Located deep in the southern point of South America, Torres Del Paine National Park is a wildland park of Chile that encompasses nearly 1000 square miles of mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, woodlands and prairies. The park gets its name from the 3 extremely high peaks of the Paine Massif mountain range that tower over the park, reaching a peak height of 2,850 meters (9350 feet) above sea level.
One of the most visited tourist draws in all of Chile, Torres Del Paine sees an average of 150,000+ visitors every year, most of them from travelers outside of South America. Popular activities in the area include hiking, mountain biking, and taking in the breathtaking views offered by the park. National Geographic named Torres Del Paine #5 in the most beautiful places on earth, and it truly is beautiful.
The Torres Del Paine “W” Hiking/Walking Trail
The Torres Del Paine W-Trek, or W-Circuit is the system of hiking trails that links all of the most popular sights of the park. Along the trails, hikers will encounter several “refugios,” refuges from the extremes of the park. These refugios have all of the modern amenities one would expect from hotels or ski chalets, and act as bases for the many visitors.
The Icebergs and Glaciers of Torres Del Paine
Torres Del Paine is located very far south, and is considered a part of Chilean Antarctica. While not as barren, frigid and desolate as mainland Antarctica, Torres Del Paine has many aspects that make you realize how close to Antarctica you truly are. A series of Glaciers carve their way off the high Andean peaks in the mountains, creating valleys and fjords along the way, eventually spilling into the ocean. In the bays of the park, you can expect to see a great many icebergs from the Patagonian Ice Field and stray icebergs from Antarctica itself.
The Wildlife of Torres Del Paine
The Wildlife in the park is diverse, and attracts wildlife enthusiasts and wildlife photographers from all over the world. Guanaco are especially abundant in the area, with herds of these deer-llama looking creatures grazing in the grasslands and valleys. Penguins are actually quite a common sight, as well as South American grey wolves, puma and Andean Condors.
The Lakes of Torres Del Paine
The lakes in the park are shimmering blue and many are connected to the River Paine, which winds and flows throughout the park. Lakes include:
- Dickson Lake
- Nordenskjöld Lake
- Pehoe Lake
- Grey Lake
- Sarmiento Lake
- Del Toro Lake