Do you want to spend your holiday by visiting an amazing place? Do you want to adventure by exploring the place that you have never visited? Torres del Paine National Park can be your best choice. It is located in Magallanes Region, Chile. Puerto Natales is the nearest city of this place. Parc National Torres del Paine was established on May 13, 1959 as Parque Nacional de Turismo Lago Grey and in 1978 it was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. On May 13, 1970 the name change into Torres del Paine National Park.
This national park consists of glaciers, mountains, river and lakes. The centerpiece of this park is Cordillera del Paine which is a small group of mountains with its highest peak is Cerro Paine Grande. And here, there is the most spectacular and most popular summits namely the three Towers of Paine. What is the place of interest in this place? What kinds of activities that can visitors do at Torres del Paine National Park? How to get there? Let’s find out here.
What is the place of interest in this place?
Torres del Paine National Park is in 112 km north of Puerto Natales and 312 km north of Punta Arenas. This park is the section of the National System of Protected Forested Areas of Chile. This place is about 227,298 hectares and it becomes one of the largest parks and also become the most visited park in Chile. It is about 252,000 visitors come to this park a year and 54% of those visitors are foreign tourists. They come from many countries in the world.
Here you will see the spectacular geography like turquoise lakes, rivers, iceberg, lenga forest, majestic massifs and extensive pampas where you can find guanacos, pumas and nandues. This place is a beautiful landscape which opens its doors to many tourist every year and you will feel the wonderful experience there. This place is suitable for you who are hikers, ecology lovers, backpackers, and adventure sportsmen alike. Cascading rivers, waterfalls, mirrored lakes, glaciers, and snow capped mountain peaks have best reputation in Torres del Paine National Park.
Here also you will find any kind of beautiful flora such as the evergreen Embothrium coccineum that produces red flowers grouped in corymbs and also Calceolaria uniflora which has striking shape and colors. This park also has 7 species of Orchidaceae that is documented and it includes Chloraea magellanica.
There are 4 vegetation zones in this park which are Patagonian steppe, Andean Desert, Pre-Andean shrubland, and Magellanic subpolar forests. Patagonian steppe vegetation is dominated by Fescue species especially Festuca gracillima. Several of the dominant plant species in Pre-Andean shruband are Mulinum spinosum and Escallonia rubra. The magellanic deciduous forest has trees that consist of various species like Nothofagus pumilio and Nothofagus antarctica. In Andean Desert, there are Empetrum rubrum, Escallonia rubra, and Senecio skottsbergii.
Meanwhile, the fauna that you can find here are Guanacos. They are one of mammals that you will find besides pumas and foxes. There will also be Chilean Huemul that is an endangered species of deer or it also called the south Andean deer. Not only mammals, here you will also find breeding population of 15 bird of prey species which consist of austral pygmy-owl, magellanic horned owl, chimango caracara, cinereous harrier, rufous-tailed hawk, black-chested buzzard-eagle, Andean condor, Chilean flamingo, coscoroba swan, Darwin’s rhea, black-necked swan, Magellan goose, Magellanic woodpecker and black-faced ibis.
The other places that you can also visit in the Parco Nazionale Torres del Paine are Shoutern Ice Fields, O Circuit, W Circuit, Paine Horns, Milodon Caves, Grey Glacier, Sarmiento Lake, Amarga Lagoon, Mirador Lago Grey, Salto Grande, French Valley, Cerro Castillo Village and Serrano River Tourist Village. Shoutern Ice Field is the 3rd largest water reserve in the world. A large white mantle which also you can find in Torres del Paine Park with its glaciers Dickson, Pingo, Gray, Tyndall and Zapata. O circuit is a trek that is not able to be taken lightly. It is a 93 kilometers challenge that is the most extreme challenge in Torres del Paine National Park. It will take about 8 days to complete.So, this O circuit will require sleeping bag, tents, guide, food and equipment. W circuit is famous because it will not require great physical skills to do. W circuit is a path that will bring you through unique forests, rivers, glaciers, fauna and flora. So, it is very precious trip even though you will hike for about 8 hours a day and the climate is changing constantly that can extend the time of travel from 4 days to 6 days. You can begin your trip from Grey Shelter and continue via Paine Grande, the French Valley, the Chileno Campsite and Las Torres base. And the rest places are also as wonderful as these three places.
What kinds of activities that can visitors do at Torres del Paine National Park?
You really can not miss the voyage by Grey Glacier because it is made on board of the vessel Grey and this voyage will take 3 hours with capacity for 50 passengers. You will enjoy a wonderful landscape which involves by floating icebergs, imposing mountains and exuberant vegetation. The duration of 3 hours will include transfer from the Lago Grey Hotel to the Pingo River, visitation to the Grey Glacier, beverage and guide service. For this service, you have to pay $55,000 per passenger.
Trekking and sea kayak can be done by visitors with the help of Andes Mountain Expediciones. You do not worry because this company has experience for 10 years in Patagonia which organize sea kayak and trekking trips. These activities will be guided by an experienced guides who really know the secrets of Torres del Paine park and you will see the details of flora and fauna that live there. Besides, there is also ice walking, horseback riding, and bird watching that are also fun to do. For your information, all the activities will be surrounded by the magnificence of this majestic Patagonian site.
Another company of tourism that will offer vacation program is Chile Nativo. This company divides programs in 3 scopes. First, 3 to 12 day expeditions on horseback with different degrees difficulty throughout Patagonian paths. This will be accompanied by experienced gauchos and horses. Second, there is trekking circuits where you will be invited to visit glaciers, lakes, native forests and imposing views of the Towers and Horns of the Paine. Third, for you who are really interested in photographic view and wildlife, this company can handle it. And for you who are marine fauna lovers, you can visit Fransisco Coloane Park which you can feed humpback whales.
How to get there?
If you will use air transportation and you go from Santiago de Chile, you can use LATAM that will take about 3 hours and a half. If you do stopover in Puerto Montt, it will take 4 hours 45 minutes. From Punta Arenas Airport, you have to continue your trip by bus or vehicle that you can rent to Puerto Natales city. From there, you will be lead to Torres del Paine Park. If you go from Argentina, you have to use plane from Argentina’s capital the city of El Calafate which then move to bus or using rental car to Puerto Natales. From Puerto Natales, it will take 80 kilometers more to reach the gate of Torres del Paine.
If you use land transportation and you go from Santiago, you have to use bus or rented car from the capital to Puerto Montt. From Puerto Montt you will continue to Punta Arenas and the trip will take place on the side of Argentina and crosses to Chile via Paso Monte Aymond. From Punta Arenas, you will go to Puerto Natales by bus or rented vehicle. And, from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine Park you can find two routes by using bus or car. From Puerto Natales, it will take route 9 that links to Sarmiento and Laguna Amarga gateway of Torres del Paine Park. Or you can take route Y-290 from Puerto Natales that links to Serrano gateway in Torres del Paine Park. If you go from Argentina, exactly from the city of El Calafate, you can use bus or rented vehicle to the city of Pueto Natales and it takes 4 hours and a half with a stop at Don Guillermo border access for gateway proceedings. When you arrive at the city, it will be about 80 km more to arrive at Serrano gateway that is the nearest of Torres del Paine.
Then, if you use sea transportation, it will take 3 days by the route Puerto Montt to Puero Natales. By boat, you can arrive at Torres del Paine park via Rio Serrano.
So, what do you think about Parque Nacional Torres del Paine? Perhaps it is extreme but it is wonderful and it is very worth it to go.