Is Torres Del Paine Worth Visiting?
Torres Del Paine is not just a destination; it’s an adventure into one of the most remote places on earth.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. It’s a journey to one of the last frontiers of untamed nature and pristine wilderness. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a nature lover, or someone in search of an escape, the Chilean side of Patagonia has something for everyone.
From rugged mountains ranges to turquoise blue glacial waters, and lush evergreen forests to contrasting wild flower fields, the vistas you will see in Torres Del Paine National Park are unrivalled.
Along with the single and multi-day hikes being known as the best in the world, visiting this part of Chile needs to be on every travellers bucketlist.
Here are 12 reasons why you must visit:
1. One Of The Best Entrances Via Lago El Toro
Before you even enter Torres Del Paine National Park, you’ll be blown away by the scenery.
On the bus from Puerto Natales, I stared out the window the entire way admiring the beauty of this region.As you get off the bus at Lago El Toro, you’ll admire the pristine waters, breathe in the freshest air, and already have an incredible view of Paine Grande.
It’s from here you’ll take the 2-hour ferry into the park. As the ferry slowly winds around the bends of the lake, more and more of the park is revealed. The rugged peaks, mirrored in the crystal-clear waters, create a jaw-dropping panorama that will leave you speechless.
This is one of the best entrances to a national park you will ever experience.
2. The W-Trek
Named for its distinctive ‘W’ shape, this iconic 5-day, 67km trek takes you through some of the park’s most picturesque landscapes.
From the mesmerizing Grey Glacier to the towering peaks of the Torres del Paine, each day is an epic adventure.
This is my recommended option for visiting the park. Rather than take single-day treks into the park, spend 5 days camping in it and moving from highlight to highlight. The level of immersion, connection to nature and escape from the world make this a truly unforgettable experience.
3. The O-Trek
For those seeking a more challenging expedition, the O-Trek is the ultimate Patagonian adventure.
Rather than a 5 days in the park, you can spend anywhere between 8-12 days and go in a 126km circle around the Cordillera Del Paine mountain range.
This trek weaves through remote valleys, dense forests, and high mountain passes. The rewards are ample – turquoise lakes, ancient glaciers, and a profound sense of connection with the untamed wilderness.
You’ll see everything you would have seen on the W-trek along with more remote parts of the park that are completely untouched by hikers.
This is one of the most unique and remote experiences you can have in South America.
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4. Lago Grey Hike
The Lago Grey hike is one of my favourites in the park. This can be done as a single day trek or as day 1 of the W-trek.
You start this hike as soon as you embark from the ferry at Refugio Paine Grande on day 1.
This 3–4-hour moderate trek takes you along a rocky path that skirts Lago Grey. On one side you’ll have views of the beautiful crystal-clear water of Lago Grey, and on the other, views of the towering mountains of Paine Massif.
The best part of this trek is the ending. As you come closer and closer to Refugio Grey (where you’ll stay the night), you’ll eventually see one of Patagonia’s most spectacular glaciers – Grey Glacier.
5. Grey Glacier Viewpoint
Reaching Refugio Grey is the end of your first day on the W-Trek. However, a 30–45-minute walk past it will treat you to the best views in the park.
As you navigate through beech forests and cross shaky rope bridges, you’ll see the colossal Glacier Grey from a multitude of angles.
The sheer magnitude of this icy giant is humbling, and the ethereal blue hues of the glacier create a surreal backdrop against the rugged terrain. Once you reach the viewpoint, you’ll be able to see the glacier’s immense expanse in all its glory. It’s a testament to the raw, unbridled beauty of Patagonia.
Then once you return to Refugio Grey, it’s time for a well-deserved meal, pint and sleep!
6. Stay In Refugios, Rent Tents Or Camp Yourself
Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a first-time adventurer, Torres Del Paine caters to all preferences of accommodation.
You can choose from comfortable refugios (mountain huts with dorm rooms), where you can rest your weary bones after a day of exploration or embrace the wild by camping in designated areas.
For a perfect blend of comfort and wilderness, rent a tent and fall asleep under the star-studded Patagonian sky.
Each option will depend on your budget and has advantages and disadvantages:
- Bringing own camping gear – cheapest but more to carry and more admin setting up your tent each night.
- Renting camping gear – pre-made tent already set up, so less admin but this will cost a little more.
- Refugio – the most expensive option and will add a considerable amount to your trip. However, this is the best option for a good night’s sleep and recovery.
In my opinion, seasoned campers and hikers will likely go for the first option. If it’s your first-time visiting Torres Del Paine and doing a multi-day trek, I would recommend the second or third option.
