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“What you need to know ahead of time” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Puerto Natales, Chile
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Visit Torres del Paine National Park like an insider
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4-Day Chilean Patagonia Tour: Puerto Natales...
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Viewing wildlife, Hiking, Camping
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Owner description: A hiker's dream, this national park contains huge granite mountains surrounded by clear lakes and a series of well-maintained trails that vary in degree of difficulty.
Moraga, California
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
27 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
148 helpful votes 148 helpful votes
“What you need to know ahead of time”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2013

I completed the "W circuit" in 5 days, west to east. In my opinion, this is what you need to know for your preparations:
- The weather is unreliable and highly unpredictable. However, you need to book the Refugios way ahead of time... That means that if you are doing Refugios, accommodation arrangements are inflexible in a park where flexibility is a big plus. That's an argument in favor of backpacking vs. Refugios. But if you are like me, with little desire to carry tents, mats and sleeping bags, and if you only have 5 days to do the whole thing (and no spare days), you have to take what the park gives you. Take it easy and pray for good weather. Once you start walking your route is fixed and booked.
- You can't call the Refugios to change plans- they don't have a telephone. Communications inside the park is by radio only. The only Refugio with email service (no wifi, just a station that uses satellite) is Paine Grande. You will be disconnected from the world, hurray!!
- Doing west to east or east to west does not make a lot of difference. It really doesn't matter, compared to the other big factor: weather. You want to have the best weather for day 3, when you visit Valle del Frances in between Refugio Cuernos and Refugio Paine Grande, and for the sunrise in the Torres (morning of day 2 or day 5, depending on your direction). Since day 3 is right in the middle, going in either direction does not change your weather for day 3... But for the Torres, I'm glad I walked West to East because the best weather came at the end. But that was pure luck and I could have been the victim of the exact opposite situation. In any case, is not like you have a lot of flexibility. So again, pray for good weather, but if you could manage the schedule a bit, great weather is not that important in the West side of the W. Watching the glacier in not so good weather works just fine- while missing the Torres because of heavy fog could be very disappointing. By the way, it doesn't matter if you go in spring, summer or fall... you can get a storm at any time of the year.
- Some of the best views of the Cordillera Paine cannot be seen from the W circuit. It's not a bad idea to budget 1-2 extra days to have a more complete experience. I didn't do this... but I'm committed to come back to explore other areas of the park. By the way, the park is huge and the W is just a piece of it.
- You can't start a fire anywhere in the park, so no hot food for you unless purchased in the Refugios at somewhat abusive prices.
- Refugio Grey is a great place and by far my favorite Refugio. The ice trekking in the Glacier with BigFootPatagonia turned out to be amazing. I strongly recommend it.
- While people fantasize with the Torres, I found that the glacier, the Cuernos and the Nordenskjold lake are probably as interesting and beautiful.
- If you are from the US, try to stay calm and avoid jealousy when you learn that your European counterparts are taking 2, 3, 5 months off, while you're in a hurry to get the most out of your more limited vacation time.
- If you are taking a regular bus between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales upon landing at the airport, BOOK THE BUS in advance. I almost messed up all my plans for not doing this. I arrived late and there are only 1-2 buses departing Punta Arenas after 7pm. If they are full and they don't have booked passengers to pick up from the airport, they may not stop.
- There are plenty of electrical outlets in all Refugios... so you can reload your camera batteries.
- Trails are very well marked with the exception of the path between Campamento Italiano and the Mirador beyond Campamento Britanico, which is not too bad. You don't need GPS!
- Give some time to watch the fauna outside the W. There is a very nice trail starting from the Laguna Amarga gate that is full of guanacos and carcasses... the puma eats there.
- Enjoy! This is a truly phenomenal place.

Visited November 2013
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Confolens, France
Top Contributor
155 reviews 155 reviews
64 attraction reviews
Reviews in 71 cities Reviews in 71 cities
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
“Even if the weather is poor it can look terrific.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2013

A magnificent landscape and if you manage to have some fine weather with little wind then so much the better. Almost a 360degrees of mountain scenery with magnificent views from many vantage points. Things are not cheap in the park and at the peak season you will quickly need to decide what you want to do or else you may miss out if you have not pre-booked. This is quite a remote and limited season area so that partly explains the high prices.

