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Six Options For If You Can’t Get Torres del Paine Camping Reservations

You’re planning on heading south to hike in the wild lands of Patagonia and a trip to Torres del Paine National Park has long been on your list.

But there’s one problem: all of the campsites and refugios in the park are fully booked on the dates you plan to arrive.

What do you do? Is there an alternative?

How to visit Torres del Paine, Patagonia, if campsites are fully booked

What to do if you can’t get Torres del Paine camping reservations for your dates

Many prospective Torres del Paine hikers are facing the situation above and finding is that it’s impossible to make a camping reservations online for the dates that they want because Vertice Patagonia or Fantastico Sur are sold out.

What to do if you can't get camping reservations for Torres del Paine
You can still day-trip into Torres del Paine if you don’t have camping reservations and see awesome sights like this.

Because of the popularity of the trek, dates in December and January in Torres del Paine get quickly booked up.

However, there are ways that you still hike the W (or at least some of it) even if the campsites or refugios you want in Torres del Paine are fully booked.

Speaking of which, if you need guidance on the booking process, I’ve written this huge 5,000-word overview of making camping reservations for Torres del Paine National Park.

If you’ve managed to book some campsites in Torres del Paine but not all:

1. Email the different companies in the park

The booking systems used by Vertice Patagonia, Fantastico Sur and CONAF mean that this year has been a bit of a nightmare for making reservations.

As a result, many people have managed to reserve spots for all but one or all but two campgrounds along the W or the O Circuit, but are at a loss of what to do about the other.

Your best option is to contact the relevant company directly. Sometimes there are glitches with the booking system and you might find that they are able to help you get the date that you need.

  • Vertice Patagonia: via the email address [email protected]
  • Fantastico Sur: via the email address [email protected] or through the chatbox on their website
  • CONAF: through this contact box. Be aware that, to even see if CONAF has availability for any of their campsites, you need to first register with them (go to Registrarme after opening this webpage. Once you’ve done this, hover over “Inicio” in the top right-hand corner, move down to “ver disponibilidad” and then put your dates in “fecha de ingreso” (date of entry) and “fecha de salida” (date of departure) and it should show you the availability for Italiano and Paso, the two CONAF campsites).

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If you’ve not been able to book any campsites or refugios in Torres del Paine:

2. Check out availability on Torres Hike

A new option is to check out the new website Torres Hike. It basically shows you the availability of accommodation in the national park and allows you to book it directly through them, rather than having to go via the Vertice Patagonia, Fantastico Sur and CONAF websites.

All you need to do is plug in your dates and it’ll show you which campgrounds and refugios are available – saving you LOTS of time.

3. Visit the companies’ offices when you arrive in Puerto Natales

This is a slightly riskier option and one only to be tried as a last resort.

I know that last year, many people who hadn’t been able to secure reservations for Torres del Paine actually turned up at the offices of Vertice Patagonia and Fantastico Sur in Puerto Natales to get cancellations for campgrounds or dorm beds in the park.

I suggest doing this a couple of days before you plan on beginning your hike.

You could potentially also do this by emailing them a week or two before you plan on hiking and seeing if they have cancellations at that time.

4. Go via an agency based in Puerto Natales

Although reservations for camping and dorms online appear to be impossible for December and January, many tour agencies based in Puerto Natales will have booked out spaces for prospective clients, meaning it’s still possible to get reservations.

How to hike in Torres del Paine when the campsites and refugios are fully booked
Hiking the W independently means you can walk at your own pace and avoid large groups.

This comes at a premium, however. By hiking the W without a guide, you can expect to pay in the region of $95,000 CLP ($145 USD); with a tour agency, it costs from $1,500 USD.

However, if you’ve 100% sure you want to do the trek and are willing to pay for a guide that you frankly don’t need because the trails are so well-marked, Chile Nativo and Erratic Rock are the two companies that I would recommend.

Interestingly, Chile Nativo are also offering independent tours of the W trek for $1,195 USD, which basically includes all of your transportation, accommodation and food – but no guide, as well as fast-track (three-day) W treks.

They’re now offering a 5% discount to Worldly Adventurer readers (make sure you mention us when contacting them!).

If you’re desperate to hike the W and money isn’t an issue, this is probably your best option.

5. Opt for day hikes around Torres del Paine with accommodation in Puerto Natales

Another alternative is to day-trip into the park from Puerto Natales, the closest town that’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. Obviously this will require a lot of driving back and forth.

