Torres del Paine

Chile's Premier National Park and Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park

By Rudolf Abraham

Guidebook to trekking Chile's 10 to 11-day Torres del Paine Circuit, one of the world's great treks. Also included are a shorter Half Circuit (4 to 5 days), further treks and day walks in the Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks, centred around Puerto Natales. Includes information on linking routes, travel and accommodation.

Seasons

Seasons

December-April. January-February is high season, when most visitors arrive, so can be a little crowded. Overall March is best.
Centres

Centres

Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine, and also the base for short trips to the Balmaceda Glacier and Sierra Baguales. There are multiple bases in the national park itself.
Difficulty

Difficulty

No technical difficulties, but the Torres del Paine Circuit is a long and, at times, remote undertaking from which there is no convenient exit point half way through. Sudden changes in weather, gale force winds and torrential rain can turn it into a far more difficult undertaking.
Must See

Must See

The magnificent granite spires of the 'towers' (Torres), and distinctive, banded form of the 'horns' (Cuernos); vast glaciers (Grey, Tyndall and Dickson) spilling out from the largest sheet of ice in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica; beautifully unspoilt southern beech or lenga forest; rich and varied animal and birdlife; remote valleys and immense, cloud-streaked skies.
ISBN
9781852848408
Availability
Published
Published
11 Aug 2016
Reprinted
11 Sep 2018
Edition
Second
Pages
192
Size
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.2cm
Weight
240g
  • Overview

    Guidebook to walking and trekking in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park and Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park, areas of Patagonia. Eight different walks and treks are described, including the 10-11 day Torres del Paine Circuit, one of the world’s great treks, as well as the shorter Half Circuit (4-5 days). The guide also includes other multi day treks and several day walks, as well as excursions from both Puerto Natales and El Calafate.

    The 140km Torres del Paine 'O' Circuit in the far southern Andes is a long-distance trek of staggering beauty, as it circuits the Paine massif. This route typically takes 10-11 days to complete and is suitable for competent trekkers. While Torres del Paine National Park offers a remote wilderness, walking is easily accessible with clear trails, good public transport and regular mountain huts and campsites.

    The guidebook helps walkers and trekkers venture into Patagonia with confidence, and includes advice on getting to and around the regions, languages, visa, currency, accommodation facilities in the National Parks as well as useful guidance on what to take and expect on the treks. Full background information on the geology, history, wildlife, flora and cultures of the regions are also explored, resulting in an excellent companion guide to walking and trekking in Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares.

  • Contents

    Contents
    Introduction
    Geography and geology
    Climate
    Wildlife and plants
    History and culture
    Early exploration and mountaineering
    Getting to Chile
    Transport within Chile
    Agencies and tour operators
    Visas and arrival
    Accommodation
    Language
    Food and drink
    Money and costs
    Keeping in touch
    Safety
    About this guide
    Trekking in Torres del Paine national park
    Refugios, campsites and hotels
    Transport to and around the park
    Maps
    Equipment
    Low-impact trekking
    What to do in an emergency
    Torres del Paine national park, Chile
    Walk 1: Torres del Paine circuit (the ‘O’)
    Stage 1 CONAF Administración – Refugio Paine Grande
    Stage 2 Refugio Paine Grande – Campamento Italiano
    Stage 3 Campamento Italiano – Valle Francés (return)
    Stage 4 Campamento Italiano – Refugio Las Torres
    Stage 5 Refugio Las Torres – El Chileno
    Stage 6 El Chileno – Mirador Las Torres (return)
    Stage 7 El Chileno – Campamento Japonés (return)
    Stage 8 El Chileno – Refugio Las Torres
    Stage 9 Refugio Las Torres – Campamento Serón
    Stage 10 Campamento Serón – Refugio Dickson
    Stage 11 Refugio Dickson – Campamento Los Perros
    Stage 12 Campamento Los Perros – Campamento Paso
    Stage 13 Campamento Paso – Refugio Grey
    Stage 14 Refugio Grey – Refugio Paine Grande
    Walk 2 Torres del Paine half-circuit (the ‘W’)
    Stage 1 Refugio Las Torres – Mirador Las Torres (return)
    Stage 2 Refugio Las Torres – Campamento Italiano
    Stage 3 Campamento Italiano – Valle Francés (return)
    Stage 4 Campamento Italiano – Refugio Grey
    Stage 5 Refugio Grey – Refugio Paine Grande
    Walk 3 Salto Grande and Mirador Los Cuernos
    Walk 4 Puente Weber
    Walk 5 Mirador Lago Toro and Laguna Verde
    Walk 6 Mirador Cóndor
    Walk 7 Río Pingo and Mirador Zapata
    Stage 1 Guardería Lago Grey – Campamento Zapata
    Stage 2 Campamento Zapata – Mirador Zapata (return)
    Stage 3 Campamento Zapata – Guardería Lago Grey
    Other walks within the national park
    Laguna Amarga – Portería Sarmiento
    Laguna Azul and trail to Lago Dickson
    Excursions from Puerto Natales
    Excursion 1 Cueva del Milodón
    Excursion 2 Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers (Bernard O’Higgins national park)
    Excursion 3 Sierra Baguales
    Los Glaciares national park, Argentina
    Excursion from El Calafate
    Excursion 4 Perito Moreno glacier
    Walk 8 Cerro Fitzroy (El Chaltén) and Cerro Torre
    Stage 1 El Chaltén – Campamento Agostini
    Stage 2 Campamento Agostini – Campamento Poincenot
    Stage 3 Campamento Poincenot – Laguna de los Tres (return)
    Stage 4 Campamento Poincenot – Laguna Piedas Blancas (return)
    Stage 5 Campamento Poincenot – El Chaltén

