In my daily work I meet a lot of tourist during the day that want to hike in the national park Torres del Paine. Most popular is the “W” or the trail Macizo Paine Grande. The amount of visitors has exploded resent years and last year a lot of people experienced that the free and private camping areas were already full when they arrived.
This year CONAF took the consequences of this and made some regulations to control the amount of people in the lodges, camping and refugios. For you as a visitor it means that you need to plan your trip well before entering the park if you are staying multiple days and make your reservations in
Most people start their Torres del Paine trip by going to Puerto Natales which is the closest city before entering the park. It is located 150km and 2 hour drive from the park. From there they buy the bus ticket to the park.
Many backpackers are following Lonely Planet guidebook but its not updated with the new regulations so people are not aware about that they need to make reservations. If everything is booked people need to stay more days in Puerto Natales. I had some German guys coming back after only 2 days, 1 night in the park because they could´t go any further on the hike if they wanted to stay overnight. When high season peaks (December – February) and you have planned 4 days in the park but have to go back after one day you will experience that even in Puerto Natales all accommodations are full booked, so you can run into a lot of problems without reservations.
PLAN YOUR TRIP AHEAD TO TORRES DEL PAINE
I know its nice to have some freedom when travelling and not planning to much – but unless you want to take the risk of going to the very far end of the world without seeing the wonders of the national park Torres del Paine – you have to do some planning and reservations. I hear daily from the locals that everything from December to February is already booked (but these are rumours so far, you need to update yourself about the situation).
So plan your trip:
- when are you going to Puerto Natales
- when do you want to be in the park
- which hike to you wanna do
- for how many days
- when will you arrive to the different accommodations.
The different accommodations are controlled by three different companies/organisations: CONAF, Fantastico Sur and Vertice. If you are staying multiple days in Torres del Paine you need to make sure to have an idea when you will be at the accommodations sites.
An example: On day 1 you are entering Torres del Paine via the entrance at Laguna Amarga. You plan to stay first night at “Los Cuernos” which is owned by “Fantastico Sur”. You then make reservations through Fantastico Sur via their web page. On day 2 you plan to stay at “Paine Grande” that is owned by Vertice, so you make the reservations through their web page and so on.
This map gives your a good idea of the routes and where the accommodations area are places and who is the owner.
RESERVATIONS OF FREE CAMPING AREAS OWNED BY CONAF
When you buy your entrance for the park you can camp at three camping areas for free: Camping Italiano, Paso and Torres.
- Make your reservation as soon as possible via Torres del Paine’s webpage.
- Select the date you plan on spending the night at the campsite. You can choose maximum 1 night.
- Enter your information
- Save and print your confirmation mail.
RESERVATION OF ACCOMMODATIONS OWNED BY FANTASTICO SUR
The accommodations of Fantastico Sur are located at the entrance to Estancia Cerro Paine (welcome center and Francés entrance) and is the only private property inside Torres del Paine national park. On their webpage they say it is recommended that you do your reservation in advance because the amount of people along the trails in “W” trek & Paine Circuit will be managed according to the maximum capacity for each place, but if you will do the popular hikes I would say its mandatory you do the reservation in advance. According to the webpage if you arrive at the park without bookings there will be a chance that there is no availability for you, prices will be 20% higher when you book directly at the welcome center and the Francés access and/or prices booked directly at the accommodation will be double – but I will not recommend you to take any chance. Maybe you are lucky and they have space for you – but if the next place you are going to is full booked you are stuck and have to go back.
Fantastico Sur owns the following accommodations: CABAÑAS (CABINS) LOS CUERNOS, REFUGIO (MOUNTAIN SHELTER) TORRE CENTRAL, REFUGIO (MOUNTAIN SHELTER) TORRE NORTE, REFUGIO (MOUNTAIN SHELTER) EL CHILENO, REFUGIO (MOUNTAIN SHELTER) LOS CUERNOS, DOMOS (DOME TENTS) and EL FRANCÉS. You will find all prices HERE and you book through their site or visiting their office in Puerto Natales.
RESERVATION OF ACCOMMODATIONS OWNED BY VERTICE
Vertice pays CONAF to have their business in Torres del Paine and they own in total 7 accommodations in the park. They have 3 shelters: VERTICE PAINE GRANDE, VERTICE GREY & VERTICE DICKSON and 4 campsites at the same three places as mentioned and the fourth is VERTICE LOS PERROS CAMPING.
Through their webpage they recommend you to make your reservation at least 5 days before! If you want to make the reservation before this 5 days they recommend you to drop by their offices in Puerto Natales.
Find prices and reservation templates HERE.
I hope this information is helpful! Please let me know if you have some important information I missed and you think I should share in this article.
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