Things to do in Torres del Paine
Hiking in Torres del Paine
Hike the world-famous W or O routes, or take wilder treks through the snow-covered mountains and forested valleys to the iconic towers and the imposing peaks of Los Cuernos.
Kayaking in Torres del Paine
Kayaking can get you into more remote areas of the park, with trips suitable for all levels of experience to the faces of glaciers and down rivers to iceberg-studded lagoons.
Torres del Paine Horse Riding
Day rides or longer treks that explore the pampas with the gauchos, head up to glaciers or follow trails through the Cordillera Paine with its mile-high granite peaks.
Mountain Biking in Torres del Paine
A great way to cover the distances to the far corners of the park, on anything from single day rides to multi-day expeditions along the back trails to the famous towers.
Torres del Paine Multi-Sport
Explore the full spread of the park's terrain with a trip that combines any of kayaking, biking, horse-riding, trekking and ice hiking into an active, multi-sport experience.
Pumas in Patagonia
Torres del Paine is home to a growing population of the elusive Puma. We work with responsible guides to give you great wildlife experiences while protecting the animals' habitat.
Activity Map of Torres del Paine
Some parts of the park are world-renowned, but there are loads of places that all too many visitors overlook: the hidden valleys of Bader, Silencio and Pingo; the bizarre rock formations of Baguales that are a rich source of fossils; the area's outlying Estancias where you can ride with gauchos and the wilds of the neighbouring Bernado O'Higgins National Park and the kayaking there.
Where to stay in Torres del Paine
Accommodation in the national park is limited but still features everything from campsites to luxury hotels with spas. Where you stay will depend a lot on what you're looking to do, but some hotels offer itineraries and day trips right from your door or can be combined with other experiences and treks, so if you see a place you like, you can always get in touch to see how you can fit it into your plans.
What Our Customers Think
What a wonderful, mind-blowing, refreshing experience. There are simply not enough positive adjectives to describe our time in Torres del Paine. Thank you for helping me plan one of the best experiences I've had!
Lydia January 2016
All facets of the trip exceeded our expectations from the landscape to the guide. The trip was one that my wife and I will never forget.
Pierre January 2016
Getting to Torres del Paine
Puerto Natales, the nearest town to Torres del Paine National Park, is the dropoff point for almost all excursions and adventures. It's a great place to rent or buy gear for trekking. The town is two or three hours from the park's gateway and admin centre, so you'll usually make an overnight stop before heading to the park the following morning. Our guide to hotels in Puerto Natales can help you check prices and availability for accommodation.
Transfers to the park when...
- On a guided hike: Small guided trips will always include transfers from Puerto Natales to the trailhead
- Hiking solo: If you don't have an included transfer, there are several regular and reliable bus companies that make the journey.
Getting around Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine National Park has two large lakes which have regular boat crossings: Grey and Pehoe. These boat trips are beautiful ways to see the park and can also be used to break up or modify the treks. Crossing Pehoe by boat takes you to the western end of the W trek, allowing you to walk back without retracing your steps. These trips cost around $22-$70 USD when booked separately, but are almost always included in the cost of any guided trip that incorporates them. They are motorised catamarans which can sail in the variable weather that sadly precludes any traditional sailing on the lakes.
Around dusk I stepped out of our camp in the Pingo Valley and suddenly I was face to face with a Huemul, the rare resident deer species. We stared at each other for a couple of minutes in silence, then he turned and trotted off.
Luke Errington Founder, Swoop Patagonia
Torres Del Paine: Your Questions Answered
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.
The "Torres del Paine" are three granite towers to the east of the Paine Massif (Macizo Paine), in the centre of the national park. They are the iconic sight of the park and one of the most famous landmarks in Patagonia. The name derives from the Spanish for "towers" and the word that describes the blue sheen of the rock in the language of the indigenous Tehuelche people. The clearest views of the Torres are from their base near the top of Valle Ascencio, which is on the route of both the famous "W" and "O" Treks.
- The Torres del Paine, the three granite towers for which the park is named are obviously a stand out feature. You can see them from the traditional viewpoint at Valle Ascencio either on day hikes from certain lodges or on the W Trek and the Full Circuit, as well as getting some different perspectives on the routes of some of the more off-the-beaten-track hikes.
- While the towers are unmistakable, they aren't actually the tallest feature of the park and from many places they don't dominate the views. The highest point in the massif is the 3,050m tall Cerro Paine Grande to the south-west.
- The enormous, multi-coloured rock formation of Los Cuernos steals the show on many of the park's treks, sitting roughly in the middle of the W Trek route. The clearest view is from the trail as you track around its base and up Valle Frances but once again, some wilder treks can also take you to within touching distance of the rock.
- The most memorable moment for many trekkers is crossing Paso John Garner in the North of the park. You normally approach this 1,180m pass from the East so that as you come over it, you're presented with the view of Grey Glacier & the Southern Patagonian Ice Field reaching out into the distance. Getting to the North of the park tends to take a few more days of trekking, but this sight really makes it worthwhile.
- One of the easiest features to reach, if you don't have much time, is the Grey Glacier. You can get to it on foot over a couple of days or on a day trip via Lago Grey. It's easy to lose track of time staring at the glacier's face and watching the ice break into the water.
Torres del Paine National Park was shaped by the huge Campo de Hielo Sur (Southern Patagonian Ice Field), and the four main glaciers in the park, Grey (the longest at 24km), Dickson, Pingo and Geikie are fragments of it that serve to indicate the even larger area it once covered.
Swoop's Harriet ice-hiked on Glacier Grey in March 2015 and came back telling us that, 'Everyone should add Ice Hiking onto a trek in Torres del Paine!'. Read about her experience of ice-hiking on Glacier Grey.
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.
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 many Chileans and Argentinians use the holidays to visit this incredible region of their own countries.
However, it's a huge park covering 2,400 square kilometres, so if you're 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 offer some wonderfully dramatic, beautiful and isolated experiences
- Visiting Torres del Paine later in the season or in winter? You actually might have the whole national park to yourself.
The best time to trek is from October to late April, because the weather is at its best, although the popular trails are crowded in the time around Christmas. May and June can be quieter and you'll see stunning autumn colours against the higher snowy slopes, but you are more likely to get rain. Some companies also offer winter trekking in Torres del Paine, which is when the park sees its lowest footfall by far. Despite lower temperatures and shorter days, the wind tends to die down in the winter months and you can get some fabulous, clear-skied snowscapes.
Yes, it's possible to explore both great regions taking in the iconic towers of Torres del Paine and Fitz Roy massif in Los Glaciares National Park.
In Torres Del Paine, I wished I just had a Nalgene or similar water bottle - there was no need to carry lots of water, and it would have been easier to fill in streams.
Splurge for the refugios (sleep is important), bring gaiters for the snow, bring cash for drinks at refugios, have quality boots, quality outer-jacket, bring blister care materials.
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.
Group Tours of Patagonia
Group tours range from luxury to rugged, overland trips. They are typically for 2-3 weeks and explore all the main sites.
Great for solo travellers and those on a budget, group tours come packaged with fixed itineraries, dates, and prices, making them easy to plan around. Group sizes tend to be around 15 travellers at most and you'll really get to know each other as you make your way across Patagonia together.