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Torres del Paine Argentina

I have been asking about Argentina but now I am focusing on this particular area Torres Del Paine National Park. I am trying to figure out four days there and wondering if there is one particular location in which to stay in order to visit grey lake and Valle Frances. I am also trying to determine how I will travel from El Calafate to this area. Most times we rent a car but I am not sure if this is safe and practical thing to do. I hear the roads are not so great. And does one hire a company to get to the different glaciers or go alone ? I am looking for day hikes Has anyone had any experience traveling around this region ?

Anny

Posted by
4637 posts

The National Park is in Chile. Usually people fly to Punta Arenas and then by road to Puerto Natales from where the trips to the Park start. There are some buses from Argentina going there but it's probably a big detour. I would inquire about flights to Punta Arenas.
Check this website: http://www.torresdelpaine.com

Posted by
3336 posts

My husband and his friend hiked this region for a week just a couple of years ago. It is quite remote with some services but truly you need to do your homework. It isn't an easy place to travel and you need to figure out how to get around and where to stay so that you will be able to see what you want. Hiring a guide or a company to take you would be the easiest way. My husband didn't but they did have issues because of this and the trip had quite a few "glitches" since it ended up being harder to get around than they thought it would be.
The flew to Punta Arenas and took a public bus up to the national park. It's not a great road and, based on their pictures and what they told me, I would not want to rent a car. There are a number of lodges in the national park but you'll need to find them online and then map them to see if they are in proximity to what you want to see. Most lodges offer guide services and are designed to give people what they need in relation to hiking and seeing the natural sights of the area.
My husband bought topo maps before they went so they were able to hike the Torres del Paine on their own. Most people do the trail that goes all the way around the massif but if you are only looking for day hikes then you'll just be hiking up towards them for the views. That said, I think you're smart to dedicate four days since the weather can be a factor. They only had a couple of clear days where they could actually see the mountains.
Glacier hiking is a different story. You absolutely must hire a guide. Many of the glaciers in the area are only accessible by boat and you must have a local guide to hike the glacier itself since it is not safe unless you are extremely experienced and have the proper gear. It was not easy hiking on the glacier - they had to do a bit of ice climbing to get up on top of it but it was truly amazing! They went under the glacier and inside of it - the color is just otherworldly!

Posted by
22 posts

That's really helpful. I am starting to get the idea. The distances are long so I am deciding to concentrate on just a few areas within the park.
Thanks.

Posted by
3336 posts

Hi Anny...
I just watched a Globe Trekker episode that was focused on Argentina. The host drove from Argentina to the Fitz Roy group of mountains that is close to the Argentinian border. The road was entirely dirt. No services so he carried fuel in plastic canisters in the back to refuel along the way. Here is the link to the GT page about the episode in case you want to find out how to watch it. It's a great episode and will give you a good idea of what it's like in that whole part of South America.

Globe Trekker Argentina Route 40 Episode

Happy planning!

Posted by
379 posts

Just returned from a four week trip in Argentina. 15 nights in Buenos Aires, four nights in El Calafate, two nights in El Chalten, and a couple other stops. (Yes, a slow traveler.)

Joined a tour group for a day trip from El Calafate to Torres del Paine.

Pros: Stunning scenery along the way and at roadside vista stops. Much more impressive than those on my short hikes in Argentina. I know, not a fair comparison.

Cons: Bulk of the 12 hour trip spent inside a vehicle. 10-15 mins at each of the half dozen vista stops, plus an hour hike. Enough time to snap a selfie (not me), and barely enough time to set up a tripod (me).

If I ever return, I will rent a car and spend a few nights inside the park. The roads during the tour are not unlike those in the US national parks, wide and with hardly any traffic. A SUV, or even a regular vehicle should be fine if not driving off road. Heck, saw another group in a regular taxi!

Can't help with lodging inside the park, other than noting that there are some. In November, there were very few visitors, making the huge park look deserted. El Calafate has many tour companies, outdoor clothing and equipment stores. The streets were full of outdoorsy types in their boots carrying walking sticks. You should have no problem joining a tour or hiring a guide there. Instead of booking one online, that may allow you to customize your own, and at a more budget friendly price.

As an aside, there are glacier hikes in El Calafate and in El Chalten. The latter is better.