If you love hiking and the outdoors, we cannot imagine a better destination than the mountains of Patagonia. Imagine traveling through endless landscapes that allow us to escape from our daily grind to explore the world. Today I want to tell you about one of the most impressive national parks that Patagonia has to offer: Torres del Paine.
Torres del Paine National Park is located on the Chilean side of the Andes, more or less at the height of El Calafate on the Argentine side and borders with its National Park, Los Glaciares, to the north. The stunning Torres del Paine National Park includes mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers and captivating landscapes wherever you look, a true dream for any nature and trekking lover. The name of the park has to do with it’s most characteristic feature, the three granite peaks (or towers) part of the Paine mountain range. These peaks are known as Torres d’Agostini, Torres Central and Torres Monzino. The towers reach 2,500 meters above sea level, and are joined by the Cuernos del Paine. The park also has valleys, rivers like the Paine, lakes and glaciers, and the famous Southern Patagonian Ice Field. If you are looking for your next adventure, Torres del Paine has several options that will leave you speechless. Are you ready? Let ‘s go!
The W Trek in Torres del Paine is one of the most famous tours in Patagonia. The W represents the shape of the route if you look at it from above. This route is not so long, so many climbers choose to do it in 3 days. However, we recommend taking it easy to make the most of each corner. This route has the most varied and colorful landscapes and it is better to go slowly to take it all in. Along the way you will find hanging glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and granite peaks. The red color given by the lengas in autumn and winter is something unique and spectacular. Of course, the W-trek includes the famous Torres del Paine lookout. If you only have a few days to enjoy the park, then this trek is ideal. The good thing about the W trek is that you won’t miss any of the most popular highlights of the park.
The O-Trek or O-Circuit is for those who want to do something more demanding than the W-Trek and know they have the right physical skills. As the name implies, the O-Circuit is a circuit. This circuit includes the W Trek but instead of returning by the same path, it goes around the whole mountain. In total, the O-Trek is more than 100 kilometers long. Most people try to complete the O-circuit in about 7 nights and 8 days, but there are different variations to choose from depending on the season and the highlights visited. This trek includes the famous and breathtaking Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
There are several alternatives for tours in Torres del Paine. You can opt for shorter variants in which you only visit the iconic spots of the park and longer versions in which you can combine it with, for example, a tour in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. It all depends on how many days you have available and what you want to do and see. The tours also have variants in winter, in which you add winter sports such as snow biking, kayaking on the glacier lakes or horseback riding.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Patagonia for travel tips, hiking trail details, and transportation info.
Accommodation in the Park
The “Refugios” are mountain huts scattered over the park. After an exciting but tiring trekking day you can spend your night at one of the refugios. The refugios are very well equipped and comfortable when compared to other huts in the region. The accommodation is usually in dorm-style rooms, although some offer private rooms or cabins. If you prefer camping, you can also do so. Most mountain huts offer camping sites where you can set your tent. The good thing about the refugios is that you don’t have to carry that much weight in food and camping equipment.
Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most spectacular hiking destinations in South America. However, there are many other impressive destinations that await us once we can fly again, such as Machu Picchu in Peru, Poon Hill in Nepal or, why not, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Soon we will be able to travel the world again. Until then, let’s take advantage of this time to plan future adventures!
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.