7. Mirador Frances And Britanico
The Mirador Frances and Britannico hike is a testament to the diverse landscapes that define Torres Del Paine.
After two days of hiking alongside Lago Grey and Grey Glacier, you’ll find yourself climbing through the steep Valle Frances with mountains and glaciers either side.
This is the middle part of the W-trek and one of the toughest days due to 26km of walking, 1139m of ascension and around 8-10 hours total hiking.
You’ll traverse lush green valleys, rocky landscapes and witness the thundering waters of Frances Glacier. Stop halfway at Mirador Frances and if you’re lucky, you may see a chunk of the glacier fall off, sending echoes throughout the valley. Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the valley.
The night stay at Los Cuernos Refugio after this trek is one to book. After 26km, your legs will be cooked.
8. Magical Sunsets and Sunrises
Prepare to be amazed by the enchanting sunsets and sunrises of Torres Del Paine.
Whether at dusk or dawn, the sky transforms into a canvas of fiery reds, purples, and oranges, casting a magical glow over the park.
I’m a get up early and start trekking kind of person and I was treated to many a beautiful sunrise. As I left Refugio Paine Grande on the second day, sunrise bathed the mountains in a deep red that blew my mind.
Many people will wake up at 3:00 AM on the last day to reach the famous towers for sunrise. When you catch the sunrise casting its first light on the iconic Torres Del Paine, and you’ll understand why this place is a photographer’s dream.
9. Torres Del Paine Hike
The iconic Torres Del Paine hike is the climax of your Patagonian adventure.
On the morning of day 5, you ascend towards the iconic granite towers. This is another tough trek with 1000m in elevation and a 20km round trip.
The view of Lake Torre and the three towers can’t be put into words. The sheer scale of the towers and the beautiful blue waters are a sight to behold.
Once you’ve come back down, the meal and delicious pint of beer at Refugio Las Torres will be one of the best you’ve ever had.
10. Single-Day Hikes And Options To See The Park
Whilst Torres Del Paine is best experienced on the W-trek, this isn’t the only way to see it.
Are you short on time or not the biggest hiker but still craving the essence of Torres Del Paine? Opt for single-day hikes or tours that still allow you to experience the park’s beauty without having to trek 20km each day.
The Cuernos Lookout offers breathtaking views of the iconic Cuernos del Paine, while Salto Grande and Laguna Azul showcase the park’s powerful waterfalls and serene lakes.
There are several companies running single day tours into the park, or you can organise them yourself by booking the bus and ferry separately.
One of the best things about this is that you can be in and out of the park in a day, avoid having to camp of pay the excessive fees for the refugios, and be back in your own hostel in the evening.
11. Horseback Riding
Step into the shoes (or rather, stirrups) of a Patagonian gaucho with a horseback riding adventure. This is another great single day activity to help you see the park.
If you are a fan of horse riding, then check out La Leona Marga:
12. Insane Hotels
This final reason won’t be for budget travellers, but if you can afford it, its well worth doing for a night or two.
Why not end your days of adventure in style with a stay at one of Torres Del Paine’s luxurious hotels.
Hotel Las Torres and Hotel Lago Grey redefine the concept of remote luxury. Nestled in the heart of nature, these hotels offer unparalleled comfort, gourmet dining, and, most importantly, some of the best views of Patagonia.
Why Should You Skip Torres Del Paine?
There are several reasons why you might want to give Torres Del Paine a miss:
- It’s an expensive trip and won’t be for budget backpackers. Firstly, you need to get to Chile, then book return flights to Patagonia. Then if you decide to do the W-trek, stay and eat at the refugios, you’ll end up spending a fair bit.
- If you aren’t in to mutli-day hikes, then either give it a miss or explore some of the single day options in the park. Whilst day 1,2 and 4 of the W-trek and simple, Day 3 and 5 are tough hikes with lots of elevation and tough terrain.
- It can get busy. This is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and if you are visiting between Dec-Feb in the summer, the trails will be packed with tourists. The better times to visit to avoid the crowds are during the spring and autumn shoulder seasons. Visit between Sep-Nov or March-May to avoid the crowds but still have warmer weather.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Torres Del Paine?
Chile is blessed with sunny days and ideal temperatures most of the year, especially from November-March.
However, in Patagonia the weather is unpredictable. Ideally, visiting Torres Del Paine year-round is do-able but the summer months (Dec-Feb) are most popular due to the hotter weather.
However, the shoulder seasons (September-November and March-April) are also great to avoid the big crowds.
Avoid the winter months from June-August if you can as it will be cold and wet.
To download this chart in a handy infographic, head to the link below:
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