    Appendix A Gateway towns and cities
    Appendix B Accommodation within Torres del Paine national park
    Appendix C Language notes and glossary
    Appendix D Contacts and online resources
    Appendix E Further reading

  • Updates
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    April 2017

    There have been two major changes to the regulations for hiking in Torres del Paine national Park, which apply to both the Circuit and the 'W'. As of 2016 it is now mandatory to book all accommodation before arriving in the park (easiest done through the two companies that run the campsites and refugios, Fantastico Sur and Vertice; and the Circuit can only be walked anticlockwise (ie the way it is described in this guide).

    Also the 'new' Camp Francés, mentioned in the guidebook, also has 3 geodomes, each sleeping up to 8 people – meaning that it is possible to do the 'W' without needing to camp.

    Thank you to Mirrlees Dolley for this information.

    November 2017

    Unfortunately, as of 1 November 2017, it is no longer possible to walk from the Conaf Administration to Refugio Paine Grande – this route (Walk 1 / Stage 1) can now only be walked in reverse, ie as an exit from the W or Circuit, and not (as previously) as an entry point for the Q as described in the guidebook.

    Also, Conaf have stated that the free campsite, Campamento Torres, requires mandatory booking in January/February (' You can book in Puerto Natales, at CONAF’s Provincial Office or in the park, at the Porteria Laguna Amarga entrance or at CONAF’s Campamento Italiano. Bookings must be done in person and are operated on a first-come first-served policy.') A local guide however described it as 'closed'. The author is currently trying to find the status of this campsite from Conaf.

    (Thanks to Alison Bramhall for sending in this information)

    April 2017

    There have been two major changes to the regulations for hiking in Torres del Paine national Park, which apply to both the Circuit and the 'W'. As of 2016 it is now mandatory to book all accommodation before arriving in the park (easiest done through the two companies that run the campsites and refugios, Fantastico Sur and Vertice; and the Circuit can only be walked anticlockwise (ie the way it is described in this guide).

    Also the 'new' Camp Francés, mentioned in the guidebook, also has 3 geodomes, each sleeping up to 8 people – meaning that it is possible to do the 'W' without needing to camp.

    Thank you to Mirrlees Dolley for this information.

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Rudolf Abraham Author Photo

Rudolf Abraham

Rudolf Abraham is an award-winning travel writer and photographer specialising in Croatia, Central and Eastern Europe. He is the author of over 10 books including Peaks of the Balkans, The Islands of Croatia, The Mountains of Montenegro, Walking in Croatia and St Oswald's Way and St Cuthbert's Way. His work is published widely in magazines and online, including Arts Society Review, BBC Countryfile, BBC Travel, France Magazine, Geographical, Hidden Europe, The Independent, Morning Calm, Mountain Pro, The National, National Geographic Traveller, OE, The Telegraph, TGO, Top Trails etc. He first visited Croatia in the late 1990s, lived there for two years, and has been returning to his favourite corner of Europe ever since.

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