A day trip to Torres del Paine is possible either with:

  • A rental car. You can expect to spend around $40,000 CLP ($59 USD) per day (I recommend RentalCars.com as they source all of the possible companies available in the region). The good thing about this is that you can choose exactly which part of the park you want to visit and can do some of the hikes in one day. I’ve just written a guide to the 15 best treks in Torres del Paine National Park, which should be very useful.
  • Go with a tour from Puerto Natales. Most day tours only visit a few viewpoints in the park and might include a bit of a walk along the trail to Glacier Grey. You can expect to spend $40,000 CLP ($59 USD) for this. Some agencies also do the trek up to the base of the towers in one day (nine hours), from $40,000 CLP ($59 USD). Be aware that you’ll probably be part of a very large group.

However, if you want to hike as much of the W as possible, I would strongly recommend that you hire a car.

It is easy enough to do the trek to Glacier Grey (22 kilometres round-trip/seven hours to and from where the catamaran ferry drops you at Refugio and Camping Paine Grande) in one day.

Moon Chile guidebook next to a cup of tea

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You’ll find even more detailed itineraries, off-the-beaten-path gems, hiking routes and accommodation, restaurant and tour recommendations to suit your travel style in my brand-new guidebook, Moon Chile.

This is also the case for the trek to the base of the towers (19 kilometres round-trip/seven hours walk from the car park of Refugio and Camping Torres Central).

Having your own rental car means that you can leave Puerto Natales early in the morning and return as late as you please.

6. Hike the W trek in Torres del Paine without staying at all of the campgrounds

An easier option if you want to hike as much of the W trek as possible is with day trips from within the park.

This allows you to do much of the trail, without having to drive two hours to and from Puerto Natales each day, but also means that you don’t have to have all of the campsites for the full W trek booked.

Again, you will need a rental car (and again, I recommend RentalCars.com as they source all of the possible companies available in the region) as public transport within the park is non-existent, apart from the bus that brings you into the park and takes you out again.

There is no service that connects the Puedto catamaran ferry dock (where you cross to begin the hike to Glacier Grey) with Torres Central (and the start of the hike to the towers), for example.

Doing day trips into Torres del Paine is an option when the campsites are fully booked
Hiking up to the base of the towers is possible in one day

In three days and two nights, you could:

  • Day One: Drive to the Pudeto catamaran ferry stop and leave the car in the parking lot there. Take the ferry (9am) across to Paine Grande and do the day-hike to the Glacier Grey viewpoints (22 kilometers round-trip/seven hours). Return to Paine Grande and stay overnight (this campground is one of the largest in the park and therefore there is more chance of getting a reservation there).
  • Day Two: Hike east up to the Mirador Frances (20 kilometers round-trip /six and a half hours) or, if you’re very fit, all the way up to the Mirador Britanico (28.6 kilometres round-trip/ten hours) and either stay another night at Paine Grande or return to your car and drive to Torre Central to stay the night.
  • Day Three: Take the catamaran ferry at 9am back across the lake, pick up the car and drive to Refugio and Camping Torres Central where you park in the car park. Hike up to the towers (19 kilometres round-trip/seven hours’ walk) and return to the car where you either camp at Torre Central (again, another of the largest campgrounds, often with availability) or return to Puerto Natales*

Again, I recommend reading this post about day hikes in the park, which makes it clearer how you can do the above through its section about itineraries.

*with this route, you are effectively hiking the W, just without the middle section from Italiano to Torres Central, which is actually the least interesting part of the trek, as it’s just flat along the edge of Lago Nordenskjöld.

7. Hike the W trek without staying at the “official” campgrounds in the park

As with the suggested route above, you will need a rental car for this option.

What to do if camping in Torres del Paine is fully booked up
The view from the road next to Camping Pehoe isn’t bad…

With three days and two nights you could:

  • The night before: Camp at Camping Pehoe, a 10-minute from the catamaran ferry. Sites cost $11,000 CLP ($16 USD) per person or $90,000 CLP ($132 USD) for a two-person dome (without any furniture, so bring a sleeping bag). They have 24-hour electricity and a restaurant. The facilities are good, with covered picnic tables and large toilet blocks with hot showers. It would probably be worth getting here the night before so that you could have your camp set up and get the 9am catamaran the next day.
  • Day One: Day-trip to Glacier Grey (as above) and return on the 6.35pm catamaran ferry that evening.
  • Day Two: Take the catamaran back across the lake at 9am and hike to either Mirador Frances or Mirador Britanico (as above) and return on the 6.35pm catamaran ferry that evening – unfortunately, this means you would be using the catamaran twice, at a cost of $112,000 CLP ($148 USD) p/p.
  • Day Three: Hike up to the base of the towers (as above) and either spend a final night in Camping Pehoe or drive back to Puerto Natales.*

Alternatively, you could stay at one of the other hotels and cabins within Torres del Paine National Park (click the link for our favourites!), from where you could do the same day hikes mentioned above.

