The Torres del Paine National Park is perhaps the most spectacular region of Chilean Patagonia. The breathtaking peaks and ridges of the Paine Massif form a postcard-perfect backdrop for 927 square miles of ancient glaciers, windswept grasslands, and turquoise lakes. Paine is a Tehuelche word meaning "blue"—a reference to the park's resplendent glacial waters.
Declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1978, the park also protects guanacos, foxes and pumas. Flamingos, parakeets, condors and rheas are among more than 100 avian species found here.
Although adjacent to the Andes, Torres del Paine is a separate and much newer geologic formation. The salmon-colored Torres (or Towers) are among highest sheer drops on the planet, with a vertical height of nearly 10,000 feet. The Cuernos (or Horns) are rugged granite spires, varying in color from pale grey to deep black.
Accommodations within the park range from luxurious to rustic. Most lodges offer set programs of four, five or eight nights with full board and guided excursions. Visitors can spend their days trekking, horseback riding, or touring the lakes by boat or kayak. Day hikes can take you to the Towers, the breathtaking French Valley or Grey Glacier. Among birdwatchers, the hike to Lago Pingo is a favorite.
Multi-day backpacking treks can also be arranged; the park has over 150 miles of trail punctuated by campsites and refuges. The short "W" route—passing the Torres, the Cuernos and Glacier Grey—can be traversed in four or five days, while the full circuit around the massif can take eight to eleven days.
Torres del Paine can be reached by flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas (3.5 hours), followed by a land transfer of approximately five hours across the Patagonian steppe. Visitors can also cross the international border into Argentina by land near Cerro Castillo to explore Los Glaciares National Park—site of the Perito Moreno glacier and other wonders of the southern ice fields.
The Patagonian summer stretches from November to early March, with long days and photo perfect evening light. The warmest months are December and January, with highs near 65° F and lows near 40° F. Temperatures range from 60° F to near 30° F during the shoulder months. Winter (May through August) is characterized by fleeting daylight, highs near 40° F and freezing nights. Precipitation is light year-round. Winds are strongest from late November to mid-March.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Chile and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
"The Paine massif is unrivaled...In its colors and form it is without doubt one of the most fantastic and spectacular sights that human imagination can conceive."