How Torres del Paine National Park Could Become A Nightmare

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

Probably you are reading the title now and asking yourself: “What does she mean with how Torres del Paine could become a nightmare?”.

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

It is one of the most beautiful national parks on Earth! How could this happen? I will tell you what happened, but step by step.
Firstly, let’s start with that we arrived after nearly 2 weeks of hitchhiking in Puerto Natales. No struggles so far. We couldn’t find for both of us Couchsurfing.
So we decided at the end to stay in a hostel called CarFran Patagonia.
Next to it, they have a rental shop. Actually it’s not only a hostel but combined with a rental camping equipments shop.
I will write down the prices of the rental equipments.
Therefore, you will have a better imagination of how much is the fun?
The costs are counted per day, not per nights. All prices are rounded up.

Rental

Tent for 1 person: 3000 Chilean Pesos / 4 Euro / $ 4,70
A Tent for 2 people: 4000 CP / 5,40 Euro / $ 6,30 
Tent for 3 people: 5000 CP / 6,70 Euro / $ 7,80
Sleeping Bag: 3000 CP / 4 Euro / $ 4,70
Mini Stove: 1500 CP / 2 Euro / $ 2,30
Sleeping Mat: 1000 CP / 1,40 Euro / $ 1,60
Cooking Pot Set For 1 Person: 1000 CP / 1,40 Euro / $ 1,60
A Cooking Pot Set For 2 people: 2000 CP / 2,70 Euro / $ 3,20
Cooking Pot Set For 3 people: 3000 CP / 4 Euro / $ 4,70
Trekking Shoes: 3000 CP/ 4 Euro / $ 4,70

What Did I Rent ?

The author of this post rented a tent, a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat. The expenses for the mini stove and cooking pot set I shared with Mauri.

Actually, I should have really rented the trekking shoes. But you always learn after your mistakes…

Paine Grande Camping Zone
My tent at Paine Grande Camping Zone.

Our original plan

As you can see in the Torres del Paine map we wanted to trek like in the following. You can have a better map here.

Source: http://www.stephandben.com/2012/04/map-how-to-hike-w-in-torres-del-paine.html

First day:

Taking the bus at 8 am to Laguna Amarga entrance and Ranger station.
And then taking the catamaran to Paine Grande ranger station.
There we would set our tent at Paine Grande Camping Zone.
Afterwards, we want to trek to Grey Glacier Ranger Station and come back to Paine Grande camping zone.

Taking a shower and going early to sleep. In order to recharge our energy for the next day.

Lago Grey
At Lago Grey.

Second day:

Starting the day at 8 am and hike to Italiano Camping Zone to get a free camping space.
If there is no free space, going to Frances Camping and set our tents there for 8000 Chilean Pesos / 10,80 Euro / 13 US-Dollars.
After setting the tents, we would trek to Britanico Lookout and coming back to the camping zone.
Sleeping early and recharging battery for the next day again.

Third day:

Trekking from Italiano or Frances Camping Zone to Las Torres Camping Zone and taking a rest for the whole day.

Fourth day:

Trekking to Base de las Torres Lookout to have an unforgettable view of Torres del Paine. Coming back and catching the bus to Puerto Natales. Staying in Puerto Natales for one night.
And moving on the next morning to the end of the world.

How The Reality Looks Like

First Day:

We took the bus at 8 am to the entrance gate of Laguna Amarga. Punctually we got on the catamaran to Paine Grande and set our tents there.  Afterwards we trekked to Grey Glacier and came back in the evening to Paine Grande for dinner.

I didn’t take a shower anymore and went straight to bed. Super drained and incredibly happy that the first day was successful as planned.

Torres del Paine National Park
Glaciar Grey

Second Day:

The nightmare started with the second day. During the night I woke up half asleep listening to some raindrops. But I confounded it with a dream. The next morning: Humidity was so high – my tent and sleeping bag were dampish.
Like every morning in Patagonia, I didn’t want to wake up.
At the end I got somehow out of my tent and went for breakfast.
At this point I wasn’t in the best mood at all. Nevertheless, my excitement for the next trek stopped me to be moody all day long.
We started to pack our stuff and getting ready for a 7.5 kilometres trek to the next camp: Camp Italiano.
Everything would have been perfect except for the rain.
But, hey, you can not obtain everything you want, right?

It was alright within the first couple of hours until we realized the rain won’t stop at all.

