Chile Patagonia Hike
Day 1 Mon Punta Arenas - Torres del Paine (L,D)
The trip starts during the morning in the city of Punta Arenas, either at your hotel or at the airport. From Punta Arenas we drive to Eco Camp Patagonia located in the world famous Torres del Paine National Park. During summer the sun sets around 11pm, so as you drive in you’ll have plenty of light to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked mountain horizon. Before arriving though, there are a couple of stops. One is at Puerto Natales, a small but lively town on the shores of Seno Ultima Esperanza - “Last Hope Sound”. You’re invited to check the town out, meanwhile leave any unwanted luggage in our office, and finally enjoy a hearty lunch with delicious local food. The other stop is at Cueva de Milodon, a massive prehistoric cave where the remains of a giant ground sloth were discovered in the 1890’s. The surrounding area is very scenic with plenty of wild birds to be seen. The day ends with an overnight at the Eco Camp in Las Torres.
Day 2 Tue Los Cuernos (B,L,D)
We start our adventure in the Park with a pleasant walk through the curly Cuernos trail located beside beautiful Lake Nordenskjold. During this ‘appetizer walk’ we take in the park’s charming flora and fauna, its strong wind and the curious 4-season weather that’ll accompany us during the next days. As we advance through the trail we enjoy magnificent views of the park’s central lakes and the Paine’s Horns which are majestic black horn-like peaks of slate atop gray granite which crown the center of the Massif. We’ll of course stop to get some great first shots of the park and also enjoy a delicious box lunch to energize ourselves for the rest of the walk. The trek ends at Refugio Los Cuernos, a small and cozy mountain refuge located by the shores of Lake Nordenskjold. The evening is left free to enjoy dinner and share experiences.
Day 3 Wed Paine Massif's Heart Valle Frances (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we begin a challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley), a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. How deep we go depends on our groups’ rhythm. An active walk leads us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south east face of the Massif. From this point, we can enjoy our first truly wonderful view and then continue up the trail until reaching the upper prospects of the valley. The entire group of geological formations of the high valley can be admired here: Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza! (Fortress). It’s time to have a picnic and recover from the walk. An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is available as well. Next, we descend through an undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located in the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. Finally, upon reaching the Refugio, the luggage is organized and there’s time to talk about the day while enjoying a replenishing dinner.
Day 4 Thur Glacier Grey (B,L,D)
Today we’ll hike from Paine Grande Lodge along the shores of mountain-lined Lake Pehoe to the northern end of glacial Lake Grey. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch before boarding the boat that sails to the blue face of Glacier Grey*. You’ll have lots of time to marvel at this calving glacier before the boat ride across this lake with its floating pieces of ice. Your clothes and personal belongings are once again transported separately from the lodge in duffel bags. From Lake Grey’s southern end we transfer to the Eco Camp. If the weather conditions do not allow us to navigate Lake Grey, we’ll instead hike to Glacier Grey and return, then at Paine Grande’s dock we’ll board the catamaran crossing the Lake Pehoe heading to Pudeto. From there, we’ll take a short drive back to Cascada Eco Camp in where we’ll enjoy the night.
