What to see in Chile

Torres del Paine National Park

Tourist attractions Torres del Paine National Park

If you long to feel humbled by nature on a spectacular scale, a trip to Torres del Paine is unbeatable. Situated in Chilean Patagonia, this UNESCO biosphere reserve is recognised as one of the most beautiful, untouched natural environments on planet earth. A land of glacial lakes, Magellanic forests, granite mountains and turquoise rivers, Torres del Paine is the final frontier for intrepid travellers wanting to experience the glorious natural beauty of Patagonia. If you travel to Torres del Paine you can expect to see an array of unique wildlife such as condors, Andean deer, foxes, guanacos and even elusive pumas!

The best time to visit Torres del Paine is between December and February, during Chilean summer. At this time of year, you can enjoy up to 17 daylight hours a day, although the trails will also be busier with hikers. Many who visit Torres del Paine National Park choose to stay in Puerto Natales, the nearest town and a great jumping-off point for the magical landscapes of Patagonia. Alternatively, camping conditions during the summer are generally good and there are also a number of accommodation options and 'refugios' within the national park itself.

At the heart of Torres del Paine is Cordillera del Paine and its three granite peaks, or 'Paine Horns’, after which the park is named. This is the highlight of the popular Mirador Las Torres Trek, although several different trail routes offer options to suit all kinds of experience levels. Alternatively, bus and car tours enable visitors to tick off all the highlights within a single day, whilst the ‘W’ and ‘O’ routes offer the most challenging trails that can take up to a week or more to complete. 

Things to see in Torres del Paine National Park

At every turn, nature enchants and bewilders all who visit Torres del Paine. There are plenty of natural wonders to see, depending on the routes you choose to follow. One of the best things to see in Torres del Paine is the Salto Grande waterfall, situated on the Paine River that leads off of Nordenskjold Lake. The Salto Grande lookout grants spectacular views of the 10-metre high waterfall and the surrounding landscapes. The scenery here is largely barren due to a devastating fire in 2011, but somehow this adds to the view, providing a contrast to the crashing turquoise waters of the Salto Grande itself.

trip to Torres del Paine would be incomplete without contemplating the reflective waters of Lake Pehoe. Fed by the Paine River, this tranquil lake is a highlight of any tour of the park. From its shoreline, you can contemplate fantastic views of the Cuernos del Paine mountains and watch the local wildlife, such as guanacos who come to graze along the shore. The ethereal reflective glow of Lake Pehoe is the result of glacial rock dust that settles on the water's surface.

Just as you begin to think the beauty of Lake Pehoe cannot be matched, Grey Lake is another of the most magical things to see in Torres del Paine National Park. This glacial lake is fed by the Grey Glacier, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. In fact, if you visit Grey Lake, you’re likely to see large icebergs floating along the surface of the lake. The Grey Glacier can be viewed from the lakeshore or from the John Garner Pass, as part of the challenging ‘W’ route. 

Finally, a trip to Torres del Paine is incomplete without visiting the Mirador Las Torres, the most famous view in the entire park. A lookout at the base of the three granite ‘Paine Horns’, to reach the Mirador Las Torres requires a one-day hike, which includes a number of strenuous uphill climbs. Despite this, the view is more than worth the effort and the Mirador Las Torres trek is the most popular thing to do in Torres del Paine. 

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