Best Lodge in Torres del Paine, Chile: Awasi Patagonia

Best Lodge in Torres del Paine, Chile: Awasi Patagonia

Awasi Patagonia is a luxurious adventure lodge located in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, offering breathtaking views of the Patagonian Steppe, the Torres del Paine Mountain Range, and Lake Sarmiento.

As the southernmost Relais & Chateaux hotel in the world, it is a highly sought-after destination for those seeking an exclusive and personalized experience. The lodge features 12 intimate villas, each with a private guide and 4WD vehicle for exploring the surrounding wilderness.

Guests can enjoy soaking in their own hot tub, sipping drinks by the fire, and indulging in long evening meals at the Relais & Chateaux restaurant after a day spent adventuring. Awasi Patagonia’s location outside the national park’s eastern border offers more wildlife and unique excursions to areas such as the Sierra Baguales’ Mountains, where fossils and herds of guanacos can be seen.

Guests should plan well in advance and book at least six months ahead during South America's summer, as the lodge fills up quickly.

Awasi provides transfers only from Puerto Natales, so supplementary transfer costs apply. It’s important to know the schedules of the flights that depart daily from the airports of Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales in order to take advantage of the transfer service offered by the resort from Torres del Paine to the airport.

Bookings including stays at both Awasi Patagonia Lodge and Awasi Atacama Lodge qualify for discounts and complimentary hotel nights.

Is it for me?

If privacy and intimacy are paramount for your ideal Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park trip, then Awasi Patagonia is the ideal choice.

Bear in mind that …

LIGHT, MODERATE, OR VIGOROUS TRIPS are flexible and can include hiking, photography, horseback riding, cultural opportunities, and spa.

LENGTH: 3 nights and up, recommended minimum stay 4 nights.

BEGIN / END Generally Punta Arenas, Chile and/or Calafate, Argentina. Some flights for Puerto Natales exist during certain times of year.


To get to Awasi, you can fly into Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires, Argentina. Please note that the cost of airfare is not included in the land cost of our trips. You can either make arrangements for your international airfare on your own, or we are happy to provide assistance with booking both your regional and international flights.

To reach Awasi, there are two main options: flying from Santiago to Punta Arenas or, in rare cases, Puerto Natales, with an average cost of around $300. Another option is to fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate and cross the Andes Mountains into Chile, providing a comprehensive Patagonia experience. Guests can exit through Punta Arenas to Santiago, making for an excellent Chile-Argentina combination. If you plan to arrange your own regional flights, please consult us beforehand so we can confirm the departure and arrival times.

HAVE QUESTIONS? Send us an email and our local expert will contact you and answer to any questions you may have

From $4,310 per person / 2 travelers based on 4 nights
All costs are subject to seasonality and room category. We guarantee same or better pricing than booking directly with the lodge. All IDEAS trips are custom and exact pricing is provided in your trip proposal.

We offer door-to-door trip planning services; IDEAS will navigate fixed-date entries, seasonal differences, logistics in transportation, and coordinate your accommodations and excursions for a holistic, seamless itinerary.


Ready for the trip of a lifetime? CONTACT US  and reserve your spot.

Best Hotel in Atacama: Awasi Lodge

Best Hotel in Atacama: Awasi Lodge



The Awasi Atacama, a Relais & Chateaux hotel, is situated in the stunning desert landscape of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. With its rootsy charm and proximity to the authentic town life, it offers a unique front-row view of one of the most captivating and surreal landscapes on earth.

Guests at the hotel can enjoy dining and drinks under the starry night sky, with uninterrupted views of the world’s clearest skies. Each of the 10 rooms comes with a private professional guide and a 4×4 vehicle for fully customized exploration of the Atacama Desert. The hotel offers over 47 different full-day and half-day tours, enabling guests to discover the rich cultural and natural history of the region on foot, by Jeep, on horseback, by bike, or a combination of these methods. All meals and guided excursions are included, ensuring guests have an unforgettable and personalized experience.

About the Tours and Activities in Atacama Desert with Awasi

The excursions offered by Awasi Atacama can be customized according to your preferences and interests. The duration of each activity depends on the pace of the trek and the stops preferred by guests. These are the most popular tours to do in Atacama.

Zone A - Atacama Salt Flats

This tour takes place at an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level and covers the low basin characterized by flat and regular surface. The notable geological events in this area are the Cordillera de la Sal mountain range and the Salar de Atacama salt flat. San Pedro de Atacama, known as the archaeological capital of Chile, has two significant archaeological sites, Pukará de Quitor and Tulor, which guests can visit along with the town square and the church.

Ayllus, the Quechua word for family, refers to how people were organized in the Tawantinsuyu, the Inca kingdom, for collective work tasks. The ethnic Lickan Antay’s peaceful agrarian way of life has been preserved for millennia, and the 15 Ayllus surrounding the old town represent this lifestyle. Guests can visit cultivation fields and observe the irrigation channels, native and introduced flora, and fauna.

Kari Canyon
Valle de la Luna or the Valley of the Moon is the most famous natural attraction of the Antofagasta region. It is located in the Cordillera de la Sal and is characterized by gigantic sedimentary rock walls with red and white tones. The Kari Canyon, less popular but equally beautiful, has a serpentine path of water and copper ores.
Difficulty: Medium – Duration: 3:00 – By car and on foot

Death Valley offers a panoramic view of San Pedro, the Andes, and the Cuenca de Atacama basin. Piedra de la Coca has rock art engravings of animals and people, a testament to the commercial routes built in prehistoric times. Garganta del Diablo, with its walls of clay and gypsum, has fantastic views behind every nook and cranny of the route. Katarpe, located north of the town, has the remains of the Kallanka (Inca center), surrounded by the Cordillera de la Sal mountains and the salty waters of the river.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 3:00 – By car and on foot / horse

Piedra de la Coca
Thousands of years ago, the people of San Pedro created an extensive trade network that extended to the coast and the Bolivian Altiplano. Today, evidence of their presence can be seen in the form of enigmatic rock carvings of animals and people. Visitors can walk in the same paths as these prehistoric inhabitants, and admire not only the fascinating rock art but also the stunning natural formations of the Cordillera de la Sal.
Difficulty: Medium – Duration: 3:00 – By car and on foot / bicycle / horse

Garganta del Diablo
The Cordillera de la Sal boasts an otherworldly landscape reminiscent of the red planet, with dry stream beds that may deceive with their serene appearance until the rainy season arrives. Among these streams, one stands out for its massive walls of clay and gypsum that offer breathtaking vistas at every turn. This mesmerizing route culminates at the imposing Devil’s Ravine, also known as Throat of the Devil, where a grand dry waterfall awaits. However, caution is advised during the rainy season as the otherwise tranquil streams can become treacherous.
Difficulty: Medium – Duration: 3:00 – By car and on foot / bicycle / horse

