Torres del Paine

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Torres del Paine is quite simply one of the most amazing geographical wonders of the world. The Park is set in an area of incredible outstanding natural beauty in the heart of Patagonia. It is also a main trekking destination, home to the iconic Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit trek trails, as well as the stunning Grey Glacier, waterfalls, rivers and lakes.

We are specialists in creating custom-built Patagonia itineraries with or without the W Trek.

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About Torres del Paine National Park

How big is the Torres del Paine National Park?

The Park covers 182,000 sq hectares and is the jewel in Chile’s tourist crown. Just why it’s worth travelling 4hrs from Santiago on a plane and then driving a further 5 hrs by car is only apparent when you stand and stare in amazement at the unbelievable sight of this monumental cluster of mountain peaks that appear to stand all on their own in the middle of an otherwise flat plateau.

The Cuernos and The Towers

Comprising this central massif are the “Cuernos del Paine” (Horns of Paine), covered in snow at varying altitudes and offering support to giant blue-white blobs of ice otherwise called hanging glaciers, and three other towers – which are the Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine). The sight of the almost vertical rock sides of the “Cuernos” rising up to an altitude of close to 3,000m is what causes such an awe-inspiring, mesmerising view.

“The Paine massif is unrivalled….. In its colours and form it is without doubt one of the most fantastic and spectacular sights that human imagination can conceive.” Salesian missionary Padre Agostini.

 


What are the Towers?

The Torres del Paine Towers comprise the peaks of Torre Monzino (north) (2,600m), Torre Central (2,800m) and Torre D’Agostini (south) (2,650m). To the east of the Towers is the Valle Ascencio, containing the eastern leg of the W Trek up to the Torres.

What are the Cuernos?

The Cuernos del Paine comprise Cuerno Principal (2,600m), Cuerno Este (2,200m) and Cuerno Norte (2,400m). To the west of the Cuernos del Paine is the Valle del Frances – one of the glories of the park – a high altitude valley ringed by a curtain of almost vertical rock.

Surrounding this jaw-dropping spectacle is a natural wilderness of turquoise-coloured lakes, waterfalls, glaciers (especially Grey glacier) and fast-running rivers. The massive Grey Glacier, 7km wide at its widest point and stretching back over 20 km., is still in the process of carving its own valley to the west of the Cuernos del Paine.

 


 

When is Most Popular Time to Come to Torres del Paine?

The Summer: December, January and February is typically the most popular time for visitors because the weather is warmer and it is the Winter holiday period in the Northern hemisphere.

When is Best Time to Come to Torres del Paine?

To avoid the crowds the best time to visit is before mid November or after March. 

When is the Best Month to Come to Torres del Paine?

The opinion of many is that April is the best month to come because usually the wind has died down, there are few people and the weather is often very good.

What are the Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit Trek Trails?

The W trek is called so because the footpath (or trekking trail) takes the form of a “W” on the map when looked down upon from above. The Circuit Trek is the footpath that includes the W Trek but also goes around the back of the Central Massif, effectively offering a perimeter path from where you can start and end at.

How can I book Accommodation on the W Trek?

There are serviced camp sites, refugios, and in one place: Cuernos, there are also private cabins, all of which you can book through us. You can also stay in hotels, certainly at the eastern end at the Las Torres trail head; and in the western end at Grey. We can also make a program for you based at Puerto Natales with daily excursions into Torres del Paine to the different trail heads. Alternatively, we can book the luxury lodges and you can do the W Trek, or parts of it, from these hotels.

Torres del Paine Arrivals and Transfers

What transport is there for Torres del Paine?

ExperienceChile.Org will include in the itinerary regular bus transfers and private local transfers. We can also arrange rent a car and private long-distance transfers.

What are the transfer routes for Torres del Paine?