The two most affordable options include: Cabanas Lago Tyndall (around $110,000 ($161 USD) four-person cabin) and the nicer, but more expensive Pampa Lodge ($205,000 double CLP ($300 USD).

Be aware that most accommodation in the park is very, very expensive and also gets booked up fast, so you’ll need to make reservations early.

*with this route, you are effectively hiking the W, just without the middle section from Italiano to Torres Central, which is actually the least interesting part of the trek, as it’s just flat along the edge of Lago Nordenskjöld.

Have you found an alternative to needing camping reservations in the park? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Matt

Saturday 28th of December 2019

Hello thanks for the terrific blog. Struggling with reservations I only found place available in Paine grande and maybe in Torres Central.

As you suggested

Day 1 Paine grande to Grey and back 22 km for 7h

Day 2 Paine grande to Mirador Britannico and back 26 km for 11 h.

You said that this step is doable and I agree with you.

But at the same time I don't understand why you are suggesting that the following step

Day 3 Paine grande to Hotel las Torres (camping Torres Central) 24 km for 9.5 h

is on the contrary NOT Doable (saw this in some previous comment).

If rather Possible I could also add

Day 4 from Torres Central to Mirador de las Torres 19 km for 9 h.

Thanks in advance for any Comment.

PS. A last question. What happen if I arrive late around six pm at Torres Central and there is no accomodation? Could I still find a bus back to Puerto Natales? They just kick me out?

Steph Dyson

Friday 3rd of January 2020

Hi Matt, I'm not sure why I said that either. Perhaps because they were trying to visit Mirador Britannico in the same day on day three? Either way, yes, it should be ok but you'll want to start early. With regards to arriving at Torres Central late, I'm not sure what you mean? If you've booked a ticket, you should be fine to stay there. Steph

Ann

Tuesday 19th of November 2019

Hi Steph, thanks for your blog, it's super helpfull. Well done:)

Steph Dyson

Thursday 21st of November 2019

Thanks Ann!

Andrea

Friday 15th of November 2019

Hi Steph, thank you very much for your ideas. I have following question: me and my husband we are going to TDP 24-27.12. I see it that we can book only Las Torres or Paine Grande camp.. I dont know how to combine our treks. I am only light turist but i will do my best:)

Idea: 1st : somehow to catch Catamaran at 9:00 and to do Mirador Brittanico Sleep in Paine Grande 2nd : Glacier Grey Sleep in Paine Grande or to go sleep to LAS Torres 3rd: Base de las Torres Sleep in LAS Torres 4th: ?? What else?

PS: we will go also to Perito Moreno.. it is a difference to see also Glacier Grey?

Thank you very much

Steph Dyson

Thursday 21st of November 2019

Hi Andrea, yes you can do the following if you can book the accommodation for those days. There is a new bus from Bus Sur that should get you to Pudeto for the catamaran at 8.45am for the 9am ferry (info here). Glacier Grey and Perito Moreno are very different in that you can get much close to Perito Moreno. Both are very beautiful. I suggest you have a look at some pictures as that will give you the best idea of which one is more impressive! Steph

Cristian

Monday 11th of November 2019

Hi Steph, Thanks for the fantastic up-to-date website you've created here, extremely valuable information! Do you know if there is any extra availability if one books a "managed" tour - for example via Chile Nativo/Vertice/Fantastico Sur, in case there aren't any available refugios to book individually? Do they have "extra" places available only for people who book via the managed trips? I have planned a trip between 8 and 13th of January 2020, but can't find anything available on Vertice. I really want to get W done, even if it means paying extra for the tours.

Thanks!

Steph Dyson

Thursday 21st of November 2019

Hi Cristian, yes they will have availability. If you book through Chile Nativo and mention Worldly Adventurer you will get yourself a 5% discount on the tour. Steph

Liandro Tavera

Friday 8th of November 2019

Hi me and my brother are planning to do a hike this December I understand that we are completely late when it comes to booking this I don’t have a lot of money but money would probably not be an issue as I can rent a car and possibly get a hotel nearby I have a total of 15 days to plan for this any advice on how to app oar how this? I know we cannot camp there since they are already book could you send me some more information and possibly regarding how we could hike the entire W track path with just getting a rental? I read the article I still have a few questions regarding how much we could squeeze into each day hike

Steph Dyson

Thursday 21st of November 2019

Hi Liandro, all the information about day hikes is in the post above. You may well find that some campsites aren't booked as people have been cancelling travel because of the unrest in Chile. Good luck organising your trip! Steph