Torres del Paine Camping Guide
March 20, 2018
Torres del Paine Camping Guide
The Torres del Paine is one of the most spectacular hikes in Latin America! The 1 to 9-day hike takes you through some of Patagonia’s most beautiful attractions. Glaciers, mountain peaks, waterfalls and of course the famous Torres del Paine (the actual towers at the lagoon) are just some of the breathtaking things you’re going to see!
To me, the Torres del Paine hike is about the authentic experience. Going into nature and leaving nothing behind. This is why the best way to see the Torres del Paine is using the Torres del Paine camping areas provided! The Torres del Paine camping areas are a great way to camp under the stars without impacting the surrounding environment. Unlike the cabins that require electricity and regular donkey runs for supplies, the campsites keep the trails clean and free of donkey poop!
However, it’s not that easy to book campsites. There are three companies to book through so things can get confusing quickly – as I found out last year! It is one of the first times I have seen so much disorganization, on possibly the most famous hike in South America!
Below is all the information required to book your Torres del Paine camping adventure!
Do I need to book The Torres del Paine camping?
The short answer is YES!
Since 2016 it has now become compulsory to have a booking of campsites in the park if you plan on staying overnight! This rule is currently only lightly enforced and there are plenty of people who have managed to get in without bookings. Since this rule is now widely known, it’s likely to be enforced more tightly as the years go by!
How far in advance should I book the Torres del Paine camping spots?
If hiking the Torres del Paine is on your bucket list then booking in advance is the only way to ensure you get the experience you desire.
As far as how long, with the new booking system becoming widely known then as much time as possible is recommended. For me, 6 months was plenty and I reserved every Torres del Paine camping spot I wanted without any troubles. As you can imagine the cheaper sites book up faster so if you’re on a budget it pays to plan ahead!
Is there a limit to the number of people allowed on the trail?
On the W trek, there is no limit however once accommodation is fully booked you won’t be able to stay overnight. The O however, is a different story and only 80 people are allowed on the backside of the trek at one time. So even if spots are available on the backside you still may not be able to book them. This is another reason while booking in advance is so important.
What is provided at the Torres del Paine camping spots and what do they cost?
At all of the campsites are toilets (some flush some not), flat areas to camp, and a cooking hut where all cooking has to be done.
Below is more detailed info on each campsite including the cost per night for the most basic option. Please note that some campsites require you to buy a full three meals of food and cost around $100usd per person! This is because no cooking hut is provided and as such no cooking is allowed.
Vertice Patagonia (owner of the campsite)
Refugio Paine Grande – Bathrooms, campsites, food, cooking area, and equipment rentals. This campsite is 6,000clp per person, per night.
Camping Dickson – Flush toilets cooking area and campsites. This campsite costs 5,00clp per person per night.
Los Perros Camping– Flush Toilets, cooking area, and campsites. This campsite is 5,000clp per person per night.
Refugio Grey – Bathrooms, 150 campsites, food, cooking area and basic shop and equipment rentals. This campsite is 5,00clp per person, per night.
Fantasticosur (owner of the campsite)
Camping Seron – Bathrooms, campsites, meals, cooking area and rental equipment. This campsite costs 8,500clp per person per night.
Camping Los Cuernos – Bathrooms with hot water, food available, campsites, and equipment rentals. This site requires you to buy the three meals and is $48,000clp per person, per night!
Camping El Chileno – Bathrooms with hot water, food available, campsites, and equipment rentals. This site requires you to buy the three meals and is $48,000clp per person, per night!
Camping Frances – Bathrooms with hot water, campsites, cooking area and equipment rentals. This campsite is 7,500clp per person, per night.
Camping Central – Bathrooms with hot water, food available, campsites, cooking area and equipment rentals. This campsite cost 8,000clp per person per night.
CONAF (owner of the campsite) – All of these campsites are free.
Camping Italiano – Basic pit toilet, cooking area, and campsites.
Campamento Las Torres – Basic toilet, cooking area, and campsites.
Camping Paso – Basic toilet, cooking area and campsites.
Booking the Torres del Paine camping spots
As mentioned above, the hike can be completed in 1 to 9 days. However, for most travelers, you will likely be completing either the “O” circuit or “The W Circuit”. These campsites can be booked through the links to the campsite owners highlighted above.
Booking the Torres del Paine Camping areas online is the same for both the “W” and the “O” (the only difference is the “O” requires 4 more campsites on the Back-end of the park.)
The red trail above is the “W” Trek that can be started from either direction. The blue is the start of the “O” that joins to the “W” to make the 8-day trek. The yellow lines are the different bus directions you need to go depending on your start point. The line to the left is to Paine Grande (the place where we started) and you need to catch a ferry after the bus. If you are after more info on the buses and the ferry click here!
The “W” Trek
The “W” circuit is the more popular of the two and involves a 5 day 4-night hike through the front section of the park stopping at many amazing attractions. These include Glacier Gray, The French Valley, and the Torres. This circuit can be completed in both directions.
The first thing you need to decide (if you’re doing the W) is what direction you’re going to go. I personally went anti-clockwise starting at Paine Grande and finishing my last night at the Las Torres site near the Torres del Paine. I recommend this route as it will give you the opportunity to visit the Torres on your last morning for sunrise! It is the perfect way to end your hike!
The below route I outline below is both the cheapest and most ideal for those completing the W and also the route I took.
Day 1 – Entrance to Refugio Grey (11km) – Head into the park and take the bus and ferry to the Refugio Paine Grande. From there, hike to Refugio Grey and stay one night.
Day 2 – Refugio Grey to Camping Italiano (19km) – Leave Refugio Grey and hike back down towards Refugio Paine Grande and continue on the Camping Italiano. Stay the night here.
Day 3 – Camping Italiano to Camping Frances (15km) – Pack up your tent and leave your gear with the rangers at Camping Italiano and hike up the French Valley and back to collect your gear. This hike is only a few hours and is relatively easy without your pack. Afterward, continue on to Camping Frances and stay the night.
Day 4 – Camping Frances to Camping Las Torres (20km) – Leave Camping Frances and hike all the way to Camping Las Torres to stay the night. This is where the Torres del Paine is. If you want you could hike up to the Torres that afternoon, or wait until morning for sunrise.
Day 5 – Torres to Las Torres Hotel (exit) (12km) – Get up at 4 am (check sunrise time with the ranger and allow 1 hour to hike up) and leave for the Torres, leaving your gear behind. Spend the morning watching the sunrise over the Torres, then hike down to exit the park!
*Please note I have all the information on getting to the park and starting both hikes in a link at the bottom of this article.
The “O” Circuit
The “O” circuit is the 8 or 9-day option and this hike can only be completed in an anti-clockwise direction. This starts at the Las Torres Hotel. The circuit takes you right around the park ending in the same spot as you started and includes all the stops of the “W” circuit.
The route outlined below is for the “O” and is the ideal route as recommended by most hostels. I personally did not complete the “O”, however, after much research, this does seem to be the most popular route.
Day 1. Las Torres Hotel to Camp Seron – 13km, 4 to 5 hours
Day 2. Seron to Dickson – 19km, 7 to 8 hours
Day 3. Dickson to Los Perros – 11km, 5 to 6 hours
Day 4. Los Perros to Paso Camp – 8km, 5 to 6 hours
Day 5. Paso to Paine Grande – 18km, 8 to 9 hours
Day 6. Paine Grande to Camp Italiano 7.5km, 2 to 3 hours (include the French valley on this day ( 11km, 5 hours)
Day 7. Camp Italiano to Camping Las Torres – 19km, 8 to 10 hours
Day 8. Camping Las Torres to Las Torres Hotel (exit) – 11km, 3 to 4 hours
The “O” also has to be completed from the Las Torres Hotel in an anticlockwise direction, so aside from staying at a few different campsites and maybe completing the hike slower (more expensive), this is the only way. The km’s were taken from maps and times are averages from a few different people I know. They consider themselves medium pace hikers.
The Torres del Paine was one of my highlights on my 16 month trip through Latin America. The amazing landscape is truly breathtaking and something that really makes you go…wow!
Being my first ever hiking trip I really over-researched the Torres del Paine and as such, have some more great info.
In my Torres el Paine Complete Guide I touch on getting the bus to the park, where to stay before, what to bring, getting to and from the park, and much more.
My only regret is not doing the “O” circuit and missing the beautiful, more remote back end of the park. With that said, if you don’t have a lot of experience hiking (I had none before this trip) then the “O” is a great way to see it all.
Patagonia is beautiful and the Torres del Paine is a must-see for any traveler!