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Journey To The End Of The World –
Welcome To Torres del Paine

by Tony · 29 comments

Meg enthusiastically mocks me everytime I say it, but since getting off of the plane in Punta Arenas, Chile, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the remoteness of Patagonia… We are at the very end of the world!

There, I said it. Maybe now I can try and get past it.

torres del paine

Yeah… it’s wayyyy down there. And yes, that is Antarctica just below us.

Coffee break in Punta Arenas Catching up on the news

After a brief coffee break in Punta Arenas after we landed, we hitched a ride on the last bus to Puerto Natales, which was going to be our launching point into Torres del Paine.

You might have recently heard of about Torres del Paine as a good chunk was burned in a savage forest fire only 3 weeks ago, with many parts still closed to the public. Newsflash: Don’t burn your TP when in a forest… as an Israeli tourist just learned.

While fairly new to me as a must-see destination, it quickly grabbed my imagination as the land that time forgot. For hundreds of miles in any direction, it is mountains, rivers, and shimmering blue lakes.

Torres del Paine – The Towers Trek

The Towers of Torres del Paine Those three peaks to the right are just 5 hours of trekking away….

With the high expense of getting to the park and our aversion to renting camping gear to stay overnight, we thought it best to get the most bang for our buck and do the route to Las Torres (AKA The Towers) as a day hike.

Sidenote: Make sure to bring enough cash as just a day hike will set you back $30 for park entrance, $24 for round trip bus tickets to the park, and $10 of bus rides once in the park… After shedding all of that cash before the hike even began, Las Torres had a lot of pressure to be Fan-freaking-tastic.

Packing light on The Towers trek Packing too light?

With just daypacks strapped to our back (and yes for those of you paying close attention… that daypack also does double duty and carries everything Meg owns for the next year) with some granola bars, bread, and water, we were packed super light. Many others on the trail were loaded with enough gear to supply Lewis and Clark for a year long expedition! We were either incredibly well-prepared and old pros at trekking or severely screwed from lack or resources… definitely no in-between.

The trail to Las Torres is labelled moderate to difficult, but trust me, after the first hour and a half of straight uphill switchbacks I definitely felt comfortable calling it difficult.

After that first hour and half though, the trail levelled off somewhat… which is where it became even more sinister.

Following a river through a valley, the trail snaked up and then down the side of the bordering mountain so that as you finally reached the top of one hill, you faced another 200 feet down before starting the climb up again.

While our feet were already aching, the beauty of what surrounded us eased the pain… slightly.

After another hour and a half of climbing up one hill only to come down another, we finally reached a campsite.

Aha! Here is the reason why all of the other hikers were packed with ridiculous amounts of gear. Many hikers in Torres del Paine pack tents, sleeping bags, and all sorts of camping gear to make a multi-day adventure out of their trek.

Not this guy though…

Superman Trekking Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

I barely survived the day carrying a day bag. Good thing Meg is already married to me because being this pathetic would surely turn a girlfriend into an ex-girlfriend…

Once past the campground, we finally took advantage of the fresh springwater (everyone said it was safe, Mom… I swear!) and refilled our bottles. Nothing tastes sweeter than fresh cold spring water while on a 9 mile trek.

45 minutes after refilling our waters we finally came to a sign saying only 45 more minutes to the top of the trek. Only 45 more minutes!


45 minutes.


The trail was pure gravel and straight uphill with switchbacks that only went 10 feet ahead before switching back. With no trees, our fellow trekkers could also be seen in the distance, laboring worse then we were and still not close to the top…

There was nothing to do though at this point but climb… and climb we did.

As excruciating as this last part was, it also made reaching the top that much sweeter. Also, since we had barely done any planning up to this point, we had no idea what we would even be seeing at the end of this mammoth hike.

And wow… were we ever surprised.

Above the tree line, past the gravel switchback trails, lies a beautiful turquoise pond fenced by the three towers (South, Central, and North).

Torres del Paine Towers Definitely worth it…

I have never been more surprised than when witnessing this truly astonishing creation of mother nature.  Other trekkers were mainly in silence as they contemplated the true majesty of this place, along with the not so small fact that they would have to reverse the arduous climb that brought them here.