In the sector north of the town, following the course of the Río San Pedro river, you come to the Katarpe sector. Here officials of the Tawantinsuyu (Inca kingdom) were assigned to administer the Lickan Antay, collecting taxes and recruiting people to form compulsory armies for the Inca. The remains of the Kallanka (Inca center) can still be seen, surrounded by the majestic Cordillera de la Sal mountains and the salty waters of the river.
This destination can be combined with other excursions, like La Garganta del Diablo or La Piedra de la Coca.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 2:30 – By car and on foot / bicycle / horse

Cejar Lagoon
The Salar de Atacama, with its unique morphology, is the third largest salt flat globally, shaped by the harsh aridity of the climate. Surprisingly, at its core lie deep lakes, having high salinity and hosting an array of peculiar and stunning bird species, along with salt-tolerant plants. Visitors often explore Cejar and Piedras lakes, where one can relish a dead sea-like bathing experience, and admire the breathtaking Laguna Tebinquiche and Los Ojos del Salar, both offering spectacular scenic views.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 3:00 – By car and on foot / bike


Toconao and Sóncor Sector

Zone B - Intermediate Ravines

The region situated at an altitude range of 3,000 to 3,800 meters between the salt flats and volcanic peaks is known as the intermediate Ravines. This area is predominantly composed of solidified volcanic rocks and serves as a conduit for the small rivers of the Altiplano to flow down towards the desert.

Matancilla and Yerbas Buenas
There are unique places on Earth, due to their unusual geography and conditions, or because they represent something original in human history. On this excursion the two are combined ideally: the site of Yerbas Buenas contains an extraordinary wealth of petroglyphs from the Lickan Antay culture. It is also in close proximity to the Matancilla valley, where the geological history of the desert is laid bare in a symphony of colors within the rock.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 3:30 – By car and on foot / bike

Between the dryness of the salt flats and the impressive Puna are the intermediate ravines. That of the Vilama river is counted among the most beautiful and interesting, where only the Cardón or Pasakana cactus grow. There are two possible routes to be taken from Guatin: you can ascend towards the Puritama Hot Springs or descend to the archaeological site of Gatchi. Both routes present a similar duration and level of difficulty.
Difficulty: Medium – Duration: 3:00 – By car and on foot / bike

Puritama Hot Springs
The volcanic activity of the Andes always takes a leading role due to the beauty of its summits, the eruptions that revitalize the richness of the soil, or the endless thermal springs that it produces.
Among these geothermal features, the Puritama river is particularly noteworthy, springing from the volcanic rock at a temperature of 37ºc and which is ideal for bathing. This location has high class facilities and is organized in a series of handcrafted pools.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 3:00 – By car and on foot / bike

The Atacama Desert is renowned for its authentic and untouched locations that embody the traditional and meditative way of life. Talabre is a quintessential example of this Atacameño spirit, where visitors can witness ancient cultivation terraces that are still in use today. Additionally, the Patos and Quezala ravines are home to ancestral petroglyphs, all while the active Lascar volcano provides a dramatic backdrop to this cultural and historical experience.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 3:30 – By car and on foot / bike

Zone C - Puna

Above 4,000 meters altitude there is an important increase in precipitation which results in green meadows and highland wetlands, called bofedales. Most of the fauna and flora of the region is concentrated in this area.
*It requires altitude acclimatization prior to your visit and is not recommended for visitors who suffer from heart disease.

The Machuca village is one of the few located above 4,000 meters which is still inhabited, in the region of Antofagasta. The ascent in a 4×4 truck is both quick and safe and allows one to almost touch the sky, in a landscape much more fertile and rich in animals than the desert of San Pedro. There are excellent opportunities for bird watching in the town’s environs.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 3:30 – By car and on foot

Géisers del Tatio
The Tatio geysers are a major tourist attraction in the region, boasting the largest geothermal field in the southern hemisphere. The site offers a diverse range of features, from small fumaroles and bubbling springs to impressive water fountains known as geysers.
As you travel through the area, you can catch glimpses of various wildlife, including vicuñas, foxes, wild donkeys, and even flamingos. You can take in the panoramic views from the comfort of your vehicle, or explore the area on foot, taking advantage of the many trails and alternative routes available. Additionally, visitors can enjoy a relaxing soak in an artificial swimming pool that has been specially installed within the geothermal field.
Difficulty: Medium – Duration: 7:00 – By car and on foot


Alto Loa Villages
At the beginning of the Altiplano there are some villages that still keep to the thousand-year old traditions of the Lickan Antay culture, such as Caspana and Chiu-Chiu. Caspana is located at almost 4,000 meters altitude and preserves one of the oldest cultivation systems in the region, within a privileged landscape that combines desert, oasis and the altiplano. Chiu-Chiu was regarded as the capital of Atacama la Baja, or Lower Atacama, counterpart to the power centered in San Pedro, and boasts the oldest church in Chile, the San Francisco de Chiu-Chiu Church.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 7:00 – By car and on foot

Machuca and Río Grande
Among the multiple commercial routes frequented by the Lickan Antay in their age of glory, a very traditional one is still used in our times. This follows the shepherds’ route between the villages of Machuca and Río Grande, used to move the livestock to higher ground in summertime, then to bring them back down before the snows. The trail starts in a distinctly Altiplano landscape, passing through many levels into an intermediate ravine area.
Difficulty: Medium-High – Duration: 7:30 – By car and on foot

Lagunas Altiplánicas
This tour encompasses the Toconao and Sóncor areas, along with a visit to one of the region’s top tourist attractions: the Miscanti and Miñiques lakes. Located at an elevation of 4,500 meters, these lakes are a magnificent sight to behold. The larger of the two, Miscanti, offers breathtaking views of the Andean volcanoes, as well as herds of vicuñas and horned coots. The smaller lake, Miñiques, provides a stunning view of the Miñiques volcano, the Callejón Varela, and a diverse range of species.
Difficulty: Easy – Duration: 7:00 – By car and on foot

Altiplano Salt Flats
Situated almost on the border with Argentina are the salt flats of Aguas Calientes and Tuyactu. Both are wrapped in absolute silence, mainly thanks to their low visitor numbers. The Salar de Aguas Calientes has a splendid view of the surrounding volcanoes and reddish waters. The Laguna de Tuyactu is, in contrast, a mirror of salt water, which looks like snow in the dry season.
Difficulty: Medium – Duration: 7:00 – By car and on foot

Tara Salt Flats
On the country’s border, literally, is a simply impressive water system: the Salar de Tara. Almost 5.000 meters in altitude, it is possible to admire a sky bluer than any other, surrounded by colorful mountains and a startling silence. On the salt flat there are llamas, vicuñas, flamencos, goldfinches, cholulos and many other species, and it is crowned by the imposing Monjes de la Pacana(Pacana Monks), columns of volcanic rock sculpted by erosion.
Difficulty: Medium – Duration: 7:30 – By car and on foot

Salar de Kapur and Salar de Talar
One of the most rewarding ways to explore the Altiplano is on foot, despite the challenges and difficulties that come with it. This route is one of the simpler ones, taking you through the salt flats of Kapur and Talar, and offering breathtaking views of the southern territories of the “Abrazo de Mendoza”.
Difficulty: High – Duration: 8:00 – By car and on foot

Zone D - High Mountain

The high summits of the central Andes represent an undeniable attraction for the imagination, reaching up to an altitude of some 6,000 meters. This requires appropriate physical and mental preparation, as well as acclimatization to the lack of oxygen. Most of the summits close to the hotel are between 5,000 and 5,700 meters.

