the day and if we could get through the pass. After only a couple of hours sleeping, we started the day at 04:45. Packing, trying to recover our wet stuff and having a quick breakfast, we were planning on living at 6 for the hike. Everything was soaked…the tent (outside) and because of the cold we had the stupid idea to use an aluminum heating sheet for the sleeping bag. Problem is…it keeps the sweat inside and our sleeping bags were wet. After packing all our wet stuff we started our journey towards the pass. The hike started through the forest and was quite tricky as the path changed into a river thanks to the rain. After going from one mud pool to another, we quickly gained in altitude and the landscape changed to a rougher and less abundant vegetation. We quickly reached the snow limit after what the path changed from rock to snow fields. The last section was steep and tricky. Snow was very deep and you had to step in the footprints of the previous hikes. Failing to this and you found yourself in knee high snow. Overall, we reached the top in 3 hours for an elevation of 650 m which does not seem a lot but with these weather conditions and steep slopes as well as our backpack, the experience was slightly more exhausting. Reaching the top of the pass was a crazy experience. The view was breathtaking.  We were extremely lucky that the sky cleared up and exposed the imposing Grey glacier. It was freezing cold though and the water in our camel bags as well as our clothes quickly froze. The wind was strong so we didn’t wait too long to head down on the other side. 2.5 hours later we reached the camp el Paso. The way down was, despite the stunning view and beautiful forest, extremely treacherous. Super muddy and slippery which slowed us down. Overall we took 5.30 h instead of 6 to go from Perros to El Paso camp. The stretch between el Paso and camp grey took us an additional 4 h (instead of 5) and was a long trail going up and down multiple times through forest and barren land. A beautiful landscape along the grey glacier. We crossed 3 suspended bridges and spent some time taking pictures along the way. Reaching grey, we treated ourselves with some tortillas and beer as reward.  As tomorrow will be shorter, we can sleep a bit longer=)

Day 5 Grey to Paine Grande
Going from grey to Paine Grande. We first made a stop at grey lookout point. A beautiful view of the glacier from the front. It’s a 10 min walk at most to reach the closest point. After that we took the 3.5 hours hike towards Paine Grande. The hike was not difficult and the view beautiful. There was an elevation gain of about 200m up and down. We still felt our legs from yesterday and the ligament I broke two years ago reminded me he was not totally happy about me hiking multiple days in a row.

Day 6 Paine Grande to Frances
The night was rainy and wet but quite warm. As today is quite long, we woke up at 545 to pack everything. Luckily the rain stopped 30 minutes before we had to get out of the tent. Unfortunately, the cooking area was locked so we had to wait till 06:30 to cook and heat our breakfast. Once ready, we started our hike to Italiano which took us 3h instead of 4.5h. We dropped our backpacks at the campsite and started the ascent towards mirador Britanico. The hike was hard as we were a bit tired from our journey and my knee was still hurting. We reached the lookout of valley Frances within 1h and after 3 more hours the lookout on the miradors for an elevation 650 m. After a couple of pictures and a foggy landscape, we headed down towards camp Italiano to fetch our backpacks. The hike down was as terrible as the hike up and took us the same time. Once in Italiano we had first to look for our bag that got buried under a pile of thousands of backpacks. We then hit the remaining half hour to reach camp Frances. So happy to reach it as we had booked the dorms with hot showers. The camp site looked shady and we were glad we could spend the night inside. The camp atmosphere was a bit strange. More expensive than dorm Grey… no heating and we had to use our sleeping bags…but well. At least we were dry for that night.

Day 7 Frances to Central
The day consists in a 6.5h hike from camp Frances to camp central. Somehow the time of the map didn’t fit the real time we actually needed. It took us 4:35 hours to complete that stretch. We were really lucky with the weather as they predicted rain the whole day and we only had a shower during the night with some drops during the morning. Arriving in central we set up the tent and took an afternoon nap to rest and recover my knee that was still slightly hurting. Tomorrow we will start the day around 04:00 am and hike up to Torres before the mass of tourists swarms the place.

