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Tdp - tour or DIY?

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Tdp - tour or DIY?


We´re in Patagonia in early Feb 2010, and have at most 3 nights available for TDP before heading across to El Calafate.

In order to get the most out of TDP, would you advise taking a full-day (or overnight) tour from P Natales, or staying 2 or 3 nights in refugios within the park?

If the former, can anyone recommend a good (preferably budget) tour company?

Similarly with the latter, can anyone recommend refugios? We´d like to see more than just 1 part of the park. And is travelling between refugios easy?

One last question. How does TDP compare to the area around El Chalten? We´ve heard that trekking around El Chalten might be 'easier', in that you can stay in decent value hostels, and more easily do round trip day treks. Is that fair?


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1. Re: Tdp - tour or DIY?

Unless you're on a whistle stop 2 week tour of S America you'd have to be insane to do TdP as a day trip from PN, it needs 2-3 days to do it justice. The three highlights in my opinion are 1) Valle Frances, 2) Torres del Paine themselves and 3) Glacier Grey, in that order, and I don't think it would be possible for even a superfit hiker to do all 3 in the space of 3 days. You need 4-5 days ideally. I camped, so have no ideas about hosterias, although the ones at the W or Grand Circuit start/end points (Paine Grande and Los Torres) are more like big hotels, whereas the others are more intimate. The one I liked the look of the best was the one by Glacier Grey.

Getting in between them involves walking, the paths are in good condition but not necessarily very well engineered, they might look like level paths on a map but they go up and down over small hills a lot rather than skirting around them.

TdP and the El Chalten area are equally crowded, but you're right in that all the main destinations around El Chalten can be done as day treks (long, distance wise, but the paths are good and there is not a lot of steep ascent, other than the final section of the path to the viewpoint over the lake beneath the peak of Mt Fitzroy). The minus side is that El Chalten itself isn't the nicest of places, though it does have plenty of bars, restaurants and cheap accommodation. There are no hosterias on the routes to the main destinations around El Chalten, only (rough) campsites.

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2. Re: Tdp - tour or DIY?

Many people do take a day van tour from Puerto Natales, that traverses the road along the southern part of the park with fantastic views of the Cuernos and Lakes. They may include a few short walks if the weather is good (eg go out to the spit that views Glacier Grey). If you are going to see Perito Moreno, I think the consensus is that you don't need to take the Glacier Grey cruise.

If you want to add a day hike you can do the Towers in a very long day from Refugio Las Torres. You can also take the catamaran across L. Pehoe as a day trip, or spend 2 nights at Paine Grande and try to hike up the Frances Valley.

If you can swing a car rental it might make a short trip easier than waiting for the bus transfers inside the park.

3. Re: Tdp - tour or DIY?

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