Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia – When to go and where to stay
The ‘end of the world’ has a powerful lure. Marked by towering jagged peaks, emerald lakes and huge expanses of nothing, located in Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine is rich with stories of adventure.
If a world’s best national park award were ever proposed, Torres del Paine would be a very worthy contender. The iconic gnarled peaks of granite that stretch over 2000m skywards above the Patagonian steppe are reason enough to travel to this far stretch of earth, but once here, you realize they are only one of many.
This land bears deserted pampas, turquoise blue lakes, emerald Majellanic rainforest and, at it’s centre, an ice-cap the size of Hawaii! Torres del Paine doesn’t muck around, there’s no bluff cards, just vista after vista of awe-inspiring landscapes sprinkled with Chilean flamingos, night-roaming pumas and llama-like guanaco. Dalí would’ve had a field day in this surrealist corner of the globe.
Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park - Stunning!
When to Go
Patagonia is best visited in the summer time, December through March, when the days are warm and the daylight hours long however spring and autumn are also great times to visit. Spring sees a quieter Patagonian wind, less tourists and unique wildlife opportunities with the pumas venturing down from the mountains.
Autumn in Torres del Paine National Park offers particularly spectacular vistas with the changing leaves however it is important to note that being such a long way south the extremities of these seasons, September, October, March and April can bring much cooler temperatures and reduced daylight hours.
It is not advisable to visit this region in the wintertime, as it is quite cold and dark with snow often closing the roads.
How To Get There
There are no flights directly into Torres del Paine National Park, the most accessible airports are Punta Arenas in Southern Chile and El Calafate in Argentina, both are around a 4½ to 5 hour drive from the national park. Many of the lodges in the area are all-inclusive and provide airport transfers from both airports.
Connecting internationally through Santiago, Punta Arenas will be your best optional and similarly if connecting through Buenos Aires, El Calafate will be the best choice. From Australia LAN Chile and Qantas are the best options for connections through Santiago and Buenos Aires into this region.
Where to Stay
Our pick of lodges in and around the national park are fully inclusive of meals and excursions, here are few which we particularly love, they offer exceptional gastronomy and a high level of personal service however they are quite different and appeal to different types of travellers, here is a little about them.
This lodge has arguably the best view of any in South America and it is located centrally within the national park.
Reflecting its name, explora leads over 50 tours suitable for both novice and experienced explorers. If you love to hike and your looking to get right in and amongst the mountains, then this lodge will be at the top of your list as the location gives you the opportunity to hike all 3 legs of the W Trek from your door. Guests may also ride one of the hotel's resident horses.
Relax your body after a day's exploration at the Ona Bathhouses, or Jacuzzi, overlooking the Peohe Lake and the granite towers of Paine.
For an idea on cost, a four night stay at this lodge starts from USD3300 per person twin share for travel this summer season until April 2016.
Cordillera Paine room, explora Patagonia Salto Chico Hotel
Awasi Lodge has quite a different feel to it offering a more private, tailor-made experience. The lodge has just 12 villas and all excursions are operated privately, you will have your own guide and 4x4 at your disposal so the excursions can be tailored completely to your interests and fitness level.
Location wise the lodge is on a private reserve just outside the National Park and although seeming close on the map, the roads are fairly rough and ready so it takes around 1 to 1½ hours each way into the main area of the National Park.
A four night stay at this lodge starts from USD3980 per person twin share for travel this season until April 2006. Be sure to let them know to have the outside Jacuzzi on for your arrival a lovely spot to relax with a view on arrival.
The Singular hotel is different again; it is exceptional hotel for foodies and rates in our top three for the continent.
The lodge operates small group excursions like explora however is it located 1½ hours from the National Park near the town or Puerto Natales. This lodge is ideal for travellers seeking a broader experience of Patagonia - food, wine, culture, hiking, kayaking and perhaps horse riding. There are plenty of active excursions including hiking available at this lodge, however they cover a broader area outside the National Park.
A four night stay at this lodge starts from USD2448 per person twin share for travel this season until May 2016.
The Singular Hotel Patagonia