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21 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Torres del Paine National Park

21 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Torres del Paine National Park

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You may have heard of Patagonia before – the brand or the infamous part in South America. It’s one of the most remote regions in the entire world, spanning across both Chile and Argentina. If you didn’t know that Patagonia was a real place, get ready to add all the amazing things to do in Patagonia to your bucket list now! 

The Patagonia geographical region is full of gorgeous mountain ranges, bright blue lakes and glaciers, beautiful coastal towns, rolling hills, and lush fields with wildlife that ranges from flamingos to penguins. One of the most spectacular places to visit is none other than Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine is a National Park in the Chilean portion of Patagonia and is an absolute must for anyone traveling to the region. In fact, it’s the single most popular place to visit in Patagonia – I myself have been there twice (with plans to return again!) 

Torres del Paine National Park is a stunning park and Chile’s crown jewel, protected at all costs. However, with any big trip, there is a lot to know before you visit. 

Between the location, best places to stay, how to enter the national park, and the best trails to explore, you’ll want to know a few things before you go. 

So, if Torres del Paine is part of your travel bucket list, this blog is for you. We’ll cover fees, planning, booking, facilities, and tours, among other important details to help you make the most of your trip. Essentially, we talk about the necessary details and the fun ones so that you can be prepared and excited at the same time! 

Let’s get into it. 

Table Of Contents
  1. Torres del Paine National Park Overview
  2. Where is Torres del Paine National Park? 
  3. What is the Entrance Fee for Torres del Paine National Park? 
  4. Can you pay with cash or with a credit card? 
  5. How do you get to Torres del Paine National Park?  
  6. When is the Best Time to visit Torres del Paine National Park?  
  7. Do you need to book your visit to the park in advance?  
  8. Can you take a rental car to Torres del Paine National Park?  
  9. How many days do you need to visit Torres del Paine National Park?  
  10. What are the Best Hiking Trails in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  11. How do you book the multi-day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  12. How far in advance should you book your trip to Torres del Paine National Park? 
  13. Can you stay in a hotel in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  14. What wildlife can you see in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  15. What facilities are in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  16. What should I bring to Torres del Paine National Park?  
  17. Is Torres del Paine National Park suitable for children?  
  18. Are dogs allowed in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  19. Can you drink the water in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  20. Where is the best place to rent gear for hiking in Torres del Paine National Park?  
  21. Best Tours to Torres del Paine National Park 
  22. Thanks for reading!

Torres del Paine National Park Overview

Bailey hikes in Torres del Paine NP
This was our first day in the park on our first ever visit to Patagonia! How time flies!

One of the most well-known parts of Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, is truly a natural wonder. Its placement between forests, steppes, mountains, and bodies of water creates a unique environment to explore.  

The National Park was established in 1959, though it was first called Grey Lake National Tourism Park, after the well-known Lake Grey and its related Glacier Grey. It’s the most impressive glacier I have seen and rivals the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier

In 1970, the name of the park was changed and this current name, Torres del Paine, translates to ‘blue towers’ in English through a mix of Spanish and local language. 

Re-named after three towers (Torres) on the Paine Mountain range (Paine means blue in the Tehuelche Indian language), this park boasts quite a variety of overnight and multi-night hiking routes but can also be great for day trips and guided visits. 

Torres del Paine National Park is also a part of the National System of Protected Forested Areas of Chile, meaning that the area is well-maintained and protected even with its constant stream of visitors. 

Knowing a bit about the park is cool and all, but where is it actually located? 

Where is Torres del Paine National Park? 

Bailey stands on a rock overlooking Glacier Grey
Welcome to Patagonia!

Torres del Paine National Park is located in the very south part of Chile, far from the capital of Santiago

If you look at a map of the different regions of Chile, you will see that Torres del Paine National Park is in the Magallanes region of the country, surrounded by tiny islands and inlets and directly bordering Argentina.  

It also borders Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and Los Glaciares National Park, so it’s clear to see that there is no shortage of natural beauty in this part of the world. 

Nearby, there are two towns called Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. Both have airports of their own to serve the greater Patagonia region – a region that is infamous for being extremely remote and harsh.   

Puerto Natales is around 112 km (70 miles) south of the park and the most popular small town where many hikers set up base for a few days before and after their treks. Puerto Natales only has a tiny airport though so many flights instead come through Punta Arenas before travelers either bus or drive to Puerto Natales. 