Glaciar Grey
Another Grey Glaciar picture.

The Intensity & Power Of Mother Nature

I can tell you Torres del Paine could be the landscape of Lord of the Rings. Or it could be a fantasy world, but with heavy rain it’s difficult to enjoy the whole beauty.

Additionally, I made a huge mistake which turned the day into a survival camp instead of a nice trek.

Torres del Paine National Park
First day without rain.
First of all, I had 3 blisters from my first day of trekking in Torres. As you can guess, I didn’t have proper shoes for the trip.
Second, I even didn’t have waterproof clothes (to say nothing of my non-waterproof shoes).
On top of that I only brought one trouser and one t-shirt to change with me. Later my whole backpack got wet due to an improper cover.
Therefore, my changing clothes and sleeping bag got immensely wet, too.
As if it all wasn’t enough the rain got heavier. I could feel how much water my clothes had absorbed the rain. It was hardly bearable.
Moreover, I started to freeze incessantly. Literally I got the feeling of swimming with my clothes inside of the ocean.
Arrived at Camp Italiano, they told us the Britanico Lookout is closed due to bad weather conditions.
Incredibly sad, we realized that we would miss some parts of the W-trail. Plus the camp didn’t have any space left. Great!

It’s Getting Worse

The only option was to trek to Camping Frances and set our tents there. 40 minutes later we arrived in even heavier rain at Frances.
And nobody was at the reception. In the following we tried to set our tent but gave up after a short time. Both of our tents are bathed in rain.
The situation got worse and worse by every minute.
I trembled crazily and on the same time I had the feeling somebody put me inside of a freezer.
My idea of eating bread and butter was also a damn stupid plan. As soon as I finished eating, my body was struggling with the food. Later I vomited like hell. My body trembled like a leaf and couldn’t stop. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I suffered physically such a bad condition like on this day. Exactly at this moment, I just wanted to lay down on the ground and starting to cry. Cry because we couldn’t trek as planned. Cry because I was so unprepared for my trek. And cry because I feel like a goddamn stupid girl close to my own death?

The Indescribable Feeling

Mother Nature is one of the most amazing wonders on this Planet.
But we all have to show respect. This moment awe-struck by nature,
I realized again that we are nearly insignificant and meaningless compared to nature.
Once I surfed in Bali and was drawn by a huge wave for 30 seconds. It was dangerous and the feeling of being close to death is indescribably bad.
But whether oceans or mountains, never ever underestimate the power of nature. We can invent as much as we want to, but we are more depending on Mother Nature than nature from us.

Nature always impresses me with awe. And getting into such an adventure like Torres del Paine, you have to be fully prepared.

Torres del Paine National Park
Mother Nature.

Learning From Failures

Now I am writing this blog post and I guess in life you whether win or you will learn from your failures.
This experience was definitely a failure I could get wiser by now. And like I told you, traveling is not only about unicorns and fairy tales.
Sometimes you have bad days in which you just want to cry and give up.
But to master the art of standing up after you fall down takes it time.
For sure, this day and night I will never forget in my life again. Unfortunately, human beings have the great talent to remember perfectly the bad moments in our lives. We take good moments a little bit too much for granted (in my opinion).
It’s okay when your day was normal and nothing special happened.
Most of the time it’s just the small details in daily life which makes life special, I guess.
I remember this night was awful. I had fever while sleeping in a wet sleeping bag and tent.
By the way, they have their own tents at the camping zones.
Of course they are more expensive than the own rented tents. Our tents were so drained by water. Therefore, we paid for one of the tents at Frances.

The Endless Night

The night felt endless and lonely. So many memories and thoughts came up into my mind.
I started to philosophize about human beings, life and nature. Especially about the interactions of us – human beings and Mother Nature.
An endless night of being half-frozen and for the first time during my travels I was completely out of energy. Nada. Niente.
I was considering flying back to Germany, Bali or Taiwan.
But here I am, still moving on and learned a lot about this failure in my life. Still chasing my dreams and next time I will be better prepared for Torres del Paine.
I am sharing the story with all of you just to raise an awareness for the power of Mother Nature and our interactions with nature. 
Last but not least, please don’t be as stupid as I was and go to Torres without preparation and proper clothes.

