Frequently Asked Questions.
What’s the climate in Patagonia?
Weather in Patagonia is interesting and unpredictable. In the summer, the weather is warmer, but there will be strong winds. In the winter, expect less wind, but colder temperatures. Rain, snow, and mud are also factors. Winds blow from the Pacific to the east, crossing the southern Patagonian ice fields.
The temperature ranges from 0 to 30 degrees Celsius depending on the season. The strong winds lower temperatures at times by 6 or 7 degrees. Due to the climate, expect unstable weather and prepare for rain, snow, and sunshine. It is important to bring equipment and clothing that can handle these changes in climate and keep you comfortable. Winter is typically colder, but with less winds, and summer is typically warmer, but with very strong winds. We see snow sometimes in the summer, too, so be prepared for anything.
What kind of clothing should I pack for my trek/climb?
The amount of items depends on how many days you expect to go out for your adventure, but here’s a rough estimate if you want to do the Circuit:
- Windproof and waterproof jacket (Gore Tex, Coundit, or similar)
- Down vest or coat (in winter time especially)
- Fleece vest or jacket.
- 2 polypropylene “T” shirts, long sleeve. ****Quick dry clothing made with Capilene, Duofold, Polartec and Ultra Tec, or Tekware, is best because it pulls the moisture off your skin and out through the fabric, keeping you dry and warm. You can find these types of garments at athletic stores. Ask the salesperson at the store for recommendations too. We advise against wearing wool because it makes you sweat too much and it does not dry quickly. Do not bring cotton. Cotton takes forever to dry and you will end up cold and wet.
- Tank top or short sleeve shirt- similar quick dry material
- wool or fleece cap
- light quick drying gloves
- 3 pairs of socks (Polartec or polypropylene socks wick moisture off the skin. Wool socks can be great too, but for some they cause blisters, so use you may only want to use while in camp. Cotton ones are okay, but also cause blisters) We recommend REI brand trekking/expedition socks or SmartWool.
- Lightweight polypropylene or capilene long underwear bottoms
- Breathable and windproof pants (waterproof/resistant if possible as well)
- One lightweight pant (quick dry)
- Light trekking boots with good ankle support (broken in)
- Sandals or booties with good soles for campsite
- Gaitors (wintertime)
- One set of warm, clean clothes for sleeping
- Sleeping bag (-10°C)
- Personal hygiene items (soap, toothpaste, toilet/hygenic paper, etc.)
- Plastic bottle for holding water (1 Liter)
- Insect repellent (optional)
- 65-90 liter trekking backpack (65+ liters for The “W”)
- Head lamp
- Camera (and extra battery if needed)
- Trekking poles (let us know if you have your own)
But seriously, what should I specifically pack for the W trek?
Here’s what SV Patagonia Trip Coordinator Angie personally brings when she does the W:
- 1 pair of water resistant trekking pants like these. A pair of pants that unzips to convert to shorts/capris like these are also nice.
- 1 rain shell pant like this or this.
- 1 or 2 pair long underwear bottoms, like these or these or these.
- 2 long sleeve water resistant/wicking t shirt, like this, these, these or these.
- 1 tanktop (athletic wicking type) with built in bras, like this or this,
- and 1 sport bra like this to wear with 1 light weight t-shirt, like this or this.
- 1 fleece for sleeping in. Or you can sleep in one of the two long sleeve shirts you brought.
- 1 fleece jacket as a layering for warmth, like this.
- 1 lightweight down or synthetic jacket like this or this or this.
- 1 gor-tex shell jacket like this or this.
- For pajama bottoms Angie sleeps in her long underwear – sometimes if its super cold she wears her trekking pants with long underwear underneath.
- 2 to 3 pairs of socks wool blend socks (rei brand, smart wool, or similar), like this.
- flip flops or booties for walking around the campsite at night. Angie recommends these. They are incredibly warm.
- sunglasses with strap to hold them on neck when not wearing them.
- trekking boots, like these, these, or these in the winter. Please break them in well in advance of your trip.
