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Torres del Paine “W” Trek – 7 Day Patagonia Trek

$1,826$4,202

4.67 out of 5

The Torres del Paine “W” Trek is one of the World’s classic trekking routes and it takes in the most scenic portions of Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. A combination of challenging and moderate hikes take you into Torres’ famous French Valley, face-to-face with massive Glacier Grey, and right up to the base of the Torres (the iconic granite Towers perched atop the entire range). You’ll overnight at the comfortable and remote EcoCamp and in classic mountain refugios.

Trip Length: 7 Days
Destination: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Lodging: Domes at the EcoCamp, mountain refugios
Activities: Demanding hikes

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WHY THIS TRIP
The Torres del Paine “W” Trek is one of the World’s classic trekking routes and it takes in the most scenic portions of Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. A combination of challenging and moderate hikes take you into Torres’ famous French Valley, face-to-face with massive Glacier Grey, and right up to the base of the Torres (the iconic granite Towers perched atop the entire range). You’ll overnight at the comfortable and remote EcoCamp and in classic mountain refugios.

TRIP DESCRIPTION
The “W” trek explores three of the most spectacular valleys penetrating the front side of the granite Paine Massif in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, and the trek map forms a “W.”  Along the way trekkers will be rewarded with spectacular views of steep granite walls, glaciers, forests, turquoise lakes, and exotic wildlife.

Day one is a travel day from either Punta Arenas, Chile, or El Calafate, Argentina, ending at the comfortable EcoCamp Patagonia at the base of the Torres in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park. The EcoCamp is a group of comfortable geodesic dome hotel rooms and it is the region’s first sustainable accommodations option.

The trek begins on day two with a walk along the Cuernos trail  with great views of Los Cuernos (The Horns) and Lago Nordenskold, and ends at the rustic but cozy Refugio Los Cuernos.

On day three the trek continues up into the Valle Frances (French Valley), which is the middle leg of the “W” and a spectacular hike into the heart of the Paine Massif. That night the group will overnight on the shores of Lago Pehoe at Refugio Paine Grande.

The trek then heads along the shores of Lago Pehoe to Lago Grey, the left leg of the “W.” This glacial lake is full of icebergs and the view is of the massive Grey Glacier creeping down into the lake. The return is by boat across the lake, allowing for views of ice calving off the face of the Glacier, before driving back to our starting point at the EcoCamp.

Finally, on the fourth day of hiking we challenge the climb to the base of the Torres del Paine, one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. Following this difficult hike we have a final mellow day in the park where we drive to short hikes for views and to see wildlife such as guanacos and ostrich-like nandus.

On the seventh day we depart for either Punta Arenas or El Calafate, arriving in time to fly on to your next destination.

LOCAL OPERATOR: CASCADA EXPEDICIONES

Since 1991 Cascada Expediciones has been offering eco-friendly opportunities for travelers to let go of normal life and refresh with energizing connections to nature. With a strong focus on providing innovative, high-quality experiences — trips in which each traveler enjoys every moment of a trip — Cascada has refreshed nearly 30,000 people. Headquartered in Santiago, a trip of a lifetime with Cascada can include activities ranging from trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, biking, rafting, fly fishing, kayaking, skiing, wildlife safari and photography, multisport itineraries to winery tours. In engaging the outdoors Cascada-style, every traveler is made to feel relaxed and energized by each activity; nourished rather than weary.

More good feeling comes in knowing the money spent on a Cascada trip stays in the Chilean economy. Moreover, the money stays with a company and people who have a deep respect for the environment. The staff and guides live an eco-friendly life, sharing the environmentally sustainable philosophy put into practice over the life of the company. So firm in its understanding of nature’s importance, Cascada became a carbon neutral company in 2008 and, between June 2009 and 2010, offset more than 183 tons of CO2 emissions. With a goal of becoming entirely CO2-free, Cascada encourages its travelers, suppliers and shareholders to help by standing by its philosophy.

 

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Itinerary

Torres del Paine "W" Trek mapDAY 1 (Monday): Travel to Torres del Paine

The trip starts during the morning in the city of Punta Arenas, either at your hotel or at the airport. From Punta Arenas you drive to EcoCamp Patagonia located in the world famous Torres del Paine National Park. During summer the sun sets around 11 p.m., 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 EcoCamp in Las Torres. (Lunch, Dinner)

DAY 2 (Tuesday): Hiking the Los Cuernos Trail

You start your adventure in the Park with a pleasant walk through the curly Cuernos trail located beside beautiful Lake Nordenskjold. During this “appetizer walk” you take in the park’s charming flora and fauna, its strong wind and the curious 4-season weather that’ll accompany you during the next days. As you advance through the trail you 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. You’ll stop to get some great first shots of the park and also enjoy a delicious box lunch to energize yourself 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. You overnight at the refugio (or if the refugio is full, tented camping outside the refugio will be provided). The evening is left free to enjoy dinner and share experiences. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Approx walking time 4.5 hours
Distance 12 km / 7.5 miles
Max Altitude 244 meters / 800 feet

DAY 3 (Wednesday): Hiking Into The French Valley

After breakfast, you begin a challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley), a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. How deep you go depends on the group’s rhythm. An active walk leads you to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south east face of the Massif. From this point, you can enjoy your 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, you 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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Approx walking time 10 hours
Distance 26 km / 16 miles
Max Altitude 686 meters / 2250 feet

DAY 4 (Thursday): Glacier Day

Today you’ll hike from Paine Grande Lodge along the shores of mountain-lined Lake Pehoe to the northern end of glacial Lake Grey. You’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 you transfer to the EcoCamp. If the weather conditions do not allow us to navigate Lake Grey, you’ll instead hike to Glacier Grey and return, then at Paine Grande’s dock you’ll board the catamaran crossing the Lake Pehoe heading to Pudeto. From there, you’ll take a short drive back to Cascada EcoCamp in where you’ll enjoy the night. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Approx walking time 4 hours
Distance 11 km / 7 miles
Max Altitude 244 meters / 800 feet

*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 (Friday): Challenging Hike To The Base Of The Torres

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. You walk from the camp site toward 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 you come 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 you with the glacial lake visible below. This is one of the most breathtaking sights of the world, the famous Torres del Paine (2, 900 meters/ 9, 400 feet). These three gigantic granite monoliths are 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, you will enjoy life, the view, and a bite to eat! Once everyone is ready, you backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley, and return to the EcoCamp. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Approx walking time 9 hours
Distance 22 km / 14 miles
Max Altitude 914 meters / 3000 feet

DAY 6 (Saturday): Relaxing Hike Around The Eastern Lakes

You hike to the Laguna Azul lookout where you have a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and granite towers. You continue along the eastern side of Lago Sarmiento to the calcium formations on the lake’s shores where guanacos are often seen. Later you trek to Paso Las Corneas with spectacular views of Rio Paine, Lake Pehoe and the massif of Paine. Depending on the group, you 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 Ecocamp, a farewell dinner is celebrated. This is sadly the last night in Torres del Paine, so you take notes and talk with your friends, relax, feel the strong Patagonic wind while watching the heavens above. These past days spent in the Park will be profound memories that you shall take home with you. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Approx walking time 3 hours
Distance 6 km / 4 miles
Max Altitude 180 meters / 590 feet

DAY 7 (Sunday): Adios Torres del Paine!

In the early morning, you board a vehicle, sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic ride back to Punta Arenas on time to catch the evening flight to Santiago. (Breakfast)

Getting To and From the Trip: 

Stating in Punta Arenas, Chile: If you are staying at hotel in Punta Arenas the night before this trip starts, you will be picked up at your hotel at 10:15am on Day 1. (We can help you arrange a hotel if needed.) If you are arriving by domestic flight into Punta Arenas in the morning, you will be picked up at the airport at 11:30am. If you are arriving by domestic flight in the afternoon, you will be picked up from the airport at 3:30pm.

