Trek back in time to Torres del Paine’s hidden valleys and canyons, where paleontology is very much alive and evidence of Patagonia’s prehistoric life awaits. Pour over Ichthyosaurus fossils, hike the Zapata Valley, and explore steppes dotted with the fossils of ancient leaves. This trek through ancient history weaves through secluded valleys, steppe, and canyons far from the park’s more crowded trails. This exclusive journey is part of the Route of the Parks of Patagonia which connects 17 national parks throughout Chile.
• Featured Route of Parks of Patagonia Experience
• Visit Torres del Paine’s Most Remote Valley
• Wild, Untouched Trekking & Camping Experience
• Hike Through the Zapata Valley
• Get Close to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field
• Trek to the Summit of Cerro Zapata
• See Impressive Ichthyosaurus Fossils
• Search for Fossils in the Sierra Baguales
• Visit Tyndall Glacier
• Stay at an Authentic Patagonian Estancia
Transfer to Torres del Paine – Full Day Trek to the Zapata Valley
2 Hour Private Transfer
6 Hour Hike, 14 KM
Night at Zapata Campsite (BL-D)
An early morning transfer will pick you up from your hotel in Puerto Natales and take you to Torres del Paine National Park. Upon entering, we’ll drive to the post at Grey Lake and begin our 6 hour hike to the Zapata Valley – the most ancient one in Torres del Paine! This is an extremely unfrequented valley and your group will experience the peace of trekking alone, accompanied only by stirring scenery, and (if we’re lucky) the watchful gaze of the foxes, guanacos, woodpeckers and huemuls (Andean deer) that live here. Hikers will share the weight of common equipment, carrying food and tents between them. A group porter and cook will carry the portable toilet and cook meals during your time at the Zapata campsite. This is a remote camping experience, staying at a basic campsite without access to hot water – but with the transcendent backdrop of Torres del Paine’s (truly) untamed landscapes on all sides. Upon arrival, we’ll set up camp, settle in and recharge with a nourishing evening meal.
Explore the Ichthyosaurus Graveyard
12 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 24 km
Night at Zapata Campsite (B-BL-D)
Today we´ll hike to rocky slopes near Tyndall Glacier to the site of a precious paleontological discovery. Here, 46 examples of Ichthyosaurus fossils, a dolphin-like “fish lizard” that lived 245 million to 90 million years ago in the Mesozoic Era, are seen as if etched into the rock itself. Adult and embryo specimens are present, showing us the remains of a what is likely a pack that was entombed by catastrophic mudflow that rushed into the underwater canyons they hunted. We’ll make our way back to our campsite via the same route and settle in to share a good meal. Tonight, take time to stretch and rest: tomorrow’s hike is our most challenging…
Full Day Hike to the Summit of Cerro Zapata
12-14 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 26 km
Night at Zapata Campsite (B-BL-D)
This morning we’ll begin at around 4:00 am. Our destination is the Cerro Zapata (1590 m). This is a non-technical hike, but one that is long and requires hikers to interact closely with the landscape: weaving through forests of native trees, crossing snow and bouldering across huge rocks carved out by the glaciers’ ancient movements. The summit of Cerro Zapata has 360° views of fantastic Patagonian scenery, being surrounded by lakes, glaciers, mountain ranges and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Its peak is a particularly wonderful lookout for glaciers and the lakes they give birth to: from the summit, Glaciers Grey, Tyndall, Geike, Pingo, Olguín (and others still unexplored) will be laid out below you. Our return hike to camp will be along the same route.
Return Hike, Private Transfer to Estancia La Cumbre
6 Hour Hike, 14 km
2 Hour Private Transfer
Night at Estancia Las Cumbres (B-BL-D)
This morning we’ll break camp and begin our return hike across the grassy steppe and undulating slopes of the valley, with energy-boosting views of the Paine Massif along the way. Back at the post at Grey Lake we’ll board a private transfer service to Estancia La Cumbre, where we’ll stay for the next two nights. The drive crosses the National Park, giving you a chance to catch extra glimpses of its most famous peaks and landscapes, such as Paine Grande, Los Cuernos and its intensely-colored lakes. After settling in at Estancia Las Cumbres, we’ll share dinner together and enjoy a good night’s rest.
Full Day Fossil Hunt in Sierra Baguales
7 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 11 km
Night at Estancia Las Cumbres (B-BL-D)
A meditative day’s hike in the wild open steppe of the Sierra Baguales, exploring the region’s paleontologic past through the intricate fossils left from when the Atlantic Ocean’s waters flowed here. Throughout the day your guide will show you natural relics – fossilized leaves, tree trunks, shellfish and shark teeth – left as souvenirs from Patagonia’s changing landscapes. We’ll explore remote lakes, follow guanaco tracks, be introduced to unique flora and fauna and hike to a viewpoint (1200 m) to see the Tetas de las Chinas rock formation. You’ll spend the night once again at the Estancia and enjoy a Patagonian style lamb barbecue for dinner.
Full Day Expedition to Rodas Lagoon and Fossil Canyon, Return to Puerto Natales
6 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 12 km
2 Hour Private Transfer (B-BL)
With ragged peaks as our backdrop, today’s trek takes us through vast landscapes that have beared witness to important moments of Patagonia’s prehistoric and modern history. Following the wild waters of the Baguales River, this gentle, 2-hour hike passes the crumbling remains of abandoned estancias once owned by the region’s first fearless inhabitants. We’ll visit Rodas Lagoon, see wild trout surfing its waters, and have lunch beneath the red-hued cliffs and lava-sculpted peaks (some up to 2000m high) that surround the lagoon. Afterwards, you’ll visit Fossil Canyon where a rocky outcrop is studded with fossils of mollusks, oysters and other marine life that flourished here in the ancient waters of the Atlantic some 18-23 million years ago. Later, we’ll follow a gentle path back to the Visitor’s Center and prepare to transfer back to Puerto Natales.
- All Private Transportation Indicated in Schedule
- Entrance Fee to Torres del Paine National Park
- 3 Nights Wilderness Camping at Zapata Campsite (4 season, double occupancy tents included)
- 2 Nights Accommodation in Estancia La Cumbre Sierra Baguales (double occupancy accommodation)
- Cooking Utensils, Plate, Retractable Bowl, Sea to Summit Folding Chair
- 1 Porter to Carry Portable Toilet
- All Meals Indicated in the Schedule (B: Breakfast, BL: Box Lunch, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, BBQ: Chilean Asado
- Professional Hiking and Paleontology Guides (English-Spanish) Guide Ratio 1:6 Guests
- Any Additional Aights
- Medical Expenses
- Travel Insurance
- Personal Expenses
- Breakfast on Day 1, Dinner on Day 6
- Alcoholic & Non Alcoholic Drinks
- Gratuities for Guide & Driver
$2.095 per person
Start / End
MIN 2 MAX 8 PEOPLE
Chile Nativo Wild Camping
When we go off the beaten path, we must camp in places without modern facilities. We provide all the camping gear necessary for the most comfortable remote experience. Camping gear is provided to guests including tents (double occupancy), compact cooking utensils, & portable camp chair. The camping gear, food and cooking utensils must be shared among the group and each person will carry in total between 17 – 20 kgs (34 – 44 Lbs). Each group will have a porter who will carry the portable camping toilet throughout the excursion.
Estancia Las Cumbres
La Casa Museo, or museum house, located at Estancia Las Cumbres in Sierra Baguales is a rustic, fully-equipped ranch home with hot showers, electricity by generator, full kitchen, and wood burning stove to keep warm during chilly Patagonia nights. The simple home has comfortable mattresses in a common sleeping area with liners and pillows, but no sheets or blankets. This remote home offers guest an authentic experience staying in the Patagonia steppe under its vast changing skies.
Dates & Prices
Program prices are determined on the final number of confirmed guests in a group. The per person price lowers as more guests join the group. Chile Nativo operates with a maximum of 8 guests per departure which allows for a high level of individualized service and an unforgettable personalized experience.
PRICES FOR SEASON 2021/2022: (valid until April 2022)
2 Guests Total in Group: USD$ 2.895 per person
3 Guests Total in Group: USD$ 2.395 per person
4-8 Guests Total in Group: USD$ 2.095 per person
**DEPARTURES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST**
Q: How do I arrive to Puerto Natales?
A: The Santiago International Airport (Arturo Merino Benítez Airport) is the main international hub where travelers arrive to begin their travels in Chile. Guests may take a direct flights to Punta Arenas Airport (Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport) which is a 3.5 hour flight into the capital city of the region. Frequent flights to Punta Arenas are available as it is the main airport in the region and where many travelers stop to explore prior to or after their adventures in Torres del Paine National Park. From Punta Arenas, guests may travel 3 hours via bus or a private transfer to Puerto Natales. Now, guests may also fly directly to Puerto Natales (Teniente Julio Gallardo Airport) from Santiago which is also a 3.5 hour flight. Available flights are less frequent than those to Punta Arenas but still available several days a week during peak season (October – April). Most itineraries require that guests book flights arriving at least the day prior to starting their program and departing the day after finishing.
Q: Where do I keep my luggage that I won´t need during my excursion?
A: The majority of the hotels and hostels will store luggage for their guests who are staying with them prior to and after their travels in the park. If not, we will happily store your luggage securely in our office until you arrive back from your trek! Guests should plan to deliver their luggage to our office during their program briefing or prior to starting their excursion.
Q: Do I need to bring my own sleeping bag and tent on this excursion?
A: Guests are required to carry their own sleeping bag and mat during this program. Guests may also rent these from our office for USD$ 6 per day per item. Tents are provided to guests and must carry these on day 1 of the trek and day 4.
Q: What are Ichthyosaurus Fossils?
A: Ichthyosaurus Fossils are fish-lizard marine reptiles which existed during the Cretaceous period. The Ichthyosaurus graveyard in this section of Torres del Paine contains some of the world’s most significant fossil finds from the Cretaceous period, discovered by a team of glaciologists just recently in 2004.
Q: What kind of physical ability does this program require?
A: This program includes several long, moderate hikes. Guests should have a strong physical condition in order to enjoy each activity to the fullest. Guests of any age and ability may complete this excursion if they exercise on average 4-6 hours a week and include a combination of resistance and strength training in their workout regimen, can hike or bike 2-3 days in a row for at least 3 hours a day, and are comfortable with hiking uphill for sections at a time.
Q: Should I tip my guide? If so – how much is appropriate?
A: Tipping can be a delicate subject and many different nationalities have different tipping cultures. Tips or ´propinas´ in Chile, are viewed as a reward for good, quality service. When tipping your guide/s, they should be in Chilean pesos. If you do leave tips in US dollars – make sure the bills are unmarked and undamaged. A good guide who does the job well, has good English and provides a great service, can expect CLP 10,000 to 15,000 a day in total per day from the group. For a good assistant guide, each should get about half that of the guide per day, CLP 5,000 to 8,000 per day. It is usual to leave your driver or chauffeur a tip too. Normally around CLP 2,000 to CLP 3,000 per person. These amounts are merely a source to help you or give you a general idea of what is normal or typical. Of course, tipping is always at the discretion of the group members as to what they deem appropriate for the service they received.