Saciel Volcano
Located on the border of Chile and Bolivia, this volcano offers a unique experience as you pass by border signs during the ascent, surrounded by a breathtaking landscape that transcends nationality and nomenclature. The journey begins at an abandoned sulfur mine, a testament to the determination and resilience of the people of Atacama, and ascends 300 meters to the summit. From the top, you can witness the extinct crater of Saciel volcano, and marvel at the stunning views of the Bolivian Altiplano and the Atacama Basin.
Difficulty: High – Duration: 8:00 – By car and on foot

Toco Hill
The Cerro Toco hill, 5,600 meters above sea level, is the least difficult ascent for mountaineers. The trail is well marked and does not present technical challenges. In spite of this, the high altitude can cause problems for those who are not acclimatized and therefore deserves respect. From the summit it is possible to see not only the Salar de Atacama but also the white and green lagoons in Bolivia.
Difficulty: High – Duration: 7:00 – By car and on foot

Láscar Volcano
The journey to the most emblematic volcano of the north of Chile is long and difficult. It ascends by the route to the village of Talabre and it continues towards the abandoned Huatiquina pass, passing close to the beautiful Laguna Lejía. The path to the summit is long, but not extremely difficult, and is remarkable by its proximity to the crater of the volcano, from which it is possible to observe multiple smoking sulfur vents. Subject to weather and safety conditions
Difficulty: High – Duration: 9:00 – By car and on foot

Sairecabur Volcano
The Mountain of the Rains, as it is named in Kunza, is an inactive volcano with an altitude of almost six thousand meters. The ascent is extremely difficult, complicated by the slope of the mountainside, the presence of sulfuric gases from sulfuric vents and the thin air at such altitude. It requires prior acclimatization, in addition to great willpower and endurance to reach the summit. An acclimatization period is necessary prior to the ascent
Difficulty: Very High – Duration: 9:00 – By car and on foot

Copa Coya Hill
On arrival at the Tatio geysers, a great peak provides the background: the Cerro Copa Coya. You can ascend the western slope or walk around from the east. In both cases it is possible to appreciate the geothermal field from its heights and discover the flora and fauna of the Altiplano. At the end of your journey you can enjoy an unforgettable lunch facing the geysers.
Difficulty: High – Duration: 7:30 – By car and on foot

Astronomical Observation
Currently, professional telescopes around the world are primarily focused on just three locations, with only one in the southern hemisphere, making San Pedro de Atacama a particularly privileged location for observing the universe. Awasi offers a three-stage astronomy excursion, beginning with a general explanation of the universe covering topics such as sizes, distances, stellar evolution, and Andean cosmology. The second stage involves observing the night sky with the naked eye, providing an opportunity to see stars, constellations, and the Milky Way.


In the third stage, guests enter a small dome containing an 11-inch automatic telescope that enables them to observe deep-space objects that are otherwise impossible to see. This stage is subject to favorable weather conditions and begins after dinner (usually after 9 PM). Guests should check with the receptionist for exact times and dates of the activity.
Duration: 1:30

Would you recommend staying at this hotel?

Absolutely. This hotel offers unparalleled views of one of the most captivating and surreal landscapes on the planet. Additionally, since there is no light pollution in the area, you can enjoy some seriously mind-bending views of the sky.

Ideas South America is a top provider of bespoke, premium private tours in Chile, Argentina, Patagonia, and other South American destinations. If you want to create a personalized itinerary for a luxurious trip to Chile and Argentina, including a stay at Awasi, don’t hesitate to CONTACT US 

Best Atacama Desert luxury hotels: a review of San Pedro de Atacama’s top lodges

Best Atacama Desert luxury hotels: a review of San Pedro de Atacama’s top lodges

A couple of years ago, the Atacama Desert was an unknown destination for many travelers. Accessible only to backpackers and the most adventurous explorers, this unique place, a desert between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains, was a hidden gem. It is full of oases where it bursts, both in the fertile river valleys and in the semi-arid Altiplano thousands of meters above sea level. Add to the mix the tallest volcano on the planet, the tallest geysers, the oldest mummies, and the clearest skies, you have a recipe for an epic adventure. Its growing popularity among the world’s most discerning travelers stems from the arrival of luxury accommodations in the area that offer a combination of world-class comfort and active adventure.

While you can’t go wrong at any of the high-end hotels reviewed here (Explora, Tierra, Awasi and Alto), people often ask me which one is the best. It is not the same if you travel as a couple, if you travel as a family or if you travel alone exploring the region. Each hotel has its characteristics, facilities and program that make it attractive for those who travel as a family or as a couple. Read on to learn the differences between the best luxury accommodations in the Atacama Desert in Chile.


Awasi is a collection of three small luxury lodges that offer all-inclusive private programs in South America’s most iconic destinations ( Awasi Atacama desert, Awasi Iguazu falls  and Awasi Patagonia in Torres del Paine). Rather than having large facilities and common areas, they have gone for privacy and intimacy as their driving attributes.

What makes Awasi Atacama different from other hotels in Atacama?

  • Small luxury lodge with just 12 rooms
  • Private guide and 4WD for each room
  • Located in the village of San Pedro Atacama
  • Best chef – Relais & Chateaux-quality cuisine
  • An exclusive experience with a focus on privacy and solitude

    Awasi Atacama is located in the heart of charming San Pedro de Atacama town and it is a small property with just 12 rooms made in the local adobe fashion and with all the comforts and pleasures of a five-star experience. One private guide and a 4WD are assigned to each room, resulting in tailor-made excursions.

    Having a private guide and vehicle during your stay allow guests to build your trip excursions around your interests. No matter which excursions you choose, having a private guide allows you to experience the area at your own pace – you never have to worry about slowing others down or wishing things would speed up in a group setting. Plus, San Pedro de Atacama sits in high altitude with many excursions taking you higher, so a private vehicle can whisk guests back to the hotel at a moment’s notice if the altitude is taking its toll.

