The park is named after the “towers” or “Torres” in Spanish. These three distinct, massive granite slaps jutting out of the earth are the perfect backdrop to a high altitude, glacier fed lagoon, and are probably the most iconic picture of “Best trips in South America” you will find. The towers get all the attention but this park has so much more to it... it will blow your mind!! From day hikes to 5-10 day overnights, glamping, horseback riding, kayaking, glacier trekking, mountain biking, fly fishing, rock climbing, stargazing, or wildlife viewing, all done in one of the most breathtaking settings in the world, this WILL be a trip of a lifetime (if you do it right)! 

torres del paine

WHERE WE STAYED

in the park

The location doesn’t get better than this. Explora sits at the heart of Torres del Paine National Park surrounded by Lake Pehoé and Paine River. If you aren’t the active type but want to see the park, then this hotel is for you. With its exclusive location, you have all the views without having to step foot outside of the hotel (pending good weather that is). It is also great if you are the active type because it puts you closer to the action and you get the benefit of the fantastic views if you choose to take a day off. The service was phenomenal and they even have their own boat which can be extremely helpful as an alternative for getting across the lake if you choose to do either of the French Valley or Grey Glacier hikes (more details on these below). Here's a little room tour and peek at their spa!

other recommendations

hotels

explora (in the park)

in puerto natales

airbnb

camping

We haven’t gone this route before but this is another great option if you want to rough it for a week. There are a number of spots in the park itself, some of which are on the hikes I describe below. Just be sure to reserve well in advance and pack all the right gear - you never know what weather you’ll get!

Remota (in puerto natales)

Remota is an ecological and sustainable hotel that sits beautifully within its surroundings and offers a variety of programs. This was our choice of stay for our first trip to the area in January of 2019 and we had a wonderful experience. I’d say it’s one of the more affordable options if you want to go the all-inclusive route (and trust me, you do!). Don’t miss the hotel’s spa area with a heated pool, saunas and jacuzzis… (here's a peek at the spa and a trip highlight). It’s the perfect way to end a day of excursions and activities. You’ll be exhausted and your body will thank you!

Your first decision regarding accommodations comes down to whether you want to stay IN the park or OUTSIDE of it. The nearest town, Puerto Natales, is about a 1.5 hour drive. We’ve done both and I wouldn't necessarily let the drive deter you, especially because hotels in Puerto Natales can be substantially cheaper alternatives (and still amazing options)!

The two hotels we’ve stayed at and many other hotels in the park or Puerto Natales offer all-inclusive options and we would recommend this route if you’re planning to be active most days. This includes transportation, food and drinks, daily excursions with bilingual guides and leaving this to the hotels to manage will really simplify your trip… especially if you’re waking up early for long days packed with adventure!

WHERE WE ate

Restaurant Santolla 

If you're choosing the all inclusive route, you're all set... skip ahead to the next section! If you are staying near Puerto Natales and you elect not to do an all-inclusive hotel option, there are a handful of great restaurants in town. The top four we would recommend are...

restaurants

Last Hope Distillery

Lenga Restaurant

The Singular Patagonia Restaurant

...and you can't leave without trying a 'Calafate Sour' so add that to your drink list. It's a twist on your traditional Pisco Sour by adding in the Calafate berry which is native to the region. Legend has it that anyone who eats a Calafate berry will return to Patagonia 's landscape again one day.

WHERE WE ATE

If you're choosing the all inclusive route, you're all set... skip ahead to the next section! If you are staying near Puerto Natales and you elect not to do an all-inclusive hotel option, there are a handful of great restaurants in town. The top four we would recommend are...

Restaurant Santolla

last hope distillery

restaurants

lenga restaurant

the singular patagonia restaurant

...and you can't leave without trying a 'Calafate Sour' so add that to your drink list. It's a twist on your traditional Pisco Sour by adding in the Calafate berry which is native to the region. Legend has it that anyone who eats a Calafate berry will return to Patagonia 's landscape again one day.

HOW TO GET THERE

Fly Santiago (SCL) to Puerto Natales (PNT) about 3hrs 15min nonstop - this is the preferred route and fastest as it will put you about three hours closer to the park than the next best option (see below). However, this airport is seasonal and flights are very limited. We strongly recommend this option and you’ll want to book your ticket far in advance. If your travel dates don’t align with their flight schedule, you’ve got a back up option below which we’ve had to do….

Fly Santiago (SCL) to Punta Arenas (PUQ) about 3hrs 25 min nonstop - this flight route is available year round. Once you land in Punta Arenas, you then have to drive a little over 3hrs north (not terribly scenic) to the Torres del Paine National Park, making this a very long travel day.  

Airlines: you will want to check JetSmart, LATAM, and Sky Airlines, and we would recommend checking on the airlines’ sites given the additional visibility regarding specific days of the week and times of the year they fly directly to Puerto Natales. 

