Fall in love with the Torres del Paine: Discover the many routes, viewpoints and so much more…
By: Chile Travel | Date: 8 November, 2019 | In: Adventure , Nature ,
Torres del Paine is a favorite destination for nature lovers. It is also a must for trekking aficionados with some of the best circuits, prized by amateurs and experts from all over the world. And for many photographers it is home to the most scenic landscapes on the planet.
Visit Chilean Patagonia and fall in love with Torres del Paine!
With an area of 227,298 hectares (561665.59 acres), Torres del Paine National Park ranges from the Paine mountain range and its famous massif, which includes the Paine Grande summits and the well-known towers that give it its name, to the “Horns” the most iconic image of these granite giants that the whole world recognizes as iconic.
In fact, Torres del Paine is huge! So, you can imagine the long list of activities it has to offer!
In Torres del Paine National Park there are numerous natural attractions, such as the Paine River, the Grey, Pehoé, Nordenskjold and Sarmiento lakes, and the Grey, Pingo, Tyndall and Geikie glaciers, belonging to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, as well as numerous valleys that welcome exceptional Patagonian flora and fauna.
In addition to fish, reptiles and birds, the Torres del Paine National Park hosts 25 species of mammals, among which, of course, the Guanaco and two types of fox stand out.
Of course, the Puma is also one of the emblematic species present, but it is not very likely that you will encounter one of them, as they are reclusive.
In 1978, the park was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO and has been considered by many to be the eighth natural wonder of the planet.
For those who have the opportunity and are interested to explore this impressive destination at the southern end of our planet, the experience will undoubtedly be a rewarding one, the satisfaction of achieving physical challenges experiencing unparalleled landscapes.
Lakes and lagoons, immaculate and imposing glaciers, abrupt climate changes that can have you experiencing all four seasons in a single day, a wind that will inflate not only your clothes, but your heart and imagination to fly over the mountains, Magellanic forests, and glaciers make a visit to the Torres del Paine a must-do.
In order to enjoy the experience to the fullest, its important to take a few precautions.
ACCESS AND ACCOMODATION
The first thing is to be adequately informed. Access to the Torres del Paine is quite easy and expedite, you can go either in your own car or in a rental, or with any of the tour companies, or even by bus, taking a route 100 kilometers from Puerto Natales, to reach this spectacular National Park.
There are different options for accommodation in the Torres del Paine, from the luxurious hotels with spectacular views to the camping sites ( managed by the National Forestry Corporation CONAF, which are free) and the shelters located in strategic places along the different circuits.
All camping sites and shelters operate with prior reservations and given the high demand, especially in the spring and summer of the southern hemisphere, it is mandatory to make a reservation to visit them. To do this you must visit the website www.parquetorresdelpaine.cl where you can learn more about the park and organize your trip day by day It is essential to have your itinerary ready so as not to lose your place in any activity or attraction!
THE GREAT “O”
It is the most extreme and challenging trek that, with over 100 kilometers (62miles) of travel, crowns the experience after about 8 to 9 days of intense hiking. It is essential to have an adequate physical condition for this challenge, in addition to the mountain equipment necessary for extreme conditions. There is no dry season in Torres del Paine!
The great “O” begins at the entrance of the Park, in Laguna Amarga, starting this first day of acclimatization gently, counterclockwise and enjoying the scenery with glaciers and forests of lengas, coigues and Antarctic beech or “ñirres”.
The following days will be of increasing effort, with breaks that allow you to enjoy the incomparable view of the glaciers of Southern Ice Fields, until you reach the long-awaited Base of the Towers from where you can marvel at the imposing massifs that give their name to the Park.
THE FAMOUS “W”
Taking its name from the shape of the route that continues from the Grey Refuge, the famous “W” is perhaps the best-known circuit, being suitable for all visitors with normal physical condition. Carrying out this adventure with appropriate gear and clothing all climates is a must.
If you want to do the full circuit, get ready to walk 8 hours a day for between 4 to 6 days, depending on the weather conditions, which can always take you by surprise.
Again, the prize for this effort will be the view of the summits that dominate the park. You won’t forget it, and you’ll know that any effort will have been worth it, even if tiredness would like to beat you sometimes.
You will remember every moment of the walk, the nights and the silent sunrises, the force of the wind, the ice on your cheeks, the colors of the sunset on a glacier. Spectacular!
THE TORRES DEL PAINE FOR EVERYONE!
It is also true that not everyone can or wants to spend days on hikes that, although recommended, are not achievable by all, either because of the lack of time available for adventure, less favorable physical conditions, or simply because they do not feel like it!
The Torres del Paine are for everyone, and while the “O” and “W” are the most renowned, there are also circuits ranging from a 1 hour tour, so it is also perfectly possible to do day tours or adapt your experience to the time you have available , no problems.
Some of these routes don’t even require official admission to the Park, so you won’t necessarily have to pay their cost (about $50 a voucher for three days). The most recommendable situation, is to have your own or rental car, which will give you the freedom to choose places and schedules, at your own pace.
Laguna Cebolla (Onion Lagoon) is one of those places available at no cost, before the entrance to the Park, from where you can take a relaxed walk through flat terrain, which can last for hours only contemplating the landscape, with a spectacular view of the “Torres” and the observation of the Patagonian landscape in all its splendor, particularly bird watching at the Lagoon.
Getting to the Torre Base is also possible with a day’s adventure.
This time, much more demanding, with an 8-hour walk to and from Laguna Amarga, to get to a view of the classic postcard of the Torres del Paine.
But there are also viewpoints worth visiting if your time is limited. The Ferrier, Condor and Cuernos viewpoints offer spectacular views and are accessible after a few hours of walking, some of them with relatively little effort.
The routes are full of attractions, from the fauna and flora (it is common to encounter groups of guanacos grazing in the surroundings) to the waterfalls, lagoons and the magical landscape of the Patagonian steppe, often against the backdrop of the Towers and cuernos.
From friendly, easy and welcoming routes, to some more challenging ones with steep climbs, but in by all means possible for the less experienced, the shortest and least demanding trekking alternatives are many and within everyone’s reach. Fall in love with Torres del Paine!
TRULY FOR EVERYONE
In recent times, the Torres del Paine National Park, following the global trend (and awareness) of making spaces accessible to all, which has also begun in Chile, has implemented inclusive experiences that open up the experience of this wonderful park to people with different abilities.
This is how, together with support teams, there are already two visitors who have been able to reach the Base of the Towers … in a wheelchair! This, thanks to the implementation of a wheelchair created for this challenge with a narrower structure, of light material and all-terrain wheels, which has already been donated to the park.
A goal that is, of course, even greater for people with some kind of limitation of mobility, but it is important to know that it is possible, and that there are the conditions to make this adventure a reality.
The same should be noted from the first group of visually and auditorily impaired people who, were able to complete the “O” circuit, the most difficult and challenging circuit. Congratulations and our admiration for all of them…
And you? What are you waiting for? There are no excuses for not coming to the end of the world to have the adventure of a lifetime!