Punta Arenas is much further from Torres del Paine National Park, located about 312 km (194 miles) south. The town of Punta Arenas is certainly larger and contains an entire port for ships to bring in goods and tourists. There is also a larger airport here and more regular flights. 

For that reason, it is the most popular place to fly into and a great place to explore with plenty of exciting things to see and do in Punta Arenas. After exploring Punta Arenas, most people bus or drive to Puerto Natales before heading to Torres del Paine National Park. This is what I do every time I visit and what I recommend to visitors. 

Related read: If you’re going to end up in Punta Arenas, make sure you stop to see the penguins!

What is the Entrance Fee for Torres del Paine National Park? 

A suspension bridge near Glacier Grey
The entrance fee is a small price to pay!

As of the summer of 2022, you can either enter Torres del Paine National Park on a day pass (good for up to 3 days) or 3+ day pass. 

For example, if you do one of the multi-day treks around the National Park, you will need to buy the most expensive 3+ day pass. However, if you only plan on going for the day or up to 3 days, the cheaper day pass is the best option.

Here is the price breakdown.

If you are visiting for up to 3 days:

  • Children under 12 are free. 
  • Teenagers 12-17: $17 USD 
  • Adults 18+: $35 USD 
  • Seniors: $35 USD

This is a good way to enter if you are on a bus tour, on a day hike, or even camping for up to 2 nights somewhere in the park.  

To stay for longer than 3 days: 

  • Children under 12 are free 
  • Teenagers 12-17: $49 USD 
  • Adults 18+: Around $49 USD 

If you plan to do one of the big treks, like the W or the O trek around the park, you will need to pay a bit extra to stay in the park for a longer period of time.  

If you plan to do multiple days of different Torres del Paine tours or day hikes and think that you will spend more than 3 days here cumulatively, you should purchase the 3+ day pass to save money overall.  

Tickets can be printed or shown on the phone if you buy them ahead of time at the Puerto Natales bus station, where you will find a small ticket booth or online here. With these options, you can pay with a credit card or cash. Please note that you still have to line up to watch a safety video and show your ticket, so this does not save you time. 

You also have the option to purchase tickets at the park itself. However, at the park, they only accept cash in either USD or CLP. This is what I have done both times I went to Torres del Paine.

Can you pay with cash or with a credit card? 

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo in Torres del Paine NP
We both love the mountains

When it comes to paying, the process is pretty simple. If you want to buy your ticket in advance with a credit or debit card, you should buy tickets online. Then only the check-in process takes place in person. This accessible booking method makes getting ready for your trip to Torres del Paine National Park that much more manageable. 

However, if you want to pay in cash, you will need to wait until you reach the National Park to purchase your ticket. 

I personally find buying the ticket in person at the entrance gate to be the best option. The online platform is hard to use and in Spanish. While if you wait and do it in person, the clerks speak English and help you with your booking. In-person you must pay in cash with CLP or USD.

How do you get to Torres del Paine National Park?  

Two people on the bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Catching the bus is easy and convenient.

The easiest way to get to Torres del Paine National Park is by car from Puerto Natales. This could be a taxi, rental car, a bus, or a tour company that you opt to go through. 

If you are planning to hike a multi-day trek, it’s best to take the bus. However, those staying in one of the hotels in the park or visiting for the day will have no problem driving themselves and using their hotel or public parking lots. 

The buses to Torres del Paine leave from the main bus station called Terminal Rodoviario, and there are five companies I know of who operate the route. They are Busses Gomez, Buses María, JoséBuses, Fernández Buses Pacheco and Bus Sur. The journey takes around 2 hours and costs 10,000 CLP (around $11 USD.) 

All companies offer departures from 7 am to 7:30 am (they often leave a little late) and 2:30 pm, and you can purchase the tickets in advance at the station. The companies sell a lot of tickets and run multiple buses to get all travelers to the park. Both times, I booked the ticket either one or two nights before traveling without any issue, even in peak season. I just went to the bust station and bought my bus ticket directly from the bus company.

Please note, if you get the 7 am bus, you’ll arrive at 9 am at the Amarga entrance and 10 am at the Pudeto entrance. There are also lots of return departures that are outlined on your ticket. 

