Torres del Paine Information
Here below is information about Torres del Paine that we hope you will find helpful.
How big is the Torres del Paine National Park?
The Park covers 182,000 sq hectares and is the jewel in Chile’s tourist crown. Just why it’s worth travelling 4hrs from Santiago on a plane and then driving a further 5 hrs by car is only apparent when you stand and stare in amazement at the unbelievable sight of this monumental cluster of mountain peaks that appear to stand all on their own in the middle of an otherwise flat plateau.
W Trek Custom Itineraries
We specialise in the creation of custom itineraries and possess unique local knowledge of the Patagonia area, where we have a locally-based office and our staff are on hand to ensure you have support should you need it. We offer to create a customised, self-guided or guided W Trek program for you be it 3, 4, or more nights’ accommodation in refugios (or hotels), with in and out transfers from Puerto Natales and/or El Calafate, and pre and post Torres del Paine accommodation included. We can also add in kayak and/or ice hiking at Grey Glacier into the rest of your Patagonia or full South American Itinerary. Another option is to stay pre and/or post the W trek in one of the luxury lodges in Torres del Paine or Puerto Natales, which, of course, we can also arrange.
Where is the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre?
The Welcome Centre is located in the Eastern sector of Torres del Paine about 1.5km from the
entrance to Hotel Las Torres, but close to Refugios Central and Norte and a short distance from
Only if you are entering the park at the Eastern end will you need to enter the Welcome Centre.
Here you need to show that you have confirmed reservations for accommodation on the W trek, if you are staying over. You also need to present, or fill in a visitors form.
There are public WC’s here as well as information.
Entering The Park
Visitors need to register at the park entrance they enter by and pay for their entry ticket there.
These are: Laguna Amarga, Largo Sarmiento and Serrano:
Laguna Amarga is located on the Eastern side of the park 150km (2hrs drive) on Ruta 9 from Puerto Natales, which goes via the border village of Cerro Castillo, when the road becomes Ruta Y 150.
Lago Sarmiento is also located on the Eastern side of the park 150km (2hrs drive) on Ruta 9 from Puerto Natales, which goes via the border village of Cerro Castillo, when the road becomes Ruta Y 150 and then at the sign post fork left instead of right (right goes to Laguna Amarga entrance). NOTE: That this entry is often CLOSED and not used that much.
Serrano is 80km (1hr drive), on Ruta 9, from Puerto Natales past the Milodon Cave
(which is worth a visit).
Park Entrance Cost
Park entrance cost in 2018 was Ch$25.000 or approx USD35 per person.
The Park is administered by CONAF (“Corporacion Nacional Forestal”) and income is distributed throughout the organization. The CONAF admin centre is located within the park at the northern end of Lago del Toro, or 11 km past the Explora hotel heading west towards the Rio Serrano end. Here there is an information centre and exhibits the geographical make-up of the Park as well as information on the flora and fauna.
Trekking in Torres del Paine requires attention to safety, personal responsibility and commonsense. You need to come with the right clothes, be very aware of changing weather conditions and also bring other items such as a torch, water and food for the period when you are out trekking. If you are in need of serious emergency help it may well be VERY SLOW in arriving. Helicopters cannot often get into the park because of high winds and the long distance from Punta Arenas. Normally rescue from the remote sectors of the Park will mean transport by horseback or being carried on a stretcher over rough terrain to the nearest road vehicle and then be driven for 3 hrs to Puerto Natales or even longer to Punta Arenas.
Torres del Paine Zone Self Drive
The benefit of having you own rent a car is that you can go from place to place when you want and you have total independence. If you intend to drive around to the sights and not trek much then a car may be a good option, especially if you are four or more people together.
The unseen disadvantage to renting a car is that unless you use it each day you will be paying for something when it is in the car park, as it may be for several days if you are trekking in Torres del Paine. And if you are trekking you will have to leave it in one place, but then need to get back to that place after the trek, which may require a private transfer to get you back to where the car is. It also costs money with petrol (gas if you are from the United States) and there is a fee to pay to take it across the border to Argentina.
ExperienceChile.Org can arrange rent a car from Punta Arenas, El Calafate and Puerto Natales.
Torres del Paine Zone Rent-a-Car
We offer rent a car as part of any itinerary we are creating for you, but not as a stand-alone service. The advantages to renting a car are that you have total independence to go where you want when you want. The disadvantage is that the driver will usually get tired, miss a lot of the stunning scenery and ultimately often have the problem to get back to where the car is left if you end up do the W Trek in Torres del Paine, for example.
