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Torres del Paine National Park is truly Chile’s crown jewel. The park is famous around the world for its breathtaking mountain views, huge glaciers, rare wildlife, and ice-cold glacier lakes. Visiting this park is one of the best things to do in Chile!
Exploring Torres del Paine is a bucket list experience and one you shouldn’t take lightly. I’ve been lucky enough to explore and even go camping in Torres del Paine National Park on more than one occasion. I must say, I can’t wait to return again!
One of the best ways to explore the national park is on a tour. These tours take the stress out of your trip, make sure you see some of the incredible beauty the park has to offer and also allow you to learn about the park from an expert local guide.
But what are the best tours? Well, in this blog, I share the 6 best tours through Torres del Paine National Park, from 1-day guided tours to self-guided 8-day treks!
About Torres del Paine National Park
This park is one of the most well-known parts of the ‘south’ as many Chilean people affectionately refer to the Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego zones.
They aren’t wrong about their nickname, this sub-arctic area is at the very southern tip of the continent, just a travel day or two away from Antarctica itself.
In such a unique environment, you see everything from fjords and glaciers to mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, islands, and rolling hills. If you are planning on hiking here, make sure to read our Complete Guide to the Torres del Paine W-Trek before you go. It’s one of the most famous hikes in the world and there’s A LOT to know before attempting it.
Most of the settlements this far south are small towns, fishing villages, hiking lodges, and communities that primarily work in the tourism industry to show visitors like you around Patagonia.
Torres del Paine National Park was officially established in 1959, but underwent a name change from Grey Lake National Tourism Park to the current name, Torres del Paine, in 1970.
This name change saw the national park’s focus shift from the ‘Grey Lake’ and Glacier Grey that feeds into it, to the three ‘Blue Towers’ that are arguably the most popular mountain formation in the park.
The Paine Mountain range that holds the Torres del Paine, those infamous 3 towers, is also one of the most well-known parts of many hiking circuits, day hikes, and guided visits. If you’re visiting the park, there is a good chance you may just get to see this for yourself.
Even with a constant stream of foreign and domestic tourists, the national park is well-kept up with, thanks to its protection as a part of the National System of Protected Forested Areas of Chile.
What an incredible place to get into nature, spend time in the part of the world closest to Antarctica, and meet some amazing people along the way!
It’s great to know more about the park itself, but what about those go-to FAQs that you just need to know? We’ll talk about those, why you should visit this park on a tour versus individually, and what the 6 best tours to go on are!
Why Visit Torres del Paine National Park on a Tour
A tour lets you relax as so much of the planning is taken care of! I know when we’re traveling somewhere new there is already so much to think about, it’s nice not to be stressed out about how we will explore a place like Torres del Paine National Park.
Tours here take care of transportation (so helpful!), get you to places you might not otherwise discover, and if you choose a guided tour, a local guide is there to help along the way and tell you more about what’s around you.
The Patagonia region is really remote, so you’ll already be busy arranging everything from hotels to rental cars. Having a tour booked means you know what you’re getting into!
While you’re picking a tour, make sure you either plan to stay in the closest city to the park which is Puerto Natales, or check out the amazing places to stay in Torres del Paine National Park for a variety of budgets.
Also, have you thought about how you’re getting to the park or this part of Chile? Some tours will include transportation from larger centers, but for others, you may want to consider renting a car in Patagonia. It’s not as expensive as you might think (ours was around $450 USD for 10 days) if you go with a reputable service like Discover Cars.
Torres del Paine’s closest neighboring city is Puerto Natales, where I highly recommend basing yourself. It is located about an hour’s drive from the national park. We stayed in Puerto Natales and it made things SO much easier when it came to booking tours and traveling around!
In my opinion, the tours from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine are the best because they offer the least travel time which allows for more time in the park itself.
Whether you want the company of a hiking group, the expert information of a guide, the ease of a shuttle bus, or the option to sleep under the stars with epic multi-day hikes, there are tours that will allow you to make the most of your time in Patagonia.
With all that said, let’s get into it!
6 BEST Torres del Paine Tours
Deciding which tour to take can be hard, especially when some seem so similar. I’ve had the chance to explore this region extensively and have some recommendations depending on the experience you’re looking for.
