Travel article: Torres del Paine

Travel blogger: Christelle & Cedric

Trip story: 3 months in South America!

Image for blog article: Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine, Torres de Paine, Chili

Chile 5 days - March 2019









Let's go for an adventure! 4 Days Trekking in Chilean Southern Patagonia in Torres Del Paine National Park!

It was 70 kms of walking, 2100 meters of elevation gain and weather ... (almost) worthy of Patagonia!


Day 1: Torres Central Refuge - Mirador Las Torres - Torres Central Refuge.

21 kms (10.5 kms and back) + 800m of elevation gain, 7 hours of walking.


Waking up at 5.50am (not the freshest) but excited by the adventure that awaits us, we take the 7am bus to reach the park Torres Del Paine. Beautiful sunrise with shades of pink for 30 minutes, the two hours of travel in the middle of the steppes of Patagonia went quickly.


Goal of the day: reaching the mirador at the base of the Torres towers, 800m of elevation gain.

We leave our bags at the shelter, we make sandwiches and here we go!

The first part is quite easy, we climb slowly and we swallow the miles (but it goes up then down and rises again, hard mentally!)

As we climb, the landscapes change: we went from the steppe to the forest to the high mountains. The weather is the best (for Patagonia), Torres tours are 100% discovered which is rather rare, we are lucky.

The last 2 kilometers are the hardest with + 500m vertical drop on a steep terrain with many rocks and gravel. There is a lot of people but we manage to distance them (and we are distanced too ;))


Arrived to the top, wahoo what a view! The three towers stand in front of us, they have many peaks carved in granite, the surrounding mountains seem to be covered with volcanic black ash, the rocks are red and gray, all these colors contrast with the blue-gray of the lagoon. We feel good!

No cloud will spoil this moment and the picnic taste we had for ages! 1 hour 30 minutes break, it cools a lot, the wind rises.

Let’s start to come down which will take us 3 hours. The last kilometer although flat is hard for me, no more energy! Cedric still in shape, is almost running.

We arrive at the refuge and we discover a dormitory of 6 where we are the only two, lucky again (hope of short duration, we were 3 at the end). Very good night of 10 hours of sleep stopped with some snoring (the origin of snoring is to prove, I accuse Cedric who accuses our bed neighbor in return ;))





Day 2: Boat to Paine Grande, 20 kms; 7 hours walk Paine Grande to Mirador Frances, return to Paine Grande.

First night in dormitory of this trip and I wake up with a swollen cheek! The guilty person: a spider.


We reach Laguna Amarga then Pudeto by bus - it's hard to count the guanacos, there are so many - to take the catamaran (which looks more like a ferry than a catamaran) for Paine Grande.

Superb cruise in the middle of Patagonian fjords. The sun shines timidly, the lake on which we sail is really beautiful, the Torres and Cuernos towers rise above us and are reflected in the lake with a mirror effect. We feel good!

Noon: it's time to start the hike. Goal of the day: reaching the mirador Frances.

7.5 kilometers of flat land quickly traveled along the lake and crossing the forest, the Patagonian steppes and many trees with a special form due to the powerful wind. Here we realize the extent of the damage of the fire caused by a stupid traveler a few years ago. The trees are almost all dead.

Picnic at Camp Italiano before facing the 2 km that will take us an hour of walking and are more like climbing in the mud than walking. Uneven ground and several times we have to walk in the bed of the river (our shoes still 100% waterproof).

Each point of view has a name of a European country and we are delighted to see that the French have the most beautiful (chauvinistic moment): the viewpoint of the Valley Frances.

We do not know where to look at: in front of us an immense glacier placed on a snowy mountain just as big, every 5 minutes we hear like thunder - some pieces of glacier detach and fall.

Behind us a huge snowy mountain more or less in the clouds; and across a clear valley with uninterrupted views of the lake. Magnificent !

As soon as we stop we start shivering and put on layers (always the technique of the onion) so we quickly make our way back to the refuge. 3 hours later we arrive at the camp before sunset and go to the buffet to gain energy.

Tonight, we are 6 in the dorm with a horrible smell of feet, an old guy snoring and a girl who speaks alone at night! Not the best night;)





Day 3: Paine Grande to Refugio Grey then Refugio Grey to the last Glacier Grey mirador on the O trail to Camp El Paso. 20 kilometers in 6 hours; + 500 m of elevation gain

The third day was the hardest after a restless night and already 40 kilometers in the legs.

