Torres Del Paine, to those who know of the area would know that it is a magnificent national park in Southern Chile, famous for its three horn-shaped granite towers. I was lucky enough to travel to Torres Del Paine in December 2015 with my partner. Without knowing much about the area prior to making the journey, my expectations had been completely exceeded once I found myself looking up at the tall mountain peaks.
Getting to Torres Del Paine can be difficult, so it’s important to do your research prior to travelling. Since I was travelling from Santiago, I took a flight to Punta Arenas using LAN airlines. Whilst there are not many airlines to choose from, I strongly suggest travelling with LAN, as they offered fairly good in-flight service. Once I arrived in Punta Arenas, I took a Bus-Sur coach to Puerto Natales, the closest major town to Torres Del Paine. Puerto Natales (PN) is a small touristic town and offers some fantastic restaurants, such as Don George – a great, family-owned Parilla near the town centre. If you decide to stay in Puerto Natales for a night or two before or after your journey to the Torres, I recommend staying at Hotel Milodon. The hotel offers cheap accommodation (breakfast usually included) with good wifi and bathroom facilities.
Making the journey to the Torres –
Prior to getting to Torres Del Paine National Park, it is super important that you stock up on snacks and drinks, as food is quite expensive in the Torres region. There is a large supermarket in the Puerto Natales town centre, called UniMarc and it stocks an abundance of health foods, alcohol and hygienic products. To get to the Torres Del Paine region, you can either catch a bus (a number of bus companies operate buses from PN to Torres Del Paine National Park daily) or take a taxi (be sure to book in advance though!).
Staying in Torres Del Paine –
The Torres Del Paine region is quite large, so unless you decide to stay in the National Park I would say that renting a car is vital! If you decide to drive, be sure to take a road trip through the south of the Torres Del Paine National Park. There are some amazing glacial lakes (like the ones pictured below), such as Lago Grey and Lago Sarmiento and not to mention, an abundance of wildlife (the baby guanacos are the cutest!).
During my time in Torres Del Paine, I stayed on a lovely ranch called Tercera Barranca. Whilst the ranch is about 30 minutes drive from the national park, it offers relatively cheap accommodation (for the area) and exceptional customer service! The ranch has a real family-owned vibe, as meals are cooked by lovely little Chilean ladies and shared amongst other guests in the communal dining room. Please make a note that the ranch has no telephone, internet or television access, as well as a limited supply of water and electricity. Despite the accommodation not having these facilities, I thoroughly enjoyed the solitude and found myself gazing endlessly at the peaks of the Torres (which are smack-bang in front of the ranch!)
When heading into the National Park, make sure you take adequate supplies of cash (for park entry) and medical supplies – the hikes are serious and precautions should definitely be taken. The are a number of different hikes that you can do in the national park, such as the Horns, W Circuit, French Valley or the Base Camp hike. During my journey, I decided to do the 18 km hike up to the Torres Del Paine base camp, which was probably the best hike I have ever done in my life! Not only do you hike the side of a mountain, the trail plunges you deep into a forest alongside a fresh glacial lake (which you can drink water from – it’s delicious!) and then ascend to the mirador. The hike usually takes about 8 hours return, however depending on your fitness level, this time may vary. It is important that you dress appropriately for the hike (hiking boots, warm insulated jacket and pants, as well as a scarf), as the weather can quickly change and winds can get up to 100 km per hour! The walk is incredibly beautiful and make sure you pace yourself throughout, as the last 45 minutes is a steep ascend and requires rock climbing. Don’t let the ascend scare you though, the base camp is absolutely spectacular (I’ve included a photo below!)
All in all, gazing up at the large granite towers and down at the crystal blue glacial lake, I couldn’t help but feel small in this big, beautiful world. A world that is fragile, yet destructive all at the same time. At that moment I feel utter peace and serendipity, a moment I would hold with me forever.