If you are coming from Punta Arenas, you will want to take the bus due to the cost of a taxi. You will first need to get to Puerto Natales, and I recommend Buses Pacheco because they leave right from the airport. With that said, there are multiple companies and lots of departure times you can check out here

The Torres del Paine visitor site has information about bus companies that are most common, as well as a bus schedule from Puerto Natales to the National Park and vice-versa. It includes estimated times at all entrances. 

When is the Best Time to visit Torres del Paine National Park?  

Pano on Mirador Las Torres
Every time I have been to the park I’ve had fantastic weather!

Without a doubt, the best time to visit Torres del Paine National Park is from mid-November to early May. Within this summer hiking season, hiking between mid-December and mid-March is best for optimal weather. The earlier in the season, the more likely you’ll see rain and wind. 

With that said, December to March are also the busiest months, and bookings need to be made well in advance for campsites and hotels. A season that is becoming more popular is May, which is considered fall. During this time, the colors in the park are stunning, and you’ll also experience fewer crowds. Fall does bring more rodents into camps, though, so those on overnight treks should be very careful with their food. 

Outside this season, you can still visit Torres del Paine National Park. However, all overnight treks must be completed with a certified guide due to the dangers that winter conditions present. 

As it turns out, you’ll have a unique and wonderful experience no matter when you choose to visit Torres del Paine National Park. However, for me, going unguided is the only way, so summer is my preferred time, and I have done my treks both times in November. 

Do you need to book your visit to the park in advance?  

Bridge over Lake Pehoé in Torres del Paine NP
Even going for the day is worth it. I mean, check out this view at Lake Pehoe!

When it comes to planning, you need to book all your camping and hotels well before you arrive in Patagonia. In fact, if you plan on doing either the W Trek or O Circut, you need to book as soon as bookings open. This is usually 6 months in advance and requires you to book with up to three companies (most of which open at different times.) 

I have a complete guide to booking the W Trek and a guide to camping in the park. They have tons of info on both treks and how to book them. I have done it twice, and it was no easier the second time! 

Those that are a bit more spontaneous or want to plan upon arrival may be wondering if this is necessary. The truth is, you don’t have to book in advance if you only want to spend the day in the park. The entrance ticket can be purchased on the day as well as your bus ticket to the park. There are also lots of tours available last minute.

The problem is, I highly suggest spending at least one night in the park. There are a ton of great hotels, and you can also book one-night stays at some of the campsites/refugios that have either camping pads or full bed and board packages. The two best are Refugio Grey and Refugio Chileno. Both can be hiked to and stayed at for one night. 

For that reason, plan ahead and work out what you want to get out of your experience so you can book accordingly. 

Can you take a rental car to Torres del Paine National Park?  

Wild horses in Torres del Paine NP
Driving around the park we found these wild horses!

Yes, you can! 

It is certainly most common to see buses pulling up through the entrance of the park, but you will also see a lot of cars parked in areas near the entrances to the park.  

Renting a car in Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas to explore Torres del Paine National Park is becoming extremely popular and a great way to see some of the other attractions and day hikes in the park (there is a lot more to see than just the W and O treks). 

I did this one year and have a fantastic guide to renting a car in Patagonia. It includes who I booked with, some very important things you need to know, and info on crossing the border between Argentina and Chile (you need to be prepared.) 

If you do plan on renting a car, be sure to book it in advance. Rental cars in the region book up for the summer, so plan ahead. 

How many days do you need to visit Torres del Paine National Park?  

Bailey on a cruise to Paine Grande in Torres del Paine NP
Although extra days in case of bad weather too!

I recommend at least two full days of exploring the park with one night spent at a hotel, campsite, or refugio (basically a hiking hostel).

However, you could easily spend a week or two exploring all that the area has to offer. One year, I spent 9 days in the park after completing the O Circut and spending time exploring other trails. 

If you only have a short period of time to visit, even one day will give you a taste of this region. I just prefer to see people spend a little more time there – especially with the weather. 

Remember, if you are only going to be visiting for 3 days or less, you can get a cheaper pass.  

What are the Best Hiking Trails in Torres del Paine National Park?  

Valle Francés in Torres del Paine NP
Huts in Valle Francés in Torres del Paine NP

There are lots of hiking trails in Torres del Paine National Park. In fact, there are multiple variations of each trail depending on the time and experience you have. Below are some of my favorites, and they range in length, the time needed, and difficulty! 

