Argentina

Torres del Paine Travel Guide

Welcome to the Chilean hikers paradise. Read about how to get to Torres del Paine, the main attractions and things to do inside this reputed national park in Chilean Patagonia.

Torres del Paine National Park, created in 1959, is one of the most visited destinations in Chilean Patagonia. Its first inhabitants were the Tehuelches, a native community of skilled hunters, which only survives today in Argentina. With its 227,298 hectares, extended hiking trails, glaciers, lakes and stunning mountains, the park hosts thousands of travelers per year. In 1978, the park was declared as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, and the 8th wonder of the world in 2013.

Impressive mountains like the Paine Grande and its famous “towers” are the natural attractions that everybody comes to see! Several glaciers that belong to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field can be seen if you walk the park. There are hotel and campsite options for those wanting to stay a couple of nights inside the park (top choice!).

Attractions

Los Cuernos del Paine

Los Cuernos del Paine, also known as  ‘Paine horns’, is  the name given to a group t of granite peaks in Torres del Paine, a visually impressive group of mountains, standing at  2000 metres high. The Cuernos are located in the middle of the W Trek, the most popular route for trekking in Torres del Paine National Park. From the top of Valle Francés and Pudeto viewpoint you’ll get the best views of Los Cuernos! 

Address: Commune of Torres del Paine
Days and times: Open every day, at all hours.
Price: Included in the price of the National Park.

Torres del Paine

Several granite peaks nearby simulate the teeth of a tiger, rising dramatically about a kilometer (more than half a mile) into the sky. The national park is named after them. To see them requires an eight-hour walk round trip.

Address: Torres del Paine National Park
Days and times: Open every day, at all hours.
Price: Included in the price of the National Park.

Valle del Francés

It is a 10-hour, medium-difficulty trek (round trip). It starts from the Cuernos del Paine or from Lake Pehoé. On clear days, this hike is one of the most beautifuls inside the park, and if you complete the hike and reach the British camp, it’s  possible to see the Paine Grande to the west and the spectacular Torres del Paine and the Cuernos to the east, surrounded by  glaciers .

Address: Valle del Francés.
Days and times: Open every day, at all hours.
Price: Included in the price of the National Park.

Glaciar Grey

You can  reach the Grey Glacier by taking a 4-hour trek that becomes a little more challenging at the end. You will  go through a beautiful path that ends with a view of the lake and the Grey Glacier, after crossing extensive forests of lengas, coigües and  ñires. You can also enjoy views of this glacier by taking a 3-hour boat trip through floating icebergs.  

Address: Grey Glacier.
Days and times: Open every day, at all hours.
Price: Included in the price of the National Park (except the boat trip).

Lago Pingo

This lake is one of the least visited, thus,an excellent place for bird watching. The trail begins with an easy walk through a pleasant valley, past an old baqueano post. From there, the trail will take you through the forest on rolling terrain, further on you will find the Pingo waterfall until you finally reach another old baqueano post, a bit ramshackle but picturesque. You can make this path as long or as short as you want. The trail starts from the same parking lot that goes to Gray Lake.

Address: Lago Pingo.
Days and times: Open every day, at all hours.
Price: Included in the price of the National Park.

Mirador Nordenskjöld

The trailhead for this ride begins near the Pudeto catamaran dock. This trail begins with an up-close visit to the Salto Grande waterfall. Then the road winds through a deserted beach and thorny bushes to a lookout point with spectacular views towards the French Valley and the Horns, looking over Lake Nordenskjöld. This trail is a good place to see wildflowers in the spring, but it can get very windy in late summer.

Address: Lake Nordenskjöld.
Days and times: Open every day, at all hours.
Price: Included in the price of the National Park.

Las Cuevas del Milodon

To visit these caves is to make a direct trip to prehistory and discover the size of one of the largest animals that inhabited this area, known as “Milodon”. This is an ideal family outing.

Address: Y-290 8, Natales, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, Chile.
Days and times: Every day from 09:00 to 18:00 (last entry 17:00).