Bear in mind that the hotel offers free WiFi in the main building only. The therapists offer massages, reiki and other treatments at the hotel but there is no Spa.

As a Relais and Chateaux hotel, it should come as no surprise that the cuisine is really fabulous. Meals are served in a beautifully-designed indoor/outdoor space that feels exceedingly private and plush.It definitely offers a more private and quiet experience and so would suit those that are after these elements on their trip.

If you are thinking of traveling the last two weeks of December, we strongly recommend booking a year in advance. Awasi fills up far in advance, so it’s never too early to talk to our trip specialists   about a trip to this ultra-luxurious setting.


Explora lodge in Atacama is an all-inclusive lodge. It is located near San Pedro de Atacama, on the beautiful Ayllu de Larache, once inhabited by ancient Atacameño families. Because of their early investment in the area, Explora offers crafted excursions that are completely exclusive to their guests. The company owns the Puritama Hot Springs, for example, giving guests access to their own pool, and can take trekkers into otherwise off-limits areas in the Moon Valley (two of the region’s top attractions). And for high-altitude treks up the side of volcanoes, Explora is the only way to go.

What makes Explora Atacama different from other hotels in Atacama?

  • Exclusive excursions to Puritama Hot Springs, Moon Valley, and Tatio Geyser
  • Best choice for horseback riding (only lodge with their own stables)
  • Widest range of crafted tours (trekking, horseback riding, biking, drives)
  • Exceptional service and highly trained guides

talk to our trip specialists for more details, and be sure to ask about the special offers for honeymooners and multi-destination travelers if either those sound like you.


Alto Atacama is a little further out of town than other properties in the area, 2 miles or a 10-minute drive from San Pedro de Atacama and very close to the Pukara de Quitor, a pre-Inca fortress. Settled in a quiet valley, surrounded by terracotta-colored mountains, it has been built with local materials to blend in with its natural environment and the typical Atacameño construction style.

What makes ALTO Atacama different from other hotels in Atacama?

  • Best hotel for stargazing – unique observatory experience + personal terraces for private viewing
  • Great for history lovers and those looking to learn more about the region
  • Unique location near archeological ruins and the Cordillera de la Sal mountain range
  • All of the hotel’s 42 rooms come with a private terrace.
  • Spa with 6 open-air swimming pools, indoor and outdoor jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath.
  • Restaurant serves a changing menu prepared with organic locally sourced ingredients

His excursions are designed to take you through the extensive history of the Atacama region, beginning with the oldest ruins and rock formations. Its spa is also a welcoming oasis, and a new “spa excursion” is popular with guests looking to spend a day on the grounds.

If you are drawn to the desert for the crystal clear night skies, Alto is the place to be. the lodge has an observatory where you can gaze at the stars on revolving loungers while enjoying a hot drink. Your on-site astronomer will give you a guided tour of the Milky Way, and Alto’s purpose-built property ensures near-zero light pollution.


With so many great hotels up in this region of Chile, it is difficult to pick an out and out winner as each offer something different.

Tierra Atacama is a lodge recognized for its spa facilities and services. It has a heated indoor pool in addition to its outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, and spa treatments that use local elements such as volcanic mud, desert herbs, and lithium-rich salts. The spa and pool are excellent options after a long day of trekking or horseback riding. It also has many facial and body treatments that can be reserved in advance.

What makes ALTO Atacama different from other hotels in Atacama?

  • Best spa and widest range of spa services
  • Beautiful views of Licancabur volcano
  • Yoga classes on an outdoor platform
  • Outdoor fire pits and plenty of places to lounge

Another Tierra highlight is the view: Many of the rooms and common areas face a stellar view of Licancabur, the most impressive volcano in the region. The interior common spaces have a modern aesthetic but are smaller and less spacious than Explora’s, so if you’re visiting Chile during the winter months (June to August) it may feel a bit cramped due to Tierra’s popularity.

Tierra also has a great variety of local wines, and the chefs are experts at integrating local ingredients (some straight from Tierra’s gardens) into the kitchen.

Like Explora, Tierra will sometimes include up to two nights free in Santiago if you’re making your way to one or more of their lodges, which can help take some of the stress off the timeline and budget. You can get even more value if you visit more than one Tierra location—they’re the only lodge with a location in Chiloe, a lush contrast to the Atacama Desert. If you’re traveling as a family, two apartments on the property are perfect for groups looking to sprawl in their own space.

Since the lodge fills up fast, it’s best to check on availability with one of our trip specialists.

Best of Chile’s Atacama Desert


What is so special about Atacama Desert?

The Atacama Desert in Chile is a unique and stunning destination that offers a range of outdoor activities and experiences.

Chile’s Atacama Desert, the driest nonpolar desert on Earth, stretches across a roughly 600-mile (1,000 kilometers) tract of land wedged between the coastal Cordillera de la Costa mountain range and the Andes Mountains. The driest desert in the world is a territory of vast horizons, without shadows, where tourism coexists with avant-garde astronomical projects. San Pedro de Atacama is the capital and starting point to explore its lunar valleys, geysers, salt flats, a sacred volcano and a lagoon where it is possible to float like in the Dead Sea, under an always blue pre-altiplano sky.

San Pedro de Atacama: the town

San Pedro de Atacama is the most visited tourist destination in the country. The popularity of this adobe town stems from its position in the heart of some of northern Chile’s most spectacular scenery. However, before there were luxury hotels there and Caracoles Street was home to as many tourists as Fifth Avenue, Atacama was a cult destination for unconventional travelers, romantic and adventurous hippies. And, in part, it still is. Only now the segment has widened to the point that this desolate portion of northern Chile, pure excess of salt, volcanoes and cracked earth, receives more tourists than Easter Island and Torres del Paine.

Old, hot and dry

The Atacama is the oldest desert on Earth and has experienced semiarid conditions for roughly the past 150 million years/ Scientists estimate that the desert’s inner core has been hyper arid for roughly 15 million years, thanks to a combination of unique geologic and atmospheric conditions in the area.

The Atacama is tucked in the shadow of the snow-capped Andes Mountains, which block rainfall from the east. To the west, the upwelling of cold water from deep in the Pacific Ocean promotes atmospheric conditions that hamper the evaporation of seawater and prevent the formation of clouds and rain.

In other deserts around the world, like the Sahara, the mercury can soar above 130 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). But temperatures in the Atacama are comparatively mild throughout the year. The average temperature in the desert is about 63 degrees F (18 degrees C).

