The Patagonian landscapes of Chile are some of the wildest and most vivid places to see on earth. The contrast of lakes, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and fjords are unforgettable. So much so that 150,000 people a year undertake the journey to explore this national park.
Reaching the Park:
Tourists usually make their way to Patagonia by flying to Punta Arenas which is 6 hours driving along route 9 to the park or to Puerto Natales which lies just 2 hours from the park along the same road. It is possible to rent a car and go to the park as the roads are good, or to take buses which go several times daily from Puerto Natales. There are hostels in the park itself as well as food and supply centers around major park entrances, but things are very expensive here, it is better to get almost everyone you need in Puerto Natales.
The park is named for three majestic towers of rock called the Torres del Paine. They can be reached by day trips or on longer treks and guided tours through the park. Some ice fields like Grey Glacier, The stunning reflections of Lago Grey, as well as other lakes like Lago Pehoe, Lago Nordenskjöld and Lago Sarmiento give alpine a whole new meaning. Cuernos del Paine is another stunning place to explore.
Ways to experience the park:
Some tourists use guides from Puerto Natales to make specific trips and incursions into the Park. An entrance ticket costs $30 USD and it is good for three days. The parks trails are to be adhered to and no cooking or camping is allowed outside of designated zones. The rapidly changing weather makes it necessary to have good clothing and dry supplies. It is possible to navigate the park safely following signs and maps, however it is recommended one have camping experience if you should decide to do the multi-day routes on your own.
Guided tours can be everything from horseback rides to real adventure treks. There are companies which run packages of the great trails like the W circuit averaging 12km between 7 major park attractions. The Big Circuit is even longer and encompasses all of the W circuit. Tours can have their own supplies, make use of the refugios or be a series of day trips.