When you are heading to Torres del Paine National Park, it’s easiest to get there from the town of Puerto Natales, since that is the closest center to the park itself. The town is just about an hour south of the national park, making it easily drivable.
Almost all of these tours are between Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park, but I have a few options that leave from other locations, too. These are the best tours in Torres del Paine National Park!
1. Torres del Paine Day Tour (Easy and Short Hike)
To start us off, this is the shortest and easiest tour, perfect if you have limited time in the area and don’t want to camp.
This day tour from Puerto Natales is a stellar value at $66 USD for the approximately 10-hour tour! You’ll have transportation taken care of from Puerto Natales, but you will still have to pay the admission fee to get into the park.
This is a smaller group tour with a max of 15 people. I did this tour with 4 friends, and we found that it was the perfect size for us to meet people but still get to enjoy the experience as our own separate group.
After an early morning pick-up around 7:30 am, the tour starts with a quick stop at Villa Cerro Castillo where you can enjoy a nice break from the bus before continuing on to the Cave of the Milodón. Inside these incredible caves, a German explorer found the remains of a milodon – basically a giant sloth that went extinct thousands of years ago. This was one of my favorite quick stops on the tour!
The Amarga Lagoon sector and some different viewpoints come next. Keep an out for wildlife like red foxes and condors.
One of the best lookouts here is over an amazing waterfall. Mirador Salto Grande is a thundering waterfall that is so powerful as the water narrows to merge with Pehoe Lake. It’s power really reminded us of Huka Falls in New Zealand!
The amazing sights continue with a short hike to Grey Lake – a stunning glacier-fed lake. Have your camera ready for this one!
This tour is all about hiking, so come prepared with good hiking boots as you follow the route to see Lake Nordenskjold and Lake Pehoe. You’ll also spend over an hour in the ‘glacier sector’ of the park where you can walk about the lenga forests and see some pretty impressive glaciers including Gray Glacier.
You get a lot of free time at the stops to explore on your own, or to stay with the guides and hear about the different areas of the park. This tour really pays for itself when it comes to getting you to the park and allowing you to see so much of Torres del Paine.
This tour is what you make it, and there is so much potential! My only tips? Bring a camera, some extra water, snacks, and get ready to make some new friends.
You can book this shorter-day hiking tour online in advance here.
2. Torres del Paine Mirador Las Torres Hike (Long Hike)
This is actually the first tour I did in Torres del Paine, and I did the tour above the very next day. I really recommend doing this combination, in whatever order you prefer, if you have some time here and want to get a really well-rounded experience of the park.
This advanced hiking day tour takes you to so many beautiful spots around the park, but the hike is certainly more difficult. The trek is 18 km (11 miles) where you’ll be treated to stunning views of Lake Nordenskjold and Almirante Nieto Mountain as well as making your way to the base of Torres del Paine where the panoramic views will take your breath away.
This is a smaller group tour with a maximum of 12 people, which is really nice for a more personal experience. It’s also reasonably priced for a full-day excursion with a price tag of $150 USD that includes all your transportation, a professional guide (who is a certified wilderness first responder), lunch, a day backpack, and even hiking poles. You’re set up for success with this one, that’s for sure.
Just make sure to have cash on hand for the park entrance fee (about $33 USD) which isn’t included.
The day starts bright and early with pick-up from your hotel in Puerto Natales between 6-7 am. You shouldn’t plan to be back in town before 8-9 pm. Not to worry, there are plenty of great local restaurants in town serving pizza and pasta that can help you refuel for a late dinner!
You start out the tour by gaining a little elevation as you walk through the grassy area of the hike, before eventually starting to go up the switchbacks on the sides of the mountain. Much of this area is relatively laid-back and you’ll get a chance to see lakes, a valley, and really take in all of the sights of Torres del Paine National Park.
Eventually, you will hit ‘the moraine’ where the most challenging ascent takes place, and lasts from 45 minutes to just under an hour and a half, depending on your speed. From here, you’ll have a front-row seat to the showpiece of the park – the three incredible granite ‘towers’ of Torre Sur, Torre Central, and Torre Norte.
Expect about 4 hours on the way up and another 4 hours on the way down.
Because this is a more challenging hike, I wouldn’t recommend this one for young children or anyone with any health concerns. Make sure you also have valid travel insurance – that’s required for this trek.
