Things to do in Torres del Paine

Activity Map of Torres del Paine

Activity Map of Torres del Paine

Swoop Says

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.

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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.

Luke says

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.

  • So what are these 'Torres'?

    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.

  • What are the must-see landmarks?

    - 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.

  • What about Ice Hiking?

    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.

  • Do I need to book a park entrance ticket?

    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.

  • Does it get busy?

    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.

  • When to go?

    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.

  • Can I combine Torres del Paine with Los Glaciares?

    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. 

Customer Tips

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.

Lauren Customer

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.

Daniel Customer

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Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure, we can help.

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