Geologic wonderland

Much of the Atacama Desert’s core is caked in thick salt deposits called playas, which can stretch for miles and are nearly half a meter thick (1.6 feet) in some places. The desert is speckled with stones that have been carried across the playas by powerful wind gusts. Alluvial fans, which are large, fan-shaped sediment deposits, connect the desert plateau with the mountains that surround it and suggest that water once flowed from the Andes into the desert.

The Atacama also features a 435-mile-long (700 km) and 12-mile-wide (20 km) swath of desert known as the nitrate belt. Nitrate minerals can be found in everything from explosives to fertilizer and were mined extensively in the Atacama before the 1930s.

Traditionally scraped from the desert’s crusty surface or mined from rocky veins, nitrates were initially thought to be carried to the desert by wind-swept sea spray. Recently, scientists discovered that one of the sources for the desert’s “white gold” might be ancient, evaporated groundwater.

Other materials, such as lithium, copper and iodine, have also been mined nearby.

Our top recommendations for the best attractions and places to visit in Atacama:

  • Star gazing: With some of the clearest skies in the world, the Atacama Desert is a popular destination for stargazing and astronomical observation. Visitors can go on guided tours or visit one of the many observatories in the area.
  • Moon Valley: This moon-like landscape features otherworldly rock formations, sand dunes, and canyons, offering a unique and breathtaking experience for visitors. The circuit goes from the Quebrada de Cari, the salt caves –not suitable for claustrophobic people– and the Duna Mayor, ideal for climbing in the late afternoon, to the Tres Marías formation.
  • Geysers del Tatio: This geyser field is one of the largest in the world and is an incredible sight to behold. Visitors can take a guided tour and witness the geysers erupting at sunrise.
  • Salt flats: The Atacama Desert is home to several vast salt flats, including the Salar de Atacama, which is one of the largest salt flats in the world. These stunning landscapes are ideal to explore and capture stunning photographs.
  • Hot springs: The Atacama Desert is home to several hot springs, including the popular Puritama Hot Springs. Visitors can soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters and enjoy the scenic surroundings.
  • Cejar Lagoon and Piedra Lagoon: The Cejar lagoon is part of a hydrological basin caused by an accumulation of salts. The most curious thing is that, in the midst of this saline material (with a high toxic content), abundant swampy vegetation grew, called a bofedal. These reed beds, wild straw and pitch are enough to house small families of flamingo, ducks and seagulls.
  • Bird Watching: Chaxa Lagoon is located in the eastern sector of the Atacama salt flat. It is the largest lithium reserve on the planet. But the reason everyone goes there is to get a meal of altiplano birds. There is the Chilean flamingo, the small parina and the great parina and at certain times of the year the Puna plovers, the eaglet, the Andean gull and the Baird’s sandpiper also arrive.
  • Sandboarding and dune buggies: The Atacama Desert is known for its vast sand dunes, which provide a thrilling and unique experience for adventure-seekers.
  • Explore San Pedro de Atacama: The largest oasis in the Atacama desert has a stable population of five thousand inhabitants, almost the same number of dogs that roam among the adobe houses, a colonial church of brilliant white and, paradoxically, one of the most expensive square meters in Chile in its most sparsely populated region with the fewest services.
  • Cultural tours: The Atacama Desert is also home to several indigenous communities, including the Atacameños, who have lived in the area for thousands of years. Gain knowledge about the history, traditions, and way of life of these communities.

These are just a few of the many activities and experiences available in the Atacama Desert and that can be done daily from San Pedro de Atacama. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, the Atacama Desert has something to offer for everyone.

How to get from Santiago de Chile to San Pedro de Atacama

Sky Airline, LATAM Chile and JetSMART fly from Santiago to Calama every 2 hours. Alternatively, Pluss Chile operates a bus from Santiago to Calama hourly. (The bus takes 22 hours). A shuttle can be arranged ahead of time for transport from the Calama airport to your accommodations in San Pedro de Atacama, which takes just over an hour.

If you plan to travel…

  • The Atacama Desert is a very popular destination. If your dates are not flexible and you plan to travel in the high season (especially the last two weeks of December and the first week of January), book your accommodations one year in advance if you can only travel during that time.
  • The desert sun burns even if it is cloudy. Dark sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen are essential. A flashlight is also useful.
  • In San Pedro there is no bank, but there are three ATMs. In any case, it is advisable to carry cash in Chilean pesos.
  • Although it is a desert and it is very hot, at night it is very cold. Take a lot of warm clothes.

Remember planning a memorable vacation is more than a few quick clicks online. Contact us  and our local travel experts will help you plan so you don’t have to worry about the details yourself.


Argentina, Chile & Uruguay have softened their entry requirements

Travel To Angostura

Argentina, Chile & Uruguay have softened their entry requirements

Traveling around South America will be easier and smoother

Travel updates per country:


  • Covid tests are no longer required to enter the country.
  • Furthermore, vaccination is highly recommended but not mandatory.
  • International travellers only need to submit a sworn statement 48 hours prior to arriving in Argentina. You can find it here.
  • Medical travel insurance that includes/covers hospitalisation, quarantine, and transportation in case of Covid-19 for those who test positive, are suspected of Covid-19 infection or are in contact with a confirmed case.
  • All land borders between Argentina & Chile will open on May 1st.


  • Covid tests are no longer required to enter the country.
  • Full vaccination is mandatory and needs to be validated on gob.clbefore entering Chile (we recommend doing it 7 to 10 days minimum prior to departure).
  • Have health insurance with a minimum coverage of $30,000 US dollars that includes coverage for any expenses arising from Covid-19. 
  • A PCR or antigen test can be randomly done at the point of entry into Chile.
  • All land borders throughout the national territory will open again on May 1st; reconnecting with countries such as Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia. It’s a great opportunity to make multi-country trips and get to know all the South American attractions!


  • Covid tests are no longer required to enter the country for people fully vaccinated or who have had the disease between 10 and 90 days prior to arrival in Uruguay. In case of having contracted Covid-19, the positive test result must be presented between a maximum of 90 days and up to 10 days prior to boarding or arrival in the country.
  • You must have health insurance with a specific Covid-19 coverage plan.
  • Unvaccinated people can enter the country but will need to present a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding.
  • A sworn statement must be completed prior to arriving in Uruguay. You can find it here.

Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are waiting for you. It’s time to book your trip!

Contact our local travel experts and they will help you plan your trip effortlessly and they will work on an unforgettable experience in South America.

The Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

The Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

The reopening of the Chilean border in last November saw the first international guests return to Torres del Paine National Park. Simply put, this is the most magical place you will have the privilege to visit. From the most remote corner of the world, we seek to inspire our visitors with the amazing nature and culture of Chilean Patagonia. Here are some of the best active tours and experiences that we highly recommend doing while you visit Torres del Paine.

