I bet most people will see Mirador las Torres, if they were asked to close their eyes and think about Torres del Paine in Patagonia. Mirador las Torres or Base Torres is considered to be the crown jewel of Torres del Paine and what the park is named after. Due to this, it is also one of the, if not the most popular trail in all of Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia. This detailed guide covers everything you need to know about the hike to Mirador las Torres/Base Torres, including what to bring and what the hike is like along the way.
What is Mirador Las Torres
Mirador las Torres refers to the viewpoint (mirador) that overlooks 3 very distinct granite rock towers that shoot up to the sky from a rock that sits at the end of a glacier lake. This lookout is also called Base Torres or Base Towers.
- Location – Mirador las Torres or Base Torres is location on the upper right corner of the “W” trek (I describe the W in more detail HERE)
- Time – This really depends on you. The official guidance is anywhere from 7-10 hours
- Distance – 20.8 km/~13 miles
- Elevation gain – 845 meters
- Difficulty – Mirador las Torres hike is categorized as a moderate to difficult hike
3 Ways to Hike Base Torres
- As a day hike – This is the most popular way to do the hike. People either stay overnight at the park or hop on a bus or tour from Puerto Natales
- As a part of the W – If you are starting the W trek from the west to east, then Mirador las Torres would be your last stop, but if you are starting east to west, then it would be your first
- As a part of the O – If you are doing the O and starting at Camp Seron, then you would be doing the Base Torres hike last. If you are starting the O circuit in Paine Grande, then Base Torres would be your 2nd or 3rd stop (more on the O circuit HERE)
The trail head is right in front of Hotel las Torres but most people will start either from the Welcome Center or refugios and campsites Centro and Norte close to the Welcome Center.
If you are coming by car, then you can park in the free car park in front of the Welcome Center. If you are coming by public bus, you can get off at Portería Laguna Amarga and take a shuttle offered by Hotel las Torres. They have a private shuttle for guests and a public shuttle for the rest. It costs CLP $3,000 one way
The Welcome Center just before the trailhead is huge! It is located to the side of the car park. You cannot miss it. Here you will find a café, snacks and beverages. You will also find good, clean bathrooms. There was even a food truck when I visited!
The Welcome Center also sells gear like wool socks, gloves etc.
Camp Chileno is more or less the halfway point for the Base Torres hike. There is a little rest area here with indoor and outdoor seating, food, snacks, beverages, bathrooms and free, safe drinking water.
When to Hike Base Torres
Mirador las Torres or the Base Torres hike is open throughout the year! Summer and shoulder season (October to April) is usually a popular time to hike it.
Some people hike up to Base Torres to see the sunrise where the sun directly shines on the 3 towers, illuminating the entire area in hues and shades of orange. This is probably best done if staying at camp or refugio Chileno where you would be at the half way point. The last bit of the trail is full of rocks and boulders so be careful if you decide to do this and bring a head lamp.
Certain sectors on the O circuit and W trek close at various times. This is true for the section from camp Chileno to Mirador las Torres. Check with official guidance before you plan your day. As long as you pass the closure notification before the time indicated, you should be good to go.
Even during summer, the trail can close if the weather is bad (i.e., heavy snow or fierce wind). Keep an eye on the weather a couple of days before your hike in case you need to make some adjustments to your itinerary.
Is a Guide Needed to Hike to Mirador las Torres?
A guide is not needed during peak season. You will need a guide from May to September but check the latest guidelines.
What to Bring on the Hike
Two things to keep in mind when you pack for the hike to Base Torres. These apply to both winter and summer.
- The weather changes so quickly in Patagonia
- The hike to Mirador las Torres takes you through covered areas and open terrain
- Jacket and layers! Lots and lots of layers
- Rain jacket or waterproof outer shell
- Hiking shoes
- Small day pack with rain cover
- Water and bottle or bladder – You don’t have to carry a lot though as there is free, drinkable water at Camp Chileno
- Snacks – You can also buy food from Camp Chileno which is located at half way point
- Trekking poles – I found these helpful. Especially on the way down
- Head lamp – If going for sunrise
Mirador las Torres or Base Torres Hike
I will describe this hike to Mirador las Torres in 6 sections. These are not official sections! These are what I came up with in order to be able to provide details of the hike to Base Torres.
Section 1 -Welcome enter to the Swinging Bridge
Perhaps the shortest section on this hike to Mirador las Torres. This is a flat trail. The only real incline is the area just before the bridge. You see a majestic mountain on your right hand side which is almost a reminder of what’s to come.
Section 2 – Swinging Bridge to the Windy Pass
As soon as you go over the swinging bridge, the terrain starts to change. Now you are hiking on an incline. The path has some what of a rocky surface intertwined with gravel. Although the incline is gradual, it also goes on for sometime. I saw many people shed their jackets as they started to warm up. This area actually has two paths. One for hikers and one for horses. The paths are well marked. The best views of this section are actually behind you. Don’t rush through this section even if you are a super fast hiker. Take the time to stop and look behind you. You also get a sense of how far you have climbed when you look back
Section 3 – Windy Pass to Camp Chileno
This is one of the most prettiest sections of this hike to Mirador las Torres, in my opinion. Here, you are basically hiking along a ridge with a valley and river flowing at the bottom and snow capped mountains in front. The terrain has gentle slopes up and down with some flat surfaces.
Most people stop at camp Chileno for a small respite. The café here offers all sorts of food, hot and cold beverages and snacks. You can also fill your bottle with drinking water here.
Section 4 – Camp Chileno to the First Boulders
The section after Chileno is mostly a covered forest. I would say this areas is relatively easy barring the occasional slope up or down. There are some section that you need to climb some short inclines but nothing too crazy. You will also cross a few bridges which makes for beautiful pictures.
Section 5 – Boulders to the Last Section
You have to climb boulders in this section. The path is narrow, so you need to share the space with people coming down. Some of the boulders are wet, because there are little streams flowing through them. Consider this part the cardio warm-up!
Section 6 – Last Section to Mirador las Torres
Once you climb the boulders, you come to a little open path. If you stand facing the direction you came from, you will see snow capped mountains in front of you. Behind you is the path to hike to Mirador las Torres. It’s barely a path! It is an unguarded climb full of rocks and boulders. The “path” is so narrow here that you have to either make way for people coming down or wait until they make way for you. Be very careful here as rocks can slip from under your feet. Perhaps the most challenging part here is navigating the crazy weather. I experienced snow, sleet, hail, rain and crazy windy just as I was climbing this last part.
The very last bit is even more challenging as there is barely a marked trail. But, all of a sudden, you see Mirador las Torres and the hike becomes so worth it!
There is a temptation to stop and take pictures but keep going all the way down to the lake. If the weather is good , take your pictures as soon as possible. The weather changes up here in a second. It’s also freezing up here so make sure you bring some warm clothes.
After enjoying some time here, make your way back the way you came.
Is the Hike Kid Friendly?
I did see some kids on the hike. Most of the ones I saw were older but there were a couple of young ones too. Those kids had to be really held by their parents, especially during the last bit and where the wind was bad. Three things to consider if you are thinking of bring your kids is 1. the distance (20 km), the boulders and rocks (some are very tall and may be difficult for their tiny legs) and 3. the wind. That being said, kids are super resilient so…..and you know your kids best!
My Thoughts on the Hike
The hike to Mirador las Torres is my all time favorite hike to date! Although categorized as a moderate to difficult hike, this is a hike I will gladly do over and over again! Climbing the rocks and boulders was challenging because I was diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis just a week before this hike but the hike was still SO.MUCH.FUN!
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