The 15 Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine According to an Expert [2020] Skip to Content

15 of the Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine National Park For All Abilities

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If there’s one place you’ve heard about in Patagonia, bets are it’s Torres del Paine National Park.

This protected area in Southern Chilean Patagonia is best known as the location of the W trek or the O Circuit – two of South America’s most splendid multi-day hikes.

Los Cuernos in Torres del Paine National Park
Day hikes in Torres del Paine promise magical scenery every step you take.

However, you can also visit Torres del Paine National Park for day hikes, a great option if you:

a) you don’t fancy lugging a backpack around with you

b) fancy staying in more luxurious accommodations, or

c) just don’t have the five days required for hiking the W.

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As with all the posts about Patagonia on the site, I’ve gone into extensive detail about my 15 favourite trails in Torres del Paine.

Not only this, you can find extremely useful logistical information to help you visit the park via public transport or your own vehicle, as well as tips and tricks to ensure that your visit goes without a hitch and you don’t miss out on any of the park’s spectacular trails and dazzling viewpoints.

FAQs about day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park

Can you visit Torres del Paine in a day?

Yes, it’s possible to visit Torres del Paine National Park in one day. However, because it takes around 1.5-2 hours to drive from Puerto Natales (the nearest town) to the park, you can expect a tour of the national park to constitute a very long day. 

Visiting Torres del Paine with a tour from Puerto Natales: There are plenty of companies in Puerto Natales that offer different types of one-day tours of Torres del Paine National Park. These either:

  • visit various miradors (viewpoints) and a couple of short hikes
  • or, involve hiking the final section of the W, the hike up to Mirador Las Torres

For both, you can expect to pay around $40,000 CLP ($47 USD) for the full-day tour, including transportation but not including food or the price of the entrance into the national park (the latter of which costs $25,000 CLP ($30 USD) per person).

Visiting Torres del Paine without a tour: It’s also possible to visit Torres del Paine National Park in one day on your own. This is far easier with a rental vehicle, although it is also possible with public transport.

Should you hire a rental car to visit Torres del Paine National park for day hikes?

Yes. The problem with the park is that, if you’re not planning on trekking one of the multi-day trails in Torres del Paine National Park, it’s very hard to get around.

As I illustrate below, public transport runs between Puerto Natales, the closest town to the national park, and only a couple of destinations in the park.

Because of this, if you don’t hike the W or the Circuit (and therefore hike between where the buses drop off and pick up hikers), or don’t want to visit for just one day and do one part of the W, there isn’t any public transport available to get you around the park.

The open road in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, with Los Cuernos in the background, an ideal place for day hikes in Patagonia
The large distances in the park and limited public transport can make it difficult to get around.

I have heard of people managing to get a space on the public buses as they move around the national park (i.e. getting picked up at the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp and taken across to Portería Laguna Amarga), but this definitely isn’t something you can count on as, in high season, buses may well be full. Bus timings also don’t necessarily match up with when you want to be in different parts of the park.

Hitchhiking is another option, but again, there’s no guarantee that there will be people offering to give you a lift (if you choose to hitchhike, read these tips on hitchhiking safely).

Therefore, hiring a rental car in Puerto Natales is your best option. This allows you to visit various trails in one day and, if you are planning on staying overnight in the park, makes it far easier far easier to get between your accommodation and the trailheads.

The roads in the national park are unpaved but in good condition. Therefore, a 4WD is not necessary, although it’s highly recommended to drive slowly to both enjoy the incredible views (!!) and avoid gravel bouncing up and hitting your windscreen.

A note on fuel in the national park: The only issue with driving in Torres del Paine National Park is that the closest gas station is in Puerto Natales. This means that you need to either bring a spare can of gas with you in your vehicle, or ensure that you will have enough gas for the duration of your time in the national park. This is easy enough to work out. You can use Google Maps to work out the distance in kilometres from Puerto Natales to the national park and each trailhead.

Handmade signs direct you to Torres del Paine Day Hikes all over the park
Views from the hike between Laguna Amarga and the trailhead for Mirador Las Torres are a sign of the spectacular sights to come.

I’ve also heard that Hotel Las Torres (at the trailhead for the Mirador Las Torres hike) sometimes sells gas to visitors in dire need – however, there is no guarantee they’ll have any to sell and you can expect to pay a lot more than the market value for this!

Can you visit Torres del Paine with public transport?

To visit Torres del Paine with public transport for the day, you would only be able to do hikes whose trailheads connect with the bus stops in the national park. These bus stops are located at:

  • Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp – the dock for the catamaran that transports hikers across Lago Pehoé to the Paine Grande campground and refugio. Paine Grande is the trailhead for the hike to Glaciar Grey (#9 on this list) and the hike to Valle Francés/Mirador Británico (#s 10 and 11). 
  • Portería Laguna Amarga – an entrance to the national park located in the east. From here, you can either hike or take a minibus to the trailhead for trail to Mirador Las Torres (#14 on this list).
  • Administración – the national park’s main headquarters located in the south of the park and close to the trailhead for the Lazo-Weber Trail (#5 on this list). Buses used to stop here but only a handful still do.

