Torres del Paine is iconic. It, and Fitz Roy are likely what most people think of when they hear “Patagonia.” And that’s for good reason. The three peaks of TDP combined with the surrounding mountains, lakes and wildlife make this a truly memorable location.
I can’t dive into the details of hikes, park entrance fees, accommodations and view points without first painting a picture of the experience that is simply being in Torres del Paine National Park.
We drove in from El Calafate, but you can enter from many directions. The last hour or so of that drive was when Patagonia became undeniably more extreme.
We were aware that as we made our way south from Bariloche, to Chile Chico, to El Chalten, to El Calafate and to Torres del Paine that the terrain, weather and wildlife would become more untamed. But you just don’t grasp it fully until you’re IN IT.
Torres del Paine is not like El Calafate or El Chalten. She’s far more extreme in every way possible. Thus, she also has far fewer visitors than the more popular El Chalten, El Calafate and their surrounding attractions.
During our drives thus far, the only wildlife we saw were guanacos. But as we approached the southern region of TDP, the wildlife became more diverse and strangely, abundant.
Also, paved roads became non-existent. As did other human beings. That is, until we entered the park. Then you have tour busses and shuttles going to and from the hotels inside the park. Which are sparse. Do not be mistaken.
The photos below are from the last half of the drive from El Calafate to TDP. Again, not a lot going on with the landscape…but just different than the other drives. It’s hard to explain without seeing it first hand.
TORRES DEL PAINE PARK ENTRANCE: It was very clear when we reached the park entrance. There were buildings on both sides of the road, and a large sign.
$2,500 pesos to enter.
They needed to see our passports. And then gave us an extensive booklet with hike and park info.
The dirt road forever and always began again from route 9 to Y150.
From the park entrance to our hotel it was a 30-45 minute drive. Which is the photos you see below. We drove straight to the hotel (first photo entering TDP) because the weather was pretty gnarly. But on one of our other days, we drove back out on the road to take photos from a few of the view points (all other photos).
Accommodation: Hosteria Pehoe – The idea of this hotel is amazing. And I sincerely hope that someone has come in and renovated the buildings. Because the view is the only valuable thing this hotel has to offer… is the view. It is THE BEST view that you can get from a hotel in TDP. Well, that’s a lie. You could stay at the Explora Hotel, which sits behind Hosteria Pehoe…but you’ll pay over $1,000 per night.
Most hotels will require you stay for at least three nights. That seems to be pretty standard considering how remote this location is. And with the dramatic weather changes, you want a buffer period of time for doing your activities.
All hotels will have full restaurants as there are no options outside of hotels for food. Below are photos of, and from Hosteria Pehoe.
The foot bridge was VERY dicey. It swayed back and forth, and each plank was an inch or two from the next. I certainly would not suggest leaning against the railing or getting to far from the center. If you happen to go against our suggestion, and stay here…make sure you book a room with a view. We had the best room in the hotel. It was the quality of a two star hotel at best, and the food was TERRIBLE.
For the same price (around $300 a night), you can stay at Hotel Lago Grey and drive out to Hosteria Pehoe for an quick photo op.
Hotel Lago Grey was a 30 minute drive from Hosteria Pehoe. We made the venture over to Hotel Lago Grey due to needing wifi and a legitimate meal. The drive was lovely, the wifi was fast, the food was great, and the hotel was GORGEOUS. We highly regretted not staying here. Which is why we now share these lessons with you.
From Hotel Lago Grey you can take a boat tour out to the glacier. And although the weather was terrible the day that we visited; on a clear day, you get the glacier, mountains, and a view of Torres del Paine in the distance to the right. We did get a glimpse of it for a few seconds during our stay.
Hikes: see my full guide and photo diary of these two hikes coming soon!
MIRADOR CONDOR (first photo below)
30 minutes up – take in the views, 10 minutes down.
MIRADOR CUERO (second photo)
2 hours total – 6km (same time in and out roughly). Start at trailhead for the Salto Lookout, see the waterfall and keep walking to the right to start towards mirador cuero.
We had, of course, planned to do TDP but woke up the morning of to INSANE winds and rain. After reading several blogs about the difficulty of the trail + the added safety issues when you add high winds and rain…we said “nah, let’s do some local hikes around the park instead.” This was in large part because we were satisfied with having done Fitz Roy in El Chalten.
You could spend weeks in Torres del Paine. There is so much to do and see. And the beauty is you can get pretty epic views without having to work your ass off for them. But it is certainly rewarding to have to grind a bit for a good view.
Just prepare yourself for WIND, unmaintained roads, and weather that can change in an instance. Who knows if we’ll ever come back. I know we’d like to do Antarctica some day. So, perhaps we meet TDP again. But I am certainly glad we got to check this one off the bucket list.
Torres del Paine on your bucket list as well? Pin this post for later.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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