Torres del Paine...
Amognst the most spectacular treks of the Americas


Torres del Paine National park. Chile
Torres del Paine National Park © Jeroe Peys / Istockphoto

Torres del Paine is Chile's most spectacular national park and one of the most stunning and diverse of South America.

With heights up to 9,000 feet, takes its name from the three distinctive granite towers (torres) that, together with the horns (cuernos), raise above the Patagonia steppe in a majestic setting within the park.

The region is known as Chilean Patagonia, composed by two sub-regions: Aisen and Magallanes (Chile's XII Region) where the park is located and nature explodes in a concert of mountains, glaciers, islands and icebergs, marking the end of the South America continent.


To have a taste of this magnificent setting, visit South America from Space and South America through Astronaut Photography.

One of the most inaccessible, unique, uncontaminated and beautiful places in the world, Torres del Paine is a must-go destination, ideal for hikers, climbers, adventure sports oriented and nature lovers in general.
Chile adventure travel par excellence...

  • trekking
  • horseback riding
  • climbing
  • kayaking
  • rafting
  • fly fishing

For kayaking lovers, there is a three day trip -arrange it at Puerto Natales - that goes from rio Serrano through Bernardo O'Higgins National Park and continues along fiordo Ultima Esperanza to glaciar Balmaceda.

Best time to visit is October to April - Spring and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

You could combine it with a visit to El Calafate, Argentina, and the equally impressive Glaciers National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares), where Perito Moreno glacier is located.
Visit Patagonia Photo Gallery for some impressive pictures of the area.


Grey glacier, Torres del Paine National park. Chile
Glacier Grey © Marcelo Silva / Istockphoto

The town of Puerto Natales, Chile, your best gateway to Torres del Paine National Park - about two hours driving through a gravel road - it's also where many buses depart to El Calafate and Rio Gallegos, in Argentina's Patagonia.

But is not only the Paine massif what identifies best Torres del Paine National Park with its 181,000 hectares of extension.
It has rivers such as Paine, Pingo, Serrano and Grey, and several lakes...

  • Sarmiento
  • Nordenskjold
  • Pehoe
  • Dickson
  • Pingo

Several glaciers...

It has four distinct ecosystems, each of them loaded with particular landscapes, flora and fauna, that can be described as Pre-Andean scrub land, Magellanic forest, Magellanic tundra and high altitude vegetation.
Herds of guanacos, flocks of ñandues, pumas, guemuls (huemuls) and Chilean Grey foxes among its forty different species of mammals. A huge variety of bird fauna - about one hundred of them - such as the Andean condor, black-necked swan, Chilean flamingo, Magellanic woodpecker, black-chested eagle and others.



There is a large network of trails that allows for a single and multiday treks, with refuges and camping grounds - also hotels and hosterias that we'll talk about later.
The most popular treks include...

  • Pingo Zapata circuit
  • Paine circuit
  • Dickson glacier circuit
  • Grey glacier-Frances glacier circuit
  • Las Torres (towers) circuit
  • Paine lake circuit
  • Laguna Verde circuit

An interesting reading to carry is "Trekking in the Patagonian Andes" by Clem Lindemayer, another jewel from Lonely Planet Publications.

Give yourself between three days and a couple of weeks to explore Torres del Paine.
Carry all-weather trekking gear as you could experience four seasons on a single day. A good pair of trekking shoes, woolen cap, sunglasses, sun block and a 0 to 20 degrees sleeping bag with a sleeping mat.

According to the length of your stay, you may want to stock up non-perishable food at Puerto Natales before moving in. You could rent a car there as well, but there are buses to take you to one of the park main entry points...

There is an entrance fee of about U$S 15.00 per person.

Torres del Paine National Park was declared World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1975. You have to visit it, because it's both a truly unique South America travel experience and one of the most beautiful corners of the Earth...


How to Get There:

Lan Chile Airlines has daily flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas, 200 km south of Puerto Natales. From there, Route 9 to the park entrance at lake Pehoe.

From Argentina you can get to the park through El Calafate and Rio Gallegos.
There is also the option to get a ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales - four day trip.


Where to Stay:

Hotels:
Find and compare best hotel rates in Torres del Paine, Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas.
Hostels:
Book budget accommodation in Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas.




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