As of early 2020, five companies travel from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine.

Tickets generally cost around $15,000 CLP ($21 USD) for a return ticket (which can be used on any of the same company’s buses back from the park).

You must buy tickets from the companies’ offices, which are inside the Terminal Rodoviario (Av. España 1455) in Puerto Natales, although Bus Sur allows you to purchase tickets online.

If you are travelling in a group, consider negotiating a reduced price like we did, which got us a few thousand pesos off per ticket.

It’s also advisable to book your bus ticket at least a day in advance when visiting the park in high season (December through February).

Buses from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park

The following timetables indicate public services to the national park operating September 1 through April 30 (unless otherwise stated).

These buses are most helpful if you want to take a day trip to hike to Mirador Las Torres.

See glistening white mountain peaks against the bright blue sky
Don’t forget to look up every once in a while, you never know what you’ll see.

If you want to hike any of those from the Pudeto catamaran stop, see the other timetables further below.

A note on getting to the Mirador Las Torres trailhead from Laguna Amarga: Once you arrive at Laguna Amarga, you will need to either hike the 7.6 km (1.5 hrs) of road to reach the trailhead at the Centro de Bienvenida (Welcome Centre) or take the shuttle minibus ($3,000 CLP ($3.5 USD)) from Laguna Amarga to the Centro de Bienvenida (contact them through their website above for bookings). You will also need to do this for the return journey back to Laguna Amarga at the end of the day and according to readers who have taken this service, you can pay with card at the Centro de Bienvenida.

  Leaves Puerto Natales Arrives Laguna Amarga (for Mirador Las Torres) Arrives Pudeto (for catamaran to Glaciar Grey or Valle Francés/Mirador Británico) Arrives Administración
Transport Maria José (tel. 61/2410 951)   7am 9am 10am (connects with catamaran at 11am)  
  2.30pm 4.30pm 5.30pm (connects with catamaran at 6pm)  
         
Buses Gómez (tel. 61/2415700)   7am 9am 10am (connects with catamaran at 11am)  
  2.30pm 4.30pm 5.30pm (connects with catamaran at 6pm)  
         
Bus Sur (tel. 61/2410 784) 7am 9am 10am (connects with catamaran at 11am)  
  12.00pm* 2pm 3pm (connects with catamaran at 4.15pm (between December 1 and March 31)) 4pm
         
JB Buses Patagonia (tel. 61/2410 242)   Bus timings unknown (but probably the same as the above)      
Buses Juan Ojeda (tel. 9/8943 7808)   Bus timings unknown (but probably the same as the above)      

*Service available November through April

Buses from Puerto Natales direct to Pudeto in Torres del Paine National Park

As of 2019/2020, a new alternative route (direct to Pudeto) was started by Bus Sur. This route is helpful for those hoping to do a day trip either to Glaciar Grey or Valle Francés/Mirador Británico:

  Leaves Puerto Natales Arrives Administración Arrives Pudeto (for catamaran to Glaciar Grey or Valle Francés/Mirador Británico) Arrives LagunaAmarga
Bus Sur (tel. 61/2410 784) 6.40am* 8.15am 8.45am (connects with catamaran at 9am) 11am
  4.30pm** 6.30pm 8.30pm 9pm
         

*Available October 14 through March 31

**Available November 15 through February 29

Buses from Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales

  Leaves Administración Leaves Pudeto Leaves Laguna Amarga Arrives Puerto Natales
Transport Maria José (tel. 61/2410 951)     1pm 2.30pm 4.30pm
    7pm 7.45pm 9.45pm
         
Buses Gómez (tel. 61/2415700)     1.30pm 2.30pm 4.30pm
    7pm 7.45pm 9.45pm
         
Bus Sur (tel. 61/2410 784)   12.30pm 1.30pm 3.30pm
    7pm 7.45pm 9.45pm
  8.15am10.30am 11.30am 1.30pm
8pm8.30pm9pm10.30pm
JB Buses Patagonia (tel. 61/2410 242)   Bus timings unknown (but probably the same as the above)      
Buses Juan Ojeda (tel. 9/8943 7808)   Bus timings unknown (but probably the same as the above)      

When can you do these day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park?

From October through the end of April, most of the hikes listed below can be hiked without a guide. However, Mirador Las Torres is the exception. This trail can be hiked without a guide from September through the end of April

From May through the end of September, it is necessary to have a guide for any hikes in the national park. To find a guide, I suggest using a Chilean guide called Andy (+56 9 8156 0134 – WhatsApp). I’ve had him highly recommended from a friend of mine who works in tourism in Puerto Natales.

This website, which is a directory of local guides, is another option. Guides charge between $80,000 CLP and $100,000 CLP for the day.

Where should you stay when visiting Torres del Paine National Park for day hikes?

