14 Issues to Know Earlier than Trekking the Circuit in Torres Del Paine

Pin me!Torres del Paine in Chile is the cherry on high of the Patagonia expertise for many hikers. It’s onerous to high the ice discipline, horn and tower-like rock formations, and the ever altering panorama from each day of the trek.
I’ve hiked the O Circuit in Torres del Paine twice now, and it’s one in every of my favorites on the planet for the bodily challenges, the cruel however beautiful panorama, and the variety of ‘wow!’ moments.
Trekking in Torres del Paine is completely different than wherever else on the planet. You possibly can just about rely on very sturdy winds, rain, mud, and typically even snow. It sounds excessive however with the right gear and preparation it’s so much simpler to take pleasure in it. These are some things to know earlier than taking up the O circuit trek:
1. There are A number of Beginning Factors (However Simply One Course)

The bus that brings you to the park will cease on the headquarters the place you choose up your permits and register. Subsequent there will probably be a number of different buses that make a number of stops, together with the welcome middle and the Lodge Las Torres, the place I began. You can even get off on the final cease and do the Q trek, or take a ship to the Gray glacier and begin from there.
There’s no proper or flawed place to begin. Personally, I knew that I wished to do the whole O trek and most well-liked to complete with the Torres, so I began on the welcome middle. In case you’re not sure whether or not or not you wish to do the entire thing and wish to take a look at the W (the shorter trek) first, you will get the boat over and hike to Refugio Gray.
However if you happen to’re toying with doing the complete O circuit, you actually ought to!
Additionally needless to say if you happen to’re climbing the O you’ll be able to solely go in a counter clockwise route, whereas these on the W can go each methods. In case you’re doing the O, or simply contemplating it, ensure you’re going counterclockwise.
2. In Case You’re on the Fence about Going for the Full O Circuit
You possibly can solely see this when doing the complete OBy tacking on one other three days in Torres del Paine you achieve a number of issues:
A number of the most stunning components of the path are on the a part of the path that the W doesn’t cowl. Some say it’s even the perfect a part of the entire trek. Sure, it’s important to recover from the John Gardner cross, however the reward of climbing subsequent to the Southern Patagonian Ice Subject all day is so price it. You’ll get views that most individuals who go to the park don’t see.

The path is way much less crowded on the again finish of the park, and the refugios have a extra intimate really feel.
The camaraderie with the opposite hikers is less complicated to return by as a result of there are fewer individuals on the path. You have a tendency to fulfill one another, speak, hang around, and get to know one another earlier than becoming a member of the plenty on the W.
Refugio Dickson, solely on the OConvinced but? Don’t fear, you are able to do it!
The cross (an achievement price going for)Three. You Should E-book Forward of Time
Torres del Paine has elevated in recognition by 30% 12 months over 12 months. If climbing throughout excessive season, you’d be clever to guide tenting spots forward of time, which you are able to do on the town or on Fantastico Sur and Vertice Pagatonia. This wasn’t crucial after I went on the finish of March however in January and February, positively look into it.
four. Refugio, Rented Tent, or Backpack?
When reserving your campsites you’ll have the choice to simply reserve a spot the place you’d pitch your personal tent, a spot in a refugio, that are restricted, or tents which can be already pitched for you. The latter is often a bundle deal that additionally consists of your entire meals. Which do you have to go for?
In case you have the funds, the tent leases present the perfect flexibility. That is what I preferred about them:
You’ll considerably lighten your load with out having to hold meals, tenting, or cooking gear.
You don’t must arrange the tents, and so they’re usually good and massive.
The sleeping luggage have been truly fairly clear and comfortable.
The meals is fairly good at many of the refugios, although some have been a lot better than others.
In case you go for the mounted tent leases relatively than the refugios, you might have extra choices for the place to sleep, particularly Los Perros, which is the closest camp to the John Gardner cross. In any other case it’s merely an excessive amount of to try from Dickson to Gray in someday. It will be over 30km!
The largest draw back is the associated fee. In case you convey your personal gear, you’ll be paying a couple of quarter of the worth. You possibly can at all times choose to eat a few of your meals in refugios to lower your weight, but in addition take into account they may serve visitors first, so it’s not at all times assured you could eat in each refugio.
