torres del paine view
Chile

Activities in Torres del Paine for every taste

There are different activities in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia for different tastes and levels of physical ability.

You can, obviously, do hiking – there are many trails that don’t require overnight stays in a tent or even a high level of endurance. There are even guided glacier hikes available!

But there is so much more available!

At the end of the day, if the weather doesn’t really allow you to do any of the paid activities like it did for us, there’s always sightseeing and enjoying a glass of wine in a hot tub.

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Activities in Torres del Paine

There are all kinds of outdoor activities in Torres del Paine – kayaking, and fishing, and horse-riding, mountain biking, and even puma tracking! So many activities and most of them don’t require any prior knowledge.

It might even seem that (mostly because of the unreliable weather) you’d have to spend months and months to enjoy all the activities Torres del Paine have to offer! I know I definitely get that travel FOMO each time we go somewhere.

My best advice would be – just choose those things to do that inspire you the most. Don’t try to do everything!

Anywayyys, with that out of the way, let’s look closer at some of the top things to do in Torres del Paine.

Kayaking

Grey glacier kayaking by Byelikova_Oksana
Grey lake with all of the glory of the icebergs. /Image by ©Byelikova_Oksana via Canva.com

Float along and touch the icebergs up to the incredible massif that is Glacier Grey.

Or go down the fast waters of the Serrano river until the hanging glacier itself and sleep under the stars on the way!

No matter where you go kayaking, you’ll get to enjoy the incredible views that Torres del Paine has to offer!

Kayaking in Torres del Paine is available to people of all ages. The only thing that is mandatory is that you need to be able to swim and you need to be in a reasonably good physical shape.

 All of the equipment, such as specialty clothing, life vests, and the kayaks themselves, are provided by the company.

You don’t need a prior experience for most of the kayaking trips in Torres del Paine, as there’ll be a training provided before.

Experience is required for some of the trips that are more technical, but there are many beginner friendly options, such as a half-day kayaking to the Glacier Grey.

There are two Torres del Paine kayaking places – lago Grey (to Glacier Grey) and Rio Serrano.

You can choose from half a day tours, whole day tours and even multi day tours. There are mixed activity tours as well, where besides kayaking you can do horseriding, fishing and other things.

Some of the companies that offer kayaking in Torres del Paine are Kayak en Patagonia, Chile Nativo, or BigFoot Patagonia which all have good reviews online.

None of the Torres del Paine kayak trips are cheap, but they are definitely an unforgettable experience if the weather and your budget allow them.

Horse-riding

Horse-riding is firmly embedded in Torres del Paine and is still widely used by the gauchos there.

Gauchos are the cowboys of Patagonia, and you can go on horse riding tours with these people whose families have lived in Torres del Paine for generations.

Going horseriding in Torres del Paine with the gauchos allows you to see parts of the park that you wouldn’t normally get to visit. And you can cover longer distances in a shorter amount of time as well!

There are lots of tours to choose from – from day tours that are easy and more suitable for beginners to even eight days in the saddle.

You get to go through vast pampas and glacial rivers, native forests and all the way to the glaciers. Some tours offer staying in authentic Patagonian ranches, enjoying the traditional Patagonian cuisine.  

Climbing

laguna base las torres and torres themselves
The “Torres” of Torres del Paine are one of the places to go climbing in Torres del Paine. /Image by ©sorincolac via Canva.com

With the incredible mountains and the beautiful landscapes, Torres del Paine offers some of the most incredible climbing in the world. In fact, each of the three towers of Torres del Paine are some of the most challenging and extreme big wall climbing routes in the world.

To go climbing in Patagonia, unlike in other parts of the world, you actually have to hike first, which makes the activity even more challenging.

Most of the climbing tours that I could see actually have at least intermediary difficulty. The climbs themselves can take less than a week, but the trips will most probably last a week or longer. They include the hikes up to the walls, warm up climbs and the conquering of the wall itself.