Starting in Puerto Natales, Chile: If you are staying the night before in a hotel in Puerto Natales, arriving by a domestic flight, or arriving by public bus, you will be picked up at 2:00pm on Day 1.

Starting in El Calafate, Argentina: You will be picked up from your hotel in El Calafate at 7:00am on Day 1 of this trip. Because of the early pick up, you would need to overnight in El Calafate the night before. We can help you arrange all necessary hotels and transportation.

Ending in Punta Arenas, Chile: If you have a departure flight leaving Punta Arenas on Day 9 of this trek, you will be dropped off at the Punta Arenas Airport at 2:00pm. Please make sure your flight departs at 4:00pm or later to give yourself time to check in. If you are staying the night in Punta Arenas, you will be dropped off at your hotel at 2:30pm. We can help you arrange a hotel.

Ending in Puerto Natales, Chile: You will be dropped off at your hotel at 11:00am. We can help you arrange a hotel and day tours.

Ending in El Calafate, Argentina: You will have a shared transfer from Torres del Paine National Park to the Cerro Castillo Chile-Argentina boarding crossing. Here you will board a public bus to El Calafate. Once you arrive at the El Calafate bus station, you will be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel. Ending your trip in El Calafate does not have an additional fee. We can help you arrange a hotel and other services in El Calafate.

Domestic Argentina or Chile Flights & International Flights: We at Detour do not arrange flights, but we can connect you with our travel partner Exito Travel. They specialize in international and domestic flights in Latin America.

Trip Start: This trip can start in Punta Arenas (Chile) at 11:30am or 3:30pm, in Puerto Natales (Chile) at 2:00pm, or in El Calafate (Argentina) at 7:00am. Depending on your international and domestic flights, you may need to overnight in Santiago, or one of the pick up towns. We can help you arrange hotels and transportation.

Trip End: This trip can end in Punta Arenas (Chile) at 2:30pm, in Puerto Natales (Chile) at 11:00am, or in El Calafate (Argentina) at 2:30pm. Depending on your departure flights or onward travel plans, you may need to overnight in one of these towns. We can help you arrange hotels and transportation.


Depending on your international and domestic flights, you made need to spend the night in Santiago (Chile), Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Natales (Chile), or in El Calafate (Argentina). If this is the case, we can help you arrange hotels, transportation, day tours, and anything else you need to make this trip perfect for you.

Getting all the way down to Patagonia isn’t easy, what else can you do while you’re there? We recommend heading even further south and exploring Tierra del Fuego National Park (located in Argentina), either by hiking, paddling, or by naturalist cruise. Or we recommend riding with banqueanos (Patagonia cowboys), and learning about Patagonia through their eyes. We have packages for all of these trips, and we can help make your trip exactly the way you want it.

If you want to explore more of Chile, we recommend trekking in the Atacama desert, wine tasting outside of Santiago, exploring the colorful coastal town of Valparaiso, biking and paddling in the Lake District, whitewater rafting, and learning about the ancient culture of Napa Nui (Easter Island).

2017 PRICES: 

OCTOBER 3, 2016 – APRIL 24, 2017 SEASON

Rates are dependent on the exchange rate between US Dollars (USD) and Chilean Pesos (CLP).  The rates below are in USD and are an estimate of the actual trip rate.  Upon requesting a trip, you will be given an updated trip price (in USD) based on the CLP exchange rate.  The updated price will always be equal to or less than the estimate below.


GROUP DEPARTURES (per person rates),
Departs Every Monday

LOW SEASON: Oct 3 – 15, 2016 & Apr 18 – 24, 2017
Standard Dome: Single: $2,739 / Double: $1,826
Superior Dome: Single: $3,287 / Double: $2191
Suite Dome: Single: $3,698 / Double: $2,465 / Triple: $2,145 / Quad: $1,866

SHOULDER SEASONOct 16 – 31, 2016 & Apr 1 – 17, 2017
Standard Dome: Single: $3,196 / Double: $2,131
Superior Dome: Single: $3,835 / Double: $2,557
Suite Dome: Single: $4,314 / Double: $2,876 / Triple: $2,502 / Quad: $2,177

HIGH SEASON: Nov 1 – Dec 13, 2016 & Jan 21 – Mar 31, 2017
Standard Dome: Single: $4,447 / Double: $2,964
Superior Dome: Single: $5,336 / Double: $3,557
Suite Dome: Single: $6,003 / Double: $4,002 / Triple: $3,482 / Quad: $3,029

PEAK SEASON: Dec 14, 2016 – Jan 20, 2017
Standard Dome: Single: $4,669 / Double: $3,112
Superior Dome: Single: $5,602 / Double: $3,557
Suite Dome: Single: $6,303 / Double: $4,202 / Triple: $3,656 / Quad: $3,180

PRIVATE DEPARTURES (per person rates)
All Seasons

  • 2 people:
    • Standard Dome: $3,916
    • Superior Dome: $4,700
    • Suite Dome: $5,287
  • 3 people:
    • Standard Dome: $3,476
    • Superior Dome: $4,171
    • Suite Dome: $4,693
  • 4 people:
    • Standard Dome: $3,342
    • Superior Dome: $4,011
    • Suite Dome: $4,512
  • 5 people:
    • Standard Dome: $3,196
    • Superior Dome: $3,835
    • Suite Dome: $4,315
  • 6 people:
    • Standard Dome: $3,092
    • Superior Dome: $3,711
    • Suite Dome: $4,175

2018 PRICES: 

For 2018 pricing, please inquire using the “I Am Interested” button above or by calling 1-866-386-4168.


INCLUDED: 

  • All ground transport private and domestic as indicated in the itinerary
  • Regular bus tickets Calafate <> Natales if starting/finishing in Calafate, Argentina
  • Boat crossing over Lake Grey* please check day 4 of the itinerary
  • 4 nights accommodation at EcoCamp standard domes (shared basis)
  • 1 night accommodation at Refugio Paine Grande and 1 night in Refugio Los Cuernos (If refugios are unavailable, alternative accommodation will be provided in tents with prior notice and refunds are given. All camping equipment including a sleeping bag and pad would be provided.)
  • Park fees for Cueva del Milodon and Torres del Paine National Park
  • One expert English speaking trekking guide
  • Transportation for your luggage within the Park: while trekking you will carry just your day backpack
  • Meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day

NOT INCLUDED: 

  • Flight tickets
  • Insurance (it is mandatory you purchase appropriate insurance for this trip)
  • Voluntary tipping of guides and staff
  • Soft drinks or snacks not served with the meals included at the EcoCamp. Bringing US$ in cash for buying extra drinks/snacks or souvenirs in Torres del Paine NP is suggested
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Items of personal nature
  • Sleeping bags and pads (available to rent)
  • Services not indicated in the itinerary
  • Upgrades to Standard or Superior Domes at EcoCamp
  • Chile reciprocity fee (if applicable)
  • Accommodations and services in Santiago, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, or El Calafate (can be quoted for and arranged upon request)

ADDITIONAL EXPENSES TO CONSIDER:

  • International or domestic flights
  • Insurance (it is mandatory you purchase appropriate insurance for this trip)
  • Voluntary tipping of guides and staff
  • Sleeping bags and pads (available to rent)
  • Chile reciprocity fee (if applicable)
  • Accommodations and services in Santiago, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, or El Calafate (can be quoted for and arranged upon request)


 

 

 

Plan Your Trip

Group Departures
Every Monday October to April

Private Departures
Any day October to April on request, pending availability (requires a minimum of 2 travelers).

There are no departures geared specifically to families, but families are welcome to join on any date!

  • Youngsters who are 13 years of age or older are welcome and are considered adults.
  • Children between 12 and 13 might be accepted in this program if their legal guardian sends a formal letter stating that the child is prepared for such an intense trekking trip and authorizes us to hire a private guide in case the child cannot perform well during the trek.
  • Children under 12 years of age cannot participate in this trip.
  • This trip doesn’t offer a special discount for children.