Mirador Las Torres (part of the W Trek) 

Mirador Las Torres on a sunny day
Without a doubt, the highlight for most!
  • Length: 17 kilometers (11 miles) out and back
  • Elevation gain: 2,956 feet (900 meters)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time needed: Full day hike but can be an overnight hike with camping at Chileno
  • Bookings: Required for the overnight option only

We’ll start off with my personal favorite hiking trail because it leads you directly to the famed Torres del Paine or Towers of Paine. You’ll also get to stand right at the edge of Laguna Torres, a beautiful, light blue lagoon that sits at the base of the three towers. It’s the highlight for most visitors and a great trail.

Mirador Las Torres is actually part of the W Trek and O Circut, so those completing one of those hikes will see this at either the start or end of their trip. However, this is also the most popular day/overnight hike in the park.  

The trail is by no means easy and takes between 7 to 10 hours to complete in total from the entrance gates. This is one reason I highly suggest staying at Refugio Chileno for one night to split up the trail. This also allows you to stay towards the end of the trail and hike up for sunrise, which I have done two times. 

You’ll enter the trail near the Hotel de las Torres in order to embark on the hike. Each direction takes about 4 hours, thanks to a necessary slow pace as you ascend and descend on uneven terrain. 

In summer, you’ll get the bus to the park, which will have you starting at around 10 am. This can be late for some, so staying at a hotel within the park the night before is a great option. Better yet, book a night at Refugio Chileno, as mentioned above. 

Regardless of your itinerary in Torres del Paine National Park, this is a must-do trail! 

Laguna Azul Lookout 

  • Length: 0
  • Elevation gain: 0
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Time needed: None
  • Bookings: No

This next hike isn’t technically a hike at all. In fact, you can drive to Laguna Azul and enjoy breathtaking views of the park. I love the view here, and you can see the three towers. There is also a campsite here called Kau Laguna Azul. 

If you want to go on a short hike, follow the trail to Sierra Masle. This only takes around 1 hour and the views are even more rewarding. 

Mirador Condor

A man stands at Mirador Condor in torres del Paine National Park
One of the best easy day hikes in the park!
  • Length: 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) out and back
  • Elevation gain: 734 feet (226 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate 
  • Time needed: 1.5 hours
  • Bookings: Not required 

One of the best short hikes in Torres del Paine is Mirador Condor. This short but breathtaking hike starts near Hosteria Pehoe and climbs up to a stunning viewpoint over the park. The views of the Paine Mountains are so stunning and a must for those who enjoy short day hikes with rewarding views. 

You’ll need a rental car for this one, and you can park at the Pehoe Campsite, where the trail begins at the back of the campground. This area is exposed to the elements, so be careful if it is windy. 

Mirador Lago Grey 

  • Length: 5 kilometers (3 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 866 feet (264 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1.5 hours
  • Bookings: No

You’ll start this one just past the Hotel Lago Grey, and after you cross a suspension bridge to get to the trail. 

This will take you about 2 hours to hike and is great if you are having a more low-key day in the park, or if you are staying at the Hotel Lago Grey and are looking to get out and explore. 

Mirador Salto Chico 

  • Length: 300 meters
  • Elevation gain: very little
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Time needed: About 30 minutes
  • Bookings: No

The hike to this lookout could actually be considered a walk, as it takes only 20 minutes and crosses 300m, but the view is worth it! 

You’ll start from the Hotel Explora and may need to be a bit sneaky if you aren’t actually a hotel guest. You’ll need your own transport to get here.

The trail begins at the hotel’s access road and ends at the waterfall (salto) Chico which drains from some nearby lakes. 

The O Circuit  

Hikers walk along Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine NP
One of my favorite days on the O Circuit!
  • Length: 136 km/84.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: Varies each day.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time needed: 6-10 days (7-9 on average)
  • Bookings: Yes

The longer, less trafficked counterpart to the W Trek, the O Circuit is Torres del Paine’s second most popular multi-day hike, and for good reason! 

The circuit is 136 km (84.5 miles) and will take you by some of the most breathtaking yet untouched areas of the park. 

This trek joins up with the W Trek route to see you right to the base of the Torres del Paine at the end of the journey. 

You’ll need to prepare to book your campsites and know your plans ahead of time. 

Mirador Cuernos and Salto Grande 

  • Length: 6.5 km/4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 2-3 hours
  • Bookings: No

This hike begins at the water in an area called the Pudeto catamaran ferry ramp. From there, you get to go closer than any other trail allows to the Cuernos del Paine. 

You can also pass by Salto Grande, another waterfall in the area. 

