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Preparing for Patagonia: Chilean style


View Australian adventure! & Getting to know Chile & Exploring Patagonia on Rebecca Heller's travel map.

When I decided to head to Patagonia, I dutifully read up on both the Argentinian and Chilean side, which is where I really learned about the Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia. It didn't even occur to me that I could trek it independently of a tour, so I started researching companies. They turned out to be pretty expensive and I assumed my best bet would be to stick to some day trips.

However, I met several people on my Uyuni/ Salt Flats tour who had been trekking there and they all gave me tidbits of advice and encouragement to go and do the trek independently. There were a few women like me who'd gone alone, also with minimal previous trekking experience, and that's how something that had not originally been on my agenda at all, turned into a new adventure I could realistically do.

As per the advice I was given I tried to get to Puerto Natales in time for the 3pm information and advice session at Base Camp. Base Camp is a pub and trekking rental store next door to, and run by, the Erratic Rock hostel, their staff give this talk every single day and stay around to answer all the questions you have. I'll include some of that advice as I go here, but if you're planning to trek, especially the O or the Q, please don't take my words as gospel, still go to the talk if you can, as they will give up to date and more specific advice.

Thanks to a longer than necessary border control (and which border crossing isn't?), I arrived at the talk at 3.15, a little flustered having missed the beginning. It didn't matter though, I heard all the advice for people wanting to do the W trek, normally a 5 day trek. I had had to wait in El Calafate as the buses had been full, so I only had 4 days to complete the trek which the staff there helped me plan.

The rest of that afternoon was about preparing everything I needed for the next four days, including equipment hire and food shopping. As I was going alone, I needed to be able to carry everything for myself, and knowing exactly what to buy was quite tricky as you need to pack food that will properly sustain you but that is light and resealable. There was plenty of umming and ahhing in the supermarket but finally I settled on dinners of rice, veg from a carton, soup packets to add flavour, and tuna. For breakfast I purchased the two portion packet of oatmeal from Base Camp as I didn't want to buy a whole box for just me and for lunch I got rice cakes, nuts and raisins.

In the end, I took about the right amount and type of food. This included some beloved chocolate, as we had been advised to take some sort of treat. I was also glad they reminded me to bring ziplock bags, which are excellent for sealing open food packets without them leaking.

The next challenge was packing the bag with the right distribution. I had been lucky to get a bed at Erratic Rock (they don't take reservations!) so I was close to some very knowledgable people. Thankfully, someone noticed my phaffing and decided to help me pack it all in! No the process he noticed I had purchased a large plastic bottle to take with me. Horrified, he rushed into his room and returned with a 500ml bottle, and almost demanded I swapped since there was no need to carry the extra weight. I was slightly sceptical, but actually this was one of the best pieces of advice.

Unlike other treks, the Torres del Paine national park is full of fresh and clean streams and rivers, so rather than schlepp around 2 litres, it's much better to carry a small bottle and refill it all the time.

After what was probably way too much flapping about, I finally finished packing up and collapsed into a very comfy bed ahead of my early start the following morning.

Posted by Rebecca Heller 03:06 Archived in Chile Tagged landscapes preparation patagonia hikes

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