  • Regular Buses and Private Transfers
  • El Calafate to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to El Calafate
  • El Calafate to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales
  • Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales
  • Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to El Calafate
  • Puerto Natales to el Calafate / El Calafate to Puerto Natales
  • Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales / Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas
  • Private Transfer

For those with a higher budget, or for private groups travelling together, a private transfer between cities and / or in to and out of Torres del Paine is the way to go. A private transfer will go at the times you want and take you door to door.

Can I rent a car for Torres del Paine?

For those who wish to have total independence having your own car use is the ultimate winner. You can go where you want when you want. Remember that if you want to take the car across the border a permit is required and this requires about a week’s notice.

How to get to Torres del Paine

What are the principal entry points to Torres del Paine?

Punta Arenas

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 4.5hrs.

From the airport you would then either be met by a private transfer service (if you have contracted one with ExperienceChile.Org), take the regular bus from Punta Arenas city centre to Puerto Natales and change to another bus to get to TDP, have asked ExperienceChile.Org to pre-arrange a regular bus pick-up at the airport, or have arranged for your own car rental. Note that a permit is required to take any car across the border in to Argentina.

El Calafate

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. Also from El Calafate ExperienceChile.Org can organise a direct bus transfer to TDP (Laguna Amarga) departing El Calafate at 05:30hrs, 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

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 ExperienceChile.Org can arrange the reservations. From Puerto Natales you either take the regular bus to TDP, have a pre-arranged private transfer meet you or organise a rent a car.

Location Distances

  • 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)

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

Torres del Paine National Park

There are numerous activity excursions to choose from in and around Torres del Paine. What follows are only some of the more typical places of interest and activities. Some excursions can be done by touring in a vehicle, but most are done on foot and in some cases on horseback.

Apart from the staggering visual scenery Torres del Paine is also home to many varieties of bird species including the Condor, and rare types of flora and fauna such as the Puma and Guanaco.
The Administration Centre (Sede) This is located in the sector near to Rio Serrano and is the base for CONAF (the park administration people), the Carabineros (the Police). Here there is an excellent exhibition display of the geographical history of TDP and is well worth a visit for those who are interested to know how the amazing and spectacular geographic features of the areas were created.

Ferrier Mirador (View Point Ferrier)

Located near to Hosteria Lago Grey, the return hike is about 7hrs with panoramic views over GreyLake, Pingo Glacier, Torres del Paine Massif and the Cuernos de Paine. The trek involves some difficult uphill stretches.

Lake Sarmiento

From this lake is a great view to the Paine Massif and in the immediate area is the Nothofagus wood with Lenga and Nirres trees. The trek will be around 4hrs and not difficult.

Laguna Azul

Located “around” the other side of the Park (going in an anti-clock wise rotation), this is a very blue-coloured lake from which there is a great view to the towers of Torres del Paine and also home to many types of flora and fauna and especially good for bird watching. Accessible by vehicle.

Salto Grande

Located about 1km up the track from Pudeto (from where the catamaran operates). Salto Grande means Large Waterfall. The viewing area is very close to the action and offers people the opportunity to see the power and hear the mighty rumble of vast volumes of water cascading through a narrow gap and then thunder down to the drop some 30mts below.

El Sendero de Los Lagos (The Lakes Footpath)

The start of this trek is from the Estancia (Hosteria) Mirador del Paine – which is technically outside the Park. The trek takes about 8hrs and offers a great view of Lago Toro and a panoramic view of the TDP Massif, glaciers and other mountains. It ends in the Park not far from the Weber bridge, so you will need to be met at the end point. This trek is moderate in difficulty.

Key Places of Interest Torres del Paine W trek

El Sendero de Ascencio

This trek will take around 8hrs return and starts from the Hotel Las Torres area. It passes through the AscencioValley and NothofagusForest and ends up at the Mirador (View Point) at 980mts from where there is a spectacular view of the three Towers of Paine and the Condor’s Nest, and magnificent rock formations. The trek is demanding and part of it can be done on horse back from Hotel Las Torres. It takes 2hrs to reach the Refugio Chileno and then another 2 hrs to reach the Mirador.

