Torres del Paine National Park: where it is, how to get there and what to see…

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Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, Torres del Paine National Park (located in the XII Region of Magallanes, Chile) is internationally recognized as one of the most beautiful, unpolluted and unique places on the planet. Its main attractions are its spectacular relief, lakes, flora and fauna, which make it an ideal place for ecotourism and adventure sports.

Approximately 2,500 kilometers separate it from Santiago, the capital of Chile. This, plus the rugged geography of the south of the country and the climate, have allowed Torres del Paine to become a meeting point for those who enjoy excitement and adventure.

Despite its remoteness, the area has an excellent tourist and hotel infrastructure. In the cities of Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, which are almost obligatory stops on the way to Torres del Paine, the offer is varied in both price and quality. Within the park’s boundaries are the Hosterías Pehoé, Lago Grey and Las Torres, as well as the 5-star Hotel Explora.

Where is Torres del Paine National Park?

The impressive Torres del Paine National Park is located in southern Chilean Patagonia.

This vast park encompasses mountains, glaciers, lakes and forests, and attracts hikers and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. The centerpiece of the park are the towers that give it its name, three enormous granite peaks that rise above the surrounding landscape.

Visitors can hike numerous trails throughout the park, such as the famous W trail and the full “O” loop. Camping is available in the park, as well as a variety of lodges and hotels for those looking for a little luxury after a long day of hiking. Whether you are looking for breathtaking views or the opportunity to spot local wildlife such as guanacos and pumas, Torres del Paine National Park is a must-see destination.

PNTorresdelPaine 08 Torres del Paine National Park: where it is, how to get there and what to see...
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How to get to Torres del Paine National Park

The best way to get there is to fly to Punta Arenas and take a four-hour bus ride to Puerto Natales, the closest town to the park.

From there, visitors have multiple options to reach the park itself, such as renting a car, taking public transportation or joining a guided tour. It is also possible to reach the park by taking a ferry across Lake Pehoé from Puerto Natales or by taking organized boat trips on Lake Grey from El Calafate, Argentina. Whichever route is chosen, it is worth it for the opportunity to see the spectacular mountains, glaciers and lakes of Torres del Paine.

What to see in Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park offers some of the most spectacular and diverse landscapes in all of South America. From ancient glaciers to meandering rivers, rugged mountain peaks to grassy plains, the park has it all.

One of the best ways to see the park is on a multi-day backpacking trip through its famous “W” loop. Along the way, hikers can marvel at the towers, dramatic granite spires that tower above everything else in the park. Other options for exploring the park include horseback riding through the extensive valleys or boat excursions on one of its pristine lakes. At the end of a long day of exploring, be sure to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views at one of the park’s many picturesque campsites. However you choose to experience it, Torres del Paine National Park promises an unforgettable adventure.

Torres del Paine Park
Torres del Paine Park

Some reasons to visit the Park.

The park, administered by the National Forestry Corporation, CONAF, has a very unstable trans-Andean climate, with strong winds even during the summer season (between December and February). The average summer temperature is 10.8°C, with a minimum temperature of 0.8°C and a maximum temperature of 23.5°C. The average annual rainfall is 700 mm, and the altitude varies from 50 to 3,50 thousand meters above sea level.

Undoubtedly one of the park’s greatest attractions is the Paine Massif, formed mostly of granite and whose origin dates back 12 million years. The highest altitude is imposed by Mount Paine Grande (3,050 meters above sea level), however the most representative and famous summits of the park are the so-called “Cuernos” and “Torres” del Paine. Both sets have three peaks: the North, Main and East Horns (2,400, 2,600 and 2,200 masl, respectively); and the South, Central and North Towers (2,850, 2,800 and 2,600 masl, respectively).

Due to the proximity of the Southern Ice Field, the park has innumerable rivers, lagoons and lakes that owe their formation to the melting of the glaciers that compose it. Among the lakes are Sarmiento, Nordenskjold, Pehoé, Grey, Paine and Dickson; and countless lagoons of various sizes: Verde, Azul and Honda, among others.

The largest rivers are the Pingo, Paine, Serrano and Grey. The most important is the Paine -whose origin is in Lake Dickson, in the extreme north- which borders the massif to the east, crossing several lakes, to end up flowing into Lake Toro, in the extreme south of the reserve. In its course, the flow originates three spectacular waterfalls: Paine, Salto Grande and Salto Chico.

The park’s vegetation is different depending on the area of the park where we are. The most common species are the mata barrosa, calafate, steppe and coirón, capachitos and orchids. There are also small lenga and coigüe forests in the areas near Lake Pehoé and on the way to Grey Lake.

Among the most common animals that inhabit the park are guanacos, rheas, condors, pumas, gray foxes and culpeos, as well as a great variety of birds that live mainly in the lakes and lagoons.

To explore the park, Conaf has several hiking trails through the most beautiful places in the protected area. These are safe and secure, designed for the tourist who wants to walk, see and photograph. However, for the more adventurous, Torres del Paine offers a variety of activities related to adventure tourism: climbing, kayaking, rafting and trekking, for example.

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About the author

I am Matias, born in Patagonia, and a lover of my land.

For more than 20 years I help foreign travellers to organise their trip to Patagonia.

I also manage this exotic accommodation on the Atlantic coast.