Trip Start: This trip can start in Punta Arenas (Chile) at 11:30am or 3:30pm, in Puerto Natales (Chile) at 2:00pm, or in El Calafate (Argentina) at 7:00am. Depending on your international and domestic flights, you may need to overnight in Santiago, or one of the pick up towns. We can help you arrange hotels and transportation.

Trip End: This trip can end in Punta Arenas (Chile) at 2:30pm, in Puerto Natales (Chile) at 11:00am, or in El Calafate (Argentina) at 2:30pm. Depending on your departure flights or onward travel plans, you may need to overnight in one of these towns. We can help you arrange hotels and transportation.

How Do I Get To and From the Trip: 

Stating in Punta Arenas, Chile: If you are staying at hotel in Punta Arenas the night before this trip starts, you will be picked up at your hotel at 10:15am on Day 1. (We can help you arrange a hotel if needed.) If you are arriving by domestic flight into Punta Arenas in the morning, you will be picked up at the airport at 11:30am. If you are arriving by domestic flight in the afternoon, you will be picked up from the airport at 3:30pm.

Starting in Puerto Natales, Chile: If you are staying the night before in a hotel in Puerto Natales, arriving by a domestic flight, or arriving by public bus, you will be picked up at 2:00pm on Day 1.

Starting in El Calafate, Argentina: You will be picked up from your hotel in El Calafate at 7:00am on Day 1 of this trip. Because of the early pick up, you would need to overnight in El Calafate the night before. We can help you arrange all necessary hotels and transportation.

Ending in Punta Arenas, Chile: If you have a departure flight leaving Punta Arenas on Day 9 of this trek, you will be dropped off at the Punta Arenas Airport at 2:00pm. Please make sure your flight departs at 4:00pm or later to give yourself time to check in. If you are staying the night in Punta Arenas, you will be dropped off at your hotel at 2:30pm. We can help you arrange a hotel.

Ending in Puerto Natales, Chile: You will be dropped off at your hotel at 11:00am. We can help you arrange a hotel and day tours.

Ending in El Calafate, Argentina: You will have a shared transfer from Torres del Paine National Park to the Cerro Castillo Chile-Argentina boarding crossing. Here you will board a public bus to El Calafate. Once you arrive at the El Calafate bus station, you will be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel. Ending your trip in El Calafate does not have an additional fee. We can help you arrange a hotel and other services in El Calafate.

Domestic Argentina or Chile Flights & International Flights: We at Detour do not arrange flights, but we can connect you with our travel partner Exito Travel. They specialize in international and domestic flights in Latin America.

Transport is in minivans that normally seat from 8 to 14 people, with a driver and your guide. When there are only 2 to 4 people, smaller vehicles are used, usually a 4×4, driven by the tour guide. On the regular departure trips, you‘ll share the vehicle with other travelers joining your shared trip. On private departures, the vehicle will be for your use exclusively, although transfers for private groups may be combined with other travelers, owing to Cascada’s environmental policy to keep to the lowest possible ecological impact, and thus avoid driving the same way at the same time with two half-empty vehicles.

El Calafate Hotels: If you are staying longer in El Calafate, Argentina, we can help you arrange hotels and transportation here.

Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales Hotels: If you arrive in Chile early, or opt to end this trip in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, Chile, you will need to spend the night in one of these towns. We can help you arrange hotels and transportation here. Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales are great jumping off points for exploring southern Chile.

Santiago Hotels: Depending on your international and internal Chile flights, you may need to spend a night or two in Santiago. We can help you arrange day tours, hotels, and all necessary transportation to fit with your flights.

Getting all the way down to Patagonia isn’t easy, what else can you do while you’re there? We recommend heading even further south and exploring Tierra del Fuego National Park (located in Argentina), either by hiking, paddling, or by naturalist cruise. Or we recommend riding with banqueanos (Patagonia cowboys), and learning about Patagonia through their eyes. We have packages for all of these trips, and we can help make your trip exactly the way you want it.

If you want to explore more of Chile, we recommend trekking in the Atacama desert, wine tasting outside of Santiago, exploring the colorful coastal town of Valparaiso, biking and paddling in the Lake District, whitewater rafting, and learning about the ancient culture of Napa Nui (Easter Island).

Countries Visited: Chile

Destinations Visited: 

Torres del Paine National Park, Lake Grey, Grey Glacier, Lake Pehoe, French Valley, Los Cuernos, Trek to the Towers, Laguna Azul

Green Certifications: 

Trip Sustainability: 

GREEN ETHOS
EcoCamp has gained an award-winning reputation for its eco-friendly policies and innovative use of green technology. We are leaders in environmentally responsible travel to areas of fragile natural resources and we minimize the footprint of every visitor in Torres del Paine National Park through our careful development strategy and implementation of green technology. Our low impact design and focus on raising guests’ awareness of how to care for their environment highlights our commitment to a greener present and future for tourism. Conservation is central to the philosophy driving our operations, and we have been certified as complying with the highest international standards of environmental management, such as ISO14001.

DESIGN PREMISE
The design premise behind EcoCamp was to create accommodation where travellers could connect with nature and explore Torres del Paine without leaving a footprint. At EcoCamp guests are immersed in their natural surroundings, hearing the wind race through the sky while looking up at the stars through the ceiling of their cozy dome. All natural light and heat energy is utilised and electricity comes from hydro and solar energy. Domes blend naturally into their surrounding environment and flora and fauna continues to flourish on EcoCamp ground.

Our premise from the start has been to take comfort to the limits of what is sustainable and for this reason we resist the concept of luxury because environmental conservation will always be prioritised over any luxurious amenities or practices which could be detrimental to the park.

EcoCamp’s dome design was inspired by the The Kaweskars (Alacalufes), a group of nomadic Patagonian inhabitants whose presence in Torres del Paine is documented. They arrived by canoe in the 15th century and made no demands on natural resources as they travelled from place to place, setting up and dismantling their semi-circular huts built from simple materials, leaving no trace behind. To keep warm they lit fires inside the domes.

EcoCamp is a tribute to the ancient Kaweskar dwellings and way of life and the essence of their dome homes has been kept by maintaining a simple nomadic design in the midst of natural surroundings. Just like the Kaweskars, EcoCamp respects nature and aims to leaves no footprint behind in the wilderness.

CONSTRUCTION
All domes have semi-spherical structures which minimise external surface area and temperature exchange through walls as well as giving maximum internal space and ensuring a uniform distribution of wind stress. Dome exteriors are green and of limited height so they blend harmoniously into the natural environment. All walls have an outer canvas layer and thick insulation cushion, ensuring warmth and protection from strong winds. Skylight windows allow guests to follow natural light patterns, star gaze at night, and utilise natural heat and light resources.

Minimal excavation and raised open platforms minimises the foundations of EcoCamp and means local fauna is not disrupted but can freely roam around on the ground. At night we light the walkways very subtly so as not to disturb animals.

The portable design of EcoCamp ensures it does no harm to the environment and can relocate without leaving a trace – as was proven in 2005 when EcoCamp moved to Estancia Cerro Paine at the foot of the Towers without leaving a trace.

GREEN ENERGY
All of our electricity (which is very little as most of our efforts go to efficiency and electricity saving) comes from a micro-hydro turbine and photovoltaic panels. Energy is gathered together in a 24V battery bank to power all of EcoCamp’s refrigerators, lighting, electrical appliances, stereos etc. Propane gas is only used to heat water and superior domes. A pilot scheme to heat shower water with solar energy is in motion.

Water from the river enters the micro-hydro turbine at 5 litres per second with a net pressure of 38 meters delivering a steady power of 800 Watts. An inverter is used to switch from the 24V DC in the battery bank to 220 AC, the standard voltage in Chile. An array of 1700 Watt photovoltaic panels – also connected to the battery bank – collect the extra energy needed at Ecocamp.

