Things to consider
To make the journey to Torres del Paine worthwhile, we always advise staying in the national park for at least three days. Our specialists have the following tips for making your way in and around the area:
- Crossing the border from Argentina is either time-consuming or very expensive. If you can come in through Chile, then do.
- Private transfers do save a lot of time and take you to exactly where you want to be. It's an extra cost, but for some travellers avoiding the hassle is more than worth it.
- An overnight stay in Puerto Natales is often necessary, but one night is all you need in this small town. Flying into Puerto Natales airport will save you three hours on the road, but scheduled flights are limited so you do need to plan ahead.
- To avoid the crowds while still enjoying long days, visit the park during the shoulder seasons in October and November, or March and April.
How to get to Torres del Paine from...
Fly to El Calafate and bus to Torres del Paine:
This is the best option for fitting Torres del Paine into a wider itinerary in Argentina. There are several direct flights every 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, five to six hours depending on the traffic at the border.
Be aware that Buenos Aires has two airports, roughly divided between international and domestic travel. It's recommended to leave five hours to travel between them, so remember to check which you are flying into or out of, and read our guide if you're going to need to transit.
Fly to Punta Arenas and bus to Torres del Paine:
It's far easier to reach Torres del Paine from Chile, and all international flights to the country go via Santiago. This makes it the ideal pit stop, before the three and a half hour flight down to Punta Arenas, where you can bus straight on to Torres del Paine. For more information on how to squeeze the most out of a few days in Santiago, visit our page on things to do in the city.
Sail to Punta Arenas, then bus to Torres del Paine:
Adventure cruise is possibly the most exciting way to arrive in the park. Voyages from Ushuaia often include stops at Cape Horn, sailing through the Magellan Strait and zodiac boat excursions to explore the flora and fauna of the area 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. Other ways of getting from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas are detailed here.
Travelling via Punta Arenas has a number of advantages. It's easier than travelling via Argentina, the buses to Torres del Paine are cheap and reliable, and the town itself has more than enough to occupy travellers wishing to shake off their Santiago flight, or rest their legs after a week's hiking in the national park. There are three options to reach Torres del Paine:
- Bus from Punta Arenas airport to Puerto Natales: Three hours, regular departures. We recommend Buses Pacheco, who pick you up from the airport to avoid the taxi or bus ride into town.
- Bus from the town centre to Puerto Natales: Three hours, regular departures. If you stayed overnight in Punta Arenas, go with Buses Fernandez.
- Bus from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine 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, so we recommend that you ask your tour operator to book your transport to avoid any confusion or problems with reservations.
El Calafate is the gateway to the nearby Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, a popular add-on destination to Torres del Paine. If your international flight comes into Buenos Aires, then El Calafate is also a necessary stopover before reaching Torres del Paine. You have three options:
- Bus to Puerto Natales: The cheapest way to cross the border. The journey is five to six hours long, depending on the border crossing. The buses only leave at 07:00 and 08:00, so you must be in El Calafate the night before.
- Private transfer to Puerto Natales or direct to Torres del Paine: Total journey time to the park is around seven hours, however this option costs around $750 USD depending on the size of your group, the vehicle and your drop off and pick up points.
- All-inclusive 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.
More information on combining El Calafate and Torres del Paine
El Chalten is located inside Los Glaciares National Park in Argentinian Patagonia, roughly an eight hour bus journey from Torres del Paine. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus and it can be tricky to move between them.
- Bus from El Chalten to El Calafate: departs each morning and afternoon in peak season, and takes three hours. If you catch the early bus you can connect to a late afternoon bus on to Puerto Natales, which takes five hours.
Trips that combine Torres del Paine and El Chalten remove the stress of arranging transport and ensure you spend as much time as possible in these stunning regions. Explore trips which combine the two national parks.
Puerto Natales is the nearest town to Torres del Paine. Almost all guided trips and tour itineraries include the journey from Puerto Natales, around two and a half hours on a semi-paved road. What it lacks in smooth tarmac it more than makes up for in scenery.
- Bus from the town centre: A number of bus companies operate early morning shuttles, but availability can still be tight so do make sure you book as early as possible
- Private transfer: A little quicker than the buses, but considerably more expensive
- Sail the Rio Serrano: An option for the more adventurous at heart, take a boat up Last Hope Sound and enter the park via the Rio Serrano.
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.