Torres del Paine Activities - Riding, Kayaking, Fishing and Hiking
Torres del Paine National Park
Little known twenty years ago, Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia Chile today receives about 15 times as many visitors. They come to trek some of the world's best trails, to kayak around icebergs on deserted rivers and to gallop for miles and miles across vast pampas.
If you're worried about crowds remember that Yosemite gets about 45 times as many visitors as Torres del Paine. If you're still bothered, kayaking and riding are the best ways to avoid other people altogether.
Where is Torres del Paine?
In Patagonia, Southern Chile at about 50 degrees south. To the South of it is the city of Punta Arenas, 312km, and the large town of Puerto Natales, 112km. This is the Province of Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope), in Magallanes (Region XII) in Chile.
How to get There
Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine, with regular buses taking about two hours to get to the park entrance. Direct buses to Puerto Natales run from Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt in Chile and from El Calafate and Río Gallegos in Argentina. Buses from Punta Arenas are the quickest and easiest option as they don't cross the Argentina-Chile border.
It's also possible to enter Torres del Paine by kayak via the Serrano River and Bernardo o'Higgins National Park.
What to do
Plenty. Among the activities on offer are trekking, kayaking, fishing, ice hiking and horse riding. Here's a selection.
Torres del Paine's hiking trails are world famous. The W Trek takes you in and out of the Paine Massif, an extraordinary collection of granite spires, sculpted peaks and high-rise glaciers. The longer Circuit takes in perhaps the most astonishing sight of all - the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, a 28,000 square km sea of ice.
Kayaking will take you away from the crowds and up close to some of the Park's glaciers, most of which calve straight into rivers or lakes. Organized tours range from half-day paddles in iceberg-strewn Grey Lake to five-day kayaking tours from Last Hope Sound into Torres del Paine via the Serrano River.
Torres del Paine was a working estancia before it was a National Park, and its network of horse and cattle trails remains. Most are far away from the popular hiking trails, and rarely used by trekkers, offering the best way to experience the wilderness in near solitude. Riding in Patagonia's never ending pampas is an unforgettable experience.
Horse trails Torres del Paine cover a pretty varied terrain, but here are ones to look out for:
- The trail from Laguna Azul to Dickson Glacier offers a 30 minute canter through ancient woodland, and, for much of the way, along the shores of rivers and lakes
- The Ride to the Mirador de Los Hielos (Iceberg Lookout), where you can see Grey Lake clogged with icebergs from the immense Grey Glacier in the distance.
Grey Glacier is 28 km long with an area of 270 square kilometers. The brave and fit can ice hike on it. Tours leave from Puerto Natales, Hosteria Grey and Grey Refugio.
Torres del Paine's rivers are well-stocked with brown trout, rainbow trout and king salmon.