Electricity is limited and only available to guests for charging camera batteries and laptops, not using hairdryers or electric razors. Solar energy is very efficient in summer when Patagonia receives up to 17 hours of sunlight daily.

EcoCamp Patagonia SketchDomes have skylight windows so natural light and heat can be utilized. This not only allows guests to follow natural light patterns but saves electricity, leaving us confident that our renewable energy sources are sufficient and fossil fuels are not needed. Suite domes have a wood stove for warmth, recycling dead wood from the park and avoiding the need to use diesel.

EcoCamp’s sustainable design, structure, implementation and maintenance is all the direct work of the owners themselves. Javier Lopez and Yerko Ivelic, both Chilean engineers, worked to design a hotel concept which would allow them to rely almost entirely on green energy. They then installed the micro-hydro turbine and composting toilet devices and taught a team of skilled workers how to work and maintain these features. To this date, ten years after EcoCamp’s opening, the owners continue to travel to Torres del Paine to oversee implementation and maintenance of the sophisticated structure they put in place all those years ago.

WASTE MANAGEMENT
We have a basic policy of environmentally-sensitive waste management which includes bringing as little paper, tin and plastic into the wilderness as possible. All waste brought in is separated at the source and stored according to its recycling status: organic, paper, glass, and dangerous or toxic materials. All non-organic materials are removed and sent to the closest town of Punta Arenas to be recycled or disposed of and organic material is fed to a neighbouring pig farm.

Guides ensure guests leave no rubbish en route during treks, and that all non-biodegradable material is brought back to EcoCamp to be properly disposed of. Guests reuse zip-lock lunch bags and water flasks.

We choose all of our suppliers extremely carefully, ensuring they are all aware of and meet with our environmental standards. We buy in bulk so as to limit individual packaging and our suppliers limit packaging brought into the park to an absolute minimum.

Guests recycle their lunch bags everyday and use the same flask which they re-fill with water en route during their trek. We have a traveller handbook in all domes informing guests of our ecological practices and their responsibilities while in the park, which include staying on the raised wooden walkways, never smoking inside domes, using biodegradable hygiene products, always returning waste to the recycling point at EcoCamp, taking batteries back home, minimising time in the shower and sharing transport to and from EcoCamp.

EcoCamp has the world’s southern-most composting device, and the first in the hotel industry in the whole of Chile and Patagonia. Composting chambers collect waste from toilets and solid waste remains in the chamber, mixed with paper and wood chips, and is heated to keep microorganisms alive and the compost process active. Liquids are passed through a cleaning chamber, filtered, then passed into the ground. Due to the low temperatures in Patagonia, great effort is required to maintain the active process.

ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION
EcoCamp has been certified as an ISO14001 property, complying with high environmental standards and constantly testing and sharing new, innovative green ideas in an attempt to set the bar for other tourism developers. To date we are the only lodge or hotel in Chile and Patagonia to have received such recognition.

EcoCamp has also been ISO9001 certified, ensuring the highest standards of management principles are met.

In 2009 EcoCamp Patagonia was highly commended in Virgin holidays’ Responsible Tourism Awards, stating that EcoCamp sits ‘at the cutting edge of environmental practice with the design and creation of their innovative 4-star Geodesic dome tented hotel…’

CARBON FREE
In the year 2008, Ecocamp became a Carbon Neutral company. Our goal is to minimize our emissions of CO2 as much as possible and in the future hopefully become a CO2-free lodge. Between June 2009 and June 2010 we offset 183.680 tonnes of CO2 emissions and between July 1st 2010 and June 30th 2011 we offset 229.402 tonnes.

We avoid transport pollution by buying all of our food from nearby farm suppliers and greenhouses who have only to drive a few hours to deliver supplies, as opposed to other hotels who receive deliveries on flights from the capital or abroad. Also, all of our handicrafts and decorations and some furniture is made by local artists who, again, have limited transport requirements.

CULTURAL PRESERVATION
Patagonia is a vast region which is sparsely populated. The region has a rich cultural history but over time all of the native Patagonian tribes have become extinct and the main Patagonian culture which exists today is the Baqueano (Gaucho) culture. EcoCamp works to preserve the region’s cultural history and embrace the ongoing Baqueano culture. Read about Patagonia’s human history.

Baqueanos
There is relatively little unique cultural heritage in Torres del Paine, compared to say other regions in Chile. Natural heritage and geological assets are the main draw! The tradition of Baqueanos (Patagonian horsemen) still exists however, and EcoCamp hires Baqueanos for its horse riding trip.

The word ‘baqueano’ is usually just translated as cowboy, which is the closest equivalent outside of Chile, and like cowboys and ‘gauchos’, the baqueano did sometimes round up sheep and cattle, pursue and tame feral animals, and hunt for guanaco and ñandus to sell their skins and feathers, but the baqueano has always been a pathfinder first and foremost. Since the 1870s, skilled horsemen have headed deep into Patagonia to unveil the mysteries of the boundless and unknown expanse, often acting as guides for explorers arriving from Europe. Whilst industrialisation put an end to many traditional countryside professions, there is no machine on earth that could replicate the expertise and skill of the baqueano as a guide, and for that reason their culture is still very much alive and EcoCamp takes pride in hiring local Baqueanos to lead horse riding trips in and around the national park.

Once a year Hotel Las Torres (who own the land on which EcoCamp is located) host an Equestrian Endurance Race in which traditional Baqueanos compete alongside other horse riders. EcoCamp encourages its guests to wander down to the hotel, just 15 minutes from EcoCamp, to experience this equestrian culture first hand and see the traditions of the Baqueanos who have had such an important role in Patagonian history. Read more about Torres del Paine’s Baqueanos

Aonikenk Cave Paintings
In addition to the Baqueano culture in Torres del Paine, EcoCamp makes it Wildlife Safari guests aware of the ancient rock painting tradition practiced by the ancient Aonikenk (Tehuelches or Patagones) natives in the park. The Aonikenk arrived in Torres del Paine in latter half of the first millennium and painted animals and symbols on rocks indicating what food was available in which areas of the park. They were nomadic hunter-gatherers and as they migrated north through Patagonia they saw the silhouette of a incredible rock formation in the distance and called it ‘Paine’, meaning ‘blue’ in their language (the predominant colour they saw in the distance). Unfortunately the Aonikenk tribe is completely extinct (most native tribes perished with the settlement of Europeans in the late 1880s) but their history of communication is fascinating to learn about and reflect on how the history of park inhabitants has evolved.

Kaweskars
EcoCamp guides make every effort to talk about the park’s history and how EcoCamp’s domes are a tribute to the ancient Kaweskar tribe inhabitants who moved nomadically around the park.
The Kaweskars arrived by canoe in the 15th century and made no demands on natural resources as they travelled from place to place, setting up and dismantling their semi-circular huts built from simple materials, leaving no trace behind. To keep warm they lit fires inside the domes. EcoCamp is a tribute to the ancient Kaweskar dwellings and way of life and the essence of their dome homes has been kept by maintaining a simple nomadic design in the midst of natural surroundings. Just like the Kaweskars, EcoCamp respects nature’s well-being and aims to leaves no footprint behind in the wilderness. Read our itnerview with renowned Chilean ethno-linguist Oscar Aguilera Faúndez for his unique insight into the lives of Chilean Patagonia’s indigenous Kaweskar people.

Menu & decor at EcoCamp
All of EcoCamp’s furniture, decor and decorations are made in Chile, the majority in Patagonia. One of Ecocamp’s founders, Nani Astorga, hand selects the pieces of furniture for EcoCamp’s domes, buying from local vendors in Patagonia or from Cajon del Maipo in the Andes Mountains just next to Santiago. All pieces of furniture and decoration are made in typical mountain style using different wood and many native painting styles. Pictures of the native Kaweskar inhabitants are on show at EcoCamp and traditional Andean patterns are also used on decoration.