From Buenos Aires, Argentina: another option to access the park if you’re also spending time in Buenos Aires, Argentina or the Argentinian Patagonia. Here you would fly to El Calafate, Argentina, and drive across the Argentina-Chile border. This will require some additional planning but it is definitely doable for anyone that has a bit more time to spend in the region. Given the current covid climate, we wouldn’t recommend this option right now (think multiple covid tests, potential border closures, quarantines, etc.).

travel

dayhikes

Base of the Towers trek - this is a full day trek which is difficult, especially if the weather doesn’t cooperate. The round trip hike will be about 8 hours (15 miles, 5,000 feet of elevation gain) but it is absolutely worth it. You will start this hike at Hotel Las Torres Patagonia and it is generally thought about in three segments. The first is largely uphill and quite exposed to the weather. At the end of this section you will pass through the Paso de los Vientos (Windy Pass), after which you will find yourself hiking next to (and across) a gorgeous river amongst a lush forrest. The last leg is probably the most difficult as you climb up from the valley floor to the Base of the Towers themselves. Make sure you get up and go early. Both times we’ve been, the towers were clear when we arrived and nearly covered by clouds and weather by the time we left. 

French Valley - this is another long, difficult hike (12 miles, 3,000 feet of elevation gain) but it’s also highly recommended. This hike starts with a boat trip actually (if you’re staying at the Explora you will be able to take a boat straight from the hotel) and after 30 scenic minutes you’ll arrive at the Paine Grande Refugio, which is where your hike starts. You will initially hike toward the French Valley which will take you along the shores of Lake Skottsberg. After a couple hours you will turn and head up the valley, climbing to the viewpoint. Along the way you will have the most amazing views of El Paine Grande and Los Cuernos, and at the end you will find yourself underneath the Glacier El Francés. Keep an ear out for what hears like avalanches - this is the sound of the glaciers cracking! Unfortunately we got rained out on this hike so we didn’t get to see this but it’s on the list for next time!

Grey Glacier - this hike also starts at Paine Grande Refugio but you will head straight north and instead of following along the lakeshore. You’ll be inland to start and you will be heading straight uphill for the first 1.5 miles - just remember the end is worth it! From there, things level out and the excitement builds as you approach Lago Grey (Grey Lake), which you will follow for the rest of the hike. This hike is notoriously windy as long as you’re hiking along the lake, but we found the length of this one to be more flexible than the others. Although your views of Grey Glacier get better and better with every step you take, you have fantastic views of the glacier from about 3.5 miles in and this is a good turnaround point if you run out of time, energy or would just prefer a shorter hike. If you choose to do the full hike, you should expect a long day for this one too (15 miles, 3,750 feet of elevation gain)!

excursions

overnight / multi-day hikes

The two iconic hikes are the W Trek (5 days) and O Trek (10 days).. now these are for the extreme adventurists. Experiencing the park on the W Trek is probably the most coveted experience given you will literally be on the three hikes covered above during your entire trek. The O Trek covers the W trek for 5 days and then spends 5 days further north, so unless this is really your thing or you’ve got it on your bucket list, the W is recommended.

and more...

Horseback riding
kayaking
mountain biking
ice hiking
rock climbing
fly fishing

how to get there

Fly Santiago (SCL) to Puerto Natales (PNT) about 3hrs 15min nonstop - this is the preferred route and fastest as it will put you about three hours closer to the park than the next best option (see below). However, this airport is seasonal and flights are very limited. We strongly recommend this option and you’ll want to book your ticket far in advance. If your travel dates don’t align with their flight schedule, you’ve got a back up option below which we’ve had to do….

Fly Santiago (SCL) to Punta Arenas (PUQ) about 3hrs 25 min nonstop - this flight route is available year round. Once you land in Punta Arenas, you then have to drive a little over 3hrs north (not terribly scenic) to the Torres del Paine National Park, making this a very long travel day.  

Airlines: you will want to check JetSmart, LATAM, and Sky Airlines, and we would recommend checking on the airlines’ sites given the additional visibility regarding specific days of the week and times of the year they fly directly to Puerto Natales. 

From Buenos Aires, Argentina: another option to access the park if you’re also spending time in Buenos Aires, Argentina or the Argentinian Patagonia. Here you would fly to El Calafate, Argentina, and drive across the Argentina-Chile border. This will require some additional planning but it is definitely doable for anyone that has a bit more time to spend in the region. Given the current covid climate, we wouldn’t recommend this option right now (think multiple covid tests, potential border closures, quarantines, etc.).

travel

dayhikes

excursions

overnight / multi-day hikes

and more...

Horseback Riding
Kayaking
Mountain Biking
Ice Hiking
Rock Climbing
Fly Fishing

Base of the Towers trek - this is a full day trek which is difficult, especially if the weather doesn’t cooperate. The round trip hike will be about 8 hours (15 miles, 5,000 feet of elevation gain) but it is absolutely worth it. You will start this hike at Hotel Las Torres Patagonia and it is generally thought about in three segments. The first is largely uphill and quite exposed to the weather. At the end of this section you will pass through the Paso de los Vientos (Windy Pass), after which you will find yourself hiking next to (and across) a gorgeous river amongst a lush forrest. The last leg is probably the most difficult as you climb up from the valley floor to the Base of the Towers themselves. Make sure you get up and go early. Both times we’ve been, the towers were clear when we arrived and nearly covered by clouds and weather by the time we left. 

French Valley - this is another long, difficult hike (12 miles, 3,000 feet of elevation gain) but it’s also highly recommended. This hike starts with a boat trip actually (if you’re staying at the Explora you will be able to take a boat straight from the hotel) and after 30 scenic minutes you’ll arrive at the Paine Grande Refugio, which is where your hike starts. You will initially hike toward the French Valley which will take you along the shores of Lake Skottsberg. After a couple hours you will turn and head up the valley, climbing to the viewpoint. Along the way you will have the most amazing views of El Paine Grande and Los Cuernos, and at the end you will find yourself underneath the Glacier El Francés. Keep an ear out for what hears like avalanches - this is the sound of the glaciers cracking! Unfortunately we got rained out on this hike so we didn’t get to see this but it’s on the list for next time!  

Grey Glacier - this hike also starts at Paine Grande Refugio but you will head straight north and instead of following along the lakeshore. You’ll be inland to start and you will be heading straight uphill for the first 1.5 miles - just remember the end is worth it! From there, things level out and the excitement builds as you approach Lago Grey (Grey Lake), which you will follow for the rest of the hike. This hike is notoriously windy as long as you’re hiking along the lake, but we found the length of this one to be more flexible than the others. Although your views of Grey Glacier get better and better with every step you take, you have fantastic views of the glacier from about 3.5 miles in and this is a good turnaround point if you run out of time, energy or would just prefer a shorter hike. If you choose to do the full hike, you should expect a long day for this one too (15 miles, 3,750 feet of elevation gain)!

The two iconic hikes are the W Trek (5 days) and O Trek (10 days).. now these are for the extreme adventurists. Experiencing the park on the W Trek is probably the most coveted experience given you will literally be on the three hikes covered above during your entire trek. The O Trek covers the W trek for 5 days and then spends 5 days further north, so unless this is really your thing or you’ve got it on your bucket list, the W is recommended.

weather + when to go

The park is open year round but we would definitely recommend visiting during Chile’s summer months, December to February. Even during these months you can see all four seasons in a single day! Make sure to pack layers regardless of the timing of your trip, and take them on your day trips with you even if it looks amazing when you start in the morning (a lesson we learned the hard way)! 

Although you should pack for everything, in the summer months (December to February) you can expect typical lows around 40° F and highs between 50° and 60° F. On occasion, you will see some colder days and we lucked out with low 70° F weather on our last trip. You should also expect rain daily, though some days you’ll get clear skies while others you will see downpours all day (this was us on the French Valley hike). 

info

important details

You’ll notice the name of this guide is Torres del Paine and not Patagonia. Patagonia is a massive region at the southernmost end of South America that spans both Southern Chile and Southern Argentina. I point this out because people often tell me they are planning a trip to “Patagonia” and I want y’all to know that Patagonia is HUGE. We’ve been to Patagonia three times and there are still a million things on my bucket list down there!

Currency: Chilean Pesos

Internet signal limited throughout the park.

weather + when to go

The park is open year round but we would definitely recommend visiting during Chile’s summer months, December to February. Even during these months you can see all four seasons in a single day! Make sure to pack layers regardless of the timing of your trip, and take them on your day trips with you even if it looks amazing when you start in the morning (a lesson we learned the hard way)! 

Although you should pack for everything, in the summer months (December to February) you can expect typical lows around 40° F and highs between 50° and 60° F. On occasion, you will see some colder days and we lucked out with low 70° F weather on our last trip. You should also expect rain daily, though some days you’ll get clear skies while others you will see downpours all day (this was us on the French Valley hike). 

info

important details

You’ll notice the name of this guide is Torres del Paine and not Patagonia. Patagonia is a massive region at the southernmost end of South America that spans both Southern Chile and Southern Argentina. I point this out because people often tell me they are planning a trip to “Patagonia” and I want y’all to know that Patagonia is HUGE. We’ve been to Patagonia three times and there are still a million things on my bucket list down there!

Currency: Chilean Pesos

Internet signal limited throughout the park.

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