Let's go to Refuge Grey, 11 kilometers away. It goes up, it goes down, the terrain is really steep and damaged today with rocks, roots, gravel, we have to walk several times in the river a few hundred meters (river that allowed us to fill our bottles, we are true adventurers now!). The vegetation is much greener and for a good reason it rains a lot in this part of the park. The last kilometer seemed to last 4 kilometers ...! The viewpoint gives an incredible view of the glacier and its many icebergs.

3h40 later picnic break at the Grey Refuge. We leave our bags and keep walking on the O path and get closer to the glacier. 8 more kilometers. Again it rises a lot and the ground is damaged, it rains a lot this morning and some clouds appear, the atmosphere is mystical. We cross several bridges suspended 100 meters high, super slippery and with some slats missing, we are not that confident but it's really beautiful.

1h30 later we are at the nearest glacier mirador, it is huge! Fewer creaks today, it must be colder. Like the Perito Moreno, the top looks like meringue. We stay at the lookout for more than 1 hour so it's beautiful, there is no one, we are really above the glacier and then it's not every day we see such glaciers (note from Cedric: currently we do see a glacier everyday).

The lake is just as nice with shades of grey that change with the sun.

It's time to come back for our last night in the park at the Grey refuge, which turned out to be comfortable. We share our dorm with Fernando and Fernanda (it's not a joke!), 2 brazilians exhausted by the trek.







Day 4: return to Paine Grande from Refugio Grey then catamaran to Pudeto and bus to Puerto Natales. 12 kilometers in 3 hours 10.


We start at dawn today and it is freezing! We have all our layers on us and we keep walking in order not to miss the ferry of 11.35am. There are some birds this morning (kind of little condors), one gets quite close to us. The colors change with the sun slowly dropping behind the high peaks. Last glance of the glacier and we pass on the other side of the valley more sunny. From this point all the mountains are reflected in the lakes, it is impressive.

We arrive on time and we take the boat again under a radiant sun.



Superb trek! No photo does justice to this national park.

Long days of walking (7-8h without breaks) but at sea level so we do not suffer at all from the lack of oxygen. All these efforts are rewarded by beautiful landscapes and especially varied! A next time for the trek O can be? ;)


Some recommendations:

# We booked our Puerto Natales-Torres Del Paine round trip at the last minute and got the tickets for 12,000 AR pesos instead of 15,000. JB bus company.

# It is possible (and recommended to avoid crowds) to buy the entrances to the National Park at Puerto Natales train station. 21,000 per person (yes it's expensive ...)

# from the office at the park entrance to the Torres Central hut: 15-minute bus, 3,000 pesos per person (free the day we took it!)

# night at Torres Central Shelter: $ 110 USD per person The most expensive dormitory night of our life! And there is not even a kitchen, only an overpriced restaurant.

# Tip: dinner is offered at 22400 pesos but they sell pizzas and fajitas at around 12,000 pesos. We were quickly refunded our dinners following this discovery;)

# to reach Pudeto: 30 minutes by bus from Laguna Amarga.

# pudeto- Paine Grande boat: 3 or 4 per day depending on the season; 40 minutes crossing. 20,000 pesos one way, 30,000 round trip.

# night at Paine Grande: $ 55 USD in dormitory and $ 25 USD for dinner. The least comfortable lodge.

# we took a bet not to take sleeping bags (we did not want to carry them!), only a liner which was enough in addition to our leggings and polar.

# we brought bread and cheese for 4 lunches and breakfasts.

# night at Refugio Gray: $ 35 USD in dormitory and $ 25 USD for dinner. Comfortable.

# We will not go into details for refuge / camping bookings, many blog do it already and surely better than us. One thing needs to be highlighted however: you have to book in advance and it's expensive! But frankly it's beautiful and it's worth it :)

# do not forget your passport and immigration card to avoid paying 19% VAT!


Leave a comment

Apr 13, 2019 - 03:31 PM

hello! combien de chaussures avez vous usées ? lol


Christelle & Cedric
Apr 15, 2019 - 03:51 PM

Lol! nos cuisses ont plus souffert que nos chaussures ;)


Apr 15, 2019 - 07:12 PM

Vous allez etre muscles


May 6, 2019 - 09:44 AM

impressionnant le pont !