Unfortunately due to an incredibly high demand from adventurers looking to head in to Patagonia and hike Torres del Paine, there are a lot of rules, bookings and yes…expenses.
It’s true, the more south of Santiago you go, the more expensive Chile becomes. Tourists only venture this far down south for the great hikes and nature spotting, so they set their prices accordingly: very high.
Also due to the high, and increasing demand, in 2017 they started reservations for the campsites of Torres del Paine. If you are reading this before you actually got to Puerto Natales then you are in luck, there is so much to know before the three-day hike it boggles the mind.
Two of the more popular hikes are the ‘O Circuit’/’The Circuit’ and the ‘W Circuit’. unfortunately because I didn’t have a oppurtunity to book any campsites (I came straight from Antarctica to Patagonia), arriving into Puerto Natales with no idea about this park.
So me and three friends hired out a car and drove to the park, setting up camp at the free Peheo campsite, which is miles away from the start of the Grey Glacier trek. After that hike we stayed the night at the campsite, and drove to the start of the trek for the Three Towers for the following morning. Unfortunately this meant we missed out the famous sunrise at the summit. Thus, we missed out on the Valle del Frances trek and only hiked 2 days with 1 night camping.
- Refugios and campsites book out fast. We met people who booked months in advance
- No reservation required for the Peheo campsite ($5,000 CLP/night). Although this campsite is only good for the Grey Glacier and Valle del Frances treks as the route to the Three Towers is too far from the campsite
- The catamaran to the start of the glacier trek costs a whopping $28,000 CLP return
- Entry to the park itself costs $21,000 CLP
- Start your hike at 4:30am from the campsite Campamento Torres to see the sunrise at the Three Towers for approximately 6:00am
- DO NOT stay in the refugios. Unless you have more money than sense
- Hire your camping equipment from Eratic in Puerto Natales
- Pack for rain, hail, wind and sun. The weather here changes. Fast
- If you plan on hiring a car it should cost around $55,000 CLP/day
- The bus from Puerto Natales to the park entrance costs $15,000 CLP return
There just is not enough that can be said for this great hike, I recommend going to a briefing in Puerto Natales before you make the attempt. I can guarantee you will learn something new.
The final thing; prepare to have your mind blown away by the beauty of this place. The first night we camped out, drinking whiskey and beer, star-gazing. I never seen so many stars. The milky was clearly visible with satellites shooting through every few moments. Torres del Paine was worth the sweat and (ridiculous) expense.