Chile: Patagonia Autumn in Torres del Paine National Park – 12 days

Located in the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic region, between the Andes mountain range and the Patagonian Steppe, Torres del Paine National Park is considered the 8th Wonder of the World.   This national park encompasses a diverse range of natural wonders, including towering mountains, pristine glaciers, serene lakes, and meandering rivers. At its core lies the awe-inspiring Cordillera del Paine, which serves as the park’s focal point.  We chose the autumn for this tour because the winds are much less prominent vs. Summer, the crowds have disappeared and the colors are peaking across the landscape.  This is the quiet time in Patagonia and we will be able to pick our spots for the best photos with plenty of elbow room.  Come prepared for chilly temps and superb-crisp light!
 
The goal of this photographic tour is to immerse ourselves in the splendor of the park and capture its countless photographic opportunities from the towering walls of granite to the multi-colored lakes that dot the landscape, to the large estancias (ranches) located on the steppes that surround the park . We will be hiking, sailing and driving to some of the most iconic locations where the character of this battered chunk of the southern Andes Mountains is bathed in the clean autumn light.
 
A characteristic of this rugged land at the end of the world are the winds that careen off the southern Patagonian Ice Cap, the second largest contiguous ice-field in the world (outside of Antarctica and Greenland) which adds a plethora of photo ops every single day.  Here is where fjords, glaciers, steep, rugged mountains, dense forests and steppe meet. The most iconic features of Torres del Paine are the distinctive three fang-like granite peaks of the Paine mountain range, known from left to right as Torre d’Agostini (2,500 m), Torre Central 2,460 m) and Torre Monzino (2,260 m).  Just to the west are the scenic Cuernos del Paine including Paine Grande (2,834 m / 9,798 ft), Cerro Paine Grande (2,933 m / 9,623 ft), Cerro Paine Chico (2,679 m / 8,789 ft), Cordillera Escorpion (2,600 m / 8,530 ft) and many others which are easily visible from each other due to their proximity.  Additionally, the park boasts picturesque valleys, meandering rivers such as the Paine, pristine lakes including Grey, Pehoé, Nordenskiöld, and Sarmiento, and impressive glaciers like Grey, Pingo, and Tyndall, all belonging to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.

Situated in a transitional zone between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes, Torres del Paine National Park is located approximately 112 km (70 mi) north of Puerto Natales and 312 km (194 mi) north of Punta Arenas. It shares its boundaries with Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the west and Los Glaciares National Park to the north, located within Argentine territory.  That is the other very famous range in southern Patagonia with classic, rugged and imposing peaks like Cerro Torre and Mt. Fitzroy.

The name “Torres del Paine” holds significance, as “Paine” originates from the native Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language and means “blue,” pronounced as PIE-neh, while “Torres” translates to “towers.” This natural wonder was officially designated as a National Park on May 13, 1959, and was named “Parque Nacional de Turismo Lago Grey,” which translates to Grey Lake National Tourism Park.  However, in 1970, the park underwent a significant transformation, receiving its current and more widely recognized name, “Torres del Paine National Park.”  This change reflected a broader appreciation for the park’s remarkable natural features, including the iconic Torres (towers) , stunning Grey Lake, and the diverse range of landscapes it encompasses.  It became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978.  Since then, Torres del Paine National Park has become synonymous with awe-inspiring beauty and a must-visit destination for travelers and photographers from around the world.  It is also a key segment of the End of the World Route, a popular tourist scenic route.

Researched and designed, on-the-ground, by expert landscape photographer and author, Sergio Ballivian.  This photographic tour explores the magical place where the Patagonian steppe meets the southern Andes mountains and where the alpine lakes lap at the feet of massive rock walls.  Before arrival in Patagonia, Sergio will guide you in choosing the right clothing for the weather that Patagonia is known for.  Tough and challenging conditions change every few hours, so expect 4 seasons in one day. With over 40 years of photographic and adventure guiding experience, he will make suggestions on the best photographic equipment to bring to capture the vast landscapes and the wildlife that are unique to southern Patagonia.
Explore this magnificent place with Sergio Photo Tours and let mother nature show you her treasures.
Tour Length
12 Days
11 Nights
Start / End City
Arrival: Punta Arenas, Chile
Departure: Punta Arenas, Chile
Best Season

mid-March to mid-May

Group Size Limit

10 Guests

Transportation

private vans and AWD vehicles

Accommodations

Hotels & Hostels

Challenge Level

Level 2 - Easy Level

Highlights

  • Punta Arenas, Chile: a port city in the southernmost region of the Andes Mountain chain
  • The Southern Patagonia Ica Cap – the world’s largest ice cap outside of Antarctica and Greenland
  • The southernmost point of the Andes Mountains – stretching over 7,000 km (4,300 mi)
  • Torres del Paine National Park- a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
  • Unique flora and fauna of the southern Andes; guanaco, puma, Suri, Andean fox, armadillo
  • Private vehicle and professional driver who knows the region intimately
  • Stunning and breathtaking landscapes of the rugged southern Patagonia Andes
  • Hotels and lodges located in the best locations for easy access to iconic viewpoints
  • Los Baguales Mountain Range – the range where wild horses roam and condors fly free
  • Working estancias (ranches) for sheep and cattle famous in the Patagonia steppe
  • Autumn landscapes – deep, rich colors, very few tourists, empty roads

Prices

Our tour prices are based on a tiered pricing modelMore guests = lower price, per person.  That means the prices go down on a per-person basis as more people book onto a specific tour departure.  Prices are based on double occupancy / twin share basis.  All prices are in U$ Dollars.  

Contact us for guidance on a quote for your group or private trip.

Lowest7-10 travelers$ 10,775 / per person
Average4-6 travelers$ 11,260 / per person
Optimum2-3 travelers$ 11,880 / per person
Highest1 solo traveler$ 13,895 / for 1 person
  • Single Supplement Fees are quoted per tour.  Contact us for details.
  • Deposit: $ 700.00/per person (non-refundable administrative fee, included in the final price).
  • International airfare is NOT included in price.
  • For airline tickets, contact Geo Travel at 210-225-7903
  

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Punta Arenas, Chile (first day of tour)

 

Arrive in Santiago, Chile (SCL), transfer to domestic flight to Punta Arenas (PUQ). We will pick-up at airport upon arrival and transfer to your hotel in Punta Arenas. After a brief rest, we depart for a visit along the Atlantic coastline before dinner.  Overnight Hotel Isla Rey Jorge.

 

 

 

Hotel: Isla Rey Jorge (4*)

Meals included: L, D

Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine, autumn, Penitente River, Estancia Rio Penitente

Day 2: Punta Arenas - Straight of Magellan Park - Estancia Rio Penitente

  
The Strait of Magellan Park is a protected area documenting and protecting the first Chilean settlement at the end of the world with the establishment of a crude fort made of local hardwoods. Considering the harsh weather in this part of world it’s remarkable that most of the people in the area survived for many years before moving permanently to Punta Arenas (Sandy Point). After lunch in Punta Arenas we drive north (2 hrs.) to a 100+ year-old sheep estancia for dinner. Overnight at Estancia Rio Penitente.
Hotel: Estancia Rio Penitente (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 3: Estancia Rio Penitente - Puerto Natales

  
After a hearty breakfast and a visit around the natural escarpments above the Rio Penitente, we head north to Puerto Natales, the entrance city to Torres del Paine National Park. We should arrive in time for lunch. After checking-in at our hotel on the waterfront with stunning views of the Sound of Last Hope, we will head out to see some estancias and the rugged Andes mountains on the western horizon. After sunset we will return for dinner (not included) in Puerto Natales. Overnight at Hotel Costaustralis.
Hotel: Hotel Costaustralis (4*)

Meals included: B, L

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Day 4: Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine National Park – Villa Serrano

  
It’s worth looking out your window in the morning to catch the sunrise hitting the Andes to the west! After breakfast we depart north along a combination of paved and gravel roads until we arrive at the southern entrance to Torres del Paine National Park. Our basecamp for the next couple of days is at Rio Serrano, just outside the park boundaries that offer stunning views across the Serrano River towards the “horns”…the iconic pointed towers cutting into the cold Andean sky. Depending on the current weather conditions we have lots of destinations to choose from, so we will make our decisions on what the finicky Patagonia winds bring to us. Dinner and overnight in Villa Serrano. Overnight at Hotel Del Paine.
Hotel: Del Paine (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 5: Torres del Paine National Park (based in Villa Serrano)

  
There are fewer more pleasant events than sitting in the dining room looking at the sunrise across Rio Serrano and hitting the Torres del Paine while enjoying your coffee! We head out and see what the weather dictates today; some of our objectives are Toro Lake, Nordenskjold Lake and the Cisnes lookouts. Lunch en route. We will find the best locatin for sunset based on what the weather gives us. There are lots of options to choose from. Afterwards we return to our hotel top freshen up and have dinner. Overnight at Hotel Del Paine.
Hotel: Del Paine (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Chile, Patagonia, Lago Grey, sailing, Torres del Paine National Park, Grey Glacier, sailing, glacier calving, rock strata

Day 6: Villa Serrano – Lago Grey sail – Villa Serrano

We depart early today so we can get the 2nd ship sailing on Lago Grey for the best light illuminating Grey Glacier in the late morning. This is a 3-hour sail on a very spectacular route, surrounded by the Andes and seeing the southern Patagonian Ice cap with your own eyes. You will feel it too, as the cold winds come across the ice cap and buffet the lake. No matter, the views are so stunning you will be concentrating on making beautiful photos instead. There are bathrooms and seating inside and hot drinks and snacks on board. After we dock and walk back to the departure point (45 minutes) we will have lunch. We return towards the heart of the park for the rest of the day and find another great location for sunset. We return to our hotel for dinner and rest. Overnight at Hotel Del Paine.

