Ups and downs on the hike to the Towers of Torres del Paine, Chile


Hike Torres del Paine Patagonia, Chile

Mary, Torres del Paine Chile

Hike to the towers of Torres del Paine, Chile

Andean Trails’ Alan Lyall relives his trek to one of Chile’s finest attractions, ticking off a bucket list trip while pushing himself out of his comfort zone.

Check his photos from the journey on our Facebook page.


He writes:

“I am not the poster boy for trekking.

The thought of the 8-hour, 18km, round trip trek to the base of the Towers in the Torres del Paine National park was, to say the least, a bit daunting.

We woke up early at the Torres campsite and after a hearty breakfast collected our packed lunch and set off for the trail head, which is a 10 minute walk from the site and next to the Hotel Las Torres.

From here we began a steady 2.4km ascent from 135 metres above sea level to around 400 metres.

It was December and we were lucky with the weather. The sky was blue interspersed with white cloud blotches some of which were the “out of this world” lenticular formations. We were also blessed by the fact that the notorious winds had decided to have a day off.


laguna-cisnes-Paine chile

Laguna Cisnes, Torres del Paine, Chile



As we climbed the switchbacks, the trail would reward us with spectacular views of Lake Nordenskjold and the surrounding countryside. Stopping for breath, I spotted a Huemul, which is a South Andean deer. These are an endangered species and there are only around 100 left in the park so this was a stroke of luck.

After 2.5km we reached the mouth of the Asenscio Valley from where we trekked for just under 2km, along an undulating path, until reaching a small bridge which led us to Refugio Chileno.

Refugio Chileno is a mountain refuge that offers camping facilities as well as mixed small dorms and meals, and a popular place from which to set off to the base of the towers.

We had a short break here, making use of the facilities as well as a refreshment break.

Then we set off on the final 5km to our goal. We hiked through beech forests, crossed small streams, walking upwards and then downwards, upwards then downwards.


Cascada huemul in Torres del paine Patagonia Chile

Cascada huemul, Torres del Paine, 


The last push

After a couple of hours we came to the base of a steep moraine. Ok this was it. The final frontier.

One foot ahead of the other, meandering in and around boulders and rocks on a steady ascent upwards. Undaunted, after 40 minutes we finally reached a lip, and then in front of us in all their glory were the majestic granite spires of the Towers of Paine.

Wow, I made it.

Out of breath but I made it. Who would credit it? Better get the photo to prove it.

After taking in the sight for moments in which time seemed to stand still, I went  in search of the ideal spot in which to enjoy my packed lunch. Time to build strength as now we had to go back the way we came.

Another tick on the bucket list. Done, and well done!


Note: The Base of the Towers trek is included in Andean Trails’ Patagonia Highlights, Paine W and Paine Circuit trek.

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