Day hikes from a comfortable eco-camp in Chile's pristine Torres del Paine National Park
Patagonia's spectacular, untamed wilderness is simply beyond description. Some even say it's like the Grand Tetons and Yosemite rolled into one. Its pristine beauty has been preserved in the breathtaking mountain environs of Chile's Torres (Towers) del Paine National Park. You'll spend four days hiking among the ice-clad peaks and granite needles of the Torres del Paine—5,000 feet of near-vertical granite rising from the surrounding rolling grasslands and beautiful lakes to an altitude of 10,000 feet.
5 days moderate to strenuous day hikes on varied terrain
- The best day hikes in Patagonia's Torres del Paine National Park
- Four days hiking among the ice-clad peaks and granite needles of the Towers of Paine (10,000') with the rolling grasslands and sparkling peaks of Chilean Patagonia at your feet
- Overnight in the comfortable dome tents of a unique Eco-Camp within the park, affording you the highest level of comfort while maintaining low impact on this fragile environment
Duration: 6 days Start Location: Punta Arenas, Chile End Location: Punta Arenas, ChileDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Meet in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile, on the northern shore of the Strait of Magellan. An MTS representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel for the night.
Day 2 : Eco-Camp, Paine National Park
From Punta Arenas we’ll drive about three hours across the Patagonian plains to the quiet fishing and mining town of Puerto Natales on the shores of Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). Here we’ll stretch our legs a bit and have lunch. Continue driving toward Paine National Park and take in the first spectacular views of the Paine range (weather permitting). There is also a very good chance to see guanacos (cousins of the camel and llama) up close in this area of the park. We will arrive at our Eco-Camp in the early evening for dinner and overnight. Important: Activities at Eco-Camp are based on their weekly schedule.
Day 3 : Trek to the Torres del Paine Base
We walk from Ecocamp towards Hostería Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio Valley on the Tower's eastern face. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. Our big challenge comes as we climb the steep moraine, a mass of boulders leading us towards one of the world's most famous views overlooking the Towers. The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/ 9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the Towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before us, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and our picnic, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp. (Monday and Thursday) total 13 miles, 8 hours hike. Starts at 8:00am, finish at 5pm.
Day 4 : Western Lake and Grey Glacier
Transfer to Lago Grey—Grey Lake—where we'll have the opportunity to observe icebergs calving into its icy waters—a truly spectacular experience.
We drive across the Park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black, granite horn-like spires. Walking along the shores of the stunning Lake Pehoe, we see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Pehoe. The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail until until we reach its spectacular lookout point. Later, back at Lake Pehoe, we are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey. Here we enjoy a tasty box-lunch by the lake before embarking on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Glacier Grey. After this incredible sight of the glacier up close, we drive back to the comfort of our Eco-Camp. (Tuesday & Friday) (0.5m) 1 hour walk. Starts at 9:30am finish at 8:00pm.
Day 5 : Boat across Pehoe Lake and hike to the French Valley
After breakfast, we start our day driving towards Pudeto dock, located on the shores of Pehoe Lake. We board the catamaran that’ll take us to the north-western sector of the Lake where we’ll begin the challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. How deep we go depends on our groups’ rhythm - An active walk leads us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south-eastern face of the Massif, where there is a truly wonderful view. Then we continue up the trail to the upper section of the valley where we admire the valley's entire group of geological formations: Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress). Here we picnic and rest for a while. An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is available as well, if the group isn't keen on resting. Then, we descend through a rippling terrain of grassland and light forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. From here the catamaran takes us back to Pudeto and we're driven back to Eco-Camp. (Wednesday & Saturday) total 13 miles, 8 hours hike. Starts at 8:00am, finish at 8:00pm.
*The excursion to French Valley varies throughout the season depending on the catamaran connecting Pudeto and Refugio Pehoe.
Day 6 : Transfer to airport for return home
After breakfast at our picturesque Eco-Camp, we’ll enjoy a scenic ride back to the airport in Punta Arenas for your flight to Santiago. Your flight out of Punta Arenas must depart after 5pm. If you are heading to Argentina board an earlier transfer heading to the border.
Walk Fauna Trail & Laguna Azul + Patagonian BBQ (easy)
We start the day driving to the northern shore of Sarmiento lake where the Fauna Trail begins. As we walk northwards along the trail we see park fauna on the Patagonian plains including guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús and maybe the occasional puma print! We pass by Goic lagoon and after an approximate 5 km relaxed walk we reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station where we’re picked up and driven to Laguna Azul. En route we stop at the impressive Paine waterfall to admiring its cascading water and picturesque surroundings. Upon arrival at Laguna Azul we’re treated to a classic Patagonian barbecue, prepared by a local Patagonian chef in EcoCamp’s cozy barbecue area on the lakeshore. Once we’ve feasted and enjoyed some rest there’s time to explore the surroundings and walk to the nearby sightseeing point with a panoramic view of the lagoon and the Torres in the distance. We drive back to EcoCamp for the evening festivities. (Monday & Thursday) 3 miles hike, 3 hours. Start at 9:30am, finish at 5:00pm.
Laguna Inge & Los Cuernos Pass (Easy)
After breakfast we head to Laguna Inge, located 4km south-west of EcoCamp Patagonia on Los Cuernos Trail just above Nordenskjold lake. There is a wonderful viewpoint of rainwater and glacial water side by side. On the way along Los Cuernos there is a variety of fauna and hopefully we’ll see Andean condors flying overhead. During this excursion we admire the park’s flora and fauna, its strong wind and curious, changable weather. As we walk along the trail we enjoy magnificent views of the park’s central lakes and the Paine’s Horns, majestic black horn-like peaks of slate atop gray granite which crown the center of the Massif. Depending on the group’s pace we might reach the Cuernos refuge, our trekking goal for today, before we start our return walk to EcoCamp. (Wednesday or Saturday) 3 miles; 4 hours hike, Start 10:00am, finish at 4:00pm.
Lake Shore hike + Botanical Safari (easy)
After breakfast we set off on foot towards Nordenskjold lake. On the walk towards the lakeshore we’ll have wonderful views of the park’s vegetation and flora on our guided nature exploration. At the lakeshore we enjoy the lake’s beautiful blue water and views of the central Paine massif while we feast on our picnic. After lunch we head back to Ecocamp and have just a tiny distance to walk to get to the start of the botanical Safari trail at the back of EcoCamp. The mini educational trail designed by EcoCamp invites guests to learn more about the flora and fauna in Torres del Paine National Park right next to their domes. A guide will accompany wakers on this micro exploration to give more extensive flora information as the group wanders along the trail taking note of the diverse vegetation. Safari explorers then have time to rest in their domes or EcoCamp’s Community domes before the evening aperitif. (Sunday). 3 miles; 3 hours hike. Start 9:00am, finish at 4:00pm
Western Lakes and Pingo Trail (Moderate)
We drive across the Park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black granite horn-like spires. Walking along the shores of the stunning Lake Pehoe, we see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Pehoe. The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail until we reach its spectacular lookout point. Later, back at Lake Pehoe, we are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey where we walk to reach the start of the beautiful Pingo Trail taking us through a fairytale Magellan forest full of local fauna and flora. As we walk, huge rock formations in nearby hills and the strong Patagonian wind give us a good idea of just how wild Patagonia is! We reach a small sightseeing point with splendid views of the Massif’s west face, and then walk back to Grey Beach to meet our fellow travelers coming back from the boat ride. Together, we all head to Ecocamp to enjoy dinner and relaxation time. (Tuesday & Friday) 3 hours hike. Starts at 9:30am, finish at 8:00pm.
Puesto Seron (Moderate to Strenous)
The trek to Puesto Seron means doing the first part of the Paine circuit, bordering the eastern side of the Massif. The trail leads through plains home to Lenga forests and other flora, and with great views of Laguna Azul and Sierra Masle. Hopefully we encounter the park's animals that roam around this sector, in their quest to avoid the more populated areas of the Park. After a few hours trekking we reach Camp Seron where we enjoy a box lunch and admire the scenary before heading back to Ecocamp. (Sunday) 7 hrs hike. Start at 10:00am, finish at 6:00pm.C Y C L I N G E X C U R S I O N S
Cycling to Laguna Azul + Patagonian BBQ
After breakfast we drive to Estancia Laguna Amarga, next to the ranger station where we entered the park, and we hop on our mountain bikes & pedal away towards Laguna Azul campsite approximately 20 km to the north east. We cycle past an array of fauna on the Patagonian plains including guanacos and ostrich-like ñandús (plus maybe the occasional puma print!), heading up north past the cascading Paine waterfall where we can stop for a break to admire the view. We continue our journey heading past a small canyon in the middle of the Patagonian flora and fauna before looping up towards Laguna Azul. Upon arrival at Laguna Azul we’re treated to a classic Patagonian barbecue, prepared by a local Patagonian chef in EcoCamp’s cozy barbecue area on the lakeshore. Once we’ve feasted and enjoyed some rest there’s time to explore the surroundings and climb to the nearby sightseeing point with a panoramic view of the lagoon and the Torres in the distance. The cycle ride back to Ecocamp is optional - anyone who is happily tired after the journey and barbecue is welcome to travel back in the support van (accompanying the group at all times on the outward journey). Back at EcoCamp the cyclists reunite with their Safari hiking counterparts to enjoy the evening aperitif. (Monday & Thursday) 12 miles (one way) , 4 hour bike ride. Start at 9:30am, finish at 6:00pm.
Cycling tour to Seron
Today we’re cycling up to Seron! After a hearty breakfast we get kitted out on our bikes and begin the journey northwards towards Seron campsite at the north eastern corner of the Paine massif. This first section of the Paine circuit is over undulating terrain leading through beautiful Lenga forests, with views of Laguna Azul and Sierra Masle. Due to this sector of the park being quieter than the central and western sector we’ll hopefully encounter animals roaming around in the vegetation. After an approximate 15 km cycle, passing through the picturesque Encantado valley, we reach Seron campsite and enjoy our box lunch and the views before heading back to EcoCamp for the evening aperitif. (Sunday) 9 miles, 4 hours bike ride. Start at 10:00am, finish at 5:00pm.
EXTEND YOUR ADVENTURE!
If you like to explore on your own, plan to arrive a day or two early or extend your trip after the tour. (We highly recommend you stay at least a day in Santiago.) We also offer the following extensions:
You’ve seen pictures and you’ve heard stories, but until you’ve been dwarfed by the massive stone structures themselves, you can’t appreciate the mysteries of Easter Island. There are over 600 carved moai here, and our tour takes us to the Island’s most important archeological sites. We’ll also have time for relaxation on the beautiful palm-fringed beach of Anakena. This eerie, inexplicable island is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
4, 5, or 6 days.
The Atacama Desert
Located on a lonely plateau between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, the Atacama Desert is the closest thing on earth to the surface of Mars. Due to the aridity—98% less rain than Death Valley!—nothing grows amidst the salt basins and lava flows. We’ll explore the looming volcanoes and rumbling geysers as well as the pre-Colombian archeological sites nearby. If you want a unique experience, Atacama is the extension for you.
4 or 5 days.
Our extension to Iguazú Falls will take you to one of the world’s most dazzling natural spectacles, considered by some to be even more magnificent than Niagara or Victoria Falls. Stretching for almost two miles, Iguazú Falls is a series of 275 cascades that tumble, splash, and explode along the Brazil/Argentina border. We’ll see the falls from the Devil’s Throat balcony, from La Gran Aventura hiking trail, and from a boat on the mighty Iguazú River itself. If you look away from the falls, be prepared to spot a spectacular array of birds and wildlife that inhabit the jungle canopy. A South American gem!
Please call for details on all of our extensions.
DATES: Best time to go: January - March, October - December Departures: Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.
November 16 - March 31, 2015
December 16 to January 15, 2015
Rates are quoted per person, based on sharing double or triple accommodations. Daily activities and transfers are shared with other guests.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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