The climbs are mostly quite technical. They involve a combination of trad climbing, crack climbing and occasionally even some ice climbing toward the top.

Some possible climbing in Torres del Paine can be done on the Towers themselves, Aleta de Tiburón and Bonington-Whillans.

The best time to go rock climbing in Torres del Paine is in the spring, summer, or autumn, that is, September to April. It ensures the longest days and the least snow. You have to be aware, though, that the weather in Torres del Paine and whole Patagonia is quite changeable, and it’s not uncommon to have all four seasons in one day.

Animal watching

View of guanacos grazing on a grass meadow in national park Torres del Paine in Patagonia
You can see guanacos just like that on the side of the road.

There are quite a few ways that you can see animals in Torres del Paine. Obviously, you can just do your thing – do some activities, including just sightseeing, and get lucky and see them.

 You can do your research and go to the places specific animals are most often seen.

And – you can do a dedicated animal safari in Torres del Paine.

Some of the animals in Torres del Paine, such as pumas, are not easy to see on your own, so I’d recommend you book a tour if you really want to see some of the animals.

There are quite a few tours available – from dedicated puma tracking safaris to overall wildlife exploring tours.

Fly-fishing

Flyfishing in Torres del Paine is one of those things that rarely cross the minds of people who want to visit this corner of the world.

But it’s an incredible experience especially for those who just love fishing!

Spending the day at the incredible fast flowing glacial rivers or the turquoise lakes, trying to catch that elusive Fontinallis trout… paradise!

The waters of Torres del Paine have mostly salmon and trout, but don’t be surprised to catch a carp as well!

There are quite a few lakes and rivers available for fly fishing, but if you wish to have the full experience, go for the Rio Serrano, as that will have the Paine Massif in the background.

Organizing the fishing trip with a company is a good idea, as they will ensure that you have all the necessary permits and – most probably – the equipment and gear. Plus, a good guide will tell you more about the area, as well as teach you the basics of fly fishing in Torres del Paine if you’re a beginner.

Biking

Another one that is often overlooked is biking in Torres del Paine. But it’s a really good option if you don’t feel like renting a car or hiking all over the park.

Biking actually provides the perfect combination of the best a car and hiking offer – it allows you to move faster than on foot while you can still enjoy the sounds of nature that are all around Torres del Paine.

There are quite a few dirt roads in Torres del Paine that give you a chance to explore the more remote regions of the park.

Biking in Torres del Paine is suitable for anyone – from beginners to more experienced bikers.

The trails range for such that can be described as relatively easy mountain biking to ones that will challenge even the more experienced bikers. Beginners can enjoy the roads in the park that are meant for cars.

The best places to bike in Torres del Paine are in the eastern parts of the park – by Laguna Azul and Cañadon Macho.

The most challenging routes include biking into Paine Grande refugio along the Las Carretas trail, or crossing the from Lago Nordenskjold to Rio Paine via an incredibly technical trail with roots and embedded rocks and steep sweeping descents.

See the Torres del Paine highlights in a way that few others actually do.

Fossil hunting

And yet another one of activities in Torres del Paine that usually fly under the radar.

Going fossil hunting in Torres del Paine gives you a chance to enjoy hidden valleys and canyons, where palaeontology is very much alive, and evidence of Patagonia’s prehistoric life awaits.

Discover 50 million year old fossils, see wild horses, mysterious landscapes, and enjoy some of the park’s most secluded trails.

Depending on the tour company that you choose, this can be a full-day guided trekking tour or a 6-day long trip. The price, obviously, differs quite a bit as well.

Cruise on lago Grey

navigacion lago Grey - activities in Torres del Paine
How small the boat looks against the wall of the glacier… /Image by ©Rattham via Canva.com

Otherwise known as Grey Glacier navigation, this is a cruise that takes you close to the gigantic wall of glaciar Grey.

