A Patagonian gem, Torres del Paine National Park draws visitors from around the globe who are lured by its distance from civilization and its untouched, enchanting wilderness. But these are the exact reasons why many would-be hikers see it as somewhat complicated to reach. Edged on the western side by the remote Chilean fjords and the Andes in the east, the park can only be accessed by a small number of routes. For most, this involves travelling from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine.
How to get from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine National Park
Punta Arenas is located around five hours south of Torres del Paine. Unfortunately, no direct route between the two exists. Instead, your main option is to take a bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, the closest town to the park. If booking a tour from Punta Arenas, it is likely this will include transfers directly to Torres del Paine National Park, which is a faster but more expensive option.
Car rental from Punta Arenas is also possible, although this will unlikely save you much time in arriving to Torres del Paine but allows for a greater degree of flexibility in visiting the park.
Travelling from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales
The best route from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine is to take one of the buses that depart daily from the city. There is no centralized bus terminal in Punta Arenas; each individual bus company has its own office from which its buses leave.
Information regarding the location of these departure points, along with ways to book your ticket are available by visiting the companies’ websites which have been linked below:
- Bus Sur – Buses leave several times per day (10:00, 12:30, 15:00, 17:15, 19:00) and cost around 7,600 CLP ($12 USD) one-way.
- Buses Pacheco – Buses leave two times per day (11:00, 18:00) and cost around 7,000 CLP ($11 USD) one-way.
- Buses Fernández – Buses leave several times per day (8:00, 9:00, 13:00, 14:30, 17:00, 18:30, 20:00) and cost around 7,000 CLP ($11 USD) one-way.
If flying into the airport in Punta Arenas, it is not usually necessary to travel into the city to take a bus, particularly as Punta Arenas is located around 14-miles (23 km) further south. Instead, most buses pass through the airport on their way to Puerto Natales, so confirm this when booking your ticket.
Travelling from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine
From Puerto Natales, again, buses are the cheapest option for getting to the national park and take on average around two hours. During low-season (from March through early November) fewer buses are available.
- Buses Gomez – Buses leave twice daily (7:20am and 14:30pm) and cost around 10,000 CLP ($16 USD) each way. The buses in the morning arrive at Laguna Amarga: 9:45am/16:30pm, Pudeto: 10:45am/17:30pm, Administración 11:45am/16:30pm.
- Buses Maria Jose – Buses leave twice daily (7:30am and 14:30pm) and cost around 10,000 CLP ($16 USD) each way. The buses in the morning arrive at Laguna Amarga: 9:45am/16:30pm, Pudeto: 10:45am/17:30pm, Administración 11:45am/16:30pm.
Getting from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine by car
For those travelling through Patagonia with a vehicle, it is possible to drive from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales via Route 9 (a three-hour drive). From here, the route to Torres del Paine National Park has two possibilities:
- Take the gravel road leading off to the west at a turning 14-miles (23 km) north of Puerto Natales. Pass alongside Cueva del Milodón at the Río Serrano entrance and from here, continue into the national park. This takes roughly one and a half hours.
- The more popular route is the paved highway north of Puerto Natales. Upon reaching Cerro Castillo, 33-miles (54 km) from the city, take a left to drive along unpaved road into the park’s northwest entrance at Laguna Amarga. This takes around three hours.
Flying from Santiago to Puerto Natales
As of 6 December 2016, LATAM airlines will be running a twice-weekly flight between Santiago and Puerto Natales, allowing visitors to travel more quickly between the capital and Torres del Paine National Park. This service will only operate until 25 February 2017.
Additional advice for visiting Torres del Paine
We’ve written extensively about how you can organize a trip to Torres del Paine National Park, including an essential guide to planning your trip to Torres del Paine, information about the Circuit trek, the ‘W’ and the lesser-known ‘Q’ hike, a guide to the weather to expect when exploring the park as well as a checklist for ensuring you are fully prepared to hike in Patagonia’s most glorious area of natural beauty.