National Park Guide:
Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine:
Day Trip Guide
Dates Visited: November 2018
Cost: $30,000 Clp + $21,000 Clp Park Entry
Length: 12 hours | ~1-5 miles hiking (1-8 km) hiking
A day trip to Torres del Paine is definitely do-able if you're like us and came totally unprepared for the multi day treks this region has to offer. We have heard amazing things about the famous W and O Treks in Torres del Paine. However we were totally unfit to attempt these in terms of time, equipment, and experience. While it may be true for some people, we felt that we weren't in the position to attempt them just yet.
Alternatively, a day trip to Torres del Paine is definitely do-able and perhaps a better way to ease into the vast amount of terrain this park has to offer. If you're looking for where to stay in Puerto Natales, we have several options below.
The hostel we stayed at, Nikos II Adventure, offers the cheapest options for a day trip to Torres del Paine we could find online. We also did some searching around in person in Puerto Natales and Nikos offered the best prices we could find.
Day Trip to Torres del Paine
There are a couple day trip options to Torres del Paine. Two of the cheapest options we found are either the full day bus trip or the hike to the base of the towers. We limited ourselves to only one tour because they were rather expensive and ended up only having a couple days with nice weather.
Thus, we decided to do the Full Day Bus Trip because we felt like we would be able to see most of the park to get a little taste of everything. Yes, we know the Torres bases are the icon of the park, but the bus tour was also a tad cheaper and we wanted to do more than just one hike in a day.
Full Day Bus Trip
Cost: $30,000 Clp + $21,000 Clp Park Entry
Operator: Nikos II Adventure
Length: 12 hours | ~1-5 miles hiking (1-8 km) hiking
This full day tour picks you up from your hostel and gives you a driving/hiking tour around the park. If you're short on time, this is one of the best ways do a day trip to Torres del Paine. You have the option of doing 2 short hikes, which range anywhere from 1-5 miles depending on your ability - but are not required.
Hike to the Towers
Cost: $35,000 Clp (if booked in person) + $21,000 Clp Park Entry
Operator: Nikos II Adventure (35k if paid in cash)
Length: 10-12 hours | 11 miles (17 km) hiking
The three Torres, or towers, pictured below are the icon of this national park. If you want to hike to the base of them, it can be done in a day but it's about an 11 mile (17 Km) hike that takes roughly 10-12 hours. It's another great option for a day trip to Torres del Paine, but the trek will be the only thing you do that day.
What to Bring
The weather in Patagonia is completely unpredictable. The sun could be shining one moment, then 20 minutes later passing showers will leave you soaked. The only thing you should expect is the unexpected, even for a one day trip to Torres del Paine; that and a lot of wind.
Even going on the bus trip to Torres del Paine, you should bring plenty of layers. The bus could be plenty warm in a t-shirt but then stepping outside you will need a heavy coat. Here is what we brought for our day trip in the park:
- Waterproof coat
- Long hiking pants
- Wool Socks
- Hiking Boots
- Wallet (at least 21,000 Clp/person for park entry)
- Packed lunch
- 2 Liters of water per person
A packed lunch, snacks, and plenty of drinking water is a must for us because the restaurant the tour takes you to is so expensive. You will likely have an early breakfast (before 7:00 am) and the bus doesn't stop for lunch until about 1:00 pm.
We were glad we brought a couple granola bars to keep fueled up until lunch. Though the bus does stop at a place to buy snacks prior to entering the park, the prices are still quite inflated compared to the grocery store.
Getting to Torres del Paine
A day trip to Torres del Paine is absolutely a full day excursion. The full day bus tour starts early because it lasts for roughly 12 hours. Picking us up from the hostel at 7-7:30 am, we got started on the three hour drive to the national park. We stopped around half way at a café/souvenir store for a bathroom and snack break.
We actually drove around the outside of the park for quite a bit before entering through the gates. In our opinion, we saw just as many cool sites outside of the park as we did inside the park. Below are pictures of what we got to see before even paying the 21,000 CLP entrance fee.
Pro Tip: At half the price of a full day tour (15,000 CLP or $22 USD), you can take a shuttle to the park. We heard from some friends that they were able to do some great hikes outside of the park, thus avoiding the pricey entrance fee.
Park Entrance Fee
High Season (1st October – 30th April)
|Foreign Visitor||CLP $21.000 ($30 USD)|
|National Visitor||CLP $6.000 ($9 USD)|
|Children 6 to 17||CLP $6.000 ($9 USD)|
Low Season (1st May – 30th September)
|Foreign Visitor||CLP $11.000 ($16 USD)|
|National Visitor||CLP $4.000 ($6 USD)|
|Children 6 to 17||CLP $1.000 ($1.5 USD)|
Unfortunately, the park service only offers passes that are good for three consecutive days. This means that if you have three days from the time of purchase to enter the park. Which is not ideal for people only looking to do a day trip to Torres del Paine.
