Arrivals, Transfers & Transport
There is a public bus that operates twice a day from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (TDP), and back. This will take between 2hrs to 3hrs to get to TDP because it will go to the Laguna Amarga entrance and sometimes stop for a break. However, here at Experience Chile we would suggest that we arrange a private transfer in your Patagonian itinerary in order that you can enjoy a door-to-door service and have more time for trekking and/or sightseeing. Puerto Natales to the Rio Serrano entrance will take 1hr, only by private transfer or rent a car.
From El Calafate there is a “semi-private” bus service. For example, a bus service that is public, but operated by a private company as a private service. We use this service often for the transfers between El Calafate and Torres del Paine as well as El Calafate to Puerto Natales. The transfer time either way is around 6hrs, including border-crossing paperwork.
Rent a Car for Self-Drive
Having your own car will give you total independence. However, it also has its drawbacks (see our advantages and disadvantages of rent car under the Self Drive section). Should you want a rental car we will be delighted to arrange it for you, just let us know.
NOTE: It is NOT possible to pick-up or drop off a car rental in Torres del Paine, this has to be arranged in Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas or El Calafate.
We include in all of our custom itineraries a private transfer from Puerto Natales airport or bus terminal to your hotel as well as the return.
Other than that, it is always our suggestion that you let us arrange for you a private transfer to go into Torres del Paine for sight-seeing or to the trail heads. We say this because a private transfer saves you time (it is door-to-door), it is more comfortable (no other, perhaps smelly people, noisy people etc) because it is private, and can stop when you want so you can take pictures, get out and admire any spectacular views.
Transport Routes and Times
The Principle Transport Routes in and out of Torres del Paine
- El Calafate to Torres del Paine (6hrs) – Torres del Paine to El Calafate (6hrs)
- El Calafate to Torres del Paine (6hrs) – Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales (2hrs car, 3hrs bus)
- Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (1hr or 2hrs) – Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales (1hr or 2hrs)
- Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (1hr or 2hrs) – Torres del Paine to El Calafate (6hrs)
- Puerto Natales to el Calafate (6hrs) – El Calafate to Puerto Natales (6hrs)
- Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales (3hrs) – Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas (3hrs)
Destinations, Distances & Drive Times Between Them
- Punta Arenas to Laguna Amarga in Torres del Paine (TDP) – 370km (5hrs drive)
- Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales – 250km (3hrs drive)
- Puerto Natales to TDP Laguna Amarga – 120km (2hrs to drive)
- Puerto Natales to TDP Rio Serrano (newest route via Milodon-Cave road) – 80km (1hr to drive)
What are the Principle Entry Points in to Torres del Paine?
There are three entry points to get to Torres del Paine and visitors must pass by one, or even two of them in order to get into the Park.
Punta Arenas, Chile
Most commercial flights will land at Punta Arenas, some 3,000km south from Santiago. Note: There are NO commercial flights from Buenos Aires nor El Calafate to Punta Arenas. The direct flight will take just under 4hrs and the one that stops off at Puerto Montt en-route will take around 4hrs.
From the airport you would then either be met by a private transfer service (if you have contracted one with Experience Chile); take the regular bus from Punta Arenas city centre to Puerto Natales and change to another bus to get to Torres del Paine (TDP). However, Experience Chile can also arrange for a regular bus pick-up at the airport, or car rental for you to pick-up. Remember, it takes 3hrs Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, followed by 2 - 3hrs on the bus to TDP.
Note: that a permit is required to take any car across the border into Argentina, which we will also arrange for you.
El Calafate, Argentina
You need to fly to El Calafate, in Argentina, from Buenos Aires or Ushuaia. Here you can stay overnight with an option to go to El Chalten (3hrs away by road) and / or visit Perito Moreno glacier the following day and then the next day come over to TDP.
From El Calafate you can take the regular bus across the border (departs 08:00hrs) to Puerto Natales (arrives 13:00hrs approx) and change to the regular bus that then goes to TDP departing around 14:00hrs, or arrange a private transfer service or a car rental with Experience Chile.
Also, from El Calafate we can organise a direct bus transfer to TDP (Laguna Amarga) departing El Calafate at 06hrs, which takes 6hrs.
NOTE: No fruit, raw meat, raw vegetables, seeds or cheese is allowed over the border in either direction. If you try to do so you WILL be fined. There is a cafeteria at the Chile border where you can buy snacks as well as at the mini-markets on the W-Trek in TDP.
Puerto Natales, Chile
Navimag operates a commercial ferry ship, which also takes passengers, from Puerto Montt. This ship arrives to Puerto Natales and offers a good-value cruise that passes through the channels and fiords in the area en-route to Puerto Natales (the cruise is available from Puerto Natales too) and Experience Chile can arrange the reservations. From Puerto Natales you either take the regular bus to TDP; or have us arrange a private transfer to meet you or organise a rent a car for pick-up.
Note, however, that the Navimag does NOT stop at any point, so there are no “shore excursions” nor close-ups of glaciers.
Prior to Covid-19 LATAM was operating flights from Santiago to Puerto Natales on some, certain days of the week during the high season.