Since I first saw pictures in a magazine I was sold on Patagonia and more specifically Torres del Paine. One of the most remote areas of the world and -arguably- one of the most impressive and beautiful. With it’s amazing varying landscape and three landmark peaks, the park has been elected as the fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic, and the 8th Wonder of the World by TripAdvisor. So, recently I have started to plan for my Torres del Paine solo hike.
For readability, I chopped my post up in different stages:
- Settle on the idea
- Settle on a date
- Lock-in the trip
- Create a rough day planning
- Creating a packing list
Step 1: settle on the idea.
I hate taking half measures, so I pretty quickly settled on the idea to hike the full O circuit (8-9 days, 130km) – a true Torres del Paine solo hike. I am rather used to doing 30-40km distances per day, so I am still figuring out where to carve out some extra time for short day hikes and/or side paths, as well as how much time to have as ‘backup-time’ when things go wrong (like the day delay I had in Iceland).
However, there seem to be two key challenges for me at the moment:
- What to do. Well, maybe at first that seems obvious (hiking the Torres del Paine O circuit), but there’s more to this. Traveling more than 24 hours for a week of hiking seems a bit suboptimal, so after settling on the idea to hike the Torres del Paine O circuit, I started to look for other things to do in the region. Should I spend some more time in the area? Should I visit Easter Island? Should I spend time in Santiago de Chile? Should I visit the nearby wine region? Or … should I hop over to Antarctica? I tend to go with the last option, but that will take another 8 days and quite a big sum of money.
- When to go. The best time between September and April, during the southern spring, summer and early autumn. I am currently trying to balance flight ticket cost with how crowded the trail is, how reliable the weather is and what other thing I want to do in the region.
Step 2: validate
As the Torres del Paine solo hike is quite a serious endeavor (both physically as financially), I set out to do quite some validation of my own.
I’ve read quite some blog post and watched a bunch of YouTube videos on the hike.
I talked to several people who have experience hiking either the Torres del Paine O or W circuits. Most notably my uncle who did an organized tour on the W circuit and my colleague Charles who did the O circuit together with his wife.
And finally, I actually planned two serious hikes to prepare:
- First of all, my solo hike of the Laugavegur trail in june 2018 was a test. I wanted to see how I would like and experience similar conditions when it comes to weather, snow, trail as the ones I would encounter in Chile. To put it bluntly: if I would not like to do a 2/3 solo hike in Iceland, I will definitely not like doing something similar for a week. Spoiler: I loved it.
- Secondly, my up and coming solo thru hike of the GR20 in Corsica (France). This is supposed to be the toughest trail in Europe. As I am planning to do the normal 14-day hike (180-200km) in 6 days, I guess this is at least quite the physical test to see if I’m ready 🙂
Step 3: settle on a date.[to be added later, probably somewhere 2019/2020]
Step 4: lock-in the trip.[to be added later, probably somewhere 2019/2020]
Step 5: create a rough day planning for Torres del Paine solo hike.[to be refined later]
- Day 1/2
- Travel to region
- Day 3
- Acclimatise to the environment.
- Buy gas cannister and other last gear.
- Stay in local hotel where I can leave part of my gear (to use for Antarctica trip later)
- Get local briefing on
- Day 4-9
- Travel to the track by bus and catamaran
- Hiking days (ideally 5):
- Day 1: Puerto Natales to Seron (12 km)
- Day 2 of hiking: Seron to Dickson to Perros (29 km)
- Day 3 of hiking: Perros to Paso to Grey (22 km)
- Day 4 of hiking: Grey to Paine Grande (11 km)
- Day 5 of hiking: Valle des Frances to Los Cuernos (22,5 km)
- Day 6 of hiking: Los Cuernos to Torres (20 km)
- Day 10
- Back-up day
- Day of rest at the hotel
- Day 11
- Travel on to Antarctica boat
- Day 12-20
- Antarctica trip
- Day 21/22
- Travel back home
Especially since my experience at the Iceland Laugavegur trail and it’s fast-changing weather, I promised myself to make a back-up planning 🙂
Step 6: creating a packing list for Torres del Paine solo hike.[to be added later, probably somewhere 2019/2020]
Budget for Torres del Paine solo hike[to be added later, probably somewhere 2019/2020]
Total cost estimate –