At 6.5 km (4 miles), this hike should not take more than 2.5 hours or so. 

The W Trek 

Bailey with the Torres in the background
Day two when we did the W Trek!
  • Length: 76 km/47 miles
  • Elevation gain: Varies each day.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time needed: 4-5 days (can take up to 7)
  • Bookings: Yes

The W Trek is the most popular multi-day Hike in Torres del Paine National Park. It will bring you out near Glacier Grey, a famed glacier in the park as well as the Las Torres.

The trail is 76 km (47 miles) long and is completed over 3 to 5 days.  

The trail needs to be booked well in advance, and there are multiple itinerary options. For more detailed info, check out our complete W-trek guide.  

If you’ve decided to tackle one of the longer hikes, the next question is how do you go about booking your multi-day hike? Keep reading the next section of this blog for the detailed answer to this question!

Mirador Cardan 

  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Short Walk 
  • Length: 200 meters
  • Elevation gain: Minimal
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Time needed: 10 minutes
  • Bookings: no

Like the Mirador Lago Grey walk, this is about 200 m and takes just 10 minutes to get to.  

Again, not quite a hike, but the views are well worth the lack of exercise. 

Near the Pehoé Campsite, you can walk to a beachy overlook for yet another amazing view of the Cordillera Paine, including a more direct view of the Cuernos del Paine. 

Mirador Británico 

Mirador Británico
We didn’t get the best weather!
  • Length: 30 km (18.5 miles)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time needed: 11 hours. Can be done over two days with a night at Camp Italiano.
  • Bookings: Only if you plan to spend the night.

This hike essentially is an extension of the Valle Francés hike, meaning that you can expect 30 km (18.5 miles) and 11 hours of hiking to complete this trek. 

The lookout will give you a great viewpoint of the Cuernos del Paine and also of lots of lush flora around the area. 

You may even see huemul, the rare, endangered deer, in this part of the park if you look closely! 

Plan to make sleeping arrangements at the Campamento Italiano, as you likely won’t make it back in time for the final ferry across Lago Pehoé. 

How do you book the multi-day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park?  

A group of hikers in Torres del Paine NP
All the stress of booking is worth it once you reach the park!

The best way to book multi-day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park is via the new Booking Patagonia website. When it comes to booking a multi-day hike, you really just need to focus on where you will be sleeping.  

Whether it is a refugio or campsite, you’ll want to have these booked ahead of time and may be asked to show rangers proof that your sleeping arrangements are pre-planned for the entire hike. You’ll also need proof of your bookings when you enter the park and at various check points.

How far in advance should you book your trip to Torres del Paine National Park? 

Bailey looking over the Grey Glacier on the torres del Paine W Trek from Puerto Natales, Chile
Looking over the Grey Glacier on the section of the Torres del Paine trek between Paine Grande and Campamento Grey on the W Trek

You should plan your trip pretty far in advance unless you are already located in South America.  

For example, if you are coming from Santiago, Chile, or Buenos Aires, Argentina, your journey is going to be much easier than if you are taking a trip from Montreal, Canada, or Chicago in the United States.  

The less lengthy your air travel requirement, and the closer proximity to the Patagonia region overall, the less time you will need to effectively plan a great trip. 

Coming from North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, or Oceania, is going to be quite different than if you are coming from a nearby area where people may be able to offhandedly give you tips for planning a Patagonia trip. 

In order to give yourself time to book and budget for international flights, I recommend booking at least 4 months out of your desired trip time. 

If you are in South America already, you could probably plan this all in about 2 weeks, thanks to your general proximity and the availability of advice and other resources. 

With all of that said, if you are doing the O-Circuit ot W-Trek you should book your route, including camping and accommodation in Torres del Paine National Park several months in advance. Additonally, this is also the case if you want to spend a night in the park at popular refugios.

Can you stay in a hotel in Torres del Paine National Park?  

Patagonia camp in Torres del Paine NP
Photo Credit – Patagonia Camp

You’ve seen me talk about driving in from Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas, and this might lead you to the question of whether there are ways to stay in the park itself.  

Thankfully, that is a strong yes! There are many hotel options for you to look into when it comes to staying in a hotel in Torres del Paine National Park. 

Check out our piece on Hotels in Torres del Paine National Park for more information.  

What wildlife can you see in Torres del Paine National Park?  

