One of our travel dreams came true when arriving at Torres del Paine National Park! Probably the most famous, but also well-deserved destination in Chile! Especially the W-track is the must-do for all outdoor fans. But for everyone else who is not equipped with a tent and food in plastic bags can also enjoy this wonder of nature, just like we did it. Right at the foot of the mountain in the heart of the national park you can stay at the lovely Hotel Las Torres. The best spot to start your exploring tour of Torres del Paine!
The hotel is one of the few hotels which are really inside of the park, and it's probably the one with the most premium location. Located at the end of the famous W-track and just a 4 hours hike away from the iconic Torres and their laguna (best picture spot of the park!). So you can decide, either hike for 5 days and spent your final night here. Or get yourself picked up by on of their lovely drivers and brought directly to the hotel and explore the surrounding nature from there!
From the hotel you have an amazing view in every direction: Up to the mountains where the three Torres are just hiding behind a corner, down to Lago Nordenskjöld which shines in million shades of turquoise, or just look around you to find yourself in the middle of lush green fields with flowers, rivers and sometimes even free running horses!
TIP: Get up early (between 6 to 7) and try to watch the horses being brought back to their stable. They will be galloping in their herd just outside the hotel.. such a strong and impressive experience!
The culture and the story
Originally, the area of the Cerro Paine ranch was used for cattle farming by the son of a Croatian immigrant and his family. After a while, in the early 90's, they experienced a rise in interest for the area by tourists. So, they decided to offer a couple of rooms and a small restaurant on their farm. Today, the charm of the farming days is still present but turned into a beautiful and welcoming high-class hotel. The owners are often seen in the hotel and take personal care that the principles of the founders are held high:
"Sharing the warmth of the people and customs of Patagonia"
And that is also what we experienced and made us fell for this place so much. From the lovely welcome, to the personally created cocktails and the amazing dinner. Especially the Baqueanos, who take care of the horses still live the Patagonian traditions. We really recommend to do the Baqueano Tour (read more about it below) and pay a visit to the lovely organic garden.
The tracks and excursions
We all come to Torres del Paine National Park for one reason , which is not the king size bed or infinity pool, but for a real treasure - the nature! And we can tell you, this place is for sure one of the most stunning ones we've seen on our 6 months trip! For that reason, there are a wide selections of tours offered by Hotel Las Torres, so that everyone can find something fitting there interest and fitness level. You can choose from about 20 all-day tours and half-day tours, so you can explore every corner of this beautiful park at a convenient distance from your hotel room ;)
If you already know what tour you wanna do for sure, you can book it in advance, or decide the day before, depending on the weather and availability. We recommend to check out all the tours on there website and pick your favorites, just as we did it. If it's your first time at the park, you will be sold on the "Full Paine Tour" that gives you a great insight to all main highlights of the park including a boat tour on Lago Grey. Another great one should be "French Valley Tour", but unfortunately we didn't get the chance to do it. Nevertheless, we will give you a quick review of the tours we did:
Huella de Puma Tour
The most exclusive tour of the park is also the most challenging one Hotel Las Torres has to offer! It is limited to hotel guests only, since it will go up Cerro Paine mountain, which is private property of the family who runs the hotel. This is a big advantage to all the other tracks in the park that can be really crowded if the sun is out.
The tour consists of two parts, starting with horseback riding to cover some distance. Even if you are not a fan of horses like Max, I can tell you, these are the nicest horses we've seen and they are really calm. You will be happy that they carry you up the hill for the first part and you can save your energy for later! Max actually enjoyed it ;) Afterwards the walking part starts. It is a steep track on gravel and rocky ground without any bushes and trees. Here you can already enjoy a great view of the landscape until you reach the top. Up there, you get an unique 360 degree view of the park and a stunning angle of the three Torres!
Laguna Azul Tour
This is a beautiful half-day tour to the blue lagoon and this place really deserves this name! Due to all the glacier water containing a lot of sediment that reflects turquoise, most of the lakes and rivers of the park have a stunning color of blue, depending on the level of sediment. On the tour, a small van for about 6 people brings you to the lagoon, where you take a walk around. There, you can not only enjoy this gorgeous lake, but also a great view of the Torres in the back! One highlight of the tour are the animals. The blue lagoon is perfect for spotting birds and especially for watching guanacos up close. Theses beautiful animals which are close relatives of the llama can be found here in big numbers, from young ones who just learnt how to walk to the oldies :) This type of guanacos can just be found in Patagonia. Then, the tour finishes with another highlight, the Paine waterfall, which is the first one of three in the park and has a beautiful horseshoe shape.
Baqueano Culture Tour
The perfect experience to learn more about Patagonian culture is this tour. For this tour, you don't need to drive or hike somewhere because it's taking place in the surroundings of the hotel, which makes it a perfect option for a rainy or lazy day. We didn't really expect much, but were absolutely surprised by this tour. The super friendly and welcoming Baqueanos give you a real insight into there world and let you experience there culture at first-hand. Their job is to take care of the horses and since there are about 200 horses at the ranch, this is not always an easy job. But the Baqueanos love their job and do it with passion - they know the names of all their horses, even though a lot of them look very similar. And the horses are treated really well here, they "work" for a couple of days, and then have just as many days off where they are let go freely in the park. After you learned how to flick a whip, drink mate tea the right way and ate some freshly made bread, you feel like you took a deep dive into the Patagonian culture :)
Horseback riding to Lago Nordenskjöld
If you love horses and riding then Patagonia is a dream destination for you! You cannot only see wild horses out in the nature, but also explore the countryside on a horseback yourself. So, Laura used the chance to go on a half-day horseback tour to Lago Nordenskjöld. It's not far from the hotel, but has everything you need for an exciting ride - from open fields, to crossing rivers and along the lake shore! If you are experienced, you can also talk to the guides and they will let you gallop as well. So much fun!!
The food and drinks
We are still flashed by the gourmet food we got offered at Hotel Las Torres! For us it has been the best food and the best drinks we had in all of Patagonia - and that is a huge area. The main reason for that is probably the freshness and locally grown products. The hotel has its own (!) organic garden with a wide range of fruits and vegetables that are used in there food and drink creations. Furthermore, they are brewing their own delicious craft beer in a small hut just some footsteps from the hotel (put a stroll around the hotel on your to-do list). But there's not only beer, the main bar keeper Federico is an award winning specialist in creating signature cocktails, so it's yours to find your favorite drink... luckily we had all inclusive ;)
There are two restaurants at the hotel, you can either have an easy and relaxed meal at the bar area or visit the delicious restaurant next to the main building. Both places serve à-la-carte menus, but on a different price and taste level! The proper restaurant is very exquisite and we enjoyed every time we ate there to the fullest! Our favorites were the Patagonian crab salad, the tenderloin and finally a sinful chocolate volcano :) For one or two nights a week, they even prepare the Patagonian special lamb asado in a dedicated room that has an open fire place in the middle and you are seated around it. Such an experience! It is grilled directly in front of you and taste so real and juicy..
You can see, it is hard for us to hold back our excitement for the delicious meals we ate there, definitely worth trying! Even if you're not staying there, spoil yourself on the bar with a prize winning creation after a long hike.