Reasons to go
- Hike to the iconic mile-high granite towers, the majestic centrepiece of the national park
- Experience a world-class introduction to multi-day hiking, or put your experience to the test with some more remote and challenging treks
- Gaze at the stars from a hot tub in some of Patagonia's most luxurious accommodation
- Experience horseback riding, kayaking, biking and fly-fishing in the Patagonian wilderness
- Witness glaciers descending from the ice cap, and sail amongst the icebergs that drift downstream
Torres del Paine
5 ways to discover the national park
1. Must-see landmarks
The famous rock formations steal the show in the national park. Torres del Paine gets its name from three soaring granite towers, best seen from a lookout point visited on both the W Trek and O Circuit, and you can also trek up on a day hike. For a quieter perspective, some off-the-beaten-track hikes also offer beautiful views from different directions.
Sat right in the middle of the W Trek route, the enormous, multi-coloured Cuernos peaks are a highlight, which can be enjoyed up close from the French Valley or Bader Valleys, or from across Lago Nordenskjold. One of the easiest must-see landmarks to reach is the Grey Glacier. A mesmerising wall of ice, this deep blue glacier creaks and calves icebergs into the lake, which then slowly drift downstream. Visit on a day hike, by kayak, or on a boat across Lago Grey.
2. Day hikes vs multi-day trekking
All the park's most famous landmarks can be seen on day hikes, which means you don't have to carry all your equipment. You'll be transferred to the trailhead every morning, have more of a choice of what to see each day, and can stay in a private room with a bit of luxury in the evening.
Multi-day treks are tougher, but more rewarding for some - you'll need to be prepared to stay in shared dorms with basic facilities along the route.
3. Guided vs self-guided treks
Some parts of the park can only be reached with a guide, including the north side of the O Circuit Trek and some of the more off-the-beaten-track routes. The W Trek and a few others can be done self-guided.
With their knowledge of flora, fauna and culture, our local guides can really add to your experience, however if you want to hike self-guided our local partners will ensure you have everything you need to explore the trails.
To experience both, hike the W Trek self-guided, and meet a guide at the end to take you into the north of the park to complete the O Circuit.
4. Kayaking, horse riding, mountain biking, fishing...
The national park is vast and there are some areas simply best explored on horseback, by kayak or mountain bike. With forests, desert, pampa and glaciers waiting to be discovered, get away from the crowds on the main trails and you'll experience a completely different side to this stunning wilderness landscape.
Add an activity to the end of your multi-day hike, or choose a multi-sport trip to kayak down rivers, bike down single track, gallop across pampa and ice hike on a glacier, all as part of one big adventure in the park.
You can hardly move for guanacos in Torres del Paine, but the park is most famous for its more elusive puma population. Your best chance of seeing them up close is on a dedicated puma tracking trip, as they tend to stay away from the crowds on the main trails.
For the bird watchers, condors are the park's most well-known resident, and you can take trips up to lookout points to watch them swoop down the mountainside. Keep your eyes peeled for armadillos, foxes and endangered Huemul deer amongst other smaller mammals.
If you want something more off-the-beaten-track, explore the hidden valleys of Bader, Silencio and Pingo, or the bizarre rock formations of Baguales. The area's outlying estancias where you can ride with gauchos, and the wilds of the neighbouring Bernado O'Higgins National Park, come highly recommended.
Top trips in Torres del Paine
5 ways to plan your Torres del Paine adventure
1. When to go
The park is at its busiest between December and February, and you'll need to be prepared to share the main trails with a steady stream of fellow hikers. The winds are at their fiercest and temperatures regularly reach up into the mid-20s. The weather is still wildly unpredictable, expect rain, wind, sun and cloud all in one day.
To escape the crowds and see the park at its most colourful, visit in Autumn when the leaves turn and the park is full of reds, golds and oranges. In Spring, expect quiet trails, blossoming wildflowers and chilly nights as the park shakes off a snowy winter.
Between June and September many services close for winter. Even though it's a little more of a logistical challenge, for some, the benefits of fewer people, calmer winds, stunning snowscapes, and long drawn-out sunrises are more than worth it.
2. Choosing where to stay
- Some of Patagonia's most luxurious hotels are here, but they aren't recommended for those on a tight budget. If you are looking to splash out on your once-in-a-lifetime trip, look for a luxury lodge or glamping option. Alternatively, there are also some high-quality 3-4 star hotels.
- On multi-day hikes you get more privacy if you camp, and tents are already set up so you don't need to carry your gear. By contrast, refugios are often shared dorms and harbour a sociable, friendly atmosphere.
- Location is key when deciding on a base for your excursions. Choose somewhere central to have good access to the main trails. Estancias are more remote, but do encourage you to immerse yourself in Patagonian culture.
3. Going solo - options for single travellers
With so many activities and places to stay on offer, Torres del Paine is a really good place to visit as a solo traveller. The camaraderie in refugios means that you will be swept into conversation on the W Trek. If you prefer to stay in comfort you can join group excursions in the day.
If you are looking for a more adventurous trip then let Swoop know and we will "matchmake you" with like-minded travellers who are looking to share the costs of their trip.
4. Best places to combine with Torres del Paine
Just across the border in Argentina is Los Glaciares National Park, a gem with stunning hiking, huge rock formations, blue-green lakes and glaciers. If you can't get enough of the stunning scenery in this region then Los Glaciares is a must to tag on to your adventure, but remember to factor in a day to get between them, across the border.
Exploring the fjords near to Torres del Paine can be an excellent way to experience vast glaciers and humpback whales, and can also be used to travel by sea to Tierra del Fuego. For experienced trekkers, we recommend flying from Punta Arenas down to the island of Navarino to take on the Dientes de Navarino trek.
5. Is Torres del Paine right for you?
Albeit the most famous attraction around, and with arguably some of the most dramatic scenery, Torres del Paine isn't for everyone. The hiking trails can get very busy, especially in high season, so if you're looking to immerse yourself in the beautiful wilderness away from the crowds, then there is a wealth of other challenging and beautiful hiking, kayaking, horseriding elsewhere in Patagonia.
Plan your trip
What Our Customers Think
The best way I've found to describe the vistas, were that they almost looked fake, the colors, the light, the snow, the clear blue water; it was all just stunning.
Philip Virginia, US July 2017
Highlights were glacier hike, French valley and Torres. Scenery exceeded expectations, even after all of the photos we looked at. The hike was challenging, fun and invigorating.
Nicole, Massachusetts December 2016
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
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.