If you are up for this hike with its payoff of stellar views, then go for it! This is the tour I would recommend if you only have one day to spend in the park. You do this and you’ll come away feeling like you saw some of the best parts!
Related read: If you’re on a tight schedule and only have a day to explore parts of Chile, that’s still plenty of time. We have lots of ideas if you want to spend a day in Santiago!
3. Torres del Paine W Trek (5-Day Hike)
If the last tour intrigued you, but you’re really more of an avid hiker and want to take on the famed W Trek, I don’t blame you! This 5-day W Trek tour gets you fully immersed in the trail for days at a time.
You have different booking options with this one, so you can pick and choose to create the tour that works for you. To go on the W Trek as a foreigner, there are 2 options to choose from:
1. W Trek with Refugio rooms
Benefits: You’ll get to sleep in a refugio (mountain hostel) at night, as opposed to camping in a tent. This is great for anyone wanting a slightly elevated experience.
Price: $1,420 USD per person
2. W Trek with tent camping
Benefits: You’ll get to sleep out in nature, under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, and experience all that the trail has to offer, weather included.
Price: $1,180 USD per person
You can see there’s a few hundred dollars difference in your choice of accommodations. Really, it’s up to you to decide if you feel prepared to camp or if you’d rather sleep indoors.
Both options are identical except for where you’ll sleep at night. That means the price also covers everything else on the trek, from entry into Torres del Paine National Park to your round-trip bus transfer to and from Puerto Natales. You’ll get catamaran transfer across Lake Pehoé (a standard part of the W Trek), breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Expect to spend hours a day hiking, exploring, and seeing all that ‘The W’ has to offer.
What to expect each day:
- Day 1 – Start out by leaving Puerto Natales and heading over to Torres del Paine National Park. Next, check into the refugio or campsite that you will sleep in. You will have time for a short hike, but it will be around 6 pm so you may also choose to meet some fellow hikers and rest before you begin your journey. Today is all about getting settled and ready for the rest of the trek!
- Day 2 – After breakfast, you’ll take a day pack, your packed lunch, and set off for your hike of the day. This one will take you to the Mirador Las Torres and back, so you can expect an 8-hour day and some intensive inclines to kick off your trekking experience. You come back to the same lodge/campsite this night since the hike is a loop. This is a great way to start off and will leave you tired but excited for the days ahead.
- Day 3 – Today, you will be moving campsites, as you begin crossing over new terrain on the W Trek. This is the least demanding portion of the hike, however, as you only accumulate about 200 meters of elevation gain. Spend your day in the French sector by taking it easy and enjoying the scenery, as the hike only takes 5 hours of your day.
- Day 4 – Your hike will begin to get steeper on the second to last day, and you’ll need to decide whether to return to camp after the first part or continue to the British lookout for an added bit of trekking. By the end of the day, you’ll continue past Skottsberg lake until you hit Paine Grande, where you will spend the night in front of Lake Pehoé.
- Day 5 – This final day of trekking can be quite difficult thanks to the steepness of the hike, but you’ll be thankful to learn that you can keep your packs at the refugio/campsite so that you don’t have that extra weight slowing you down. Today will see you exploring the Glacier Grey area, taking a catamaran over Lake Pehoé back to the starting point of your trip, and then bussing back to Puerto Natales.
Each day of this trek has its own challenges and rewards, but the views and the experience itself are hard to beat!
As great as the day tours are, a multi-day tour is one of those epic adventures that’s hard to beat. Because of the challenging hikes in this one, you’ll want to be a confident hiker for this one. If you can manage it, go for it! The stories you’ll have from this trip will be amazing.
You must book this 5-day hike in advance to secure your spot.
4. The O Circuit (8-Day Hike)
Wanting to level up your experience, and even 5 days doesn’t feel like enough? You’re in luck because this O Circuit Tour is an 8-day hike that is similarly inclusive and takes you all around one of the most famous hiking circuits with the added advantage of a guided tour.
Like the W Trek, there are 2 options for lodging:
1. O Circuit with mix-lodging
Benefits: Stay in a refugio for 4 nights and camp for the other 3. You’ll have a dorm that fits up to 8 people in the refugio, and then a tent will be provided and set up for you.