French Valley

To get to the FrenchValley it is necessary to take the catamaran from Pudeto across the LakePehoe to Refugio Paine Grande. From here the trek enters in to the FrenchValley which offers stark and impressive views of Glacier Frances and Cuernos del Paine. The return trek is about 10hrs and quite demanding.

Glacier Grey

Access to Glacier Grey is either by boat from Hotel Lago Grey or by trek from Refugio Paine Grande. By boat from Hotel Lago Grey the excursion lasts about 3 hrs and offers a close-up view of the glacial face and the chance to drink samples of Whisky or Pisco with millennia-old ice! Trekking to Grey from Paine Grande takes about 4hrs and then on to the Mirador to see Glacier Grey closely takes another 1.5hrs (plus another 1.5hrs to return to Refugio Grey. From Refugio Grey you will need to take the boat to Hosteria Lago Grey or trek back to Refugio Paine Grande. The trek from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Grey is moderately demanding.

CLOTHES TO WEAR

Try to bring LAYERS of breathable clothes that can be taken off or put on easily to adapt to any change in weather and as you heat up and cool down on a trek. Cotton undershirts are NOT recommended – see below.

Ideally clothes such as:

Over your body skin: an under vest (long sleeved if possible) made, ideally, from synthetic fibres so it dries quickly. If very cold weather (ie early spring, winter months or autumn) then thermal underwear made from synthetic fibres. The reason for synthetic fibres is because when you are walking several hours you will build up a sweat and your under garments will get wet, this then gets cold when you stop and will make you cold unless the wet material dries quickly. Cotton does not dry quickly, whereas synthetic material will dry more quickly.

Over your under vest: a breathable top such as a fleece.

Over your fleece: a waterproof windbreaker over jacket.

For your legs: trekking pants, resistant to rain and wind, but made from a breathable material otherwise you will sweat. Jeans are NOT good as they can get wet and not dry.

Over your trekking pants: waterproof shell pants to go over your trekking pants in the event of heavy rain.

For your feet: wool or synthetic socks. Waterproof trekking boots with ankle support and none-slip sole. If new make sure you break them in prior to using them on a trek.

For your hands: gloves. Close to glaciers it can be very cold.

For your head: a warm hat (not a jockey cap), sunglasses and sun-protection cream and a headband to keep your ears warm when not using the hat.

For your personal use: a back pack for food, water and clothes.

For your safety: a battery-operated torch for when power is out or if you are arriving to a refugio in the dark. Take with you during the trek extra water and snacks. Prepare for all weather conditions and dress for the outdoors. Do NOT go off the trail because if you have the slightest incident such as twisting an ankle, you may not be found.

Average Temperatures in TDP during the year
Summer (Dec – Jan – Feb) Max + 23.5°c / Min + 0.8°c.

 

 

Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit Trekking Trail Map

torres del paine map

Torres del Paine Hotel Accommodation & W Trek Refugios Location Map

Frequently Asked Questions:

Should I Stay Within Torres del Paine or Outside?

Experience Chile is a distinguished partner with all the accommodation options mentioned below. Please let us know which type of accommodation you would like to include within the itinerary we create for you.

We have created a new description for the Torres del Paine area, which is the Torres del Paine Zone. The Torres del Paine Zone is the area that encompasses Puerto Natales in the south and runs east from Puerto Natales to Cerro Guido (the border village); then north to Estancia Cerro Guido and up to the border with Argentina (this sector near the border includes the Torres del Paine Massif and Glacier Grey) and on the western side running from Puerto Natales past the Milodon Cave and on to the Serrano Village. Accommodation ANYWHERE within this area is perfectly well placed in order to get into the heart of the park.