5. Vital Issues to Pack
Backpacking in Patagonia comes with a singular set of challenges that different components of the world aren’t as well-known for. In Patagonia you’ll be able to rely on heavy winds, rain, and even snow. You’ll wish to convey gear that may face up to the weather, significantly that tremendous insane wind! Hold the next in thoughts:
My tent (at Refugio Gray)It’s tempting to convey a standard tent from residence, I do know, however a typical dome tent doesn’t fare effectively within the wind in Patagonia. The very last thing you need on an Eight-day trek is to finish up with a tent you’ll be able to’t use, so get one that’s good in heavy winds.
I used an MSR tent and it labored nice. The secret is the sturdy however gentle tent poles, which is able to maintain up within the wind however received’t weigh you down tremendously. Each ounce counts when it’s important to carry Eight days price of provisions!
Insurance coverage
Get journey insurance coverage that covers climbing. This fundamental bundle covers climbing underneath 3000 meters (this trek is certainly underneath that). There isn’t a search and rescue within the park, and this can cowl you if you happen to want further assist getting out do you have to expertise an damage.
Don’t imagine anybody who tells you that trainers are simply high-quality to make use of in Torres del Paine. The path may be very muddy and rocky, and a few ankle safety plus a water-resistant shell are each necessary to conserving you dry and blister-free. Keep in mind to lace them up tight and get some good thick socks as effectively! That is the pair of trainers that I like to recommend and these are the socks I counsel.
*In case you do get blisters, Compeed is a very useful blister bandage. It’s sweat-proof, so every one can final a few days.
Climbing Poles
Take a look at these clouds! They give the impression of being that method because of the sturdy winds (this can be a view from the O circuit trek)The wind on two days of the trek in Patagonia actually lifted me up and slammed me ahead, it was so sturdy. My climbing poles saved my face by serving to me with steadiness. Additionally they assist tremendously for going downhill, particularly in case your knees are inclined to trouble you on lengthy hikes, or if that is the primary one you’re making an attempt.
Like with the tent poles, sturdy however gentle ones are nice to have alongside. Low-cost ones break rapidly. These are those I used.
Waterproof Your Backpack
A rain cowl isn’t very helpful in Patagonia. Because of the wind, they both blow proper off or make tons of noise in your ears because the wind runs via them. Because the wind severely does attain 100km/hour and over, they’ll blow proper off after which turn out to be litter within the park. No one needs that!
The answer is to line your backpack with a bin liner/trash bag and to wrap all the pieces inside in its personal bag as effectively.
It’s okay if the backpack will get moist. It’ll dry out within the wind and so they’re made to be resilient. The stuff inside will keep dry with the double bag safety. Glad days!
What Ought to You Eat?
Breakfasts in a bagAll the powdered meals!
I do know that’s not very thrilling, however in all seriousness, cans, packaged sauces, and something that creates loads of waste will probably be heavy and annoying on the path. Meals is the heaviest merchandise on an Eight-day trek, so it’s important to chop weight wherever doable. There’s a lot water obtainable all over the place alongside the path, flowing from each glacier and stream, so shopping for issues that simply should be rehydrated works finest.
It’s additionally useful to pack lunches that don’t should be cooked you could snack on whereas transferring or throughout quick breaks. I’d counsel fruit and nuts. They pack plenty of vitality and energy for his or her weight.
One among my lunch bagsHere’s my meals checklist for Eight days (think about that parts rely in your private meals consumption, and take into account you’ll be exercising so much):
1 portion per day of oatmeal with powdered milk, milo, and dried fruit inside
16 luggage of tea
2-Three kilos of nuts and dried fruit for lunches
16 Snickers bars (oh yeah I did)
150 grams of pasta, couscous, or powdered mashed potatoes for dinner per night time +1 emergency pasta (simply in case)
Eight packets of dried soup + dried pasta sauce (tomato soup additionally works)
Small quantities of cheese or salami to taste pasta (or herbs and dried veggies, if you’ll find them, if you happen to’re plant-based)
You should buy the entire meals you’ll want within the retailers in Puerto Natales. I urge you to buy on the small, impartial grocers and break up your purchasing between just a few shops. There’s even a devoted fruit and nut store with dried mango and melon!