EcoCamp’s food is a mix of Chilean, Altiplanic, Patagonian and international food. The EcoCamp Patagonia fusion menu includes typical ingredients from Chile which form staples for the native inhabitants, such as purple potatoes, quinoa, patasca from the Altiplano (a stew made from tripe, veal, potatoes, corn and peppers) and molasses made from the meaty sweet fruit found on northern Chile’s chañar trees.

Sporting Events
EcoCamp provides the official ‘green accommodation’ option for the Patagonia International Marathon which took place for the first time in 2012. The race ends at Las torres hotel, just a 15 minute walk from EcoCamp, and all participants enjoy a celebratory evening together at Las torres before being taken to EcoCamp to sleep.  EcoCamp also hosts participants of the annual Equestrian Endurance Race, again organised by neighbouring hotel Las Torres. In addition EcoCamp collaborates with local triathlon Kallpamayu, providing vehicles, staff and radio communication.

SOCIAL COMMITMENT
EcoCamp makes a concerted effort to benefit the local community in which it operates. It is worth mentioning that in a global context Chile has a good economy and has been an OECD country since 2010, and the Magallanes region where EcoCamp is located is one of the country’s more affluent regions. The local economy in Magallanes relies heavily on tourism therefore the best and most logical social support EcoCamp can give is buying locally and employing locals, guaranteeing them a good monthly income.

Local products
All food is bought from nearby farm suppliers who sell products such as eggs, meat, cheese, dried fruit, grain, marmalade and bread in addition to buying fruit & vegetables from local vendors. Horses are hired from local ranch owners and most handicrafts and decoration are purchased from local artisan markets. Many pieces of furniture are also bought locally in Punta Arenas. There is a shop at EcoCamp run by one of the founders which sells local clothing made principally from wool and leather. We ensure a fair price is paid for all goods by buying directly from the farmer or fisherman etc wherever possible.  Read more about local consuming in Torres del Paine

Local staff
90% of all staff employed are from the local region – the majority from nearest town Puerto Natales and some from the regional capital city Punta Arenas. EcoCamp’s manager is Chilean, from capital Santiago, as are EcoCamp’s owners.  Staff receive regular in-house training throughout the season, with many progressing to a higher position the following season. Many kitchen or maintenance workers have gone on to become porters and eventually guides.

EcoCamp offers competitive wages (all staff receive above Chilean minimum wage and are compensated for living away from their families etc. during the season) and guarantees very good living conditions including good quality food, comfortable sleeping quarters and regularly scheduled days off. All staff have indefinite contracts, complying with legal requirements for pension funds and medical care, and seasonal staff are given a month’s notice before the termination of their contract at the season’s end.

All staff receive initial training when they start work at EcoCamp and learn in depth about EcoCamp’s philosophy and sustainable practices. There is continual training and chance of promotion at the end of each season. Many members of staff who come to work in the kitchen or bar become porters the following season and guides the season after that. EcoCamp has an equal opportunities policy with all staff rewarded with internal advancement within the company wherever possible.

EcoCamp is proud partner of the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund. As a partner to the Fund we also ask our guests to make a contribution. 100% of your donation will be used to enhance the experience and long-term health of Torres del Paine and its surrounding communities as tourist destinations through projects that improve the environment, the community, and the tourism product of the region!

Activities: Day Hike, Trek

Activity Description: 

Day 1: Drive to Torres del Paine

Day 2: Los Cuernos Trail
Distance: 16 km / 10 mi
Hiking Time: 7 hours
Max. Altitude: 244 m / 800 ft

Day 3: Valle Frances Trail
Distance: 25 km / 15 mi
Hiking Time: 8 hours
Max. Altitude: 686 m / 2,250 ft

Day 4: Grey Glacier Trail
Distance: 14 km / 9 mi
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Max. Altitude: 244 m / 800 ft

Day 5: Las Torres Trail
Distance: 21 km / 13 mi
Hiking Time: 10 hours
Max. Altitude: 914 m / 3,000 ft

Day 6: Fauna Trail
Distance: 8 km / 5 mi
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Max. Altitude: 100 m / 328 ft

Day 7: Depart Torres del Paine

Trip Difficulty: Strenuous

Fitness Level: 

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.

Minimum Age: 12

Maximum Age: 85

Minimum Group Size: 2

Maximum Group Size: 12

Typical Group Size: 9

Months Offered: January, February, March, April, October, November, December

Best Time to Go: 

The best time for this trip is during the high summer in Patagonia: the months of December, January, and February. Spring is in October and November, and fall is in March and April. Spring and fall are also good times to travel in Patagonia, but the weather can be more variable. But please remember that you can get cold weather and rain even in mid-summer.

The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to the saturated winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. Also, both the strong marine and the South Patagonic Ice field influence make the weather hard to predict. In spring or early summer fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rains and eventually snow. Even in summer (December to March) you should come prepared to find cold- strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min).

Food and Special Diets: 

We consider meals to be an essential ingredient of a successful trip. Each trip will have its own menu depending on the local food and typical dishes prepared in the area.

We’ve put a lot of effort into developing a menu of fresh hearty meals using locally-sourced ingredients. Meals at mountain huts on trekking routes are simple but plentiful. Vegetarian and special diets are welcomed, just let us know well in advance.

Drinking Water: 

Purified drinking water is provided. Please bring a refillable water bottle or camelback (with at least 2 liter capacity).

Equipment Provided: 

No special equipment provided.

Boat Specifications:

Special Equipment You Should Bring: 

  • Day backpack with rain cover
  • Waterproof trekking shoes (that have been broken in)
  • Rain jacket & rain pants
  • Trekking poles
  • Refillable water bottle

For a complete packing list, see the Suggested Packing List under the More Info Tab.

 

HOTEL / LODGE AMENITIES:  Breakfast, Restaurant

BOAT AMENITIES: You do not stay on a boat on this trip

CAMP AMENITIES: You will not be camping on this trip

ROOM AMENITIES: Twin Beds, Double Beds, Picture Window, Hot Water, Private Bathroom, Shared Bathroom, Shower, Soap and Shampoo, Towels

ROOMING OPTIONS: Double, Triple, Single, Willing to Share, Single Supplement

DESCRIPTION:

EcoCamp
Located in the heart of Torres del Paine, the EcoCamp consists of tented igloo-type domes built to minimize the environmental impact while providing a comfortable setting and maximum exposure to nature. There is electricity available for charging just camera batteries (voltage: 220 Volts at 50 Hertz, two round pins plug). Food at the EcoCamp has the same quality as the one you will have on a family dinner at your home, this means it is plenty and delicious!

Standard Domes at EcoCamp
Our standard domes are twin or double. Two people booking together will have their own dome. Accommodation for single travelers will be on a sharing basis, with a maximum of two people per dome. The exception will be travelers of opposite genders not wishing to share. Bathrooms are divided by gender and shared by all guests staying in standard domes. They have showers with hot water.

Superior Domes at EcoCamp (Optional upgrade)
The superior domes are 23mt² / 250 ft² semispherical tented domes equipped with private bathrooms and a comfortable queen size bed. They also have an innovative compost device for generated waste and electric stove for heating the interior.

Refugios
These are typical mountain huts, open to the public that visits Torres del Paine. It has rooms for 4-6 people. The beds are single, bunk type and we will provide you with a sleeping bag and a polar fleece liner (you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag!). The bathrooms are also shared and they have hot water. The refugios are heated and have a very comfortable dining area. Food at the refugios could sometimes don’t match your expectative, it is simple food prepared for mountain people with low emphasis in flavor and presentation. If refugios are unavailable, alternative accommodation will be provided in tents with prior notice.

 

 

Local Tour Operator:

Cascada Expediciones

Cascada Expediciones is a Chilean in-bound tour operator with headquarters in Santiago de Chile. We started out in 1991 as a rafting company and expanded to offer trips in destinations as remote as Patagonia, the Atacama desert and Easter Island. We currently organize eco-friendly trips in Patagonia (Where we own and operate EcoCamp Patagonia), Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Activities include trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, rafting, kayaking, skiing, wildlife observation and wine tours. In the last twenty years over 20,000 people visiting Chile have enjoyed Cascada-operated tours.

