Things to consider
Given how long it takes to get this wonderful national park we would strongly advise against a visit of anything less than three days. Some tips for making the most of your time:
- private transfers do save a lot of time, and take you to exactly where you want to be in this vast national park
- crossing the border from Argentina is time-consuming or very expensive, if you can come in through Chile then do
- an overnight in Puerto Natales is normally necessary and interesting, but try to avoid two nights
- if you can fly into Puerto Natales airport then that will save you three hours on the road (but scheduled flights are limited)
How to get to Torres del Paine from...
Boat to Punta Arenas & Bus: Possibly the most exciting way to arrive in the park is by adventure cruise. Voyages from Ushuaia can include stops at Cape Horn, sailing through the Strait of Magellan and Zodiac boat excursions to explore the history, scenery and wildlife on the way. It's also a stress-free way to cross the border from Argentina to Chile. Direct buses from Punta Arenas can then take you on directly Torres del Paine, or to Puerto Natales if you want time to prepare for the trek. Find more information on travelling from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas.
Flight to El Calafate & bus: There are several direct flights a day to El Calafate, taking around three and a quarter hours. From El Calafate, you'll take a bus across the border to Puerto Natales, which is around five hours, possibly six if the border crossing is slow. This is the best option for fitting Torres del Paine into a wider itinerary in Argentina.
Be aware Buenos Aires has two airports, roughly divided between international and domestic travel. Remember to check which you are flying into or out of, and read our guide to travel between them if you're going to need to transit.
For help with getting to Buenos Aires, see our guide on flights to Patagonia.
Flight to Punta Arenas & bus: There are regular flights to Punta Arenas, the nearest airport to Torres del Paine, from which it's around three hours by bus to Puerto Natales.
Depending on when you land, you can either overnight in Punta Arenas to shake off the flight before leaving from town the next day, or head straight to Puerto Natales from the airport. There is also a direct bus from Punta Arenas to the park entrance itself, but departures are limited and you will have to get from the airport to the town to take it. The three options are as follows:
- Punta Arenas town centre to Puerto Natales: Three hours, regular departures. If you stayed overnight and are in town, go with Buses Fernandez, at a cost of around $4000 Chilean Pesos ($7 USD).
- Punta Arenas airport to Puerto Natales: Three hours, regular departures. We recommend Buses Pacheco, who can pick you up from the airport and avoid you having to get taxis or another bus into town.
- Punta Arenas to the park direct: Five or six hours, departures from Punta Arenas at 07:30 and 14:30. Returns from park administration at 13:00 and 18:15.
Be aware you will need to make the transit from the airport to connect to this service.
We recommend that you ask your tour operator to book your transport for you to avoid any confusion or problems with reservations.
You're likely to be coming to Torres del Paine from El Calafate if you've included something like the Perito Moreno Glacier in your itinerary, or if you're arriving into Buenos Aires rather than Santiago. There are great trips that take in both areas, but if you're just concerned with getting between the two, here are your options:
- Bus to Puerto Natales: The cheapest way to cross the border. The journey is around five hours long, or six if the border crossing is slow. The main problem with this option is that the buses leave at 07:00 and 08:00, so you need to be in El Calafate overnight to make the connection.
- Private transfer - Private transport can be arranged either to Puerto Natales or direct to the park. Total journey time to the park is around seven hours and it gives you flexibility on departure times, but it will cost around $750 USD depending on the size of your group, the vehicle and your drop off and pick up points.
- Luxury lodges - Some luxury lodges include the transfer cost as part of all-inclusive packages whilst other hotels in Torres del Paine may charge around $300 USD per person. Very occasionally it is possible to meet your trekking group and guide at the border or Cerro Castillo, to avoid you having to go all the way into Puerto Natales and out again.
For more information about visiting Torres del Paine from Argentina see El Calafate to Torres del Paine for more details.
El Chalten is located inside Los Glaciares National Park in Argentinian Patagonia, which is roughly an 8/9 hour bus journey north of Torres del Paine. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus and it can be tricky to move between them, but the simplest way to get from one to the other on your own is:
- Bus from El Chalten to Calafate: departs at peak season each morning and afternoon, taking three hours. If you catch the early bus you can can connect to a late afternoon bus from...
- El Calafate to Puerto Natales: takes five hours. Stay overnight
- Bus to the park: take the first bus in the morning into the park, or join your trekking group before taking a private transfer into Paine.
We have put together some great tours and trips that cover both Torres del Paine and El Chalten, removing the stress of arranging transport. Some visit the Perito Moreno glacier, explore Los Glaciares, or trek to the base of Mount Fitz Roy before proceeding on to Torres del Paine National Park.
Puerto Natales is the nearest town to Torres del Paine and as such is the gateway to the national park. Almost all guided trips and tour itineraries include this journey. It takes about 2.5 hours and is mostly on semi-paved road, so it can be a little rough, but it's a fabulous, scenic approach to the park. There are a few ways to make that small last leg of the journey:
- Buses from town: There are a number of bus companies that operate early morning shuttles from the town's bus station, but availability can still be tight at times, so make sure you book as early as possible
- Private transfer:If your arrival into town doesn't make connection to the buses possible but you don't want to stay overnight, you can organise a private shuttle. These don't stop at Cerro Castillo, as many buses do and so are a little quicker, but much more expensive.
- Ride the Rio Serrano: The adventurous option is to take a boat up Last Hope Sound and enter the park via the Rio Serrano.
Our Top Torres del Paine Trips
The most popular way to experience what might just be Patagonia's best hiking. Great local guides, small groups, moderate comfort in refugios and an efficient itinerary help you get the most out of your time. Great for solo travellers or…
An expansive group tour experience combining the best hikes in Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. Travel into the heart of Torres del Paine on a unique and dramatic Zodiac boat ride. Celebrate your final night in an…
Tailor each day of this trip to suit you by choosing from a selection of excursions to Torres del Paine's most famous sights and lesser-known gems. Enjoy some solid days of hiking, or more leisurely strolls, and unwind afterwards with…
This route is the fastest, cheapest way to complete the full circuit that takes you to the less travelled northern side of the park, over the John Garner pass with the icecap laid out beneath you and then brings you…
This camping safari is a great way to see the pumas whilst keeping your costs down. Every day your guide will take you to the best spots for puma-tracking to give you the best-possible opportunity to see these elusive…
When I first went to Torres del Paine the bus driver had a net that they put down to protect the windscreen from rocks. The roads are now in better condition and the buses are surprisingly comfortable - not a chicken or goat in sight.
Harriet Pike Trekking, Mountaineering & Cycling Specialist
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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.