Because of the distance between the national park and the closest town, Puerto Natales, if you plan on spending a couple of days hiking in Torres del Paine, it makes more sense to find accommodations in or just outside of the park itself.

A long causeway connects this island home to some of the best Torres del Paine Day Hikes
There are comfortable places to stay even in the wildest landscapes, although Hosteria Pehoe looks nicer from the outside than it is.

Lodgings are cheaper in Puerto Natales, but if you add up the cost of travelling into and out of the national park each day (and the time you spend), then it doesn’t wind up being much more affordable staying in Puerto Natales.

You have various options in Torres del Paine National Park:

  • Hotels – these start from $200,000 CLP ($233 USD) and go up to $2,500 USD per night for a double room in all-inclusive, five-star accommodation. Book through Booking.com
  • Guesthouses – these are more affordable, starting from $150,000 CLP ($175 USD) per night for a double room. Book through Booking.com
  • Self-catering cabins – even cheaper, these cost from $110,000 CLP ($128 USD) for a four-bed cabin, but there is limited availability. Book through Booking.com
  • Refugios – a bed in four-bed dorms in the refuges along the W trek that are owned by Vertice Patagonia and Fantastico Sur start from $22,000 CLP ($26 USD) per person per night. Book through Vertice Patagonia/Fantastico Sur
  • Camping – either at Camping Lago Pehoé ($90,000 CLP ($105 USD) two-person dome or $21,000 CLP ($26 USD) campsite for two) or at the campgrounds along the W trek owned by Vertice Patagonia and Fantastico Sur (from $11,000 CLP ($12 USD) campsite for two). Book through Camping Pehoé/Vertice Patagonia/Fantastico Sur

I’ve written this complete guide to lodgings in Torres del Paine National Park, which is a great place for a more detailed overview of my recommended accommodations for different budgets.

It’s worth pointing out that hotels in the park get booked up well in advance, particularly between December and February which is peak season. Aim to make reservations at least three months in advance for this period. 

General recommendations for hiking in Torres del Paine National Park

Food and dining

There are a number of restaurants, cafés and even minimarkets in the park, but food is extortionately priced ($9,000 CLP ($11 USD) upwards for basic meals) and generally of pretty poor quality.

You can buy box lunches from most hotels and restaurants, but you’re better off bringing food for lunch from the UNIMARC supermarket in Puerto Natales.

Torres del Paine offers both Day Hikes and lakeside campsites with beautiful mountain views
The hotel restaurants in Torres del Paine can provide picnic lunches to take with you.

Unless you’re staying in self-catering accommodation or camping with cooking equipment, it’s likely you will need to dine at your hotel restaurant, or you can opt to eat at one of the hotel restaurants open to non-guest. These include:

Drinking water is available at all accommodations. If you want to drink water from the rivers or streams in the park, I strongly recommend investing in a Steripen Adventurer or Grayl Geopress (read why they’re the best travel and backpacking water filters) to sterilise the water and avoid you getting ill.

Money

Both the park entrance ticket ($25,000 CLP ($30 USD)) and the ticket for the Pudeto catamaran ferry ($23,000 CLP ($35 USD) one-way) can only be purchased using Chilean pesos in cash only. Most hotels and restaurants in the national park accept card, but it’s best to confirm this when you book.

There are no ATMs in the national park, so you will need to withdraw cash in Puerto Natales.

Entrance ticket

The entrance ticket covers three days in the national park. This means that, if you stay in one of the accommodations that are on the outside of the park, you can enter for three consecutive days.

However, if you stay in an accommodation inside the national park, you can remain within Torres del Paine for as many days as you wish.

What equipment do you need for visiting Torres del Paine National Park?

As anyone who’s visited Patagonia will tell you, it’s possible to experience all four seasons in just one day here. Unsurprisingly, the weather can change very fast, so be sure to take extra layers for warmth, a sturdy raincoat, sun cream, sunglasses and a hat.

Two hikers with day packs on the trails in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
A small day pack is sufficient for day hiking in Torres del Paine.

In the shoulder seasons (October/November and March/April), it can get really chilly at night, so be mindful of this when packing clothing if you’re planning on camping – you probably will want thermals and a three- or four-season sleeping bag.

It’s also recommended to wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes, as some of the hikes are steep and cover areas of rocky moraine. Trekking poles are also very helpful on the trails requiring steep climbs, such as the trek up to Mirador Las Torres, Valle Francés and Mirador Británico and Mirador Ferrier.

A small day pack, such as the 40-litre Osprey, are a good size for day hikes in Patagonia. I’d also suggest lining the bag with a dry bag. This will keep all of your belongings dry if you get caught in a rain storm and is much more reliable than the raincovers that you can use for your pack (although,

I would also recommend having a day pack with a raincover as this provides additional protection for electronics and other valuables that you might be carrying). 

I’ve written extensively about what to pack for Torres del Paine National Park, with lots of suggestions for rain jackets, clothing, my favourite hiking boots, and other essentials to bring with you.

The Best Torres del Paine day hikes

The following trails include viewpoints which require little to no hiking, as well as short and medium-length day hikes. Three of the latter (marked as *W TREK*) form the different segments of the W but can be hiked separately as day hikes.

I’ve also included sample day hike itineraries that show how you can plan a couple of days in the national park, as well as how you can stitch together parts of the W into three days of hiking.

The trails are listed from south to north, as if you were entering the national park via the Portería Serrano entrance. To get to this entrance, drive north out of Puerto Natales and take the Y-290 to Portería Serrano.

Torres del Paine hiking trail map

On the day hikes below, I’ve indicated their location via OpenStreetMap.org, a fantastic resource that can be downloaded to your mobile (and used offline if you download the correct maps in advance!) as Maps.Me.

I highly recommend downloading this before you arrive at the park. The park rangers will also provide a map when you pay your entrance fee.

I’m not 100% sure if it’s this map (they used to have a different one and I believe this is the updated version), but it has all of the hikes marked clearly on it, so is a great tool for when you are planning.

The hiking trail map for Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia
Click on the image to zoom in!

South section of Torres del Paine National Park (Portería Serrano entrance)

1. Mirador Pehoé (viewpoint)

  • Location: Just before Hotel Lago Grey, on the Y-150 from the Administración (national park headquarters) to Hotel Lago Grey
  • Length: None; viewpoint is directly from the road
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Facilities: None
  • When to do it: On a clear day if you want to see the Los Cuernos mountains at their most impressive.
Los Cuernos Mountains above Lago Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
Lago Pehoé and Los Cuernos look atmospheric whatever the weather.

This viewpoint allows striking vistas of Lago Pehoé and the Los Cuernos mountains, although the views are somewhat less impressive than those from Mirador Cóndor (see below).

2. Mirador Monte Ferrier

  • Location: Starts a few kilometres beyond Hotel Lago Grey on the Y-150 from the Administración to Hotel Lago Grey, just next to the Río Pingo Cafeteria. A ranger station (where you must register your visit) is located next door. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 4 km, 2.25 hrs return
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Facilities: Parking and café facilities available at the Río Pingo Cafeteria.
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day, although the wind can be fierce – and freezing – here.

This trek is challenging because it involves a very steep climb (an ascent of around 700 m (2,300 ft.) over just two km) to reach the top.

However, once you get there, you can expect incredible panoramas of Lago Grey with Glaciar Grey beyond. You’ll also see the Los Cuernos mountains rising above Lago Pehoé and Lago Nordenskjöld.

3. Mirador Zapata (only with a guide)

  • Location: Starts a few kilometres beyond Hotel Lago Grey on the Y-150 from the Administración to Hotel Lago Grey, just next to the Río Pingo Cafeteria. A ranger station (where you must register your visit) is located next door. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 10 km, 5.5 hrs to Campamento Zapata one-way, further 3 km, 1.5 hrs to Mirador Zapata
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Facilities: Parking and café facilities available at the Río Pingo Cafeteria. You can camp at Campamento Zapata (but will need to bring all camping equipment).
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day, although the wind can be fierce – and freezing – here.

This steep climb cuts out into the very west of the national park, skirting the Río Pingo before turning to the south. Once you arrive at the mirador, expect sweeping views of Glaciar Pingo perched above Lago Pingo, as well as the glittering bulk of Glaciar Zapata in the south.

A huemul looks at the camera in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, a possible sighting on a day hike
Huemul are some of the park’s most elusive residents. Adobe Stock/©FelipeEsteban – stock.adobe.com

Keep an eye out for huemul and other endemic wildlife on this hike!

4. Mirador Lago Grey

  • Location: Starts a few kilometres beyond Hotel Lago Grey at the very end of the Y-150 from the Administración to Hotel Lago Grey. You will find the Río Pingo Cafeteria and a ranger station. You need to cross the suspension bridge over the Río Pingo. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 5 km, 1.5-2 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Facilities: Parking and café facilities available at the Río Pingo Cafeteria.
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day, although the wind can be fierce here. 
Icebergs float in the quiet waters at sunset on Lago Grey, seen from a viewpoint in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
Catch sight of icebergs bobbing on the frigid waters of Lago Grey from this viewpoint. Adobe Stock/©FerrizFrames – stock.adobe.com

This trail takes you down onto a sandy peninsular overlooking Lago Grey. Glaciar Grey is far in the distance, but you’ll see huge bergs of ice bobbing in the frigid waters and the sweeping mountainous landscapes of the Cordillera Paine rising out of the background.

5. Lazo-Weber Trail

  • Location: Starts from the main road 700 m beyond Puente Weber, a bridge 2.7 km north of the Administración along the Y-150. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: Varies; the full Lazo-Weber trail is 14 km, 4-5 hrs one-way; to just Mirador del Toro (5 km, 1.25 mins return). Full adapted loop via Mirador del Toro, Laguna Honda and Paso La Feria (11 km, 3 hrs 34 mins).
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Facilities: None
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day, although the wind can be fierce here.