At Cascada we focus on the whole experience. We want travelers to enjoy every moment of their trip, and feel both relaxed and energized by each activity.  Our trips are unique, eco-friendly and carefully designed to ensure maximum enjoyment and positive experiences. Trips are an opportunity for guests to switch off from their normal life, connect with nature, get to know a new place, and feel refreshed afterwards.

We have a basic policy of environmentally-sensitive management of waste which includes bringing as little paper, tin and plastic into the wilderness as possible.  All waste brought in is stored according to its recycling status, whether plastic, glass, organic matter, paper or batteries. At EcoCamp we obtain energy from 100% natural and renewable sources like water, sun and wind. Solar energy is maximized in summer when Patagonia receives 17 hours of daylight. Domes have been constructed to utilize all natural energy and retain heat from sunlight.

We respect all flora and fauna and foster an understanding of nature’s importance among our neighbors by sharing all our innovations with the local Corporacion Fomento & Producción (CORFO), so they can help other entrepreneurs follow the same path.  We focus on developing successful, concrete examples that can be imitated by other developers. By doing this, we motivate the building of portable lodgings that don’t have a huge impact on the terrain in Chilean National Parks and don’t disrupt the flora or fauna.  Nani Astorga, one of the founders of Cascada, runs an animal rehabilitation center in Cajon del Maipo, in the Andes mountains near Santiago, providing refuge to endangered species.

Cascada employs approximately 25 people in its Santiago office all year round — working in sales, marketing, traffic, operations and accounting — in addition to staff in Patagonia at Ecocamp.  Our personnel at EcoCamp in the 2010-2011 season consisted of 39 employees: 5 people working in Punta Arenas and at the Puerto Natales office (two of Torres del Paine’s closest cities), 16 people attending to guests at the camp, 6 drivers and 12 experienced guides. 90% of our EcoCamp staff are native to or are long-term residents in Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas.

Staff and guides live an eco-friendly life, taking care of our energy, water and waste management.  All staff at Cascada share the environmentally-sustainable philosophy put into practice over the last twenty years by the company, and encourage guests, suppliers and shareholders to think and act alike.

Guides:

Meet the Guides

Guides - RafaelRafael Poblete

Specialty: Wildlife Safari
Favorite Tour: EcoCamp Patagonia Wildlife Safari
Despite being a born and bred Santiaguino, Rafael feels more relaxed in the midst of nature, hiking and leading groups through Torres del Paine while snapping awesome photos.

Guide - NataliaNatalia Montes Viviani

Specialty: Wildlife Safari
Favorite Tour: EcoCamp Patagonia Wildlife Safari
Santiaguina Natalia came across EcoCamp Patagonia by chance while trekking in Torres del Paine and she liked it so much that she couldn’t resist staying to work.

Guide - ClaudioClaudio Bravo

Specialty: Wildlife Safari
Favorite Tour: EcoCamp Patagonia Wildlife Safari
Claudio joins the Wildlife Safari team fresh from his eco-tourism studies and with an overriding passion for nature and life in the wilderness.

Guide - EduardoEduardo Tapia

Specialty: Trekking Expeditions
Favorite Tour: Paine Circuit
Born and raised in Punta Arenas, Eduardo has worked as a Torres del Paine and Patagonia guide all of his adult life.

Guide - LuisLuis Romero

Speciality: Trekking Expeditions
Favorite Tour: W-Trek
A born and bred Patagonian, Luis has been working with Cascada since 2008 trekking round Torres del Paine on the 5-, 7- and 9-day circuits season after season and loving it.

Guide - LuisManuel Sierpe

Specialty: Trekking Expeditions
Favorite Tour: W-Trek
Manuel hails from Punta Arenas, where he got the mountain trekking bug at an early age. He chose Cascada in 2009 because of its expertise in Adventure Tourism.

Guide - LoretoLoreto Vasquez

Specialty: Trekking Expeditions
Favorite Tour: W-Trek
A native of Puerto Natales, Loreto became an EcoCamp guide in 2010, attracted by the company’s ecological sustainability focus. In her first season she really enjoyed leading motivated groups around the park on the active treks, many of whom had a lot of trekking experience and kept her on her toes!

Guide - HernanHernan Cardenas Ibañez

Specialty: Trekking Expeditions
Favorite Tour: Paine Circuit
Although Hernan has traveled and lived in many places across the world, including Asia, Europe, North America and South America, his favorite place remains Patagonia and he can’t imagine working outside of Torres del Paine.

Guide - CarolaCarolina Canto

Specialty: Trekking Expeditions
Favorite Tour: W-Trek

Guides - JoseJose Luis Ojeda

Specialty: Trekking Expeditions
Favorite Tour: W-Trek
José Luis started working as a Cascada guide in 2009, impressed by the company’s extensive experience in Torres del Paine and good working environment. A native of Punta Arenas, Jose Luis’ favorite place in Chile is (let’s take bets…) Patagonia!

TMI (Too Much Information)

  • Day backpack with rain cover
  • 1 or 2 pairs of quick dry pants
  • 1 or 2 quick dry t-shirts
  • Waterproof trekking shoes (that have been broken in)
  • Warm socks
  • Comfortable shoes for the evenings
  • Warm insulated jacket (synthetic or down)
  • Rain jacket & rain pants
  • Warm base layers for hiking (fleece, wool, or synthetic)
  • Long underwear (wool or synthetic)
  • Trekking poles
  • Gloves, sun hat / cap, warm hat, bandanna, sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • Soap and other personal toiletries
  • Bathing suit
  • Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Camera, extra memory card, extra batteries, and charger
  • First aid Kit.  While most guides carry first aid kits, you are responsible for bringing along your own personal medical kit including medications, especially prescription drugs, or vitamins you regularly take (fill prescriptions before you travel), including any over the counter drugs you might take such as pain relievers, motion sickness pills or indigestion tablets.  And it’s always a good idea to take band aids, mole skins, anti bacterial cream, alcohol wipes, etc.

HOW TO PACK 

For your trek, you will need a day backpack, large enough to hold water bottles, rain jacket & pants, a warm layer, sun screen, insect repellent, camera, and snacks. The day backpack makes a good carry-on for your flights.

For your main luggage, you can use whatever type of suitcase, duffel bag, or backpack you prefer. The main bulk of your luggage and your main suitcase will be left at your hotels during the day.

Pro Tip: We recommend carrying on all of your most essential items on your flights. This way, if your checked luggage is lost in transit, you will still be able to do the trek. For example, wear or carry on your hiking boots. Good, comfortable, and broken-in hiking boots are irreplaceable. Also carry on any prescription medications, sunglasses, and anything else that is irreplaceable for you. Everything else necessary for your trip (trekking poles, rain jackets & pants, etc. can be found in in the larger towns).

  • The Uttermost parts of the Earth: Lucas Bridges
  • Cape Horn and Other Stories of the End of the World: Francisco Coloane
  • The Full Circle: Luis Sepulveda
  • In Patagonia: Bruce Chatwin
  • The Wild Shores of Patagonia: Peninsula Valdes and Punta Tombo: Jasmine Rossi
  • Riding Across Patagonia: Florence Dixie
  • The Old Patagonian Express: Paul Theroux
  • In Patagonia: Bruce Chatwin
  • Far Away and Long Ago: W. H. Hudson
  • Idle Days in Patagonia: W. H. Hudson
  • The invention of Argentina: Nicholas Shumway
  • Patagonia, History, Myths and Legends: Roberto Hosne
  • The Indians of Tierra del Fuego: Samuel Kirkland Lothrop
  • Terra del Fuoco: Francisco Coloane
  • Passeggiando tra id draghi addormentati: Alberto Arbasino
  • The Captive in Patagonia: Benjamin Franklin Bourne
  • Three Men of the Beagle (Tres hombres a bordo del Beagle): Javier Vergara Editores
Electricity in Chile is 220 Volts. The 'Europlug' two pin plug sockets used in continental Europe are the same as those in Chile, so if you are bringing appliances from France, Germany, Spain etc. you shouldn't need an adapter. Some hotels may have adapters for appliances but it's probably wise to bring an adapter from your own country to be on the safe side. You will have access to electricity at EcoCamp.

