Torres del Paine Belvedere
A straightforward trekking itinerary that, thanks to the fantastic view of the Torres del Paine, has become a classic of its kind, even though the long hike up to the Lookout Point and back again is not particularly enthralling.
The starting point for the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is Puerto Natales. From Puerto Natales various bus operators offer open-ended return tickets to the park, almost 120km away. Buses depart at around 7 am and take over 4 hours to reach the park.
The main entrance is Guardería & Rifugio Laguna Amarga, at the northern end of the park; all tourists are brought here and they must purchase a park permit and register before entering. Buses then continue to the Sede Administrativa Lago del Toro, from where most depart in the early afternoon for the return trip to Puerto Natales.
Day 1 Guardería Laguna Amarga – Campamento Torres
From Guardería & Rifugio Laguna Amarga follow the dirt track westwards down to cross Río Paine on a narrow bridge and, following the signposted short cuts, continue on to Hostria Las Torres in about 3 hours. Alternatively, skip this dusty first section by taking the private minibus that ferries walkers up to the expensive Hostria and spacious campsite (recommended).
From Hostria Las Torres walk south-westwards down to cross the Río Ascencio on a suspension bridge. Continue to the ridge and leave this main path by turning right (NW) steeply uphill, following an obvious, eroded path up the Río Ascencio valley. This initial climb is by far the steepest and most tiring section, but after having gained roughly 500m in height it levels out almost completely. It continues, exposed in one section, above the raging Río Ascencio, down to the Campamento Chileno. Allow 11/2 hours for this section, slightly more on hot days.
After the refuge the path leads through lovely woods on up the left-hand side of the valley. It crosses two streams that, after rain, can prove tricky to cross, before leading down to a signposted “Mirador” fork. If done as a two day trek, ignore this sign and continue along the valley to quickly reach the Campamento Torres. Allow about 1 hour for this section.
Nestled in the woods, this campsite offers a welcome shelter from the howling winds that gust down the valley. Fresh water can be collected from the small stream at the start of the campsite, and a toilet has been built to stop the area from being polluted. A makeshift hut has been constructed and is used by many for cooking.
If this trek is done in a single day, from the “Mirador” signpost follow the path SW steeply up to the Torres del Paine Lookout in just under 1 hour. Keep left initially, crossing a small stream occasionally, before following orange and red markers up through the scree and rubble to the lookout. Enjoy the windy view, before returning along the approach route to Hostria Las Torres and Guardería & Rifugio Laguna Amarga.
Day 2 Campamento Torres - Torres del Paine Lookout - return
Sunrise over these three granite towers can be truly magnificent and well worth getting up for early. From the corner of the campsite a small path leads over the stream and out of the woods to meet the main path. Keep left initially, crossing a small stream occasionally, before following orange and red markers up through the scree and rubble to the Torres del Paine Lookout in just under 1 hour (allow slightly more for a pre-dawn start).
Enjoy the windy view, before returning to the campsite. Pack the tent and return along the approach route to Hostria Las Torres and Guardería & Rifugio Laguna Amarga.
Normal trekking equipment.
This trek is straightforward and in good conditions poses no serious problems.
Days required: it can be done as a long day trek by starting early, or alternatively in two days by spending the night at Campamento Torres (recommended).
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay - Lonely Planet, April 1996
Trekking in the Patagonian Andes - Lonely Planet, February 1998
Trekking En Chalten & Lago del Desierto - Zagier & Urruty