Soaring crags, granite pillars, neon-blue glaciers: Torres del Paine National Park is the Yellowstone of South America, displaying some of the most glorious natural panoramas in all of Patagonia. Chosen by National Geographic for the cover of its World’s Most Beautiful Places special edition, it’s a place of 7,000-foot peaks that ascend into the clouds, and rushing falls that shake the rocks around them.
Torres del Paine is a trekker’s paradise, sporting extensive infrastructure that allows you to hike its W-shaped loop while spending the night in the hotels and refugios that dot its trails. Along the way, you’ll encounter emerald forests and turquoise lakes, roaring rivers and the three enigmatic monoliths that give the park its name.
The park is also a sanctuary for Patagonia’s wildlife. A major puma-conservation area, it’s home to herds of guanacos that are the pumas’ main prey, as well as flocks of rheas and flamingos that wander the steppes. Shy Andean deer hide amidst the foliage, while overhead giant condors patrol the skies.
When you visit, you’ll also have the opportunity of visit Grey Glacier, one of the few ice packs on Earth that’s actually expanding. Excursions in a high-speed launch take you within touching distance of the electric-blue surface, while allowing you to witness the carving action that produced the cordillera’s dramatically striated peaks.
When UNESCO made Torres del Paine a protected biosphere in 1978, it aimed to protect the fragile beauty of this unique ecosystem. Today that beauty is magnificently on display, in one of the Americas’ great natural destinations.
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