In our previous post, I explained that we focus on the destinations that require most planning. One of the appeals of a world trip to us is the aspect of feeling completely carefree. That’s why we are keeping our options open as much as possible. However, budget-wise it is sometimes better to book in advance and other destinations even require meticulous planning.
Apart from the fact that Chile seems to be an amazing country, there are two main reasons why we think of spending the most time in the country that is an astonishing 4270 km long. We really like to be surrounded by the amazing sights of Patagonia (and this is cheaper in Chile than Argentina). Plus, our dear friend Berend got the great opportunity of working on the Chilean island of Chiloe for 5 months. Berend is an architect and is working with a local architectural firm on a restoration project concerning several churches that are part of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
Patagonia might not immediately ring a bell for everyone. It is the sparsely populated region at the southern end of South America that combines astonishing sights of mountains, dessert, grassland, lakes and rivers divided in several national parks. As I imagine it is most resembling to Lapland, but I have not visited either of them yet.
The most popular national park of Patagonia in Chile is Torres del Paine. This park offers two trekking routes which respectively cover 5 days and 10 days of hiking. We wanted to do the 10 day trek since you see more beautiful sights and the route is less crowded because as I mentioned before, this park is popular. It is so popular that for us, as it turned out, it’s not possible to stay there!
Torres del Pain(e) in the ass
For Torres del Paine, you are required to pre-book accommodation for every night of your stay and the park rangers check this upon arrival. Since shared hostel rooms cost around 80USD per person per night, we decided it would be best to stay on campsites with our own camping gear that we will carry from the Netherlands. The campsites belong to three different organizations and in order to book them you have to make a reservation online, send an email but most of all, you have to call a lot. One of the organizations, Vertice, is so busy that Dagmar called every night for almost five weeks but only spoke to someone twice. The second time she was connected through, the person told her that one of the campsites was fully booked until March. This makes it impossible for us to do the 10 day trek, since it would mean that we would need to go on a 17 hour hike, on the most difficult part of the route, to get to the other campsite.
Therefore we decided that we’ll look into less popular places in Patagonia. This should be no problem since it is more than six times as big as the Netherlands.
If you ever find yourselves set on going to Torres del Paine, this blogpost is very helpful and evolved into a lively forum on how to book accommodation there.
In the last part of this small journey, you can read about our plans in Peru.