Travel Tips

Self-guided treks in Torres del Paine


If you are an experienced walker but don’t speak Spanish or you’ve only got a few weeks and don’t want to spend ages sorting out your trip and waiting in bus stops, a self-guided trek could be the right option for you.

it’s possible to do a self-guided trek either on the Full Circuit or W Circuit in Torres del Paine, as the paths are pretty clear, giving you the freedom to set your own walking pace, take lots of breaks and photos or even speed ahead to reach the next glacier if you want.

Self-guided treks are a great way of saving some money by cutting out the guide, but aslo gives you the flexibility to get the most out of your budget, using that extra cash to try something different and exciting, such as kayaking your way out of the park along the Serrano River.

Serrano River – Spend 2 days kayaking in the wilderness along the Serrano River to the hanging Glaciar Serrano and celebrate with a delicious asado and boat trip back to Puerto Natales

Tyndall Glacier Adventure – A 3 day adventure paddling along the fast-moving Rio Tyndall taking in the Serrano Waterfall and kayaking to the icy walls of Tyndall glacier.

Importantly, going ‘self-guided’ rather than doing everything on your own saves your precious time by taking the hassle out of having to organise your trek as the logistics are organised for you by the operator. You can also be safe in the knowledge that there is someone based on the ground if anything goes wrong.

Is self-guided for you?

Self-guided trips include the following in the price:

–       Vouchers for your bus to and from the park and or Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales

–       Accommodation whilst in the park

–       Park entrance

–       Packed lunches per day, evening meals and breakfast

It’s pretty difficult to book buses over the internet yourself from or to Puerto Natales whilst making sure that they coordinate with the start of your trip, when your plane lands, etc, so having the operator do this for you is a real plus. The bus companies generally speak Spanish only and schedule 1 or 2 buses per day.

It’s also difficult to book the refugios in the park, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. We’ve met and spoken to lots of people that tried booking the refugios unsuccessfully and those that did manage it turned up to find that their room had been double booked.

A great advantage to going self-guided is not having to carry and cook your own food for 5 days . You start off each morning with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, coffee, cereal and juice and the operator will make sure that your packed lunches are prepared each morning by the refugio and ready for you to set off. (Don’t forget to take the tomatoes off your sandwiches, unless you’re partial to a bit of soggy bread! – A good tip we got from a Torres del Paine guide, Chino)They will also communicate to the refugio if you’re a vegetarian.

What’s generally not included in the self-guided price:

– Any additional nights in the park

– Any alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks at the refugios (fruit juice is served with your evening meal)

– Entrance fee to the park (app. CLP $15.000.-)(Approx £20)

– Laguna Amarga / Torres refuge minivan (app. CLP $3.000.-) (Approx £4)

– Pudeto / Pehoé catamarán (CLP $11.000.- per trip. Fee to be confirmed) (Approx £15)

– Insurance

Remember, if you’re going to go on a self-led trek in Torres del Paine it’s a good idea to buy yourself a decent map. Although you’ll get a small map with your park entrance ticket, you’ll probably benefit from a proper map, even though they do have big blown up versions in the refugios. We recommend getting the water and tear resistant Torres del Paine National Park map from Stanfords costing £12.95.



One of clients said about their self-guided Full Circuit trip:

‘The highlight of our time was without a doubt our 9 day hike around the Torres del Paine national park. What a stunning place. The glaciers were fantastic and the walk was really enjoyable. We returned in a tired but deeply satisfied state! We also really enjoyed our time in Punta Arenas.

All the vouchers worked perfectly, and the transfers all ran smoothly. The only thing that I wanted to raise that was inconvenient to us was that on a couple of days on the hike, we were unable to collect our packed lunches from the campsite we stayed in. We managed to survive by buying biscuits and snacks, but this was not ideal for a 30 km hike in the day! It didn’t dampen our mood or the trip, but I just feel I should raise the point so it doesn’t happen to anyone else who might find it a bit more of an inconvenience than us!’*

*Swoop has shared the point about the packed lunches on 2 of the 9 days and the operator has confirmed they’ll manage this more tightly in the future

One of our best-selling self-guided trips is this 

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