Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
- Southern Patagonia, Puerto Natales
- high season US$17.00, low season US$8.50
Lonely Planet review for Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
Jutting out 2800m (9186ft) above the Patagonian steppe, the Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) are spectacular granite pillars that dominate the landscape of what is arguably South America's finest national park. These breathtaking spires are flanked by the summit of Paine Grande (3050m/10,000ft) and the sharp tusks of black sedimentary peaks known as Los Cuernos (The Horns).
Trails meander through emerald forests, alongside and over roaring rivers, past radiant blue glaciers, azure lakes and up to jaw-dropping lookouts. You can hike into the vast openness of the steppe, heading to less-visited lakes and glaciers. Part of Unesco's Biosphere Reserve system since 1978, it shelters flocks of ostrichlike rhea (known locally as the ñandú), Andean condors, flamingos and many other bird species. The park's outstanding conservation success has undoubtedly been the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), which grazes the open steppes where its predator, the puma, cannot approach undetected. After more than a decade of effective protection from poachers, the large and growing herds of guanacos don't even flinch when humans or vehicles approach.