Puerto Natales & Torres del Paine
Puerto Natales is the point of entry to Torres del Paine National Park. It’s a very pleasant town with beautiful views of the surrounding water and mountains. Most travellers spend some nights here before and after they go to the park. It’s the place to organize your park visit whether that means booking a tour or your park accommodation, signing up for a thrilling activity, stocking up your food supplies or renting/buying the equipment you’re missing.
While you’re based in Puerto Natales, plan an excursion to the Milodón Cave, an archaeological site named after the milodón, a now extinct animal whose remains were found in the cave. Climb to the summit of Dorotea Sierra, to get a great panorama of the town as well as the fjords and mountains in the area. Visit Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and take a boat trip to feel tiny next to the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers.
Tip: A new amazing 2 day ferry route is operating between Puerto Natales & Caleta Tortel, located in the south of the spectacular Carretera Austral! Check the timetable and prices on www.tabsa.cl, route “Puerto Yungay – Puerto Natales”.
The renowned Torres del Paine National Park, located 147km from Puerto Natales, is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1978 and it recently got chosen as the 8th Wonder of the World. This park will simply knock your socks off with its natural beauty, a landscape filled with lakes, rivers, waterfalls, glaciers, mountains and of course the famous granite towers that gave the park its name. It’s also home of an impressive range of animals like guanacos, ñandus*, foxes, pumas, skunks, condors, eagles, flamingos, etc.
The possibilities to discover the park are endless. Get those boots dirty at this trekking paradise at one of the several day hikes, the popular 4 to 5 day W-Circuit or the 7 to 8 day O-Circuit. Put on those crampons and enter the massive Grey Glacier, hit the water with a paddle and kayak the lakes, rivers or in between gigantic icebergs, pump up those muscles and climb a challenging wall, mount a horse and gallop around like a pro, launch that bait in the water and catch a huge fish, cruise the lakes on a ship and admire the scenery or imagine being an 18th century explorer and do a multi-day expedition to the most remote corners of the park.
The weather can be very harsh and changeable, dress in layers and take a good waterproof wind stopper and hiking boots.
There are daily buses from Puerto Natales, stopping at different spots in the park. Inform where to get off depending of what your plans are.
A lot of people opt to sleep in a tent or in a refugio dorm bed in the park. This 16-17 season it will be mandatory to make your reservations for accommodation in the mountain sector (trekking routes) in advance, due to the control in the amount of visitors in the trails, so contact your selected accommodation to make bookings.