In the larger towns of Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, you will have access to ATMs, banks, and places to exchange money. Be sure to carry small denominations of Chilean Pesos and US Dollars  You will be able to purchase souvenirs, drinks, snacks, etc. at the Cascada Expediciones permanent dome camp (EcoCamp).

Smoking is not allowed in rooms or enclosed public areas.

Safety:

Medical Attention:

Most traveling incidents are relatively minor, involving nothing more than cuts and bruises or a brief case of traveller’s tummy. Cascada Expediciones’ guides are trained to cope with these minor incidents but in the unlikely case of something more serious, they will seek local medical assistance. Medical insurance is mandatory for all their trips and they also strongly suggest you buy cancellation and curtailment insurance.

Staff/ Crew on Trip: 1 guide for every 6 travelers

DETOUR'S POLICIES

DETOUR’S DISCLAIMER
Detour acts only as an agent for the various independent suppliers that provide hotel accommodations, transportation, sightseeing, activities, or other services connected with this tour. Such services are subject to the terms and conditions of those suppliers. Detour, LLC and their respective employees, agents, representatives, and assigns accept no liability whatsoever for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, or any other incident which may be caused by the negligence, defect, default of any company or person in performing these services. Responsibility is not accepted for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to sickness, weather, strikes, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature, local laws, or other such causes. All services and accommodations are subject to the laws and regulations of the country in which they are provided. Detour, LLC is not responsible for any baggage or personal effects of any individual participating in the tours /trips arranged by Detour, LLC. Individual travelers are responsible for purchasing a travel insurance policy, if desired, that will cover some of the expenses associated with the loss of luggage or personal effects.

Cancellations: If you cancel the trip at any point after confirmation, you will forfeit a $100 per person handling fee to Detour. This is separate and in addition to the fees, deposits, and payments potentially owed to the tour operator (see information below).

Trip Changes:  If you decide to make any changes to your trip (changes to your itinerary, travel dates, tours, or accommodations) after it is booked, you will incur a $50 change fee per person, per change.  Unavoidable changes (such as those imposed by an international flight schedule change) will not incur this fee.  Adding on services before or after your confirmed tour will not incur this fee.

Rate Changes to Domestic Flights, Park Entrance Fees, Government Taxes and Fuel Surcharges:  The rates for all these items are subject to change at any point and these fees or fee changes can be imposed on any trip, even after a trip has been confirmed and paid for in full.  These rate changes are beyond the control of Detour or our local operating partners.  Oftentimes, these changes are imposed by government decree and take effect immediately.  While this is a rare occurence and the rate changes themselves are typically quite small, these changes are unpredictable and sometimes unavoidable.  Travelers are responsible for any additional costs or fees due to these rate changes, even after the trip is paid in full.

Passports and Traveler Details:  Passengers are responsible for sending up-to-date and correct information that is requested in the “Trip Reservation Form.”  If any of those details change, it is the passenger’s responsibility to notify Detour of the change before the trip departure.  If you need to renew your passport prior to your trip, you must notify Detour that you will be renewing your passport and you will have to email a scanned copy of both your old and new passports to Detour.  Additionally, you will have to bring both passports with you on your trip. Please make sure that you request to receive your old passport at the start of the renewal process.

Airport Transfers:  Airport transfer rates are based on group size with the assumption that all travelers will be taking the same transfer.  If some travelers in your personal group arrive or depart on different days or at different times, additional airport transfers will have to be booked and the passenger is responsible for this additional cost.

DETOUR’S DISCLAIMER
Detour acts only as an agent for the various independent suppliers that provide hotel accommodations, transportation, sightseeing, activities, or other services connected with this tour. Such services are subject to the terms and conditions of those suppliers. Detour, LLC and their respective employees, agents, representatives, and assigns accept no liability whatsoever for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, or any other incident which may be caused by the negligence, defect, default of any company or person in performing these services.  Responsibility is not accepted for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to sickness, weather, strikes, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature, local laws, or other such causes.  All services and accommodations are subject to the laws and regulations of the country in which they are provided. Detour, LLC is not responsible for any baggage or personal effects of any individual participating in the tours /trips arranged by Detour, LLC. Individual travelers are responsible for purchasing a travel insurance policy, if desired, that will cover some of the expenses associated with the loss of luggage or personal effects.

DETOUR’S CANCELLATION POLICY
If you cancel the trip at any point after confirmation, you will owe a $100 per person handling fee to Detour.  This is separate and in addition to the fees, deposits, and payments potentially owed to the tour operator (see information below).

 

CASCADA EXPEDICIONES’ TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Insurance Travel protection is essential for your peace of mind; unexpected medical emergencies or illness before or during your trip and several other contingencies could make you lose pre-paid, non-refundable trip payments. Emergency medical transport and air ambulance during your trip to a remote location might be extremely expensive and will probably not be covered by your medical health plan. That is why it is compulsory that you purchase personal travel insurance. This insurance must cover personal accident, medical expenses, air ambulance, loss of effects, repatriation costs and all other expenses which may arise as a result of loss, damage, injury, delay or inconvenience occurring during your trip. We also suggest for you to purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. When obtaining travel insurance, you must ensure the insurer of the type of travel to be undertaken, especially when “adventure activities” are included in your trip. There are several insurance companies offering travel protection plans through the web. Cascada Expediciones has selected some of them for your convenience.

Medical & Health It is mandatory that clients with medical problems make themselves known to us well before departure. The trip leader has the right to disqualify anyone, at any time, during the trip if he feels the trip member is physically incapable and/or if a trip member’s continued participation will be detrimental to the individual involved or the group. Refunds are not given under such circumstances. Because of the fact that hospital facilities for serious problems are often unavailable and evacuation can be prolonged, difficult and expensive, it is that we assume no liability regarding provision of medical care at any time during the trip. This statement is included on the Release & Assumption of Risk form provided by our company. All passengers over 65 are requested to fill out a Medical Certificate that would entitle him/her to safely accomplish the trip he/she is applying for.

Physical and/or Technical Certificates These certificates are issued in addition to the general medical certificate and are asked to secure a safe accomplishment of the activities included on certain specific mountaineering and kayaking trips.

Physical Certificate The following programs will require the passenger to be physically qualified to be accepted on the trip. This is not a technical demand but a provision towards the physical condition of the participant and the enforcement to be accomplished during the excursion: High Altitude Mountain Trips: Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, Parinacota.

Technical Certificate The following programs will require the passenger to be physically and technically qualified to be accepted on the trip. This is a provision towards the level of skills owned by the participant and the degree of technical difficulty and risk involved on the trip: Rafting River Futaleufu; Intermediate and Experts River Kayaking.

Responsibilities of Trip Members Trip members are responsible for understanding the conditions implied in the Trip Itinerary and selecting a trip that is appropriate to their interests and abilities. In order to assist you we grade each trip with a Trip Rating. We are also happy to discuss the trip with you, as well as provide you with names of past participants who can discuss their experience with you.; Trip members are held responsible for being in sufficient good health to undertake the trip; for bringing appropriate clothing and equipment as advised in the equipment list; for following normal standards of personal hygiene in order to lessen risk of traveler’s diseases; for following normal social behavior patterns with fellow trip participants; for acting in an appropriate and respectful manner in accordance with the customs of areas visited; for completing the itinerary as scheduled (or as adjusted in the field as necessary). Normally the travelers will be asked to carry a day-pack containing the extra personal belongings they wish to take such as: camera, glasses, extra clothing, etc.

