Travelling to Torres del Paine: Travel Guide to the Chilean Patagonia
Torres del Paine is one of the most beautiful national parks of Chile. Travellers who love nature and trekking should definitely consider travelling to Torres del Paine as a top priority during their time in South America.
Declared a World Biosphere Reserve by the Unesco, Torres del Paine is located in Southern Chile, in Patagonia. These last few years this region has been receiving more and more tourists; thus, we will answer the most common questions travellers ask so that you can plan the best way possible to travel to this nature reserve.
- What is the best time of the year to be travelling to Torres del Paine?
The park is opened all year long, however, one of the best times to be travelling to Torres del Paine is between October and April, when the days are the longest and most hotels, refuges and circuits are opened.
High season is from October to April and low season from May to September. During summer (November to February), temperatures can get to 20°C as during winter (April to October), it can go down to 0°C.
This summer is high season and this is the time when most tourists come. Therefore we highly recommend you make your reservation early enough, especially for low-cost camping areas.
- How much does travelling to Torres del Paine cost?
For strangers, the price of the ticket to enter Torres del Paine during high season (summer) is around USD$32. During low season (winter) adults pay USD$17. Those are the prices for 2017 and this is the only mandatory cost.
If you want to spend the night in the park, you will have to pay extra for lodgings and food. The walks in any of the park circuits are free.
- Where can I find lodgings?
Vértice offers the Paine Grande, Grey and Dicksons refuges as well as the camping area Los Perros. A night in a shared room in the refuges of Vértice costs about USD$30, breakfast, lunch and dinner included for USD$70 and camping areas costs USD$10 per person.
The other company, Fantástico Sur, offers the following refuges and camping areas: Torre Central, Torre Norte, El Chileno, Los Cuernos, Domos el Francés and the Serón camping. One night in a shared room in the Torre Norte Refuge costs about USD$66 and if you want all three meals, USD$144 per person.
For travellers who do not want to spend too much money, the Conaf (Corporación Nacional Forestal) offers 3 free camping areas (Paso, Italiano and Torres). However, you should book them very early, especially during high season. You can do so using this link: http://www.parquetorresdelpaine.cl/es/sistema-de-reserva-de-campamentos-1
Besides refuges and camping areas that are the simplest lodgings, you have about 10 hotels and guest houses inside the park, 4 and 5 stars luxury hotels and 3 stars guest houses that offer comfort and beautiful landscapes; obviously, the cost is much higher.
- What are the circuits of Torres del Paine?
The top attractions in Torres del Paine are the circuits. You can go through them in a car or enjoy short walks, but if you are into trekking, there are several mountain circuits you can enjoy.
Macizo Paine Circuit.
This is the hardest of the park circuits. 93 kilometres in a challenging land that requires physical efforts, made for experimented trekkers. To finish this circuit, it should take you about 8 and 10 days, this is why you should have an excellent physical condition.
This is the most popular circuit for trekking lovers who decide to make a trip to Torres del Paine. The circuit is 76-kilometre long and owes its name to its W shape. To realise this circuit you should need 4 or 5 days, according to your physical condition.
Base de las Torres Circuit
Travellers who have little time and just want to climb up to the base of the towers can realise this one-day walk that lasts between 6 and 9 hours. You will arrive at the famous picture of the park at the bottom of the towers.
- Should I bring all my camping equipment or can I rent it inside the park?
If you want to travel light and are going to several destinations during your trip and doesn’t wish to sleep in a sleeping bag all the time, you can rent the camping equipment directly in the refuges and camping areas of Torres del Paine. So that you can have an idea of the cost, renting a sleeping bag can cost between USD$15 and USD$20.
Besides refuges you can also find small markets that sell gas for camp stoves, the basic camping equipment and food. Obviously the price is a bit more elevated than outside the park but this is a valid option if you are forgetful or wish to travel lightly.
Distances if you are travelling to Torres del Paine
Puerto Natales - 80 Km
El Calafate - 253 Km
Punta Arenas - 322 Km
Santiago - 3250 Km
Book a tour for as you are travelling to Torres del Paine:
Boat Ride to Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales: Full-day boat ride. Departures every day.
Torres del Paine from El Calafate: This tour from El Calafate to Torres del Paine is one of the favourites of travellers who go to El Calafate in the Argentinean Patagonia. You should book it with anticipation since this tour has a limited capacity and you should also use the same ID that made you used when you came to Argentina to make the crossing of the border easier. You will be able to stay at Torres del Paine and use another service to get back to El Calafate a few days later.
For more information about Torres del Paine: http://www.parquetorresdelpaine.cl/en/
Lucila Runnacles, Journalist and author of the blog Viagem Cult
Translated and adapted to English by: Grégory Noël