The Lazo-Weber trail grants wide panoramas of the full backdrop of the Los Cuernos and the whole Cordillera Paine/Paine Massif range. However, this hike is a one-way route, so you’ll need to hike back on yourself, which makes for a very long day-hike.

Instead, you can adapt the hike and do a loop from Puente Weber, climbing steeply up to Mirador del Toro (2.5 km, 45 mins) for views north across the Cordillera Paine and south towards Lake Toro and the Serrano Valley.

The trail then continues on a mostly flat gradient northeast to Laguna Honda (4.5 km, 2 hrs), before looping back to Paso La Feria (7 km, 3 hrs) to descend back down to Puente Weber (via a short stretch of the road; 4 km, 1 hr).

Central section of Torres del Paine National Park (Portería Serrano or Portería Laguna Amarga/Portería Lago Sarmiento entrances)

6. Mirador Salto Chico

  • Location: Starts from the entrance to Hotel Explora, 800 m south of Camping Pehoé on the Y-150 between Administración and the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 300 m, 20 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Facilities: Parking and restaurant available at Camping Pehoé
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day.

Starting from the access road to the exclusive Explora Patagonia, this short trail isn’t really open to non-guests of the hotel, but if you’re sneaky enough, you can wander around to the back of the hotel for exceptional views of Lago Pehoé and Los Cuernos.

A person runs down a wooden boardwalk at the Salto Chico viewpoint in Torres del Paine National Park, a short day hike
Views from Salto Chico north across Lago Pehoé and the Los Cuernos mountains can be experienced from just outside Explora Patagonia. Adobe Stock/
©serg_did – stock.adobe.com

You’ll also find the gushing waters of Salta Chico, a small waterfall that drains from Lago Pehoé into Lago del Toro, located here.

7. Mirador Cóndor

  • Location: Starts from Camping Pehoé or from the pull-out 200m further north, on the Y-150 between Administración and the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 3 km, 2-2.5 hrs return
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Facilities: Pull-out parking area just off the main road and there’s a restaurant at Camping Pehoé
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day, although the wind can be fierce here.

The trail climbs up, slowly at first, and with a steep final gradient to reach a viewpoint that offers one of the national park’s most ubiquitous (and spectacular!) views. Expect sweeping vistas of Lago Pehoé and the serrated, horn-shaped Los Cuernos mountains as they rear out of the Cordillera Paine range.

You might even catch a glimpse of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field in the northwest (Glaciar Grey is one of its tongues), or the gleaming waters of Lago Sarmiento de Gamboa out east. 

A man stands at Mirador Condor on a day hike in Torres del Paine, looking across Lago Pehoe and the mountains of the Cordillera Paine beyond
The views from Mirador Condor are some of the most spectacular in the park. Adobe Stock/©dsaprin – stock.adobe.com

Keep an eye on the sky above; the trail is named after the condors that circle the mountains here.

You can also turn this into a loop (3.5 km, 2-3 hrs) and start at either Camping Pehoé or Hostería Pehoé. Note that this route involves hiking for 1.2 kilometres down the Y-150 road to return to where you left the car.

8. Mirador Cardan

  • Location: Starts from across the road from Camping Pehoé, on the Y-150 between Administración and the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 200 m, 10-min return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Facilities: Parking area for Camping Pehoé
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day, although the wind can be fierce here.
Views from Mirador Cardan in Torres del Paine National Park, visible from a short day hike
This is one of the easiest magnificent views to access on a day trip to Torres del Paine National Park.

This short, flat trail leads to a beach overlook Lago Pehoé, with sensational views of the Cordillera Paine and the park’s iconic “horns”, Los Cuernos.

9. Mirador Cuernos and Salto Grande

  • Location: Trail begins at the very end of the turn off for the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 6.5 km, 2-2.5 hrs return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Facilities: Car park and cafeteria at the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp.
  • When to do it: Views are impressive even if it’s a cloudy day, although the wind can be fierce here.

No other day hike in Torres del Paine gets quite so close to the mythical Los Cuernos, the horn-like mountains that dominate the Cordillera Paine.

This easy trail heads west out to Salto Grande, a gushing thunder of water as it passes between Lago Nordenskjöld through to Lago Pehoé.

Low trees and grass lie before Lago Nordenskjold, as accessed from a short day hike in Torres del Paine National Park
At Mirador Cuernos, you can appreciate the wide panorama of the Cordillera Paine (or Paine Massif), the mountain range that crowns Torres del Paine National Park.

Afterwards, you continue north across the flat grassy plains to where Los Cuernos seem to rise out of the earth above the brooding, aqua waters of Lago Nordenskjöld. This is one of the park’s ultimate viewpoints.

