Torres del Paine in Chile is a little paradise for the trekkers that love to contemplate mountains glittering with snow, surrounded by deep blue and turquoise lakes, feel the energy of the wind and be amaze of the sunsets.
One of the main characteristics of the Park is that you can trek from Refugio to Refugio, (Refugio’s is a mountain refuge, that have shared bathrooms, shared rooms, restaurants, bar, minimarkets and camping facilities), also with the option to rent tents, sleeping’s bags, sleeping pads and to buy meals.
There are two circuits, one is the W circuit which covers the three main valleys, the Asencio valley that at the end is the lookout of the base of the towers, then the French Valley, that is the cherry of the pie on one side you have los Cuernos del Paine at the other The Paine Grande with a mountain glacier falling and in the background granite spires covered with ice and walking in a precious lenga and ñirre forest. The last one is Grey Glacier, which you walk under the walls of Paine Grande and the Olguin Mountain Range, until the last tip that is the Lookout of the east tongue of Grey Glacier in clear days you can see the Patagonian Ice Cap.
The Big Circuit or “O” Circuit or Circuito Grande, goes behind the Massif, with a long walk from the trailhead of Asencio Valley to Glacier Dickson, then up to Los Perros Camp, before the John garner Pass (1.150 m.a.s.l), the Circuit ends after crossing the pass and Getting to Grey Glacier, it have great views of the Patagonia Ice Cap, not much adventure people go to this trail, is a challenge and a good outdoor experience is required in case of bad weather conditions in the pass. In this trail there is Refugio Dickson and Camping Los Perros in the last one only a minimarket and rental of camping equipment.
Also for people that have less days or want to do some hiking only and staying in the hotels of Torres del Paine there are a few of nice half days hikes, you can just rent a car and go to many lookout with amazing views of the massif and places to see flora and fauna.
The best time to come?, Always!!!, depends on your motivation, expectations and desire, Summer Between December to February is warmer, long days, windy and full of activity. The spring (September – November) and autumn (March-April) brings you the blossom and fall of the wildlife in the park but also colors all around also less activity on the Park. The winter (May – August) is a different chapter, is the beauty of the silence, everything is in still. Only the wind is still roaring some days, shorter days and blue skies. All the trails are available according to the winter conditions. The trails don’t disappear with the snowfall that is no more than 40 cms in the entire winter, cause the low altitude in average the trails going under the 100 m.a.s.l. been the highest average 350-400 m.a.s.l and the highest 900 m.a.s.l, while the vegetation line ends a t the 800 m.a.s.l.
The most important thing is that the Refugio’s are open, so you can use them as base camp for day hikes to the lookout. According to some news from May of 2010 the Catamaran of Lago Pehoe should be running in a regular basis for crossing the lake.
© Sergio R. Nuñez C., www.PatagoniaConsultant.com
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