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Torres del Paine Patagonia Chile: Hiking the Famous W Circuit; Weather, Costs and Accommodation

It’s small wonder tourists flock to Torres del Paine National Park. A UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1978 it’s a treat for the eyes even just driving through the entrance. Spectacular snow capped peaks, golden expanses of pampa and grazing gunacos are a taster of the dramatic countryside that will unfold in only 4 days on the “W “circuit or the longer 7 day “Circuit” trail.

The scenery won’t disappoint but to get the most from your visit there are some things to be aware of and to include in your plans.

When to Go

The popular months are spring/summer months November to February. Unfortunatley visitor numbers are not restricted and foot traffic is particulary heavy from December to February. To avoid crowds a better time to visit is March and April, also the infamous Patagonian winds are less fierce. However whenever you visit snow can occur anytime and the weather is very unpredicable.

Book Accommodation in Advance

Booking are essential in the peak season. The following operators accept reservations;

  • Fantastico Sur who operate three refugios – Las Torres, Los Cuernos and El Chileno. All three offer accommodation and meals
  • Vertice Patagonia for Paine Grande Lodge and it doesn’t say on the website, Lake Grey Refugio.
  • Refugio Dickson as well as all the above refugios can be booked on this website.

Park Prices

Prices for basic refugio accommodation, restaurant meals, drinks at the bar and store purchases of goods are much higher than in the rest of the country. It’s advisable to bring in as much supplies as possible. However if you want to travel light and sleep and eat at refugios it will cost about USD80 per day.

Typical daily costs are as follows;

  • A dorm bed in a refugio CLP20,000 (USD44).
  • Refugio meals – Breakfast CLP3,500 (USD9), Lunch and dinner 8,000 (USD18) each.
  • Full Board CLP38,000 (USD83) for a dorm bed and 3 meals.

Other Costs

  • Park entrance fee is CLP15,000 (USD33)
  • Catamaran across Lake Pehoe CLP11,000 (USD25)

Rent of camping equipment

Camping equipment can be rented from Puerto Natales or from the refugios. Camping is better to avoid long days on the circuit to get to the next Refugio and to see special places at sunrise. You don’t have to book to campsites but like the refugios are crowded in the high season. Costs of renting camping equipment;

  • Tent CLP7,000 (USD16)
  • Sleeping bag CLP4,500 (USD10)
  • Mat CLP1,500 (USD3)

Additional costs apply if mice chew the tent. Also it pays to check rental equipment carefully for damage or wear as a leaking tent on a cold rainy night is no fun.

Other Information

  • Mice can be a problem whether you sleep in a tent or the refugios. They are attracted by the smell of food. If camping wrap food in plastic bags and place it in a strong bag (tent bag) and hang it from a tree. A plastic bag is too flimsy and birds easily peck it and spill the content on the ground attracting mice.
  • The weather is extremely changeable and can snow at anytime and be very cold and wet. Ensure you have good quality wet weather jacket and pants as well as warm clothing.

Puerto Natales

This town is the gateway to Torres del Paine. From there you can take a variety of tours like trekking on Glacier Grey or a day tour to the Park. There is a full range of accommodation, camping equipment rental outlets and Park maps.

 

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