The Quick Answers
How long does it take to get to Torres del Paine? – 2 hours from Puerto Natales, 5 hours from Punta Arenas, 7 hours from Calafate, and 10 hours from El Chalten. From Puerto Montt I’d recommend taking an internal flight which takes about 3 hours.
Is there a bus? – yes, buses are the main form of transport. For more advice about buses, car rentals, boats and flights in Patagonia see our low-down here
What if I don’t speak Spanish? – If you don’t speak Spanish it’s advisable to get your tour operator to book the buses for you. This saves any chance of confusion and is quicker and easier as the operator prints off the vouchers and emails them to you before your trip.
What if I don’t have much time? – If you don’t have much time, it is definitely worth thinking about taking a transfer via car from place to place. Tour operators usually arrange this as part of their itinerary and the cost of a private transfer is normally included in the price. Taking a private transfer rather than a bus can save you hours of waiting around in bus stations and is also a lot more comfortable, you can have a snooze after a long hike and be delivered to your hotel at the other end.
Is there a plane? – There are regular flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas and from Buenos Aires to Calafate, from which you can take a bus to the park. There are irregular flights to Puerto Natales’ tiny airport, see Sky Airline’s website for details. You can’t fly from Calafate to Punta Arenas.
How much does it cost? – The bus costs between £6 and £10 for most journeys each way.
>> Also see our guide to getting to Torres del Paine on the Swoop Patagonia website.
I’ve been reading lots of forum posts in the Torres del Paine forum on Tripadvisor and many of them have a similar theme – how do I get to Torres del Paine? Information about getting to Torres del Paine is for some reason scarce and patchy on the internet so I hope that this blog post gives you a clear idea of how to get there, regardless of where you may be coming from.
I’ll start from the beginning, before you even step on the plane to Patagonia. You need to decide which order you’re going to do your trip in and which places you’re going to visit first, as this will depend on whether you fly to Chile or Argentina.
Firstly, there are numerous airlines that fly to this part of the world from the UK including TAM (Brazilian carrier), America Airlines, Delta and LAN Airlines, but I would recommend LAN Airlines from the UK. For people travelling from the UK, Patagonia isn’t as far away as you may think. Flights depart from London Heathrow and usually travel via Madrid, Spain, (or even New York, US or Lima, Peru) to either Santaigo or Buenos Aires.
London –> Santaigo, for Patagonian Chile (Journey time: 17 – 28 hours)
London –> Buenos Aires, for Patagonian Argentina (Journey time: 21 – 28 hours)
It usually takes about 17 hours or up to 35 hours (max) to arrive right in the heart of Patagonia. Once you’re here, the time difference is only 3 or 4 hours (which may vary slightly depending on day light saving), so planning time to recover from jet lag isn’t necessary.
It’s best to get your flights booked as soon as possible, and you may get return flights for approx £800 if you book in advance. If you’re going to Torres del Paine in November for example, get your flights booked in August as the later you leave it the more expensive they get and you could end up paying as much as £1500 for flights in December. For more information about internal flight prices, please read our article about flights to Patagonia.
From El Chalten
From Buenos Aires if you go to visit El Chalten and trek in Los Glaciares National Park, you are roughly a 10 hour bus journey from Torres del Paine National Park itself.
The bus from El Chalten to Calafate departs at peak season from 15th April to 15th October at 18:00pm. From 15th October – 15th December at 07:30am & 18:00pm. From 15th December – 28th February at 07:30am, 13:00pm and 18:00pm
The trip takes between 3 and 4 hours and costs $5 Argentinian pesos each way. We have some great trips that start in Chalten, some visit the the Perito Moreno glacier and trek to the base of Mount Fitz Roy before proceeding on to Torres del Paine National Park:
Take the bus from Calafate to Puerto Natales (the nearest town to Torres del Paine). This bus journey takes approximately 5 hours and luckily, you can sit back and relax with: Turismo Zaahj, in August to October they depart every Tue, Thur & Sat at 8:00am and in November every Mon, Wed and Fri at 16:30pm as well.
