Exploring Torres Del Paine With Kids – New For 2024

There are few places more evocative and inspiring than Torres Del Paine. It is a marvel of nature, with soaring peaks, shimmering blue lakes, majestic glaciers, and a rich tapestry of wildlife. For families exploring this Patagonian wonder, it offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience a landscape brimming with breathtaking beauty. Visiting Torres Del Paine with kids will reveal a sublime blend of natural wonders, making it an unforgettable experience for all.

Kirsty and the girls standing on the beach at the edge of Lago Grey infront of a huge iceberg in Torres Del Paine National Park
Visiting Torres Del Paine With Kids is exploring a true wonderland.

While Torres Del Paine is famous for its multi-day hikes like the “O” and “W” circuits that may be too challenging for many children, there is still much to do here for families. What sets Torres Del Paine apart from other national parks is its accessibility. A combination of roads and ferries opens up a significant portion of the park, making it possible for families to explore deep in its diverse landscapes relatively easily. We spent three incredible days in and around the park with our eight and nine-year-old daughters and experienced much of what the park had to offer.

A gaucho on horseback on Windy Pass taking supplies up to the camps in Torres Del Paine National Park
You have to be ready to share the paths!

If you’re planning a visit to Torres Del Paine with children, we’ve compiled essential information to ensure you make the most of this incredible adventure. From selecting where to stay to chosing suitable activities and travel tips, we’ve got you covered for your family’s journey to this spectacular natural wonder.

Our Map Of Torres Del Paine With Kids

When To Visit Torres Del Paine With Kids

The ideal time for visiting Torres Del Paine with children is between November and March, from late spring to early autumn in the southern hemisphere. This period offers the best weather and walking conditions, increased availability of flights and buses, and all park facilities are open.

Although busier during these months, the advantages outweigh the crowd factor; plus, with the park spanning around 700 square miles and so many areas of interest, there is plenty of space for everyone. Outside these months, the harsh winds and freezing conditions in the park can make a family visit challenging and less enjoyable.

A view of Los Cuernos (The Horns) peaks in Torres Del Paine National Park
Even at the height of summer, Los Cuernos (The Horns) are still snow-capped.

What to Pack When Visiting Torres Del Paine With Kids

The Patagoninan “four seasons in one day” cliché is so true in Torres Del Paine; in fact, we had four seasons in forty minutes when we were there!

The key to staying comfortable is layering. While we did not need our winter thermals when we visited in late December, we found that hats, gloves, and windproof jackets were essential even at the height of summer. The wind does get very strong in places and can have a bit of an edge to it. We also brought our waterproof layers but were lucky enough not to need them.

Georgia and Kirsty on the beach of Lago Grey next to a piece of ice from the iceberg on a family day out in Torres Del Paine with the Grey ferry in the background
Wrapped up and ready for anything!

We all had stout walking shoes for footwear, which were perfect for the shorter trails we tackled. If you have walking boots and the luggage space, certainly bring them.

Other Patagonia essentials include high energy snacks, sun cream, bug spray, water bottles, and a basic first aid kit. If you have any last-minute needs, there are several well-supplied supermarkets in Puerto Natales to stock up on supplies.

Salto Grande Water Fall in Torres Del Paine National Park with kids
Some trails, like the one to Salto Grande above, are easy to walk and well-signposted.

We also brought a compact pair of binoculars, which were helpful for spotting wildlife.

Finally, bringing some entertainment for the kids for the drive might be helpful. If you stay in Puerto Natales, the drive is about an hour and a half to the park each way. We got through a big chunk of our “Harry Potter” audiobook!

How Long Should You Spend In Torres del Paine With Kids?

We would say the ideal amount of time in the park with children is three full days.

This gives plenty of time for a couple of good walks, to do the full road trip, and take the catamaran ride to paine grande. This iternary lets you see a great deal of the park without actually tackling the major multi day treks.

Icebergs floating in Lago Grey with Glacier Grey in the background
Lago Grey feels otherworldly.

Our ideal itinerary would be this:

Day 1 – Do our road trip through the park, exploring highlights like Salto Grande and Glacier Grey Viewpoint

Day 2 – Take the catamaran over Lake Pehoe and explore the Refugio & Camping Vertice Paine Grande area. Don’t miss the last sailing back!

Day 3 – Head just outside the park to visit Cueva del Milodón and make the walk to Sofia Lake Viewpoint to see the views over the park.

People walking along a trail with a mountain in the background in Torres Del Paine National Park
There are so many incredible places to explore in the park.

Getting to Torres del Paine National Park With Kids

There are two well-trodden routes to the park depending on whether you are heading in from Chile or Argentina.

From Chile

Flying from Santiago to Puerto Natales is the most convenient way to reach Torres Del Paine from Chile, with regular flights available in the summer. Alternatively, you can fly about 150 miles south to Punta Arenas and make your way up.

Punta Arenas only offers a few attractions for kids, but it is a pleasant place to stay overnight if you want to break up the journey.

In Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, there are several car rental companies. Renting a car is highly recommended if visiting Torres Del Paine as a family. It gives much-needed flexibility and convenience for exploring the park and surrounding areas.

Hire Car parked up in Torres Del Paine National Park on a road trip with kids
Our trusty hire car we drove all the way down from Bariloche. It did not stay that clean for long.

Alternatively, several bus companies, including BusSur with their notably cool buses, operate regular services between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.

From Argentina

If you are travelling from Argentina, it is not quite so easy. Due to what we can only assume are political reasons, it is surprisingly complex and prohibitively expensive to fly from the Argentine side of Patagonia to the Chilean.

From Argentina, the closest airport to Torres Del Paine is El Calafate. You can fly there from Buenos Aires and then travel to Puerto Natales, crossing the border at Cerro Castillo or Casas Viejas.

Unlike Punta Arenas, El Calafate has a great deal to offer families visiting and is worth a few days to explore and get up close to the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Family looking at Perito Moreno Glacier from the walkway
The Perito Moreno Glacier is worth a visit if you have the chance.

Again, several car hire companies are available at El Calafate airport and in town. If you hire a car to come to Torres Del Paine, you will need some extra paperwork to cross the border. Be sure to request this when you book and it may incur an extra fee.

You can take day trips to Torres Del Paine from El Calafate but we would not recomend it with children. It is a massive amount of ground to cover in a single day and you will spend at least 7 hours on the road, crossing the border twice.

Where to Base Yourself to Explore Torres del Paine

There are three places to base yourself to explore the park:

Puerto Natales

Starting from Puerto Natales, a quaint and charming town about 75 km/50 miles south of Torres Del Paine, it is a popular choice for exploring the park.

The drive to the park takes roughly an hour and a half from here by car.

Puerto Natales offers a comfortable stay with various accommodations, including hotels, hostels, and Airbnb options. It’s well-equipped with outdoor stores and several large supermarkets, making it a convenient base for your adventures in Torres Del Paine.

Georgia and Kirsty on the trail on the way to Lago Grey view point
There is a huge variety of landscapes in the park.

Some places in Puerto Natales offer equipment hire but only for adults. Adrian hired boots and walking poles for the Base of Torres del Paine Day Hike from Lili Patagonico’s Hostel for CLP$ 5,000 a day. Also, Yagan House, just around the corner, offers some equipment.

We stayed in this Airbnb, which was perfect for the four of us, and the host, Dussan, invited us to share in his family’s Asados. It was the best lamb we have ever tasted!

If you stay in town, you must visit The Last Hope Distillery, the most southern distillery in the world. We spent the start of New Year’s Eve there and had some fantastic cocktails based on their Calafate gin.

The girls at the viewpoint overlooking Lago Nordenskjöld with Cerro Paine in the distance
So much beauty so close at hand.

In The Park

Another option for accommodation is within Torres Del Paine National Park itself. Some areas of the park are still privately owned, and the owners have developed them to offer lodging. Options include
Ecocamp Patagonia and Hotel Lago Grey, however they are expensive and book up months if not years in advance!

Staying inside the park offers the convenience of being close to the natural attractions, but you are paying a premium for the location.

There are also basic refugios & campsites, but they are only accessible as part of a multi-day hike and are probably not suitable for families.

One advantage of staying in the park is you are close to incredible wildlife.

Cerro Castillo

This tiny little town is the closest settlement to the park, about 55 km/35 miles from the Guardería Laguna Amarga entrance to the park.

There are a few hotels and hostels here as well as a bus terminal. The El Ovejero restaurant was recommended to us, although we did not stop to eat there ourselves.

Due to its lack of facilities, Cerro Castillo is probably not the best place to stay with families. It is moderately close to the park, but Puerto Natales has much more to offer.

A road sign in Cerro Castillo saying Ruta del Fin del Mundo
Cerro Castillo is on “The Road To The End Of The World”, which we think is unbelievably cool.

Getting To Torres Del Paine from Puerto Natales

As we mentioned above, if you are exploring Torres Del Paine with kids, hiring a car will be a big advantage. Having your own transport will give you the most freedom and flexibility to explore the park and help you make the most of your time there.

The drive from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine National Park is approximately 75 km (50 miles) and takes about an hour and a half. The route to the park features easy, tarmacked open roads. Once you enter the park, the roads transition into gravel.

