It doesn’t need to be explained. Once you’ve seen an image of Torres del Paine, you immediately have an impulsive desire to visit. These are the last swathes of land uncovered after the last ice age. Sharp, jagged peaks filled with green, glacial lakes and surrounded by the enormity of the Patagonian steppes. This may be the most stunning place you visit in your entire life.
The terrain is rugged and windy, but you will be rewarded with the sight of bountiful guanacos, foxes, rheas and of course, condors. Pumas are not rare in these parts, either. Neither are a huge variety of migratory and non-migratory birds – enough to make any bird watcher´s list gain quite a few interesting species.
This amazing national park was designated as such in 1959, and then 12,000 hectares more were privately donated to it. In 1978, the area was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, forever ensuring that it would receive greater protection.
Torres del Paine is an important hub for climbers, campers, backpackers, hikers, bird watchers, fishermen and nature lovers of all types, from all over the world. They mingle and share tips at the many varied lodging options available, ranging from tent in the back-country, to five star, luxurious adventure tourism options. There’s even some pretty cool yurts for the middle range.
Being the major tourist destination that it is, you will of course be delighted by the wide range of delicious culinary options available to you, but remember: you’re in Patagonia. It would be wrong to leave without sinking your teeth into an cordero asado – slow-cooked lamb over hot coals.
Once, the Kaweskar or Alacalufe people inhabited this area, where they hunted guanacos and flourished in the abundance of seafood available. You won’t see many of them now. In the face of modern pressures, their way of life has all but disappeared. The ecology of this area is also very susceptible to external forces. Too many raging forest fires have burned in the past 20 years, destroying large tracts of land which will probably never recover. Remember during your stay in Torres del Paine, that these monumental works of nature can and do perish in the face of reckless behavior. Please, respect this land, and undoubtedly you will have one of the most amazing experiences of your lifetime.