Torres del Paine

Paradise found - in the magic of the mountains

What and where
The most famous region of Chile, Chilean Patagonia offers all the dramatic landscape one would expect from the world's ultimate land's end. It is composed of 2 sub-regions; the northern Aisen and, to its south, Magallanes. Aisen is home to Parque National Laguna San Rafael, while Magellanes hosts the incomparable Parque National Torres del Paine.

The Torres del Paine, a spectacular mountain range, frames the Park of the same name, and extends to heights of up to 2.7 km (9,000 ft). It contains the Cuernos del Paine, with a height of 1.9 km (6,300 ft); the hypnotic waterfalls of Salto Chico and Salto Grande; the Grey, Pingo, del Frances and Dickson glaciers; the Pehoe, Nordenskjold, Sarmiento, Pingo and Dickson lakes; and the Verde and Azul lagoons.

Not only does Torres del Paine boast several distinct ecosystems; each ecosystem contains a wealth of landscapes, flora, and fauna found nowhere else in world. More than 40 mammals make their home in the park, including the guanaco, puma, and Patagonian gray fox. Some of the world's rarest bird species - the Andean condor, crested cara cara, and black vulture among them - are also found in Torres.

Why
The mountains of Torres del Paine - jagged granite ridges and spires capped with shale - have long held significance for the region's native inhabitants. According to local myth, an evil serpent called Cai Cai caused a massive flood to kill the warrior tribe that lived in Torres del Paine. When the flood waters receded, Cai Cai took the bodies of the two largest warriors and turned them to stone - thereby creating the twin horns that crown the mountaintop of Cuernos del Paine.

Torres del Paine was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978.

The National Park Torres del Paine is one of the most spectacular national parks in the world. It has a huge variety of plant and animal species which, together with its snow-capped mountain peaks, cascading rivers and waterfalls, glaciers and mirrored lakes have earned it a reputation as one of the most spectacular places on Earth.
Azure glacier melt water in Lago Nordenskjold bordered by Patagonian forest. Lago Nordenskjold, ... / ©: WWF-Canon / James FRANKHAM
Azure glacier melt water in Lago Nordenskjold bordered by Patagonian forest. Lago Nordenskjold, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
© WWF-Canon / James FRANKHAM

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