Sierra Masle

Difficulty: EASY

Travel Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3,5 hours

Starting from the lake shore you will walk up a loop that showcases a few of the different biomes that compose Torres del Paine. It’s a good introductory trek of the National Park and the Paine Complex.


Note: consider reading Florence Dixie’s book “Across Patagonia” beforehand to appreciate how unchanged the landscape remains.

Loma Guanaco

Difficulty: EASY

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

As the name says it, it’s the place where large herds of guanacos usually roam. These wild South American camelids stand at around 2 meters (7 feet) tall and weigh between 90 and 140 kg (200 to 310 lb) making them one of the largest native terrestrial mammals on the continent. Their presence also provides good chances to encounter other local species like foxes, pumas and condors. Loma Guanaco is on the way towards Laguna Azul, in an area that not many tourists visit, making it a very private and quiet spot. It is possible to combine this activity with other short hikes and highlights in the area.

Estancia Tercera Barranca

Difficulty: MODERATE

Travel Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1-4 hours

In Patagonia horses are a big part of gaucho culture, so hiking and horseback riding are two of the best ways to get to know this place. This excursion begins only a few minutes away from our lodge in a nearby Estancia, riding through the steppe with one of the best views of Torres del Paine. The duration of this activity will be determined by the skill level of the riders. The current and prior weather conditions also determine the feasibility of this excursion, since the terrain could be affected.


Note: A minimum skill level and horseback riding experience is necessary.

Sierra Contreras Mountain

Difficulty: MODERATE

Total Time: 2 hours

Sierra Contreras is a a great way to stretch your legs after a long drive or simply contemplate the vastness of the Patagonian landscape. Its 360º views from the top are a good way to get a reference of the area’s highlights and decide on the next the hikes. You will enjoy real-life postcard views of the Paine Mountain Range, Sierra Baguales, Valle de las Chinas and Lake Sarmiento, among other geographical wonders.


Note: It’s well marked, can be done with or without the guide. It’s a loop that can go from 45 mins to 2 hours depending on fitness level.

Aonikenk Trail

Difficulty: EASY

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

One on the few trails within the park that combines gorgeous landscapes with tangible evidence of the Aonikenk native culture. You will enjoy an easy path with panoramic views towards the Paine Complex and the Patagonian steppe, and observe some evidence of rock art from earlier human inhabitants. If that wasn’t enough, plenty of birds, guanacos and foxes roam the area, which is why this trail is also well known for puma sightings. Due to the location of this trail it is easily combined with other short hikes or drives to the park’s highlights.


Note: Due to the presence of pumas, children younger than 10 years of age are not allowed to do this trail.

Cuernos Lookout

Difficulty: EASY

Travel Time: 1,5 hours

Total Time: 5 hours

At the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park, this lookout is one of the most scenic and comfortable hikes in the area and offers a surplus of photo opportunities. We start walking from Pudeto, passing by Salto Grande Waterfall. After marveling at the power of this waterfall, we walk towards the foot the famous “horns” in a scenery that blends turquoise glacial lakes, calafate bushes and peaceful guanacos. Finally, we are rewarded with the views of Paine Grande, Cuernos and Almirante Nieto overlooking the Nordenskjold Lake.


Note: This is a fairly popular excursion, since it’s one the most accessible hikes within the National Park.

Condor Lookout

Difficulty: MODERATE

Travel Time: 1,5 hours

Total Time: 3 hours

A short but slightly challenging hike that is not well-known to most tourists, yet has one the best 360° views of the National Park. We start close to Camping Pehoe, at the edge of Pehoe Lake and slowly but steadily we gain altitude towards the lookout. Every once in a while condors can be spotted close by soaring over us. The view will (quite literally) blow you away. This hike is located in the middle of the National Park, so it is an excellent add-on to other activities or highlights.


Note: Depending on the wind conditions this hike might not be recommended, as the lookout is exposed to very strong winds. Your guide will be able to determine this checking the forecast.

Estancia San Luis

Difficulty: MODERATE

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1-4 hours

Get the feeling of what the iconic “baqueanos” experienced, riding on the endless yellow Patagonian steppe. Looking onto the Paine Complex towards the east, and north the imposing Sierra Baguales Range. This excursion has the perfect mixture of traditional culture and surreal sightseeing. We can combine it with excursions in the Sierra Baguales Mountain Range and finish our day with some local “asado” (the traditional gaucho barbecue) surrounded by the best scenery and golden light over the Andes Mountains.


Note: We need to cross a river to get to this estancia, so depending on the amount of precipitation and melting snow, sometimes we cannot get to the Estancia.

If you are thinking of going to Chilean Patagonia  contact us and we will design a seamless and unforgettable journey. Our local experts take into consideration a myriad of variables and information that can make or break a trip. Rely on us for expert advice and we guarantee a trip of a lifetime.

Why visit Atacama Desert – The driest desert in the world

Why visit Atacama Desert - The driest desert in the world

Make a trip to the Northern Chile desert, a territory of vast horizons, without shadows, where tourism coexists with avant-garde astronomical projects. San Pedro de Atacama is the capital and the starting point to explore its lunar valleys, geysers, salt flats, a sacred volcano and a lagoon where it is possible to float like in the Dead Sea, under a blue sky.

A great place for nature lovers to start or finish an adventure in Chile.

The Town of San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is the most visited tourist destination in the country. However, before luxury hotels existed there and there were as many tourists on Caracoles Street as on Fifth Avenue, Atacama was a cult destination, for unconventional travelers, for romantic and adventurous hippies. And, in part, it still is. Only now the segment has widened to the point that this desolate portion of northern Chile, pure excess of salt, volcanoes and cracked earth, receives more tourists than the moai of Easter Island and the horns of Torres del Paine.


The largest oasis in the Atacama desert has a stable population of five thousand inhabitants, almost the same number of dogs that roam among the adobe houses – this earned it the nickname of San Pedro de Atacama – a bright white colonial church and, market paradox, one of the most expensive square meters in Chile in its most depopulated region with fewer services.


San Pedro has a tradition of backpackers and hostels, cloned adventure companies that offer sandboarding in the dunes, ascents to volcanoes and any activity to occupy the time in that great desert and a law that forces bars to close at midnight.

Some of the daily tours that can be done from San Pedro: 

Cejar lagoon and Piedra lagoon

The Cejar lagoon is part of a hydrological basin originated by an accumulation of salts. The most curious thing is that, in the middle of this saline material (of high toxic content), an abundant swampy vegetation grew, called bofedal. These reeds, wild straw and pitches are enough to house small families of flamenco, ducks and seagulls.

In the Piedra lagoon, a few meters away, there are people instead of ducks. They are about ten bodies that barely protrude above the turquoise water, in a horizontal position. They float like corks. This phenomenon happens because our body has a lower density than that of water, whose salt concentration is very high.