In the 10-day Patagonia trekking and Aconcagua, Plomo, Parinacota, Ojos del Salado ascents, travelers will be asked to carry their own personal items including back pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, daily box-lunch and others. The 10-day Patagonia trip offers the option to hire a porter. In camping trips, the cooking and the cleaning will be the responsibility of the guiding staff and they may ask the passenger for help in setting up his/her tent; Reasonable changes may be made in the itinerary due to weather conditions or if judged to be in the best interest and well being of the participants.

Pricing policies:

Pricing The price for the land portion of the trip is called Land Cost and includes:

– All accommodations in hotels, inns, mountain huts, camps and tents
– Ground transportation in private vehicles or domestic buses depending on the itinerary including reception & transfer from the nearest airport
– Meals in the field as specified in each program except for those meals in cities or towns where the travelers will feel inclined to make their own choices
– All trekking, horse-riding, diving, marine and river arrangements in the field (as specified in each program) including group equipment, permits and mules or pack horses if specified
– Entries and park fees
– Expert leadership including English speaking guides in all our fixed departures trips. The guide/participant ratio varies from 1/5 to 1/10 depending in the type of program.

Costs not included in the trip are some meals as noted in the itinerary, soft drinks and liquor, medical expenses, cost of hospitalization or evacuation, laundry, airport departure taxes, visas, international and domestic airfares, gratuities and insurance. Please refer to the trip itinerary for detailed information on what is included and not included in the Land Cost.

If a trip must be extended or an itinerary modified due to weather, road conditions, lack of transportation, political or civil disputes, medical emergency or other causes beyond our control, the associated costs including any non-recoverable costs are not included in the trip rates or refunds. In such circumstances it is your responsibility to pay directly for actual extra costs in the field (i.e. food, transport, accommodations, etc.). Obtain trip cancellation/interruption insurance!

Prices listed on our website and marketing material are subject to change since the trip dates and prices have often been published more than a year in advance. Between that time and the time of the trip’s actual departure, we are occasionally faced with exceptional cost increases or currency fluctuations that we cannot absorb. We do everything we can to keep our prices the same as published.

Tier Pricing In order to operate small groups, some trips are priced according to the number of full-price passengers on the trip. Cascada Expediciones staff, invited passengers as travel writers, photographers or tour operators’ representatives under a familiarization trip and other discounted travelers are excluded from the count for this purpose. We initially invoice you at the highest tier level price. If the price drops due to an increase in the group size, you will be refunded the difference.

Accommodation The prices correspond to accommodations in a share basis. If the passenger is traveling alone and there is no one with whom to share, or if he/she wishes single accommodation, then he/she will be asked to pay the single supplement fee listed in the Price-List. Accommodations in hotels and tents are based on double occupancy. The criteria for picking out the accommodations are a mixture of comfort, security, location and local atmosphere.

Meals All meals in the field are included as well as all others to be taken in places such as National Parks where the travelers will not be able to purchase their own food; or where we consider it is not recommendable to do so. Please refer to each trip itinerary for information on which meals are included and not included. The meals included are shown as B=breakfast, L=lunch, L-=box-lunch, D=dinner.

Cancellation Policies:

Cancellation and Refund Policy If it becomes necessary for you to cancel your trip, money will be returned less the cancellation fees charged by Cascada plus any additional nonrefundable cancellation fees and payments already advanced to airlines, hotels and other local suppliers.

1. Cascada Land cancellation fees for regular departures: these are departures with fixed dates. Cancellation of the confirmed booking outside 30 days prior to departure entails loss of deposit, which is 20% of the total trip cost. Thereafter the following applies: 30 – 23 days 40% of total fare 22 – 14 days 60% of total fare 13 – 0 days 100% of total fare
2. Cascada Land cancellation fees for private departures: these are trips operated in a non-fixed date or as special requests. Cancellation of the confirmed booking outside 60 days prior to departure entails loss of deposit, which is 20% of the total trip cost. Thereafter the following applies: 60 – 45 days 40% of total fare 44 – 31 days 60% of total fare 30 – 0 days 100% of total fare

Refund Policies: No partial refunds will be given for unused trip arrangements for any reason whatsoever. We therefore recommend you to take out travel insurance to safeguard against cancellation and curtailment. Cascada reserves the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient sign-up or logistical problems that may impede trip operations. In such a case you will be given full refund of the amounts paid to Cascada by you. Cascada will not be responsible for additional expenses incurred by you in preparing for the trip (i.e., nonrefundable air tickets, Visa fees, equipment, medical expenses, etc.). The refund of all land payments received shall release Cascada from any further liability.

Hiking! You will have a wake up call early in the morning, followed by a wholesome breakfast. After breakfast you will hit the trail, and hike until noon when you’ll stop for lunch. Hike through the afternoon, and get back to the EcoCamp or Refugio around 6:00pm. You’ll probably be too tired to stay up past dinner.

You won’t have access to wifi on this trip. Your guide will have a satellite phone in case of emergencies.

Tipping is not compulsory, but it is customary and we encourage you to do so if you feel the service has been satisfactory. Some guidelines could be:

  • For tours with 6 or fewer people, an average of US$30.00 per day of the tour from the group as a whole is suggested as a tip for your bilingual guide, with US$10.00 per day from the group is suitable for your driver.
  • For half-day tours with more than 6 people, US$15.00 and US$5.00 from the group are appropriate for guide and driver respectively.
  • For group tours of more than 6 people, each person should tip US$5.00 per day to their guide, and US$2.00 per day for their driver.
  • For half-day tours of more than 6 people, each person should tip US$3.00 per day to their guide, and US$1.00 per day for their driver.
  • Transfer guides are usually tipped at a rate of US$5.00 from the group with US$3.00 for the driver from the group per service.
  • Tipping for luggage handling at hotels is usually US$1.00 to $2.00 per piece of luggage.

At restaurants a typical gratuity would be 10% of the total.

Finally, taxi drivers do not usually expect tips, but it is customary to round up the fare.

Laundry: You won't have access to laundry services on this trip.

Food and Special Diets: 

We consider meals to be an essential ingredient of a successful trip. Each trip will have its own menu depending on the local food and typical dishes prepared in the area.

We’ve put a lot of effort into developing a menu of fresh hearty meals using locally-sourced ingredients. Meals at mountain huts on trekking routes are simple but plentiful. Vegetarian and special diets are welcomed, just let us know well in advance.

Drinking Water: 

Purified drinking water is provided. Please bring a refillable water bottle or camelback (with at least 2 liter capacity).

 

3 reviews for Torres del Paine “W” Trek – 7 Day Patagonia Trek


  1. Rick
    5 out of 5

    :

    Just before this trip I did the Fitzroy and Los Glaciares trek. The entire trip was wonderful, but the W-Trek is by far the highlight. The area is beautiful and the hikes into the Torres are unforgettable. Our guides were top notch and very entertaining.

  2. Laura
    4 out of 5

    :

    Fabulous trip. All of the staff at Ecocamp were top notch. The food at Ecocamp was fabulous!! My only “complaints” about the trip had to do with the quality of food at the refugios (very basic) and trying to sleep in a room with 5 other people at the refugio, which was also challenging. We were forewarned about this part of the trip. If you want to hike the “W”, staying at the refugios is part of the adventure. I would definitely recommend this trip to others! A great way to explore the park.

  3. schwarto
    5 out of 5

    :

    This trip was fantastic. The guides were super cool, friendly and helped us with our Spanish. The accommodations at Eco-Camp were perfect – unassuming cozy domes nestled into the side of the famous Torres Del Paine – and the food was great.

    The amount of hiking was good, not too challenging. If you are more ambitious, I would do the entire circuit. Our favorite part was checking out the icebergs and the glacier from a boat while sipping Pisco Sours.

    This is a great trip. I would prepare for weather as it rains on and off. The rain shouldn’t stop you though. While it’s wet, the weather often clears and you get some of the most amazing views on earth.

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