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Itinerary Question

Which Torres del Paine National Park hotels are on sale?
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San Jose
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Itinerary Question

Hi, I have 6.5 days in Patagonia so I need your help to create my itinerary.

1. I arrive at Punta Arenas on April 11th at 10am. I want to rent a car and stay inside the park and sleep 3 nights at Rio Serrano, Lago Grey, Torres de la Patagonia or EcoCamp Patagonia. Prices are really similar so, if you remove that factor, and the factor that I will use the car to move arround, which one do you reccomend?

2. I'm totally lost of what to do inside the Park, I can hike a little bit, maybe 4-5 hour total per day, but I hurt my knee last year so I won't do anything too far or too complicated, that's why I think a car can help me save a few kilometers between places. What treks do you reccomend for three days?

3. After that, I want to go to see the Perito Moreno and sleep one night at el Calafate so I will have too days that I read is enough to do the highlights of the place. Is there any car drop near TDP? Or should I retur to Punta Arenas to drop it off and then return back to el Calafate?

4. With those two places in my itinerary, I have two full days that I don't know what to do. I want to see wildlife but I know in April is almost impossible, maybe a daytrip in a boat to see the fiords. I read about a National Park I believe is close to El Chalten where you can see a lot of glaciers. What do you reccomend? please nothing related to horses or farms, I have those at home :-D

Thanks

San Jose
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257 posts
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1. Re: Itinerary Question

To clarify a couple of things. when I say wildlife I mean Marine WildLife. I know that I will see flamingoes and guanacos inside the park

I read some vague information that you can transfer the car to Argentina but it's quite complicated, I don't think I would need a car at El Calafate but maybe is a good choice. what do you think?

Cologne, Germany
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2. Re: Itinerary Question

Hi,

some weeks ago I had contact with Hertz. They told me, that it is not possible to hire the car in Punta Arenas and drop it in El Calafate.

Regards

Edited: 3:29 pm, February 03, 2014
San Jose
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257 posts
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3. Re: Itinerary Question

I was thinking to take the cae to el calafate and back to Punta arenas. I read that this can be done. Regarding hogels, is IT wise to be one night un lake grey and two more nights maybe un ecocamp?

California
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4. Re: Itinerary Question

Hello. I've been to both Perito Moreno and Torres del Paine. Before you plan your trip by car, I think it's a good idea to check kayak.com and carrentals.com to see what agencies rent cars in Punta Arenas. Then, call the international representative at these companies to see if you really can take your rental car from Punta Arenas into Argentina. You will also have to go through border control and probably pay the visitor fee for Argentina (about $140 or so), and I'm not sure you can even do this at the border or use your credit card . I read that tour companies that take people to the Perito Moreno glacier from Puerto Natales make sure that you've already paid this Argentine tax online before the tour. If you drive yourself, you will also need to stop at an ATM in El Calafate to get Argentine pesos, since they only accept cash to get into Perito Moreno. The trip to Perito Moreno from Punta Arenas takes at least 12 hours or more total, so this is a LONG trip. You definitely don't want to drive this at night, and you will only have about 12 hours of daylight in April. You probably won't get into your rental car until about noon in Punta Arenas, and it's 5 hours to just get to Puerto Natales. It's crucial that you fill up with gas in Puerto Natales since there are no gas stations inside Torres del Paine or on the way there. You also should stop at the grocery store in Puerto Natales to buy bottled water since you can't buy it in the park. It will be about 6 P.M. by this time, and it takes another 3-3 1/2 hours to go to EcoCamp or Hotel Las Torres. It's a bad idea to arrive in the park in the dark, since signs aren't lit up and the one to Hotel Las Torres and EcoCamp was blown apart when we were there in November. So, I think it's a good idea to spend your first night in Puerto Natales. You can either arrange a day trip to Perito Moreno glacier out of Puerto Natales or leave the next day to drive to El Calafate if your rental company allows this. The best hiking on non-strenuous trails in Torres del Paine leaves right outside Hotel Las Torres. Just take the trail to Lago Nordernskjold and walk about 2 hours to the lake, returning the same way. Eco Camp is close to the Hotel Las Torres. Another great walk is the Mirador de Cuernos, a gorgeous mostly level walk that passes by the Salto Grande waterfall and shows you the wonderful Cuernos peaks if your day is not so overcast that the peaks are socked in. There is very little walking at the Hotel Lago Grey. You can only go on the Pingo trail with a guide. You can go on a short walk through a pretty beech forest to the boat launch, where you can take a boat to the Lago Grey glacier. You'll need to check the Hotel Lago Grey website under Navigation to see what the boat schedule is in April. I don't know how common this is, but it was much windier at Hotel Lago Grey than at the Hotel Las Torres the two times we went to Lago Grey. It's a much simpler hotel than the Hotel Las Torres. There are no walking trails that leave from the Hotel Rio Serrano. By the way, the penguins will no longer be at the tourist sights near Punta Arenas. If you have a morning flight from Punta Arenas, I highly recommend a wonderful b&b called La Casa Escondida about 10 minutes from the airport. As part of their service, they will take you to the airport and even help you return your rental car on time (the rental car counters are not open all of the time since it is such a small airport).

