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Need serious help with planning - 7 days for TdP

Fyrmedic510
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Need serious help with planning - 7 days for TdP

Hello everyone,

Myself and 2 friends are going to be arriving to Punta Arenas on Oct. 27th, and need to fly out, back to Santiago on Nov. 4th. With travel to the park, Im thinking this gives us about 6- 7 days in the park region.

Our goal - The W, and hopefully view some glaciers in the park.

So - heres my issues, I have no idea how to, or even where to start looking for reservations for inside/ near the park. I have been reading these forums and books trying to come up with a plan. It seems like you have to go through a company for reservations in the park? I guess these are my most urgent questions:

Whats the easiest way to book places to stay?

Do we have to worry about camping gear?

Possible to do the W without "camping"?

How many glaciers, if any, are able to be seen in this time in the park?

Whats the difference between a refugio, Hosteria, Hotel, and the Lodge?

I need direction on where to stay. Anything as long as its not tent camping. I love it, but my friends are not big on tent camping.

I know this may be vague, but I am at a total loss, and need to start trying to secure places to stay down there.

Thank you all so much for any help you can provide.

Santiago
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1. Re: Need serious help with planning - 7 days for TdP

For doing the W you will need at least 5 days in the park, and stayin in tents or refugios.

Refugios are very basic loding, but clean and with a nice ambient.

Spaces are hared so if you look for something quiet this is not the place.

Be carefull in Torres as hosterías (a hosteria is a hotel at the end) are quiet expensive.

Best options in my oinio are Las Torres and Patagonia Camp and well Explora too, but very expensive.

TheHague
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2. Re: Need serious help with planning - 7 days for TdP

Any tour company in Puerto Natales, probably your hotel too, will be able to phone up and reserve places at the hosterias for you (don't expect staff to speak English). You're going during the shoulder season so I think you could wait until arriving in Chile until making your reservations - we visited during the other shoulder season (March) and fellow travellers were able to secure places at the hosterias a few days beforehand. Don't worry too much about the prices there, its expensive compared with the rest of Chile, but quite OK if you're used to US or European prices, and certainly a bargain compared with mountain huts in Europe !

The W is more than possible to do without camping, the only downside is that you have to stay further away from the highlights, namely the actual Torres del Paine and the French Valley.

There are glaciers everywhere you look in the French Valley (the middle arm of the W), which for me was the absolute highlight of the park. The big one is of course the Glacier Grey, which is at the end of the left arm of the W. You'll see smaller glaciers more or less anywhere, but they'll look like small patches of snow.

I can't tell you the difference between the refugio, hosteria, hotel and lodge ! I will say that those at the start/end points of the W (Las Torres, Paine Grande) are like conventional hotels (I think they have hostel like accommodation too), those which can't be reached by road or boat, namely the rest of them (2 ?) are more like hostels. The one at Glacier Grey is somwhere in between. The Paine Grande and Las Torres locations are fairly uninspiring, the Glacier Grey refugio is in a lovely spot though.

california
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3. Re: Need serious help with planning - 7 days for TdP

The easiest way to book lodging (and travel to the park) is thru a Chilean agent. Doing it yourself is possible but annoying. BTW if you are spending an overnight in Puerto Natales your hotel is probably also a travel agent, & can help with things. Casa Cecelia has a good reputation although I wasn't able to stay there

http://www.casaceciliahostal.com/index2.html

No, if you stay in the refugios you do not need to carry camping gear and you can do the whole stretch without camping. You just need to carry water, change of clothes, and a towel.

Glacier Grey is the glacier inside TdP park.

A refugio is like a hostel with shared rooms (usually bunk beds) and shared bathrooms. There will be a common area for dining and lounging. You may purchase meals at the refugios/lodges even if you don't stay there. Note there are also a few cabins run by Fantastico Sur (see below).

The companies are using the word "Lodge" to be the same as Refugio.

A Hosteria & Hotel are pretty much the same thing. Las Torres Hosteria is the same as Las Torres Hotel. Perhaps Hosteria means a bit more rustic, they are not fancy hotels (except for Explora).

To reserve the Refugios/Lodges on the W, you can go through the companies. I advise sending an email AND clicking thru the website and if you don't hear anything, then call them! The earlier the better. They are pretty bad about responding, they have a monopoly and probably can get by on walk in traffic & travel agents only.

http://fantasticosur.com/ (for the east sector)

and

http://www.verticepatagonia.cl/ (for the west sector)

You can reserve either one online or by phone. I don't know why the Vertice website doesn't show an English language version but both have someone who speaks English. If you click around you will find the enquiry form.

There is also Ecocamp which has luxury tent-domes.

california
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4. Re: Need serious help with planning - 7 days for TdP

Oh I forgot about the mountain glaciers such as the Frances glacier ( was thinking of the ones such as come down into the lakes). Yes it was interesting to hear the thunder but I was very unlucky with weather when going into the French Valley/Valle Frances so it was not the best looking glacier to me.

5. Re: Need serious help with planning - 7 days for TdP

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