El Calafate to Torres del Paine
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Dec 12, 2012 7:30 AM Last Post By: beerfree
Dec 11, 2012 4:06 PM
El Calafate to Torres del PaineHi,
We're arriving in El Calafate at ~10am on Dec 24th, and would like to get to Torres del Paine on either that day or the next. There are no buses with the private companies running on Dec 25th, so I'm not too sure what to do. We'd like to return to El Calafate on Dec 29th, to head towards El Chalten for a couple of days before flying out on the 1st. Any advice on how to do this? THe two of us could be up for renting a car for a portion of this (TdP), if there are others looking to do the same.
I know that many head to Puerta Natales before TdP, but I'm worried that we'll be stuck there until the 26th, leaving not enough time to enjoy the park.
Is it possible to take a bus from El Calafate to Cancha Carrera, and find a lift from there to the park?
Thanks in advance
Dec 11, 2012 4:54 PM
1Please note that the following assumes that you are going down there to do some hiking.
Given the timing of your arrival with Christmas, I would suggest you forget about TDP this time and concentrate on El Chalten and the hiking trails of Monte Fitz Roy. You only have a week; spend more time in fewer places and you will have a more enjoyable time. Doing TDP will mean blowing a couple of your days just to getting there and back. Why cram both into six days when you can have a great time doing one?
Fitz Roy is worth four or five days and you could spend the first day and the last day in El Calafate.
Pre-book a place to stay in El Chalten if you want to eliminate possible hassles at a very busy time of the year. Set off in the morning from El Chalten for your hike; return in the afternoon to your plush room in the village and then sample some of the decent restaurants.
For a real treat book a couple of nights at El Pilar, about 17 km north of El Chalten, and an access point for a great hike up the Rio Electrico.
Just one easy bus ride- from El Calafate to El Chalten and back. Total of about six hours of your holiday in buses. Definitely more buses on this route than on the El Calafate to Puerto Natales run.
If you're still reading, check this post for more info and maps of Fitz Roy and its hiking trails- http://wp.me/p25mXk-ML
If you were just planning to drive by the mountains on the nearest road, then please discount everything I have written!
Dec 11, 2012 7:30 PM
2Thanks for your reply.
We do expect to do a lot of hiking. I was hoping that we could get over to Torres del Paine on the 24th or 25th, and return to El Calafate on Dec 29th for the nigh t. That could give us enough time for the full circuit, or at least the W Trek (camping). Then I'd like to head to El Chalten for two nights, before flying out, and from what I hear, there are 2 primary hiking attractions in the area (not climbing). Our holiday will continue elsewhere... I don't mind some time on the bus.
Dec 12, 2012 1:58 AM
3Assuming you can get a bus on 24th to TdP that will give you 4 days trekking, that is not enough to do the circuit (it took me and my girlfriend 7 days and we are fit experienced trekkers, on my own I probably could have done it in 5 days, but it wouldn't have been much fun) and the W would be pretty rushed.
Personally I am with #2 head to El Chalten on the 24th, there are loads of hikes around El Chalten. Some of them are pretty challenging; this map shows the routes (ignore the ones on the ice-shelf unless you want to hire a guide), the trek to Paso del Viento is a tough but is worth it.
You can easily spend 5/6 days exploring around El Chalten leaving a day to go to Perito Moreno Glacier before you fly out.
Be prepared to stay at the campsites in El Chalten if you don't book ahead, they are interesting places, especially if you like chatting to psychotic climbers!
Dec 12, 2012 4:27 AM
4Although the two previous posters may have valid points for your specific trip, I thought I'd share my research on the journey from El Calafate to TdP.
I'll be in El Calafate in early March and want to get to TdP too. From my research to date it seems that some people book a one day tour from El Calafate, such as http://www.chaltentravel.com/excursion.asp?exc_id=106&name=TORRES%20DEL%20PAINE&l=en but then don't use the return bus journey.
Another option is to take a bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales and then up to TdP. This takes a fair amount of time!
To save on time some people take a bus to the border and then try to join a bus on its way from Puerto Natales to TdP, although it seems you may have to pay for the full journey (Puerto Natales - TdP) and assumes that there will be a space on the bus. Another problem that I've run into is that due to the vagaries of the timetable the bus to the border doesn't run on Wednesdays, or there is a reduced service.
I have also looked into renting a car, and it seems that problems arise when taking a rental from Argentina into Chile, not to mention the significant fees charged for dropping the car off at a different location to where you rented it.
If anyone has any further information it would be gratefully received.
Dec 12, 2012 5:14 AM
Dec 12, 2012 6:18 AM
Although the bus rides are a little long, the days are even longer at this time of year - I'd expect daylight until around 10:30, so hope to be able to enjoy the park and do some hiking even if we arrive at ~4PM. The Always Glaciers and Chalten Travel buses get into the park at ~noon, but don't run on the 25th, so I'm trying to find an alternative - the reason for my initial post.
Our ideal plans would be as follows:
Dec 24th, arrive El Calafate, check out Moreno Glacier, sleep in El Calafate
Dec 25: Find our way to Torres del Paine
Dec 26: TdP
Dec 27: TdP
Dec 28: TdP
Dec 29: TdP, returning to El Calafate for the night
Dec 30: Morning bus to El Chalten, do a nice hike, camp somewhere
Dec 31: 2nd hiking day around El Chalten, camp
Jan 1: Direct bus in morning from El Chalten back to El Calafate airport for afternoon departure
This would give us about 4-5 days in TdP for the W trek, and enough time to do the two hikes I've been recommended from El Chalten.
Does anyone know how I could get to TdP on Dec 24 or 25, preferably avoiding Puerto Natales?
Thanks again for all of your replies.
Dec 12, 2012 7:16 AM
7I think you haven't read about the new rules in the park. You have to be off most of the trails by 5pm.
Dec 12, 2012 7:30 AM
8You want to do a lot in a short time. For that purpose, your best option would be to go first to El Chalten after arriving in El Calafate and arrange the trip to TDP after 24 or 25th where transport won´t be a problem. If you arrive at El Chalten before 6 pm and start inmediately with your hike you can get to the campground at laguna Torre befor it gets dark. Explore Laguna Torre and Cerro Torre early at the morning when views are usually the best and continue to Fitz Roy along the Madre e hija trail without going back to El Chalten. If you are fit you can do the Laguna de las 3 and return to El Chalten the same day, taking the eveing bus to El calafate allthough this would be a bit rushed. That way you could take a bus on the next day early in the morning to TDP directly. Going via Natales will be cheaper but much more time cosnuming. You could also consider to hire a car for these 2 days if money isn´t an issue. If you arrive at TDP on 26th you could leave the park on 31 in the afternoon with the direct bus to El Calafate which would give you enough time to do the best part of the full circuit the following way. Arrive at TDP and continue to Seron Campground. 27th to Dickson, 28th to Los Perros, 29th and 30th to Grey and Pehoe, boat and bus back and you still have one spare day-. Tha´ñs not rushed at all. In fact we did it the same way with our 9 year old son. Good luck!
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