Thinking of going to Torres del Paine, Patagonia's top trekking destination?
Here we'll answer all the questions you might have when planning your trip.
As Patagonia experts, Swoop can help you arrange your whole trip, from travel options and flights, to choosing accommodation in Torres del Paine, to planning an itinerary for your whole time in Patagonia.
Getting to Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine is home to glaciers, mile-high granite peaks and beautiful blue lakes. It's remote and getting there isn't quick.
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Perhaps the most exciting way of getting from Ushuaia to Torres del Paine is by Adventure Cruise. Round Cape Horn, sail through the Straits of Magellan and visit penguins and glaciers on the way. It takes 4 days to complete the crossing and each day involves 1 or 2 excursions on Zodiac boats. This is certainly a fantastic way to begin your holiday in Torres del Paine and is a very practical way of getting from Argentinian Patagonia to Chile.
After arriving in Punta Arenas on Day 4, you simply take a bus or private transfer straight to Torres del Paine National Park or to Puerto Natales if you want to prepare for your trek in town before going into the park the following day.
An alterative might be to take the 4 hour bus trip across Tierra del Fuego.
To get to Torres del Paine from abroad you either need to fly to Santiago and then on to Punta Arenas in Chile, or Buenos Aires and take a connecting flight to El Calafate in Argentina.
Here you can see more details about flights to Patagonia.
From Buenos Aires
From Buenos Aires fly direct to the town of El Calafate in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina. There are several flights a day and the journey lasts 3.17 hours. From El Calafate you need to take a bus across the border to Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. This option is good if you plan to visit other parts of Argentina before or after Torres del Paine.
Buenos Aires has two airports, one predominately for international flights and one for domestic flights, and we've put together some advice on how you might travel between the airports.
If you fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas (a distance of nearly 2000 miles), you can choose either to stay the night in Punta Arenas before heading off to Puerto Natales the next day.
Alternatively, after landing at Punta Arenas airport you get the bus straight to Puerto Natales (depending on when you land).
- From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales go with Buses Fernandez. The journey takes 3 hours and tickets cost approx $4000 Chilean pesos each way (approx. USD $7).
- From Punta Arenas airport we recommend Buses Pacheco, as they can pick you up from the airport.
We recommend that you ask your tour operator to book your transport for you to avoid any confusion or problems with reservations.
However, if you'd like to go directly from Punta Arenas to the park, Buses Pacheco run a service which takes you straight there. This is a daily service and leaves Punta Arenas at 07:30 & 14:30 and returns to Punta Arenas from the Park Administration at 13:00 & 18:15. Bear in mind that this journey takes roughly 5-6 hours to complete.
Home to the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate is located in Argentinian Patagonia and is approximately 5 hours from Puerto Natales. You can take the bus from el Calafate to Puerto Natales every morning and afternoon with several bus companies in the centre of town. This bus journey is best organised through the operator of your trek.
After arriving in Puerto Natales get a good night's sleep as you'll likely be starting your trekking in Torres del Paine the day after.
The next day you'll be picked up by the operator organising your trip and spend 2.5 hours on your journey to the start of the circuit. Alternatively, you can take a public bus which stops at Cerro Castillo to pick up others on the way.
El Chalten is located inside Los Glaciares National Park in Argentinian Patagonia, which is roughly an 8/9 hour bus journey from Torres del Paine National Park itself. Unfortunately there is no direct bus from El Chalten to Torres del Paine, and the trip must be broken up into chunks.
Firstly, the bus from El Chalten to Calafate departs at peak season each morning and afternoon taking 3 hours. If you catch the bus early in the morning you can catch a late afternoon bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales which takes 5 hours.
Spend the night in Puerto Natales and take the first bus in the morning into the park, alternatively join your trekking group before taking a private transfer into Paine.
We have some great trips that start in Chalten, some visit the the Perito Moreno glacier and trek to the base of Mount Fitz Roy before proceeding on to Torres del Paine National Park.
Puerto Natales is the nearest town to Torres del Paine and as such is the gateway to the national park.
Operators usually include the journey from Puerto Natales into Torres del Paine in their trip itinerary. This journey takes about 2.5 hours and is primarily along a semi-paved road, so it's a bit bumpy. However, the stunning views of the park on the way in and optional stops for photos make this a spectacular journey.
If you are already in Puerto Natales and just want to get into the park it is possible to take an early morning bus with several companies located in the centre of the town.
If your flights don't coincide with buses, it is possible to take a private transfer (more comfortable and doesn't stop in Cerro Castillo like some buses do), although this option isn't cheap.
For those with a thirst for adventure there's also the option to take a boat from Puerto Natales up the Last Hope Sound and then ride up the Rio Serrano to get into Torres del Paine National Park.
The itineraries below are our suggestions of how you could include Torres del Paine in a tour of Patagonia. These can be fully tailored to suit your timeframe, budget and interests. Take a look at our other inspirational itineraries.
Day Hike Patagonia
Hike the glaciers, mountains and coastlines of Patagonia, experiencing the famous national parks of Torres del paine, Mount FitzRoy and Tierra del Fuego and get off the beaten track on the island of Chiloe. This trip is ideal for those who love to hike dramatic trails, but with only a daypack and good quality accommodation each night.
Trekking South Patagonian Andes
Experience the very best of Southern Patagonia - Torres del Paine, FitzRoy and Tierra del Fuego. Hike to famous viewpoints, get off the beaten track, and camp in remote corners of the national parks. Ideal for experienced trekkers looking to hike deep into the Patagonian Andes.
Chile: Deep into Patagonia
Combine the highlights of Chilean Patagonia with areas unvisited by many. See volcanoes, glaciers, lakes and the mighty towers of Torres del Paine, laze in hot springs, hike forgotten trails, ride with gauchos, cruise amongst icebergs and fly over Cape Horn. Ideal for first time visitors and those wanting to experience more.
Ultimate Chile: Deserts, Islands and Antarctica
Experience the extremes of Chile: the multi-coloured spectacle of the Atacama Desert, the mythical ruins of Easter Island, the mighty granite peaks of Torres del Paine, and the vast glaciers and whales of Antarctica. This is the ultimate 3-week Chilean holiday experience.
Below you can see the distances and times for travelling between towns in Patagonia:
Info - Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine is one of the world's great trekking and horse riding destinations
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Guide to Patagonia
Patagonia spans over 1,000 miles north to south and landscapes ranging from forests, to glaciers, to volcanoes and deserts. Read our Patagonia Guide to find out: how to get there, when to go, what to see and how to find the best trip. Or find out about:
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