I have to pre-empt my account with a note: I had perhaps the best weather imaginable for my hike of the TDP. In the entire 7 days I was there, it rained for half a day, and only one night had extreme winds (up to 50 mph). As a result, I was able to complete the circuit in 7 days, and have an extremely agreeable hiking experience. With that said, I think much of the hiking experience depends on the weather, and while it is impossible to accommodate far in advance, I would recommend giving more time to be flexible. In addition, I would have liked to hike slower, to give myself more time to enjoy the park without the impetus of rushing to the next campsite.
Day 1: Santiago – Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales – Campamento Serón
Getting to the Torres Del Paine was an ordeal itself – the hostel had an airport shuttle that picked us up at 2:30 AM to be at the airport well in advance of our 6AM flight. From there, I arrived at Punta Arenas (PUQ) a little past 9AM, just in time to catch at 10AM bus to Puerto Natales (3 hr ride). At Puerto Natales, the last bastion of humanity before entering the park, I took the time to go to their local supermarket and stock up on non-perishable foods – mainly bread, cake, powerbars, crackers – as I did not have cookware or propane for a “real” meal in the park. More on that later. As it was, I was fully stocked – around 35 lbs of baggage including tent, sleeping bag, food – technically ready for the trek to begin.
I caught the 2:30PM bus from Puerto Natales into the park (2.5 hr ride), got off at Laguna Amarga (the first stop), and immediately started hiking towards my camp for the night, Campamento Serón. By official accounts it was supposed to be a 12km hike, but as I found out throughout the hike, the official trail markers are usually far from accurate. The path was flat, among expansive rolling hills, amber grass, along a glacial river.
It was a great stroll, although there was some pressure to get to the camp before sunset due to the late start. With that said, I hadn’t properly arranged the weight distribution of my bag, and thought it was a somewhat painful hike. Little did I know what pain would come…