While the trek back down was just as brutal as the trek up, the fact that we got to see such beauty made us oddly at peace. It felt as if we had started the day with no expectations, only to have them slowly increase as the climb became ridiculously tough, and finally to have whatever inflated expectations we had be surpassed by the actual site of the towers.

It was all worth it.

Thank god.

Time to drink :)

Well earned drink after Torres del Paine



About Tony
Quit his job to try actually following his dreams for once... and is currently loving it. He is working hard to to make this life-style permanent by writing about his adventures and brainstorming money making opportunities with his partner-in-crime, Meg.

Adventurous Kate January 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

What beautiful photos! Love that green lake, especially. I’ve heard that Patagonia, and Chile, is staggeringly moire expensive that most of South America…guess that’s where it comes from!

Tony January 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I guess it’s a good thing we started in Chile and Argentina because from here on out, things should seem crazy cheap! Despite how staggeringly expensive it all is in Patagonia… it is also staggeringly beautiful. Definitely worth the time and money!

Mom R January 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Breathtaking photos of the hike and adorable pics of you both. Thanks for letting us get a peek at your adventure.

Tony January 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Glad you liked it! We will be uploading an album to our facebook page shortly so make sure to check those out too.

Dana January 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Meg, working in Avoca was great training and worth every bit of the effort for this hike. Beautiful photos and great recap on the journey!

Tony January 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Meg is definitely in tip top trekking shape… I had to chase her up and down the mountain!

Barb January 25, 2012 at 8:33 pm

There is some of the best brown trout fishing in the world where you are at – go for it! Wonderful article and photos.

Tony January 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm

We saw a few signs for flyfishing and came very close… it looked incredible!

Papa Dave January 26, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Hi Meg & Tony,

What an adventure. I am enjoying your updates and living vicariously with you on your RTW Odyssey. Your reports are fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

God bless and guide you on this journey.

Love from Papa Dave

Tony January 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm

So glad you are following and enjoying the updates! The scenery in Patagonia is truly incredible… the pictures don’t do it justice!

Magz January 26, 2012 at 9:21 pm

here’s what I really wanna know… what were the hiking snacks like?!?? If there is one area you guys planned in I assume it was the food department :)

Tony January 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Obviously… although with everything being so expensive in Patagonia, we might have just bought a ton of bread to snack on… lame I know! But check out Meg’s gelato post from today… the memories of Emporio La Rosa alone could keep us satiated on an all day hike!!!

Ryan @ PauseTheMoment.com January 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Those views were totally worth it! WOW

Tony January 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

haha DEFINITELY worth it!

Karena August 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Just stumbled upon your blog as I was searching for hikes! We’re headed to Torres del Paine in a few weeks and I’m curious about the details of your trek from Puerto Natales into the park and to the start of your hike. Any additional details/advice is much appreciated!! Recs for food and drink in Puerto Natales are also welcome :)

Tony August 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

So cool about your upcoming hike, Karena!

The trip from Puerto Natales to the park was about a 2 hour bus ride. A lot of people stay overnight at the park in on site huts/hotels or at camping grounds. We were semi unprepared for all this and decided to just do a day hike. Be aware that the last bus out of the park is in the mid to late afternoon so you have to go up and back in a set amount of time!

We did the “Towers” hike and went really fast as we were paranoid about missing the bus. We did it in about 5.5/6 hours including an hour stop at the top. Just a heads up that people say the average is closer to 8-9 hours, but we were really going fast!

There are a few good food spots in the town since so many hikers end up in the city. There was a really fun pizza/beer place, but I cannot find the name of it now.

I hope this helps and would love to hear about your hike when you are done!


Karena August 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Good to know about the bus schedule. I was hoping we could do this in a day as well (we’ve been known to haul ass on hikes to catch buses, ferries and sadly, daylight). I’m hoping we can catch the earliest bus out of Puerto Natales…but I haven’t got that far in planning yet. Ha.

Was there a particular bus stop in the park that gets you close to the start of the Towers hike?

