Puerto Natales & surrounding areas
Natales and its People
half day / one hour hiking / difficulty level: low
Gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park, this town
of Puerto Natales gazes northward into Chile from its own
Strait of Magellan coastline. Ships sailing south from Puerto
Montt call at this charming port, bringing tourists with
Early 20th-century buildings evoke the past when men and
women began settling here, thus broadening Chile’s
We see how the spirit of survival molded the people here,
as we see them working in the greenhouses where fruits and
vegetables are stored and distributed, and watching fishermen
at work supplying centollas (Chilean king crab) and myriad
fresh shellfish to this thriving “Magellanic”
2- Cerro Benítez - Cave
full day / 6-hour hike / difficulty level: medium-high /
ascent 400 meters
Hiking up through forests of endemic ñirre and lenga
trees, we will see condors soaring so close overhead we
can hear their powerful wings piercing the air.
Then, walking along the ridge with views of endless pampa
and its countless lakes, we come to the vestiges of primitive
man – his cave paintings. We can imagine how they
sheltered themselves against inclement weather inside these
caves that nature carved out for them.
3- Cerro Benítez horseback ride
full day / 5 hours on horseback / difficulty level: medium-high
We begin our horseback ride (cabalgata) at Estancia Consuelo,
the country estate
built in 1893 by explorer Hermann Eberhard. We climb up
the Cerro Benitez and
come to Lake Sofía with splendid views of the valley
4- Cabalgata Estancia Puerto Consuelo
half day / 3 hours on horseback / difficulty level: medium
We follow the same route on horseback as did explorer Hermann
1895 when he discovered a piece of hide from the prehistoric
Milodón animal. We continue through thick brush where
we can observe a great variety of birds.
We finish the ride inside the vast Cave of the Milodón.
5- Horseback ride: Eberhard fiord - Villa
half day / 30 minutes in van, then 2 hours on horseback
/ difficulty level: low
We begin in the area of Puerto Prat, founded In 1899 with
the mission to protect national sovereignty. From this picturesque
village we continue northward along the Eberhard Fiord then
on to Villa Luisa
6- Cave of the Milodón - Cave paintings
half day / 2-1/2 hours hiking / difficulty level: low
Here, in this immense cave, remains of a prehistoric giant
herbivorous creature named Milodón Darwinii Listai
were found at the end of the 19th century. This discovery
awakened curiosity among explorers and naturalists about
prehistoric life in Patagonia. Surrealistic and representational
cave paintings illustrate a magnificent testimony that man,
during a certain period of his evolution, coexisted with
prehistoric animals, including the milodón.
7- Puerto Bories - Eberhard fiord - Lamb
half day / 1 hour hiking / difficulty level: low
The adventurous and industrial spirit of the first colonizers
is admired in this impressive century-old commercial plant,
built in such a remote location, for processing of some
3500 sheep daily for exportation to England. We continue
on to the house of Hermann Eberhard, the first colonizer
who settled in the province of Última Esperanza.
Crossing the Eberhard Fiord in zodiac, we land at the shore
of Villa Luisa, site of the first house built in the province.
Here we enjoy a typical roasted lamb feast, Patagonia style.
8- Sierra Dorotea
full day / 8 hours hiking / difficulty level: high / ascent
We start at a typical estancia (ranch house), then hike
up through a forest bordered by a former ocean-bottom landscape
that rose up thousands of years ago. At the summit we can
find authentic vestiges of geological evolution, then we
arrive at a “magic area” which is said to have
curative powers. Here we see precious fossils and an inspiring
panorama. We begin descent bordering the cornice of the
hill while enjoying 360-degree views. We can see the Paine
Grande, the Cordillera Sarmiento, Campo de Hielo Sur, and
even the shapes and designs of the fiords near Puerto Natales.
9- Horseback to mirador Dorotea
half day / 2-1/2 hours on horseback / difficulty level:
The ideal way to learn about life in Patagonia is to experience
in depth the lifestyle and daily activities of a baqueano
(the Chilean version of gaucho, yet with significant differences).
This half-day excursion is with an authentic baqueano, riding
with him across his land just as he does each morning. Authentic
baqueano art will amaze us, just as the unique costume and
gear. We will have the privilege of riding the horses of
the rancher (estanciero), who will tell us about the ways
of life here in the old days.
