Easy/Moderate / 6 days from Punta Arenas, Chile
This self drive Patagonia in Winter programme allows you to fully explore the treasures of the Torres del Paine National Park in its quietest season.
You will have the flexibility to explore the stunning Torres del Paine park taking in all its highlights, including the Paine Towers and Salto Grande waterfalls.
The thick snow, dramatic frozen lakes and waterfalls, together with the special southern winter light are highlights of this wintry adventure.
As well as having the car you will have a choice of optional excursions which you can contract directly with the hotel. This trip is an excellent extension to our Winter In Argentinian Patagonia trip to Calafate and Los Glaciares National Park.
➕ Day 1: Punta Arenas airport, drive to Puerto Natales, hotel.On arrival to Punta Arenas airport head to the car hire desk. Complete the formalities and pick up your vehicle. You will be asked for a credit card as security.This will be a Hyundai Accent 1.4 or similar. Head North along Route 9 (away from Punta Arenas). Puerto Natales is 245 Km / 150 miles from Punta Arenas and the road is paved all the way. The drive should take around 3 hours through forests of southern beech and prime pastureland.You may well spot Nandues (Patagonian Rheas) and guanacos along the route.Puerto Natales lies between Cerro Dorotea and the eastern shore of the Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). It is a bustling town of just under 20,000 inhabitants and owes its origins to the sheep farming estancias at the beginning of the 20th century but now is the tourism gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and the surrounding area. There are 3 ATMS IN Puerto Natales and no ATMs in the Park. Also it would be wise to fill your petrol tank up as well as stock up on any snacks. Overnight, standard double/twin room with breakfast included, Hotel Martin Gusinde. Day 2: Drive to the Torres del Paine National Park, hotel. (B)Head North out of Puerto Natales. At the crossing at Km 23 turn left and take the un paved road (Y-290) towards the Park. The Rio Serrano administration entrance to the park is 122 Km from Puerto Natales. A few Km after the turn off you will drive past the Milodon Cave. Its worth stopping to visit. It is a very scenic collection of caves, the most famous of which is the Milodon cave where in 1895 the skin, bones and other parts of a prehistoric sloth (Mylodon darwini) were found. The remains can be seen at the British Museum in London. The caves can be visited between 0830 and 2030 and the entrance fee (not included) is CLP 2,000 (apporx USD 4) per person.Contine driving to the park crossing the bridge over the Serrano River to the National park entrance and administrsation centre. You will need to pay your park entrance fee and comly with the entrance formalities. Continue on route Y-150 in the direction signposted for Lago Grey.
Overnight, standard double/twin room with breakfast included, Hotel Lago Grey.
➕ Days 3 & 4: Day free in the Torres del Paine National Park, hotel. (B)
➕ Days free to explore the park.
➕ Day 5: Drive to Puerto Natales, hotel. (B)You can return to Puerto Natales along the same route you came or alternatively drive across the park to the Laguna Amarga control point and return along the paved road via Cerro Castillo. This route is longer. Overnight, standard double/twin room with breakfast included, Hotel Martin Gusinde.
Overnight, standard double/twin room with breakfast included, Hotel Martin Gusinde.
➕ Day 6: Drive to Punta Arenas airport, ends (B)Drive to Punta Arenas airport. Give yourself plenty of time for the car return formalities.
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Fitness and experience
The trip is open to all levels of fitness as any activities chosen will be at the passenger's discretion.
While in the park, you usually wake early, around 07.00, for breakfast in the hotel.
Your typical day will be what you make of it.
You may have already purchased an optional excursion from the hotel or you can set off in your vehicle to explore the park.
Comfortable, authentic and welcoming hotels all of which have been chosen for their beautiful location, great view and/or cultural appeal.
We can arrange (or assist with) your flight to Patagonia at competitive rates through our ATOL-bonded agency.
When booking flights, we can advise you of the best routes and options, and quote for you. Best routing will depend on your overall plan for travel in Patagonia. The most direct route in is via Santiago on Chile, and then fly on to Punta Arenas. There are overland and sea options in Chile too.
Alternatively, you can fly into Buenos Aires, possibly overnight here, then on to El Calafate, overnight here, then bus to Puerto Natales the next day. We can book hotels, buses etc for you if you wish.
As International/Internal flights are often not through ticketed (i.e. two different airlines, check when booking) any delay or flight schedule change could result in you missing connecting flights. You may incur rebooking or other additional costs for which we cannot accept responsibility.
Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays.
Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.
Self drive smalle seda car hire. Hyundai Accent 1.4 or similar. Driver must be over 25 and have valid photo driver's license.
It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.
We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.
Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.
More destination information
Don't forget to check our Travel Facts about Chile as well as our Chile Language And Culture Guide with a free Spanish Language app available to download.
And please read our guide to Keeping Safe, Fit and Well While Travelling as well as our FAQs and Flight Information page.
Contact us if you need any more information.
The main difference between summer and winter in the park is the daylight hours. Due to its latitude it may not get light till around 0800am or later and get dark mid to late afternoon, dending when you travel. This does affect the amount of time you have for trekking.
The temperatures in winter can vary between -2 and 10 Celsius and you might be blessed with sunshine, rain, snow or low cloud cover, possibly all in the same day. The winds are not as strong as in summer.
Far fewer people visit the park in Winter making the fauna spotting opportunities much greater as also some of the animals come down to forage for food.
Pack lots of warm clothes, scarves, gloves etc.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
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When planning for this trip, layering is the best system. Several layers of thin clothing are more practical and versatile than one or two heavy layers. Waterproof and windproof layers are essential
Thermal underwear Highly recommended. Also make good nightwear on cold nights.
Trousers Quick drying trousers are good for trekking (maybe in conjunction with thermals if cold). Track-suit bottoms/fleece pants form an extra layer when needed.
Goretex-type waterproof and windproof trousers are essential
Shirts Long-sleeved, collared shirts are very handy in the mountains, giving protection against the cold, the sun and insects.
Goretex-type waterproof and windproof jacket
Hat/balaclava & gloves/mitts
Boots if you are going to trek. Must be well broken-in before trip. Lightweight walking boots/cross-trainers are fine for low-level trekking and city-wear.
Socks Thick loop-stitch/wool socks & thin polipropylene socks.
Ski poles Very useful for trekking
➕ Daypack Recommend 25 litre, for you to carry personal items while on excursions.
Passport (check expiry date), Money (debit/credit cards - note some banks require advance notice of travel), Local currency (US Dollars can be easily exchanged in Chile, sterling/Euros much harder), Airline tickets or booking codes, Emergency phone numbers for your travel insurance, local operator and booking agent
Soft holdalls or duffel bags are preferable to hard cases with wheels, day pack for your personal items while hiking (camera, water bottle etc)
Luggage tags so your bag is easily recognizable
A few lightweight, easily washable items (layering is always best), Midweight fleece or wool sweater, Midweight fleece or sweat pants, Hiking pants, lightweight, synthetic and loose fitting (those that convert to shorts can be useful), Shorts for warmer days, Long sleeved shirts or or long tees for layering - always choose a synthetic layer close to the skin, T-shirts, again for layering - choose a synthetic, breathable layer close to the skin, Underwear, Hiking socks and liners are good to help prevent blisters, Cotton socks for travelling etc, Woollen hat for warmth during chilly evenings or cold days, Set of thermals for cool night, Scarf or neck warmer for windy days, Sun hat or visor to protect from the sun, Waterproof, windproof (gortex is best) outer rain proof layer (full rain proof not just shower proof), Waterproof trousers/pants (again gortex is best although can be expensive so not essential) Insulated warm jacket, down or similar is best and they pack up very small and light, Sturdy, well broken in, ankle supporting, waterproof hiking boots with good tread, Comfortable shoes for travel and around estancias, Warm fleece or nylon gloves
One litre water bottle, Torch (flashlight) - even in estancias and refugios, the generator can gets switched off at night, Sunglasses and retainer strap, Sun block and lip balm, Toiletries (ladies should bring tampons as they are impossible to find in the park), Small washcloth, Antiseptic wipes or hand sanitizer gel, Any personal medication, Insect repellent, Trekking poles (if required, these are hard to find locally),Travel alarm, Camera and charger, memory card, batteries, Electrical adapter plug (Chile uses a 2-pin 220 volt outlet), Spare contact lenses or glasses if necessary, Spanish phrasebook or dictionary, Swiss army knife, Small camping pillow, Small binoculars, Ear plugs if you are a light sleeper (recommended for refugios), Reading and writing materials, Ziplock plastic bags (always seem to come in useful), Gaiters, ankle high for hiking
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