After arriving in Puerto Natales it’s recommendable to have a good nights sleep in one of the town’s luxurious hotels, Hotel & Spa Indigo or a more simple hostel such as Hostal Amerindia, really whichever your budget allows.
The next day, take a private transfer into the park with Turismo Zaahj, a slightly bumpy journey that lasts about 2 hours. A private transfer for two people isn’t cheap, costing US$ 520 or approx £314 for a trip in November 2011.
Or, catch the public bus with Turismo Zaahj, this takes about 2.5 hours into the park and stops off at Cerro Castillo on the way to pick up other travellers.
From Punta Arenas
If, like many people you fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas (a distance of nearly 2000 miles), you can choose either to stay the night in Punta Arenas before heading off to Puerto Natales the next day (we recommend Hotel Carpa Manzana, a pretty standard hotel but you get a good nights sleep, it’s reasonably priced and in the centre of town). Or you can land at Punta Arenas airport, and get the bus straight to Puerto Natales (depending on what time you land).
- From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales go with Buses Fernandez. The journey takes 3 hours and tickets cost approx 4000 Chilean pesos each way (approx £6). The bus leaves from 745 Armando Sanhueza in town each day throughout the year at 08:00, 09:00, 13:00, 14:30, 17:00,18:30, 19:00 and 20:00.
- From Punta Arenas airport we recommend Buses Pacheco, as they can pick you up from the airport. They run everyday at 08.00 – 11.00 – 15.00 – 18.00 – 19.30 leaving from 900 Avenida Colon in Punta Arenas. Please enquire to find out when they leave from the airport.
Buses Pacheco also run a service which takes you straight from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine National Park. This is a daily service and leaves Punta Arenas at 07:30 & 14:30 and returns to Punta Arenas from the Park Administration at 13:00 & 18:15. Bear in mind that this journey takes roughly 5-6 hours to complete.
If time is tight and you’re not willing to dust off your Spanish to book your space on a bus, we’d definitely recommend asking your tour operator to do it for you.
However, the following trips start in Punta Arenas and include the bus journey to Puerto Natales and into the park, essentially the hassle-free version!
From Puerto Natales
If you are already in Puerto Natales and now just want to get into the park, you can take a private transfer (more comfortable and doesn’t stop in Cerro Castillo like some buses do) or you can take a bus. The journey from Puerto Natales takes about 2-2.5 hours and is primarily along a half-built road which the Chilean government ceased funding, so the journey is a bit bumpy (beware if you get travel sickness). However, you get a stunning view of the park on your way in.
Buses Pacheco runs the following itineraries:
- Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine at 7:00am arrives at Laguna Armarga 09:15, Puedto at 10:15, Park administration at 11:15.
- Return Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales at 13:00 from Administration, 13:30 from Pudeto, 15:00 from Laguna Armarga
- Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine at 15:00 arrives at Laguna Armarga at 17:00, Pudeto at 18:00, Administration at 18:30
- Return Torres del Paine – Puerto Natales leaves from Administration at 18:15, Pudeto at 19:00, Laguna Armarga at 19:45.
Note that Puerto Natales has a small airport about 4.5 miles from the centre called Teniente Julio Gallardo. In peak season Sky Airline flies here from Santiago twice-weekly.
We work with a whole host of trips operators whose trips start in Puerto Natales and include the journey to the park in their trip prices:
An exciting way of getting from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas is by ferry. It takes 4 days to complete the crossing and on the way you see Cape Horn, Piloto and Nena glaciers, Magdelana Island to see penguins. Although this is quite a costly boat trip, you could save money by doing the self-guided circuit in Torres del Paine instead of paying for a guide. This would mean you get to do both and the boat trip would be a fantastic beginning to your holiday or a reward for your hiking.
Once the ferry lands in Punta Arenas, you simply take the bus straight to Torres del Paine or Puerto Natales with Buses Pacheco as above.
As you’ll see from the table of distances below, Patagonia is a vast place and the distances from town to town are great. This means that you could spend days wasting time on a bus getting from Buenos Aires to Calafate for example, and for this reason we don’t always recommend catching the bus.
A Map of distances between towns in Chile and Argentina and Torres del Paine
This is a screenshot of a Google map we prepared earlier..
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