Are you ready to go south to visit Patagonia?
Chilean Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places all over the world; you won’t regret spending a summer there! It has been modified so everybody can enjoy the view, even families but it will always require a little bit of effort.
Planning Torres del Paine has turned out to be a little bit more complicated theses two last seasons, if you are an adventurous backpacker, this article will help you get your trip perfectly done and not so expensive, if you do it correctly.
YOUR DATES AND RESERVATION
During 2016 a new system of reservations has been introduced to manage the amount of people entering the National park of Torres del Paine. This system was implemented because of the high demand, and people staying at campsites for more than 2 days, which can produce big problems regarding sanitary issues. So if you’re planning the days to fly to Patagonia, to the park specifically, you should check out the days available first. The park has 3 different campsites, 3 free campsites owns by the CONAF , 4 others owned by Vertice Patagonia and 4 others owned by Fantastico Sur, the last two companies charge you for staying at their campsites, but they’ll offer you more services as well.
It is not so obvious to plan this trip so I’ll let you know the possibilities.
FIRST OF ALL : DECIDE THE ROUTE
For the O trekkers there’s only one possible direction, you should always go right; anti clockwise, but there’re two possibilities to start walking.
From Hotel Las Torres or from Paine Grande
ONCE YOU HAVE DECIDED THE ROUTE
Check the reservations at the official website of the National Park Torres del Paine. You should check the free sites of the CONAF first and then go checking the private companies’ ones. The smaller campsite of the route is “El PASO” and I highly recommend you to stay there, not because of its services (there are minimum) but because once you get to El paso, you’ll be sooooo tired, that It’ll seem you just arrived in heaven. So check that one first, and right after you can check out for the Torres campsite, which is the closest campsite to the famous Torres del Paine Mirador, but I can tell you from now, it is an icon of Patagonia, but walking the O circuit you’ll realize it won’t be the most beautiful place you’ll be at, so get ready to be amazed!
IMPORTANT: Consider to spend at least 7-8 days during the circuit! Once you made all the reservations, at every campsite you’re ready to buy your tickets to Puerto Natales.
GET YOUR BACKPACK READY
If you like hiking, this place will be just perfect, so chose your partner correctly because once you start walking there’s no way back or emergency exit.
Even though you’ll go to the park in summer, it’s Patagonia…that means that it could be perfectly sunny in the morning but a horrible storm might be coming during the evening, you never know , and checking out the weather will only give you a general idea about what to expect. I’ll recommend you to pack as little as possible, but ALWAYS A RAINCOAT, or something you could use as one.
It’ll be also better if you put all your clothes in garbage bag inside your backpack, even having the cover outside, things could get very messy and you’ll love to find dry clothes to change. Bring sun cream and REPELENT, you’ll need it at Dickson’s campsite!
Be as light as you can, but try to bring as much carbohydrates as you can , peanut butter is always something you’ll thank for. If you ran out of food, the park offers you minimarkets at the private companies ‘campsites, they will obviously save you from starving but be ready to pay a loooooooot for it. They all accept debit and credit cards.
There’s water almost all over the route, and there’s no problem drinking it.
The trail will be very steep and some points so try to be as light as possible, I’d say NO MORE than 17-20kgs or I’ll be very exhausting. AND BRING POLES TO WALK. Those are made to help you when you walk steep trails of carrying a heavy backpack, you’ll body will thank for it.
Once you arrive in Puerto Natales, you’ll have to buy a ticket to the park, it can be bought directly at the bus station, there are three companies taking you there, all of them are perfectly fine and the prices are the same, around 20USD. Once you get to the park, drivers will stop at some point and you’ll have to register at the main entrance. They will ask for your details, the payment and they will also show you a short informative video about flora and fauna of the place. It is forbidden to start a fire at any part of the park, there ‘were two terrible cases of fires burning almost half of the national park not so many years ago.
You could start walking from this point, BUT there’s a shuttle bus 5USD, that could take you to the HOTEL LAS TORRES, and if you’re planning on walking the O circuit, it is not worth it to waste your energy and supplies in this part of the road, you’ll have a better view once you start the trail. If you planned Torres from the west side of the park, you might want to take the bus again (the same one you came with) and It’ll drop you off at Pudeto’s shore, from there you can take the Catamaran(30USD), and it’ll leave you right outside Paine Grande’s campsite.
Torres del Paine is an Icon of Patagonia, and you’ll love to be in it surrounded by so much nature, glaciers, lagoons and forest. Every year it becomes more popular, so lately the park has been really crowded. There’s always the W circuit, which many people do, but not many dare themselves enough to try the O. It is rough and you’ll be very tired at the end, but being able to camp in such places, walk almost alone mostly the whole day, and enjoy those views it’ll make the trip really worthy. Enjoy it and keep it clean!