Many people believe, mistakenly, that the only place where they should book accommodation is at hotels, lodges and high-end camp sites within the official boundary of Torres del Paine National Park, however, this is a fallacy and leads to often-rushed decisions, and disappointment if one cannot get into a hotel “within” the park.

The Torres del Paine central massif can be seen, on a clear day, from a point near to Puerto Natales such is the immense scale of the mountainous formation. So it is NOT at all necessary to be in a hotel “within” the official park lines.

Within the official park boundary is takes a good 2hrs to drive from the western end to the eastern end of Torres del Paine. In other words, from Lago Grey (Grey Lake) to Laguna Azul. This is the same time it takes to drive from Puerto Natales to Grey Lake or Puerto Natales to the park entrance at Laguna Amarga (near Laguna Azul). The point being that it does not matter if you have accommodation inside the official boundary of the Park or if you are staying in Puerto Natales.

One of the great advantages to staying in Puerto Natales is that there are a number of nice restaurants and a populated village with some “life”. It is also located in a pretty location next to the water with mountains in the distance. If you want a rest day then Puerto Natales is a good option, especially if we book one of the hotels with a spa and pool.

If you stay at Serrano village, you will get fine views to the Torres del Paine Massif. If you stay at Patagonia Camp, located 15km before the entrance to the Torres del Paine Serrano entrance, you will get fine views over Lake Toro and to the Torres del Paine massif. If you stay at the Estancia Cerro Guido you will get fine views to the Towers of Torres del Paine and if you stay at Tierra Patagonia or Awasi (both luxury-level lodges) you will also have fine views of the Torres of Torres del Paine.

Therefore, please, do not worry if you cannot get into one of the hotels within the official Park boundary. Daily tours from any hotel within the Torres del Paine boundary, as well as from Puerto Natales, will involve from between 1hr to 2hrs travel in a vehicle. The only exception to this is if you are trekking the W trek or the Circuit trek and for these two trails you will benefit from staying over at one of the refugios, ECO Camp, Hotel Las Torres and / or Hotel Grey.

Having said that, we can arrange from most of the hotels that are further away a section of the W trek each day, so you can stay in comfort and do a part of the W trek every day and after four days you will have completed the W trek. There are also options to do the iconic Torres Base trek in one day from Puerto Natales.

Accommodation Options in the Torres del Paine Zone

You can enjoy the stunning scenery, fresh air, witness moving glaciers, walk through woods, challenge yourself with adventurous trekking and be in the heart of nature during the day in Torres del Paine. But at night you have the following types of accommodation where you can relax and get your sleep:

Serviced Camping Sites

The serviced camp sites offer tents with bedding and ground mats, and food taken inside the adjacent refugio or small dining hut where there is no refugio.

Serviced Camp Sites on the W trek & Circuit Trek trails:

Central, Serron, Perros, Grey, Paine Grande, Cuernos and Chileno.

Refugio, Domos &Cabins

Refugio – basically a hostel with dorm rooms and bunk beds, 6 people to a room, communal “canteen style “dining room. These are located on the W Trek and the Circuit Trek.

Refugios Located At: Dickson (Circuit Trek), and on the W Trek – Chileno, Cuernos, Paine Grande and Grey.

Cabins Located at:

Cuernos (W Trek).

Domos Located At:

Frances (W Trek)

Mid-level hotel – a hotel with private rooms and en-suite bathroom or shower rooms, restaurant, decent food and wine selection. These are located in different areas within the Torres del Paine zone and, of course, at Puerto Natales.

Mid-Level Hotels are: Hotel Las Torres, Hosteria Pehoe, Hotel Lago Grey, Hotel Rio Serrano, Hotel del Paine as well as in Puerto Natales – Hotel If, Hotel Altiplanico Sur and Weskar Lodge.

Luxury Hotels & Lodges – World-Class hotel lodges with luxury-level private rooms; en-suite, well-equipped bathrooms, plus spa and pool facilities, quality food and wines. Such hotel lodges are in the Torres del Paine zone as well as in Puerto Natales we offer The Singular and Remota Hotels.