If you feel a car is the way to go, remember that you will need one sufficiently large enough not only for you and your passengers, but also for all your bags.
We can offer rent a car with pick up from Punta Arenas airport or city centre, Puerto Natales city centre, El Calafate airport or city centre, Puerto Montt airport or city centre and Coyhaique Balmaceda airport.
There is NO option to collect or drop off a rent a car in Torres del Paine National Park.
To take a car over the border requires a special permit, which we can arrange and to drop a car off at a different city location to the pick-up location there is a drop-off fee.
We work with one particular, reliable, rent a car provider for the Patagonia area and here below are the car options we can offer along with an approx daily rate in USD. Please note that this rate is approx until we can get an up-to-date cost which will depend on full details of pick-up time, drop off time, location of pick up and drop off.
In the meantime please mention in your enquiry the type of car you want, time of pick-up, where and time and place of drop off.
Distances & Fuel
Distances within the park can be quite long between refugios, hosterias and campsites. The park is also a 2 hr drive from Puerto Natales and visitors should therefore ensure that they have full fuel tanks when leaving Puerto Natales if they are in their own car rental. Cerro Castillo, about half way between Puerto Natales and the Torres del Paine park entrances, sometimes has petrol but can also be sold out. There is an emergency supply of petrol in the park near the CONAF centre close to Posada Rio Serrano, but again, this should not be relied upon.
BETWEEN PUDETO JETTY AND REFUGIO PAINE GRANDE
This service is subject to local weather conditions and can be delayed or cancelled.
Reservations are NOT taken in advance. You need to organise your crossing directly at Pudeto or Refugio Paine Grande. The journey takes about 25mins.
You need to pay in Chilean Pesos even though prices below are shown in USD, but in high season they accept other currencies too (established hard currencies like Euro and USD).
One way is approx USD40 per person / Return fare is less than two singles
One backpack is included, but USD10 per extra backpack up to 50Kg)
Flaura & Fauna
With regard to vegetation Torres del Paine can be divided into four different zones that relate to the different environments and conditions in the area.
These zones are:
Pre-Andean Shrub land.
Magellan Deciduous Forest and Andean Desert.
Among the varied types of vegetation are these principal verities:
This is a herb that has adapted to the cold and dry conditions found growing principally in the areas around Lago Sarmiento, the Salto Grande and Mirador Nordenskjöld.
These are woods comprising native trees such as Lenga and Coigue found in the areas around Lago Grey,Valle Pingo, close to Glacier Grey, Valle Frances and Valle Los Perros.
A type of grass that grows principally in humid conditions.
The Calafate (the Argentine town El Calafate has its name derived from this plant) is a plant that produces a small, black fruit and yellow flower.
A very small tree that produces a red flower.
A floral herb with orange-coloured flowers.
A medicinal herb that produces a rose-coloured flower.
Often confused with lavender because of its move-coloured flowering, which is is not.
There are 25 species of mammal including:
The Chilean Huemul and many Guanacos.
There are also 105 species of bird including fifteen birds of prey species.
Among the birds of prey are:
The Andean Condor.
Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle.
Magellanic Owl and Austral Pygmy Owl.
Other species include:
Arrivals & Transfers
What transport is there for Torres del Paine?
ExperienceChile.Org will include in the itinerary regular bus transfers and private local transfers. We can also arrange rent a car and private long-distance transfers.
What are the transfer routes for Torres del Paine?
- Regular Buses and Private Transfers
- El Calafate to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to El Calafate
- El Calafate to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales
- Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales
- Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to El Calafate
- Puerto Natales to el Calafate / El Calafate to Puerto Natales
- Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales / Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas
- Private Transfer
For those with a higher budget, or for private groups travelling together, a private transfer between cities and / or in to and out of Torres del Paine is the way to go. A private transfer will go at the times you want and take you door to door.
Can I rent a car for Torres del Paine?
For those who wish to have total independence having your own car use is the ultimate winner. You can go where you want when you want. Remember that if you want to take the car across the border a permit is required and this requires about a week’s notice.
How to get to Torres del Paine
What are the principal entry points to Torres del Paine?
Most commercial flights will land at Punta Arenas some 3.000km south from Santiago. Note: There are NO commercial flights from Buenos Aires nor El Calafate to Punta Arenas. The direct flight will take just under 4hrs and the one that stops off at Puerto Montt en-route will take around 4.5hrs.