- lightweight liner gloves are a necessity. Here are one of the best ones out there.
- heavy duty mittens/or gloves, just in case it gets really cold, like these.
- quick drying underpants, 4 pair, like these (or these for men). If you only have cotton, it’s ok, but synthetic is much better.
- hat, like this or this
- Quick drying towel like this or MSR brand.
- Fleece ear warmer like this.
- Bar of soap and a teeny travel bottle of shampoo.
- Travel / handwipes.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (travel size is best).
- Toilet paper roll (1).
- Small Pocket knife (if you don’t have one, don’t worry – SVP will bring one!)
- Hand warmers. If you get cold easily, also bring a couple hand warmers just in case.
- Nighttime headlamp – these will be helpful for you with getting around in the dark. This is sufficient, but if you will be using it outside camping again and again, one like this is better.
- Water bottle, 1L in size (Nalgene brand), or a dromedary/bladder/camelbak system which you can put in your pack, like this.
* We are happy to answer your specific questions if you want more information on what outdoor gear is right for you.
Pack similar to how Angie packs for the W above, but obviously bring less.
How much will my backpack weigh?
Our trips are self-sufficient, meaning each participant is responsible for carrying his or her own things. This makes for a more adventurous feeling when out in the wild of Patagonia. For the W and Circuit treks, plan on carrying a 23 kg (50 lb) backpack. For treks of less than 4-5 days, subtract a little food weight. Obviously, the more you eat, the less your pack will weigh a few days into the trek.
If you think you might need help with the weight, let us know and we can arrange for a porter to carry some/all of your things (available at additional cost).
Can I hire a guide to meet me after I finish the Circuit on my own, to take me to Isla Navarino, Cabo Froward, or Climbing?
Absolutely! We know some experienced trekkers only want a guide for new terrain or for climbing. We can help you with planning the details of the next part of your adventure. Let us know what you have in mind and we will be happy to help you plan it all out.
Do I need to be in amazing shape or have trekking experience?
Nope. Just let us know when you make your reservation what is the level of your hiking experience. The experience and fitness level necessary just depends on what sort of trip you want. Don’t want to camp? No problem. We can stay in Refugios. If you want to take it easy, we can customize your adventure to take longer to work with your own fitness level. Worried about carrying all your own gear? No problem. Contact us and let us know what you have in mind, and we will figure out what works best for you. Note: For individuals who have do not regularly do overnight backpacking, we strongly recommend hiring 1-2 porters to help carry your things.
Should I tip my guide?
Yes, please. Especially if you enjoyed your trip and your guide’s help. Pesos Chilenos or US Dollars are fine. Remember to bring the tip with you to the park, as when your guide drops you off, you may not get a chance to see him or her again. A minimum tip of 8,000 pesos per day per person is customary for guides. A bit less for porters. Of course, the amount is up to you.
How do I get to Torres del Paine?
Torres del Paine is located approximately three hours north of Puerto Natales by bus. We arrange the transportation, so you do not have to worry about it. From Santiago, you will need to fly to Patagonia. In the summer, one domestic airline flies into Puerto Natales. Otherwise, you will need to fly to Punta Arenas and take transportation from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. It’s usually best to give yourself another day after arriving in Puerto Natales to get your gear together, meet your guide, and talk details before heading out to the park the next morning.
Can I drink the water on my treks?
Yes. On all of our treks, the water is potable right out of the stream. But if in doubt, just ask your guide.
Will my guide speak English?
Can we make a campfire while trekking?
In Torres del Paine, no. But don’t worry. We will have warm food and beverage made on gas-fueled stoves which we will bring for cooking. In Isla Navarino and Cabo Froward, we can make campfires.
I have a special diet (vegetarian, kosher, celiac, etc.). Can you accommodate this?
Yes! Just tell us and we will make sure your guide gets only the right foods for your diet.
Should I get travel insurance?
Yes. You assume full responsibility for coverage in case of the unexpected. This insurance must cover personal accident, injury, medical expenses, ambulance, loss of property, and any other expenses which could arise from loss, damage, injury, delay or other inconvenience.