PATAGONIA, ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, getting to the start of the trek.
Puerto Natales is considered the entrance gate to the national park of Torres del Paine. It is a city and an important harbour situated in the far south of the country - north Fireland. It sits in a very strange but natural landscape, surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and sea.
Puerto Natales is well connected by air. At this time you can only fly from Santiago de Chile. As a general rule, a visa is not required to enter Chile as a tourist. But visitors from some countries may need a ‘Tourist Visa’.
There are no regularly scheduled buses from Santiago to Puerto Natales. There are some however from Puerto Montt, about 1900 km distance. Bear in mind that this trip takes more than a day.
The trip south from Puerto Montt is on the Argentinean side and crosses back into Chile again, so it means passing the border twice by bus. It takes a lot of time and is not very comfortable.
There is a good bus service however connecting Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales.
There is also an option to travel by sea from Puerto Montt, sailing around the fjords and through the channels. However the ferries only run once a week and it takes 4 days/3 nights to get to Puerto Natales. This might not be an option if you are on a tight schedule, because there could be long delays if the weather is bad.
There is a good hotel network in Puerto Natales, where you can find accommodation to suit your budget using the usual accommodation websites llike airbnb or trip advisor.
Buses from Puerto Natales to the start of any of the treks in the Torres del Paine park leave from the bus terminal (Terminal Rodoviario).
There are diffent options for starting the trek and the bus will be able to drop you off at your preferred starting point.
For our trip we will be starting from La Estancia. so will be getting off the bus at Laguna Amarga and taking the shuttle bus the last twenty minutes to the start.
Depending on what time you arrive here you can either start walking towards Seron, or, perhaps a nicer option, you can spend the night here and and then get going in the morning. Quite a lot of accommodation options here.
Important to point out at this stage though that it is vital that all your arrangements for accommmodaiton and staying in the park are prebooked.
The Torres del Paine circuit is a trek where, for the most part, you will be carrying all your gear, so your rucksack will be fairly heavy. Planning your trip well - have some hut nights, or at least meals in huts, will help to keep the weight down. Food, tent and fuel are heavy and, on the ‘O’ circuit you will have to camp on some stages.
Reservations for both huts and camping are now mandatory so will help with planning.
Since 2016 numbers are limited on the ‘O’ to 80 per day so plan your trip as soon as you know your dates.
And tomorrow we'll be ready to start our trek around one of the most awe inspiring places in the world. Excited???
A dream of a lifetime.