It gives you a chance to enjoy that glacier in all of its glory without having to hike it.

Enjoy the spectacular views of radiant blue ice, icebergs floating in the grey water, feel the Patagonian wind on your face, and share a unique and unforgettable experience.

A cruise on lago Grey not just lets you enjoy the glacier, but a different view of the incredible Paine mountain massif and Cerro Paine Grande.

Watching a sunrise in and around Torres del Paine

The sun showing up above the peaks of the Torres del Paine mountain range is an incredible sight.

There are two best ways to see the sunrise in Torres del Paine.

First is, take your rental car and drive to one of the empty roads by the park. That’s what Michal did when we visited. The spot he went to is just by hosteria Pehoe.

Hosteria Pehoe - a hotel on an island in lake Pehoe in Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia
Hosteria Pehoe in the middle of the turquoise lake Pehoe.

The other way is to do a hike up to the Base de las Torres.

For that you have to stay in the refugio and campsite El Chileno, though, as it’s the most convenient location for starting the hike to see the very famous sunrise.

The hike to Base las Torres takes approximately 2,5h hours and is rather steep. Make sure to take warm drinks and clothes in addition to all the other things that are needed for a difficult hike.

A hike to Las Torres would be an early and intensive start of the day if you decide to see a sunrise this way. But the view definitely seems worth it.

Sightseeing

Believe me, to visit this park, it’s not necessary to do group or specially planned activities each and every day.

a view of meadows and mountains in Torres del Paine national park in Chilean Patagonia, taken from a random stop with a rental car
Just stop your car wherever, and the view will be nice

As I have mentioned countless times before, the weather in Torres del Paine when we visited was such that all our plans pretty much fell through. It wasn’t safe to do kayaking, horse riding, glacier hikes or anything of that sort. The only hike we could do was the Lago Nordenskjold.

Otherwise, we did the best we could, so we went sightseeing.

Obviously, we visited the most popular sights – Salto Grande waterfall, lagoons Amarga and Sarmiento, lake Pehoe. But besides that, we drove around and stopped at spots that seemed interesting. And there are so many in Torres del Paine!

So don’t be too scared about your plans not working out – it’s still an incredible place to see.

Hiking in Torres del Paine

The whole Patagonia is a hiker’s paradise, and Torres del Paine is no exception.

The park has so much incredible hiking available that I decided to make a separate section for it from the other activities.

There are various small walks, day hikes and multi day trips available for hiking in the park. It’s even possible to do a glacier hike in Torres del Paine!

W and O treks

The most popular multi-day trek in Torres del Paine national park is the W trek. It’s a quintessential for any hiker who’s up for the challenge of a multi-day hike in Patagonia.

This crown-jewel hike takes you through the backcountry of the park on trail that makes a W shape.

The W hike allows you to enjoy the best of Torres del Paine – the Glacier Grey, Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine (the mountains) and Paine Grande. And that’s just in addition to all the turquoise lakes, raging rivers, wind-ripped forests, and emerald meadows.

icebergs in grey lake
Glacier Grey and the Grey lake. /Image by ©marktucan via Canva.com

But, do you feel that the W is just not enough and have 3 more days to spare?

Add a little loop to your W and go on the O-trek, also known as the Torres del Paine circuit. It allows you to enjoy the lesser-walked Northern parts of Torres del Paine.

The extended O-trek gives you an opportunity to experience the Southern Patagonia ice field in all of its glory. Keep in mind that there are no refugios on the northern side.

Duration: 5 days (9 for the O trek)

Distance: 71km (120km for the O circuit)

Difficulty: moderate-hard, elevation gain cumulative 2,956 meters for the W trek

What to carry: hiking shoes,hiking poles, backpack, layers of clothing, food, water, camping equipment. Some refugios offer beds with bedding and food, though, but not on the O trek, where you’ll have to camp.

Paid? Yes – you need to pay the park entrance fee and the accommodation/camping.

