Eleven Tips To Help You Plan Your W Trek

Eleven Tips To Help You Plan Your W Trek

The South of Chile, and in particular, the Torres Del Paine national park, is such a spectacular part of the world. It’s a shame that many travellers feel that they need to leave this area out of their South American itineraries due to the cost, or worse still, that they need to break the bank taking an organised, guided tour through the park. We managed to plan our own way to the TDP at a fraction of the cost of most of these tours, so we’ve come up with a list of things that we think will help you get there without having to sell your left leg (you’ll need that for the trek).

1. You DON’T need to take an organised tour


These are generally greatly overpriced (some start at $2500!) and being stuck with 8-10 other trekkers on the narrow trails of the W is, in our opinion, probably the worst way to experience the serene nature of your daily trek.

2. Book your free campsites in advance, even if you’re unsure if you’ll use them (especially during high season)

We were only lucky that we managed to find spots at each free campsite on the day we planned to stay there. For peace of mind, jump onto the CONAF website (www.conaf.cl) in the days leading up to your trek and book in your campsite to ensure a space is available to you. However, if the parks office tells you there is no more space at one particular campsite before you even get to the park, persevere – space is kept available for trekkers to book as they pass through the various checkpoints within the park (much like a hostel keeps beds free for walk-ins). Just try to get to each campsite by 4:30-5pm, before they start to get busy.

3. Get Erratic at 3pm in Puerto Natales

erratic rock talk

image: erraticrock.com

Make sure you get down to the Erratic Rock Hostel daily talk at 3pm, held next door at the Base Camp pizzeria & bar. This talk outlines absolutely EVERYTHING you possibly need to know regarding the trek and your options for hiking gear, campsites or refugios, food and hiking times, to name just a few things covered during the 1.5 hour session. You can also rent your equipment from here, and get some assistance in planning for your itinerary.

4. Include an extra day in your itinerary than you had originally planned

It is all too easy to be consumed by the beauty of the Torres, and, given that it is likely a once in a lifetime experience (bully for you if you’ve been more than once!), you should plan time to do the unplanned. Allow yourself as much time as possible for stops along each trail – photo opportunities in front of snow-capped peaks, picnic spots atop rocky cliffs overlooking the aqua blue lakes and potentially even a half-day hike across one of the world’s largest glaciers are all things we didn’t always anticipate wanting to do, yet ended up spending a considerable amount of time doing in the end.

5. Garbage bags for easy storage


garbage bags
image: google

Buy a pack of durable black disposable garbage bags to compartmentalise and store your gear in during the trek. Aside from using one to protect your backpack should it rain, you will be able to easily separate your clothes from your food and other belongings in your crowded bag, and you can easily recycle them at the end of the trip by placing them into the ‘take me’ box at Base Camp.



6. Layers Layers Layers!

Make sure you wear your clothing in layers – making it easy for you to remove clothing as you get hot and sweaty along the trail. Hiking pants or skins, a merino wool T-shirt, one long-sleeved thermal top over it, a waterproof, windproof jacket and thermal, breathable socks will usually suffice if you’re doing the trek during the Spring/Summer months. For Winter, you may need a down jacket and thermal leggings to keep out the chill.

7. Take good hiking boots

This one may seem a bit obvious, but we can’t stress it enough! The varied nature of weather and terrain in the Torres means that whilst it may be gloriously sunny one minute, the next could find you in a torrential downpour with slippery rocks and mud as a result. Your shoes need to be durable, breathable and waterproof (you will at times also need to walk through shallow streams), and you should ensure you leave time to break them in (at least one month of walking in them every couple of days prior to your Torres trek). You have been warned!

8. Don’t take too much notice of the signs which estimate travel time between points


Despite surely having good intentions, we found these signs to be wildly inaccurate, ranging from almost 1.5 hours longer in some cases, and almost an hour shorter in others. The W trail includes many steep, rocky inclines and magnificent vistas which often blew out our estimated times of arrival. Even the fittest trekkers will want to stop frequently to take photos or sit and admire the views!

9. Drink the water!


You DON’T need water purification tablets here, as the water running through the Torres Del Paine National Park is some of the purest glacial water you can find in the world. Just make sure to bottle it as far upstream as possible to the trail, and take it from a fast-moving stream or waterfall to ensure maximum filtration.

10. Cook your own meals at each campsite instead of buying them at a refugio

With the cost of a sit-down meal at the refugios costing upwards of $25usd per person, this is the best way to maximise your cost-savings during the trek. Simply schlep down to the grocery store in Puerto Natales the day prior, and buy some staples to get you through the next 4-5 days. For two people who like to eat, we bought the folllowing and never went hungry:
1 x 300g packet powdered milk
1 x 500g bag oats
1 x 100g tub dulce de leche
2 x 220g foil packs tuna
2 x 500g packs wholemeal penne pasta
4 x 200g sachets pasta sauce
1 x 150g sachet bechamel sauce
3 x 25g sachets dried soup mix (different flavours)
1/2 knob garlic
2 x 200g blocks chocolate
1 x 150g bag roasted peanuts
1 x 150g bag mixed nuts w honey
4 x small wholemeal bread rolls
1 x 200g tub cream cheese

11. Powdered milk and soup sachets are your friends

Image: vegaanet.com

A small pack of powdered milk can be used to add creaminess to an otherwise boring pasta or rice meal, for tea or coffee or used to make porridge for breakfast, whilst soup sachets give each meal a different flavour. Dried vegetables are also a good option given the weight implications of a can of vege, however, vendors have capitalised on the popularity of these meals, meaning they can be slightly more expensive.

Have we left anything important out? Leave a comment below if you have any other tips for travellers planning their W trek!

See the final breakdown of costs for our W Trek HERE

Check out our personal experience with the W Trek HERE

Original Link : https://wheretheyroam.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/11-tips-to-help-you-plan-your-w-trek/