10. Glaciar Grey – *W TREK*

  • Location: Trailhead begins at Paine Grande Refugio and Camping. To get here, you need to take the catamaran across Lago Pehoé from the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. The ferry costs $23,000 CLP ($35 USD) one-way and is payable only in cash; you cannot make advance reservations, so get there 30 mins in advance. Ferry timetables are here (note that there is one ferry daily May through September 15, two daily September 16 through October and April, three daily in November, and four daily December through March). The ferry takes 30 mins to cross the lake. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: Varies; to the viewpoint just beyond the campsite, it’s 24 km, 7-8 hrs return. To the second rope bridge, it’s 31 km, 9.5-10.5 hrs return.
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Facilities: Car parking is available at the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. There is also a café located here.
  • When to do it: This can be hiked even if the weather and visibility aren’t great, as you should still be able to see the glaciers from the viewpoints.

This trek brings you close to the snout of the six-kilometre-wide Glaciar Grey, with a series of miradors granting ever-closer views. The best is at Quebrada de los Vientos (Windy Gorge), an hour after starting the hike.

A hiker sits on a rock at the Quebrada de los Vientos (Windy Gorge) viewpoint in Torres del Paine National Park with Lago Grey and Glaciar Grey in the background
The Quebrada de los Vientos (Windy Gorge) provides the best viewpoint of Lago Grey and Glaciar Grey in the park.

Beyond this point, the trail skirts the barren cliffside above the cloudy waters of the lake, before descending through lenga forest, to arrive at Guardería Glaciar Grey and the Grey campsite and refugio.

From the campsite, an additional one kilometre through the forest brings you to two viewpoints lying just 1.6 kilometres from the glacier’s snout and from where it’s possible to watch the bus-sized chunks of ice bobbing in the waters – or calving if you’re lucky.

Return the way you came; you need to be back at Paine Grande to take the last ferry across the lake at 6.35pm.

A hiker stands on a wooden hanging bridge on a day hike in Torres del Paine National Park
The views on the way to the reop bridges have the best views of Glaciar Grey in the park.

If you’re a fast walker, you can extend this trek by continuing a further two kilometres to reach the first of two rope bridges (the second is a further 1.5 km) that lie practically alongside the glacier and grant even more striking views. 

11. Valle Francés – *W TREK*

  • Location: Trailhead begins at Paine Grande campsite and refugio. To get here, you need to take the catamaran across Lago Pehoé from the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. The ferry costs $35 USD/$23,000 CLP one-way and is payable only in cash; you cannot make advance reservations, so get there 30 mins in advance. Ferry timetables are here (note that there is one ferry daily May through September 15, two daily September 16 through October and April, three daily in November, and four daily December through March). The ferry takes 30 mins to cross the lake; you need to return the way you came back to Paine Grande to take the last ferry across the lake at 6.35pm. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 23 km, 7-8 hrs.
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Facilities: Car parking is available at the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. There is also a café located here.
  • When to do it: This is best hiked in good weather for the best views of the glaciers perched on the mountains above.

This trail takes you into the second of the national park’s most famous valleys, Valle Francés. The trail heads northeast this time, skirting Lago Skottberg and keeping Los Cuernos directly ahead (although you can’t see their unique shape from this angle).

After 7.6 kilometres (2.5 hrs), you reach the national park ranger-manned Campamento Italiano, where the trail that climbs into the valley begins. 

A river runs across rocks with a snow-dusted mountain above it in Valle Frances in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
The mountains that surround Valle Frances are always thick with snow.

It’s an hour’s steep and rocky climb up to Mirador Francés, where you can absorb the views of Glaciar Francés as it clings to the mountainside in the west.

Return the way you came; you need to be back at Paine Grande to take the last ferry across the lake at 6.35pm.

A note on combining the Glaciar Grey and Valle Francés hikes:

The price of the catamaran ferry that takes you to the trailhead for both the Glaciar Grey and the Valle Francés hikes has increased significantly in the past year. The ferry now costs $35 USD/$23,000 CLP one-way – which adds up to $70 USD/$46,000 CLP per round trip.

Therefore, if you want to hike both the Glaciar Grey and the Valle Francés hikes, it’s much more affordable to stay overnight at Paine Grande campground and refugio (find out more about making reservations for campgrounds and the refugios in Torres del Paine), rather than returning each night to your accommodation elsewhere in the national park.

The bonus of this is that it grants you more hiking time, which is beneficial if you wish to extend the Valle Francés trek up to Mirador Británico (see below).

12. Mirador Británico

  • Location: Trailhead continues from the Valle Francés lookout. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: Add 7 km, and 3 hrs to the Valle Francés hike above
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Facilities: None
  • When to do it: This is best hiked in good weather because you won’t be able to see the glaciers above or the amphitheatre of mountains at Mirador Británico if it’s too cloudy.

One of the park’s most spectacular (and underrated viewpoints!) is the Mirador Británico (Británico Lookout). A carpet of lush lenga forest leads to a ring of toothy granite peaks, which include the backs of the three-horned Cuernos del Paine. It’s one of the park’s most stunning viewpoints— although only when the sky is clear.

Views across the amphitheatre of the Cordillera Paine at the Mirador Britanico, accessible on a two-day hike in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
The views of the Cordillera Paine from Mirador Británico offer a completely different perspective of the national park.

