In our final installment of this series Preparing for Patagonia it’s time to walk you through the very complex and overly frustrating process of booking your campsites along the Torres Del Paine circuit. Now whether you are doing the W or the O track it’s still a massive pain in the arse. Understandably so. This is a magnificent part of the world. And one that deserves to be maintained and cared for future generations. This year the booking process has changed.
So grab yourself a wine, beer, tea, coffee or whatever takes your fancy and let’s get ready to book your campsites!
Why do I need to book a campsite?
The Torres Del Paine trek has recently become a common travel destination goal. It has increased in popularity. With that brings more people, more rubbish and the potential of more things going wrong. By having campsites limited, the Park Rangers, can monitor and restrict how many people are in the park at any given time. It also allows the Rangers to close off areas for rehabilitation.
Yes, there are plenty of people who sneak in without a booking and without paying. Do you seriously want to be the flog that turned up late at night, upset the Ranger and made a fuss? You’ll be eternally remembered as a dick by a group of international strangers who will forever disrespect your memory.
What’s the differences in campsites and refugios?
A campsite gives you access to a dedicated camp spot to set up your tent.
The refugios are large cabins, with mixed dorm rooms. Many of these have meals available to purchase.
Depending on which company you book through you may have access to hot water, toilets and the option to purchase snacks and meals.
How to book a campsite in Torres Del Paine
Step 1 – Pick which trek you want to do – W, O or Q?
Once you have decided which trek you want to do pencil out your starting campsite and dates. You’ll need to be flexible with dates and campsites.
Step 2 – Get your wallet ready
Sadly the campsites are not cheap. Fantasticosur is the most expensive of the companies to book with. Across the three companies that require payment, a basic campsite starts at $8US per person per night and in some cases go well over the $100USD per person per night! The refugios are even more pricey.
Payments can be done through Webpay or Paypal for non-Chile residents.
Step 3 – Check availability and start making those reservations.
On all three websites. At once.
Now Conaf and Fantasticosur have instant booking systems. With Vertice requiring that you to send in a request.
We found Vertice to have been the most efficient at getting back to us answering all our questions and with a confirmed booking.
Then get your prepared wallet and start to book all the things. To ensure you don’t get stuck with an incomplete itinerary, it is important to make all of your reservations on the same day.
Step 4 – Check your reservations
And then double check them. Make sure that you have ALL campsites booked. Check for correct dates, correct hire of any gear and any meals booked.
Step 5– Print it all out.
Once you have booked all your campsites and any extras print out the confirmed bookings. You’ll need to show the rangers along the way your completed bookings.
What campsites belong to who?
- Refugio and Camping Las Torres: Book with fantasticosur
- Chileno Refugio and Camping: Book with fantasticosur
- (NOT AVAILABLE FOR 2017-2018) Camp Torres: Book with CONAF
- Camp Seron: Book with fantasticosur
- Refugio Dickson: Book with Vertice Patagonia
- Camp Los Perros: Book with Vertice Patagonia
- Camp Paso: Book with CONAF
- Refugio Grey: Book with Vertice Patagonia
- Refugio Paine Grande: Book with Vertice Patagonia
- Camp Italiano: Book with CONAF
- Camping El Frances: Book with fantasticosur
- Refugio Cuernos: Book with fantasticosur
Where to stay in Puerto Natales?
Puerto Natales has a lot of variety when it comes to accommodation. From cheap hostels to 5 star hotels. We stayed at the Patagonia Adventure Hostel. It was a quaint place with lovely staff. If we could have gotten into the Wild Hostel we would have stayed there as well as we had an amazing burger when we arrived from El Calafate. During peak trekking season hostels in Puerto Natales sell out fast. So best to book yourself a bed before you go.
Things that you must have before arriving at Torres Del Paine National Park
All campsites must be booked before entering the park. Including a print out of your consecutive bookings, your passport, and cash to pay the park entry fee, shuttle bus and ferry.
All your own food including snacks. In saying that there are small shops at some of the campsites, and you can buy meals from the refugios. Meals need to be booked in advance. You can pay in cash or on card in the refugios. Given the remote nature of the park we suggest carrying cash incase EFTPOS machines aren’t working. These aren’t cheap meals and remember that it required someone to physically take these products into the national park. You’ll be paying a premium for these.
Clothing and camping gear. You can easily shop my Amazon store for all your hiking gear.
Have you been to Torres Del Paine?
If you’ve got any tips or tricks let us know in the comments below.
~Update – August 2018~
So a quick update as of August 2018. The 2017 year of bookings the campsite booking was really sucky. After completing the trek ourselves (and loved it) there are some really large stand out issues. Mainly that you need to go to three websites to book. 2017 was the first year that compulsory bookings were required.
Yes, the booking process sucks. It’s difficult and currently unreliable. Whilst we had no issue with Vertice in booking in June, this was not the case for most people come July. During our time in Puerto Natales, and during a natural disaster no less, the O Trek was closed. Then the Vertice offices were shut. And then so was Fantastico Sur and Conaf. This is South America. Shit goes wrong. You pick up your knickers and move on.
Don’t turn up without a booking. You may be refused entry to an area, turned away by rangers or pushed on to another campsite. If your hostel tells you to just turn up don’t believe them. We watched people be turned away from the fully booked campsites and made to walk for several more hours til the next campsite.
If you haven’t gotten all your campsites booked for the 2018-19 season then consider hiking elsewhere. Or just using the campsites that you do have booked and enjoy this wonderful part of the world.
Sadly there is no magical way to book a campsite. The only other option is to consider booking through a tour company. The 2018/19 season will see even more restrictions on booking a campsite in Torres Del Paine. Get in early.
As of March 2018 ALL the campsite management companies have instant booking systems up and running. This doesn’t mean that the booking systems will work when you’re trying to use them. Please don’t email me hate mail when you can’t get your campsites booked. I have zero control over what happens.
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