After closing last year’s tourism season with a devastating wildfire, Torres del Paine National Park is gearing up for another high season. The thousands of tourists that will be arriving should expect changes.
The wildfire began at the end of December 2011, and raged for nearly two months. By the end of February 2012, an estimated 17,606 hectares (43,505 acres) of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine had been destroyed, according to Conaf, the national forest service. The entire park was forced closed until the blaze could be contained. Eventually the northern sector reopened.
The Puerto Natales hostel, erratic rock, informs V!VA Travel Guides that burned areas include along the trails in the Las Carretas, Paine Grande Italiano and Paine Grande Grey sectors. Ruth, an erratic rock volunteer says, “There is already new green grass growing, which makes the black even darker, so it is pretty impressive.”
Reforestation of the burnt areas of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine has been slow. Thus far, only 10,000 native lenga beech (Nothofagus pumilio) have been planted. Conaf takes national and international volunteers in a variety of positions.
The high season opened on October 1. Since then, regular bus service has begun and most refuges opened. The ones at Los Cuernos and Chileno are slated to open October 15, and Refugio Dikson, which forms part of the circuit, will be online November 1. Catamaran service also has begun once daily; at the end of October, it will run twice daily, and as of November 5, three times per day.
Prices for the 2012-2013 season are:
* Park entry: 18,000 Chilean pesos (CLP) or $36 USD
* Public bus from Puerto Natales: 15,000 CLP ($30 USD) round trip
* Lago Pehoe catamaran: 12,000 CLP ($24 USD) one way; 22,000 CLP ($44 USD) round trip
* Refuges: 22,500 CLP ($45 USD) per bed, without sheets or meals
* Meals: breakfast 5,500 CLP ($11 USD), lunch 8,000 CLP ($16 USD), dinner 11,000 CLP ($22 USD)
Tourists will face many more regulations, especially concerning camping, and more education about park rules. Also, many more patrols will be on the lookout for people who camp in non-designated areas. Drop by erratic rock’s free daily information sessions at 3 p.m. to learn about new changes and about all the challenges you’ll face in Torres del Paine National Park.
A big thank you to the staff of erratic rock for the above information. Pack along your V!VA Travel Guides Chile for the most complete coverage of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine and the other wonder destinations of the region than any other guidebook on the market.