Torres del Paine is one of South America’s premiere destinations. With its granite spires, glacial lakes, and ice-capped peaks, it’s no wonder why Torres del Paine is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Torres del Paine’s ruggedness is in part due to its remote location at the southern tip of the South American continent, where the Andes Mountains begin their eastward curve towards Tierra del Fuego. Here’s how to visit Torres del Paine, with advice from an Chile Patagonia travel expert.
Getting to Torres del Paine
Getting to Torres del Paine takes a bit of effort. There are no direct airports serving the national park and there are few connections between Argentina and Chile in Southern Patagonia. The easiest way to reach Torres del Paine is to fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park – and the best place to stock up on last minute sundries. Torres del Paine is only 3 hours away by road. Most travelers coming from or continuing onto Argentina combine a visit to Torres del Paine with El Calafate in Argentina. This overland crossing, passing through nearly deserted Patagonian Steppe, is a convenient way to make a multi-country tour of both Chile and Argentina.
For ship-bound travelers, there are ways to combine travel to Torres del Paine with scenic cruises. Departing from Ushuaia, the “southernmost city in the world,” the Mare Australis cruise ship crosses fjords in and around Tierra del Fuego en route to Punta Arenas, tracing some of the passages Magellan and his crew explored. This area is rich in natural beauty and wildlife, such as Magellanic Penguins, Cormorants and Elephant Seals. Also read our Waters of Patagonia Cruise itinerary.
Adventures in Torres del Paine
For those with a more adventurous streak, why not take a motorized zodiac boat through glacial-fed lakes up the Serrano River into the southern entrance of Torres del Paine? Departing from Punta Arenas, travel along desolate roads amid the stunning scenery of Tierra del Fuego, stopping at a nearby penguin colony (when in season) for a close up view of thousands of Magellanic Penguins. Continue on by zodiac motorboats along the Serrano River, surrounded by the stunning glacial landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park. View the Trekking in Torres del Paine Tour, which includes a cruise in zodiak boats on the Serrano River.
The extra effort to get to Torres del Paine is worthwhile. Many travelers to Torres del Paine backpack through the park on the 5 day “W” route, camping each night or staying in refugios. The Trekking in Torres del Paine Tour includes 4 days of trekking 5-7 miles each day, with accommodations inrefugiosand in Puerto Natales.
Note that because of the harsh weather in southern Chile, the best times to visit Torres del Paine is October-April.
Learn more about How to Visit Torres del Paine.