Chaxa Lagoon

It is located in the eastern sector of the Atacama salt flat. The thick crusts of salt crunch as you walk along the trails that wind towards the viewpoints. What could once have been a high salinity lake that evaporated is today, they claim, the largest lithium reserve on the planet.


But the reason why they all come there is to get a belly of highland birds. There you can find the Chilean flamenco, the small parina and the large parina and at certain times of the year Puna plovers, the harrier, the Andean seagull and the Baird sandpiper also arrive. The recommendation is not to get too close because any alarm can scare away any of the birds that gather here.

Tatio Geysers

To get to the Tatio geysers, an ascent is made to 4,320 meters, at the foot of the volcano of the same name. You have to arrive before dawn, and wait for the thermal shock caused by the first rays of the sun with the icy cold of the mountain to raise the fumaroles with a large amount of steam. Its peak is between 6 and 7 in the morning. By the time the sun begins to warm, they no longer look the same.

There are signs that recommend not getting too close because you never know if someone is going to blow water out without warning. In addition, the surface around the geyser is very fragile and if it breaks and one falls into it, it can cause very severe burns.

The fumaroles originate from the contact of groundwater with hot rocks and emerge through fissures in the earth’s crust, reaching a temperature of 85 ° C and about ten meters high.

Moon Valley

Right where the Salar de Atacama and the Cordillera de la Sal meet, this great depression with the appearance of another planet that was once the axis of the dispute with Bolivia is discovered. Giant dunes, salt craters and hills that, due to erosion, resemble accordion bellows, outline a sculptural landscape.


The circuit goes from the Quebrada de Cari, the salt caves –not suitable for claustrophobics– and the Dune Mayor, ideal for climbing when evening falls, to the formation of the Tres Marías.


A visit to the Atacama desert would not be complete without a stargazing evening of astronomy. Many hotels have their own observatories or can arrange stargazing evening tours. If you want to organize a private stargazing tour, send an email to and our experts will send you all options available and help you with the planning of your tour. 

Weather, climate and best time to visit

The best time to visit in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile is from January until April and September until December, when you will have a soft or pleasant temperature and none till limited rainfall. The highest average temperature in in San Pedro de Atacama is 20°C in January and the lowest is 11°C in July.

If you are planning on visiting San Pedro de Atacama, contact our team  of local experts will help you plan a tailor-made trip based on your preferences and budget

Best Tours of Patagonia: Puerto Blest & Lake Frias

Best Tours of Patagonia: Puerto Blest & Lake Frias

Highlights of this Tour:

  • Sail the pristine cobalt waters of Nahuel Huapi Lake;
  • Trek to Los Cantaros Waterfall;
  • See a 1,600 year-old Larch tree;
  • Sail Lake Frias and its beautiful green waters;
  • Unmatched views of Tronador Mountain and Glacier.

Full Day Tour to Puerto Blest & Lake Frias

Practically every square inch of Nahuel Huapi National Park is breathtaking, and that description includes Puerto Blest and Lake Frias. Surrounded by jagged mountains and lush vegetation, any views of these cold blue waters are guaranteed to impress you.

Sailing begins at Puerto Pañuelo, in the Llao Llao peninsula. After an hour sailing, you’ll see Centinela Island, where the remains of Perito Moreno and his wife rest. Perito Moreno was a prominent explorer and academic in Argentina, where he is usually referred to as Perito Moreno (perito means “specialist, expert”). Perito Moreno has been credited as one of the most influential figures in the Argentine incorporation of large parts of Patagonia and its subsequent development.

After sailing for an hour over the cobalt waters of Nahuel Huapi Lake and see the native coihue and cypress that line the shores, you will arrive at Puerto Cantaros to start a leisurely walk up toward the top of Los Cantaros Waterfall. Stroll along the edge of Los Cantaros Lake and enjoy free time to relax or explore the hiking trails in the area.

One of the most interesting attractions of this walk is the 1,600-year-old larch that is protected by the national park. 

Back in your boat, you will cross to the next island and arrive at Puerto Blest. There is a hotel with a charming restaurant to have lunch or even a drink before continuing towards Puerto Alegre (border between Argentina and Chile ) where another boat is waiting to sail Lago Frias.

This incredible tour ends with a sailing across Frias lake to end this memorable experience on a high note. In the boat you will get to know the shores of Lake Frías, whose peculiar green waters come from one of the glaciers of Cerro Tronador, the natural border between Argentina and Chile. Before boarding for your return to Puerto Pañuelo, make sure you see the replica of the motorcycle that Che Ernesto Guevara used for the Andean crossing Bariloche.


The complete experience takes 7- 8 hours.

Thinking of going to Patagonia? Are you planning a family-friendly journey to the lake district?
Contact us
and we will help you plan a seamless trip, from treks, boat journeys to active vacations in Patagonia that you will always remember.

Torres del Paine: Differences between the W Trek and the O Circuit

Torres del Paine: Differences between the W Trek and the O Circuit

After deciding to hike Torres del Paine, your next step is to decide which hike to do, the W Trek or the O Circuit. The differences between the two hikes fall into three general categories: the trail itself and the views along the trail, the accommodation options, and the people on the trail.

The O Circuit, also known as the Paine Circuit, forms a complete loop around the park, while the W Trek makes a "W" shape south of the park. Circuit O includes the W Trek, which constitutes the southern part of the circuit.

patagonia-treking tour

What's the Difference Between the O-Trek and the W-Trek?

Trails and Sights

The W Trek is approximately 80 km/50 miles long while the O Circuit is 110 km/68 miles.
The W Trek can be completed in 4 or 5 days while the O Circuit requires 7 to 9 days.
One difference between the two treks is the degree of flexibility. Hikers on the O-Trek are only allowed to hike the circuit counterclockwise, while hikers on the W-Trek are free to hike east to west or west to east. The reason for this is that park administrators want to regulate how many people are on the backside of the park at any one time, a point we will get to later.

Difficulty level: Neither the O Circuit nor the W Trek are known for being particularly strenuous, but naturally, due to its longer duration, the O Circuit is more challenging. The O Circuit also includes trekking up and over John Gardner pass, which can be a difficult climb. For the O Circuit, trekkers spend around 4 to 10 hours trekking per day whereas with the W-Trek, trekkers spend around 5 to 8 hours a day trekking.
The W circuit is more visited and includes two of the most stunning views: Mirador de Las Torres del Paine and Mirador Britanico. Due to its shorter completion time, the W Trek receives more trekkers than the O Circuit. In reverse, the O Circuit, taking longer to complete, receives fewer trekkers. The national park does not limit how many trekkers are permitted to do the W Trek (as long as they have accommodation reserved – see below), however the park only allows 80 trekkers to be on the top section of the O Circuit at a time.