 

 

 

Hotel: Del Paine (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 7: Torres del Paine National Park (based in Hosteria Pehoe)

As you will get accustomed to, the weather is hard to predict, much nail down in southern Patagonia. Today we depart this hotel and head to another hotel, located on an island, in one of the most amazing locations in the park – Lake Pehoe! As you will see, we have lots of amazing viewpoints, routes and trails to choose from to catch the best light on the iconic Torres del Paine massif. Lunch en route. We will get to the best location for sunset based on what the weather is doing. After sunset we return to our hotel to freshen up and have dinner. Overnight at Hosteria Pehoe.

 

 

 

Hotel: Hosteria Pehoe (3*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, autumn, steppe, colors, windy, dried lake, bushes, autumn colors,

Day 8: Torres del Paine National Park (based in Hosteria Pehoe)

  
You don’t need to go far on this island to catch the sunrise at the top of the hill. Sunrises at this location are truly hard to beat, so don’t miss them. After breakfast we depart to the Condor Lookout, Salto Grande, and Pehoe Lookout. Lunch en route. In the afternoon we head to the Paine waterfall en route to Laguna Amarga and Laguna Azul. After sunset, we return to our island hotel for dinner. Overnight at Hosteria Pehoe.
Hotel: Hosteria Pehoe (3*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 9: Lago Pehoe - depart Torres del Paine - Estancia Tercera Barranca

We make our way from Lago Pehoe northeast until we exit Torres del Paine National Park and head to a working Patagonia ranch shooting landscapes en route.  Lunch will be at a local restaurant. We arrive at the Estancia Tercera Barranca in the mid-afternoon with great views of the steppe and torres to the west. We hope to meet with the gauchos, the cattle and sheep wranglers, who call this windswept region home.   After checking-in we freshen up before dinner. Overnight at Estancia Tercera Barranca.

 

 

 

Hotel: Estancia Tercera Barranca. (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 10: Estancia Tercera Barranca – Serrania de los Baguales

We have a fabulous opportunity to head to a mountain range deep into the Patagonia wilderness, the Serrania de los Baguales; the Wild Horse Range. We will take our picnic lunch with us as there are only remote ranches in the area. The rugged beauty of this range becomes apparent as we see massive rock walls, deep canyons cut by freezing Patagonia rivers and vast, open estancias as far as the eye can see. This is a rugged and beautiful land! We will catch sunset with great views of canyons where condors are seen flying and nesting and guanacos run wild and free. After sunset, we head back to the estancia to clean-up before dinner. Overnight at Estancia Tercera Barranca.

 

 

 

Hotel: Estancia Tercera Barranca. (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Chile, Patagonia, gaucho, huaso, Estancia Tercera Barranca, Torres del Paine National Park, autumn, horses, dogs

Day 11: Estancia Terera Barranca - Torres del Paine Nat Park – Puerto Natales

  
We have our last morning in the area so we head out to say hello and farewell to the gauchos, we met a few days ago, located at an outpost at the foot of a canyon that is over 100 years old. As we drive south, keeping Torres del Paine on our right, we begin our journey back to Puerto Natales through wide-open steppe and massive estancias. This location has lots of wildlife; southern Rheas, foxes, Guanacos, geese, armadillo and much more. We will have lunch at Cerro Castillo. We plan to arrive in Puerto Natales in the late afternoon. Our final dinner together in a local restaurant in Puerto Natales. Overnight at Hotel Costaustralis.
Hotel: Hotel Costaustralis (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Chile, Patagonia, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine, national park, autumn

Day 12: Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas (3 hr. drive) – fly to Santiago

Depending on your return flight from Punta Arenas (usually to Santiago), we will depart at an appropriate time. The scenic drive takes 3 hours from Puerto Natales at a steady pace. We will have lunch in Punta Arenas before heading to the airport (30 minutes from downtown). We should arrive at the airport 2 hours before your departure since you likely have an international connecting flight in Santiago. The flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago is 3.5 hours long. Upon arrival in Santiago you will self-transfer to the international concourse for your connection back home.
Hotel: none
Meals included: B, L
 
End of our services

Included

  • airport Transfers IN and OUT of your arrival city (Punta Arenas)
  • private vehicle and driver
  • bi-lingual photographer guide
  • all hotel / hostel /estancia accommodations for all nights (based on double occupancy)
  • all daily meals as denoted on the itinerary as ‘B, L, D’ (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
  • all entry fees and permits to protected areas: national parks, islands and museums
  • unlimited bottled water per person per day
  • snacks during the whole trip
  • more than 25 years of tourism experience

Not Included

  • international airfare to destination country, normally Santiago, Chile
  • domestic airfare within the destination country (you will need to fly into Punta Arenas from your international arrival city, usually Santiago)
  • single room accommodations, unless you upgrade to a Single Supplement Fee.  Please contact us
  • visa requirement and fees
  • personal expenses of any kind (liquor, laundry, personal purchases, etc.)
  • telephone, email, mobile phone, Wi-Fi services
  • emergency evacuation expenses
  • personal travel or health insurance, doctor visits
  • gratuities for guides and drivers

 

We, of course, would do whatever is necessary in case of medical emergency and evacuate to the closest hospital or clinic to make sure you receive medical care.