It is one of those trips you do once in a lifetime. Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most beautiful and challenging destinations in Chile, located in the extreme south, Magallanes Region, close to Chilean Antarctica.
There’s a reason why National Geographic chose it as one of the five most beautiful places in the world. It was also one of the motives why Chile won the World Travel Awards 2016 for World's Leading Adventure Tourism Destination.
However, the landscape is changing because of climate change, so you’d better hurry to you this trip to Patagonia if you want to watch what you’ve only seen in photos. Recently, a giant piece of ice fell off icon Glacier Grey.
But, how to plan a trip to Torres del Paine?
1-Take only what you really need
Weather in Chilean Patagonia is unpredictable, and even hostile sometimes. Therefore, if you think to travel in the summer, make sure to take clothes for rain. Also, protect your backpack from the water with a waterproof cover.
Leave at home all clothes that do not have a practical function; the locals say that you can experience all four seasons in one day.
Most tourists prefer high season because there are more sunlight hours and temperatures fluctuate between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius. But do not forget that the wind usually lowers thermal sensation by a couple degrees, especially in summer time.
On the other hand, bring cash to pay for unexpected expenses or last-minute purchases (not all stores or places offer credit card payment as an option). There are no ATMs inside the park, for example.
Regarding entry, remember that the Park charges different prices to Chilean and foreign tourists. Also, there are price differences between Low season (May 1-September 1) and High season (1 October-30 April). Independently, all visitors are required to register with park authorities.
Read more about what to bring to Patagonia to make this adventure memorable.
2-Learn your do's and don'ts
For a trip like this, we recommend you book well in advance. Travelers from all parts of the world want to know this corner of Chile, just like you.
It is essential that you schedule ahead and make sure to book your place in shelters, hotels or camping sites. There’s high demand and once inside the park it’s difficult to solve lack of accommodation.
Lighting a fire is banned inside Torres del Paine to prevent forest fires like the ones that damaged the park in 2012. If you plan ahead, you can take with you a camping kitchenette to prepare meals.
Keep the park in good condition by taking with you all the trash you generate during your visit. Also, do not feed nor bother the local fauna.
3- Decide how you will tour Torres del Paine
The W hiking circuit known covers more than 50 kilometres. A critical distance considering that you must carry all your things with you always. Therefore, we recommend that your backpack does not weigh more than 10 kilos (a bit over 22 pounds).
Be realistic and do not strain yourself, because the next day you will continue walking. It will be ideal if you prepare physically in advance for you to enjoy the circuit.
Don't forget that there are other alternatives, like “full day” excursions in which you visit main attractions on a tour van.
For those looking for a calmer alternative and are better physically, the O trekking circuit is longer and more demanding.
If you take these considerations into account, you will be able to enjoy one of the most inspiring trips of your life.
Most importantly, when you travel to Patagonia leave nothing to chance, because distances are long; it is an hour and a half between Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales (the closest city). Also, follow instructions by park staff to avoid problems.