Mirador Las Torres: The Most Famous Day Hike in Torres del Paine
Are you planning on hiking in Chilean Patagonia, in Torres del Paine National Park? You cannot miss the most iconic one-day hike to Mirador Las Torres. Our travel guide provides you with tips on how to get to the park, what to pack, where to stay, and how to hike to the characteristic Towers to get the perfect photo.
Has it ever happened to you that you were sold on visiting a place after you saw only one photo?
It had happened to us, and we believe it must happen to you once you see a picture of Mirador Las Torres, one of the most famous travel destinations in Patagonia. No matter if you plan on hiking to the Base of the Towers towering above the glacial lake on a one-day trip or if the sunrise trip to Las Torres will be a part of your multi-day W or O Trek, we are convinced this day will be the highlight of your travels in Patagonia.
If you are traveling to Torres del Paine National Park only for one day, this iconic hike should be undoubtedly on your Patagonia itinerary (even though we must admit that we have one more trek on a shared first place with the Towers, called Grey Glacier Hike).
Photos we saw online of three spiked granite towers mirroring in the blue-green lake were the main reason why we wanted to travel to this part of Patagonia, hope now our photos will inspire you to visit Torres del Paine - it is an unforgettable experience.
HOW TO VISIT MIRADOR LAS TORRES
First, we must outline that you have two options on how to hike to Mirador Las Torres.
You can either visit the Towers as part of popular multi-day W Trek (or its longer version O Trek), but if you cannot afford to dedicate that much time from your holiday to a single trek, no worries, you can do the hike in only one day when traveling from Puerto Natales.
Don't be fooled by the number of people who hike to the Towers Viewpoint every day.
It is not that easy-peasy to finish this trail. Because it is a must-do activity in Patagonia, we met on the trail an uncountable number of people who in our opinion had nothing to do in the mountains - they were either really out of shape or underestimated the unpredictable weather and equipment.
But back to the trek's profile.
The hike is 18 kilometers long (9 kilometers one way), and you will gain 900 meters. From start to finish, the trek should take you 8 to 9 hours.
HOW TO GET TO MIRADOR LAS TORRES TRAILHEAD FROM PUERTO NATALES
Getting to the trailhead of the Mirador Las Torres from Puerto Natales and back is not hard, but it will be a long day.
First, you need to buy a bus ticket at the bus station one day before you want to visit Torres del Paine.
There are several bus companies with the scheduled itinerary, the quality and rates are similar, you will pay between CLP 10 000 to 15 000 for a round trip ticket. Always check the up-to-date departure times, but at the time of our visit, buses were leaving Puerto Natales at 7 AM, 8 AM and 2:30 PM. To enjoy your hike without rushing, we suggest you take the early morning bus.
The drive to the national park takes an hour and a half, and you need to get off the bus right at the first stop, Laguna Amarga.
Here you need to either buy admission for the national park (more about it later), or if you already have a ticket, you must cross the parking lot, and jump on one of the waiting private shuttles which for CLP 6 000 (round trip ticket) will take you to the start of the trek which is 7 kilometers away from Laguna Amarga.
To get back to Puerto Natales in the afternoon, take a shuttle (it does not have a fixed schedule, but you will get to Laguna Amarga on time) to the park's office and here wait for your bus to Puerto Natales which usually leaves at 1:30 PM and 7 PM but again, check the time table with your bus company.
Our Tip: If you do not want to be dependant on public transport, you can rent a car in Punta Arenas (when traveling by air to Chilean Patagonia, this is where you land), and explore Torres del Paine on own.
ENTRANCE FEE TO TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK
The entrance fee we paid in Laguna Amarga's office (you can buy the ticket in advance in Puerto Natales on the bus station) for Torres del Paine is pretty steep, CLP 21 000 per person.
With this ticket, you can hike any multi-day treks within the park, or you can visit the park on three consecutive days from Puerto Natales.
It pays off to travel to the national park more than once because of the high cost.
In order to buy an entrance fee, you need to wait in a line for approximately 30 minutes, fill out several forms and show your passport (it is enough to have a copy or a printscreen in you phone).
