Half Day Excursions
Half Day Excursions
You might be surprised at how much you can see of Torres del Paine National Park in just three or four hours. Whether by foot, horse or vehicle, our half-day excursions are packed with adventure and interesting information about the park’s flora, fauna, geology and human history. Let our experienced and knowledgeable guides take you to places like Salto Grande waterfall, gorgeous Laguna Azul, the wildlife-rich Lenga Forest or bizarre Lake Sarmiento. Lunch is served at Hotel Las Torres either before your afternoon excursion or after your morning tour.
Half Day Excursions
- Lago Sarmiento
- Salto Grande
- Laguna Azul
- Lago Nordenskjöld
- Bosque de Lenga
- Laguna Inges
- Cerro Paine
- Baqueano de la Patagonia
- Cabalgata por Hora
Geology and flora are the themes of this 2,5 hour trek around a large lake in the park's southeast corner. The lake is named for Spanish explorer and author Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa (1532–1592), who wrote a famous book called The History of the Incas, which has passed down into the 21st century as one of the most detailed descriptions of Inca history, culture and religion. Furthermore, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa made the first attempt of colonization in the Magallanes region, in a place that is called “Hunger Port” nowadays and which is one of the most tragic histories in Patagonia.
The excursion starts with a 40- minute drive from the hotel to a trailhead, where we set off hiking down a steep valley with small bushes that flower in summer. Once we reach the lakeshore, we stop to examine the lake's famous calcium carbonate formations. Called thrombolites, the coral-like formations are basically ancient fossils, formed as long as 7.000 years ago by bacteria growing in the saline lake. Thrombolites are ancient forms of microbial communities and for the first time in history, made photosynthesis (transforming carbone dioxide into oxygen) possible on earth. Lago Sarmiento is one of only six places in the world where thrombolites are found today. The hike also includes a chance to see and photograph various aquatic birds and grazing guanaco, as well as incredible views of the Paine Massif to the north. A 40-minute drive takes us back to Hotel Las Torres.
The park's most spectacular waterfall and an astonishing viewpoint are highlights of this relatively easy half-day excursion. The adventure starts with a 45-minute drive to Pudeto in the heart of the park's lake district. From there it's a short walk to Salto Grande, a raging aquamarine cascade that channels water between lakes Nordenskjöld and Pehoé. Continuing the trail from the waterfall, it leads us through a portion of the park impacted by the great forest fire of 2011-12.
This half-day excursion — the best option for those who want to observe and photograph the Torres towers without all the walking — also offers a small but significant historical footnote. The adventure starts with a 30-minute drive through the rugged terrain of the national's park's far eastern region Laguna Amarga where we can observe cianobacteria with stromatolites and sometime flamingos before continuing our journey to the Blue Lagoon. From the parking spot we strike off on a short (half hour) walk that blends wildlife and views of the Paine Massif.
Animals are abundant in this part of the park, especially guanaco and birds. The avian community around Laguna Azul includes water birds, as well as condors and raptors. Gazing from the east, the perspective of Torres towers is much different than elsewhere in the park, and in some respects even more awe-inspiring. Laguna Azul is also the spot where Lady Florence Dixie, the intrepid Victorian-era British traveler and author, first spotted the Torres del Paine mountains. She is considered to be the first tourist of Patagonia. In her 1880 book Across Patagonia she called the three towers "Cleopatra's Needles" because the stone monoliths resembled the obelisks of ancient Egypt. During this 4 hour roundtrip we also visit the spectacular Paine waterfall, the first of three waterfalls of Paine river.
The ancient Aónikenk people of Patagonia and the park's iconic animal species are the main attractions of this ramble along the trail in the park's southeast corner. The excursion starts with a 25-minute drive close to the Laguna Amarga ranger station. From there, the trail leads south through an area that local guides and rangers have dubbed the "puma restaurant" because the big cats make so many kills there.
This celebrated lake at the foot of the Paine Massif is named after Otto Nordenskjöld (1869-1928), a Finnish-Swedish explorer who probed much of the Antarctic, Greenland, Chile and Peru in the early 20th century.
Designed for those interested in learning more about Patagonia's famous lenga forests, the horseback ride or hike follows part of the Paine Circuit trail around the eastern edge of the massif. The final destination is the old-growth lenga forest.
Flora and feathered fauna are the focus of this easy hike from the hotel to nearby Inges Lake. Like several of the other excursions, this one starts off along a portion of the "W" Trail before veering off to the south. Along the way, guides help identify and locate an array of birds, flowers and shrubs that inhabit this region.
Striking out from the hotel, this horseback ride or hike follows a steep trail climbing up the western slope of Cerro Paine which has a altitud of 1,500-meter (5,000-foot).
Baqueano of Patagonia
Learn the Patagonian cowboy way by spending a morning or afternoon with the baqueanos who lead the Hotel Las Torres horseback treks and look after the horses and stables of the Estancia Cerro Paine. During your time with these local vaqueros — the descendants of horsemen who came to work ranches in this remote region more than a century ago — you will learn about their special clothing, their saddles and other horse tack, and get a chance to share mate (an herbal tea made from yerba mate leaves).
Horseback Riding (per hour)
For people who haven't spent much time in the saddle, this is a great way to become more familiar with horses and learn the basic skills of riding them. Starting in our own corral and stables,
Hotel Las Torres gauchos and guides demonstrate how to ride correctly before undertaking rides or horseback excursions on the estancia lands surrounding the hotel. This is an especially good way for children to learn how to ride.