Travel Icon: Torres del Paine
The peaks of this national park encapsulate the wild spirit of Patagonia, says specialist Richard Wise.
Did you know?
- The national park was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978
- The park is located 2,500km south of Santiago and 400km to the northeast of Punta Arenas
- The towers were first climbed by Englishman Chris Bonington, in 1963
If there is one place likely to come up in conversation about Patagonia, it will probably be 'Torres del Paine'. The true definition of wild, and an outdoor enthusiast's playground, for many, Torres del Paine is Patagonia - and vice versa.
The park is shaped by its seasons, each offering a different experience of Chilean Patagonia. The most popular time to visit is October to April, when visitors benefit from warmer temperatures and the trails are in the best condition.
The centrepiece of the park is the mountain range referred to as 'El Massif'. Here, you find yourself enveloped by soaring crags and constantly changing vistas. The famous towers spike the horizon, arguably providing one of the most dramatic landscapes the world has to offer.
For those in search of wildlife, prepare to become puma obsessed as every distant patch of grass, every lone rock and every smaller mammal becomes a possible sighting. Huge condors circle above, while guanacos and the ostrich-like rhea provide ground-level entertainment for passing visitors.
No visit to Torres del Paine is complete without a visit to Lago Grey, fed by its namesake glacier. Take a boat on the milky waters of the lake and experience the glacier up close, touching another cornerstone of the park's wonder and beauty. There are also a variety of ways to experience the region, from short strolls to multi-day walks.
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