- Southern Patagonia, Torres del Paine & Tierra del Fuego
- Torres del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most spectacular national parks in the country. A world biosphere reserve, it has a huge variety of plant and animal species which, with its incredibly beautiful setting has made it an almost unequalled destination for hikers and backpackers, ecology-lovers and adventure sportsmen alike. Snow-capped mountain peaks, cascading rivers and waterfalls, glaciers and mirrored lakes: in all respects Torres del Paine national park deserves its reputation.
Torres del Paine National Park was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978, the Torres del Paine National Park (situated in the Magallanes 12th region in Chile) is internationally recognized as one of the most beautiful, unique and uncontaminated places on the planet. It is a place of lakes, rivers, waterfalls, glaciers, forests and incredible wildlife, all of which make it an exciting destination for wildlife observers and adventure sportsmen alike.
Torres del Paine National Park Basic Information
How to get there: Santiago to Punta Arenas: by air. Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales: overground. From Puerto Natales to the park (by private and public road), it is posible to go one of two ways. The first is : from the north exit of the city, after approximately 23 km, take the turn-off to the left, 122 km more to the Administrative office. 2) On the same exit north of Puerto Natales, but take the turn-off to the right at kilometer 23, and on this route, you will enter the park through the Porteria Sarmiento, the park main gate.
When to go: Year round.
Opening Hours: Everyday from 8:30 to 20:30
Climate: Es de clima trasandino y en las alturas clima de hielo. Las estaciones con mejores condiciones climáticas son primavera y verano. Temperatura media en verano: 10,8°C. Temperatura máxima promedio en verano: 23,5°C. Temperatura mínima promedio en verano: 0,8°C.
Services: Accommodation, meals, transportation, Conaf
Infrastructure and Services in Torres del Paine National Park
Ranger Stations and Control Posts: The administration area is located in the Toro Lake sector, 145 km from the city of Puerto Natales and 33 km inside the principal entrance to the park.
In the building there is also a visitors center where you can find environmental activities and information. The opening hours are from 8.30 to 8.00.
The ranger stations are situated in Sarmiento Lake entrance, Laguna Amarga entrance, Laguna Azul entrance, Pehoe Lake ranger station, Grey Lake ranger station and Laguna Verde ranger station.
Camping Areas: The different campgrounds are run by the administrators. They are the following:
- Lake Pehoe camping: located in the Pehoe Lake sector, 138 km from Puerto Natales and 12 km from the Administration Office. Mr. Sergio Zalek administrates it. Address: Arturo Prat 270 telephone 411355, Puerto Natales.
- Rio Serrano camping: it is found in the Toro Lake sector, 157 km from Puerto Natales and 7km from the Administration Office. There are 28 sites Mr. Sergio Zalek administrates them.
- Laguna Azul camping: it is found in the Laguna Azul sector, with 15 sites, administrated by C.C.A.F La Araucana. Address: Bories No 466, telephone: 411157, Puerto Natales.
Picnic areas: There are picnic areas in Lake Pehoé, Laguna Azul and Rio Serrano campgrounds.
Shelters and Camps: On the long trails there are primitive places, shelters and camps for visitors to rest and stay the night. For more information consult the park administration or the park rangers.
Food: At the Laguna Amarga ranger station there is a kiosk, which sells non-perishable\dried foods.
Other services: There are also facilities for rafting and horse riding. Telephones can be found in the Administration Office, in the Pehoe Lodge and in the Explora Hotel. There is also a first aid health center in the park (Administration Office) and a police station.
Natural Heritage in Torres del Paine National Park
Geomorphology: The landscape of the National Park is owed to earth movements which occurred 12 million years ago, and gave birth to its incredible peaks such as el Monte Paine Grande (3.050msnm) Los Cuernos del Paine (2.600, 2.400, 2.200 msnm) Torres del Paine (2250, 2460 and 2500 msnm,) Fortaleza, (2800), Escudo (2700 msnm.) Some of these have with permanent glaciers.
Hydrography: Due to the vicinity of the southern ice sheet, the park has innumerable lakes, lagoons and rivers that owe their formation to the melting of the glaciers of which they are a part. Of the lakes stand out the Sarmiento, Nordenskjold, Pehoe de Grey, Paine and Dickson and there are also many lagoons of various sizes. The biggest rivers are the Pingo, Paine, Serrano and Grey. The Paine is the most important (which originates in Lake Dickson, extreme north) and borders the massif of the east, crossing various lakes, and finishing by flowing into the Toro lake, in the extreme south of the reserve. On its route, the river plunges down three spectacular waterfalls: Paine, Salto Grande and Salto Chico.
Flora: Inside the park at the Porteria Sarmiento we can find species that have their origin in desert environments, like the mata varrosa, the mata negra, the senecio and the calafate amongst the flowering plants, the estepa and coiron amongst the herbaceous. Now, inside the park, you can find small copses of lengua associated with herbaceous species like pasto ovillo, trebol and some flowering plants of great beauty like the capachitos and orchids which can be found again at the Laguna Azul and the Laguna Amarga.
Fauna: Of the wildlife, it is the guanacos that receive most visitors and they are found in the vicinity of the Porteria Sarmiento. However, it is also possible to see aquatic birds from the viewpoint in the Sede administration, where we see species such as cisne de cuello negro, pimpollo, tagua and huala, amongst others. Lesser rhea (ñandues) with their young can be observed inside the park, around Laguna Azul and the Sede Adminstrativa, and condors, can be observed close to the Pehoe ranger station. Inside the forest (the Lago Grey trail) we can find catitas, woodpeckers, austral blackbirds, long tailed meadowlarks, great horned owl and cometocinos.
Declared a World Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 1978, Torres del Paine National Park (located in Región de Magallanes, Chile) is internationally known as being one of the most beautiful, purest, and unpolluted places on earth. Its greatest attractions are its relief, lakes, flora and fauna, which make it an ideal destination for ecotourism and adventure sports.
Attractions in Torres del Paine National Park
What to see:
- Lake Grey: you can get to it passing by the administration area either by car or walking to Grey Glacier. There is a vessel sailing the lake up to the glacier.
- Salto Grande: you can get to it passing by the station in Lake Pehoé. You can also get to Salto Chico taking the main trail.
- Base de las Torres: walking through the signalled path, starting in the ranger's office in Amarga Lagoon.
What to do:
- Ice trekking
- Whitewater kayaking
- Enviromental education information.
- Wildlife observation
Trails in Torres del Paine National Park
In general, the trails are suitable for all types of people properly equipped with mountain clothes and equipment. There is a large network of trails with refuges that allow visitors to rest or stay the night.
- Pingo Zapata Circuit: The path starts at the Administration Office and follows the vehicles road until arriving at Lake Grey ranger station (18km.) The path then follows low hills until arriving at the Pingo refuge, until you come to the Zapata glacier.
- Paine Circuit: The paths goes around the Macizo Paine, first midway up a mountain and then rises up to 1.350 msnm, passing rivers, lakes and glaciers like the Grey, Dickson and Perros. Time required for route: 7 to 10 days walking.
- Dickson Glacier Circuit: The trail begins in the laguna Amarga ranger station following the plain until the Seron camp, and after continuing over little hills, passes the Coiron camp and again follows the plain until the Dickson refuge, from where one can see the glacier.
- Grey Glacier - Frances Glacier Circuit: The trail starts on an open plain which is highly exposed to the wind and then continues midway up the mountain until you arrive at the glaciers.
- Las Torres Circuit: The trail starts in the Amarga lagoon ranger station, taking the vehicles road for 7 km until the Cerro Paine ranch, and after, climbing up to the Chilean camp until arriving at the base of Torres del Paine (600msnm.)
- Paine Lake Circuit: The path starts in the Azul lagoon ranger station, until arriving at the laguna Cebolla and following to an old vehicular track until the Paine Lake refuge.
- Laguna Verde Circuit: The path begins in the Administration Office and follows a vehicular track for 2.5 km, then take the turning to the right to start climbing Sierra del Toro (800 msnm) and continuing over little hills until laguna Verde ranger station.
Weather in Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine has a cold and humid temperate climate. The maximum temperature reaches 20 C ° in summer and descends 0 °C in winter. The thermal sensation produced by the wind, sometimes causes the environmental temperature to fall 6 or 7 degrees.
The best season to visit the Torres del Paine National Park is between October and April. It is on these dates when there is less rainfall, more sunny days and more hours of light. In autumn and winter rains increase and it is likely that many services are closed, however, the least amount of tourists is an advantage to visit the park on this date for those seeking to see wildlife and greater tranquility.
We recommend that you Schedule your flight to arrive in Punta Arenas in the morning, so you are able to participate in the scheduled activities without affecting the itinerary.
For those who visit national park or national reserves, DO NOT litter the trails. Taking care of our parks and environment is everyone's responsibility. Avoid fines by following the rules.