Day 8: The road to the Torres.
We walked up at 3:30 after a terrible night divided between people partying and shouting till midnight and people waking up and getting ready for the hike at 1 am. After a quick breakfast we started the hike at 04:00 am towards the Torres. While the total hike up was supposed to take 4h it took us only 2h 28 min. I must admit I felt a bit my knee when I arrived up there but I was happy. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it for the sunrise but the view was still breathtaking. We spent a couple of hours up there and left the place to arrive at central camp at 14:00. The hike down was more annoying as the path got quite crowded and my knees were hurting. Once at the camp we met some swiss friends from the O trek and some Germans and spent the rest of the day eating and drinking snaps and beers as reward. We were so happy to have completed that journey, so proud of our first multiday trek. Overall that journey took us 5h and 10 min to go up and down without counting the time enjoying the view up there.
Day 9 packing and preparing our way, back to Puerto Natales. We took the 11 am shuttle from central to Laguna Amarga and then the bus of 11h30 to Puerto Natales.

What to eat?
I made it quite easy to be honest. I wanted something different every dinner without having to cook. Therefor I took 1 freeze-dried food per day in the evening.
Breakfast consisted in porridge where I just had to add milk and chocolate  powder with hot water. Our lunch consisted in 3 cliff bars (highest calorie content) with bags of nuts and dried fruits we carried around.
To avoid problems with water we had each a 2 L Camelback which was plenty enough for a day.  We added isostar tabs for the hard days such as the Pass or the Torres. We also had honey salt gels in case we needed an extra energy boost.
For cooking I bought a jetboiler which can heat 0.5 l of water and was enough for both meals and a cup of tea or coffee each. We had a 450g gas bottle with us which revealed to be more than enough for the 8 days. We donated it at the end of our trip.

Good to have additionally are:
Soup and bouillon as well as instant noodles.
Sucre de raisin (instant sugar ?) + magnesium

Clothing: What to wear?
– a good rain coat
– rain pants
– hiking pants
– hiking socks (as many as you want. Depends how comfortable you are with your smell and carrying them). A good idea is to take these thin woman nylon socks as basis to avoid blisters.
– underwear
– hiking or sport t-shirts
– 2 flees jackets (in case one gets wet)
– one down jacket ( ideally synthetic is better as water is an enemy of down)
– a cap
– a snow cap for the Cold
– gloves
– a scarf or similar (it is really windy there)

For camping:
– a tent. Try to take a light one as you will have to carry it. I went for the MSR hubba hubba 2 place.. I would recommend a footprint as it protects your tent from the stones and water.
– a good sleeping mattress
– a good sleeping bag. We took a comfort -5 and revealed to be ok. We had 2 nights where we had cold else was quite good.

Nice to have:
– ear plugs
– pillow
-toilet paper
-duc tape

Places to eat and drink in Puerto Natales:

Restaurants:
Wild hostel: it is a hostel, but you can also eat there. We went twice there because of their good beer+burger formula for 7500 cps. It is a nice an cozy place I definitely recommend to visit.

Mesita grande: an Italian restaurant with homemade pizzas and pastas. It was good but not crazy, prices were ok. If you want quantity, pick the pastas spaghetti and not the gnocchis

Masay: a good and cheap sandwich place. The service is really fast and the sandwiches are pretty good and big. Definitely a place I would recommend and return.

El Salvador patagonico: a nice steak house we have been recommended to visit. Prices are fair and the meat was quite good. Definitely not the best steak house in my life and according to our friends that have been in Argentina, the quality of the meat was lower. I can’t say, but it did the job for me;)

El bote : I d skip that place. Worst fries we had and pre-prepared food that was heated up before serving.  It did look nice and fancy but that mostly was to hide the truth. Only tourists were there.

Bars:
Last hope gin distillery: a really nice distillery/ bar with homemade gin. This place has a really cool atmosphere and the prices are faire for the quality of the drinks. They have quite a broad choice of cocktails.

Baguales: A cool pub with good music, fair prices (drinks) and good burgers!

Additional Information

Obviously, i had to look for information as well in order to prepare my trek. I went through multiple blogs to set up my plan and organize myself. I really recommend you do. You can find more on that topic through that blog which greatly helped me =)

Looking for other hiking or travel destinations? Check here!

Looking for other places to stay ? check here!

Or do you simply have a question? Contact me!

Do you want a piece of Patagonia at home? have a look at my online shop!

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