Lago Nordenskjold

View from Mirador Cuernos in Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia.
When the sun came out after two days of rain and all the stunning sceneries showed up, our excitement soared higher than an Andean condor.

The beautiful lake Nordenskjöld lies at the feet of the Cuernos del Paine in the Torres del Paine national park in Southern Chile.

The viewpoint of the lake and the Cuernos is just a short hike away from the Salto Grande waterfall. Check out our video on YouTube to see how windy it was there!

The hike is more of a walk, and you’ll get to enjoy many interesting sceneries of the Patagonia wilderness – ragged peaks, emerald waters, and mesmerizing green meadows.

Duration: 40 minutes to 1 hour

Distance: approximately 2km

Difficulty: very easy, minimal elevation gain

What to carry: nothing extra is needed

Paid? No, the only fee is to enter the park itself

What to carry: hiking shoes,hiking poles, backpack, layers of clothing, food, water, camping equipment if applicable.

Hike to the base of Las Torres

One of the most beautiful full day hikes in Torres del Paine.

It goes up to the Mirador Base de las Torres, which is just by the lago Torre, and offers a spectacular view of the “Torres” in Torres del Paine.

The hike to mirador las Torres is the eastern arm of the park’s famous W Trek, so if you choose to not do the whole trek, this makes for a spectacular day hike to one of the highlights.

If you stay in the refugio and camping Chileno, you can watch one of the most incredible sunrises in the world – when the sun illuminates the Towers. The refugio is just 4km and the last bit of ascent – the steepest part of the hike – from the mirador, which makes it possible to be at the lake just before sunrise.

Duration: 8-10 hours

Distance: approximately 21km from the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre, 20km from Hotel Las Torres.

Difficulty: difficult (990m elevation gain)   

What to carry: hiking shoes,hiking poles, backpack, layers of clothing, food, water, camping equipment if applicable.

Paid? No, the only fee is to enter the park itself. If you want to stay overnight to watch the sunrise, you have to pay for accommodation (camping or refugio Chileno)

French Valley hike – to mirador Frances

Valle Frances in Torres del Paine National Park - seen while trekking the W trek, on of the best hikes in Patagonia
The view of the French Valley ©miracky via Canva.com

Another hike from the W trek, one of the central arms if you will, that you can do as a day hike, the Valle Frances or French Valley.

The whole hike is surrounded by beautiful scenery. French Valley runs through the whole massif, so you have huge granite towers and snowy peaks around you.

There are the turquoise lago Pehoe and lago Skottsberg, Paine Grande mountains, rolling hills, and hanging glaciers, most famous of which is glaciar Frances.

The hike starts with a half an hour catamaran ride from the Pudeto cafeteria to the refugio Paine Grande. From there you hike to the camping Italiano, where the entrance to the French Valley is, and then go up a short, but very steep and rocky, segment to the Mirador Glaciar del Frances. If you wish, you can go a bit higher still to the Mirador Frances itself.

The French valley hike is arguably one of the most beautiful day hikes in Torres del Paine, plus, it’s usually less crowded than others in the park.

Duration: 7-8 hours

Distance: approximately 18km

Difficulty: moderate (550m elevation gain) 

What to carry: hiking shoes,hiking poles, backpack, layers of clothing, food, water.

Paid? Yes, the park fee and a ferry fee

Hike to Glacier Grey

Glaciar Grey as seen from a viewpoint on a hike in Patagonia
Image ©agustavop via Canva.com

And yet another one of the famous W trek parts that can be done in a day. Just like the French Valley hike, the hike to Glacier Grey starts in the refugio and camping Paine Grande.

The Grey glacier is one of the most spectacular glaciers in Torres del Paine National Park, which tumbles into Lago Grey.

There are several ways to explore the glaciar Grey – go on a boat tour, kayak, go on a glacier hike, and, of course, do one of the best hikes in Patagonia – day trek to the Grey Glacier.