 

Villa Turística Río Serrano

This town, popularly known as “little town” Serrano, is the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. It is located 80 kilometers away from Puerto Natales and is frequented by travelers seeking tranquility, privileged nature and activities typical of this area, like fishing, horseback riding and hikes through the Magellan pampas. A fabulous opportunity to go into forests of lengas and ñires, breathe fresh air and contemplate guanacos, huemules and caiquenes.

Address: Río Serrano.
Days and times: Every day, at all times.
Price: Free.

Eating & Drinking

Coiron Restaurant

Hotel Las Torres Amargura, Torres del Paine National Park. Tel: + 56-61-617450
Regional / Vegetarian Friendly

The best time to visit is during the day since the view from its living room, surrounded by mountains and parks, is incredible. There are many options for different palates and they are all very tasty and do not disappoint. There are several vegetarian-friendly dishes.

Quincho Pampa Lodge

Lot 1, Rio Serrano Sector, Torres del Paine National Park. Tel: + 56-53-162911.
International /Southamerican / Chilean.

A very quiet restaurant with beautiful views. Its bread basket stands out for its variety of breads, always warm. It offers a good variety of grill and meat. There are those who think that its cuisine is the best in the area!.

Asador Patagónico

Prat 158, Puerto Natales. Tel: 56-61 / 413-553.
Grill /South American / Chilean.

If you are in the mood for a Patagonian barbecue, Asador Patagónico will not disappoint you. Authentic family atmosphere. Rich food and rich wines. Their bread basketis very particular you’ll see why…

Coffeeshop El Ovejero Patagónico

Cerro Castillo, Torres del Paine National Park Chile. Tel: + 56-61-2414952
Coffeeshop / Minimarket

You can enjoy a quick sandwich or a delicious cappuccino. In this confectionery and mini-market you will find different snacks that will satisfy you and fill you with energy for your excursions.

Pehoe

Lake Pehoé Torres del Paine sector. Tel: + 56-61-2722853
Regional / Meats

The restaurant of Hostería Pehoe invites you to enter one of the most remote passageways of Patagonian cuisine and enjoy one of the most spectacular views of the Cuernos del Paine. You can have lunch, dinner or enjoy a drink in the lounge accompanied by a table of meats, cheeses and seafood in a warm atmosphere.

Hotel Lago Grey Bar & Restaurant

Lago Grey sector. Tel: + 56-61-2410172
Regional food / Meat / Pasta

This restaurant combines delicious gastronomy with the unique surroundings of Hotel Lago Grey, ensuring a unique experience in each dish. Two menus are offered daily for lunch and dinner. Selected and absolutely natural products are used in its preparation. In addition, its varied wine cellar offers the best of Chilean vines.

Tips & Advice

How many days should I stay in Torres del Paine?

 

You can do a full-day visit to the main attractions from Puerto Natales or El Calafate, but we recommend to stay at least one night in one of the hostels,hostels or refugios inside the park. If you are really into hiking you can do the famous W circuit (4 days, 3 nights) 

 

Best time to visit  Torres del Paine 

 

The climate in Patagonia is a very important factor to consider. The maximum temperature reaches 20 °C in summer and drops to 0 °C in winter. 

Although it is possible to visit the park throughout the year, it is recommended to do it between October and April, when you can enjoy days with more than 16 hours of light, sunny and with less rain. In low season, it is likely that many services are closed, although the lower influx of tourists can be a plus for those seeking greater tranquility on their trip.

 

How to get to Torres del Paine?

 

  • Flight

From Santiago de Chile

This is the most direct and fastest way to get to Punta Arenas, the city with the closest airport to Torres del Paine National Park, is the air flight that travels approximately 3,100 kilometers. that separate this city from the Chilean capital. With a LATAM direct flight you can reach Punta Arenas in 3h 30 min. The Sky company offers a similar service, but with fewer frequencies. From the Punta Arenas Airport you must continue the trip by public  bus or rented vehicle to reach the park (around 3 hours driving on paved road).

