Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most beautiful and spectacular landscapes in South America. The snow-capped jagged granite peaks, lush green valleys, blue and green lakes and great glaciers of ice contrast and complement each other to produce a stunning setting. The scenery and mountainous landscape make Torres del Paine one of the world's great trekking destinations - options range from extended circuits taking over a week to day hikes. The most popular (and must-do) day trek is an ascent along the beautiful valley of the Rio Asencio up to the viewpoint overlooking the Torres del Paine (Mirador Las Torres) - the three towers which are emblematic of the park. The final ascent over rough boulders is difficult but rewarded with the view of the granite peaks rising dramatically to the sky (often with their peaks shrouded in clouds) over a lagoon and landscape shaped by glacial ice and the elements. There are numerous other trekking options as well as the chance of a boat ride on Lago Grey to get close to the blue-tinged ice of the Grey Glacier (and enjoy a pisco sour with glacier ice when there), kayaking on the lake near some discarded glacier chunks or horse-riding through the stunning landscapes. The parks other attractions include the Salto Grande Waterfall, the breathtaking views from the Mirador Ferrier and the wildlife which inhabits the park including the ubiquitous guanaco, fox, rhea, condor and flamingo.
- W Trail
- The W trail is the shorter of the classic Torres del Paine treks, comprising three long hikes between the mountain peaks and the connecting trails between them. The trail begins with the classic trek to the viewpoint underneath the famous three towers, the return trip taking 8-9 hours. Starting from Refugio Las Torres, you'll walk along the valley of Rio Ascencio before climbing over steep boulders deposited by glaciers to the mirador or viewpoint. From the base of the towers, the three granite monoliths rise imperiously over a landscape shaped by glacial action. The next day is a gentle trek along Lago Nordenskjold to Refugio Los Cuernos followed by the longest trekking day up the Valle del Frances. The destination is a mirador on the other side of the three towers and on the route there is a stunning view of the Glaciar del Frances. Returning along the valley, you walk to Refugio Paine Grande through forests and grassland. The final day's trek is along the eastern banks of Lago Grey to Refugio Grey with stunning views of the lake and glacier. From here you can take a boast ride on Lago Grey to observe the glacier up close or try ice walking or ice climbing on the glacier itself.
- Torres del Paine Circuit
- The full Torres del Paine circuit incorporates the classic 'W' trek along with the extended route over the northern boundaries of the Torres del Paine mountains. Starting from Refugio Las Torres or Guarderia Laguna Amarga, you walk north to the Seron camp. The next day the trek is along the banks of Lago Paine and Rio Paine, through forests and grasslands to Refugio Dickson. The views of the north side of the Paine Massif and the South Patagonia Ice Field and Dickson Glacier are spectacular. The next section is the wildest and least accessible section of the trek, along Rio Los Perros and through ancient virgin beech forests to a campsite at Laguna Los Perros. The following day there is a steep ascent to the highest point of the circuit, Paso John Gardner at 1241m, where you are rewarded with a stunning view of the Patagonian ice fields and the enormous Grey Glacier as it descends the valley into Lago Grey. The route continues south along forested slopes, gorges and streams to Refugio Grey. From here you can try ice trekking on the glacier or continue along the 'W' route to complete the Torres del Paine circuit.
Travel to Torres del Paine
Organised group tours: The following tours for Torres del Paine are available:
Located at the southern tip of mainland South America, the rugged territory of Patagonia is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and particularly for the incredible Torres del Paine. At its heart is the Torres del Paine National Park, where pink granite towers, iridescent blue lakes and surreally sculpted glaciers compete for the viewer's admiration. This is also the setting for one of the world's great trekking challenges, the 130 kilometre circuit of the Torres del Paine Massif. Involving 6 days of hiking, by way of several lakeside camps and the remote John Garner Pass, this is the ultimate Patagonia trekking holiday: enhanced by excursions on foot to the most spectacular viewpoints in the Ascencio and Frances valleys. Our Patagonia holiday itinerary now includes a day's hike along the northern edge of Lake Nordenskjold, which effectively completes the whole circuit of the Torres del Paine. A support team means you are free to devote your energies to enjoying what has been voted the most dramatic mountain region on the planet!
Southern Patagonia presents a veritable wilderness of huge glaciers and awe-inspiring granite peaks, the most famous of which are the Torres del Paine and Cerro Fitz Roy. Our popular itinerary accesses all of the best viewpoints, without the need for sustained multi-day trekking or backpacking. Throughout the trip, we make use of comfortable fixed camps with excellent facilities, including hot showers. We begin our adventure with a 6-day exploration of the Paine region, including excursions to Lago Grey and Lago Pehoe and day-walks up to the base of the majestic rock towers. Transferring to Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park, we stop-off at the unmissable and extremely impressive Perito Moreno Glacier. Then, 3 days of trekking will enable us to seek out the best views of Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. This is your chance to experience one of the wildest and most spectacular corners of the world.
This is an outstanding circuit for the trekker looking to complete a spectacular foray around the high peaks of Torres del Paine. On the initial stages porters carry some of our gear (and we carry some of our own gear) as we follow remote trails through undulating grasslands and woodlands to the least visited part of the national park. Hiking above the forests we enter a world of granite peaks, hanging glaciers and glacial lakes as we forge a route over the John Garner Pass. From the pass we are rewarded with magnificent views of the Grey Glacier and as far as the Patagonian Ice Cap before completing a rugged descent to the shores of Lago Grey. A day is set aside to explore the surface of the Grey Glacier using crampons, which for many is a trip highlight. We continue our circuit to the south for a different perspective of the 'towers' from the 'W' trek. We enjoy forays up the French Valley and the Ascensio Valley before we finally ascend to the base of Torres del Paine for one of the most unforgettable mountain views in the world.
Gazing upon the towering, steeple-like peaks of Patagonia’s Cordillera del Paine for the first time, you’d swear they were lifted straight from a Lord of the Rings movie. But these massive rock formations are very real. Built for physically-active travellers, not hardcore mountaineers, this trip brings you to remote, lesser-visited sections of the Torres del Paine National Park and the truly unimaginable scenery to be found here. With top-notch mountain guides at your side, you’ll be able to concentrate on spotting condors in flight instead of staring blankly at a map.
Oct 2009 (3rd ed.), 416 pages
Trekking in the Patagonian Andes
Sep 2009 (4th ed.), 284 pages