USEFUL PARK INFO
The bus from Calafate to El Chalten (park entrance) costs $50 roundtrip. There is no park admission fee.
The campground at Refugio Los Troncos (Piedra del Fraile) is $5 per night. A hot shower, shelter from the wind, and a small store selling real food (like chocolate cake) make this a worthwhile expenditure.
TORRES DEL PAINE:
Bring cash....on top of the park entrance fee (around $12), many campsites charge $3.50 per person. (They also have stores selling a limited variety of food.) And it is either a 2 hour hike on a dirt road or a $5 minivan ride from the park entrance to the trailhead (to either start the circuit or to hike up to the base of the Torres).
Instead of "El Circuito", a very overrated experience, tackle the "W" hike instead. It's obvious from the map and it will be much more scenic. About the maps, the contour line intervals are about 600 ft, so a flat day on the map is NOT an easy day on the trail, and hiking times are given instead of distances.
The best trekking map is published by J.L.M. Cartografia Digital ($5). It's red and the cover says Torres del Paine trekking map, English and Spanish, JLM Mapas.
Last of all, absolutely, positively DO NOT rely on the Lonely Planet Guide to hiking in Patagonia. We dubbed it the book of lies: practically none of the information is correct.
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