Are you planning your next perfect getaway which would include everything ranging from beautiful sightseeing to luxurious lodges and adventurous moments to cool cosy nights with your friends or family then Torres Del Paine National Park is the place to visit.
Translated to Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine in Spanish this national park is situated between the Los Andes Mountain Range and the Patagonian Steppes, in Ultima Esperanza Province, in the south of Chile. The closest and most well known cities are Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. The national park is one of the largest and most popular parks in Chile. It has several foreign tourists from all over the world visiting the place. The park has every aspect that nature has to offer to mankind, such as snow coated mountains, icy glaciers, lush green forests, clear lakes and rivers as well as exotic flora and fauna. The national park covers an area of around 181,000 hectares and has roads for vehicles and paths for walkers. Torres Del Paine National Park is often subjected to erratic weather as it is located between the landmass of the continent of south America to its right and the vast Pacific ocean to its left that bring in saturated winds to the area. Hence the park may have unpredictable rainfall or cold strong winds but otherwise the weather can be pleasantly cool on normal days.
The main attraction at the national park is the vast expanse of snow capped mountains that dominate the landscape. These mountains are called the Paine Massif also known as the Cordillera del Paine. It is interesting to notice the colour changes of the mountain rocks, as the sedimentary rocks eroded and gave way to granite rocks. The Big Paine Mountain (Cerro Paine Grande) is the largest mountain in the massif with an altitude of 3050m. Another popular mountain in this region is the Tower of Paine (Torres del Paine). It is suggested that you should visit during October and April which are the months of spring and summer. During the months of summer a queer occurrence takes place where at sunrise the peaks of the three mountains of Torres del Paine will turn purple and then red. Tourists have the chance to bring out their adventurous side by taking up activities like trekking, horseback rides and climbing in this rugged landscape. The hiking trails will take you through thick forests, crystal clear waterfalls and lakes and present you with a stunning view of the beautiful mountains slightly obscured by clouds. Walking the “W” trail is most popular in the region. A little effort might be required to witness the best of the views but even then tourists have the option to drive around the park’s main landmarks.
Travellers will also get to witness the second largest ice field in the world called the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which measures up to 16800 sq. Km. Other well known glaciers present in the area are the Grey glaciers, Frances glaciers, Dickson glaciers and Tyndall glaciers. There are several large water bodies in the region that are fed through waterfalls or rivers whose source are the glaciers. A few of them are the Grey Lake, Nordenskjold Lake, Pehoe Lake, Sarmiento Lake, Del Toro Lake. Boat trips and kayaking are all the rage in the lakes there, especially the Grey lake that takes you up till the glacier from where it originated. Fly fishing is a prominent sport in the region. It can easily be done in the freshwater lakes present there as mentioned earlier in plentiful. Recently a yoga dome has been created where visitors can put out of their mind all their stress and worries and practice yoga in the serene environment.
The authorities at the national park take all the steps necessary to preserve the wildlife and plants in the area. Hence the park has a diverse array of species of flora and fauna. There are four different types of vegetations prevalent in the area: Patagonian Steppe, Pre-Andean Shrub land, Magellanic Deciduous Forests and Andean desert. A few well known plants of the region are the Chilean Firetree, The Devil’s Strawberry, Porcelain Orchid, Dwarf Barberry, Dog Orchid, Old Man’s Beard and the Chinese Lantern. The region sports around 26 species of mammals, amongst them Guanaco a form of llamas are found the most here. Guanaco’s are familiar with humans that visit the place often hence they are not easily frightened by their presence and can be caught on camera in large herds that dominate the area. Also found here are the carnivores Puma’s, though they are a rare sight and can be seen mostly during the dark hours a few tourists may get lucky if they keep their eyes open. The national animal of Chile, the South Andean Deer, an endangered specie also reside in the national park under special protection. Bird watchers are in for some luck as there are a variety of birds to spot in the park ranging from wading birds such as Chilean Flamingos to birds of prey like Andean Condor. South America’s largest bird called the flightless Rhea can also be seen here.
Tourists also have the option of ‘glamping’ which is a combination of camping along with all the amenities that a good hotel has to provide. For those who choose to skip the adrenaline rush and prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenic beauty of the nature at the national park there are several five star hotels and lodges at your service. Torres del Paine National Park is a photographer’s dream and it compels you to whip out your cameras the moment you put your eyes upon what the place has to offer. It is definitely a unique and delightful place to visit and should be added to your never ending bucket list.