Without question Paine in Patagonian Chile is one of the finest and most memorable treks in the world.
But the logistics of getting everything booked in advance is daunting.
Backpackers Review posted a detailed trip report of their December 2017 circuit. It includes the latest details on getting reservations:
It is mandatory to attain all reservations for camping and refugio shelters prior to entering Torres del Paine National Park.
If you do not have reservations for your trek, you will not be able complete the Circuit trek. Reservations fill up fast for the prime season (November-March), so you should book several months in advance (for the Circuit trek, the number of trekkers is limited to 80 per day).
Outside of your camping reservations there is no separate permit needed to hike the Circuit. You simply pay the 21,000 peso (~$35) entrance fee when you arrive at the park and show proof of your camping reservations at several spots along the trek.
If you book your campsites early enough, you will have multiple options for itineraries and can decide to hike the circuit over anywhere from 6-9 days.
A map with the various campsites and refugios highlighted is shown below.
Note that there are free campsites run by the Chilean government (CONAF) and there are sites run by two different private companies (Fantastico Sur and Vertice Patagonia).
Prices for the accommodations run by the private companies range from ~$10 per person per night for camping to over $75 per person per night for a bed and meals in the refugios.
Some of the refugios are now requiring people to purchase meals, even if you camp (Chileno and Los Cuernos require full board meals in 2017-2018). This adds a lot of cost and is annoying, but the only other option is to not stay at these sites and adjust your itinerary. …
Which camps you decide stay at will largely depend on how many days you have in the park, how much money you want to spend, and whether you prefer to camp or stay in shared bunks. A few example itineraries are as follows (we hiked the 9 day one):
9 days: Seron > Dickson > Los Perros > Paso > Grey > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres
8 days: Seron > Dickson > Los Perros > Paso > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres
7 days: Seron > Los Perros > Grey > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres
6 days: Seron > Los Perros > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres
5 days or fewer: good luck! …
BACKPACKERS REVIEW – TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK, PATAGONIA – CIRCUIT TREK (~80 MILE LOOP)
That’s the best trip report we know. Read it closely if you want to have a hope of getting a reservation for yourself.
related – our Paine Circuit information page