Where: Torres del Paine National Park on Chile’s southern tip
Best Season: Spring (January – May) avoids the cold southern winter
Best Sights: Towering pillars of granite
Remember to Bring: Tent and extreme weather clothing.
Top Tip: Take advantage of the 17 hours of sunlight in the summer
The jaw-dropping views of this eighth wonder of the world sure are humbling. Torres del Paine is one of the finest national parks in the whole of South America – a must for anyone travelling to Chile. It’s name, Torres del Paine, refers to the immense granite pillars which tower above the landscape. Formed a mere two million years ago, they are among the world’s youngest mountains.
The park was created in 1959, and encompasses 240,000 hectares of stunning landscapes, glaciers, forests, rivers and waterfalls. It’s a haven for many varied species of wildlife (including condors, foxes, deer… and the elusive puma!), and was declared a United Nations World Biosphere Reserve in 1979.
The most popular trek in the park is the Paine Circuit – a strenuous route that takes about 5 days (it can take longer in bad weather). The circuit offers unparalleled exploration of the park, though visitors lacking the time or fitness for this trek can opt for any one of a number of shorter hikes or hire a guide and porters.
- Visitors are required to register with the park rangers and pay a park entry fee of US$12.50.
- Visitors have been known to suffer serious injuries in the park, and because of its remote location and potential treacherous weather conditions, lone trekkers are no longer allowed.
- These days, the park had more visitor amenities than it used to, including refugios for overnight accommodation at regular intervals. You’ll need to be fully equipped with clothing for all weathers, and carry a tent in case of extreme conditions.
Torres del Paine.com
A comprehensive guide to the national park
The official tourism board for Chile