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Torres del Paine
The first piece of important Patagonia info: Torres del Paine National Park is located in Southern Chilean Patagonia. It is one of the most amazing natural places of our world!
It was created in 1959 and today, has 227 298 ha. Torres del Paine National Park was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978.
This amazing national park is located 112 km (70 mi) north of PUERTO NATALES, and 312 km (194 mi) north of PUNTA ARENAS. The park borders are: Bernardo O’higgins National Park to the west and the Los Glaciares National Park to the north in Argentina.
Paine means “blue” in the native Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language and is pronounced PIE-neh, while Torres means “towers”.
The Torres del Paine are three magnificent granite peaks of the Paine mountain range or Paine Massif. From left to right they are known as Torres d’Agostini, Torres Central and Torres Monzino. They extend up to 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) above sea level and are joined by the mighty Cuernos del Paine which are a unique geological formation due to their two colors which actually are two different types of rock. (granite and sedimentary rock).
The park has amazing valleys: Frances, Asencio, Bader. Rivers: Paine, Serrano, Grey and Asencio, Lakes: Grey, Pehoe, Nordenskiold and Sarmiento. Spectacular Glaciers: Grey, Pingo and Tyndall that belong to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
Torres del Paine is home of many flora and fauna species such as: Pumas, Guanacos, Foxes, Andean Condor, Black Chested Buzzard Eagles, Huemul (native deer), Chilean Flamingos and Lesser Rheas (Ñandú)among others. Keep you eyes open while you trek cause they are all over the place!
The trails are world famous! therefore, they are very well marked, with campsites and refugios (hostel like), consequently, easy to get to every night. You can do day hikes or multi-day hikes. The most famous are:
W circuit: The classic version can be done in 5 days (but can be done in 4 too) It forms a “W” shape since it visits the 2 main valleys of the massif: Asencio Valley (the Paine towers) French Valley (Paine Horns and Paine Grande mountain) and finally, gets to Grey Glacier.
This is the most popular multi-day hike in Torres del Paine. Normally people trek it from East to West, but it can be done in any direction. The W circuit is a physical challenge but a friendly one that can be achieved by trekkers with little experience.
O Circuit: This 8 or 9 day hike is a bigger challenge since it goes around the massif, through more remote areas of the park. It also goes through John Garners mountain pass which is one of the highest points you are likely to trek to in Torres del Paine, at an altitude of around 1,200 m above sea level. This is not a technical pass, but unstable weather in Patagonia can make it challenging due to strong winds and snow even in summer.
The are amazing views from the pass of Grey Glacier and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Take in consideration that for accommodation, there’s two nights that only offer camping for the O circuit.
The O circuit is an amazing adventure for experienced trekkers.
Off the beaten track: There are other trails on the park that can only be visited with a guide and special permits. Therefore, are only available for rock climbing or mountaineering expeditions and closed to visitors because of the exposure or because of conservation reasons. This areas include: Bader, Silencio and Pingo Valleys among others. (secret Patagonia info)
When to visit Torres del Paine?
Our season runs from October (Spring) to March (Autumn)
The less crowded months are October and March, but can be a bit chillier.
Our busiest and warmest months are December, January and February.
If you would like to spend Christmas or New Year’s eve in Patagonia, we recommend to book at least 5 to 6 months ahead if you can. If not, still contact us, maybe we can find you spots.
During the off season, the trekking circuits are not open to self-guided hikers.
Is it safe to trek solo?
Yes! Torres del Paine is one of the safest places for trekkers and also solo travelers. We support many every season! Although, you do have to take in consideration that trekking experience is essential for a Self-guided trek. The trails are very well marked and you don´t need a GPS to do either the W or O circuits. But you have to be in good physical shape and feel comfortable finding the trail and following marks. This can be hard for beginners when the Patagonian weather conditions arrive! So, if you don´t have experience trekking, we highly recommend that you join a guided trip instead.
If you do have experience and this will be your first multi-day trek, we think this is a very controlled environment to do so! All your meals will be provided at the refugios and you won´’t trek with heavy backpacks since all the gear will be provided at the campsites/refugios. Do you have more questions or need more Patagonia info? please send us an email!
Torres del Paine Weather
Get ready! That´s all we can say!
Patagonia is famous for its wilderness, beauty and crazy weather! Yes, we can get the four seasons in the same day. in other words, instead of trying to understand and predict it, better prepare for it! We will provide a gear list on your Travel Guide with more details, But the main idea is to be ready for sun, rain, wind and changing temperatures.
You will be visiting one of the windiest areas. the wind is known for its speed and intensity and can reach more than 100mph!
Trekking poles are a great ally when the Patagonian winds hit!
Weather in Torres del Paine is determined by the Andes Mountains, strong winds from Antarctica, ocean currents and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which all together create very unpredictable, quick-changing weather patterns.
But, not to worry, this is all part of the adventure!