Keep your eyes peeled for huemul (a rare, endemic species of deer) who are visitors to this part of the park.

This is an extension to the Valle Francés day hike. However, to do this, you will need to make a reservation either at Campamento Italiano (free campsite operated by the park rangers, CONAF), Francés (campground operated by Fantastico Sur, 30-minute walk east of Campamento Italiano) or at Paine Grande (campground operated by Vertice Patagonia, a 2.5-hour, 7.6 km hike back the way you came from Campamento Italiano).

This is because, otherwise, it’s unlikely you will hike fast enough to get back to the catamaran for the final ferry at 6.35pm.

Note that the elevation gain is 783 m (2,568 ft.) from Campamento Italiano to Mirador Británico.

13. Mirador Nordenskjöld (Viewpoint)

  • Location: Located 7 km east of the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp along the Y-150
  • Length: None; viewpoint accessed directly from the road
  • Elevation gain: N/A
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Facilities: Parking in the pull-out on the road.
  • When to do it: This can be visited in any weather.
Lago Nordenskjöld in Torres del Paine National Park with the snow-dusted peaks of Los Cuernos as seen from a viewpoint on a Torres del Paine day hike
Views across Lago Nordenskjöld towards the Cordillera Paine are spectacular in the sunshine.

This viewpoint looks out across Lago Nordenskjöld for a different perspective of the Los Cuernos (this time from the east) and the Cordillera Paine range.

East section of Torres del Paine (Portería Laguna Amarga/Portería Lago Sarmiento entrance)

14. Mirador Las Torres*W TREK*

  • Location: Trailhead starts 700 m west of the Centro de Bienvenida/car park. Entrance to the trail lies 600 m before you reach Hotel las Torres at the end of the road from Portería Laguna Amarga to the hotel. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 20 km, 7-8 hrs
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Facilities: The car park is at the Centro de Bienvenida (Welcome Centre). There’s also a cafeteria located here.
  • When to do it: Best hiked on your clearest, best weather day as you want a good view of the towers. If you can start early and get there for sunrise or a little after, the views are incredible as the sun lights up the towers with a dramatic orange hue.

This is the park’s most acclaimed hike, offering dazzling views of its namesake three granite torres (towers), which sit high up in the Cordillera Paine above the milky-blue Laguna Torres.

The towers of Torres del Paine lit up in orange at Lago Torres in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
Sunrise at Lago Torres is the most dazzling occasion in the park.

This is an upwards slog from the beginning, with a four-hour climb (10 km) up through the narrow Valle Ascencio as the trail clings to the valley sides before crossing the Río Ascencio where Chileno campground and refugio is located.

Here, the trail disappears into forests of lenga and coigue before emerging out into open rocky moraine, which becomes the size of boulders as you climb the final kilometre or so up to Mirador Las Torres and the ultimate in Patagonian viewpoints. All-in-all, it’s a 900-metre (3,000-ft) elevation gain.

To finish the trek, head back on yourself and enjoy the trail – it’s all downhill after all!

15. Laguna Azul

  • Location: Trail starts just beyond the Portería Laguna Azul, in the northeast of the park, on the Y-160 connecting the Portería Laguna Amarga and the Portería Laguna Azul. View trail on OpenStreetMap.
  • Length: 20 km, 4.5-5 hrs return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Facilities: Parking available at Portería Laguna Azul.
  • When to do it: This can be visited in any weather, although if it’s too cloudy, you won’t be able to see the towers.

Starting from Laguna Azul, this is a pleasant flat trail that passes through meadows and lenga forests destroyed by forest fires to end at Laguna Cebolla. From here, return the way you came.

Wild horses run across the grasslands in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
On the road to Laguna Azul, you may well catch sight of some of the park’s wild residents.

At Laguna Azul, you can also see the three granite towers after which the park is named rising out of the Cordillera Paine, thus offering one of the bests view of the towers outside of doing the full hike to Mirador Las Torres. Be here for sunset or sunrise, when the towers are lit up.

While walking here, you may also spot guanaco (a delicate relative of the llama), which are prevalent in the eastern plains of the national park.

Two- and three-day self-guided Torres del Paine hiking tours

While I’d recommend at least three or four days in Torres del Paine National Park, if you’re short on time, two days is enough time to complete two of the segments of the W trek or one W trek segment and one day hiking shorter day trails and visiting viewpoints across the park.

A person stands on a rock in the lake in front of the towers or torres of Torres del Paine National Park, a viewpoint accessible on a day hike in the park
You can capture this view and plenty more with a couple of days in Torres del Paine National Park.

In three days, it’s also possible to hike the three most impressive sections of the W Trek (Mirador Las Torres, Glaciar Grey and Valle Francés).

Two-day itinerary: including two segments of the W Trek (Mirador Las Torres and Glaciar Grey)

Day One: Mirador Las Torres

Leave Puerto Natales at 7am and drive to Torres del Paine National Park, entering at the Portería Laguna Amarga in the east of the national park (113 km, 1.5 hrs). Pay for your entrance ticket (in cash!) and drive to the Centro de Bienvenida (8 km, 20 mins) for the trailhead for Mirador Las Torres.

