Sep 21, 2018

Torres del Paine National Park

A view of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
Torres del Paine National Park is located in the province of Ultima Esperanza, northern part of the Region de Magallanes y Antartica Chilena, also known as the XIIth. region of Chile. Created in 1959, today its area is 227,298 hectares, the distance from Puerto Natales, the nearest city is 112 km and from Punta Arenas, the regional capital is 312 km. The park, managed by CONAF (National Forest Corporation) presents a wide variety of natural environments, such as the world famous Torres and Cuernos del Paine, valleys, lakes, waterfalls and rivers from glaciers of the neighboring Campo de Hielo Sur (Southern Ice Fields), one of the largest freshwater reserves on Earth. In 1978 the Sanctuary was declared Biosphere World Reserve by the UNESCO and in 2013, it was chosen The Eighth Wonder of the World by Virtual Tourist, among 300 tourist destinations of 50 countries. Year after year, the number of visitors, especially foreigners from all over the world has been increasing, a condition that has forced to apply certain restrictions that in the past did not exist.  Parque Nacional Torres del Paine  borders with Los Glaciares National Park, in Argentina. Rio Don Guillermo Border Crossing unites these two great tourist attractions.

How to Get to Torres del Paine National Park

By Air: It is the most usual way used by travelers. From Santiago, the Chilean capital to Carlos Ibañez del Campo Airport in Punta Arenas, the flight lasts approximately 3 1/2 hours without considering any stopover. You can spend the night in Punta Arenas, 22 km South of the airport and 312 km from the park or go directly to the city of Puerto Natales, 112 km from the entrance of the protected area.

By Sea: This is the most scenic means to reach the National Park. From the city of Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales there are 4 days of unforgettable sailing through the Southern Channels, Glaciers and forests that reach the shore of narrow fjords.  Ferry Routes Here.

By Land: The shortest way between Santiago and the city of Punta Arenas is of approximately 3100 km. The route is through Chilean territory to the cities of Osorno or Puerto Montt, from there you cross to Argentina until reaching Integracion Austral Border Crossing, also known as Monte Aymond, the most important of the Magallanes Region. Paso Internacional Integracion Austral is located 196 km NE of Punta Arenas by paved route and 336 km from Puerto Natales.

When to go?, Climate

Torres del Paine can be visited at any time of the year, although undoubtedly the Summer season, between December and March is when the largest number of tourists arrive at the place. As well as throughout the Patagonian region, the weather in Torres del Paine is unpredictable, the temperature can occasionally reach up to 20-22 degrees C., the winds are sometimes very strong and can easily reach 120 km / hour or more. However, in Winter the Natural Sanctuary acquires a different majesty when it is covered with a white mantle of snow, generally between June and August. At this time the average temperature is 0 degrees C. and the winds are very moderate. The low season runs from May 1 to September 30 of each year.

Services and Facilities

Hotels in Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park.
Rio Serrano Hotel & Spa

The Sede Administrativa (CONAF Administrative Headquarter) is located on the north bank of Lago Toro, where there is also a Visitor Center and a Lookout. In the offices are processed the permissions to climb the summits of the area and the Fishing Licenses. There are 4 Porterias (Entrances) to register, pay the ticket and receive information: Rio Serrano, Laguna Amarga (the 2 main access points), Laguna Azul and Lago Sarmiento. There are also the "Guarderias" (Ranger Stations): Lago Grey, Laguna Verde, Lago Pehoe, Pudeto, which remain open all year round and there are also Guarderias in faraway places enabled only in the high season, in all of them the rangers provide the necessary information to the visitors that require it.

Torres del Paine is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Patagonia, the infrastructure to serve tourists goes from Free Campsites, which have basic services and you must take your camping equipment and food; Paid Campsites, with many more amenities than the free ones; Refugios (Shelters), the most comfortable option but with the highest cost. For those who do not like physical effort there are cozy Hosterias (Inns) and Hotels, including Five-Star. There are also navigation services, food sale, horseback riding and crafts. The main camping sites are: Rio Serrano, Pehoe, Lago Grey, Laguna Azul, Paine Grande, Lago Dickson, Los Perros, Seron, Los Cuernos. Some of the most outstanding Hotels and Inns in Torres del Paine are Explora Patagonia Hotel Salto Chico, Rio Serrano Hotel & Spa, Hotel Las Torres Patagonia, Hosteria Lago Grey, Hosteria Pehoe, Patagonia Camp, Ecocamp Patagonia, Hotel Del Paine, Cabanas Lago Tyndall.  To spend the night in Mountain Campsites is mandatory to have Bookings (here). In short, access, infrastructure and services are of unbeatable quality, the only thing that is left to chance is the climatic factor.  

Attractions in Torres del Paine, Tourist Circuits

Torres del Paine National Park.

Undoubtedly, the center of attention and main reason to visit the place is to enjoy the Geological Wonder represented by the Granite Towers and Horns, and immortalize them in a few photographs or videos. But it is not only that, you will also appreciate the environment constituted by a variety of Lakes of iridescent waters, highlighting the Grey, Pehoe, Nordenskjold, Sarmiento, Toro, Paine, thousand-year-old Glaciers such as the Grey, Tyndall, Geyke, Pingo, etc.

The places to go and activities to do depend on how much time the visitor has for that purpose. Here is a list of itineraries to explore the park, starting with the most renowned circuits:

Vehicle Tours, a comfortable and frequent way to get to know the Biosphere Reserve, is through its 100 km of roads. In the nearby city of Puerto Natales and the regional capital Punta Arenas there is a good number of Rent a Cars and Tourism Agencies for this purpose. From Puerto Natales can be accessed through 2 different roads, the route through Cerro Castillo of more than 150 km, which leads to Laguna Amarga and Sarmiento Entrances. The other route is the most recent 80 Km. road passing through La Cueva del Milodon Natural Monument (Mylodon's Cave), in this case the Entrance is Porteria Serrano.

Serrano River Navigation, the stunning voyage is divided into two stretches, the first begins in Puerto Natales, sailing through the Ultima Esperanza Fjord to Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, visiting the Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers, then boarding semi-rigid boats and navigating upstream to the Park. 

The "W" Trekking Circuit, one of the most famous trekking routes in the World, through the main attractions of the National Park. Called "W" because of the shape it takes when joining the points where it passes: Valle Ascencio, Valle del Frances and Glaciar Grey. The walk has a length of 71 km, it can be done between 4 to 5 days.

The "O" Trekking Circuit, a route of just over 110 Km., very demanding physically and mentally, the approximate duration is 7 to 8 days, the "O" includes the "W" circuit. Its name refers to the circular shape of the route which also shows the hidden side of the Park as it goes around the entire Torres del Paine Massif. You get impressive views, including the Campo de Hielo Sur (Southern Ice Field) from the height.

Wildlife Watching that inhabits the Reserve, of varied type including the typical Guanacos everywhere, other mammals such as the Puma, Ñandues, different species of Foxes, the Huemul and the Condor, animals represented in the National Coat of Arms.

Excursion and Navigation of Grey Glacier, located in the Western part of the Park, also forming part of the Southern Ice Field, one of the main attractions and one of the must-see excursions when visiting Torres del Paine National Park.

Other Recommended Sites:

Aug 30, 2018

Corralco Mountain Resort and Ski Center

Corralco Winter Resort, Southern Chile.
Corralco, amidst a beautiful combination of snow, Araucaria trees and volcanoes
     Corralco Mountain Resort and Ski Center is nestled on the SE slope of the Lonquimay Volcano, Malalcahuello-Nalcas National Reserve, Araucania Region, South of Chile. The distance from Santiago, the Chilean capital is just over 700 km. Although it is not the largest in size, it is considered one of the best and most exclusive Winter Centers in Chile, with World-class instructors for all levels of Ski and Snowboard.
     Traditionally in Winter the area of Volcan Lonquimay registers very low temperatures, which can reach -20 degrees C., keeping under the snow vast extensions of the Commune during a long period, although in Summer the climate is temperate. Backed by its exceptional location, the excellent quality and quantity of the snow and the rich natural environment, Corralco is emerging as one of the most important Winter Centers in South America, currently positioned among the best in the World for the practice of Randonee and Splitboard and one of the fashionable destinations for skiers who come from all over the globe. 

How to arrive there

    The closest important city is Temuco, the regional capital of around 250,000 inhabitants. The Aeropuerto Internacional La Araucania, 20 km away, daily receives 4 flights from Santiago, from there you can take a Taxi or other means of transport to arrive at the Winter Center in about two hours. You can also travel by land from Santiago through Carretera 5 Sur (Pan American Highway), Concepcion and intermediate cities by paved and well-maintained roads, as usual in Chile.

The Place and Facilities  

    More than 1800 hectares of skiing area, whit 29 slopes of different level of difficulty, for beginners, intermediate, advanced and experts, 4 drag lifts, 2 chairlifts and more than 7 meters of snow a year make Corralco a great place for the practice of Winter Sports. The Ski Center base is 1480 meters above sea level, while its highest point is at 2400 meters,  at the top of La Cumbre skilift. In 2017 Corralco inaugurated its new Parque de Nieve (Snow Park), an area designed for the family, for those who do not ski, but want to spend an enjoyable day on the mountain. The park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers Tubing Tracks to slide through the snow, Sled Runs for children from 8 years up, and the new Fat Bikes, with tires wider than normal to ride a bicycle without problem on this type of terrain. The Fat Bikes are provided at no cost to the interested public. 

     For its part, the Five Star Valle Corralco Hotel and Spa, surrounded by centenary Araucarias, the regional tree par excellence, has 54 rooms with full equipment, Heated Pools, Gym, Fitness Center, Restaurant, Meeting Rooms, a privileged view of the Lonquimay Volcano and 3 Accommodation Programs and excursions to spend a vacation enjoying an incredible nature. There is a wide range of entertainment for children and adults, including a Children's Room for kids from 2 to 6 years old, staffed by professionals; the Mini Club Corralco, a complete program for children from 6 to 12 years to learn in a didactic and entertaining way from the surrounding Nature; a Cinema suitable for all ages offering films and first level documentaries; a Games Room where you can play Pool, Ping Pong and various Board Games. The Tourist Center also has the only Bike Park of the Araucania Region, with routes of different difficulty for Mountain Bike lovers in the modalities of Cross Country and Enduro, among forests of Araucarias and volcanoes.

Corralco in the Summer

     The privileged Nature of the South of Chile, like the one that encompasses the Malalcahuello-Nalcas National Reserve makes possible countless activities that visitors can perform, highlighting the memorable ascent to the Lonquimay Volcano, the third highest in the circuit of volcanoes of the Araucania Region, trekking and mountain bike programs, sport fishing, kayaking, horseback riding and many others which will be detailed in a forthcoming publication.

Official Website:
Other Recommended sites:

Aug 15, 2018

Punta Arenas' Andean Club (Club Andino)

Club Andino (Andean Club), Punta Arenas, Chile.
     Club Andino de Punta Arenas is located 9 km. W. from the city, on the slopes of Mount Fenton, better known by the name of Cerro Mirador. This small Winter Center, open throughout the year, is nestled within the Magallanes National Reserve, place of very easy access, full of typical trees of the region. The beautiful setting is complemented by an amazing view of the city, of the Strait of Magellan, the southern part of the Brunswick Peninsula and the Island of Tierra del Fuego. This sports and recreational center has its highest point at 600 meters above sea level. The Club Andino is a non-profit sports and social organization, dedicated to promoting the practice of mountain sports and especially competitive skiing.

How to Get There

     The distance from the starting point, generally Plaza Muñoz Gamero (Main Square) of Punta Arenas is 9 Km. The travel time is roughly 20 minutes by paved road, in very good condition, recently inaugurated. In times of snow or ice, the use of chains or studded tyres is mandatory. The cost of a taxi fare (one way) is about US $ 10.

Ski Center Facilities  

Club Andino de Punta Arenas (Punta Arenas' Andean Club).
     The area suitable for skiing is approximately 18 hectares, with 14 pistes among forests of the Reserve, from training level to medium difficulty, a First Aid Post and a two-seater Chairlift of 1200 meters with a capacity to transport 600 people per hour, the travel time between the base station and the summit is 8 minutes. One of the facilities houses the Training Center for beginners (Ski School), Equipment Rental and Custody. The Club's heart is the 420 m2 Refuge/Cafeteria, with capacity to serve 120 people.

Club Andino in Summer

     Winters in this latitude are generally quite harsh and benefit the snow related sports, but with the thaw and the arrival of the Spring-Summer season, several other options of entertainment and sightseeing appear. This time is taken advantage of by Chileans and hundreds of foreign tourists from the numerous cruise ships that arrive at the port of Punta Arenas. Very much sought after are the Chairlift rides, hiking the beautiful trails bordering streams and through forests of Lenga, Coigue and Ñirre besides rides and competitions in Mountainbike, for which the Club has always bikes in good working order. The main hiking trails are Sendero Movilidad Reducida (Reduced Mobility), Sendero Bocatoma, Las Lengas, Los Ñirres and Los Coigues Trekking Circuits. Inside the Magallanes National Reserve camping is not allowed. 

     Another summer attraction is the Canopy ride through the eleven platforms, supported by experienced guides. The views of the surrounding forests, the city of Punta Arenas, the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego Island including the Darwin Mountain Range in the distance, will turn out to be unforgettable.

Go back to Ski Centers in Chile 

Area of Punta Arenas, Magallanes National Reserve and Club Andino