Here is some basic information for those out there that want to hike Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia and do not want to:
- hike for 5/7/14 days
- carry tons of stuff on their back including all their meals, clothing, tents, etc
- hire some fancy touring company for upwards of $1,000 to $2,000
This is for those that:
- are limited in time (2.5 days is what we recommend)
- want to stay within a budge of a few hundred dollars (this trip should be around $220)
- don’t want to carry anything except for some food and water.
What is the basic hike?
You will be spending two nights at Fantastico Sur Central or Norte. These are basically right next to each other. Central is newer, has dining facilities and costs more ($78). Norte is right next to Central, is a bit older, and a bit cheaper ($60). Go for the cheaper option, you are not missing much.
What should I bring?
Since you will be staying in one place, you can leave all your stuff in your room and only take what you need for the day hike. Your luggage, travel backpack, food, etc – leave it all at Central/Norte.
In general, at Torres del Paine park you need:
- water bottle
- good hiking boots
- clothing for varied climates (hot, cold, rainy, windy)
For your day hike, bring
- water (is great in the park, just refill in the bathroom)
- food for the day
- don’t bring gas and a stove; it is useless as you can only use it in designated areas; however, the refugios will be happy to give you hot water (for your coffee, noodles, etc)
What about food?
Full board is around $50 per day and not really that great. In Puerto Natales, just go ahead and raid the supermarket. This will save you about $100-$150. Get
- nut butters
- instant soup packages (like Ramen)
- Canned meat and fish (tuna)
- Sweets for energy
- Crackers & Cookies
- Trail Mix
Just realize that everyone else has the same idea, so you should head to the supermarket upon arrival, before your compatriots get there (the place will be picked empty by the evening).
What does the hike look like?
You will take a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine Administration area. Cost will be anywhere from $20 to $30. If you pay more, you will be on a bigger more comfy bus; if you pay less you will be on a smaller shuttle. Tickets can be purchased at the bus station or at your hotel/hostel. Prices can vary even with the same company. Just ask around. The buses generally leave around 7.30 A.M. We took the smaller shuttle as you can see below:
Once you arrive at the administration area (pay your fee of $38, watch a video to make sure you don’t burn down the forest), you will have to take a different shuttle (with a different company and another $5) to go to Fantastico Sur Central/Norte. “Administration” is shown below, basically all the buses stop there and you have to deboard, so you can’t miss it.
Your first hike will be the “money shot” hike, up to Torres del Paine – that’s what you came here for. Here is the view from the Fantastico Sur Norte/Centra refugio. Torres is in the background (in the clouds).
Up and back should be about 6-7 hours; it will likely be about 1 or 2 by the time you are checked in, settled and ready to start hiking. On the way up (and back down) you can stop at Refugio Chileno to relax and have something to eat. Here is the view on the way up.
Finally, you will see Torres del Paine getting closer and closer; there was some confusion with the hikers in front of us; the path was not well marked here and they almost turned around thinking this was it.
Needles to say, this is not it; it gets much better.
Day 2 is basically a hike along Lago Nordenskjold. You can make this day as ambitious as you want. We hiked over to Refugio Los Cuernos and back, which takes about 7-8 hours.
The hike along the lake is quite scenic.
You can use hiking breaks to play around with your camera settings 🙂
If you are a fast hiker and like to get up early, you could probably even make it to the entrance of the French valley.
This day is basically up to you. You have a few hours in the morning until the shuttle picks you up to take you back to the administration area. From there you will catch your bus back to Puerto Natales. You can either relax or hike up a bit on the north side toward Campamento Seron.
Total Cost: $220
- 2 nights accommodation: $120
- Entrance: $40
- Transport: $40
- Food (from supermarket): $20