Patagonia Expedition

Updated 05/11/2017

Planned for early 2018, Nan and I will be heading to the south of Chile and Argentina.
Lan Chile (Now Latam) have recently introduced good priced direct fare to Santiago. This is a better option than our previous fare which included a 3.5 hour transit in Auckland and was close to $500 AUD each more in 2013!

Australians Traveling to Chile and Argentina travel information links.

NOTE; no visa, tourist permit is valid for 90 days for both countries.
Reciprocity fee presently $117 USD for Chile and $100 USD for Argentina.
As of 1st July 2017, Argentina has “Suspended” their Reciprocity fee. Check for updates to this suspension before travelling!
You can allegedly pay (CASH ONLY) at Chile’s Santiago airport but Argentina needs to be paid prior to entry.  Keep receipts as it is useable for multiple entries. If simply intending a stop-over in any of these countries, then this could be an unwarranted inconvenience and expense.

Patagonian Time – Use CLST.
Chile Local Time (CLT) is UTC- 4 hours however there is also Chile Summer Time(CLST) which is UTC- 3 hours. Chile will remain in CLST for the foreseeable future!

2015 No changes, UTC -3 hours all of the period
2016 Sun, 15 May at 12:00 am CLST → CLT -1 hour (DST end) UTC-4h
Sun, 14 Aug at 12:00 am CLT → CLST +1 hour (DST start) UTC-3h
2017 — 2019 No changes, UTC -3 hours all of the period

Argentina Time (ART) does not have any daylight savings and is UTC-3 hours.
Our Torres del Paine sunrise will be from 7:15 am and sunset from 8:50 pm; looks like later starts and finishes to correspond with daylight.

Patagonia is deemed to be from Latitude 42 degrees south.

Page will be updated as plans are made.

“The legendary towers are responsible for the name of the National Park: Torres del Paine”. Photo and text from Steve Hanisch.

After a short stay in Santiago including a day trip to Valpariso  we intend to fly south with SKY to Punta Arenas then bus to Puerto Natales and into Torres Del Paine where we intend to complete a modified circuit trek that should take about 10 days.
Recent changes require bookings for all camp sites at Refugios and a limit of 80 people on the 130 km circuit per day.

We will then head by bus into Argentina to El Calafatealthough it is technically possible to traverse direct from Lago Amarga to El Calafate, this requires linking two different buses: return bus to Puerto Natales then Puerto Natales to El Calafate; OR a private transfer. Easier to just return to Puerto Natales and catch the morning bus to El Chalten the next day –  and El Chalten (Monte Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre), fly north to Bariloche then back into Chile by boat and bus to Puerto Montt.
Finally we will fly back to Santiago and then home.
The SOTA hiking gear will be put to good use. No radio gear on this trip!
Refer to the SOTA GEAR PAGE for details on our tent, camping & sleeping gear, clothing, portable power and navigational equipment.
Looking at the maps, there are heaps of potential SOTA summits, the high majority would un-activated due to extreme access issues.

Torres Del Paine

As from last year (2016), you must have your accommodation at the various campsites (Refugios or Campametos)  pre-booked if you intend on staying in the park (essential if undertaking any of the multi day treks!)
This is not necessarily easy! Why?
Well there are 3 different “operators” of the camp sites ( and no camping outside of these areas)

Firstly there are the Free CONAF Sites. These have very basic facilities and do not provide meals. Bookings cannot be made more than 180 days in advance.
Paid sites: Provide additional facilities such as accommodation and restaurants. Nan & I intend to use some of the restaurant facilities to cut down on weight but will be camping out. A cheaper option and we have to take the tent anyway!

Fantastico Sur Sites. Their reservation site has been undergoing maintenance since mid May (2017) so is not available.

Vertice Patagonia Sites. They are still not taking any reservations! No matter what the date entered, everything shows as being booked out.
Update 17/06/2017. Email from Vertice. Dates will be OK, now to arrange payment within 24 hours! Hope that Fantastico & CONAF bookings come through!

Yeah, 23/06/2017. Vertice campsites paid for and booked. $55 USD. They have advised Fantastico will be open for bookings from 1st July.

Update 17/07/17. Fantastico have just confirmed our dates. Web portal is still down but they contacted us by email. The process is a bit “clunky” but now done. No option other than full board (camping) for our night at Chileno.
Now just need to finalise CONAF closer to time.

Update September 2017. CONAF sites are now booked. No accommodation this season at Campamento Torres 

We probably should be booking by jumping from one provider to another as we progress around the circuit in the required anti-clockwise direction. In doing, we will have locked in the date of the preceding camp before making the next booking. This means jumping from site to site. In reality we will grab the paid sites as soon as they become available and follow up on the free sites right on the 180 day limit.
All a bit of a shambles if you ask me? Then travelling into out of the way places always has its intricacies!

Refugio and Camping Las Torres:
I have highlighted our proposed camp sites. There are to be 2 nights at Refugio Paine Grande as we intend to do a day trip on the Catamaran to view the Salto Grande waterfall 

Link to the Torres del Paine map

Information Links


Located in Argentinian North Patagonia, an intended highlight will be an overnight trek to the Refugio Otto Meiling Photo below courtesy of the hyperlink.

I expect the overnight camp by the glacier will be pretty cool 🙂

The mountain shown in the background is the Tronador (3478 m) which is also the Chilean / Argentinian border.
Getting to the trail head for Refugio Otto Meiling requires a mini bus ride courtesy of Club Andean Bariloche to Pampa Linda. It looks like there is heaps to do around here so not only will we spend a night camped by the Refugio but now also intend to stay a couple of nights at Pampa Linda before returning to Bariloche.

Also on the agenda, and as a part of our journey back to Santiago, is to travel by boat and bus to Puerto Varas ( & Puerto Montt – airport). Not exactly cheap, this journey will take us through 3 lakes, connected via bus links.

Photo courtesy of Cruce Andino


Patagonia Expedition from Steve Hanisch  A link to a series of Youtube Videos by Steve.

Steve Hanisch also has a Great Blog and Travel Guides  plus E books on (Amazon) that cover Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia. These are some of the best that I have found for our intentions (purchased both)

Another reference is the Cicerone Torres Del Paine Guide available as an Amazon Kindle down load and was also available at Bogong Outdoors in Lt. Bourke St Melbourne (also stocks Monte Fitz Roy / Cerro Torre map plus Torres Del Paine Trekking Map)

Also on Amazon, by Matthew Morgante has been a very useful resource.

Just in: Blog from Dave Casey courtesy of Paddy Pallin
Other guidebooks: Save your money and first visit the local library. Our Bayside Library has offered lots of choice.

If purchasing from Amazon, use the Australian site to avoid currency transfer fees.
A 30 day free trial of Kindle Unlimited may also prove to be cost effective?

A free Garmin Map of Patagonia with contours is available, you will need to register on the site to enable the 500mB download. Note that whilst the map accuracy is quite good, be wary of walking tracks displayed as straight lines. I suggest a relevant track file be sought to show the real route. This is just as applicable to the Garmin OzToppo maps.

I have also found numerous GPX files on Wikiloc which is a much recommended site for treks outside of Australia. I have simply downloaded the GPX file for use in Garmin Base Camp.

180 degrees south A youtube documental movie. A must watch if interested in either Patagonia or the future of our planet.


Blog at

%d bloggers like this: