My biggest bucket list item for Chile was visiting Patagonia. This southern region of Chile, which also straddles Argentina, is a nature lovers paradise! Patagonia is famously known for glaciers, uniquely shaped mountains and brightly colored lakes. There are many companies that offer tours in Patagonia but you can easily visit Patagonia on your own. This post covers how to spend 5 days in Patagonia, Chile with days spent both in Torres del Paine National Park and Bernard O Higgins National Park.
Puerto Natales is the gateway to Patagonia and your 5 days in Patagonia will most likely start and end in this tiny town. Puerto Natales has a small airport with flights from Santiago but you may find more frequent flights from Punta Arenas which is about 3 hours south of Puerto Natales.
Notes on Spending 5 Days in Patagonia
- This itinerary is for people who do not want to do the full W trek or O circuit, which are two multi-day hikes you can do in Torres del Paine National Park. I explain these in more detail HERE
- You can switch up any of these days. Especially days 2-4 since you don’t have to book anything in advance.
- For days 2-4, I would look at the weather forecast and decide when to do what.
- Day 5 can be done at the beginning too. But you need to book this in advance so you need to decide early if you will do this at the start or at the end. This day is from Puerto Natales instead of Torres del Paine.
- Stay inside the park if possible for days 1-4. You do not want to waste time or fuel driving up and down from Puerto Natales. See my detailed post on accommodation HERE.
- You could potentially do this itinerary in 4 days instead of 5. I explain how below.
- If you do not want to do any of the day hikes, then you could easily cut this itinerary down even further. You could only do days 1 and 5 or expand day 1 into 2 days.
- Public transportation within Torres del Paine is not that great and you will need to rent a vehicle for your 4-5 days. See HERE for more details.
Day 1 – Glacier Grey, Lookout Points and Short Hikes
This is your sampler to Torres del Paine! Start the day with a boat trip to Glacier Grey. The tour is run by Hotel Grey. You need to book this tour ahead of time. This company runs 4 trips per day depending on the season but I recommend the 1st trip of the day so that you have the rest of the day to do other things. One thing to note is that the boat trip is extremely weather dependent. And by weather I mean the crazy Patagonian winds. If the wind is bad, there is a chance they may cancel and refund you.
After the boat tour, check out some of these lookout points and short hikes.
- Salto Grande Waterfall – lookout
- Mirador Nordenskjöld – lookout
- Los Cuernos – can be seen all over
- Mirador Lago Grey – short hike but skippable if doing the boat navigation to Glacier Grey
- Mirador Salto Chico – short walk
- Mirador Cóndor – 1.5 hour hike
- Mirador Cuernos – 1.5-2 hour hike
See my detailed post below on how to spend one day exploring the places listed!
Day 2 – Base Torres Day Hike
Torres del Paine is named after three granite towers that rise up from an aqua green glacier lake. A hike to see these 3 towers is a must do in Torres del Paine. It is a full day hike and is categorized as a moderate to difficult hike. The hike is around 20 km/ 13 miles round trip and takes around 7-10 hours depending on your level of fitness and stops. The lookout point with the 3 towers is also called Mirador las Torres, Base Torres or Base Towers.
Check out my detailed post on this hike, where I break it down into sections and talk about what the hike is like.
Day 3 – French Valley Day Hike
The French Valley is another popular day hike in Torres del Paine. It is technically a part of the W trek but can be done as a day hike. You will pass through some beautiful scenery during this hike, from lakes to mountain landscapes. The highlight on the way is the French Glacier. This hike is around 19 km round trip. The last bit (about 2 km) consists of boulders but the other 7.5 km is relatively easy.
Day 4 – Mirador Glacier Grey Day Hike
Mirador Glacier Grey is a lookout point where you can see Glacier Grey. Note that it’s not as close as the boat tour gets you to the glacier but it does offer a different, more panoramic view nevertheless. If you like to hike, then this is another popular day hike that you can do in Torres del Paine. Th total hike is a 25 km round trip and around 8 hours.
Notes on Days 3 & 4
You will have to take a ferry from the Pudeto ferry station to Paine Grande, which is the start of both the French Valley hike and Glacier Grey hike. The cost is $60 round trip ($120 for the two days), payable only in cash.
One way to avoid this charge is to book a stay at Paine Grande for one night between the two day hikes. You can book either the refugio or campsite. Note, however, that accommodation sells out fast.
Alternatively, cut out the glacier grey hike altogether if you are not into hiking that much or if you had an opportunity to see the glacier on the boat tour and are not interested in seeing it twice. If you decide early on to cut this hike out, then you could easily do this itinerary in 4 days instead of 5. If you decide last minute to cut this hike out and have already made reservations (accommodation, flights etc.), then you could spread out the day 1 activities to another day.
Day 5 – Sailing Through the Fjords of Patagonia
This was my favorite day in Patagonia! On this day, you can sail through the fjords of Patagonia and visit two of its mighty glaciers; the Serrano glacier and the Balmaceda glacier. You will pass through snow capped mountains, fjords and beautiful waterfalls. The only way to do all this is by booking an organized tour. The tour starts and ends in Puerto Natales. The only physical activity involved in the tour is hiking for about 20 minutes in the Bernard O Higgins National Park to see the Serrano glacier. Overall, it’s a super relaxing day and a great way to end your time in Patagonia (you can also do it at the start if you wish).
I go into this tour and the day in detail in my post below!
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