How to get there?
We are located in Puerto Natales, Chile. To get here, you can:
- Fly from your home country to SCL (Santiago de Chile international Airport). Then, fly to Punta Arenas (PUQ) and then take a 3 hr. bus to Puerto Natales. There’s many local bus companies like: Bus Sur or Buses Fernandez.
- Fly from your home country to SCL (Santiago de Chile international Airport). Then , fly directly to Puerto Natales (PNT) There’s less flights, but I bet you can make it work!
- If you are planning to visit Argentinian Patagonia also, you can take a 5 hr. bus from El Calafate (Argentina) to Puerto Natales (Chile). Bus Sur – Keep in mind that due to Covid restrictions the borders can close, therefore, please take this in consideration while planning your trip.
Domestic Chilean airlines:
What can I do after my trek?
We definitely recommend that you spend a couple days in Puerto Natales before or after your W trek or O circuit. There’re many activities you can do, local and delicious restaurants, coffee shops and souvenir stores.
- If adventure is what flows on your veins and you want more after your trek, you HAVE to come to one of our kayak trips! Our sister company kayakenpatagonia.com has mind-blowing trips on Bernardo Ohiggins and Torres del Paine National parks. You can contact them or book with us.
- Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers: we highly recommend this tour. The Navigation through Ultima Esperanza Fiord has amazing views. You will then see Balmaceda Glacier from the Catamaran and do a short trek to the Front of Serrano Glacier. On the way back the Catamaran stops at Perales Ranch for a traditional BBQ lunch! turismo21demayo.com
- Estancia La Peninsula: If you love traditions and cowboys this is your place! Get to know more of the local culture visiting this beautiful Estancia (Ranch) on the shores of Ultima Esperanza Fiord. http://estanciaspatagonia.com
- Pingo Salvaje Horseback riding: This is an amazing experience very close to town. Laguna Sofia is a beautiful place for a half or full day horseback ride along the shores of the lake! There’s many condors and incredible views. Plus, they offer food services; how does traditional Lamb BBQ sound like? https://pingosalvaje.com/en/
Low price/free activities:
- Rent bikes: picture yourself in Patagonia on a bike? There´ are several small shops in town where you can rent bikes! Puerto Natales is quite flat and very easy to go around on a bike. Remember to ask for locks so you can leave your bikes for a bit while you go get a coffee. It´ is great to ride around town or to ride on the seaside (costanera). There´ is a bike path and the views are amazing! Consider bringing a backpack with extra warm clothes just in case weather changes.
- Walk around town: Puerto Natales is more than 100 years old! There´s interesting and beautiful old houses around which are great for photos! People are very friendly and its very safe and nice to walk around.
- Costanera: Puerto Natales seaside is an amazing place to walk on. There´s even a skate park with amazing sculptures and views.
- Trek Dorotea Hill: Dorotea Hill is very close to town. You can take a taxi and ask for their number for the return ride or leave a fix time with the driver to pick you up. The trek is an uphill, but the view is amazing. You will see all the town, the fiords and amazing mountians. There´s also many Condors! The trek will take around 3 hrs. total.
- Laguna Sofía: 30 km from town. You can also take a taxi, keep in mind that you have to book your pick up with the taxi because there is no cellphone signal in Laguna Sofia. The place is amazing! You can walk around, there´s many Condors and the views of the lake are amazing.
Puerto Natales best places
You can totally walk around town and find great places, but, here’s some of our favorite ones!
Restaurants, Cafes and Shops:
- Artimaña café – Chilean fusion, lots of personality
- Pizza del Monte – Simply the best pizza in town
- El Asador Patagonico – Craving for a traditional Lamb BBQ? This is the best
- Ultima Esperanza – If you are all about local and authentic, this is the best Seafood place that only locals visit.
- Cormoran de las Rocas – All the traditional dishes, King Crab with a cool view!
- Afrigonia – Fancier and incredible food
- Holaste Speciality Coffee – The pioneers on real coffee in town
- Menta Café – great coffee, people and delicious vegan treats
- Vinn Haus – It’s like getting on a time machine and having tea and delicious pastries in the 20’s
- Hablemos Coco – Trendy and vegan friendly
- Pampa – beer, fries and a big terrace
- Slowly – local, local
- El Puesto – good food and ambience
- Wild Hostel – Great hamburgers, more quiet and cool
Where to stay in Puerto Natales
Patagonia is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Many bodies of water connect them, such as the Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel and the Drake Passage to the south. It has a total of 1,043,076 km2 (402,734 sq mi) area.
Patagonia is home of the Southern and Northern Ice Fields, which are the third clear water reserve in the world.
“We stumbled upon Hello Patagonia when searching for Patagonia hiking trips, and we are so glad we did! They jumped right in and made this tedious planning process easy, customizable and fun.”Lauren Fedders & Shannon Donoher (USA)