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Friday, March 30, 2012

Torres Del Paine

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Torres del Paine National ParkTorres del Paine National Park is part of the National System of Protected Forested Areas of Chile. It is one of the largest and most visited parks in Chile. The park averages around 150,000 visitors a year, who come from all over the world. Visiting the park is recommended between late December and late February, during the southern summer. Not only is the weather more hospitable, but daylight hours are very long given the extreme southern latitude. Outside of this time frame, the weather becomes too extreme for the majority of the public, and daylight dwindles to only a few hours a day.

Torres Del Paine National Park Hiking

The national park is a popular hiking destination in Chile. There are clearly marked paths and many Refugio's which provide shelter and basic services. Views are breath-taking. Hikers can opt for a day trip to see the towers, walk the popular "W" route in about five days, or trek the full circle in 8 to 9 days. Make reservations for the night you will stay at each Refugio. If you stay inside, dinner is served and there are hot showers. There is also breakfast and an optional picnic lunch. For a lesser fee one can rent a tent and sleeping bag and sleep on the grounds outside of the Refugio, where cold showers are an option.
Calceolaria uniflora
Calceolaria Uniflora
The Refugio locations are also appropriate for pitching one's own tent and cooking with one's camp stove. Cooking with the camp stove is not permitted except in Refugio locations. Camping is only allowed at specified campsites and wood fires are prohibited throughout the park. Fantastic Sur and Vertices Patagonia are the two owners of the various Refugio's in the park.
For less adventurous visitors, there is a luxury hotel at the entrance to the park. Hikers are not allowed to stray from the paths in the national park. The visitor impact on the park has been scientifically measured. A certified guide is required to access some parts of the park. These arrangements need to be made before entering the park.
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