THE HIKE TO MIRADOR LAS TORRES
The shuttle dropped us off at another information center connected with cafeteria and clothes shop.
We walked through and continued on a flat gravel path across the grassy field around Las Torres Hotel.
This section was quite busy because many people from Puerto Natales arrived at the same time.
We had to cross a couple of swinging bridges and after a kilometer or so we got to the point where the path started gradually ascend to Refugio Chileno.
Refugio Chileno is accommodation for those hiking multi-day treks, and (or) for those who want to see Towers at sunrise (you need to book the Refugio or adjacent campground via private company Fantastico Sur well in advance though).
The path was winding along a small canyon, and we could see lakes in the distance when turning back.
After we passed the Refugio the trail led through a forest, we crossed several streams, and this approximately three kilometers long section was the easiest.
When we walked out of the forest on gravel path again, we could see the steep hill ahead of us. Here, was also a sign that we in 45 minutes we should reach the Mirador.
This part was for sure the most challenging because there were slippery and loose rocks on the ground, and higher we went, it was windier.
Generally, this part is not that bad, but you need to pay attention all the time and make your way steadily up. We had all the time excellent weather, but we could see clouds rolling in, so we walked pretty fast to make it to the top to get well-deserved views. Suddenly we emerged on the highest point of the trail, from where we got hard to beat views of the Towers and the beautiful lake beneath.
We walked down to the lake, where we took some photos, had a snack and relaxed for more than an hour on the shore soaking in one of Patagonia's best views.
Later, when it was time to return, we followed the same way back to the parking lot.
According to our experience the hike is doable on own, the trail is well-marked, and during the season there were many people around us all the time, so we felt safe, but in case you don't feel like arranging transport and hiking alone, and want to enjoy a smooth day you can check out this guided tour.
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WHAT TO PACK FOR MIRADOR LAS TORRES ONE DAY HIKE
Weather in Patagonia is unpredictable any time of the year, and a strong wind picks up almost every day, especially during summer when the hiking season is in full swing.
Here are five essential things you should pack with you for one day in Torres del Paine.
- Backpack for Him & for Her | To make your trip as comfortable as possible, carry a quality backpack with back support and waist strap.
- Fleece Jacket for Him & for Her | The region of Patagonia is extremely cold even in summer, so bring along fleece jacket or any additional layer with long sleeves not to feel cold. We spent quite a lot of time on the lake's shore and a warm jacket came handy.
- Rain Poncho | It can start raining any time of the year in Patagonia's mountains, and rain poncho will protect you and your valuables as well.
- Waterproof Jacket for Him & for Her | Wind in Patagonia is so strong, especially during summer hiking season, that you must pack a quality waterproof and windproof jacket otherwise the day could be quite miserable.
- Hiking Poles | We always find hiking poles useful, especially when we know from trek's profile there will be a steep descend.
We've also written an in-depth Patagonia packing list about what to pack when planning on traveling to Patagonia and what to leave behind.
WHERE TO STAY BEFORE MIRADOR LAS TORRES HIKE
You have two options on where to stay before hiking to the Towers.
You can either stay directly in the park in the iconic Hotel Las Torres Patagonia - that's the one we had to pass around at the beginning of the trail, and we must admit we envied everyone who could have afforded it.
The other option is to stay before and after the trek in Puerto Natales which is for many the base for visiting Torres del Paine National Park.
We've handpicked three best hotels in Puerto Natales for every budget.
Budget | Casa de Familia Puerto Natales - One of the cheapest private rooms you can find in the town includes filling breakfast and good wifi. This property is owned by a local family who will make sure your stay will be comfortable.
Mid-range | Yaganhouse - Cozy and bright guesthouse has one of the top ratings in Puerto Natales thanks to the friendly atmosphere, great breakfast, and clean rooms. Some of them feature a private bathroom.
Luxury | Hotel Simple Patagonia - Do you want to feel the real Patagonia? Stay in this hotel with amazing views and perfect service.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via Hostelworld.
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