7-10 days in Patagonia -- how to plan?
October 30, 2014 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to take a trip to Torres del Paine (Patagonia) to hike the W. And/or see other scenic sites nearby. I want to save money by booking my own accommodation and not having a guide. Suggestions wanted.

I will have 7 - 10 days in Patagonia to hike and see beautiful things. One of the things I'm thinking of is hiking the W. I'm having trouble figuring out how to plan the trip. I can't seem to figure out which places (refugios, I guess) to stay in at each stop, if I want to camp what I should bring, and so forth.

I'd prefer to book separately to save money. If there's an inexpensive tour, though, I'd be open to it. This site looks good and has a good price (under $500), but there's no way to book it; you have to send in their request form and no one responds.

If you've been before, how did you plan your trip? Exactly (with links) where did you book? Did you have to call them? Could you book online? I'd like the simplest way of booking that doesn't cost thousands of dollars.

Suggestions for how to set up the itinerary would also be appreciated!
posted by 3491again to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have all my booking details in front of me, but I will note a few things I remember. For reference, my trip was from the Argentinean side. If you're going through Chile, some may not apply.
First, some cool things simply require guides/tour groups. Do not let this stop you. For example, I highly recommend taking a day to view and hike on the Perito Moreno glacier. You cannot do this by yourself, but it's totally worth doing.
Second, hiking gear is generally easy to come by and rent from the jumping off points, so don't worry too much about packing for absolutely everything. As long as you have a good pack, tent, and a couple layers of clothes, youll be fine. The only exception is food. You can't exactly pack a week of food, but do pack some freeze dried hiking stuff, energy bars, and the like.
Third, as you've seen, booking online can be spotty at best. Direct email or calling is better, and doubly so if you can speak even basic Spanish. We had to book piecemeal for each thing.
Fourth, at least in Argentina, *bring cash*. Do not convert to pesos if you don't have to, and seek better exchange rates than the official rate.
posted by tau_ceti at 6:48 PM on October 30, 2014

We did it from the Chilean side. We found a local trekking company by googling Chilean sites. Chile is an incredibly law abiding country so don't be too paranoid about this. This was about 5 years ago, so I don't have links any more.

I think you won't need more than a sleeping bag and a tent. When we were there you could buy meals at the Ranger stations at each campground. The trails on the W are very obvious so you won't need a guide.

It's a really beautiful trek. Enjoy!
posted by monotreme at 11:11 PM on October 30, 2014

Seconding that you need to call in person, and that there is much more of a spirit of "winging it" which is quite frankly terrifying to anyone who likes to plan things in advance. I highly recomend planning your first and last nights stay, and just sorting things out from there.

I recommenend approaching this trip from the chilean side where possible. Things are cheaper in Argentina, but also significantly more chaotic/esoteric.

(I did a ski touring/winter patagonia trip in 2010- we rented a 4x4 suv, threw our gear in the back, strapped a spare tire to the roof and hoped for the best- and quite frankly, anything we tried to plan in advance fell through)
posted by larthegreat at 7:47 AM on October 31, 2014

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