The Mirador Las Torres Base Hike is without a doubt the most popular trail in all of Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile.
And it’s for a good reason!
Mirador las Torres is an incredible day hike that takes you through some beautiful landscapes before it ends at the amazing viewpoint of the iconic granite towers and the clear blue glacial Lake. It’s without a doubt a very special place on earth.
However, with great popularity comes big tourist crowds… We learned this the hard way. So, in this blog post we’re going to write about how to buy Torres del Paine National Park tickets, how to get to the Mirador las Torres base hike, the difficulty and elevation of the hike – BUT we’re also going to share our own experience on the track and elaborate on how you can avoid the big tourist crowds.
So this is basically a full guide on how to do the Mirador las Torres Base hike all by yourself, and how to avoid the big crowds on one of Chile’s most famous trails. Let’s get to it!
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How to get to the Mirador las Torres base hike?
It’s really easy to do the day hike by yourself, you really don’t have to be part of any tour groups on the trail.
At first it seemed really complicated to me, but it’s actually fairly easy to get to the Mirador Las Torres trail by yourself. However, there are a few things you need to do in order to get there:
- Torres del Paine National Park Pass
- Bus tickets from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine
- Minivan to the trailhead of Mirador las Torres base hike
In the next sections, we’ll go through these steps one by one, so you can start planning your hike. However, if you feel more comfortable about doing the hike with a tour guide, then check out this guided day hike to Mirador las Torres.
Step 1: Buy your Torres del Paine National Park Pass
First of all, you need to buy your Torres del Paine National Park Pass in order to be able to enter the park and do the base hike.
The Entrance Fee to the National Park is 35 USD/per adult for a 3-day entry pass. There used to be a difference between prices in high and low season, but of what I can find in 2023, it seems that the price is always the same.
When we visited Torres del Paine in the beginning of 2020, you could either buy the park pass in Puerto Natales Bus Station or at the gates by the national park. However, today (2023) it seems that the best way to secure your ticket is to buy it online at the official site at aspticket.cl.
So if I were you I would either; a) buy your National Park Pass online or b) try to see if it’s still possible to buy your ticket directly at Puerto Natales Bus Station (remember to bring your passport because you have to register).
Step 2: Go with bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine
After you have your National Park Pass at the Puerto Natales Bus Station, you can go ahead and book your bus tickets to the Torres del Paine National Park.
There are several bus companies that can take you to the park. So if one bus company is sold out, just try another one. We booked with Bus-Sur and it cost us 15.000 CLP/person for return tickets to and from Torres del Paine Park (2020 prices).
In high season, it’s important that you book bus tickets at least one or two days ahead of time to make sure they don’t sell out. You can also book the bus tickets online – Just search: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (Terminal Laguna Amarga).
Plus, taking the bus has some perks! The bus ride to the National Park entry takes about 1,5 hour and during the ride we saw many amazing animals – so stay alert!
We saw guanacos (llama-looking animal), rheas (emu-looking bird), flamingos, and even a puma!
(Okay, technically I didn’t see the puma… But the whole right side of the bus saw a puma when driving slowly past a lake. I could have kicked myself from choosing a seat at the wrong side of the bus. Typical.)
Another perk of taking the bus is that it may stop once on the way to the park, so you can get an amazing view over the granite towers from afar.
Step 3: Get your stamp and continue in a minivan to the trailhead
Once you reach Torres del Paine National Park, you need to get a stamp in your Park Pass from a Park ranger, and then you’re good to go. Don’t get in the long line, because you already have your park pass in hand, so just ask a park ranger for a stamp. They’re often standing around the area, guiding people (at least this was the case of 2020 when you could buy tickets directly at the gate).
From here you have to catch one of the minivans for 3.000 CLP/one way (2020 price). The minivans take you about 5 kilometers further into the park and drops you off at the Mirador las Torres base trailhead, which is located at Las Torres Hotel Patagonia. You can also walk to the trailhead if you prefer.
And that’s it!
It might sound complicated, but everything actually goes really smooth.
You return the same way with minivan from the Mirador las Torres trailhead to the Torres del Paine National Park entry, and then you take the bus back to Puerto Natales.
Important tip: When we visited a couple of years ago, you had to have your Park Pass re-stamped if you wanted to re-enter the park within the next 3 days. So ask a ranger at Laguna Amarga about this when you return form the hike.
About Mirador las Torres base hike (difficulty, elevation, time)
Time: 8-10 Hours
Distance: 18 Km
Elevation: 900 M
Mirador Las Torres is Spanish for, “Viewpoint of the Towers”, which refers to the 3 iconic granite rock towers. The viewpoint at the end is what makes the hike completely worth it!
The Mirador las Torres base hike is 18 kilometers long with an elevation that’s more or less 900 meters. It takes between 8-10 hours to finish the hike, depending on how fast you are, depending on how many people are on the trail, and on how much time you spend at the viewpoint.
I would classify the difficulty of the Mirador las Torres hike as “Challenging”
So PLEASE reconsider bringing your small kids… We saw several people bringing their 5 children onto the hike, and neither the parents or the kids looked like they had a good time.
Related post: What to pack for a day hike?
What to expect hiking to the Mirador las Torres base
In this section, I’m going to write about our hike on the Mirador las Torres trail in Torres del Paine (and therefore what you can expect from it). All in all it was a good hike, but as you will read in a minute, there was a lot of waiting around…
All right. Onto the hike!
Beginning the hike by waiting in a line
Glenn and I were lucky to go on this hike on a beautiful sunny day in February. The weather was just perfect!
However, if I have to be completely honest, then we were already bothered by the immense amount of people at the beginning of the trail. We saw many big tour groups of 20+ people and many families with small children. Make sure to join a smaller tour group if you want to do the hike with a guide.