Third Day…

On the third day we decided to get out of Torres. According to the weather forecast it would rain the following days, too.
In virtue of those reasons it didn’t make sense for us to keep going.
Sometimes we have to surrender. And it’s just a matter of time when you will accomplish your goals in your life.
And if you keep focusing on your aims, you will get there.
No matter how long it will take.
But this time we had to surrender.

But one day we’ll be back, Torres! So, watch out!

parque nacional torres del paine
Wearing a plastic bag as a raincoat and another plastic to cover my backpack.
The last day we hiked 6 hours to Las Torres Camping Zone and also missed Las Torres Lookout. 
The lookout is the actual highlight of the W-trail.
Yeah, in the late afternoon it started to rain again. Therefore, we felt we did the right decision to come back.
Additionally, I lost a little bit sanity after two nights listening to raindrops dropping on my tent. I swear, it could be such a torture method.
Totally drained we came back to Puerto Natales at 10 pm on the third day.
Looking forward to a hot shower and doing our laundry, we found ourselves in a city without water supply.
As far as I understood, due to heavy rain some pipes broke and have to be fixed? Gosh, my Spanish still sucks.
The next 2 days we couldn’t take a shower. And if you think the situation can’t get worse, it always gets worse.
It is such an irony of life and to be honest – I am laughing about it now while writing down my experiences.
And I can promise in 5 years I will look back at this crazy experience and laugh even more about it.
I’m somehow grateful for it. In my opinion, you are also growing exactly from such bad experiences.
Now I even appreciate more a warm bed and a hot shower. Haha.

The Expenses For Torres Del Paine

Here I will list you all the expenses for a trip to Torres del Paine.
Therefore, you can get better prepared and don’t end up (hopefully) in a disaster like me.

Costs

  • 1 Night in Hostel CarFran Patagonia without breakfast:
    7000 CP/ 9,50 Euro / $11
  • Food – 4 days for Torres del Paine (actually it wasn’t enough):
    6000 CP/ 8 Euro / $9
  • A bus roundtrip ticket to Torres del Paine and back to Puerto Natales: 15000 CP/ 20 Euro / $23 
  • Entrance fee: 21000 CP/ 28 Euro / $33
  • Catamaran from Laguna Amarga to Paine Grande Camping Zone:
    18000 CP/ 24 Euro / $28
  • Paine Grande Camping Zone: 6000 CP/ 8 Euro / $9
  • Italiano Camping Zone: Free, but most of the time there is no space if you haven’t booked in advanced.
  • Frances Camping Zone (we rented a tent at Frances):
    20000 CP (10000 CP per person)/ 27 Euro / $31
  • Bus from Las Torres Camping Zone to the Entrance Gate:
    2500 CP/ 3,40 Euro / $4
  • Camping Rental Expenses for 3 days: 24000 CP/ 32 Euro / $37
All prices above are in Chilean Pesos, Euros and US-Dollars.
In total I spent on my trip to Torres del Paine 109.500 Chilean Pesos.
It is approximately 148€ for 3 days in Torres del Paine plus one night at the hostel in Puerto Natales.  172 US-Dollars in total.
I guess for 4 or 5 days you should include at least an amount of 200 US-Dollars.
We trekked 44 kilometres/ 27 miles on the 3 days in Torres del Paine.

Conclusion

Like my old English teacher would say now: “To put it into a nutshell…” Torres del Paine is a beautiful must -visit National Park you shouldn’t miss. If the rain wouldn’t be that much, I am sure I’d have enjoyed Torres del Paine to the fullest. But I can not change the weather. And the weather at Torres del Paine is unpredictable.

You could even have 4 seasons in one day at this fantastic national park.

Torres del Paine National Park
Landscape of Torres del Paine.

How was your experience at Torres del Paine? Did you have any struggles like I had? I feel super dumb after this trek, but I won’t give up. We will see each other again, Torres!

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine National Park.

Like I said, you should definitely pay a visit to Torres if you’re ever in South America. I never had the feeling like being in a fantasy world like in Torres del Paine. Or at least the feeling of being in one of the Hollywood Blockbusters. After Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales we hitchhiked to the end of the world. Finally.

I hope I could help you somehow with all the information. 
Even if some parts of this blog post will cause furrowed brows on some reader’s face. Good travels, everyone!

 

2 thoughts on “How Torres del Paine National Park Could Become A Nightmare”

    1. I know, it was such a tough experience. And yes, I do live.
      So what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!
      And of course I still keep a big smile towards life 😀

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