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Guide to Patagonia: Paine Circuit

Written by Thomas Power | 9th January 2014 |


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The famous 'Circuit' route takes you from river meadows and grasslands, over a mountain pass to the glaciers and back past lakes and mountains, ending at the famous mile-high Torres.

The Circuit of Torres del Paine

In order to do this walk you need to leave behind the hotels and lodges in the south of the park and head into the wilderness areas of the north.

Whilst you have to sacrifice some creature comforts, but the guides, porters and refugios make it comfortable and civilised.

Walks are generally between four and five hours each day although on one day you can be walking for up to eight hours. This walk is suitable for anyone who enjoys good Alpine walking.

You stay in refuges or mountain huts during the walk if you travel on Pura's Torres del Paine Circuit holiday though more normally people camp throughout the hike.

Refugios are not luxurious but they do allow you to shower each day and to enjoy a hot meal and glass of wine at night. On one night you sleep in a tent but these are pitched for you.

You have a team of porters carrying your overnight things from refuge to refuge so that you can walk with just a daypack.

Your guides are experts in this area, and the Park in particular. They therefore know how to pace the walk, when to sit tight and wait for weather to clear and when to head out.

This highest part of the route is around 1,300m, most of it is just above sea level.

The park is at roughly the same relative latitude as Manchester so summer daytime temperatures are usually comfortably in the mid-teens celsius. There's an average of 16 hours daylight in the summer months so the pace can be relaxed.

'It certainly helps their enjoyment not having to carry a full pack and I appreciated the opportunity to stop for photographs, look at the wildlife and so on.'

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