This was definitely one of the most crowded hiking trails we’ve ever been on. There is no doubt that this is the most famous hike in Torres del Paine National Park, maybe even in all of Chile!
Hence, the beginning of the hike wasn’t very idyllic.
The first part of the hike was completely flat until we reached the swing bridge. Only two people are allowed to cross the swing bridge at a time, which meant that we had to wait 10 minutes in line with the crowds to cross the swing bridge and continue the trail.
We’ve never experienced queuing at a hike before… It was just unbelievable.
Hiking to the Windy Pass and the Chileno Refugio
After crossing the swing bridge, we began the first ascent. We went up and up until we reached the Windy Pass. This is definitely the first hard part of the trail.
The trail flattens out at the top, and we saw a sign with the words, “Windy Pass”. Obviously, the pass is named after the strong Patagonian winds.
We felt the chill wind immediately! It was very welcoming after hiking the about 500 meters hot and sweaty elevation gain in the sun.
But the best thing about reaching the Windy Pass is the views! We rounded a corner, and the scenery completely changed. From here you can see a river in a valley with snowcapped mountains in the background.
From here the descent towards the Chileno Refugio begins. Reaching the Refugio meant that we were a little over halfway to the Mirador Las Torres base.
At the Chileno Refugio you can refill your water bottle, buy some food or a drink, eat your lunch and use the toilet for 500 CLP. You can also camp here if you reserve a spot a few years in advance, okay I might be overreacting, but the Chileno Refugio is very popular! So plan ahead if you want to camp here for the night.
The Refugio is the perfect place to rest a bit before continuing the hike! Whenever I go hiking, I always like to stop and do a bit of stretching before I continue. Making sure the legs stay happy for as long as possible.
When we were done resting, eating and stretching, we continued hiking through a forest for about 3 kilometers (if you do the hike in the summer, then the forest is a welcoming change from the heat and constant sun on the trek. Phew!)
Reaching the famous viewpoint – Mirador las Torres!
The forest ended and we reached a clearing and a sign that said, “Mirador Las Torres 45 minutes”.
This is when the hardest part begins – the second ascent on the trail.
This last part is definitely the most difficult part of the trail because you have to climb over small rocks and big boulders. Be careful, but keep on hiking because you are so close to the amazing Towers Viewpoint! So even though it was hard, we found it was such a motivation to know that we were so close to the finish line.
And all of a sudden… There it is.
I was truly amazed with how spectacular Mirador las Torres actually is! I have seen so many pictures online and heard stories about Patagonia and Chile, so I was really excited to finally be here myself.
The Mirador las Torres base is without a doubt one of the most beautiful earthly landscapes I have ever seen. We were visiting during the high summer period, yet the snow was still there! The snow was slowly melting down the rocks and forming a small stream (or a mini-waterfall) into the glacial lake in front of the towers.
However, there was one big downside to my experience… The place was just too crowded. There was so many people at the viewpoint that it was hard to find a spot to sit without accidentally interrupting someone’s picture.
Sadly, I didn’t feel at all like I was one with nature… There wasn’t a quiet moment at the towers. The many people disrupted the silence of the mountains, which in my opinion is the best silence you can find in nature.
The big crowds had a negative impact on my experience, and even though it’s a beautiful place, I never managed to find peace at Mirador las Torres.
Is the Mirador las Torres base hike in Torres del Paine worth it?
Mirador las Torres base hike is amazing – probably the most famous day hike in Torres del Paine and Chile, and well worth the trip!
When you find yourself standing in line to hike a trail or can’t find a spot to rest at a really big viewpoint, then something is wrong. I think there have to be some kind of regulations put in place.
Mirador las Torres is probably one of the best day hikes I have ever been on, yet, it will never be my favorite hike. The many crowds took away the good parts of the experience.
On the way down from the Towers Viewpoint, we were delayed because there was a big queue on the trail. So, we had to run some of the way back in order to catch our bus. This was very stressful, so I couldn’t enjoy the hike back.
I feel like I have to be honest because there are so many reviews out there saying how amazing this place is… But they don’t mention the big crowds.
Back at the National Park entry, I talked to a park ranger, and he said that they might make some regulations in the future. He even gave me a survey, so I could share my experience. He told me that the big crowds are bad for the trail maintenance and wildlife preservation.
I really hope that they figure out a way to lessen the crowds and preserve this amazing place on earth.
Anyways, now that I have complained enough, I would like to end this blog post on a positive note.
Mirador las Torres is an amazing hike that you should definitely go do some day! It’s mostly famous because of the viewpoint over the towers. However, the hike offers so much more with its different terrains, landscapes, and viewpoints.
Hiking to the Mirador las Torres base is definitely one of the best ways to spend a full day in Patagonia! It’s so beautiful. But make sure to do it by yourself and skip the big tour groups.
How to beat the crowds in Torres del Paine Park?
We took the bus at 7:15 in the morning. See if you can catch an earlier bus or rent your own car. That way you can arrive early to the trek and beat all the big tour groups.
You can also stay a night at the Las Torres Hotel or the Ecocamp right by the trailhead – or book a night at the Chileno Refugio. That way you can wake up early and go hiking right away without any other tourists bothering you.
Another way to beat the crowds is to do the hike out of the peak season (December – February). Anytime but these months would be less crowded.
Remember that Torres del Paine National Park is big, and there are several other hikes you can check out apart from the Mirador las Torres. For example, we went on a small hike called Mirador los Cuernos, which turned out to be my favorite of the two! Mostly because we had the place all to ourselves.
Have you ever hiked the Mirador las Torres base hike – or any other trails in Torres del Paine? Let me know about it in the comments. You’re also more than welcome to ask me any questions you might have about the hike. Thanks for reading!
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