*During Shoulder Season (October and April) the navigation on Glacier Grey might be cancelled as the boat requires a minimum of 10 passengers to sail, which in some cases might not be reached. In this case we will get up early and trek about two hours the Grey trail until reaching a sightseeing point offering a splendid view of the Glacier, and then return to Paine Grande on time to take a catamaran to Pudeto’s dock
Day 5 Fri The Great Challenge Hosteria Las Torres & Ascencio Valley (B,L,D)
Time for a great breakfast and lots of enthusiasm! Our goal today is to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres del Paine NP. We walk from the camp site towards Hostería Las Torres and connect with the winding uphill path to Ascencio Valley – the valley which supports the eastern face of the Towers’ base. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers are passed along the scenic walk into the valley. It’s not a difficult walk, but you might want to save some energy for the final challenge: the moraine. This mass of boulders is the last guardian before our face to face with the uplifting Torres del Paine. The moraine is sufficiently steep to consider doing it slowly and with a fair amount of precaution. After a considerable effort, the Towers come into full view, rising majestically before us with the glacial lake visible below. This is one of the most breathtaking sights of the world! The famous Torres del Paine (2, 900 m/ 9, 400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. Is there any better place on this planet to have lunch? At the feet of the mighty Torres del Paine, we will enjoy life, the view, and a bite to eat! Once everyone is ready, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley, and return to the Eco Camp
Day 6 Sat Eastern Lakes (B,L,D)
We hike to the Laguna Azul lookout where we have a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and granite towers. We continue along the eastern side of Lago Sarmiento to the calcium formations on the lake’s shores where guanacos are often seen. Later we trek to Paso Las Corneas with spectacular views of Rio Paine, Lake Pehoe and the massif of Paine. Depending on the group, we can also hike to the Toro lookout point that offers more jaw-dropping scenery - Lago Toro and the pampa, or steppe! Upon returning to the Eco Camp, a farewell dinner is celebrated. This is sadly our last night in Torres del Paine, we take notes and talk with our friends, relax, feel the strong Patagonic wind while watching the heavens above. These past days spent in the Park will be profound memories that we shall take home with us.
Day 7 Sun Torres del Paine - Punta Arenas (B,L)
We board an early morning vehicle, sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic ride back to Punta Arenas
Physical Demands This is the right trip for energetic people who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. To enjoy this trek it is essential to be in shape before you arrive. It is not wise to regard this trek as a means of getting into shape or losing excess weight. Start a program of conditioning well before departure.
Dates & Prices:
Departures: Monday Weekly Oct - Apr
Prices Per Person US$
Oct 2012 & Apr 2013 $1565
Nov 2012 - Mar 2013 $2255
Transfers to Start / Finish in El Calafate, Argentina
Option 1: Interprovincial Public Bus (tickets included in the program price)
***Calafate to Torres del Paine***
Pick up at hotel 7:00-7:30 AM, arrive at EcoCamp 7 PM.
We pick you up at your hotel in Calafate and take you to the bus terminal; we give you the tickets to board a public bus heading to Puerto Natales. You reach this town around 2 PM, we wait for you at the bus terminal and arrange lunch for you. Close to 4 PM board our van going to Torres del Paine and reach the EcoCamp on time for dinner.
***Torres del Paine to Calafate***
Leave EcoCamp at 8 AM; arrive at your hotel in Calafate at 2 PM.
After breakfast board the van that will drop you off at Cerro Castillo (borderline) on time to catch the public bus going to Calafate. Arrive in Calafate bus terminal where our transfer waits for you and then drive to your hotel. Transfers to Calafate Airport have an additional cost.
Option 2: Semiprivate van transfer (not included); +US$120 p.p. each way
(This service is available from mid October to March)
This service consists of comfortable vans that seat maximum 9 people, all of them guests of both EcoCamp and Hostería Las Torres. The service provides a direct and relaxed connection between El Calafate and Torres del Paine NP, with just one stop at the borderline for exchanging vans.
***Calafate to Torres del Paine***
Pick up at hotel 7:00-7:30 AM, arrive at EcoCamp 1 PM.
We pick you up at the hotel in Calafate and start driving to Chile. Once we reach Cancha Carrera (borderline) about 11 AM we do the immigration process, and then we drive to the Chilean side where we board another van. We continue driving towards Torres del Paine NP and finally we arrive at the EcoCamp on time for lunch.
***Torres del Paine to Calafate***
Leave EcoCamp at 10 AM; arrive at your hotel in El Calafate at 3:30 PM.
After breakfast we board the van and drive towards the borderline. We reach Cerro Castillo around 11:30 AM, do the immigration process and continue to the Argentine side where we board another van. We start driving towards El Calafate city and we reach our hotel in the early afternoon.