6. What Else to Carry (and How one can Lighten Your Load)
one week’s price of meals and kit in PatagoniaSo what else goes into your pack? Likelihood is 80% of it will likely be full with meals, and I’d additionally convey alongside:
1 small first-aid equipment
Solely 2 modifications of garments – one for climbing and one for sleeping (sure you’ll put on the identical nasty climbing garments every day – there’s no level in bringing extra clothes as a result of the brand new stuff will get sweaty and smelly inside the first 5 minutes of your hike in any case). Nonetheless convey one further pair of socks and sufficient underwear for the journey.
1 small and light-weight sleeping bag. These can get pricey, I do know! However you want one thing that doesn’t weigh a lot and may hold you heat in sub-zero temps, which you may encounter on the trek.
1 SteriPEN – the quantity of park guests has been rising by 30% 12 months over 12 months. Folks don’t at all times respect the foundations round water (ie: no bathing or washing immediately within the streams) and a few individuals have gotten sick from the water at Campamento Torres. You possibly can keep away from any points by sterilizing your water.
1 Thick sleeping mat
2-Three gasoline canisters for cooking with the small grill on high (depending on how a lot tea you’ll drink or if you happen to convey rice or longer-cooking meals)
1 Foldable, light-weight pasta strainer and pot combo
1 pack towel
1 hat for solar safety and to maintain your ears heat
sun shades
camp footwear to offer your ft a break from climbing footwear when in camp
1 headlamp
1 battery energy pack
One thing to place water in. I selected a camelback.
Small toiletries and sunscreen!
I additionally introduced alongside my digital camera, after all, and a number of other further digital camera batteries. You could find out extra about my digital camera gear right here.
You possibly can lighten your load by consuming at among the refugios. The meals is nice at Refugio Dickson, particularly.
You can even purchase some provides as you go alongside. Don’t rely on it, however know that it’s typically doable to get extra meals and snacks if crucial.
7. Loos and Showers
Some camps have good, sizzling showers that you should utilize alongside the trek. It’s a lot simpler to get some bathe time within the much less crowded camps that aren’t a part of the W, although among the bigger refugios on the W half have extra lavatory choices.
I’ve seen an enormous distinction within the measurement of the refugios and availability of restrooms and showers because the first time I did the trek. The whole lot is rising and the services are solely getting higher. My absolute favourite bathe was at Frances, and the worst remains to be Los Perros, which is chilly and never price it!
The free camps don’t have facilities like showers and typically don’t have bathrooms that flush, however they’re sometimes in actually stunning settings (and so they’re free!).
Eight. How one can Tempo Your self/Itinerary Planning
What number of days do you have to spend on the path? How lengthy will it take you go full? I’ve carried out it two methods, spending Eight days climbing and 9 days. In each circumstances, the day that I crossed the John Gardner cross was the longest, most exhausting day. The massive distinction between the 2 was splitting up the day that adopted into two the second time round.
The times on the again finish of the O are fairly lengthy, and also you by no means actually know what sort of climate chances are you’ll get, so a buffer could be a good suggestion simply in case. I personally am at all times completely happy to spend extra time in nature, however if you happen to’re pressed for time, you are able to do all of it in Eight days.
I’ve a day-to-day itinerary right here, you may as well obtain the PDF beneath:

10. Leaving No Hint
We will’t speak about backpacking within the wilderness with out disussing leaving no hint. The largest challenge proper now in Torres del Paine is erosion of the paths. It might not seem to be an enormous deal, however ‘social trails’ left by individuals attempting to keep away from mud may cause irreparable injury. Except I’m going to get completely soaked or coated in mud, I step proper within the mud and hold going. My footwear are waterproof so it’s no drawback, proper?
The water in Patagonia is among the cleanest on the planet, but some camps which have needed to shut down attributable to sanitation points. Why does this occur? Please hold the next in thoughts to do your half:
By no means wash dishes, garments, or your self in rivers. It has to stream to someplace, proper? Take water at the least 100 meters/ft away first.
Please solely use the bogs on the path until it’s an absolute emergency, and at all times pack out your TP.
Don’t swim within the rivers or lakes. It’s prohibited in Torres del Paine.