Santiago, Chile
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5. Re: Itinerary Question

OK, let's clear up a few things as some of the times are off in the last post. If you have a USA passport you need to pay the US$160 reciprocity fee online before you head for the Argentine border. I recommend reading up on it on the Argentina forum, where it has a lot of posts.

Many, but not all, car hire companies will allow you to take a car into Argentina, however there is paperwork to be done beforehand so you need to book in advance and let them know your plans. You need a notarized permission to take a car which is not yours across an international border, plus insurance for Argentina. It usually takes at least a couple of days to process.

From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales takes 3 hours. From Puerto Natales to the park entrance at Laguna Amarga is about another 2 hours, to Rio Serrano (outside the park) less. To drive to El Calafate from Puerto Natales to see the Perito Moreno glacier will take about 5 hours, depending on delays at the border, and the same to return, so it is a very long day trip. It would be much better to stay the night.

The Hotel Las Torres is only 7 kms from the Laguna Amarga park entrance and they will pick you up if you are staying there should you not have your own transport. Since the trail for the lookout point of the towers starts by the hotel, others also use this transport to get from the entrance to the start of this trail or simply hike to it.

What you do need to do is sort your lodging for April. Not all places stay 100% open, refugios close.

California
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6. Re: Itinerary Question

Hello. I'm sorry if I caused any confusion in my last post. It took us about 3 1/2 hours to drive from Punta Arenas airport to Puerto Natales; another about 1 1/2 hours to get gas, buy food and water, and grab a quick meal at a café in Puerto Natales; then, it took about 3-3 1/2 hours to drive from Puerto Natales to Hotel Las Torres. We rarely stopped at all along the way, maybe 10 minutes between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales and another 10 minutes between Puerto Natales and Hotel Las Torres. If Rua gets the car at about noon at Punta Arenas airport, it would be dark by the time of arrival at Hotel Las Torres or EcoCamp, a scary situation. So, I agree with dancingmolly that it is better and safer to spend the first night in Puerto Natales. The next day, Rua can drive to EcoCamp and still have time for an afternoon hike, or Rua can cross the border into El Calafate if the rental car is allowed to go there. Good luck with your trip. It's a wonderful part of the world, but be sure to take warm clothes, rain pants, and a good rain/wind jacket.

San Jose
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257 posts
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7. Re: Itinerary Question

Thanks To all of you, in the end I'm 90% decided with the following itinerary:

Day 1: arrive at Punta Arenas at 10 am and take a bus to Pto Natales to spend the night there.

Day 2: Take a bus to el Calafate and spend the afternoon and night there.

Day 3: Spend the entire day and night at el Calafate.

Day 4: Take the bus to Puerto Natales, arround 1-2pm rent a car with Emsa Rent a Car and get straight to Hotel Las Torres

Day 5: TDP Treking

Day 6: TDP Treking

Day 7: Do something in TDP or maybe visit somethig nice on our way back, drop the car and spend the night at Punta Arenas

Day 8: fly to Santiago.

The only thing left is obtain a confirmation for the car rental. Emsa is not answering my emails and kayak is telling me that there is no cars for rent at Pto Natales.

Santiago, Chile
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8. Re: Itinerary Question

You will have to check bus timetables for April as there will be fewer buses than in high season, but it looks fine. Companies in Patagonia are not good at answering emails in high season (or to be honest, any time) as they get too many and can't cope. Any chance you could phone later in the month?

California
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9. Re: Itinerary Question

Hello. Your trip sounds fun. I saw that Emsa car rental in Puerto Natales is closed on Sundays and only open for 3 hours on Saturdays, so maybe they will e-mail you after the weekend. Since we stayed at Hotel Las Torres last November, can I give you a few ideas? When you order food in the bar or restaurant, tell the waiter or bartender that you're staying in the hotel so you won't be charged the much higher prices for people not staying at Hotel Las Torres. This hotel has really good weather information posted at the front desk by a website called www.mountain-forecast.com. It's really accurate, and we used it a lot to help us plan our hikes. If you want a short hike that's easy on your knees and you want to escape the wind, there is a pretty trail that leaves right from the Hotel Las Torres parking lot (go past the kiosk and look for a sign that says something like Sendero Interpretano). The trail goes through a pretty forest and a small wetland. In November, there were several birds along the trail, but I don't know if they'll be there in April. When you enter the park and pay your entrance fee, you will be given an excellent map that shows all of the hiking trails and even shows you where it's really windy in the park. We saw Andean condors flying over Lago Nordernskjold when we reached that beautiful, turquioise lake. If you have a rainy day or afternoon and want to leave the hotel and can't hike, you can do what we did and drive to Laguna Azul. Along the way, we saw hundreds of guanacos and some rheas in one section. I don't know if they'll be there in April. It's a pretty drive. There is also a hiking trail that leaves from Laguna Azul if it's not raining when you get there. Have a great trip!

San Jose
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257 posts
61 reviews
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10. Re: Itinerary Question

Thanks to all of you for your help