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Torres del Paine: Getting To and Away

The most common way to reach Torres del Paine is by using Puerto Natales, the closest town to the park, as a jumping point. The majority of visitors fly into Punta Arenas, the nearest airport to the park, take a 3 hour bus ride to Puerto Natales, then head into Torres del Paine the next day.


By Bus

From Puerto Natales there are multiple bus services that do nothing more than travel the 2.5-3 hours to and from the National Park. These buses run twice daily and will drop you at one of the three stopping points within the park: the entrance at the Laguna Amarga ranger station, the Pudeto catamaran dock on the edge of Lago Pehoe, orthe park administration point. The cost of round trip bus tickets to the National Park is between $20-$25 usd.

There are sometimes more expensive transfers into the park from Calafate (over the border in Argentina), but this is not a consistent service.


By Private Car or Motorhome

From Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas, you can also opt to arrange a trip into the park with a private tour company, or rent a car or motorhome to explore on your own, which is significantly more expensive than public transportation, but gives you more freedom to plan your perfect Torres del Paine itinerary. EMSA (Roca 1044, Punta Arenas, Tel: (56-61) 241-182) has a Punta Arenas office and rental desk at the Punta Arenas airport, in addition to an office in Puerto Natales (Bulnes 632, Tel: (56-61) 410-775) for car and truck rentals. Motorhome rentals have become a popular option with tourists who want to visit Torres del Paine comfortably and at their own pace. Andean Roads (E-mail: torlasco(at), Tel: 54911-5422-7623) is one highly-reviewed motorhome rental company based in Argentina with a variety of vehicle sizes, ranging from $EU 70  to 140 per day, including insurance (prices are listed in Euros, but can also be paid for in Argentine pesos or US dollars). If you're interested in a motorhome rental, it's important to make reservations well in advance. When heading into the park without a guide, either in car or motorhome, get a good map, and be sure to fill up the gas tank in Puerto Natales. Snow chains are essential in the unpredictable winter months.


By Boat

Another perhaps more exciting and scenic way to reach the park is by boat: either engine-powered catamarans, or human-powered kayaks if you're up for the challenge. There are a variety of catamaran tours that bring visitors from Puerto Natales through Ultimate Esperanza Sound and up Río Serrano to Torres del Paine, passing Glacier Serrano, Glacier Grey, Lago Nordenskjöld, Lago Sarminetö, among other fjords and breathtaking vistas. Most trips depart around 8 a.m. and return to Puerto Natales 10-12 hours later, though it's possible to arrange multiple day trips as well with operators such as Turismo 21 de Mayo (Eberhard 560, Puerto Natales, Tel: (56-61) 614-420) and Aventour (Av. España 882, Punta Arenas, Tel: (56-61) 241197 / 220174) with stays at hosterías on various peninsulas off the fjords. For the more adventurous, sign up for a kayak tour that passes through the same fjords, channels, and rivers into the national park with Indomita (C. Bories 206, Puerto Natales, Tel: (56-61) 414-525).

29 Jun 2009

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