A huge glacier creating icebergs with a deep growl, the blue lago Grey, and the Torres del Paine mountains around – it is definitely a view not to miss.

The trail runs alongside lago Grey and is quite well marked. The trek itself is quite easy, but long, so make sure to leave plenty of time to get back to the last ferry. Alternatively, you can spend a night in the refugio Grey and enjoy your breakfast with a view of the glacier!

During the hike, you can enjoy floating icebergs that have broken off from the glacier. About halfway through you can catch the first full views of the glacier Grey itself.

A word of warning, though – although the trail itself is not hard and the elevation gain is relatively little, you must walk rather fast the whole time to make it back to the ferry. If you’re not sure that you can make the whole more than 20km in a brisk pace, I’d recommend booking an accommodation and doing the trek in 2 days.

Duration: 7-8 hours

Distance: approximately 23km

Difficulty: hard (570m elevation gain)         

What to carry: hiking shoes,hiking poles, backpack, layers of clothing, food, water.

Paid? Yes, the park fee and a ferry fee (plus accommodation, if you decide to stay the night)

Can I go on day trips to Torres del Paine?

Yes, it is fully possible to not base yourself in Torres del Paine if you don’t wish to do so.

If only a couple of activities here catch your eye you can easily base yourself in Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas.

Note, we recommend staying in Puerto Natales if you wish to do day trips to Torres del Paine, as it takes less time to reach the park.

If you don’t want to rent a car in Patagonia, but use other means of transportation, then know that there are buses available for reaching the park. Alternatively, some of the tours that are run in Torres del Paine actually start from Puerto Natales.

Views like this are not unusual when driving by yourself in Torres del Paine

Who runs different activities’ tours in Torres del Paine?

You can do almost all of the activities in Torres del Paine by yourself. But, if you prefer a guided tour, there are many companies that will offer guides for group or private tours.

Obviously, though, some of the things to do in Torres del Paine can be done only with a tour company. That’s for your own safety and wellbeing.

Since many of the companies offer more than one activity in Torres del Paine, I’ll describe them here in a separate place.

Kayak en Patagonia

Founded by two guys from Puerto Natales, Kayak en Patagonia has been in business for more than a decade.

They offer kayak tours in two national parks in Patagonia – Torres del Paine and Bernardo O’Higgins.

There are four different tours available for different physical and kayaking levels. The easiest one is a day tour to Grey lake and the Grey river, but even that requires previous kayaking experience.

There are multi day tours available as well, such as Serrano 2 day tour (Serrano river and Glacier) and Grey Serrano 3 day trip (Grey and Serrano rivers, different glaciers and icebergs). Another multi-day tour is Tyndall Expedition 4 day tour that goes through wild Patagonia.

Check the specific tours to see what things and equipment are provided, what you need to bring, and what experience is necessary to actually do the tour.

All of them start in Puerto Natales, but I’m sure that if you’re staying in Torres del Paine, you could contact the company and figure something out.

The cost of the tours starts from 320$ to up to more than a 1000$.

BigFoot Patagonia

According to their website, BigFoot Patagonia is the only company that is certified to operate Ice Hike and Kayak services in the Glacier Sector in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Their guides are certified by the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia, responding to the highest standards of quality for their profession.

BigFoot Patagonia has 21 years of experience in the adventure tourism industry in the Chilean Patagonia.

The tours are run in small groups of two to 10 or 16 people (depending on the activity). Most of the equipment that you need is provided, but there are some things, such as hiking boots and clothes, that you need to have yourself. Check the website to see what is provided and what you need to take.

The ice hike costs ~120EUR per person and the kayaking is ~75EUR per person. The price for the “touching the ice” tour is shown from 100 to 120EUR.

Activities in Torres del Paine run by BigFoot Patagonia

  • Kayaking glaciar Grey and rio Serrano
  • Ice Hike Grey
  • “Touching the ice” of glacier Grey

EcoCamp Patagonia

Stay in a unique lodge and go on day trips doing different sports? Sign me up!

