They say that hiking in the Torres Del Paine National Park is a once in a lifetime experience. What they forgot to mention was how this once in a lifetime experience was going to cost you an arm and a leg. Everything is grossly overpriced in the TDP national park, from park entrance to accommodations (a bed in a shared dorm at Refugio Centro is USD 48) to food (a simple boxed lunch of sandwich, a cereal bar, a small packet of nuts and one fruit would set you back by USD36 each). The staff couldn't even get our boxed lunch orders right - we ended up with vegetarian sandwiches.
Fantastico Sur clearly holds a monopoly in the TDP and with few other options to choose from, one has to either opt for an expensive shared dorm or an expensive campsite. There are no electricity outlets in the Refugio because, and I quote staff as saying, "they care about the environment". That's all well but you can't help but notice both employee computers left on all day and staff using it to surf Facebook. Funny way to conserve energy.
You can probably get better food at a public school cafeteria than at Refugio Torre Central (we had breakfast, dinner and ordered a boxed lunch). Dinner was a whopping USD24 for a set meal which left many feeling dissatisfied (we saw many diners skipping dessert). Most items on the menu were also canned items, e.g. canned tomato soup, fruit cocktail from a tin etc so food quality is low. For much better food in the same price range, head to Hotel Los Torres, which is about 20 minutes away. They use organic vegetables and good-quality meats in their dishes.
If you ask me, I'll say give the dorms a miss and go for a campsite where possible (or splurge and stay in Hotel Los Torres). The shared dorms weren't that comfortable anyway. If you like, you can dine at the refugio even if you're camping. Also, remember to bring your own food - we arrived in the national park direct from the Argentinian border and were not allowed to carry fresh food with us or we would have.
Hikers won't have much of a choice when it comes to accommodations or food in TDP, so most will probably end up at one of the refugios anyway, but hopefully this review serves to manage expectations.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Refugio Torre Central is located in "las Torres" sector, at the beginning of the W trek, you may access from Laguna Amarga (entrance to the park), taking the shuttles from this point to las torres. Next to Torre Central there is Torre Norte Refugio (for 60 people is the first FS refugio built in the 90´s), where guests must make their check in and have their meals at Refugio Torre Central.Torre Central is a very well equipped Refugio for 60 people, with Shop, Restaurant, Bar, shared rooms for 6, shared bathrooms and central heating.We are an eco friendly company so we do not have high demand devices; here we have a diesel engine to produce energy that we save in our batteries system, we invite you to help us to take care of it. Useful info: bring sandals for showers, towel (rental available).For tax exemption, do not forget to bring your passport, immigration card given when enter to Chile and foreign currency (tax exemption not available for camping guests) ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Refugio Torre Central-Torres Del Paine Hotel Torres Del Paine
- Refugio Torre Central-Torres Del Paine Aisen Region/Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile