From Puerto Natales you need about an hour to get to the Torres del Paine national park. It’s a very special place, it still feels wild and primal and the beauty of the rough landscape formed by the exceptional weather conditions and glaciers is addictive. If you are prepared for ever changing weather and especially extremely strong winds, there is nothing better than to explore and hike in this remote, wild Patagonian paradise.
Do: The highlights in Torres del Paine are certainly the W- or O Trek, multiday hiking tours that lead you to fantastic lookouts and through beautiful landscapes. But apart from these longer tours there are also great shorter treks. Just keep in mind that there is no gas station in the park and that most of the time there are simple dirt roads, so even though the different areas are close by, driving can still take some time and gas.
The trail to the Ferrier Lookout in the western part starts right at the Conaf building behind Hotel Lago Grey where you have to sign in as a visitor first. The easy first part can be misleading, because the path will start to go straight up for the next one and a halft hours with an elevation gain of 450 meters. But you will be fully rewarded with a stunning view of the lake, the mountain chain and glacier! Another very idyllic and easy walk starts right at the cafeteria near Hotel Lago Grey and brings you through a small forest to the shore of the lake. You also come here if you are doing the lake cruise to glacier Grey. You meet at hotel Lago Grey, walk to the lake and the catamaran brings you close to the glacier where you can depart, explore the area and get back with the next cruise.
On the other side of the park you find the Salto Grand Waterfall. From here starts an easy hiking trail, taking you along stunning views of the famous granite towers in about two hours. On a small island in Lago Pehoe accessible via a small bridge there is the picturesque Hosteria Pehoe, where you can enjoy a drink and fantastic views.
Close by there is an opportunity to hike up to another stunning lookout, the Mirador Condor. The short trail starts near the Camping Lago Pehoe and rewards you with very close views of the famous Torres, but be aware that it is extremely windy up there most of the times.
Stay: There are either a few luxury hotels or remote hostels in the area and all are expensive, so book and plan in advance. The Rio Serrano Hotel at the Serrano river just outside the official park entrance is a big hotel with a fantastic spa. The Lago Grey Hotel has rooms overlooking the stunning lake Grey and the ship to the glacier departs right from here.
There is no supermarket and no gas station in the park, so stock up in Puerto Natales. Otherwise you can eat in one of the hotel restaurants, however Rio Serrano Hotel, Lago Grey, Pampa Lodge and Hotel Las Torres all have okay food but nothing really great and rather overpriced.
Read about the amazing hiking route in Torres del Paine, the W-Trek and about trips from Puerto Natales here. Or see the post about the northern part of Patagonia, the lake region and Chiloé here.
There is also a city guide for Santiago de Chile. Or find more tips for the southern desert and Andes region of San Pedro de Atacama and the El Tatio Geysers.