Kirsty and Georgia on the trail from Salto Grande waterfall towards the Cerro Paine viewpoint
Georgia and Kirsty on one of the many accessible paths.

Alternatively, if you would like to travel by bus several companies run services through the high season from Puerto Natales. The terminal de omnibus is on Avenida Espana 1455. Buses can get very busy as they are also used by all those doing multi-day treks, so it is wise to book at least a day in advance.

The main bus company in the area is BusSur (and they also have the coolest buses!). A one-way ticket costs CLP$ 12,000 and $15,000 for a return; check here for the current timetable.

You can read our full guide on where to stay and what to do in Puerto Natales with kids here.

Buying Tickets for Torres Del Paine

The entrance fee to Torres Del Paine National Park is among the more expensive we’ve experienced, and it varies based on the length of stay. Happily, national parks in Chile are one of the few attractions we encountered that offer discounts for children!

For one to three days in the park, tickets cost USD 35 for adults and USD 17 for kids between 12 and 17. Children under 12 are free.

A river with mountains in the background in Torres del Paine National Park

You need to book your entrance tickets using the Pases Parques website before you arrive at the park. You cannot buy tickets at the entrance. Once you have navigated the labyrinthine scrap heap of a webshite and paid, make sure to save a copy of the QR. You will be emailed a code to your phone. You will need to show it at the park, and there is no internet connection there.

Getting Around Torres Del Paine With Kids

If you are considering driving, don’t let the park’s gravel roads put you off. By Patagonian standards, they are smooth and easy to drive and can be handled by a family saloon, although having a vehicle like an SUV would give a bit more clearance. Navigating is also very simple, there are very few roads to choose from and these are clearly signposted.

Alternatively, the BusSur service travels along Ruta Y-150 in the park. Their timetable changes with the seasons, so be sure to look at their website for the most up-to-date information.

Georgaia and Eva standing at a viewpoint overlooking Salto Grande waterfall
Georgia and Eva by the Salto Grande Waterfall

Finally, there is the option of a day tour. There is no shortage of companies in town that will offer tours of the park, two we can recomend are W Circuit Patagonia who we used for a hike and Lenga Tours who we met on the trail. The issue with tours is that they rarely offer discounts for children. We quickly found that by the time you have paid for four people, it is much more cost-effective to hire a car and do it yourself!

Being Safe In Torres del Paine With Kids

Having travelled down to the park through cities like Rio and Buenos Aires which have a particular reputation, it took us a little while to adjust to the fact that petty crime is incredibly low in Patagonia, and Torres del Paine has to be one of the safest places in South America.

The real danger you will face in this incredible place is the weather. Even in the height of summer, you can experience four seasons in forty minutes, and blasts of wind that can come out of nowhere are strong enough to take you off your feet. Always check the weather forecast before setting out.

A sign in Torres del Paine National Park warning about very strong winds
“Take Your Coat” – Masterful understatement!

Visiting with children means you probably won’t be heading to the remotest parts, but walking accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Be aware that there is no mobile phone coverage in the park so stay on marked trails to avoid getting lost, make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks as well as a basic first aid kit, sun cream and bug spray.

Finally, it is worthwhile carrying a map downloaded on your phone. You can get a great PDF created by the park service here.

A map of Torres Del Paine National Park highlighting the walking trails, roads and amenities

If you do have an accident you are unlikely to be anwhere too remote so hopefully someone will be able to render assistance quikly. Be sure to explain to your children what to do incase you are the one who has an accident.

Finally, be sure to tell someone at your accommodation where you are planning to go and when you expect to be back.

Eating in Torres del Paine

If you want to get something to eat in the park then there are several places where you can get food, ranging from a chocolate bar to a full meal. Eateries include:

  • Rio Pingo Near Glacier Grey – A small shop with adjacent restaurant.
  • Torres del Paine Welcome Center – A small shop with a cafe and a hotdog van just outside.
  • Restaurant Pehoe Barbecue – Patagonian BBQ with a great view.
  • Refugio Pudeto – Just near the dock for the catamaran, a cafe offering toasted sandwhiches and drinks.

Our only warning about all of the above is that food and drink in the park is incredibly expensive, they certainly know how to make the most of a captive audience! Most days we stocked up on snacks, drinks and lunch in Puerto Natales and carried it with us in the hire car.

A gaucho on horseback next to the river in Windy Pass taking supplies up to the camps in Torres Del Paine National Park
Everything from food to luggage gets around the park on horseback.

Have We Missed Anything About Exploring Torres Del Paine With Kids?

We had a wonderful family visit to Torres Del Paine, and we hope you do, too. If you think we have missed anything or found any outdated information here, please let us know in the comments below.

The Spencer Family

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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