With its iconic granite spires and vast glaciers spilling out from the largest sheet of ice in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica, Torres del Paine is Chile's premier national park. Its peaks and glaciers are complemented by unspoilt southern beech or lenga forest, rich and varied animal and birdlife, remote valleys and immense, cloud-streaked skies.
This guide includes detailed description of the Torres del Paine Circuit and 10 shorter excursions, including two over the border in Argentina. It contains full background and planning information, including wildlife, history, travel and accommodation in Puerto Natales and Santiago.
Introduction; Geography and geology; Climate; Wildlife and plants; History and culture; Early exploration and mountaineering; Language; Food and drink; Getting to Chile; Transport within Chile; Agencies and tour operators; Visas and arrival; Accommodation; Money and costs; Keeping in touch; Safety; About this guide; Trekking in Torres del Paine national park; Refugios, campsites and hotels; Transport to and around the park; Other activities in the park; Maps; Equipment; Low-impact trekking; What to do in an emergency; Torres del Paine national park, Chile; Walk 1: Torres del Paine circuit (the 'O'); Stage 1. CONAF Administracion - Refugio Paine Grande; Stage 2. Refugio Paine Grande - Campamento Italiano; Stage 3. Campamento Italiano - Valle Franc´┐¢s (return); Stage 4. Campamento Italiano - Refugio Las Torres; Stage 5. Refugio Las Torres - Campamento Torres; Stage 6. Campamento Torres - Mirador Las Torres (return); Stage 7. Campamento Torres - Campamento Japon´┐¢s (return); Stage 8. Campamento Torres - Refugio Las Torres; Stage 9. Refugio Las Torres - Campamento Seron; Stage 10. Campamento Seron - Refugio Dickson; Stage 11. Refugio Dickson - Campamento Los Perros; Stage 12. Campamento Los Perros - Campamento Paso; Stage 13. Campamento Paso - Refugio Grey; Stage 14. Refugio Grey - Refugio Paine Grande; Walk 2: Torres del Paine half-circuit (the 'W'); Stage 1. Refugio Las Torres - Mirador Las Torres (return); Stage 2. Refugio Las Torres - Campamento Italiano; Stage 3. Campamento Italiano - Valle Franc´┐¢s (return); Stage 4. Campamento Italiano - Refugio Grey; Stage 5. Refugio Grey - Refugio Paine Grande; Walk 3: Salto Grande and Mirador Los Cuernos; Walk 4: Puente Weber; Walk 5: Mirador Lago Toro and Laguna Verde; Walk 6: Mirador Condor; Walk 7: Rio Pingo and Mirador Zapata; Stage 1. Guarderia Lago Grey - Campamento Zapata; Stage 2. Campamento Zapata - Mirador Zapata (return); Stage 3. Campamento Zapata - Guarderia Lago Grey; Other walks within the national park; Laguna Amarga - Porteria Sarmiento; Laguna Azul and trail to Lago Dickson; Excursions from Puerto Natales; Excursion 1. Cueva del Milodon; Excursion 2. Balcameda and Serrano glaciers; (Bernard O'Higgins national park); Excursion 3. Sierra Baguales; Los Glaciares national park, Argentina; Excursion from El Calafate; Excursion 4. Perito Moreno glacier; Walk 8: Cerro Fitzroy (El Chalt´┐¢n) and Cerro Torre; Stage 1. El Chalt´┐¢n - Campamento Agostini; Stage 2. Campamento Agostini - Campamento Poincenot; Stage 3. Campamento Poincenot - Laguna de los Tres (return); Stage 4. Campamento Poincenot - Laguna Piedas Blancas (return); Stage 5. Campamento Poincenot - El Chalt´┐¢n; APPENDIX A: Gateway towns and cities; Puerto Natales; Santiago; Punta Arenas; APPENDIX B: Accommodation within Torres del Paine national park; APPENDIX C: Language notes and glossary; APPENDIX D: Contacts and online resources; APPENDIX E: Further reading
Rudolf Abraham is an award-winning writer and photographer whose love of travel and remote places has taken him from the Balkans to eastern Turkey, Central Asia and Patagonia. He lived in Zagreb from 1999 to 2001, and has made numerous trips into the mountains of Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. He has also written walking guides to Croatia and Montenegro for Cicerone.