Categories: Destinations

Torres del Paine National Park

This breathtaking national park is located in Chile. Torres del Paine National Park is a national park encompassing mountains, a glacier, a lake, and river-rich areas in southern Chilean Patagonia. The Cordillera del Paine is the centerpiece of the  park. It lies in a transition area between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes.

The landscape of the park is dominated by the Paine massif, which is an eastern spur of the Andes located on the east side of the Grey Glacier, rising dramatically above the Patagonian steppe. Small valleys separate the spectacular granite spires and mountains of the massif. These are: Valle del Francés, Valle Bader, Valle Ascencio, and Valle del Silencio.The Southern Patagonian Ice Field mantles a great portion of the park. Glaciers include the Dickson, the Grey, and the Tyndall. Among the lakes are the Dickson Lake, Nordenskjöld Lake, Pehoe Lake, Grey Lake, Sarmiento Lake, and Del Toro Lake. Only a portion of the latter is within the borders of the park. All are vividly colored, most due to rock flour suspended in their waters. The main river flowing through the park is Paine River.

It is a very popular hiking destination in Chile. Hikers can opt for a day trip to see the towers, walk the popular “W” route in about five days, or trek the full circle in 8–9 days. Hikers are not allowed to stray from the paths in the national park. Camping is only allowed at specified campsites and wood fires are prohibited throughout the park. Visiting the park is recommended between late December and late February.