The Torres Del Paine ‘O’ Route is a staple of any Patagonia adventure. The 100-mile, 8-day trek, is known as one of the most beautiful, diverse landscapes on the planet.

Planning the trip is not too difficult since it’s well documented on several websites (our favorite is this guide at back-packer.org), but there was some information we couldn’t find. Here are five lessons learned that will help make Torres Del Paine, and other international treks, a success.

The Path Arriving at the Dickson Camp Ground. It was a site for sore eyes. We played futbol against the rangers for hours and then jumped in freezing glacial waters to prevent jock itch, and then had beer.


1. Take the Scenic Route

Many people can’t decide if they should stick with the ‘W’ or do the full ‘O’ – or even the ‘Q’. We did the ‘O’ route counterclockwise , starting at Las Torres Hotel, and highly recommend this route. Going counterclockwise gives you benefit of saving the easier and more luxurious hiking for the end of the trip. The ‘O’ makes the trek a much more fulfilling experience, and the backside has a charm and trekking culture that gets lost in the refugios on the ‘W’ trek, which offer credit card transactions and wifi. Not to mention, you just flew all the way to Patagonia! Do the whole thing.

2. Bring a Tent

We heard a lot of different opinions on whether or not to reserve spots in advance, and to stay in a refugio vs. a tent. If you are going when the weather is ideal (January or February) our advice is to bring a tent, don’t make reservations, and just start walking. Campsites will be about 6.000 pesos per person and are easy to come by on the backside. The front side was more difficult, and required some reservations at free sites (that you can make at a campsite on the way), but there was room everywhere we went.

3. Bring Local Currency (and Cigarettes)

On the backside of the ‘O’, they have small stores at each refugio that sell beer (3.000 pesos), soap, instant potatoes, oreos, and so on. You will want these things, and they only take pesos or exact change USD. Allocate about $10 USD each day in case you want to indulge in a beer and cookies as you stretch out after the hike. TDP Hack: Bring a few packs of cigarettes. You can trade these to the park rangers at campsites on the backside in exchange for goods at a cheaper rate than pesos. You can also barter for dinner in the refugio, or a bed if they have one available.

4. Bring a towel and waterproof everything

Jacket, boots, pants, backpack – waterproof everything. The weather is unpredictable, and that means wind, rain, and snow when you are not expecting it. We had one very wet, very cold night that involved piling brush and leaves against the sides of the tent to insulate us. A quick drying towel is essential as an extra layer of warmth, doing dishes, drying off after a swim, and to keep your kit clean.

5. Bring MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)

We went for the pasta/oatmeal route, but over the course of 8 days you run into people eating freeze dried meals and man are you jealous. Next time around I would bring one per day for dinner (Mountain House is pretty good), oatmeal with nuts and raisins for breakfast, and a combination of bread/cheese/sausage/granola/nutella for lunch. Additionally, you CAN drink the water straight from the rivers as of this post. We did, it was delicious, and we are all fine.

Eddie having a Game of Thrones moment.

Chace looking back at the glacier that we slept under the night before. It was so cold we piled dried leaves and branches around the outside of the tent as insulation.

Laundry day.

Drinking whiskey with glacial ice by the river at night – Great for dehydration.

Overlooking Glacier Grey while Eddie talks to some new people. We hiked together for days after this conversation and still keep in touch with both.

Pretending to read but really just reducing gravity’s pull.

This is true bliss – Coffee on the W, labeling polaroids, and me destroying Chace in chess, all with amazing #views.

Gregory packs all around. Didn’t break.

Your moment of zen: The windiest campsite on the backside of the Cuernos. The best view, but the wind broke my tent. It’s still broken.