When you’re almost at the end of the earth, there’s no knowing what you might find. The raw, untamed beauty of Patagonia reveals treasure after treasure to those who venture through her, and Torres del Paine National Park is certainly one worth travelling for. One of the world’s premier hiking destinations, acre upon acre of protected landscape stretches out to wonder and amaze you; from glacial lakes to undulating, grassy plains, to soaring, snowcapped mountains.
The Singular Patagonia hotel offers a gateway like no other into this spectacularly beautiful region. Base yourself in a luxurious and elegant setting so that you’re ready to explore, and, alongside their expert guides, take the trip of a lifetime to see the torres themselves. Three delicately coloured granite peaks which reach majestically into the Chilean sky, the towers are the namesake of the entire park and unquestionably the jewel in its crown.
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Your hike will take you through the picturesque Valle Ascencio, winding its way up and through the foothills and above the surging river. Keep your eyes peeled for wild hares in the lower levels of the valley and don’t forget to look up, either. The sight of a condor gliding overhead is an awe inspiring moment, if you’re lucky enough to spot one.
Home to everything from rare species of orchid to the elusive puma, Torres del Paine’s landscape has been moulded by forest fires and glacial retreat, as well as by the footsteps of its many visitors. There aren’t many better places to reflect on the vast power of nature, and of our impact on it, than this.
After a moderate hike up the valley to Refugio Chileno, one of the many rest cabins throughout the park, the harder work begins. After a continued ascent, the peaceful quiet of the forest gives way to a rocky scramble for the final push. Take things slowly; rest often and for as long as you need. The final view will be well worth it, but there’s no rush!
The moment you see the towers themselves is best described as magical, not least because of the effort you’ve had to put in to get there. The colour of the rock shifts as the light changes, from a glowing orange to the palest touch of pink. In this stark and awesome place, it’s hard to imagine that only a few hours ago you were making your way along a greenly carpeted valley. Even in the mist and fog, the towers are a special experience. Cloud wraps around them and settles mysteriously on the lake at their base, something from a fairytale. Needless to say, it’s something you will carry with you on the return hike, and for much longer than that.
This is a challenging hike, and it’s best to be prepared. Appropriate clothing, including sturdy footwear, is essential. The weather can change dramatically in just a few minutes, so you’ll need both sunscreen and a rain jacket in your bag. Many people find hiking poles particularly helpful on the final stretch of the hike, especially on the way back down, as it is fairly steep.
If you’ve been inspired to explore Torres del Paine but feel that this hike is more than you would like to take on, a day exploring the rest of the park could be for you. The Singular Patagonia can arrange a day of discovery for you, including the stunning Lago Grey. The view of Glacier Grey, which feeds the lake, is particularly beautiful.
However you do it, exploring Torres del Paine is a must for anyone who wants to experience the unspoiled beauty of this end of the world. There simply isn’t anything else like it.