What is a refugio?

We find a lot of our customers come to us with preconceived ideas of what a refugio will be like, based on experiences of hiking elsewhere in the world. This page will help you build an accurate picture of what to expect, and decide if staying in a refugio is right for you. 

What they're not

If you've hiked extensively in the US, notably the iconic trails such as the Appalachian Trail, or experienced remote treks in Nepal, you might be expecting a very basic structure. Perhaps you've stayed in huts that are open on one side and expose you to the elements, or cold corrugated shacks where you can expect to meet a few mice or rats during your stay!

Refugios offer a significantly more comfortable experience, so adjust your expectations for the better - and if you aren't keen on camping, consider refugios as an alternative. 

Refugio Dining Room

What to expect

Refugios offer rustic hostel-meets-hotel accommodation for hikers. They have warm dorm-style rooms with comfy beds where you can relax and unwind after a long day on the trails.

There are shared toilets and bathrooms with hot showers that are accessible for all hikers, allowing you to freshen up after an active day.

The accommodation is clean and well located on the main trails. Most refugios also have campsites with separate facilities if you would prefer to camp out of the main building.

Refugio bedroom

Why use refugios?

  • No need to carry heavy camping equipment, bedding or food (although it is advisable to carry your own sleeping bag)
  • Enjoy the camaraderie of sharing stories with fellow walkers at the end of the day
  • Stay well-fed and clean whilst hiking
  • Stay warm and sheltered when the weather deteriorates
  • Refugios provide you with dinner, breakfast and give you a packed lunch
  • Each refugio has a small shop selling snacks and a bar with beer, wine and not forgetting Pisco Sours, Patagonia's favourite cocktail.
Refugios in Torres del Paine

Facilities

The showers are hot and the toilets are cleaned regularly. There are plugs in the communal areas, but not in all rooms. Wi-Fi can be purchased at the refugios but the signal is weak/intermittent at best. 

Refugio bathroom

Food

The meals are basic but filling. Breakfast usually consists of cereal, toast, fruit, and yogurt. Your packed lunch comprises a sandwich, fruit, trail mix and chocolate. For dinner, it is usually a pasta-based dish, a stew, or chicken with rice. Soup and dessert are also included with your main meal.

There are snack shops at all of the refugios where you can buy basic foods and camping gear e.g. spare pegs and gas. At some of the refugios there are bars that serve wines, spirits and beer on draught. At the other refugios you can buy local Chilean canned beer.

Refugio dinner
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What our customers think

Refugios in Torres del Paine

Torre Central

Torre Central is a large refugio situated near to the trailhead of the Base of the Towers trek and comprising of 60 bunkbeds split between 10 mixed dormitory rooms. It features a large communal area, male and female showers, a dining room, a bar and a shop. Central heating makes it a cosy overnight stop.

Refugio Torre Central

Torre Norte

The smaller sister of Torre Central, Torre Norte is located only 100 metres away. It also has 60 bunkbeds with wood burners for heating. It's a slightly more basic version of Torre Central but still a convenient option.

Refugios in Torres del Paine

Chileno

Refugio Chileno is located in the Ascencio Valley, approximately an hour and a half's hike from the base of the towers. It has 32 bunkbeds split into four dorms of eight, and features shared bathrooms, a restaurant and a shop. This is a great base for those wanting to a catch a sunrise over the towers.

Refugio Chileno

Los Cuernos

Set at the heart of the W Trek with wonderful views of the Cuernos and Nordenskjold Lake, this 36-bunk refugio is divided into four dormitories and has a restaurant, shop, wood heating and shared bathrooms. It also has a selection of private cabins if you would prefer some solitude.

Cuernos Refugio

Cuernos Cabins

Nestled amongst the bushes close to Los Cuernos refugio, these eight private cabins can sleep two people each. They have shared bathrooms (exclusively used by cabin guests) and meals are served in the refugio.

Refugio Cuernos Cabins

French Domes

A unique stop off with amazing views of Nordenskjold Lake, the Cuernos and Paine Grande, the French Domes are approximately an hour's trek west of Refugio Los Cuernos. There are three domes which sleep eight and each dome has its own private bathroom.

French Domes refugios

Paine Grande

Refugio Paine Grande is based on the northern shore of Pehoe Lake, right next to the catamaran dock, and is the largest of all the refugios with enough beds for 100 hikers in dormitories of six, and four people. This is arguably the most comfortable refugio in Torres del Paine with well-built bunkbeds, segregated showers, a mini-market, a bar and a large canteen-style restaurant that serves good meals. It is also one of the busiest places with day hikers dropping in on their way to Lake Grey and the French Valley, as well as campers staying at their large campsite.

Refugio Paine Grande

Refugio Grey

One of the newest refugios, Refugio Grey is a traditional hiker's hut and is nestled amongst the trees on the shores of Lake Grey, a short walk from the Glacier Grey lookout point. It has 60 beds in dormitories, with up to eight beds each. Rooms are small and basic, but certainly do the job in providing a warm and friendly sanctuary.

Refugio Grey

Refugio Dickson

Hidden away on the O Circuit trail, this refugio has the best location and views of all the refugios. It has 27 bunkbeds, segregated showers and an inviting main hut which serves as a dining room, bar and communal area.

Refugio Dickson
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