Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

Torres del Paine Volunteer Trip

This volunteer trip will let you see the sights and hear the sounds of Patagonia’s premier park – Torres del Paine National Park – in a way that few visitors ever experience. Hike the famous “W” trail on the way to “Work,” while you scout the sky for condors, gaze on National Geographic Patagoniaextraordinary mountain peaks, or glance at glaciers. Since 2005, Conservation Volunteers International Program has been bringing volunteers to Torres del Paine to improve hiking trails and protect this international treasure.

Click on the expandable links below for details.

One of the world’s greatest landscapes, Torres del Paine suffers from soil erosion on overused trails and challenges to wildlife due to encroachment on sensitive habitats. Increasing numbers of visitors have caused unintended problems. With limited resources, Torres del Paine National Park managers struggle to meet these challenges.Project sites range in altitude from 500 to 2,000 feet. No prior trail maintenance experience is required — training is provided — and past volunteers were a wide range of ages and abilities. Tasks vary, but you should be able to hike with a day pack, move soil or rock with a shovel, pull unwanted vegetation, or carry stones. As always, your education and safety are our priorities.
A general description of activities you can expect on the Torres del Paine itinerary follows. Please note, however, that every trip is unique. Because local conditions and the Park’s needs continually evolve, detailed plans are often finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site in light of the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. As volunteers successfully complete conservation and restoration activities, new activities or areas can be targeted on subsequent days, which may result in a modified itinerary.

Day 1: We begin in Punta Arenas (Sandy Point), at the southern tip of South America. Punta Arenas was an important seaport prior to the construction of the Panama Canal. In 1916, Captain Ernest Shackleton launched the successful rescue of his crew from here, after his ship, Endurance, was destroyed by Antarctic sea ice.We travel along the Strait of Magellan before heading north to the Cerro Negro Ranch, where we stop to see a sheep herding and shearing demonstration. Continuing north, we travel towards Torres del Paine National Park. Along the way we may stop to take photographs of the magnificent mountains, as well as guanacos and other wildlife.

Note: Each trip to Torres del Paine is different, as we continue to improve the trail system in various locations. Sometimes we are based in one area of the park for the entire trip. Others times we may move from one site to another. Depending on the project we will undertake, some trips will stop in in the town of Puerto Natales the first night for lodging and dinner and then proceed to the Park early the next morning. Other trips may be able to reach the Park lodging destination on the first night. After you register, you are given a complete and detailed itinerary.

Day 2: If we are at our destination early enough on day 2, we will begin orientation and training in all aspects of trail work in the afternoon. Or, we may stop to see one of the iconic sights in Torres del Paine before traveling on to our project destination. This may require farther travel by bus and/or boat or catamaran to get to a more remote location, with training and orientation the following day.

Once inside the Park of Torres del Paine – Patagonia, we usually stay in refugios, which are mountain lodges with shared accommodations and meals.

Days 2-11: This period is a combination of work days, rest days when you can choose your own activity, and travel days. The exact schedule depends on the project location and the time needed to move from one location to another.

We start the day with breakfast at the refugio. On work days, after picking up a bag lunch, we hike to the work site. Groups of 5-6 volunteers are teamed with an experienced leader. Training in all aspects of the work is provided. We may:
  • rehabilitate (close) unauthorized trails
  • cut and move vegetative plugs to camouflage and rehabilitate abandoned trails
  • use a pick or shovel to out-slope the trails and build water bars to better shed water
  • clip vegetation with a lopper or hand saw to widen trails for safety
  • remove rocks from the trail tread with rock bars to reduce tripping hazards
  • move crushed rock or stone to create a dry walking surface
On rest days, you are free to rest in the refugios or explore the area. Many of our volunteers use these days to hike in the Park. Experienced leaders will offer suggestions for shorter or longer explorations.

Day 12: We leave Torres del Paine and travel to Puerto Natales. Depending on our location in the Park, this may involve boat and/or bus rides. We usually have time for shopping before our farewell dinner tonight.

Day 13: After an early breakfast, we depart for Punta Arenas by bus, in time to catch mid-day departures to Santiago and the United States.

Although we do our very best to adhere to this schedule, the itinerary is also subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather.
(Note: Your trip expense may be tax-deductible. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page and consult your tax advisor for details.)

Price includes:
  • leadership and support staff for volunteer activities
  • guide leadership on tours
  • all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day
  • hotel accommodations in Puerto Natales
  • refugio accommodations in the Park
  • all bus and boat transportation to/from Punta Arenas and within the Park
  • group tools
  • orientation and training
  • park entrance fees

Price does not include:
  • international airfare to/from Punta Arenas, Chile
  • medical immunizations
  • insurance (emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory and can usually be purchased for $25 through REI Adventures)
  • excess baggage charges
  • airport taxes
  • alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
  • gratuities or personal items

Torres del Paine Volunteer Dates

February 19 – March 3, 2018
or call 1-800-622-2236

Torres del Paine Reviews

Visit our partner REI Adventures to read more.

Torres del Paine Impact

Expand the Trips Report link below to see the difference past volunteers to Patagonia made!

Be sure to check out our special projects page for information on the suspended bridges we built in Torres del Paine National Park.

About Torres del Paine

Southern Chile and Argentina share an immense, sparsely populated expanse divided by the Andes Mountains, commonly known as Patagonia. Rising from the flat Patagonian steppes with breathtaking abruptness, the craggy mountains of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are an astonishing sight. Torres del Paine is the crown jewel of Chile’s national parks.

Because of its exceptional ecological significance, in 1978 UNESCO designated the Park as an International Biosphere Reserve. The dramatic granite mountain spires, the spectacular glaciers, and the haunting winds draw visitors from around the world. The ever-present allure of wildlife exists including grazing guanaco, soaring Andean condor, and the possibility of sighting an endangered huemul or an elusive puma.

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© 2018 — Conservation Volunteers International Program


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