Torres del Paine National Park is located in the southernmost part of Chile serving as one of the 11 areas protecting the Patagonia region, Magallanes, and Chilean part of Antarctica. Four of the protected areas are national parks with Torres del Paine encompasses an area of 700.43 square miles(1,814.1 sq km) by itself.
Neighboring parks include Bernardo O’Higgins National Park sitting north and the Argentine Los Glaciares National Park sitting in the north. The national park delivers stunning scenery featuring glaciers, lakes, mountains, and rivers.
The Paine mountain range is the heart of the park which delivers the series of three spectacular granite summits lining together in a row creating the picturesque Torres del Paine. The three summits are known individually as Torres d’Agostini, Torres Central, and Torres Monzino reaching heights of 8,200 feet (2,500 m).
The surrounding valley landscape is amplified with lakes and glaciers. Grey, Pehoe, Nordenskiold, and Sarmiento are the most prominent lakes with Grey, Pingo and Tyndall serving as the most significant glaciers. The Paine River is the primary river traversing through the national park.
The four valleys are known as French Valley (Valle del Frances,) Bader Valley (Valle Bader), Ascension Valley (Valle Ascencio), and Valleh of Silence (Valle del Silencio).
Cerro Catedral is a tall cliff that resembles a cathedral rises sharply 6,562 feet (2,000 m) as the central point of French Valley. The neighboring Cerro Cota rises to similar heights and further accentuates the stunning landscape.
Cerro Fortaleza and Cerro Escudo are massive granite walls that face each other looking across the Valley of Silence. The western faces of Torres del Paine are also seen from within the valley.
Asenscion Valley is the typical path to experience the lookout for the Torres del Paine summits, which are the iconic peaks of the park. Although not one of the specific three summits, neighboring Paine Grande is the highest peak at 9,462 feet (2,884 m).
Torres del Paine features four distinct ecological zones which include Andean Desert, Magellanic subpolar forest, Pre-Andean shrubland, and Patagonian steppe. The area is home to cougars, foxes, guanacos, and Chilean Huemul.
The national park also is a bird lovers paradise featuring 15 different birds of prey. The Andean condor is the pinnacle of the well-known species. The Chilean flamingo, Magellanic woodpecker, coscoroba swan, and Magellan goose are some of the other popular bird species.
Torres del Paine Highlights
Torres del Paine is one of the largest and most popular national parks in Chile. It is renowned with more than half of the visitors accounted for by people traveling from around the world to experience the majestic nature afforded by the park.
The picturesque Torres del Paine is the highlight of the park further complemented by the abundant valley, glacier, and mountain landscapes. National Geographic has declared the area the 5th most beautiful place in the world.
Trails in Torres del Paine
Hiking is one of the most popular actives of the park and the draw for most people visiting the national park. There are numerous marked trails throughout the park and visitors are required to refrain from veering off of the trails on their own exploration. A certified guide is required to experience certain regions of the park.
Day Trip: Although it is a hike through most of the day, this single day outing allows visitors to hike to see the towers.
W Route: A five-day trek through more of the wilderness landscapes and opportunities to see the towers of Torres del Paine.
O Route: A full 7 to 9-day trek through much of the park with the towers as the pinnacle highlight.
Camping is allowed in designated areas, however, wood-burning fires are strictly prohibited.
Torres del Paine Highlights
- Torres del Paine summits
- Ascension Valley
- French Valley
- Valley of Silence
- End of World Train
- Britannica, Patagonia Andes, https://www.britannica.com/place/Patagonian-Andes, retrieved September 2019.
- Go Chile, Torre del Paine National park, https://www.gochile.cl/en/torres-del-paine-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.
- Lonely Planet, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/chile/southern-patagonia/parque-nacional-torres-del-paine, retrieved September 2019.
- National Geographic, 11 Breathtaking Photos from Torres del Paine National Park, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/south-america/chile/torres-del-paine-national-park-photos/, retrieved September 2019.