Bring a packed lunch and spend the day hiking up to the Mirador Las Torres and back (20 km, 7-8 hrs).

Drive to your accommodation in the park (Hostería Pehoé and Camping Pehoé are well-located for getting to the catamaran tomorrow morning).

Day Two: Glaciar Grey

Take a packed lunch and drive to the Pudeto catamaran ferry dock for 8.30am to join the queue for the 9am crossing. Pay for your ticket (in cash!) and board the ferry; it’ll take 30 minutes to reach Paine Grande.

A guanaco poses in front of Los Cuernos in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
Guanaco are fairly common the Torres del Paine National Park.

From Paine Grande, trek to the viewpoint for Glaciar Grey just beyond the Grey campsite and refugio (24 km, 7-8 hrs return).

Return to Paine Grande for 6pm to board the 6.35pm crossing. Return to your lodgings or drive back to Puerto Natales via the Portería Serrano entrance in the south of the national park (104 km, 2 hrs).

Two-day itinerary: including one segment of the W Trek (Mirador Las Torres) and day hikes

Day One: Mirador Las Torres

Leave Puerto Natales at 7am and drive to Torres del Paine National Park, entering at the Portería Laguna Amarga in the east of the national park (113 km, 1.5 hrs). Pay for your entrance ticket (in cash!) and drive to the Centro de Bienvenida (8 km, 20 mins) for the trailhead for Mirador Las Torres.

A view of the path in Valle Ascencio on the day hike up to Mirador Las Torres in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
The trail up to Mirador Las Torres passes along the sides of the Valle Ascencio.

Bring a packed lunch and spend the day hiking up to the Mirador Las Torres and back (20 km, 7-8 hrs).

Drive to your accommodation in the park (Hostería Pehoé and Camping Pehoé are well-located for getting to the catamaran tomorrow morning).

Day Two: Day hikes

Get up early and drive to the Pudeto catamaran ferry dock. Hike the trail to Mirador Cuernos via Salto Grande (6.5 km, 2-2.5 hrs return). Have lunch in the café at Pudeto or at Parrilla Pehoé (the restaurant at Camping Pehoé).

From Camping Pehoé, take the steep path up to Mirador Cóndor for sensational views of Los Cuernos and the panorama of the Cordillera Paine with Lago Pehoé and Lago Nordenskjöld beneath (3 km, 2-2.5 hrs return).

Back at the car, don’t miss the short trail to Mirador Cardan (200m, 10-min return), which has splendid views of the mountains reflected in the lake.

Three-day itinerary: including three segments of the W trek (Mirador Las Torres, Glaciar Grey and Valle Francés)

Day One: Mirador Las Torres

Leave Puerto Natales at 7am and drive to Torres del Paine National Park, entering at the Portería Laguna Amarga in the east of the national park (113 km, 1.5 hrs). Pay for your entrance ticket (in cash!) and drive to the Centro de Bienvenida (8 km, 20 mins) for the trailhead for Mirador Las Torres.

Bring a packed lunch and spend the day hiking up to the Mirador Las Torres and back (20 km, 7-8 hrs).

Drive to your accommodation in the park (Hostería Pehoé and Camping Pehoé are well-located for getting to the catamaran tomorrow morning).

Day Two: Glaciar Grey

Drive to the Pudeto catamaran ferry dock for 8.30am to join the queue for the 9am crossing. Pay for your ticket (in cash!) and board the ferry; it’ll take 30 minutes to reach Paine Grande.

A glacier curves through the mountains into the waters of Lago Grey
A day hike in Torres del Paine National Park can be a great chance to see Glaciar Grey calving.

At Paine Grande, trek to the viewpoint for Glaciar Grey just beyond the Grey campsite and refugio (24 km, 7-8 hrs return).

Return to Paine Grande and stay here for the night, in either camping or dormitory accommodation.

Food can be arranged in advance for an additional cost in their cafeteria. (Find out more about making reservations for campgrounds and the refugios in Torres del Paine)

Day Three: Valle Francés

Get up early and leave Paine Grande by 9am, taking the trail east that skirts Lago Skottberg. Climb the rocky trail up to Mirador Francés and the return the way you came back to Paine Grande (23 km, 7-8 hrs).

A hiker on a rope bridge to Valle Frances in Torres del Paine National Park, a place for day hikes in Patagonia
The rope bridges in the national park are as pretty as the trails themselves.

If you’re a very fast and fit hiker, you could potentially hike all the way up to Mirador Británico (extra 7 km, 3 hrs round-trip).

Be back to Paine Grande for 6pm to take the last ferry of the day across the lake at 6.35pm. Drive back to Puerto Natales via the Portería Serrano entrance in the south of the national park (104 km, 2 hrs).

The Ultimate One- or Two-Week Guatemala Itinerary
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