From the airport you would then either be met by a private transfer service (if you have contracted one with ExperienceChile.Org), take the regular bus from Punta Arenas city centre to Puerto Natales and change to another bus to get to TDP, have asked ExperienceChile.Org to pre-arrange a regular bus pick-up at the airport, or have arranged for your own car rental. Note that a permit is required to take any car across the border in to Argentina.
You need to fly to El Calafate in Argentina from Buenos Aires or Ushuaia. Here you can stay overnight with an option to go to El Chalten (3hrs away by road) and / or visit Perito Moreno glacier the following day and then the next day come over to TDP. From El Calafate you can take the regular bus across the border (departs 08:00hrs) to Puerto Natales (arrives 13:00hrs approx) and change to the regular bus that then goes to TDP departing around 14:00hrs, or arrange a private transfer service or a car rental. Also from El Calafate ExperienceChile.Org can organise a direct bus transfer to TDP (Laguna Amarga) departing El Calafate at 05:30hrs, which takes 6hrs.
NOTE: No fruit, raw meat, raw vegetables, seeds or cheese is allowed over the border in either direction. If you try to do so you WILL be fined. There is a cafeteria at the Chile border where you can buy snacks as well as at the mini-markets on the W-Trek in TDP.
Navimag operates a commercial ferry ship, which also takes passengers, from Puerto Montt. This ship arrives to Puerto Natales and offers a good-value cruise that passes through the channels and fiords in the area en-route to Puerto Natales (the cruise is available from Puerto Natales too) and ExperienceChile.Org can arrange the reservations. From Puerto Natales you either take the regular bus to TDP, have a pre-arranged private transfer meet you or organise a rent a car.
- Punta Arenas to Laguna Amarga in Torres del Paine (TDP) – 370km (5hrs drive)
- Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales – 250km (3hrs drive)
- Puerto Natales to TDP Laguna Amarga – 120km (2hrs to drive)
- Puerto Natales to TDP Rio Serrano (newest route via Milodon-Cave road) – 80km (1hr to drive)
Places of Interest
Torres del Paine National Park
There are numerous activity excursions to choose from in and around Torres del Paine. What follows are only some of the more typical places of interest and activities. Some excursions can be done by touring in a vehicle, but most are done on foot and in some cases on horseback.
Apart from the staggering visual scenery Torres del Paine is also home to many varieties of bird species including the Condor, and rare types of flora and fauna such as the Puma and Guanaco.
The Administration Centre (Sede) This is located in the sector near to Rio Serrano and is the base for CONAF (the park administration people), the Carabineros (the Police). Here there is an excellent exhibition display of the geographical history of TDP and is well worth a visit for those who are interested to know how the amazing and spectacular geographic features of the areas were created.
FERRIER MIRADOR (VIEW POINT FERRIER)
Located near to Hosteria Lago Grey, the return hike is about 7hrs with panoramic views over GreyLake, Pingo Glacier, Torres del Paine Massif and the Cuernos de Paine. The trek involves some difficult uphill stretches.
From this lake is a great view to the Paine Massif and in the immediate area is the Nothofagus wood with Lenga and Nirres trees. The trek will be around 4hrs and not difficult.
Located “around” the other side of the Park (going in an anti-clock wise rotation), this is a very blue-coloured lake from which there is a great view to the towers of Torres del Paine and also home to many types of flora and fauna and especially good for bird watching. Accessible by vehicle.
Located about 1km up the track from Pudeto (from where the catamaran operates). Salto Grande means Large Waterfall. The viewing area is very close to the action and offers people the opportunity to see the power and hear the mighty rumble of vast volumes of water cascading through a narrow gap and then thunder down to the drop some 30mts below.
EL SENDERO DE LOS LAGOS (THE LAKES FOOTPATH)
The start of this trek is from the Estancia (Hosteria) Mirador del Paine – which is technically outside the Park. The trek takes about 8hrs and offers a great view of Lago Toro and a panoramic view of the TDP Massif, glaciers and other mountains. It ends in the Park not far from the Weber bridge, so you will need to be met at the end point. This trek is moderate in difficulty.
