A Torres del Paine day trip from Puerto Natales is a good option for exploring this beautiful region of Chilean Patagonia if you don't have the time, ability, or interest in doing the multi-day W trek. Read on to find out more about how to visit Torres del Paine National Park in a day including time for a few short hikes on an independent self-drive.
How to Get to Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales by Car
We rented a car from Hertz in Puerto Natales, the nearest sizable town to Torres del Paine National Park. You should be aware that the road quality in Patagonian Chile varies widely. The main road (Route 9) was mostly paved but as soon as you detour onto smaller roads you'll be driving on gravel. Slow down or the ride will be quite bone rattling.
It normally takes about an hour and a half to drive from Puerto Natales to the entrance to Torres del Paine National Park. There were some road closures around the Mylodon Cave area just outside Puerto Natales which added an additional 30 minutes or so to our journey.
Our hotel in Puerto Natales recommended driving through Torres del Paine from south to north because there are often low-lying clouds over the park in the morning. The iconic Torres that the national park is known for are further north so this route gives you the most time for the weather to clear. Traveling south to north through Torres del Paine National Park also means that you'll get the most difficult part of the drive out of the way first, returning on paved Route 9. It's easy to get caught up looking at all the amazing natural attractions but you don't want to end up driving back from Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales after dark.
Use the map below to guide your self-drive Torres del Paine day trip from Puerto Natales.
Day Hikes in Torres del Paine National Park
It's possible to squeeze in a few short hikes if you visit Torres del Paine NP for one day. Read on for more about the walks that we chose to do.
Hike Salto Chico Trail
The Salto Chico circuit trail can be accessed by parking near the Explora Patagonia Hotel. A wooden boardwalk takes you downhill from the small car park to the bluest lake I've ever seen.
Allow yourself about 30 minutes for the walk which includes some time to leisurely admire the view and take pictures.
Walk to an Island on Lake Pehoe
Stopping at a scenic overlook not far from Salto Chico, we noticed a small island with an inviting bridge leading to it. We discovered a parking lot near the entrance to the bridge and decided to take a walk onto the island. The island is on Lake Pehoé and the charming building on the island is Hostería Pehoé. Make this a brief stop. Allow about 15 minutes to cross the bridge to the island and back to capture some amazing images of Torres del Paine National Park before moving on.
Hike to Salto Grande
Hike to Mirador Cuernos
As we were walking, we noticed remnants of a forest fire from several years ago which gave the landscape an interesting and scorched feel.
The Wildlife of Torres del Paine National Park
We were also excited to see some wildlife on our day trip to Torres del Paine including birds and Patagonian mammals.
Birds of Torres del Paine
By far, the most awesome Patagonian bird that we saw in Torres del Paine National Park had to be the rhea, a large flightless bird and relative of the ostrich and emu. We spotted a rhea near the road on the way out of the park but saw the bird too late to stop and take a closer look. Recognizing that we would only get this experience in Patagonia, we made a U-turn at the first possible moment and drove back a good mile to see this amazing bird grazing at the side of the road.
Do a Drive by of Las TorresYou won't have time to hike to Mirador Las Torres on a day trip to Torres Del Paine National Park. The hike to the viewpoint and back can take a full day by itself. Instead, check out the views of Las Torres from along the road side as you head back to Puerto Natales after a full and invigorating day in the national park.
Torres Del Paine in a Day: What to ExpectIf you plan to do a Torres del Paine National Park day trip from Puerto Natales, here are some things you can expect:
- Prepare for an 11 hour day
- Understand that you'll do a lot of driving (at least 4 hours in the car)
- Know that the roads through the park are not paved so it's slow going and jarring on the gravel. Make sure you have a full-sized spare tire
- Bring water and food: there aren't too many places to stop and get something to eat in the park.
- There are some toilet facilities but they are few and far between.
Things to Do Near Torres Del Paine National Park
Looking for more information about things to do near Torres del Paine National Park, check out: