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

Pin me!Torres del Paine in Chile is the cherry on prime of the Patagonia expertise for many hikers. It’s arduous to prime the ice discipline, horn and tower-like rock formations, and the ever altering panorama from day after day of the trek.
I’ve hiked the O Circuit in Torres del Paine twice now, and it’s certainly one of my favorites on the planet for the bodily challenges, the tough however gorgeous panorama, and the variety of ‘wow!’ moments.
Trekking in Torres del Paine is completely different than wherever else on the planet. You’ll be able to just about rely on very robust winds, rain, mud, and generally even snow. It sounds excessive however with the right gear and preparation it’s so much simpler to get pleasure from 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 Route)

The bus that brings you to the park will cease on the headquarters the place you choose up your permits and sign up. Subsequent there can be a number of different buses that make a number of stops, together with the welcome heart and the Lodge Las Torres, the place I began. You too can 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 mistaken place to begin. Personally, I knew that I wished to do the complete O trek and most popular to complete with the Torres, so I began on the welcome heart. For those who’re not sure whether or not or not you need to do the entire thing and need to check the W (the shorter trek) first, you may get the boat over and hike to Refugio Gray.
However when you’re toying with doing the total O circuit, you actually ought to!
Additionally understand that when you’re mountain climbing the O you may solely go in a counter clockwise path, whereas these on the W can go each methods. For those who’re doing the O, or simply contemplating it, be sure you’re going counterclockwise.
2. In Case You’re on the Fence about Going for the Full O Circuit
You’ll be able to solely see this when doing the total OBy tacking on one other three days in Torres del Paine you acquire a number of issues:
A few of the most stunning elements of the path are on the a part of the path that the W doesn’t cowl. Some say it’s even one of the best a part of the entire trek. Sure, it’s a must to recover from the John Gardner move, however the reward of mountain climbing subsequent to the Southern Patagonian Ice Area all day is so price it. You’ll get views that most individuals who go to the park don’t see.