Price: $2,840 USD per person
2. O Circuit with camping only
Benefits: Get to experience a full 8 days and 7 nights of camping, with a tent that is prepared and provided for you. Sleep under the stars, and get closer to your fellow travelers who also chose to camp.
Price: $1,780 USD per person
Refugios are amazing options, but if you’re concerned about the cost of this trip, do it the way that most hikers do and plan to camp from the start! You’ll save roughly $1,000 USD if you choose this option. There is no ‘right way’ to go on a trip like this though, as long as you enjoy your experience.
Similar to the W Trek tour, the O Circuit tour covers about 127 km (79 miles) and allows you to be your own guide, but arrive at camp with your space prepared and your meals ready.
The O Circuit, being a longer trek overall, actually is made up of the W Trek and then some, so if you want to do ‘both treks’, the O Circuit is the one for you!
See the mountains, lakes, glaciers, valleys, lookout points, fjords, and forests of Torres del Paine all in just over a week. Again, this tour is not for anyone with serious health conditions. You should be an active hiker who is able to safely complete the trek.
What to expect each day:
- Day 1 – You’ll kick off with an informational session to go over the welcome kit provided to you so that you are best prepared for your trek.
- Day 2 – Take the bus from Puerto Natales at 7 am, and enter Torres del Paine National Park through the Laguna Amarga entrance. You’ll then hike 6-8 hours to Camping Serón, and sleep in a tent for your first night of the trip. Everything is set up for you, and you’ll even have access to showers!
- Day 3 – Get ready for an intensive day of hiking through a windy area filled with lots of ascents and descents that lead to Paine Lake. This day will end in the Dickson sector of the park after you’ve had a chance to see panoramic views of the mountains all day long. If you’re lucky, and it’s a clear day, you may even see the summit of the Paine Massif.
- Day 4 – Today will hold your shortest and fastest route of the entire trek, so make sure to soak in all the views of glaciers, lenga forests, and the lake as you head further away from it. You’ll want to prepare to have some food of your own packed for this portion because there is no food readily available in this portion of the park (other than a bit to purchase, with limited options.)
- Day 5 – Today’s route can take up to 12 hours, so be prepared for a long hiking day. You’ll pass around the Grey Glacier until you finally reach Grey Lake, and get to experience ‘El Paso,’ an area with suspension bridges and incredible views of the glacier. Today might just be the coolest one of the entire trek!
- Day 6 – The hike today is much easier, which will allow you to rest and recoup from yesterday’s more intensive hike. You can even take the morning off, enjoy the glacier, spend time with your companions, and recharge before continuing on. Or, if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can kayak or ice hike on the glacier! When you’re ready to continue on, you’ll hike alongside the Cerro Paine Grande and get to experience its majesty before ending at the largest camp of the entire circuit.
- Day 7 – Heading from the French Valley to Italian Camp, this section is smooth until it begins to incline drastically. If you have time to head to the British Viewpoint, take the opportunity to see more incredible views. If you are questioning your daylight or your energy, it may be best to head back to your camp in the French sector.
- Day 8 – Another day of shorter and easier trekking, you can enjoy a flat path and views of the Cuernos del Paine and Lake Nordenskjöld on either side of you. Really make the most of your common areas in the Central Sector’s campsite and lodge space. There is a bar, a spa, and a restaurant located at the Hotel Las Torres where you’ll be given a 20% discount.
- Day 9 – On your final day of the O Circuit, you’ll end at the Mirador Base Torres, by completing the hike up to the towers that give the park its name. From the flat area at the bottom to passing through a lenga forest, a rocky path that is the most difficult portion, and finally arriving at the base of the towers, you’ll be grateful for the views that wrap up your trek. Your transfer back to Puerto Natales will leave at 7 pm and your journey will end by 10 pm upon arrival to wherever you’ve chosen to stay for the night.
Not only are your sleeping arrangements and the majority of your meals included, but you get your admission to the park, transfer to and from Puerto Natales, a welcome kit to help you stay prepared, and great company too. Plan to pay for any extra drinks at the bar of your refugio, and any additional activities or food items you want to purchase during your trip.
This tour is wonderful because everything is prepared and planned out for you, but you also still get the same independence and flexibility that you would if you had to book each campsite and ticket on your own.
