Things to do in Torres del Paine National Park - Patagonia, Chile
Patagonia is a region in South America shared by Argentina and Chile, with the Andes Mountains in between. The Chilean side includes glacial fjords and temperate rainforest in one of the most famous National Parks in the world, Torres del Paine. There are many great things to do in Torres del Paine, from hiking and horse-back riding to kayaking, all while enjoying the most breath-taking views you can imagine.
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What is Torres del Paine?
Torres del Paine National Park gets its name from the famous mountains towering over the area. Las Torres, as they’re called in Spanish, are part of the W-trek, one of the many trails you can hike in the National Park.
The Paine massif with its 3 towers is not part of the Andean mountains separating the Chilean side of Patagonia from the Argentine side.
Chilean Patagonia claims independency with their own flag, unique dialect, and traditions. It was inhabited by natives known as Tehuelche, who gave the Paine massif its name. Paine in the local language means “blue”.
Things to do in Torres del Paine
Depending on what you like to do during your travels, there is something for everyone here.
It’s a National Park, so obviously all activities include nature and the great outdoors.
Hiking to Mirador Las Torres
There are tons of great hiking opportunities in Torres del Paine National Park.
2 of the most famous hiking treks in Patagonia are the O-circuit and W-trek.
Both are multiple day trails from start to finish, but you can also hike parts of them as separate day trips.
One of the best day hikes is to the bottom of the towers, Mirador Las Torres. The 18 kilometer hike takes you to a lake at the bottom of the famous towers giving the park its name.
Waterfalls and lakes
Patagonia, and especially Torres del Paine, is famous for its incredible nature. Thundering waterfalls run down steep cliffs and feed crystal clear lakes. It’s no wonder why the native Tehuelche people called the area “Paine”, meaning blue in the native language.
Most lakes in the national park are fed by the many glaciers, like Lake Nordenskjöld.
One of the only exceptions is Lake Sarmiento, which is a 300 meter deep closed water system.
Salto Grande waterfall drops from the Paine river into Lago del Toro, with a vast mountain backdrop. Paine river is fed from Dixon glacier, one of the many glaciers in the National Park.
The Grey Glacier is one of the most famous glaciers in Torres del Paine National Park, and should definitely be on your to-do list.
Walk across the black sand beach along Grey Lake to get close to miniature icebergs floating in the water. Pieces of the glacier break off each spring and are washed onto the shore.
At hotel Lago Grey you can book a boat trip on the lake, taking you even closer to the glacier. The trip starts from the beach at Lago Grey hotel and continues on a catamaran boat for about 2 ½ hours to Grey Glacier. Tickets for adults, depending on the season, are between $65.000-80.000 Chilean pesos.
Horse-back riding in Torres del Paine
Explore the incredible nature of the national park from the back of a horse, guided by traditional Gauchos.
Whether you’re experienced or not doesn’t matter, all equipment is supplied, the horses are well trained, and the Gauchos take very good care of you.
Explore the wildlife
As one of the few almost untouched areas in the world, Patagonia and especially Torres del Paine, have an abundance of wildlife to see and experience.
Over 80 wild pumas roam freely around the national park, and sometimes even get quite close to hikers and hotels.
Wild guanacos, lama look-a-like creatures from the camel family, graze all over the plains of Torres del Paine. They come so close to the roads you can almost pet them.
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