A rare Huemul deer in Torres del Paine NP
A rare Huemul deer in Torres del Paine NP

The wildlife that I saw in Patagonia, and Torres del Paine National Park specifically, was one of my favorite parts of the entire journey! You’ll see many guanacos, a sort of gazelle-like creature that is found in abundance around the entire region. 

Penguins are another popular animal in this Antarctic region. You will find them near glaciers, bodies of water, and on islands. 

When I was in the park, I even saw a huge group of flamingos relaxing near the water as we walked around. 

Huemeles are endangered deer that find shelter within the park, making them a sight to see. They blend in quite well with the foliage, so they are also rare to spot. 

There are over 100 species of birds in Torres del Paine, making this a great place to visit for those who enjoy birdwatching. 

You can also, if you’re lucky, spot pumas in the park too. You can book special guided tours to try and see pumas, which will increase your chances of seeing one.

What facilities are in Torres del Paine National Park?  

Refugio Torre
Some of the facilities are luxury!

Although remote, there are lots of different facilities in the Torres del Paine National Park. You can expect hotels with power, restaurants, stores, bathrooms (some showers), and even tour agencies offering excursions. Or course, these amenities are spread out, and you will not see them everywhere in the park.

The park has luxury hotels, ranches (estancias), glamping, hotels, refugios, and camping at your disposal.  Fancier hotels will have hot water, restaurants, power, and all of the luxuries you would expect. Whereas, at the cheapest campsites, you’ll only find a cook shelter and pit toilets.

There are some restaurants and restrooms near the bases of trails that are at the edges of the park, and refugios along the major multi-day hiking routes. There are also a couple of small stores selling everything from food to toiletries to alcohol.

You will also find that some of your day hike trails will make up a portion of the longer treks, which means that they may also have refugios with food and restrooms along the way. 

Be prepared for the possibility of peeing behind a tree, though, because you’ll find that these sorts of facilities are not regularly spaced out. Also, the facilities are not that great on the back end of the O Circut. This is the most remote part of the trail and you should carry everything you need unless you have a full board package with the refugio.

What should I bring to Torres del Paine National Park?  

Hiking through snow on Paso John Gardner on the O Circuit
Plan for everything on the multi-day treks!
Bailey climbs through the snow at Paso John Gardner on the O Circuit
It was cold!

To decide what you should pack, you first need to know what you plan to do.  

A day hike requires different gear than a 5 or 7-day hike would, and the same goes for a tour versus exploring individually. 

If you plan to explore the park for the day, bring lots of water, snacks, cash, and any medicines or backup items you may need personally. This should all fit in a day pack and will be easy to carry whether you are exploring on your own or with a tour group. Oh, and don’t forget your camera! 

For those who plan to go on a hike for the day, the same essentials are a good start. On top of food and water, I recommend hiking poles and an extra pair of gloves in case you need them. A hat and a buff are also good to have, to keep you warm and dry as you inevitably sweat during the hike. 

Anyone planning on doing a multi-day hike like the W or O treks should plan to bring a larger pack, lots of waterproof gear, a tent, a sleeping bag, and anything else that you may need as a longer-term backpacker.  

There are refugios (sort of like hiking hostels) throughout the routes, where hikers can stop to get food and water, shower, and get out of the elements. Make sure you know the locations that you may be stopping at to best plan the food that you are bringing. 

If you decide to sleep at the refugios for the duration of your hike, you won’t need to bring bedding or tents, which could make it so that you are carrying a much smaller pack. 

Ultimately, what you bring will depend on your needs and personal planning, but adequate food, water, medicine, and proper clothing are a must no matter how long you plan to stay. Set yourself up for success by bringing the essentials. 

Is Torres del Paine National Park suitable for children?  

A hiker on the back end of the O Circut in Torres del Paine NP
Torres del Paine is for everyone!

Torres del Paine is a suitable place to bring children, though I wouldn’t recommend multi-day treks unless you live in a place where hiking and backpacking trips are already the norm.

If your kids have not had opportunities to get used to the elevation, hiking, or camping outside for multiple nights, this may not be the place to introduce that style of exploring. 

You may want to adjust your plans to accommodate bringing smaller children along, but generally, children also enjoy the park. Think of going to a National Park near your home – there are always at least a few kids, right?  

Torres del Paine is like other national parks, in that safety and accessibility should be considered but, overall, it will be a good experience for a family to do together. 

Are dogs allowed in Torres del Paine National Park?  