The path is far 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 come back by as a result of there are fewer folks 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 lots on the W.
Refugio Dickson, solely on the OConvinced but? Don’t fear, you are able to do it!
The move (an achievement price going for)Three. You Should Guide Forward of Time
Torres del Paine has elevated in recognition by 30% yr over yr. If mountain climbing throughout excessive season, you’d be smart to e book tenting spots forward of time, which you are able to do on the town or on Fantastico Sur and Vertice Pagatonia. This wasn’t vital after I went on the finish of March however in January and February, undoubtedly look into it.
four. Refugio, Rented Tent, or Backpack?
When reserving your campsites you’ll have the choice to only reserve a spot the place you’d pitch your personal tent, a spot in a refugio, that are restricted, or tents which might be already pitched for you. The latter is usually a bundle deal that additionally consists of your entire meals. Which do you have to go for?
When you have the price range, the tent leases present one of the best flexibility. That is what I favored about them:
You’ll considerably lighten your load with out having to hold meals, tenting, or cooking gear.
You don’t need to arrange the tents, they usually’re typically good and massive.
The sleeping baggage have been really fairly clear and comfortable.
The meals is fairly good at many of the refugios, although some have been a lot better than others.
For those who go for the fastened tent leases moderately than the refugios, you have got extra choices for the place to sleep, particularly Los Perros, which is the closest camp to the John Gardner move. In any other case it’s merely an excessive amount of to try from Dickson to Gray in at some point. It will be over 30km!
The largest draw back is the price. For those who carry your personal gear, you’ll be paying a few quarter of the value. You’ll be able to all the time choose to eat a few of your meals in refugios to lower your weight, but in addition take into accout they’ll serve friends first, so it’s not all the time assured you could eat in each refugio.
5. Essential Issues to Pack
Backpacking in Patagonia comes with a singular set of challenges that different elements of the world aren’t as well-known for. In Patagonia you may rely on heavy winds, rain, and even snow. You’ll need to carry gear that may face up to the weather, notably that tremendous insane wind! Hold the next in thoughts:
My tent (at Refugio Gray)It’s tempting to carry a traditional tent from house, 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 may’t use, so get one that’s good in heavy winds.
I used an MSR tent and it labored nice. The bottom line is the sturdy however gentle tent poles, which can maintain up within the wind however received’t weigh you down tremendously. Each ounce counts when it’s a must to carry Eight days price of provisions!
Insurance coverage
Get journey insurance coverage that covers mountain climbing. This primary bundle covers mountain climbing below 3000 meters (this trek is certainly below that). There isn’t any search and rescue within the park, and this can cowl you when you want additional 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 could be very muddy and rocky, and a few ankle safety plus a water-proof shell are each necessary to maintaining you dry and blister-free. Bear 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 recommend.
*For those who do get blisters, Compeed is a very useful blister bandage. It’s sweat-proof, so every one can final a few days.
Mountaineering Poles
Take a look at these clouds! They give the impression of being that manner due to the robust winds (it is 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 robust. My mountain 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 hassle you on lengthy hikes, or if that is the primary one you’re trying.
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. As a result of wind, they both blow proper off or make tons of noise in your ears because the wind runs by way of them. For the reason that wind significantly does attain 100km/hour and over, they will blow proper off after which grow to be litter within the park. No person desires that!
The answer is to line your backpack with a bin liner/trash bag and to wrap every little thing inside in its personal bag as effectively.
It’s okay if the backpack will get moist. It’ll dry out within the wind they usually’re made to be resilient. The stuff inside will keep dry with the double bag safety. Pleased 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 plenty of waste can 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 attainable. There’s a lot water accessible in every single place alongside the path, flowing from each glacier and stream, so shopping for issues that simply have to be rehydrated works greatest.
It’s additionally useful to pack lunches that don’t have to be cooked you could snack on whereas shifting or throughout quick breaks. I’d recommend fruit and nuts. They pack a number of power and energy for his or her weight.
Certainly one of my lunch bagsHere’s my meals listing for Eight days (contemplate that parts rely in your private meals consumption, and take into accout you’ll be exercising so much):
1 portion per day of oatmeal with powdered milk, milo, and dried fruit inside
16 baggage 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 could find them, when you’re plant-based)
You should buy all the meals you’ll want within the outlets in Puerto Natales. I urge you to buy on the small, unbiased grocers and break up your procuring between just a few shops. There’s even a devoted fruit and nut store with dried mango and melon!
6. What Else to Convey (and Find out how to Lighten Your Load)
one week’s price of meals and equipment in PatagoniaSo what else goes into your pack? Chances are high 80% of will probably be full with meals, and I’d additionally carry alongside:
1 small first-aid equipment
Solely 2 modifications of garments – one for mountain climbing and one for sleeping (sure you’ll put on the identical nasty mountain 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 throughout the first 5 minutes of your hike anyhow). Nonetheless carry one additional pair of socks and sufficient underwear for the journey.
1 small and light-weight sleeping bag. These can get expensive, I do know! However you will have one thing that doesn’t weigh a lot and may maintain you heat in sub-zero temps, which you may encounter on the trek.
1 SteriPEN – the quantity of park guests has been growing by 30% yr over yr. Folks don’t all the time respect the principles round water (ie: no bathing or washing instantly within the streams) and a few folks have gotten sick from the water at Campamento Torres. You’ll be able to keep away from any points by sterilizing your water.
1 Thick sleeping mat
2-Three fuel canisters for cooking with the small grill on prime (depending on how a lot tea you’ll drink or when you carry rice or longer-cooking meals)
1 Foldable, light-weight pasta strainer and pot combo
A great knife
1 pack towel
1 hat for solar safety and to maintain your ears heat
sun shades
camp sneakers to offer your toes a break from mountain climbing sneakers 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, in fact, and a number of other additional digital camera batteries. You could find out extra about my digital camera gear right here.
You’ll be able to lighten your load by consuming at among the refugios. The meals is nice at Refugio Dickson, particularly.
You too can purchase some provides as you go alongside. Don’t rely on it, however know that it’s usually attainable to get extra meals and snacks if vital.
7. Bogs 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 toilet 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. Every thing is rising and the amenities are solely getting higher. My absolute favourite bathe was at Frances, and the worst continues to be Los Perros, which is chilly and never price it!
The free camps don’t have facilities like showers and generally don’t have bathrooms that flush, however they’re usually in actually stunning settings (they usually’re free!).
Eight. Find out how to 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 mountain climbing and 9 days. In each instances, the day that I crossed the John Gardner move 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 it’s possible you’ll get, so a buffer might be a good suggestion simply in case. I personally am all the time comfortable to spend extra time in nature, however when you’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 can too obtain the PDF beneath:

10. Leaving No Hint
We are able to’t discuss 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 could not look like an enormous deal, however ‘social trails’ left by folks attempting to keep away from mud could cause irreparable injury. Until I’m going to get completely soaked or lined in mud, I step proper within the mud and maintain going. My sneakers 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 resulting from sanitation points. Why does this occur? Please maintain the next in thoughts to do your half:
By no means wash dishes, garments, or your self in rivers. It has to circulate to someplace, proper? Take water a minimum of 100 meters/toes away first.
Please solely use the loos on the path until it’s an absolute emergency, and all the time 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 arduous to see them and not using a crowd of different folks, so listed here are some suggestions:
Go at off-times:
AfternoonI know that you simply may assume I’m loopy for suggesting this, particularly after the lengthy hike to get to the camp on the base of the Torres, nevertheless 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. For those who can’t get reservations at Chileno for the ultimate night time, it’s possible you’ll not have a lot of a alternative. No person is allowed to try to hike up after 3pm. That is to ensure no person camps up there, which is truthful TBH.
Nonetheless when you run out of time, you may all the time 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 might NOT suggest this alone and when you do determine to go, it’s greatest 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 way in which. When it’s darkish all it’s a must to go on are the reflective markers.
That stated, we acquired to the highest round 5am to see the Milky Approach going proper by way of the towers and no person was there but. Most individuals present up all through the day beginning with the dawn.
12. How Arduous is the O Actually?
It’s arduous 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, nonetheless, and also you’ll be in your toes for many of the day, which might be exhausting.
The toughest half for me is coming down from the John Gardner move because it’s such an extended and steep downhill. Others additionally really feel that the Torres are a troublesome 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 when you’ve already carried out Fitz Roy, I can guarantee you it’s not almost as dangerous.
The Torres earlier than the solar rose the subsequent morningBesides, shifting 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 instances I’ve carried out it now and it was one of the best determination 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 snug for just a few days after ending an Eight-day trek, and although that is undoubtedly fancier than a tent, it’s a very welcome change. I additionally actually favored that it included horseback driving and some treks that aren’t on the standard TDP menu. (you may e book 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 wonderful 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 complete park. We went there the day after ending the Eight-day trek and I used to be undoubtedly 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 beloved it. There’s simply no higher approach to see the elements of the expertise you miss from the path. There are such a lot of completely different angles and views that you simply get by protecting extra floor with the tour, and it’s a pleasant likelihood to let your physique take a break, too.

There are plenty of picturesque locations within the park that you simply don’t see when trekking on the circuit path. The park is completely filled 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 automobile, so in lieu of renting one your self and driving it by way of the park, you may 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 need to be with a bunch of fantastic ladies, I’ll be working one other Patagonia tour in mid-February 2020 together with a keep on the Lodge Las Torres, all the logistics found out for you, tents, meals, and every little thing else supplied so that you simply don’t have to hold it, pictures workshops, and professional guides (like me!). You’ll be able to study extra right here.
Pleased trekking!
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