Accommodation: Lodges and Camping

Torres del Paine offers two types of accommodation for trekkers*, lodges (in Spanish called “refugios”) and campsites. Along the W Trek it is possible to stay in refugios for the duration of your trek if you so choose. Camping is also available if this is your preference and a mix of camping and staying in lodges is also possible.

Despite whether you choose to sleep in the lodges or camp, please note that along the W Trek you will eat all of your meals in the lodges/refugios.

With the O Circuit however, camping is compulsory along the north side of the loop as there are no lodges between Refugio Las Torres, near the park’s entrance, and Refugio Dickson. Once the trail reaches Refugio Dickson, lodges are available, but you can continue to camp as well if you would like. At Refugio Dickson, you can sleep in either a tent or one of their 6-person shared dormitories.

Only the first two accommodations, Serón and Dickson, have restaurants for campers. Serón treats hikers to a three-course dinner, and Dickson has a fixed menu for dinner and breakfast. Both have minimarkets where you can pick up more food and snacks for the trail. Campamento Perros doesn’t have a restaurant, but they do serve breakfast and dinner. If you want to cook your own meal, you will have to pack in ingredients and cooking equipment. Perros also has a small market that offers snacks, basic equipment and gas for cookers. For the portion of the O Circuit in which there are no lodges, it is necessary to hire the services of porter to carry your food and cooking supplies. The porter will also cook your meals for you. After the fourth day of the trek, your will no longer need the help of your porter and you can continue on without them.

Lodging within the park is limited and trekkers without reservations at lodges or campsites will under no circumstances be permitted to stay overnight in the park. Accommodation books up quickly (especially in peak season), so please be sure to make your booking well in advance. To read more about why it’s important to book in advance, please click here. *If you prefer to stay at a hotel, Las Torres Hotel is the best option. Las Torres hotel is strategically located within the national park and it is used as a base for day hikes. Please note that you will have to return to the hotel every day to sleep in your room and depart the next morning for the next trek.

Routes and People on trails

The W hike runs primarily from east to west, starting at the park entrance located in the southeast corner of the park and ending at Glacier Gray. The O Circuit also begins at the entrance of the national park but you can only walk in an anti-clockwise direction.

The first section of Circuit O heads towards Torres del Paine, where you will walk through the Ascencio Valley trail. From this point, the trail begins its loop in counterclockwise direction, following the Paine River until it reaches Paine Lake. From Lake Paine to Lake Dickson it forms the upper section of the loop. This area is more remote and there are fewer hikers, which is a great advantage for those who prefer to meet less people and the trails with less traffic. Once you reach Lake Dickson the trail heads southwest until it reaches the highest point of the hike, John Gardner Pass at 1200m / 3900ft. The trail is challenging at this point, but hikers are rewarded with stellar views of the Patagonian Ice Fields and Gray Glacier.

After descending the pass, the trail will meet the W-Trek and the area can become noticeably busier. The trail continues along the W Trek, but O loop hikers will be walking in the opposite direction of most people walking west. For the 7-day O circuit, the trip ends in Paine Grande followed by a scenic ferry ride across Lake Pehoe. Once the O circuit is completed, you will return to the starting point, right at the entrance of the national park.

Like Circuit O, the first leg of the W Trek will be towards Torres de Paine, but after descending from Valle de Ascencio instead of heading east as on Circuit O, hikers will head west along from Lake Nordenskjöld. After passing the Cuernos, hikers will climb the French Valley and observe hanging glaciers along the way. From the French Valley, the trail will head towards Paine Grande and then towards Lago Gray and Glacier Gray. The same distance and trail is covered with the Classic W Trek 5 days and the W Trek Highlights - 4 days / 3 nights. Both the O Circuit and the W Trek have guided options and for the W you can take self-guided hikes during the mid-season of September, October and April only.

Planning Your Trip to Patagonia?


Best time of the year to visit Torres del Paine and hike the “W” Trail in Chile

Best time of the year to visit Torres del Paine and hike the “W” Trail in Chile

Many people wonder when is the best time of year to visit the Torres del Paine National Park and do the W Trail Circuit. Each season of the year has its unique advantages that make it unique, the most important thing is to be prepared. Since each season has its own distinct benefits, your trip to Patagonia can be customized for the mid-season or high season to make it your own personalized South American adventure.

Summer is Peak Season

(January to March)
The quintessential season that tourists choose to visit Torres del Paine.Summer has the longest days and the warmest temperatures and it is the most popular time of the year to visit Patagonia. Summer in Patagonia is known for its often windy conditions. For most part of the year, you can expect winds with a speed of about 15 - 20 km/h (9 - 13 mph). In the summer months however, winds pick up and they can even reach speeds of about 120 km/h (74 mph).

Quiet Trails During Fall

(From March to May) Autumn brings surprising color transformations and a silence of fewer travelers. This time of the year has quieter trails with outstanding photography opportunities of snow-capped mountains.

Winter is the least popular

(From June to September)
The winter in Patagonia can be brutal and is the quietest time for tourism with many places closing up shop. During the months of June, July, August the average temperature ranges from the temperatures ranges from low 40s Fahrenheit to low 20's (6°C to -1°C) and again much lower during the night. You will experience snow, rain and plenty of icy conditions.
People can trek the W circuit but only with a local guide. It is not allowed to do this circuit on your own.

Spring: is another Popular Time of the year to visit Torres del Paine

(Late September to mid-December)
Spring is another popular time of year to travel to Patagonia. Patagonian spring brings beautiful wild flowers and milder winds. The trails are generally a little quieter, and whilst the temperatures can be a little lower, the photography opportunities are endless, as the winter snows hang around into spring on the high peaks.

Keep in mind that despite what you read on the internet or even our recommendations, no one can guarantee what the weather will be like in Patagonia. You can travel in summer and have cold days. Therefore, it is essential to travel prepared and with the necessary equipment. In this way, you will enjoy Patagonia at any time of the year that you decide to travel.

When is the best time of the year to trek the W Trek ?

The W Trek is open to trekkers year round, while the O Circuit is only open in the summertime. A good time to hike the W trek is from September to April and for the O Circuit, November to March is best.

The busiest time in the park is from November to February.

It’s common to experience what feels like all four seasons in one day in Patagonia, so make sure you are prepared. Torres del Paine is infamous for its high winds which are present in all four seasons. On average, the warmest month is January and the coldest month is July. The driest month is November while the wettest month is May.

The weather in Patagonia is famously unpredictable, making it all the more important to have the right gear. For this reason we include our packing list so that you are well prepared for your journey to Torres del Paine!