• Photo: Peter Guttman/

Plan Your Southern Chilean Patagonia Vacation

Serious hikers often come to this area and use Puerto Natales as their base for hiking the classic "W" or circuit treks in Torres del Paine, which take between four days and a week to complete. Others choose to spend a couple of nights in one of the park's luxury hotels and take in the sights during day hikes.

If you have less time, however, it's possible to spend just one day touring the park, as many people do, with Puerto Natales as your starting point. In that case, rather than drive, you'll want to book a one-day Torres del Paine tour with one of the many tour operators here. Most tours pick you up at your hotel between 8 and 9 am and follow the same route, visiting several lakes and mountain vistas, seeing Lago Grey and its glacier, and stopping for lunch in Hostería Lago Grey or one of the other hotels inside the park. These tours return around sunset. A budget option is the daily bus tour (year-round) from the bus station with Transportes María José, which also offers hop-on, hop-off options for hikers and campers.

While visiting Torres del Paine remains the most popular excursion, nearby Parque Bernardo O'Higgins is also ripe for exploration with popular boat tours to glaciers with companies Turismo 21 de Mayo (year-round) and Agunsa (September through April).

Argentina's magnificent Glaciar Perito Moreno, near El Calafate, can be visited on a popular (but extremely long) one-day tour, leaving at the crack of dawn and returning late at night—don't forget your passport. It's a four-hour-plus trip in each direction; some tours sensibly include overnights in El Calafate.

Please note, if calling outside of Chile, you will require the international dialing code (+56). From within Chile you need to add 0 before dialing any local code.

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