 

From Buenos Aires

From Buenos Aires there are no direct flights to Punta Arenas, so the fastest option to get to Torres del Paine National Park is to take a plane from the Argentine capital to the city of El Calafate and then take a bus or rented vehicle to reach the park and drive for about 6 hours. 

 

  • Self-drive

From El Calafate, Argentina

226 km of paved road and 104 km of unpaved road, for about 7 hours (depending on the waiting time at the border crossing).  Take NR 11 for 31 km, then take NR 40 and drive until reaching Estancia Cancha Carreras. Here you will cross borders and leave Argentina, continue to Cerro Castillo in Chile, and then follow the NR towards the entrance of Torres del Parque National Park. 

Within  Chile

  • From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales: 254 km (3 hrs on paved road)
  • From Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga (TDP): 129 km (paved and gravel road) 1.40 hrs approx.
  • From Puerto Natales to Portería Sarmiento: 112 km (paved and gravel) 1.20 approx. To access the Park at Laguna Amarga and Portería Sarmiento (the North side of the park) you have to go through Cerro Castillo Village.
  • From Puerto natales to Portería Serrano: 80 km (paved until Milodon cave then gravel road) 1.10 hrs approx. To access Portería Serrano you have to access through Milodon Cave.
  • Bus: You can take a public bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales (Chile) (240  km, approximately 3 hrs). Or you can take a public bus from El Calafate (Argentina) to Puerto Natales (Chile), a 7-hour trip (depending on the waiting time at the border crossing).
  • Train: There is no train service to Torres del Paine.

 

Can I find ATMs in Torres del Paine?

 

No, there aren’t. You can provide yourself enough Chilean pesos in the nearest town (Puerto Natales o El Calafate in Argentina). Even though some hotels have credit cards, connections might be lousy due to the remoteness of some areas. 

 

How much money can I spend per day in Torres del Paine?

 

If you haven’t booked a full-board program (all meals included) calculate some money for lunch (US 25 +) and dinner (US 40 + ) depending on the restaurants/hotels you visit. Some hotels accept credit cards, but we recommend taking cash in case the connection does not work. To have cash will help you with the tipping as well.

 

 

What is the proper tipping?

 

In restaurants, it’s customary to tip about 10% of the bill, so carry cash for this purpose.

  • Estimate around USD 10/15 per person for the guide, for a full day tour and half of it for the driver.
  • Tip hotel porters for handling bags. Calculate an amount of currency equal to about $1.00 for every two bags.
  • The same amount is calculated for drivers if they help you with your suitcases. 
  • If you are happy with the housekeeping you may want to consider tipping the maid between US$0.50 – $1.00 per night. You might also tip the concierge staff if you have used them to arrange dinner reservations, transportation or leisure activities.
  • In Chile we don’t regularly tip taxi drivers.

 

Do I need a visa?

 

When it comes to tourism purposes, nationals of certain countries can travel to Chile visa-free, provided that they will stay for less than 90 days. The visa-exempt nationals can travel to Chile with their passport and obtain a Tourist Card (Tarjeta de Turismo) from the immigration authorities upon the border crossing. Learn about countries requiring visa to visit Chile here.

 

What to include in your luggage

 

Torres del Paine National Park is characterized by having an unstable trans-Andean climate, with strong winds, especially in summer. The average temperature in summer is 12 ° C, with a minimum of 0 ° C and a maximum of 23 ° C, the annual precipitation reaches 700 mm.

Warm clothes and fleece are always a great choice because they will warm you and protect you from the winds, quick-drying clothes (the advantage of special fibers is that they dry very quickly and the body does not get cold), windbreakers and / or waterproof jacket, walking shoes and sunscreen. Dress up in layers. So this could be your packing list:

  • Wool or polar hat
  • Neck scarf
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Sunscreen of at least factor 45 and lip balm
  • Quick-drying t-shirts, waterproof coat and waterproof pants
  • Wool gloves: the ideal is to bring two pairs
  • Polar pants (if you are going to spend the night) and woolen socks
  • Trekking shoes, preferably high boots to avoid kinks.

