Torres del Paine National Park, on the edge of the South Patagonian Ice Cap is Patagonia's number one destination for adventurous travellers. From day hikes from a luxurious base to 12 day multi-activity treks, this is the place to come if you're looking for an adventure in one of nature's most dramatic and varied areas.
The national park is a vast and varied area, and whilst the mile high granite towers that give Torres del Paine its name are the stars of the show, there are also a number of places to go that all too many visitors overlook: trekking the hidden valleys of Bader, Silencio and Pingo; fossil hunting among the bizarre rock formations of Baguales; galloping between the area's outlying Estancias; kayaking or boating through the wilds of the neighbouring Bernado O'Higgins National Park; ice hiking on the immense Glacier Grey that eases its way from the ice cap into Lago Grey.
Places to Go in Torres del Paine
Things to do in Torres del Paine
Trekking Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine is one of the world's most famous trekking destinations - you can see snow covered mountains, trek on glaciers, walk through beautiful valleys, and have lunch…
Kayaking in Torres del Paine
Kayaking in Torres del Paine National Park is a great way to see some of the less accessible parts of this natural reserve as you can take in the wilder, and more secluded areas…
Horse Riding Torres del Paine
Explore the pampas with the guachos, ride up to the glaciers, and explore the foothills and mountains of the Cordillera Paine with its mile-high granite peaks. Find riding trips…
Cycling in Torres del Paine
Cycling provides the perfect mode of transport for exploring the more remote corners of Torres del Paine National Park. Whether you pootle past Laguna Azul on dirt tracks, or …
Torres del Paine Multi-Sport Trips
If you want to explore the full variety that Torres del Paine offers then the best way to do that is to combine different activities with different terrain and parts of the …
Puma Tracking in Patagonia
The elusive Puma, also knows as Mountain Lion, Cougar and Catamount, is the largest and most dangerous predator in Patagonia. The Patagonian Puma is the southern-most dweller of…
Where to stay in Torres del Paine
Accommodation in the national park is limited but you can choose from mountain refugios with shared dormitories, to basic hotels, and yurt-style luxury camps, to some of the finest luxury hotels in Latin American.
Read our guide to: Hotels in Torres del Paine.
Getting to Torres del Paine
Puerto Natales is the nearest town to Torres del Paine National Park, and it's 2-3 hours away. But there are several regular and reliable bus companies and if you go with a small guided group transfers from Puerto Natales are always included.
There are plenty of hotels to choose from in Puerto Natales. For recommended places and to check for availability and prices for your dates please see our guide to hotels in Puerto Natales. Typically people would fly in to Punta Arenas (PUQ) in Chile, and then travel north to Puerto Natales (about 3 hours). But why fly when you can make the journey part of the adventure with a Patagonian cruise?
If your travel plans have you in Argentina before your trip to Torres del Paine then you'll probably be coming in from El Calafate. There are several options for tours and travel from El Calafate to Torres del Paine.
Getting around Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine National Park has 2 large lakes which have regular boat crossings: Grey and Pehoe. Not only are these boat trips a beautiful and unique way to see parts of the park, but they also provide you with a way to get around fast, and avoid those terrible "double-back-on-yourself" moments. Booked separately they cost $22 to $70 approx, but this is almost always included in your overall cost of the trip. In case you were wondering it's a motor-based catamaran - sadly the weather isn't consistent enough for passenger-based sailing.
When to go
The best time to trek is from October to late April, but some companies do provide winter trekking in Torres del Paine too.
Does it get busy?
Torres del Paine is one of the most famous trekking destinations in the world. So, yes, it does attract lots of visitors, especially over mid-December to mid-January when Chilean and Argentinian visitors take the opportunity to visit this incredible corner of their country. However it's a huge park covering 2,400 square kilometres.
If you are a keen hiker looking to experience the remoteness and isolation that Patagonia can offer then you'll want to consider one of the following:
- The 'Full Circuit'- park rangers tell us that only around 5% of people are lucky enough to see the northern part of the National Park
- Getting Off the Beaten Track with a guide. There are some valleys and passes that are only accessible with a guide and they off some wonderfully dramatic, beautiful and isolated expereinces
- How about visiting Torres del Paine in the winter? It's possible that you might have the whole national park to yourself.
Torres del Paine: your questions answered
So what are these 'Torres'?
The "Torres del Paine" are three granite towers to the east of the Paine Massif (Macizo Paine), in the centre of the national park. The highest point in the massif is actually Cerro Paine Grande (at 3,050m) a few kilometres to the south-west. The third main feature of the Paine massif, in between, is Los Cuernos ("the horns"). They dominate the landscape and many photos of the region.
The best views of the Torres themselves are from the top of Valle Ascensio, and to experience Los Cuernos you should trek the Valle Frances, and stop-over at either Camping Los Cuernos or Refugio Los Cuernos.
What are the must-see landmarks?
By far the most memorable moment for me personally was Paso John Garner in the North of the park. Trekkers normally approach this 1,180m pass from the East so that as they come over it they are presented with the view of Grey Glacier & the Southern Patagonian Ice Field reaching out into the distance. But getting to the North of the park tends to take a few more days of trekking.
Those with less time can get up close to the Grey Glacier via Lago Grey, either on foot (a couple of days trek from the main entrances to the park), or by boat (a day trip).
To view the Towers and Los Cuernos themselves there are two main valleys taking you to the best vantage points: Frances in the West for Los Cuernos, and Ascensio in the East for the Torres. Valle Ascensio can be tackled in a day trek from the main lodge/camping or from the new EcoCamp, both near the main entrance. Valle Frances is tackled as part of the W Circuit (see below).
What about ice-hiking?
Torres del Paine National Park was shaped by the huge Campo de Hielo Sur (Southern Patagonian Ice Field), and remnants of this remain in the four main glaciers in the park: Glacier Grey (the longest at 24km), Dickson, Pingo and Geikie.
Swoop's Harriet ice-hiked on Glacier Grey in March 2015 'Everyone should add Ice Hiking onto a trek in Torres del Paine!'. Find out about ice-hiking on Glacier Grey.
Do I need to book a park entrance ticket?
There is a fee to use the park (5,000 to 15,000 pesos depending on the time of year - that's £6 - £20), but you don't need to book in advance.
Map of Torres del Paine
For more information on places to go, where to trek, where to stay and how to get to Torres del Paine take a look at our Torres del Paine Maps page. You can also use Swoop's own interactive google map!
Patagonia is a vast and varied region, with a wealth of things to see and do, a range of places to stay and a limited transport network.
Why not let us do the hard work for you? Our team of experts will work with you to design a 2-3 week adventure to your exact requirements, from hiking and horse-riding trips to wine-tasting tours and undiscovered lodges.
We’ll work around your budget and arrange flights, transfers and buses, to create your perfect trip.
Find a group tour that suits you...
If you're looking to travel with other people or you want to see a bit of everything, a group tour could be for you.
With group sizes of around 15 people, they provide the opportunity to really get to know each other as well as getting to see Patagonia with a dedicated guide.
There are options to see the highlights of Patagonia, whether in comfort or on a budget as well as trekking trips and opportunities to get off the beaten track.
Ready to plan your Patagonia adventure?
Our team of experts are ready to help you plan your trip. We specialise in Patagonia Holidays, and have helped all sorts of people arrange their perfect trip in Patagonia.
Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure we're here to help you.
Get in touch today and start your journey