Torres del Paine is a wonderful Patagonian park: in this post I describe the various possible ways to organize a visit, pointing out what to do at Torres del Paine!
Torres del Paine Park is located two hours away from Puerto Natales, and is a hiker’s paradise. There are, however, opportunities to admire the park without making much effort!
Torres del Paine treks range from day treks to eight-day treks. There is, therefore, plenty of choice!
The most famous trek in Torres del Paine is the one leading to Base Las Torres. This trek is doable by everyone, although it is not a very easy path. In fact, the trek to Laguna Torres is 21 km long with an elevation gain of 1,200 meters (TRACK).
The trail is beautiful! The starting point is Camping Central. After an initial flat section, the trail slowly begins to climb. Behind us is a splendid view of Lake Nordenskjold, which is characterized by a beautiful blue color. In front of us, however, is the beautiful valley of the Rio Ascencio.
After about five kilometers of walking, you arrive at Campamento Chileno, where you can munch on something. From Campamento Chileno begins an hour-long stretch of beautiful forested nature. After this is finished, there is the hardest part of the whole walk: in fact, the last three hundred meters of elevation gain is a bit more complicated as the path is characterized by rocks.
Laguna Torres is the reward for so much effort! In fact, the arrival point allows you to admire the famous Torres del Paine towers, which serve as a backdrop to the fantastic Laguna Torres!
The return path is the same as the outward path: the first descent, therefore, challenges the knees!
There are three methods to visit Laguna Torres in a single day: rent a car in Puerto Natales,
participate in a guided excursion
or use the service of the Bus Sur bus company. The third method is the most economical but is recommended only for experienced trekkers with fast walking: we generally arrive at Campamento Central around 10 a.m. and the last bus from Campamento Central to Puerto Natales leaves at 7:30 p.m., making for an exhausting day of trekking. In fact, the Bus Sur service drops trekkers off at Laguna Amarga, the entrance to the Park: from Laguna Amarga one has to take an additional shuttle to Campamento Central.
Those who enjoy walking can hike one of the most famous trails in the world: the O Torres del Paine. This trek can be done in seven to eight days and provides a complete tour around the three towers. The O of Torres del Paine is a longer and more difficult version of the W, which I describe in the next section. Thus, by driving along the O, it is possible to admire all the vantage points of the W Torres del Paine: in addition, it is possible to see Lake Dickson, Laguna Perros, and, most importantly, Glaciar Grey from John Gardner Pass.
The O Torres del Paine is wilder than the W: there are far fewer trekkers, there is no internet signal (not even WIFi) for two days, you have to sleep in a tent in Campamento Perros (there is an option to book the tent already set up). On the other hand, the landscapes are unforgettable!
Laguna Torres is one of the most beautiful viewpoints on the W Torres del Paine trek. This trek is five days long. I started this trek from the Paine Grande Refuge, reached in this way: bus Sur to Laguna Amarga, shuttle to Pudeto, catamaran to Paine Grande. I finished the trek after five days of walking at Campamento Central.
The trek is about 90 kilometers long and provides incredible viewpoints such as Glaciar Grey, Valle del Frances, and Mirador Britanico.
The W Torres del Paine is a technically uncomplicated trek. There is the possibility of undertaking this path with one’s own tent or sleeping in the shelters: in these it is possible to eat (costs are high) and buy cookies, pasta, etc. to eat.
From Puerto Natales there are various tours to visit the Torres del Paine without struggling.
One wonderful tour is to see the various viewpoints of the Torres del Paine (such as the one offered by Civitatis)
. Prominent among these scenic spots is the one at Salto Grande, a beautiful waterfall! This is a day tour that starts and ends in Puerto Natales. This tour is also feasible by renting a car in Puerto Natales.The best vantage points are at Lake Nordenskjold, Salto Grande, Los Cuernos, and Lake Grey. In addition, there is a perfect view of the three Paine towers from the Laguna Amarga viewpoint at the entrance to the park.
Another day tour that allows you to visit the Torres del Paine is
the one that includes a catamaran ride on Lake Grey.
: in this case, the highlight of the tour is the view of the icebergs on Lake Grey.
A great idea for visiting Torres del Paine is to stop at a campsite or lodge and go on day hikes. The best lodge to stay a few days, in my opinion, is the Grey Refuge: sleeping here (you can do multiple activities: visit the Mirador Grey (only a 15-minute walk away: impressive views of the lagoon with icebergs), walking on the Glaciar Grey, a kayak outing (gorgeous: the three-hour outing leads near Glaciar Grey and is organized by Big Foot) and a longer hike to Campamento Paso (about four hours round trip: there are three fantastic suspension bridges, and this is video of the last one!).
Small note: starting from the Grey shelter, Campamento Paso is the maximum point that can be reached: the Campamento is part of the O and the part between Campamento Paso and Guarderia Coiron can only be traveled counterclockwise.
Another popular retreat to stop for a few days is Paine Grande, conveniently reached by catamaran from Pudeto, crossing the beautiful Pehoe Lake. Hikes leading to the Grey Refuge and the Valle del Frances / Mirador Britanico start from the Paine Grande: they are, however, fairly long treks (to go to and from the Grey you have to calculate 24 km, for the Mirador Britanico 28 km).
Some also choose to stop at the splendid, and expensive, Hotel Grey. This hotel boasts a wonderful location: catamaran trips to Glaciar Grey can also be arranged from here.
Puerto Natales is the perfect base for visiting the Torres del Paine. In fact, this beautiful Chilean town is only a two-hour bus ride from Laguna Amarga, the entrance to Torres del Paine Park. Puerto Natales can be reached by air, with frequent connections to Santiago, Chile. It is also a three-hour bus ride from Punta Arenas and five hours from El Calafate, Argentina.
In Puerto Natales you can find all the things you need for trekking to Torres del Paine: food, stoves, tents, sleeping bags, etc. Puerto Natales is also a pleasant town: its marina is wonderful! Also, about half an hour from Puerto Natales is the Cueva del Milodon: this cave was home to an immense sloth 5,000 years ago, which has now become a symbol of the town of Puerto Natales. Visiting the Cueva you can see a replica of this giant animal. The easiest way to reach Cueva del Milodon is to take a cab.
Among the restaurants in Puerto Natales I absolutely recommend Asador Patagonico and Santolla. Pizzeria Napoli’s pizza is also good! There is very good drinking in Puerto Natales! I recommend the wonderful Baguales Brewery and an excellent bar specializing in cocktails, Last Hope Distillery. Hotel receptivity in Puerto Natales is good and I found myself very comfortable in Corners’ Hostel, Hostal Patagonico, and Hostal Donde Kike.