Torres del Paine, Magallanes y Antártida Chilena, Chile.
A treasure of nature, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Torres del Paine National Park is a unique trek destination. This guide will take you through magninificent fiords, glaciers and cliffs; the Magallanico forest and the Patagonian steppe.
About Torres Del Paine Trek
Although it’s a remote place and weather can be sometimes harsh, it’s a low altitude trek with a good infrastructure. There’s no need of a guide, since the path is well marked. Good physical condition is required but experience is not mandatory. There are several routes, depending on how long you are staying there:
- Base of Las Torres Trek (1 day. Medium difficulty)
7 hours (19km / 12mi) round-trip hike to the iconic granite rock centerpiece of Torres del Paine. Best option if you only have one day. The trek is not technically difficult, just a bit long and steep in the last part.
- The W Circuit Trek (4 to 5 days. Medium-hard difficulty)
A “W” shape circuit surrounding the Torres by its south part. It’s the most popular multi-day hike as you come to see most of the highlights of the park. This circuit includes the Base of las Torres previous trek. Recommended route: Start by taking the catamaran from Hotel Lago Grey to Refugio Grey (15000 CLP – 22.8 USD), and walk the following route: Refugio Grey – Paine Grande – Campamento Italiano – Valle del Francés – Campamento Las Torres – Base of las Torres.
- The O Circuit Trek (7 to 9 days. Medium-hard difficulty)
The “O” Circuit is the full loop around the Cordillera del Paine. It will take you to see the hidden parts the rest of the visitors will not appreciate. This circuit is the most challenging, and it includes both the “W” and the “Base of las Torres” treks. Recommended route: Paine Grande – Campamento Italiano – Valle del Francés – Campamento Las Torres – Base of las Torres – Seron – Dickson – Guardas – Campamento Grey.
How To Get To Torres Del Paine
Torres del Paine is located in the southern tip of South America, more than 3000km from Santiago de Chile. First reach Punta Arenas, the capital city of Magallanes and Artartica Chilena region. Both LAN and SKY has flights from Santiago.
Once in Punta Arenas, you have several options to get to Torres del Paine:
- Regular buses from Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales (the closest town to the National Park).
- Car rental in Punta Arenas’ airport. Consider this option if you are planning to visit several of Patagonia’s sights. It would be much easier. Make sure the car has the permit to cross to Argentina, in case you are planning to go to Perito Moreno and Fitz Roy. And trust me, you want to go there as well.
Depending on your budget, there are many options inside the National Park:
- Hotels: Hotel Explora, Hotel Lago Grey.
- Shelters (refugios): Refugios Grey, Dickson and Paine Grande.
- Paying Camping Areas. Restrooms, food, and kitchen provided.
- Vehicular access: Pehoé and Río Serrano.
- Mountain area: Grey, Paine Grande, Los Perros and Dickson.
- Free Camping Areas offer services like water, latrines and a place to set up a tent: Las Carretas, Italiano, Paso and Torres camping areas.
TIP! Due to the increasing demand of visitors who want to spend the night in shelters, right now it is obligatory to have a reservation for both paying and free campsites. Make the reservation here.
What To Bring On A Multi Day Trek
Go as light as possible. The trekking is challenging enough, don’t add extra weight. These are the basics:
- A 35-40L backpack.
- A warm sleeping bag (at least, -20°C or -5°F) and a sleeping pad (for cushioning and insulation).
- Dehydrated food and a cooking stove.
- A lantern, a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water (stream water is safe to drink).
- Walking sticks. They allow your arms propel forward and upward, and reduce the impact on your legs, knees, ankles and feet. They are essential, trust me.
- Schedule. The entry gates are about 115 kilometers from Puerto Natales. The Sarmiento and Laguna Amarga entry gates are open from 8.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., all year round.
- Entrance fee:
- High season: (1 Cctober – 30 april) Adults: 18000 CLP (~27.4 USD), Children 500CLP (~0.76 USD).
- Low season (1 May to 30 September) Adults: 10000 CLP (~15.2 USD), Children 500CLP (~0.76 USD).
- When to Go. Even though, it’s open all year round. The best season to visit the park is summer (Southern Hemisphere Summer!) from December to March. Temperatures are higher and the daylight last longer. However, weather can be unstable. So be prepared for wind, rain and cold temperatures.
- Check Torres del Paine official website for additional information.
- Chile Travel Guide: Chile Lonely Planet