If you want to do a Patagonian multi-day hike, this is the way to do it. Trust me, the days of planning and booking and then re-planning and re-booking all the portions of this trek add up fast.
You can book this o-circuit tour online here!
5. Full-Day Tour from Punta Arenas
So, you are staying in Punta Arenas but still want to make it up to Torres del Paine? Be prepared that the drive is 4 hours, much longer than the distance from Puerto Natales to the park. Is it still doable? Of course.
A car or bus may not be as realistic when it comes to a single-day trip, but this Full-Day Tour from Punta Arenas is!
For $160 USD, this is more than worth it. Your transportation alone would be a huge factor, but this includes so much more than that.
You’ll be picked up around 5-6 am (you can sleep on the bus), which allows for enough daylight hours to really enjoy the park. This is quite similar to that first full-day tour that leaves Puerto Natales, with stops at the Cave of the Milodón, multiple lakes, lookout points, waterfalls, and more.
This tour will take you first to the Cave of the Milodón for a guided tour of the cave itself, a walk through the museum, and time to look out at the park from this lower vantage point.
Next, you’re off to Sarmiento Lake Viewpoint, which is then followed up by the Laguna Amarga Viewpoint, and then Paine Waterfall. These are all stunning locations and you’ll have time to explore and see each one up close.
Salto Grande, another waterfall that joins the park’s lakes, will be your next stop before heading to Lake Pehoé and Lake Grey, two of the most famous spots in the park. You can take photos and soak in the views at both of these lakes, but at Grey Lake, you’ll also expect to cross a suspension bridge and admire the glacial ice from above. What a way to end your tour of Torres del Paine!
You’ll get back to Punta Arenas by 11 pm, which makes for a long but immersive day of travel. This really is the best way to see it all in a day!
Wanting to bring the kids? Go for it! Since the tour is only a day trip and involves covering a lot of distance by bus, it is more accessible for those who are not avid hikers or who may not be able to handle more of the hiking-focused tours.
6. Full-Day Tour from El Calafate
Finally, if you’re doing the whole Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego area, you could be staying in Argentina but wanting to get over to the Chilean side of things for a day.
El Calafate in Argentina, is only 3 hours and 25 minutes from the park. It’s located to the north, unlike the other two Chilean towns that are closest to Torres del Paine.
If that sounds like your plans, and you want to come down to Torres del Paine for the day, check out the Full-Day Overland Tour from El Calafate.
This one involves more in the way of travel since it also crosses an international border and takes an unpaved road called ‘The Shortcut’ so it costs a little more at $200 USD for the day. It is worth it for the incredible access to areas that might not otherwise be available to you.
The 4×4 Overland Trucks are used to help go over unpaved roads and will take you around the park in a safe, unique, and fun way. In the same fashion as the other vehicle-based day tours, you’ll see all the park’s natural wonders while getting out and exploring at stops along the way.
The trucks will take you to a certain point, and are quite the experience of their own, but you’ll also get to do lots of walking and exploring on foot. This isn’t too difficult or physically demanding, so almost everyone can participate.
Guides will assist travelers in getting across the border, and then you’ll get a chance to see Sarmiento Lake, Laguna Amarga, the Paine waterfall, Nordenskjöld lake, Salto Grande, and Pehoé Lake.
You’ll find that the stops on this tour are similar to many of the other day tours, and even the longer multi-day treks. That just means that you truly make the most out of this day!
You’ll ride in the trucks between different places in the park so that you can avoid day hikes and instead get to experience each location for a longer period of time, all while making it back to your accommodation that night.
You can expect to make it back to El Calafate around 7 or 8 pm, after a jam-packed day of exploring the Chilean side of the region.
Related Read: One of the best hikes in the area is the day hike to the base of Mount Fitz Roy!
Thanks for reading!
If Torres del Paine National Park is in your travel plans, you’re in for quite the incredible experience. While it’s possible to plan a visit on your own, I loved taking a couple of tours here, so all the details were taken care of. I knew I would see the highlights and wouldn’t have to worry about transportation or missing out on something!
If you’re in the midst of planning a trip here, make sure to check out our other blogs about South America. We’ve traveled extensively around here and have discovered some real hidden gems and tips and tricks along the way.