Tony August 21, 2014 at 6:01 pm

You can definitely do the Towers hike in a day if you haul ass :)

I think the bus drops everyone off at the same spot near the park entrance where you pay your daily park fee. Make sure you have money for the park passes and your passport for ID!

We ended up waiting around for about 1.5 hours after the hike, so you should definitely be able to do it in a day. Good luck!

Karena September 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Totally worth it! Even though there was snow on the ground AND it started snowing on us halfway up the ’45 minutes left’ mark. We didn’t get to see the actual towers since they were covered with fog, but we decided to stay the night at the Hotel Las Torres since our knees were killing us at the end. GORGEOUS views the next day (of course it’s clear the day after we hike)!

Tony September 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm

So glad you followed up, Karena! I was really curious to hear how your experience went. That stinks that the towers were in fog, but smart move staying the night. It’s a tough hike!

Glad you got to at least see a great view in the morning and it sounds kind of magical to have it snow near the top. Are you doing any more traveling down south? We headed to The Perito Merino glacier after Torres del Paine and then to el chalten in Argentina… awesome hiking town!

Karena September 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Unfortunately, no. We’re back in good ol’ SF (and thinking any future hikes we do around here are now going to pale in comparison!), but I’ll for sure keep those in mind for our next adventure!

Georgia October 27, 2015 at 10:41 am

Hi Tony,
Thanks for sharing your story!
My boyfriend and I are getting ready to visit Patagonia in a few weeks and have our eyes set on this particular hike.
Were you able to easily navigate the route without a guide/group?
We are athletic and love the outdoors but aren’t “hikers”……
Did you need a map or was the route marked well?

Thanks in advance :)

Tony October 27, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Hi Georgia!

Torres Del Paines is huge… but if you’re looking to do the two towers trek it is completely doable. Almost every hostel/outdoor place in the town has the ability to sign you up for a bus to take you to the hike (about a 2 hour drive).

A lot of people book a cabin or bring camping gear and hike for it, but we were able to hustle and do the hike in a day and meet the last bus of the day out of the park.

This is hike is DEFINITELY doable and the trail is easy – in fact, there were enough people that we just followed the crowd. The last 45 minutes is straight up hill on gravel, but that was the hardest part.

I’m always a fan of getting a map just in case, but we really didn’t need it.

Have a blast and be sure to come back here and let us know how it goes.

Jeannine November 6, 2015 at 8:39 pm

We are staying right outside the park and just doing day hikes when we go in about a week. Do you have to catch a park bus to the trailheads or can you park a cat close by? Can’t wait – looks stunning!

Tony November 7, 2015 at 1:59 pm

You might have to double check with your hostel/hotel, but there are buses that go into the park every morning. There might be parking when you’re there, but almost everyone we met took the bus in whether they stayed just for a day or for a few nights.

Just make sure to find out when the last bus is so you don’t miss it if you’re doing day hikes!

Isabel February 14, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Hi Jeannine,

Sorry to hijack this post, I just wondered where you stayed outside the park? Do you have contact details that we could use to book? We can’t really afford the high prices inside the park but not sure we’re fit enough for a day hike from Puerto Natales either so we’d like to stay up there but can’t find anything online.


Annavagabonda February 17, 2016 at 6:15 pm

Awesome blog post, very informative and funny. I’ll do the same trek the day after tomorrow and was thinking of getting to the hotel torres del paine by bus and then do the trek starting from there.
I was wondering if I’ll have enough time to do it if I go by public bus: it seems that I’ll only have 8 hours time to go up and get back down before the last bus leaves. Since everybody’s telling me that the hike up is 4 hours, I’m afraid I won’t have enough time to enjoy the view up there and that I’ll have to rush down :/ What do you think? is 8 hours enough to do everything and enjoy the mirador?
I’m quite fit, I’ve been to El Chalten too and have done all the hikes much faster than everybody told me . But still… :)

Dave W October 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Friend and I did the W at Torres del Pain late November of 2012. Wanted to do the circuit but to early in the season, north trail not yet open

We did a self guided trip from Cincinnati Ohio USA. Only cost around $3,000 a person. Lot of bang for the buck.

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