EcoCamp Patagonia offers world’s first geodesic hotel rooms.

You stay in one of the domes, which range from “no heating and no electricity with a shared bathroom” ones to luxury suites with the most incredible views.

Every day for 6 days in a row you go on adventure trips, such as kayaking on Grey river, hiking to Cerro Torre, horse riding through Patagonia and more.

Activities in Torres del Paine that EcoCamp offers:

  • Wildlife exploration
  • Multi-sport tours
  • Hiking tours
  • Puma tracking

Chile Nativo

Chile Nativo is a local company of mountain guides and professional travel experts, with a great deal of experience organizing travel itineraries. The guides live in Patagonia and regularly have training in subjects related to flora, fauna, geology, glaciology and history. They also have a first aid training sertificate.

The groups on trips by Chile Nativo are small – mostly 2 to 8 guests in one group. The company also provides food on their tours.

Chile Nativo provide a bunch of activities in Torres del Paine. They range from day to multi day tours depending on what you’d like to do.

The same goes for what you need to take with you – depending on the trip, you might need to take your own sleeping bag and mat, for example. All information can be found by checking each individual trip or contacting the company.

Since there are so many activities in Torres del Paine that Chile Nativo provides, I recommend that you check their website for the prices.

Activities in Torres del Paine that Chile Nativo provides

  • Horseriding
  • Kayaking
  • Multisport
  • Nature watching trips (including puma tracking)
  • Bike trips
  • Fly fishing
  • Hunting for fossils
  • Hiking
  • Birdwatching
  • Estancia experiences

Get your guide

Get your guide is an international company that runs tours all over the world, so it might feel a bit safer to book tours with them instead of the smaller local ones.

The company is basically a mediator between the travelers and the local guides and different tour companies. It’s basically booking.com, but for tour companies.

Get your guide aims to make looking for tours easier for you by having them all in one place, so to say.

Obviously, not all of the tour agencies and guides are on the platform, so make sure to check others as well to find the tour that is perfect for you!

Activities in Torres del Paine run by Get your guide

  • Hiking
  • Fossil hunting
  • Day trips to Torres del Paine

To Do Patagonia

TodoPatagonia is an adventure tourism company headquartered in Punta Arenas, Chile. They run different tours not only in Torres del Paine, but other places in Patagonia, such as penguin and whale watching, hiking of Dientes de Navarino and other.

The founders live in Patagonia and have created and done the tours offered themselves. They regularly join the excursions to see what can be improved.

The team is made up of tourism professionals.

The prices of the tours start from ~25EUR and range to more than 2000EUR, so visit their website and see what’s on offer.

Activities in Torres del Paine run by To Do Patagonia

  • Hiking
  • Torres del Paine day trips (from Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales)
  • Private day trip to Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales
  • Grey Glacier navigacion
  • Photography tours to Torres del Paine

Expedia

Another one of the very famous websites that combines different offers from guides and tour companies.

The tour prices range from ~130EUR to ~290EUR.

Expedia offers a payment plan if you can’t really afford the whole price in one go.

According to online reviews, though, the communication of their customer service could be better.

Activities in Torres del Paine run by Expedia

  • Hiking
  • Full day tours to Torres del Paine
  • Full day on a ranch
  • Grey glacier navigacion

Final thoughts on activities in Torres del Paine

There is so much to do in Torres del Paine that the head can start spinning. Almost anything you’d like can be done in this windy corner of South America.

We were quite sad that we couldn’t do most of these – oh thank you, weather!

But what to do? Had to leave something for the next time, right?

Many of these activities are definitely bucket-list worthy. Have any caught your eye?

Which one would you definitely like to do, and which one would you leave off your list?


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Kristine is the owner and main blogger of Wanderlust Designers. Her main goal is to show everyone that you can travel and see the world even when working full time.

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