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Torres Del Paine Circuit Trek Backpacking Food







There was plenty of choice for dried pasta in the shopping aisle at Unimarc in Puerto Natales.

Intro: Although we did bring some dried food goods with us from the States for our 9-day “O” circuit trek in Torres del Paine, we went on a last-minute shopping spree at Puerto Natales’ Unimarc to make some final food purchases.

When we arrived in Puerto Natales, we knew that we only had one day to prep before our Torres del Paine circuit trek, meaning that it wasn’t just a day of relaxation, but some work had to be done! I made sure we had already purchased most of the food-related items that would clear through Chile’s customs packed away before we left the States. But I knew we would need to buy the rest of our goodies at the local market in Puerto Natales.

Right off the bat, it was great that we arrived early into Puerto Natales. Because of that, we were able to take our time finding our accommodation We Are Patagonia B&B. I knew before our trip that our hostel was pretty close to the bus station, so I decided to be cocky and suggest we walk with our backpacks and luggage in tow. Sure we looked funny, but to make matters worse, we started walking in the wrong direction!

Wandering through a park in Puerto Natales after finishing our shopping at Unimarc.

Once we got off the bus and had our luggage and backpacks secure, it felt as though everyone had disappeared like scattering cockroaches, which didn’t help in us finding the right direction. It had been really hard finding any good maps of Puerto Natales (Google Maps is the worst for this town), and I ended up printing some Google images of maps that ended up being reasonably helpful.

A streetscape in Puerto Natales, with many of the businesses geared towards tourists and trekkers.

I was able to use my Spanish to ask a local which direction to a major crossroads which I knew as a landmark. In hindsight, I guess we could’ve asked someone at the information booth of the bus station or taken a cab, but my stubbornness got the best of me…I digress. But as we were making our way across the street, unbeknownst to me, stood a map of Puerto Natales! This definitely helped guide us in the right direction. Eventually we found our B&B, dropped off our bags, took a stroll through the town and had lunch at Mesita Grande restaurant, before getting down to business.

Arriving at Unimarc supermarket in Puerto Natales where most trekkers do their shopping before heading out to Torres del Paine National Park.

I did some research before our trip and found out that many trekkers relied on the supermarket Unimarc for all their food related needs. I’m not sure why, but I had preconceived notions that this place was a mecca for all things backpacking (including a section dedicated to freeze dried food). Let me tell you now: I was WAY off! Unimarc was just like any other supermarket…except maybe a little smaller than the ones we’re used to.

A selection of food we bought for trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, including green tea, oatmeal, 3-minute pasta, dried fruit and nuts, and ziplock bags.

We were here to purchase our trekking dinners and other tantalizing snacks for the nine day expedition. I was focused on ease of preparation, while keeping variety in mind. So we loaded up on pastas, and while most trekkers opt for powdered sauces, I knew we had to splurge on something a little heartier and flavorful (even if it meant more weight to be carried in our packs). I don’t regret deciding to buy packs of pasta sauce one bit (nor the parmesan cheese). We also loaded up on some “3-minute pasta”, which was literally the Top Ramen of Chile as it tasted exactly the same.

The salami, ham, and cheese we bought for lunch, with soda crackers as a source of carbohydrate.

To create some variety during lunch time, we bought some salami, serrano ham and cheese, which would eventually be paired with the soda crackers we had brought (although I would consider tortillas next time). As snacks, we bought single serving packets of mixed fruit and nuts. Probably one of my favorite purchases at Unimarc was the packet of ziplock bags, which helped tremendously during our trek, not only to keep things fresh and dry, but also to hold trash. We also bought oatmeal, but it ended up being too heavy and was leaking sugar, so we left it at our B&B.

The “home office” of the dried fruit store in Puerto Natales, with the shop downstairs and the home upstairs.

With our groceries in tow, we made one more stop before heading back to our hostel. Word on the street was that dried fruit, aka frutos secos, is the perfect trekking snack, and there was a local shop that sold exactly what we were looking for. Unfortunately, my printed map (from Google images) led us to the incorrect location. On the flip side, we simply asked a local and were pointed in the right direction.

There was an extensive collection of dried fruit on offer, including dried strawberries, kiwis, and pomelo.

This shop was so adorable and felt really authentic because it was a live/work location, with the storefront on the ground level and the home upstairs. Walking in, I was overwhelmed with all the different totes of spices, grains, nuts and, most importantly, frutos secos! To be honest, I hardly ever eat dried fruits. I almost always prefer a moist cake! However, I was craving semi-nutritious food that would also stay fresh while in our packs.

One of the best things about this dried fruit store was its variety! I was surprised to see dried pomelo and kiwis, but was taken aback most by the frutilla, aka strawberry (they also cost the most)! The lady running the store was very welcoming and let me sample all kinds of dried fruit so I could make educated choices.

Looking across the townscape of Puerto Natales, with snow-capped peaks in the distance.

Suffice to say, I loved all of them and spent way too much money there. In particular, I fell in love with the dried strawberries! They were magically delicious and tasted like gummies (but healthier I hope). I guess everything worked out in the end, since we ate all of the dried fruits on our trek and savored them as treats whenever we crossed a milestone.

All in all, I felt like we had accomplished our goals whilst shopping for trekking food. I can’t recall any moment on the trek that I felt starving, deeming our first time purchasing trekking food supplies a success! I guess the only downside was having to carry all nine days’ worth of food in our backpacks.


  • 1: Before shopping at Unimarc, plan out your meals so you know exact quantities of each item you will need.
  • 2: Purchase a box of ziplock bags that you can use to compartmentalize your snacks, and your gear (gloves, beanie) to keep them dry when it rains.
  • 3: Consider putting your groceries in a box (stacked at the entrance of the store) if you are walking back to your hostel/inn.
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