Luxury Hotels & Lodges are: Explora Salto Chico, Tierra Patagonia, Awasi, Singular (Puerto Natales) and Remota (Puerto Natales). NOTE: For Explora Salto Chico, Tierra Patagonia, The Singular and Hotel Remota we have an offer – please see our Featured Hotels.

Estancia Hotel – Country-style, large, private rooms with large en-suite bathrooms at an authentic Patagonian working estancia. Restaurant, good food and wines. Here, you can experience life in Patagonia and also sense and feel the history of the past 100 years. There is only one such place and it is located in the Torres del Paine zone.

Estancia Hotel is: Estancia Cerro Guido

“Glamping” – Luxury kitted-out camping in either Yurt or Dome tent (two different places in different areas of the Torres del Paine zone). One has communal bar and dining area with wine, and in the other has more of an up-market restaurant with good wines. Both options are located within the Torres del Paine zone.

Glamping are: Patagonia Camp and ECO Domes

Where is the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre?

The Welcome Centre is located in the Eastern sector of Torres del Paine about 1.5km from the
entrance to Hotel Las Torres, but close to Refugios Central and Norte and a short distance from
ECO Camp.

Only if you are entering the park at the Eastern end will you need to enter the Welcome Centre.
Here you need to show that you have confirmed reservations for accommodation on the W trek, if
you are staying over. You also need to present, or fill in a visitors form.
There are public WC´s here as well as information.

How long does it take to drive from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine?
  • Driving from Puerto Natales to the western, Serrano entrance of Torres del Paine will take 1hr.
  • Driving from Puerto Natales to the eastern, Laguna Amarga entrance to Torres del Paine will take
    2hrs.
How long does it take to drive from Puerto Natales to Hotel Lago Grey or Grey Beach?

Driving from Puerto Natales to Hotel Lago Grey or Grey beach will take 2hrs.

What Hotels are There in Torres del Paine?

There are, in total, four hotels and one up-market camp (glamping) that are within the official boundary lines of Torres del Paine National Park (TDP) and these are Hotel Las Torres, Explora Salto Chico Lodge, Hotel Lago Grey, Hotel (Hosteria) Pehoe and the ECO Camp.

To the west, literally just over the “boundary line” of TDP on the other side of the Rio Serrano are: Hotel Rio Serrano and Hotel Paine, with a few others such as Pampa Lodge, Lago Tyndal and Nash lodge nearby.

To the east of TDP we have Tierra Patagonia, Awasi Patagonia and Estancia Cerro Guido.
To the south of TDP we have Patagonia (Yurt) Camp.

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W Trek Info

Why is it called the
W Trek?

The W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park is called so because the path marks out a “W” shape on the map. The total distance is around 55km.

View W Trek

Full Circuit Trek

W Trekking Route

W Trek & Circuit Treks

Types of Accommodation

Our featured hotels and suppliers have been selected by us for one or more of their attributes such as: location, views, surroundings, comfort, professional service, “uniqueness”, food and/or overall good feeling that one gets from being there.

EXPERIENCE CHILE

FEATURED HOTELS

TORRES DEL PAINE

Our featured hotels and suppliers have been selected by us for one or more of their attributes such as: location, views, surroundings, comfort, professional service, “uniqueness”, food and/or overall good feeling that one gets from being there.

Please supply us with as much information as you can about where you want to go, what you want to do, what you want to experience and how much money you want to spend (or do not want to spend!).  How many people, what type of beds (matrimonial, twin, single etc.)

VIP – if you are a VIP in any of the fields such as celebrity and / or political and / or business, and you need “special attention” such as privacy and / or security for your trip please use an alias in the enquiry, but mention that you are VIP and one of the directors will handle your request and keep your real name and details confidential.

Remember, our speciality is to create a travel itinerary custom-built to your needs.

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