TORRES DEL PAINE: ZAPATA VALLEY TREK – 4 DAYS 3 NIGHTS
From Puerto Natales, Chile
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeAdventure, Camping, Charming, Ecofriendly, Glaciers, GROUP DEPARTURES, Hiking, Ice Trekking, Lake, Mountain, National Park, Photograph, Puerto Natales, Rural, Trekking
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Small Group
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 lies in wait. Pour over Ichthyosaurus fossils, hike the Zapata Valley and explore steppe 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.
DAY 1: Transfer to Torres del Paine – Full-day Trek through the Zapata Valley
2 HOURS BY PRIVATE TRANSFER / 6 HOURS HIKE, 14 KM
An early morning transfer will pick you up from your Puerto Natales hotel and take you to Torres del Paine National Park. After entering the National Park, 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, 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.
Night at Zapata Campsite (BL-D).
DAY 2: Explore the Ichthyosaurus Graveyard
12 HOUR ROUND-TRIP / HIKE, 8 KM
Today you’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.
Night at Zapata Campsite (B-BL-D).
DAY 3: Full-day Hike to the Summit of Cerro Zapata
12-14 HOUR ROUND-TRIP / HIKE, 26 KM
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, Geikie, Pingo, Olguín (and others still unexplored) will be laid out below you. Our return hike to camp will be along the same route.
Night at Zapata Campsite (B-BL-D).
6 HOUR HIKE, 14 KM / 2 HOURS BY PRIVATE TRANSFER
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. At the end of our trek we’ll meet our driver, who will transfer us back to Puerto Natales.
-Regular tour departs from September to April at 07.00 am.
-Private tour departure schedule is coordinated previously with the passenger depending on their availability.
- Pick up and Drop off at your hotel;
- Entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park;
- Three nights at Zapata Campsite;
- All meals indicated in the schedule (B: breakfast, BL: picnic lunch, L: Lunch, D: dinner);
- English Speaking Professional Hiking Guides.
- Any international and domestic flights;
- Any additional nights;
- Medical expenses;
- Travel insurance (air medical rescue service – first aid and/or evacuation – insurance included);
- Personal expenses;
- Breakfast on Day 1, Lunch on Day 4 – sleeping bag & mat;
- Alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks;