Parque Nacional Torres del Paine Travel Guide

José Luis Bruni

Torres del Paine is Chile's most-visited national park, and deservedly so. It is located 70 miles (a few hours' drive) north of Puerto Natales and about 225 miles NW of Punta Arenas. It comprises nearly 600,000 acres of astonishing landscape, from golden pampas to milky turqouise lakes, to a giant bi-color massif to the torres themselves, soaring granite towers. The vast size of the park means that even though the number of visitors is rising every year, it's not that hard to find a piece of solitude just for yourself (but you must stay on the marked trails).

There are two main ways into the park, from the Paine Grande side by crossing the lake on a catamaran, or the Torres side. Either way, parts of the park are accessible for a single overnight, if your time is short, where you spend the night at a hostería (a nice hotel), a refugio (more basic accommodation), a platformed dome (Paine Grande) or even a rented tent, if you're not carrying camping gear. It is possible to take a driving tour of some of the features of the park from Puerto Natales, but you will spend moest of the day in a van, and only see a bit of what the park has to offer. Customarily people hike either the W (4 days), or the circuit (7 days) though other trips may be tailor made, and can even include backcountry climbing (for the very skilled) and even horseback riding.

Anyone who visits the park at any time of year should be prepared for anything from snow and hail storms to driving rain, harsh wind, and bright sunny days of 80 degrees or more. The weather in this part of Patagonia is extremely unpredictable, and snow is possible even in the summer at higher altitudes.

Wildlife flourishes in the park, with herds of (wild) guanacos and the silly-looking ñandu (like  a smaller ostrich) which spooks easily and runs from vehicles on the road that snakes around parts of the outside of the park. In addition, there are many species of birds, including one type of flamingo, and even the elusive puma is present in the park, though they are notoriously shy, and you are extremely unlikely to see one.

Where to Go in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

EcoCamp

expert pick

Camino al Volcán 17710

Eco-friendly dome-shaped dwellings for a unique stay in the shadow of the towers at Torres del Paine.

The W

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