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An introduction to Torres del Paine National Park

Secondary Categories: ChileThe Essentials

Torres del Paine National Park is one of Patagonia’s most remarkable yet accessible icy regions. A landscape of thrusting granite pillars, turquoise lakes dotted with icebergs, and glaciers clinging to rugged mountainsides, Torres del Paine is the perfect introduction to Patagonia.

Torres del Paine National Park became a Chilean national park in 1959 and a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1978. The park’s 935 square miles contain numerous ecosystems and are home to over 40 mammal species and numerous rare birds, such as the ostrich-like rhea. The main attraction of Torres del Paine are its numerous trekking trails through landscapes of icy splendor. Though there are plenty of multiday treks suitable only for the most experienced outdoorsmen, part of this park’s popularity is its plethora of short hikes, comfortable accommodations, and well-trained guides all welcoming to visitors experiencing winter wonderland conditions for the first time. Guests get close to glaciers lakes, frozen peaks, and wild tundra without having to forge too far from comfort.

Most excursions into Torres del Paine take place from Puerto Natales, a town about an hour away by road. However, one of the best (and most exciting) ways to enter the park is by boat. A two-hour cruise up the Sound of Last Hope (Ultima Esperanza) gets you to the isolated Serrano Glacier, where, after a short hike, you continue up the Serrano River in a smaller zodiac boat until you enter Torres del Paine.

Photo - Leonora (Ellie) Enking

If you choose to spend the night in the park, lodges offer comfort close to the Patagonian peaks. Alternatively, you can venture in and out of the park on day trips from Puerto Natales or even pass through the park as part of your journey from Chile to the Argentina town of El Calafate.

Have we convinced you yet? Speak to a Destination Expert about curating a tailor made Patagonia itinerary just for you, or check out our most popular Patagonia tours here.   

Thanks to Melenama for the title image of this blog.

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