11. Avoiding Crowds at Las Torres
The towers are the park’s hottest function. Most day hikers who’re solely going to see one factor within the park hike to the towers. On condition that, it may be onerous to see them with out a crowd of different individuals, so listed below are some ideas:
Go at off-times:
AfternoonI know that you simply may suppose I’m loopy for suggesting this, particularly after the lengthy hike to get to the camp on the base of the Torres, however it’s so price climbing as much as the highest twice you probably have time – as soon as within the afternoon and as soon as within the morning for dawn. In case you can’t get reservations at Chileno for the ultimate night time, chances are you’ll not have a lot of a alternative. No one is allowed to try to hike up after 3pm. That is to ensure no one camps up there, which is truthful TBH.
Nonetheless if you happen to run out of time, you’ll be able to at all times make it again up for the morning from Campamento Central or Chileno.
My tip for avoiding the crowds is to go up whereas it’s nonetheless darkish earlier than the solar rises. Nonetheless I’d NOT advocate this alone and if you happen to do determine to go, it’s finest to go together with somebody who has already been up there. I led a bunch as much as the highest and it’s good that I already knew the best way. When it’s darkish all it’s important to go on are the reflective markers.
That mentioned, we bought to the highest round 5am to see the Milky Approach going proper via the towers and no one was there but. Most individuals present up all through the day beginning with the dawn.
12. How Arduous is the O Actually?
It’s onerous to charge the issue of a trek, since such issues are subjective, however I’d say the O Circuit in Torres del Paine is a average trek. Some days are fairly lengthy, nevertheless, and also you’ll be in your ft for many of the day, which could be exhausting.
The toughest half for me is coming down from the John Gardner cross because it’s such a protracted and steep downhill. Others additionally really feel that the Torres are a tricky ending as effectively.
It takes about 30-45 minutes to climb to the bottom of the Torres from the Las Torres ranger station and about 2-Three hours from Chileno. It’s steep, however if you happen to’ve already carried out Fitz Roy, I can guarantee you it’s not almost as unhealthy.
The Torres earlier than the solar rose the following morningBesides, transferring retains you heat. It was snowing after I reached the bottom of the Torres in late March the primary time!
13. Deal with Your self to Extra Days within the Park Afterwards
One of many excursions on the Lodge Las Torres that I stayed atI stayed on the Lodge Las Torres within the park proper after the trek each occasions I’ve carried out it now and it was the perfect resolution ever. The meals was nice (it’s all-inclusive) as have been the drinks and the actions. They even develop all of their very own veggies in an natural backyard, which is SO WELCOME after Eight days of path meals.
It’s so good to remain someplace comfy for just a few days after ending an Eight-day trek, and although that is positively fancier than a tent, it’s a very welcome change. I additionally actually preferred that it included horseback driving and some treks that aren’t on the same old TDP menu. (you’ll be able to guide a keep right here).
Such a cool expertise to see it from hereOne big advantage of staying on the Lodge Las Torres, other than the consolation, is entry to this superb viewpoint.
It’s referred to as the Puma trek and it sits on the resort’s property. It’s additionally one of many steepest and hardest treks in the whole park. We went there the day after ending the Eight-day trek and I used to be positively sore after!
14. Take a Full Paine Tour Afterwards
 The day after the trek I’ve carried out a full Paine bus tour with the Lodge Las Torres twice now, and twice I cherished it. There’s simply no higher approach to see the components of the expertise you miss from the path. There are such a lot of completely different angles and views that you simply get by overlaying extra floor with the tour, and it’s a pleasant likelihood to let your physique take a break, too.

There are loads of picturesque locations within the park that you simply don’t see when trekking on the circuit path. The park is totally stuffed with lakes of all colours, glaciers, completely different viewpoints, and even waterfalls.
The complete Paine tour additionally features a boat journey to the Gray Glacier, for one more nice perspective.
Most of that is accessible by automotive, so in lieu of renting one your self and driving it via the park, you’ll be able to take a day tour from Puerto Natales or in my case, as a part of staying on the Lodge Las Torres.
Lastly, if you wish to do that trek however aren’t assured doing it by yourself or simply wish to be with a bunch of fantastic girls, I’ll be operating one other Patagonia tour in mid-February 2020 together with a keep on the Lodge Las Torres, the entire logistics discovered for you, tents, meals, and all the pieces else offered so that you simply don’t have to hold it, pictures workshops, and professional guides (like me!). You possibly can study extra right here.
Glad trekking!
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