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Torres del Paine is one of our favorite destinations in the world, you may already know that. We recently did the Paine Activo trekking, a one-day route through the Torres del Paine viewpoints that is well worth it. Today, we take you to the heart of Chilean Patagonia and tell you in detail what our day was like. Here we go!
Transfer to Torres del Paine
We woke up very early at our lodging in Puerto Natales because a van was going to pick us up, ready to spend a day with the idyllic landscape of Torres del Paine in the background. Although Puerto Natales is the closest town to the park, the drive is 2 hours one way and 2 hours back. It was worth getting up early to make the most of the day.
Torres del Paine Viewpoints Tour Stops
The Andean Condor
On the way, just as we were beginning to erase the image of Puerto Natales from our rear-view mirror, we made our first stop, and there was a rock wall where we could see the Andean Condor. There was a rocky wall where we could see the Andean Condor, and we were lucky that our guide saw them! So we were able to get down for a few minutes and see them. In addition, he had binoculars with which we could observe them in detail. Some of them have a wing-to-wing length of…more than 3 meters !😱
After the Andean Condor, we followed the road towards Sarmiento Lake. At one of the ends of the lake, there was a viewpoint where we could intuit the 90 square kilometers that it has and from which the views of the park were already beautiful.
First hike of Paine Activo
Continuing the journey, in a few minutes we arrive at Portería Sarmiento, already inside Torres del Paine Park. From here, we will start our first hike, which will last approximately 1 and a half to 2 hours, depending on the pace of our legs and the stops we make…
The route began with a slight and gentle ascent. It took us along the Aonikenk Trail to an archaeological site with remains of cave paintings more than 6500 years old. At that point of the hike, wildlife began to surround us. We kept seeing guanacos until we came out through Portería Amarca, the other ranger post.
Lunch at the Blue Lagoon
After this first hike we returned to the van to go to the next stop. Here we took the opportunity to have some snacks from the delicious box lunch we had been given. Although the hike was easy, we were grateful to be under cover and rest from the cold, relentless wind.
Lunch time was approaching, and the guide decided to stop for lunch at another spectacular viewpoint of Torres del Paine National Park. This time, with the Blue Lagoon as the protagonist.
There we found some wooden tables in a perfect spot for a technical stop. Our box lunch included a piece of fruit, some chocolate and a sandwich, and we chose a vegetarian and a meat sandwich.
Nearby there was a quincho (what in Chile and other countries they call a space equipped for the preparation of barbecue or social gatherings), where you could buy something else or take the opportunity to go to the bathroom.
After lunch, we got back in the van to go to the next viewpoint. In this case it was the Paine Waterfall, with a drop of 15 meters high and spectacular views of the Andes Mountains.
The next viewpoint of the tour is next to the clear waters of Lake Nodenskjköld. From this side of the lake, the guide explained to us the paths that we were going to take in the following days, since we were going to start the O Circuit of Torres del Paine. From this point and with his help and that of the explanatory maps of the place, it was easy to visualize the treks.
At this point we were lucky enough to see some real gauchos with their horses. In addition, one of them escaped and they had to look for it 😂.
Salto Grande Trail
The next stop on our tour was the Salto Grande trail. Here we did another hike, but very easy and very short, it only lasted 10 minutes. The views were wonderful. Here we saw a 12 meter high waterfall and the river flowing into Lake Pehoé.
This part of the park is constantly battered by the wind because a phenomenon called the venturi effect occurs here, when the wind current crosses the narrow valley and accelerates, doubling its speed.
From here you can easily access the Los Cuernos viewpoint by a trail, but the guide suggested an alternative route. This was more difficult and with a greater slope, which would serve to train our body for the O Circuit.
For this we approached with the van to the beginning of the Mirador Cóndor trail. The wind did not make it easy for us, as we were little protected by the terrain. Although the climb to the viewpoint was short and demanding in equal parts, when you get to the top the views (and the wind) force you to sit down to admire Los Cuernos.
It was one of the most beautiful views of all the viewpoints of Torres del Paine, we do not know if it was because of the effort or because it really is. Afterwards, the descent to Lake Pehoé was not easy either, as we had to cross a pass where the venturi effect forced us all to go down holding on so that the wind would not throw us to the ground. Once there, we started our way back to Puerto Natales.
Return to Puerto Natales
The experience was wonderful and the guide provided us with information about the anthropology of cave paintings, flora, fauna, geology and the formation of the National Park. He adapted to our physical condition and the demands of each of the hikes, proposing different difficulties and distances.
Of course, the route through the Torres del Paine viewpoints was a pleasant experience, in which we surrounded 180º of the park and in which we could understand all the geography of the place. We learned more in one day surrounded by nature than we did while taking Geography in high school 😅.
This tour through the viewpoints of Torres del Paine is a mix of bus route with short walks to enjoy the views, and it is very worthwhile. Do you dare to enjoy it?