But, once you're in you can stay as long as you like. You can even do multiple entries within the first three days of purchase. This is ideal for people who might want to do a day hike or two to get a feel for the park, then go on one of the popular multi-day treks. However, it's a bit expensive if you're only going into the park once like we did.
Day Hikes and Viewpoints
After entering the park the bus will stop at a couple lookout points before getting to the first hike. The most memorable was the one below because the wind was so strong that it nearly knocked us over. We could nearly lean 45° into the wind and have it hold us in place, so wild!
Trail Length: 3.9 Miles (6 Km)
Elevation Gain: 587 ft (179 m)
Our first stop inside the park was the trailhead to Cuernos Lookout. It's is roughly a 3.9 mile out-and-back trail that is rated as easy. Due to being short on time, our group only went about 0.4 miles (0.6 km) to the Salto Grande lookout. We would have loved to go onto the main Cuernos Lookout, however, it was still cool to see a rainbow at the first waterfall. This could easily be fit into a self guided day trip to Torres del Paine if you decide to go that route.
Pro Tip: Patagonia is extremely windy. When there was a big burst of wind, our guide had us squat down and hold onto the ground. This prevents you from losing your balance and falling on the sharp rocks. It helps to wear long pants and sleeves to protect your skin against the sharp pebbles blowing around.
Trail Length: 3 Miles (5 Km)
Elevation Gain: 629 ft (191 m)
After driving around for a bit seeing some amazing mountains and glacier water we made a stop at Lago Grey. This 3 mile out-and-back hike takes you out onto the black rock beach of Lago Grey (Grey Lake). Our tour made a stop at a restaurant at the trailhead of this hike for about an hour and a half. This included time to do the hike and to grab a quick bite to eat.
All-in-all it took us under an hour to complete the optional hike out to the giant icebergs on the lake. In fact, this lake is home to the famous Grey Glacier that can be seen by boat/hike on a separate day trip, or if you do either of the W or O treks.
Pro Tip: Pack your lunch to save some money here. The tour takes you to a restaurant/gift shop that (not surprisingly) serves overpriced food and drink. It's possible to eat your packed lunch at the tables inside if you buy something. Or you can just walk in and eat your food if you don't make it obvious that you didn't buy anything 😉 However, the toilets outside are free to use.
Lago el Toro
After lunch we made our way out of the park, but stopped at one last lookout point; the great Lago el Toro. It's the largest lake in the park and is a gorgeous site to end your day trip to Torres del Paine.
Mylodon Cave Natural Monument
Cost: 4,000 CLP (~$6 USD)
Length: 1 hour
This attraction is not actually in Torres del Paine National Park, but it is a tourist attraction on the way out that all the bus companies stop at. This is an optional hike/attraction to see since the 4,000 CLP entrance fee is not included in the tour price. However, you only pay this price if you want to go into the cave.
We decided to not go into the cave because we heard it's not worth the $6 USD to see a statue of the Mylodon. Especially when there is a free statue that you can see entering Puerto Natales (pictured to here).
Nonetheless, even if you decide to opt out of the cave you will still need to wait roughly an hour for your tour group to return. We were more than happy to chill out and use the free restroom since we were pretty beat from the long day.
Where to stay in Puerto Natales
From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Puerto Natales we have listed several great budget options below. Just keep in mind that Patagonia is just plain expensive - but prices vary depending on the time of year (high season has higher prices). A guide at Erratic Rock told us Puerto Natales is the most expensive town in Patagonia, and Patagonia is the most expensive place in Chile. We're not sure if that's true, but it didn't seem too far fetched from the prices we saw.
We highly recommend this place as its not only a hostel, but also a tour agency (most here are) We ended up booking a day trip to Torres del Paine through them. Not only were the cheapest option we could find online, but we also got a few quotes once we got to Puerto Natales and they had the best prices.
Dorms: $21.50+ USD
Private: $57.33+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Self Catering Services, Free Parking, Luggage Storage
Dorms: $18.63+ USD
Private: $50.45+ USD
Amenities: Free wifi, Free Breakfast, Spanish/English speaking, Tour Planning, 24 hr Reception
Dorms: $14.61+ USD
Private: $56.97+ USD
Amenities: Free wifi, Free Breakfast, Bar, Spanish/English speaking, Bar/Restaurant, Laundry Facilities