Update for Torres del Paine

by Hidden Trails 01/05/2012

We realize there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet and various government websites around the world and would therefore like to give you the facts relating to the situation in Torres del Paine without the sensationalism and political motives of some media organizations.
From our office base here in Puerto Natales we are monitoring the situation in the Park closely.

During the past couple of days we have been inspecting the trails and areas affected by the fire to
a) ensure the continued safety and security of our clients and
b) to ensure our itineraries are adjusted where necessary to ensure ongoing quality.

Our priorities have been and will continue to be this:

1. To ensure all clients currently travelling with us are safe and can continue with their trips as planned to the best of our abilities while ensuring the most memorable Patagonia experience possible.
2. To inform clients (and partners with clients) joining us imminently of any necessary itinerary changes which will occur as a result of the fire and to assure them of our dedication to offering the best experience possible while keeping as close to the original itinerary as possible. We will make changes in the following cases:
a) where a particular part of the Park remains closed and/or inaccessible; or
b) where we feel that due to the fire the quality of a particular hike or ride has been seriously diminished. We appreciate your patience with this.
3. To assess all of our itineraries for the longer term (February and beyond) making the changes necessary to maintain trip quality, diverse visual appeal (i.e. a good mix of forests, lakes, mountains and glaciers) and activity enjoyment.

The fire affected mainly the areas between Grey Glacier and Pehoe and south towards admin, Pudeto (heading east to Salto Grande, Explora and Camping Pehoe), Paine Grande and east towards Lago Skottsberg and then south east towards Laguna Verde.
The fire is now under control and the Park partially re-opened as planned yesterday at 0800 hours.
This tragic incident caused by the carelessness of one individual has had a big effect on residents, guides, local communities and all of Chile. Torres del Paine is a precious resource and one we must protect and value at all costs. We have been reminded of the power of nature and our own relative insignificance.
In spite of what has happened, it is important to remember that a relatively small portion of the Park’s surface area was affected by the fire (just 5% which equates to just over 12,000 hectares).
There are still many beautiful areas to explore and enjoy.

The re-opening which took place yesterday began in the northern sector of the park and includes: Laguna Azul, Laguna Amarga, Campamento Cuernos, Campamento Serón, Campamento Los Perros. Lago Paine and Dickson (the latter is restricted to guided groups). The community of Rio Serrano is also open as is the entire Serrano River and area which forms the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. Hosteria Las Torres and associated refugios are open. No hotels or refugios were damaged in the fire. Hosteria Lago Grey is closed until 9th January as they are assisting and accommodating the fire and park authorities.

There is normal transit to/from Torres del Paine with the Laguna Amarga entrance open.
Our guides are today in the Park checking the hike to the base of Las Torres but hope to offer this again very soon. The areas that were unaffected by the fire offer a multitude of magnificent vistas, mountain and lake views, glaciers and wildlife. We are planning on taking pictures shortly so you can see for yourselves that Torres del Paine is still there in all its splendour.
We see recent events as an opportunity to innovate and explore new trails - both in the Park and beyond. As we speak, we are looking at some pristine new areas such as Balmaceda, Serrano, the border area close to Argentina and more. We know the area better than anyone, leaving us plenty of options and alternative routes which are as beautiful and exciting as the originals. We have the advantage of the exclusivity and privacy in some of these areas that our clients prefer. Given that the hike close to Grey Glacier was affected we are hiking new routes close to other glaciers. We have always loved Glacier Dickson and will be diverting some groups there. We also love Glaciers Pingo, Tyndall, Geike, Serrano and more.

Please see below a map of the Park which shows the area affected by the fire in the grey shading.
Note: this map has been produced as close to reality as possible.

We will be informing you of new trips we are about to launch shortly and will confirm any permanent itinerary changes to existing trips in the coming weeks. Some of the new trips and changes will take place in areas never before open to tourism.