Disclaimer: I am author of this text, but most of the trip ideas and ways to get around the reservation system are not mine. Credit goes to my friends, who have more balls than i do 🙂
Since the new reservation system in Torres del Paine, the main tourist attraction in Chilean Patagonia, it is very hard to do the famous W track and nearly impossible to finish the O track. These are the two ways how to access Torres del Paine. We tried to get to see as much as we can without a reservation, as there were no spaces left for us. And this is how we did it:
In the end we took a catamaran to PAINE GRANDE and managed to persuade the staff in the camp to let us stay there for one night. We had to pay, of course (6 000 CLP). The first day we hiked all the way up to Refugio and cap Grey and back. It is long, but worth it.
At the bottom of the trek there is a ranger who controls reservations. We were not able to pass him without a paper (everything here seems to be based on little papers) with a booking to the next camp. However, we met people who managed and then they could stay in Camp Grey for the night.
After a windy night in camp (you can buy food for 21 USD beer for about 6 000 CLP and also some small supplies from the local shop.) Credit card is accepted sometimes and everything, including the bar, closes at 10 pm! WE went to the other side to camp Italiano. The whole track is totally worth it. Not even so steep and you get close to another glaciar.
In the evening there was no other option than to take the catamaran and go back.
Ah well, ADIOS, Torres ❤
This is a situation in 2017, everything may be different in the near future as the amount of lost, angry, unhappy tourists with outdated – so a year old – guidebooks (including Lonely Planet), who couldn’t get to Torres, as they didn’t know about the reservation system was incredible. And they did complain.