Visited November 2013
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Santiago, Chile
19 reviews 19 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Spectacular Landscape”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2013

We had the opportunity, last summer to visit with my family, Torres del Paine National Park, in one day trip starting very early, 5.30 am, our trip began in a comfortable minibus direct to Puerto Natales, 4 hours away from Punta Arenas, region´s Capital. After a short stop there, we went on to Paine´s, where we enter the park around 11.am, a beatifull landscape and many picture breaks took us around the park, in about 7 hours, Serrano River, Grey lake wich is glacially fed, Dickson and Sarmiento´s lakes, are fantastic, many cascades and wild animals (foxes, llamas and condor) were on a close look, that´s what definitively caught our hearts and minds on this tour. lunch breaks and bathroom stops were an asset too, so We´ve only recommend to all, to come and will never forget this visit to the recognized 8th wonder of the world. To finish, we got back to Punta Arenas around 23.00 hrs. and directly to the hotel were we talked about a surprising day wich will stay in our memories forever.

Visited December 2012
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Santiago, Region Metropolitana, Chile
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2013

One of the most beautiful places i've seen in my life!
The views, fauna, flora, lakes, glaciers and amazing rivers made this trip a very special vacation.
The sounds (and the slence), the smells and the feelings become almost overwhelming due to its uniqueness and strenght.
A must see!

Visited October 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
13 reviews 13 reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“W hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 12, 2013

Torres del Paine is breathtaking! We did it in 4 nights. I found it hard to find a lot of concrete info on planning the hike, so here is a summary of what we did for people looking to plan the hike.

Day 1: Bus from PN to the park. Bus tickets are readily available & can be bought in most hostels. All morning buses leave at either 7:30 or 7:50. They get to the park at the same time. The 7:50 bus has a shorter breakfast stop, so it catches up to the earlier buses. We traveled in low season so we had no problem booking tickets the night before, but we were told that in high season you might want to book them a few days in advance. The cost is 15,000 pesos return per person (about $30USD). Bus stops at park entrance (Laguna Armaga) and you pay about 18,000 pesos per person for admission. After this some people stay on the bus and continue to catch the catamaran and others get off and start the hike from Laguna Armaga. We chose the latter. From entrance of the park you can take a minibus (for 2,500 pesos per person) to the start of the hike. Or if its nice weather we can walk the 7km along a dirt road. We walked and it ended up being a nice warm up before we hit the trail.
Once we got to the begging of the train (around the Torres Central hostel) it was all straight up for several hours. We stayed at Chileno Refugio the first night. We were not rushing on the walk that day and we arrived at Chileno at around 2:30PM
Day 2: Early wake-up at 3:45AM, quick breakfast and off to hike to the base of the Torres to witness the amazing sunrise. This is totally worth it. But make sure to bring a good headlamp since part of this up-hill hike can be treacherous! Arrive for sunrise around 6AM. Back down to Refugio by 9:30. Pick up our big packs and off to Los Cuernos Refugio. This is mostly downhill, but still a long walk. We arrived at Cuernos at 3:30PM.
Day 3: Wake up, quick breakfast and off to Italiano campsite to drop our big bags and walk up French Valley. Walk from Cuernos to Intaliano is about 1.5 hours, walk up and down French Valley is about 5 hours. After which we picked up our packs and headed to Lodge Paine Grande (another solid 2 hours).
Day 3: leisurely morning at Paine Grande, set off to Refugio Grey at 10AM. A lot of people do this as a day trip from Paine Grande. I would recommend (if you have the time) to go up to Refugio Grey and do the extra hike to get a great view of the glacier. Arrived in Refugio Grey at 1pm. Dropped off packs and walked to the Glacier mirador - 3 hours return. Definitely worth it!
Day 4: up early, out by 8am, walked back go Paine Grande and caught the catamaran at 12:30PM.

There is a lot of talk about which direction to go - for us the decision was simple. We took a look at the weather forcasts and saw that for our first 2 days at the park the weather was going to be spectacular. So we decided to do the hardest (and very beautiful) part of the walk first. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing it the opposite way (in fact many people will tell you to do it this way), but you really are leaving the most challenging parts of the hike to the very end. Personally, I'd rather get it over with first.
In terms of food at the refugios - breakfasts usually consist of runny eggs, a handful of cereal (corn flakes of some sort) and some toast. Lunches are by far the worst meals - the sandwiches all the refugios give you to go are gross - mostly mushy, soggy break with egg salad, some sort of chicken or roast beef. Dinners were by far the best meals - they are either beef or chicken, with rice or potatoes and some sort of soup and boiled veggies. We carried our breakfast & lunches with us (breakfast - instant oatmeal and there was no problem getting refugios to give us hot water and wraps, tuna and some cheese for lunches).
Also, bring lots of money in case you want to buy snacks on the trail, since all the refugios sell snacks, wine and beer!

Visited November 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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