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Walking in the Torres del Paine

Listed under Walking in Magallanes, Chile.

  • Photo of Walking in the Torres del Paine
  • Photo of Walking in the Torres del Paine
  • Photo of Walking in the Torres del Paine
  • Photo of Walking in the Torres del Paine
Photo of Walking in the Torres del Paine
Photo by flickr user Phillie Casablanca
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Unbeatable mountain views of classic peaks on a massive scale. The Torres del Paine has some of the world's most astounding natural views, when green it's verdant, its glacial lakes are bright blue with the odd ice berg to add to the drama and the mountains are like a theatrical backdrop, so huge as to skew your perspective. Walking amongst this scenery it's a challenge to take it all in. Tracks are well trodden but despite the awesome beauty of this place don't expect to have too much company.

You can cycle the parameter of the mountains but you can't get to the best bits by bike so the best way to explore is on foot, carrying your tent. Visit between November and March for the least challenging weather - imagine Scotland on a bad day times about fifty. You need to give yourself a week here rather than just allow for a couple of days, it takes a while to appreciate the scale. Don't miss a hike to the Torres viewpoint.

Written by  Andrew Straw.

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Walking in the Torres del Paine National Park

Recommended by William Mackesy

The borders of the Torres del Paine National Park enclose a tight mountain region spiking out of the Patagonian steppe, endowed with diverse wildlife, terrain and environments and stunning views of glaciers, waterfalls, mirrored lakes and rivers, snow peaked mountains and dense sub polar forests. Because of the variation of elevation, both cool climate plains and humid forests make up the park, supporting about 100 different bird species and large numbers of mammals, including pumas, guanacos (members of the lama family), cougars, guernal, Chilla Fox, Culpeo Fox and skunks. Some of the parks most unusual birds are the rheas, Chilean Flamingo, Black-necked Swan, Buzzard Eagle and the Andean Condor.

The ‘towers of Paine’ themselves are three huge granite monolith peaks which stand side by side on top of the mountain range and have been carved by the forces of the mountains glacial ice.

There are multiple marked trekking routes within the boundaries of Torres del Paine National Park, both one day and multi day trips, some also suitable for horse trekking or mountain biking.

For overnight walks there’s hut accommodation as well as camping facilities. One of the most popular longer routes is the Paine Circuit, which is a seven to ten day walk circling Paine Massif passing three of the park’s glaciers, Grey, Dickson and Perros. This track will lead you in and out of rocky gullies, across streams, past unearthly glacial caves and through humid bogs. The hardest and highest part of the trek comes on the middle days, when the route takes you up and over the glacier. On your middle night you stay above the Grey glacier.

The Paine Circuit is a popular route, so though it’s not crowed you may not always find space in a hut. You can go with a guide or a trekking company or self guided or you can stay in one of the park’s hotel and go on day trips. The best time to visit in in spring between November and April when the temperature is mild.

If you don’t want to rough it, you can stay in local town, Puerto Natales.

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