Torres del Paine National Park is a national park boasting mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers. It is the most famous national park in Chile, and a dream come true for hiking lovers and nature enthusiasts. Torres del Paine is located in southern Chilean Patagonia, in the region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, close to the borders of Argentina.
Torres del Paine National Park was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978, and is internationally recognized as one of the most beautiful, unique and uncontaminated places on the planet. It is a stunning destination to delve deeper into mother nature and her natural flows, because you need to sleep inside the park to get the full experience!
Even though Torres del Paine is the most popular national park in Chile, it is not the easiest to reach. There are a few ways to reach Torres del Paine, but not one of them include overland access via Chile. We at Kuoda have put together some valuable information that will make your trip smoother and more enjoyable. Here are the most important things to know before visiting this wild and beautiful place.
How to get there
Torres del Paine National Park is located in Southern Patagonia, approximately 2500 kilometers south of Santiago. Punta Arenas is the closest airport, about 320 kilometers south, and offers daily flights to and from Santiago.
From Punta Arenas you can rent a private car or opt for public transportation. Take into consideration that the buses will leave you for unpredictably long hours on the road, and having your own car will give you more independence and save time.
There isn’t a direct route that takes you from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine, the road goes through Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales serves as a gateway town where hikers can meet before hiking up the mountains of Torres del Paine National Park.
The Chilean route is the only road from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. The asphalt continues for 50 kilometers more to Cerro Castillo after Punta Natales, where it crosses into Argentina. Then the road continues to Torres del Paine, but it is important to note that the road is partly asphalt, partly gravel and in the park all roads are gravel only.
What to visit
Chile’s amazing Torres National Park sports incredible mountains, pristine lakes and sparkly glaciers. The top three landscapes not to miss during your trip here are Las Torres, Los Cuernos del Paine and Glacier Gray.
Las Torres are three huge granite towers, which also form the symbol of the National Park, and can be seen from different hiking trails in the park. These snow-capped towers give hikers breathtaking views and multiple opportunities to take mesmerizing photos.
Los Cuernos del Paine are a group of spike-shaped granite peaks. Being 2000 meters high, they can be viewed easily from different locations within the park. For the ultimate view of Los Cuernos del Paine, a day hike is possible to Mirador Cuernos.
Glacier Gray is 6 kilometers wide and over 30 meters high. Taking a catamaran trip from Hotel Lago Gray will offer you the best experience to view Glacier Gray.
Many people travel to Torres del Paine National Park to experience the majestic hiking trails that it has to offer. The park is most famous for its multi-day treks, which have strange names – W, O and Q. The names were given because of the shapes of the treks when you look at them on the map.
The W-trek is the most famous one, because it takes hikers through the Patagonian landscape and ends or starts by the lake with stunning views overlooking the Towers. This is a 6-day trek, and should be booked well in advance, due to its popularity.
The other two hikes, O and Q, last between 8 and 10 days. They are less popular, probably due to the duration. It is important to note that one should be acclimatized to the altitude and in a physically good condition before taking on these treks. O and Q trails are open only from November till the end of March.
Since Torres del Paine is such a popular hiking destination, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid the disappointment of not finding accommodation in the park. If you can’t stay in the park for some reason, or if you prefer one-day treks, luckily the park offers many one-day trails.
Two popular hikes are the one to Mirador Las Torres and the hike to Glacier Grey. They both form part of W, and there is one more to French Valley which allows one to view most of W. To reach the Glacier Grey trail it is necessary to take a boat across Pehoé Lake.
Where to stay
Torres del Paine is a remote National Park, but regardless – it offers a variety of accommodation options. Campgrounds, hostels and luxury hotels can be found inside the park – it all depends on your budget and personal lodging preference.
Two types of campgrounds can be found inside the National Park. There are free park campgrounds that are administered by CONAF and offer very basic facilities like rustic bathrooms and a cooking shelter. Then there are paid campgrounds, which give you access to more facilities like cooking areas, better bathrooms and showers, at a low cost.
For something between hotels and campgrounds, one can opt for “Refugios”. They are a bit more expensive than campgrounds, but still very reasonable. They offer dorm-style rooms with bunk beds, shared bathrooms and hot showers.
The hotels inside the park can be pricey, but well worth it. There is nothing quite like waking up in one of the world’s most beautiful places. Some of the most luxurious hotels in Torres del Paine National Park where you can spend a night or more are Hotel Lago Grey or Hotel Las Torres Patagonia. More budget-friendly options are Konkashken Lodge or Vista Al Paine.
Best time to visit
The peak season is November to early March, which is the summertime in the southern hemisphere, and also the best time to visit Torres del Paine. Even though you will experience bigger crowds, the weather is the most ideal for taking on the trails and exploring the park.
For a less crowded time, it is recommended to visit at the end of March to the beginning of April, although you may encounter some rain. During this time the rain is unpredictable, but definitely less and doesn’t last as long as in the rainy season.
How to visit with Kuoda
Visiting Torres del Paine National Park in Chile can change your life, with the breathtaking scenery and plentiful trails through nature, this wild region at the tip of South America, offers dream-worthy experiences to everyone. As you can see, it is not so easy to travel to this remote paradise, but well worth it. We at Kuoda specialize in tailor-made trips through South America, and we can help you plan the perfect itinerary which will include not only your visit to Torres del Paine, but any other destinations you would like to include. Contact us today and talk to one of our trip designers to discuss your personal preferences and requirements.