see + do
Torres del Paine National Park, Magallanes
Concierge.com's insider take:
The jewel of Patagonia, Torres del Paine is isolated from the rest of northern Chile by the Continental Ice Fields and deep fjords. As the main road from the north dead-ends at Villa O'Higgins, you'll have to travel on the legendary Ruta 40 in neighboring Argentina. To skip the border-crossing hassle, fly directly to Puerto Natales, or consider a voyage by sea: From Puerto Montt, the converted transport ship run by Navimag chugs weekly through remote fjords, canals, and inlets, and you'll likely spy dolphins and albatrosses (four days; www.navimag.com). The Torres del Paine National Park, 93 miles to the northwest of Natales, is dominated by three ice-carved peaks that rise 10,000 feet above a glacier-riven landscape of lush valleys, high-altitude lakes, sheer-sided fjords, and a ring of 8,500-foot granite-and-basalt skewers known as the Cuernos del Paine. The park is laced with some of the best hiking trails in the world: Andean condors glide above paths that wind through birch groves. The most popular route is the seven-to-ten-day Paine Circuit, but its trails are now so well-trodden in the January–February high season that shorter, out-of-the-way sections can be more rewarding. If you want guidance in this rough region (or any part of Patagonia), go to Condé Nast Traveler's Travel Agent Finder for help.
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I can still close my eyes and see that great big and beautiful massif, the Horns, the Torres Base, all that fantastic landscape, the guanacos... I came back from... more