Key Places of Interest Torres del Paine W trek
EL SENDERO DE ASCENCIO
This trek will take around 8hrs return and starts from the Hotel Las Torres area. It passes through the AscencioValley and NothofagusForest and ends up at the Mirador (View Point) at 980mts from where there is a spectacular view of the three Towers of Paine and the Condor’s Nest, and magnificent rock formations. The trek is demanding and part of it can be done on horse back from Hotel Las Torres. It takes 2hrs to reach the Refugio Chileno and then another 2 hrs to reach the Mirador.
To get to the FrenchValley it is necessary to take the catamaran from Pudeto across the LakePehoe to Refugio Paine Grande. From here the trek enters in to the FrenchValley which offers stark and impressive views of Glacier Frances and Cuernos del Paine. The return trek is about 10hrs and quite demanding.
Access to Glacier Grey is either by boat from Hotel Lago Grey or by trek from Refugio Paine Grande. By boat from Hotel Lago Grey the excursion lasts about 3 hrs and offers a close-up view of the glacial face and the chance to drink samples of Whisky or Pisco with millennia-old ice! Trekking to Grey from Paine Grande takes about 4hrs and then on to the Mirador to see Glacier Grey closely takes another 1.5hrs (plus another 1.5hrs to return to Refugio Grey. From Refugio Grey you will need to take the boat to Hosteria Lago Grey or trek back to Refugio Paine Grande. The trek from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Grey is moderately demanding.
Clothes to Wear
Try to bring LAYERS of breathable clothes that can be taken off or put on easily to adapt to any change in weather and as you heat up and cool down on a trek. Cotton undershirts are NOT recommended – see below.
Ideally clothes such as:
Over your body skin: an under vest (long sleeved if possible) made, ideally, from synthetic fibres so it dries quickly. If very cold weather (ie early spring, winter months or autumn) then thermal underwear made from synthetic fibres. The reason for synthetic fibres is because when you are walking several hours you will build up a sweat and your under garments will get wet, this then gets cold when you stop and will make you cold unless the wet material dries quickly. Cotton does not dry quickly, whereas synthetic material will dry more quickly.
Over your under vest: a breathable top such as a fleece.
Over your fleece: a waterproof windbreaker over jacket.
For your legs: trekking pants, resistant to rain and wind, but made from a breathable material otherwise you will sweat. Jeans are NOT good as they can get wet and not dry.
Over your trekking pants: waterproof shell pants to go over your trekking pants in the event of heavy rain.
For your feet: wool or synthetic socks. Waterproof trekking boots with ankle support and none-slip sole. If new make sure you break them in prior to using them on a trek.
For your hands: gloves. Close to glaciers it can be very cold.
For your head: a warm hat (not a jockey cap), sunglasses and sun-protection cream and a headband to keep your ears warm when not using the hat.
For your personal use: a back pack for food, water and clothes.
For your safety: a battery-operated torch for when power is out or if you are arriving to a refugio in the dark. Take with you during the trek extra water and snacks. Prepare for all weather conditions and dress for the outdoors. Do NOT go off the trail because if you have the slightest incident such as twisting an ankle, you may not be found.
Average Temperatures in TDP during the year
Summer (Dec – Jan – Feb) Max + 23.5°c / Min + 0.8°c.
W Trek Map
Hotel Accommodation & W Trek Refugios Location Map ↓
When is Most Popular Time to Come to Torres del Paine?
The Summer: December, January and February is typically the most popular time for visitors because the weather is warmer and it is the Winter holiday period in the Northern hemisphere.
When is Best Time to Come to Torres del Paine?
To avoid the crowds the best time to visit is before mid November or after March.
When is the Best Month to Come to Torres del Paine?
The opinion of many is that April is the best month to come because usually the wind has died down, there are few people and the weather is often very good.
What are the Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit Trek Trails?
The W trek is called so because the footpath (or trekking trail) takes the form of a “W” on the map when looked down upon from above. The Circuit Trek is the footpath that includes the W Trek but also goes around the back of the Central Massif, effectively offering a perimeter path from where you can start and end at.
How can I book Accommodation on the W Trek?
There are serviced camp sites, refugios, and in one place: Cuernos, there are also private cabins, all of which you can book through us. You can also stay in hotels, certainly at the eastern end at the Las Torres trail head; and in the western end at Grey. We can also make a program for you based at Puerto Natales with daily excursions into Torres del Paine to the different trail heads. Alternatively, we can book the luxury lodges and you can do the W Trek, or parts of it, from these hotels.
Today & Five Day Forecast (C°)
Torres del Paine National Park
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Remember, our speciality is to create a travel itinerary custom-built to your needs.