questions & answers
If I arrive to Natales from Ushuaia or on the last bus from Punta Arenas, can I still catch the bus to Torres del Paine first thing the next day?
This really depends on how ready you are. We recommend waiting for the second bus into the Park (which only runs during high season) or just taking a prep day in Natales during low season to rent any gear you need and do your food shop.
If I arrive here on Navimag, can I still hit the trail first thing the next morning?
This depends on sea conditions and arrival times. Plus see above answer and Torres del Paine Q&A.
What is Navimag?
Navimag is the weekly ferry service (which originally just brought goods to the extreme parts of Chile from the north.) Now it shuttles travelers from between Natales and Puerto Montt.
Where can I buy white gas?
The pharmacies carry clean white gas. You can find them in the outdoor and building material stores.
What about shopping hours midday?
Between 12 and 3 p.m. everything is pretty locked down, except for the main supermarket on Bulnes.
What are the winters like around here?
Calm, blue, clear, freezing and beautiful.
Why is there so much trash on the beach?
That’s a great question... You could always help and pick some up.
What about recycling programs?
Batteries are recycled and collected in various containers throughout town, including at the Post Office. As yet, all other recycling for the season is still at a standstill. The city is working on a glass recycling program that should be up and running within the next month. For more information, contact the Cámara de Turismo.
Why can’t I flush my toilet paper down the toilet? Do I really have to throw it in the waste basket?!
It depends on where you are. Sometimes it’s fine to flush it, but if it says not to, DON’T! A bit gross and bizarre, but the pipes from yester-year just can’t handle it.
Why do all the girls here wear those uniform mini-skirts to school in such a cold and windy place?
It’s one of life’s mysteries, but we are pretty sure it was a man’s idea.
What’s up with all the military guys walking around town?
There’s a military base located outside of town.
And all of the dogs running around?
Half of them are street dogs, half of them are owned but run free anyway. Together they make more street dogs. It’s a circle of life thing...
How much do the taxis cost?
1.000 pesos within city limits.
Why do I receive a little piece of receipt paper every time I buy something?
It’s the law, no joke. Everyone takes it very seriously.
Is it worth renting a car to get around instead of using the buses?
Depends on your budget and your destination. Public transportation is always a good idea when possible, but there’s a lot of Patagonia out there that can’t be accessed by public transportation. To see those places, getting a few people to pitch in for a car can make for a unique experience.
Why do I seem to understand LESS Spanish in Chile than anywhere else?
Chileans down here talk super fast and use a whole lotta slang.
What is a “Zodiac”?
A motorized rubber raft, used for various types of trips in southern Chile, including navegating the upper Serrano River heading into Torres del Paine.
Torres del Paine Questions & Answers
What’s the weather going to be like?
That’s the forbidden question. But we put this one in just for fun!
...No, really, what’s the weather going to be like?
Plan for everything, but mostly cold. The weather changes constantly.
How long does the trekking season last?
Roughly from October to April, but it’s lasting longer every year. The truth is that it’s beautiful here all the time, and the Park is great in winter.
How far is it to the Park from Natales?
From Natales, by bus, it’s about 2 to 2.5 hours.
What time do the buses leave in the morning?
Most buses pick up and leave between 7:30am.
What’s the latest I can start a trek in the Park?
In high season (Dec.-Mar.), there is an afternoon bus to the Park at 2 p.m., más o menos.
Can the buses to the Park pick me up from my hostel?
Some do. It depends on if your hostel is friendly with the bus company.
What’s the Park entrance fee this month?
15.000 clp (about $25 greenbacks USD).
How much does camping cost in the Park?
Camping costs 3.500 to 4.000 pesos per person, not per tent, per day, at the privately run sites. The CONAF sites are free. In the off-season (about April-August), closed campsites are free.
Which campsites are always free?
Los Guardes, Italiano, Británico, Japones, Las Torres, Paso, Pingo, and Las Carretas.
How much money do I need to bring in the Park with me?
8.000 enterance + 11.000 catamaran + paid camping nights and mini shuttle equals roughly 45.000clp.
Do I get a map when I enter the Park?
Yes. You can also buy a nicer wall map in town.
Are the times on the trail maps accurate?
The times are pretty accurate on the CONAF map, depending on your physical condition. Some of the books seem to be a little off though.
What time is sunrise and sunset?
It changes, of course, but you can find out the specifics on the back of the map they give you when you enter the Park. During summer, from roughly December to March, you have about 18 hours of daylight.
If the weather is nice on the first day, should I go see the Towers first?
Any experienced climber, trekker or hiker will tell you to make a plan and stick to it, but as long as your logistics all work out there is nothing wrong in a little improv.
Is it better to trek the park clockwise or counterclockwise?
You’ll find that outdated guide books tell you to go clockwise, but most trekkers find that counterclockwise flows through the ‘W’ better and makes for a more scenic day over the John Gardner Pass.
How much does the catamaran to Pehoe cost in the park?
The Catamaran costs 11.000 pesos per person one way. 18.000 round trip. It shuts down during winter.
Can I rent a tent, sleeping bag and matress at the refugios?
Yes, but you can’t take them with you as you trek. Keep in mind that many refugios stay closed during the winter off-season.
Is food sold in the Park?
You can buy hot meals in the refugios as well as some camping food staples.
Do I need to tie up my food in the Park?
Mice have been a problem in the Park recently, so it is a good idea to tie up your food.
Can you drink the water in the Park?
You bet! Best water in the world. Just make sure it’s fresh run off, not lake water or anything downstream from a camp or refugio.
Do I need sunscreen in the Park?
YES! The hole in the ozone hovers right over us during spring and summer. It can and will cause problems after a multi-day trek in the park. The UV rays come through the clouds too, so don’t skimp on the sun protection.
Should I worry about bugs in the Park?
You will see bugs on the back circuit if there is no wind and some warmer weather. Bug repellent is a good idea.
Do I have to worry about making my reservation for the bus on my way back from Torres del Paine?
Yes. For now, in early season, make sure to talk to the office you bought your ticket at, and speak to the driver - just to be sure. It becomes easier in mid-season.
How do I contact the Park’s Search and Rescue if something happens?
There’s no official Search and Rescue, but any of the CONAF ranger stations can help you.