 

Tickets to Torres del Paine National Park

 

The entrance fee to the park is unique, independent of the length of stay of the person who pays it and varies according to season. 

During the high season (that is, from October 1 to April 30) only cash payments are accepted in Chilean pesos, dollars or euros. The entrance for a foreign adult is 24USD. During the low season (that is, from May 1 to September 30) only Chilean pesos are received and the ticket price is 15USD.

 

Where to go for a run in Torres del Paine?

 

It all depends on where you are staying. If you are staying in the hotels within the park, the possibilities are endless since contact with nature and the large expanses of green invite you to run everywhere. If instead, you are staying in Puerto Natales, a good option for running is the waterfront (Avenida Pedro Montt), which features an incredible view of the sea.

 

Where to meditate?

 

In the same way as with physical activity, meditation can be practiced in any corner of Torres del Paine. Contact with nature and with the impressive landscapes that this corner of the world offers invite you to connect with the environment and with yourself.

 

Where to watch the sunset?

 

Hosteria Pehoe

From this inn, both sunrise and sunset are dreamlike. If you don’t stay there, you can visit the restaurant, organize an early dinner and take a few photos of this fairytale sunset

 

Other Tours you may like

Sustainability

Local businesses

 

  • Etnia Patagonia

 

Etnia fabrics are handy made with sheep’s wool and alpaca. In addition, handicrafts with recycled materials and souvenirs are also offered. Only products made in Chile are marketed in a sustainable way. You can learn more about Etnia here

Address: Manuel Bulnes 1004,Puerto Natales, Patagonia,Chile.
Mon – Sat: 10:30-20:00 hrs, Sun:11:00-13:00 hrs

 

  • Ñandú Artesanías

 

Ñandú Artesanía is a meeting place for typical products from Chile and Patagonia. In its premises in Puerto Natales, Cueva del Milodón and Villa Cerro Castillo you will discover handicrafts, jewelry, wooden figures and souvenirs, books, tourist guides and maps, as well as accessories with regional motifs such as hats, blankets and jackets. 

Address: Capitán Eberhard 301, Magallanes Puerto Natales, Chile
Mon-Sat: 09:00 – 22:00 hrs, Sun: 10:00-22:00 hrs

 

Who to meet

 

  • Artisanal fishermen in Puerto Natales

 

On the Puerto Natales waterfront, in the southern sector, there is a great diversity of boats at the dock. Meeting the artisanal fishermen while they engage in their typical activities is a very special experience that will bring you closer to the native traditions of the area.

 

How to help

 

  • AMA Torres del Paine

 

In November 2004, the AMA Torres del Paine Environmental Group was formed, with the aim of supporting and financing research for the development of programs aimed at environmental care and preservation. AMA’s goals include supporting conservation, scientific research, and environmental education. These activities within Torres del Paine National Park and surrounding areas can minimize negative impacts and reduce the risk of future environmental problems, while maintaining the area’s natural and cultural resources. You can learn more about AMA here

 

  • Torres del Paine Legacy Fund

 

This project seeks to ensure a sustainable future for Torres del Paine National Park and its surrounding communities. At Torres del Paine Legacy Fund they see the growth of tourism as an opportunity to create a positive impact, uniting travelers, residents, the public and private sectors to carry out local sustainability initiatives that strengthen the long-term health of the region. 100% of all donations go directly to sustainability initiatives that preserve, support and celebrate the park and its surrounding communities. To make a donation, please follow this link

 

Sustainability tips

 

  • Take your reusable bag with you when you go shopping.
  • Choose the consumption of local products from artisans and small producers.
  • Travel the city by bike or on foot, it is healthy and does not leave a carbon footprint.
  • When you go on an excursion, ask for food without plastic wrap.
  • Don’t leave trash in nature.
  • Take a reusable bottle with you to carry water in restaurants.
  • Don’t feed native fauna.
  • Use rechargeable batteries and batteries.