A fox in Torres del Paine National Park
These (foxes) are the closest thing to dogs you’ll see!

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed in the park. This is due to many factors, one of which being that the wildlife in Torres del Paine is protected and interference with those animals is minimized.  

You’ll see some sources online saying that Torres del Paine is pet friendly, but these refer to the surrounding area and not the National Park specifically.  

Hopefully, this won’t be a huge issue, as it isn’t very common to bring animals on far-away vacations. If this is something that you plan to do, I encourage you to look into your options. 

Can you drink the water in Torres del Paine National Park?  

Filling a water bottle right from the stream!
The best water in the world!

You can drink the water in Torres del Paine. This is a must for anyone hiking the multi-day routes. 

The water in the park mostly comes from nearby glaciers, so you can safely know that you are getting to drink glacier water straight from the source. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of the water, bring a portable water filter or water purification tablets. With that said, I always just drink the water straight from the source!

Where is the best place to rent gear for hiking in Torres del Paine National Park?  

camping along the o circuit on the torres del paine trail
All our rental gear was fantastic!

You can rent gear in Puerto Natales before you leave for the Torres del Paine National Park, or some rental gear is available in the park. I always rent in Puerto Natales as it is cheaper and I don’t mind carrying my own gear. With that said, some people prefer to carry less weight and rent things like tents and sleeping necessities at each campsite/refugio.

Rental Gear in Puerto Natales

In Puerto Natales, there are lots of places you can rent hiking and camping equipment. However, after hiking the trail twice and using the same company, I highly recommend renting your equipment from Rental Natales.

Guillermo, the owner, is a super friendly guy and the equipment he rents is updated around every 6 months. He’s also very helpful and can clear up any questions you may have about the trek.

On his website, you can book your rental gear in advance but it is a little more expensive than in person. The benefit is that he will not only guarantee it, but it’ll be ready waiting for you at his office.

Rental Gear in Torres del Paine National Park

At the paid campsites, you can pay extra for a pre-setup tent which will be set up waiting for you when you arrive (tent, mattress, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner.) This is selected when you book on the website and you can actually also book all of your food, so you don’t have to carry anything but your personal items.

Of course, this is a lot more expensive, but it’s an option for those who need it!

Best Tours to Torres del Paine National Park 

A lady walks a suspension bridge with Glacier Grey in the background
Tours take care of everything!

Now, as we’ve talked all about Torres del Paine National Park and what you need to know about the park, I want to get into the really good stuff! I have some ideas of the best tours to do in the National Park, each with varying time commitments and fitness requirements. 

Full-Day Luxury Tour 

If you are looking to see the park, but don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of it all, this full-day luxury tour may just be your choice! You’ll spend 8-10 hours on the tour, which includes hotel pickup from Puerto Natales, and will enjoy a hassle-free experience of the park. It’s really reasonable for a ‘luxury’ tour as well at $86 USD.

The local guides on this tour are incredible and will give you insight into the flora and fauna of the park as well as its magnificent history.  

Expect to see caves, lakes, waterfalls, mountains, fields, lots of wildlife, and even some glaciers! I recommend this tour to anyone looking for a nice, relaxing-yet-fulfilling day in Torres del Paine National Park. You can secure your spot online here.

Full-Day Tour 

This tour is great for those looking to spend a little less, but who still want to experience the park with a knowledgeable tour guide. 

Really, the main difference is that your bus is not air-conditioned nor does it have snacks, but the full-day tour itself is longer at about 11-12 hours. Other than those small factors, this tour is pretty comparable to the first-class one (but slightly cheaper at $63 USD), so make sure to do what feels like the best fit for you! 

4-Day Tour from Punta Arenas  

Tours like this are such great options for anyone looking to fully immerse themselves in an experience, but who also prefer to have the support of a guide. The planning factor is also great because the tour will map out your entire 4-day journey so that you can focus more on the details of the park and less on the details of the logistics. 

Something I really love about this option is that it caps out at 15 people so that you can see Torres del Paine in a small group environment that still feels personalized. 

With accommodations, breakfast and lunch, entrance fees, and transportation between Punta Arenas and/or Puerto Natales included, it is clear to see how the cost of this trip at $1,100 USD quickly becomes more than worth it. 

Instead of navigating transportation, booking campsites or hotels, and planning all meals daily, you get most things planned out for you. This gives you the chance to enjoy this part of Patagonia as you explore by bus and short treks. You can see all details and book this tour online here.  

Dan and Bailey take a selfie at Mirador Las Torres
Mirador Las Torres!
Mirador Las Torres

Advanced Hiking Tour 

I did this advanced hiking tour myself while I was in Torres del Paine National Park, and all that I can say is that if you are physically able, you have to do this one. I would go so far as to say that it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life!  

You meet with a group, a tour guide, and a bus driver early in the morning and head from the small town of Puerto Natales to the park. With hiking poles, radio communication and professional hiking guides with wilderness first responder training all included for $90 USD, you are sure to be in good hands. 

The tour has a main guide and a supporting guide that are at the front and back of the hiking group to ensure that everyone is alright at all times, and you may even get a unique chance to chat with the guides and learn some things about the area! 

More than that, I found that the group of people we hiked with were all very excited to be on the journey and I would bet that you’ll also meet some great people on your 8-hour round trip journey to see the 3 peaks that make up the Torres del Paine. This tour is very popular, so be sure to book it online in advance.

W Trek 5-Day Hike 

Looking to do the W Trek but aren’t confident in doing it alone, or don’t want the hassle of planning your campsites and route? This 5-day W Trek trip is going to be a wonderful way to do this hike with a group of people who are also looking for a similar experience. 

Your entry and bus transfer to the park, ferry transfer during the trek, and meals during the trek are all covered in the $1502 USD price of this trip. Not only will you have these things planned out, but you will also have the chance to still independently hike at your own pace, as the trek is still self-guided.  

The trip is developed to offer you support and help take some weight off your shoulders, quite literally in that you won’t have to pack your meals in with you. 

If the W Trek is on your bucket list but the technical aspects are intimidating, this could be the perfect way to do it! Book online here and see all the details of the trip!

Full O Circuit Tour  

In a similar vein, so many people talk about the O Circuit and wanting to do the full trek around the Torres del Paine National Park. If this sounds like you, but you are also concerned about planning the details, you might want to check out this full tour of the O Circuit route

While this option is certainly a bit more expensive at $3,650 USD than many tours you will see, it covers 9 days of travel, meals, lodging, guide services, and all ground transportation including to a bus station or the airport at the end of your journey. 

You’ll still be required to pay for your own airfare, of course, but aside from snacks, and any personal purchases, almost every aspect of this trek is covered under the tour.  

This is such a wonderful way to experience the O Circuit in an environment that is supportive and well-planned out.  

If you are looking to see as much as possible of Torres del Paine National Park by foot, the O trek, and potentially this tour, is the trip for you! Check out all of the details of this tour and book online here.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on the W Trek in Torres del Paine NP
Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, you’ve found this guide to Torres del Paine National Park helpful as you plan your own epic hiking trip. While the treks here require a bit more work to map out, once you get here, you won’t regret the time and effort spent getting everything set up. If you can arrive and enjoy, that’s my kind of trip!

If you are in the midst of researching and looking into visiting South America, be sure to check out our other in-depth guides including:

How to Get to the Marble Caves, Patagonia

18 BEST Things to do in Valparaíso, Chile

20 Tips on How to Afford to Travel Long-Term

Guide to hiking to Mount Fitz Roy


Sunday 11th of February 2024

Hello. Thanks for all the info. We are planning to visit Torres del Paine in March. The idea is to rent a car and drive to the park daily to do different hikes. We would like to know if is possible to hike overnight to see the sunrise at Torres del Paine without having to stay in the Park. Can you go inside with the car? Is it easy to park next to the trails? Are the restricted times to hike monitored frequently? Many thanks.

Destinationless Travel

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Hey Rafael,

Yes it is!

Simple book a night at Refugio Chileno. You'll need to hike up there the day before from the park entrance and then the next morning at like 3 am hike to Las Torres. So many people do this.

Thanks Daniel

Scott Mervin

Thursday 26th of October 2023

I am wondering if you could tel me if it would be possible to drive from Punta Arenas to El Calafate, crossing the border at Monte Aymond, in time to catch a 4:30 PM flight?


Friday 27th of October 2023

Hey Scott,

That is certainly not the best option. That border crossing can be a long wait in the summer months and with a flight I would not risk it. My Advice would be to set off really early and make it to Laurita Casas Viejas some time early in the morning. I would suggest leaving at 4 or 5 am. It's never a good idea to rely on a quick border crossing.

Thanks Daniel