Home Chile How to explore Patagonia (Chile) Travel Guide + VIDEOS

How to explore Patagonia (Chile) Travel Guide + VIDEOS

by Chasing a Plate
Base of the Towers Patagonia Chile

Note: all addresses & prices for restaurants, activities and sights are listed at the bottom of this post.
Disclaimer: Chasing a Plate partnered with ChileTour & Venture Patagonia and experienced their day trips on a complimentary basis. All opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting our blog by using these links.

Chilean Patagonia is staggering in its size and beauty. Parque Nacional Torres del Paine where you’ll be spending most of your time varies dramatically in its landscape- one minute there’s a glacier, next minute you’re walking into puma territory.

We teamed up with ChileTour & Venture Patagonia to explore Parque Nacional Torres del Paine because we were short on time and couldn’t commit to the popular W trek which is 6 nights.  Besides the W trek, ChileTour & Venture Patagonia offer their clients a range of Torres del Paine day hikes which is perfect for those who don’t have their own vehicle (it’s a 2 hour drive into Torres del Paine from town) but still want to spend a few days in the park but return to Puerto Natales in the evenings.

A quick note before we start, Patagonia spans both Chile and Argentina- if you’re interested in the Argentinian side (El Calafate, El Chalten, Perito Moreno glacier) read our post on how to explore it here.

Day Trek to the Base of the Towers

This is THE trek to do if you only have one day and want to experience Torres del Paine in all its glory. We’re not going to lie, at times it can be a tough trek but this 19km/11mile round trip allows you to get a feel for your environment and takes you all the way to the base of Torres del Paine. It’s an early start, ChileTour & Venture Patagonia aim to get their guests on the road between 7:00am-7:30am. You’ll be picked up from your accommodation and provided with a day pack, trekking poles and a boxed lunch.

You’ll drive the 2 hours to the entrance of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine where you’ll need to pay the park entrance fee of 21,000CLP/$33USD in Chilean pesos. Note that this fee lasts for 3 consecutive days, so if you’re planning to spend more time in the park make sure you do so in the following couple of days otherwise you’ll have to pay the fee again. Remember to bring your passport along on the second and third visits as they will ask for proof of identification.

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine day hikes

Torres del Paine day hikes: heading towards the Base of the Towers

The trek canvassess varying terrain from woodlands to massive boulder covered mountains. You’ll cross undulating landscape for the first few hours of the trek and stop for a couple of rest and bathroom breaks before you hit the climb. It’s about an hour long steep scramble up large boulders in order to reach the base of Torres del Paine but once you get there, WOW.

Torres del Paine day hikes: the base of Torres del Paine!

Torres del Paine day hikes: the base of Torres del Paine!

You’ll have lunch at the edge of the glacial lake before heading back the way you came. The time it’ll take to finish the day trek and get back into Puerto Natales will depend on your group. ChileTour & Venture Patagonia only allow a maximum of 6 in a group but the pace of individuals obviously differs. Expect to be back in town between 7pm and 9pm.

You’ll no doubt be famished after your day of trekking! There are loads of places to eat in Puerto Natales- if you’re looking for somewhere cheap and laid back, Base Camp does 6000CLP/$9USD pizzas and affordable beers, although it’s quite a small space so it can be quite hard to get a table. If you want to eat Chilean food we suggest you pop into Raices de Chiloe or La Picada de Carlitos. Raices de Chiloe is cosy, the service is great and the seafood is top notch! If you’re after meat then La Picada de Carlitos should be your pick- their BBQ lamb which comes with potatoes and salad is enough to feed two and is delicious!

Grilled seabass and chips at Raices de Chiloe, Puerto Natales

Grilled seabass and chips at Raices de Chiloe

Watch our YouTube video of our trek to the Base of the Towers!

Day Trek to the French Valley

If you’re keen on a less demanding trek than the one to the Base of the Towers, the French Valley is ideal. There’s still a bit of an uphill slog at the end but it’s relatively flat most of the way and the scenery along the way is stunning. Lakes, woodlands and the tragic but startling beautiful remains of the forest that was set alight a few years ago. It’s another early start but seeing as it’s a 2 hour drive into Torres del Paine National Park, no one is going to hold it against you if you need to catch up on a few z’s!

You begin your journey by catching a boat across Lago Pehoe before trekking the 10km/6 miles through the French Valley. You’ll get amazing views of Los Cuernos (the Horns), French Glacier, Skottsberg Lake and Paine Grande.

Torres del Paine day hike: hiking through the French Valley

Torres del Paine day hike: hiking through the French Valley

You’ll have lunch from a spectacular spot which gives you a full view of the French Glacier and allows you to hear the crash and rumble of the ice as it shifts. The boat back across Lago Pehoe leaves at 5:00pm or 6:30pm so we suggest you leg it back down and grab the 5:00pm boat. That way, you’ll be back in Puerto Natales at a reasonable hour.

Torres del Paine day hike: The view of French Glacier

Torres del Paine day hike: The view of French Glacier

Watch our video of our trek through the French Valley!

 Full Day Paine with easy trekking

So you’re not really a full on hiker/trekker but still want to explore Parque Nacional Torres del Paine? Well this day trip is the one for you! You get to spend the whole day zipping around the park in a private vehicle and doing some light trekking in between. You’ll visit caves where you’ll find paintings estimated to have been done 10,000-15,000 years ago, walk to see epic views of Los Cuernos (the Horns) and check out Salto Grande waterfall. You’ll even get to wander into puma and guanaco territory and do some wildlife spotting.

As with all the other day trips, lunch, day packs and trekking poles are provided.

Guanacos in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

Guanacos in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine: Cave paintings

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine: Cave paintings

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine: Salto Grande

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine: Salto Grande

Watch our YouTube video of our Day Tour of Torres del Paine!

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, DONE!

Travel Insurance

No matter where you’re travelling to we always recommend you have travel insurance. We use and love World Nomads. The great thing about them is that you can purchase travel insurance while you’re already travelling!

 

We hope this Chilean Patagonia travel guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveller, not a tourist.

Spending more time in Chile? Check out our Atacama Desert travel guide and our Santiago Travel Guide!

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How to explore Patagonia, Chile Travel Guide

ChileTour & Venture Patagonia

Trek to the Base of the Towers
$110USD per person
Includes transfers, lunch, trekking poles, day packs and guide.
Excludes entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park (21,000CLP/$33USD) and insurance.

Trek to the French Valley
$180USD per person
Includes transfers, lunch, trekking poles, day packs and guide.
Excludes entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park (21,000CLP/$33USD), Lago Pehoe ferry ticket ($50USD return) and insurance.

Full day Paine with easy trekking 
$550USD total for 2-3 people
$700USD total for 4-6 people
Includes transfers, lunch, trekking poles, day packs and guide.
Excludes entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park (21,000CLP/$33USD) and insurance.

Chasing a Plate’s Pricing Guide

You’ll no doubt have heard that Patagonia is pricey! And it is. There is no getting around it. The restaurants we have mentioned below are our picks for delicious food for a fair price. Expect to pay around 20,000CLP/$30USD for a meal for 2 including alcohol.

Eat like a traveller

Base Camp (cheap, about $15-20USD for two people including alcohol)
Baquedano 731Puerto Natales

Raices de Chiloe 
Blanco Encalada 450Puerto Natales
Open 12:15pm to 2:45pm and 7:15pm to 10:45pm

La Picada de Carlitos 
Blanco Encalada 444, Esquina con EsmeraldaPuerto Natales
Open 8:00am to 11:00pm

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