10- Horseback ride: Sierra Dorotea
full day / 6-hour horseback ride / difficulty level: medium
A doubly extraordinary experience, in both adventure and
culture, you ride Patagonian horses accompanied by a baqueano
(Chilean gaucho) native to this Magellanic region. After
an extensive ride through forests and plains, we arrive
at an 880-meter peak with fossils, guanacos and a moonscape
terrain. From here we overlook Puerto Natales and the mountains
surrounding Seno de Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound).
Midway: a pleasant rest period for riders and horses alongside
a campfire, refreshing coffee, and conversation with baqueanos
who tell of their life on the steppes, their adventures,
explorations, and how they deal with severe Patagonian winters.
11- Río Ventisquero
half day / 2-1/2-hour hike / difficulty level: medium
The Tenerife mountain is recognized in the distance by its
sharply pointed peak. Hiking toward it, we pass through
Patagonian forests with Ciprés de las Guaitecas (endemic
cypress trees) until we reach the Río Ventisquero
that flows gently down the mountainside. Making our way
through humid forests, we admire ornate ferns, mosses, lichens,
and even a Magellanic woodpecker.
12- Fiords and Ventisqueros (Ice Fields)
full day / one-hour hike / difficulty level: low
Puerto Natales is the departure point for this boat trip
along the entire length of the Seno de Última Esperanza
(Last Hope Sound), a relaxing opportunity for uninterrupted
Along the way we see dolphins, sea wolves flocks of cormorants,
condor nests, and a variety of flora and fauna unique to
these Patagonian flatlands, until we arrive at the Balmaceda
and Serrano glaciers. A short hike brings us to the vantage
point where the edge of the Serrano Glacier, like a giant
mountain, touches the sea. One continually hears the sounds
of the ice straining, bending, and chunks breaking off.
13- Lake Sofía
full day / 3-hour hike / difficulty level: medium
We depart to Lake Sofía and hike along the shore
to the Mirador del Cerro Queso. Here we have access to the
beautiful beaches on the lake.
14- Lake Sofía on bicycle
half day / 3 hours / difficulty level: medium-high
This excursion starts on the shore of Lake Sofía.
We bicycle along the lakeshore for three hours, along forests
and sighting condors gliding above. We can view the geological
formation of this area, a result of glacier retreat about
15,000 years ago.
We also explore natural caves that primitive tribes used
for shelter and for expressing their art in magnificent
15- Seno de Última Esperanza (Last
Hope Sound) on bicycle
half day / 4 hours / difficulty level: medium high
Passing thick jungles of ñirres (endemic trees),
we descend to the Seno de Última Esperanza. Bordering
the lakeshore we see countless small lagoons that are refuges
for wild birds during their nesting period. We come to the
Estancia Perales with an impressive view of the Cordillera
Chacabuco y Sierra Prat.
16- The border
half day / 2-hour hike / difficulty level: medium
We hike to the Argentine border enjoying marvelous views
of the Llanuras de Diana and the Pinto and Balmaceda Lakes.
A visit to the interesting Dorotea Museum is included.
17- Lakes and forests (Lago Balmaceda
and Lago Pinto)
half day / 3-hour hike / difficulty level: medium-high
We hike toward the mirador (lookout point) Cerro Pelario,
passing through forests of lenga, ciprés de las Guaitecas,
and coigües (endemic species of trees). There are splendid
panoramic views of the mountains surrounding Puerto Natales,
as well as Golfo Almirante Montt and the Pinto and Balmaceda
18- Tenerife Mountain (North Face)
half day / 1-1/2-hour hike / difficulty level: medium
We begin our hike at the Salto Río Ventisquero along
a path of beautiful forest with ciruelillo and coigüe
(endemic evergreen tree). Arriving at the Mirador de la
Sierra Prat we enjoy views of Lake Porteño and the
Castillo and Campana mountains.
19- Cañada de las Bandurrias
half day / 2-hour hike / difficulty level: medium
We begin our hike at the eastern skirt of Tenerife Mountain,
then proceed through humid Patagonian forests. We hike around
a major part of Lake Porteño, home to endemic birds
that nest in this area. Along the way we enjoy a direct
view of the Macizo de Torres del Paine. Toward the end of
our route, the spectacular Gran Lago Toro comes into view.
It is the largest lake of the region with lush fauna growing
around its shores.
20. Lake Porteño Photo Safari (Hiking
half day / 3 hours hiking and 1-1/2 hours bicycling / difficulty
A hike along the coasts of Lake Porteño passes through
a magic environment where spectacular formations seem to
converge: Sierra Baguales, Sierra del Toro, and Paine Grande,
the most important peak of the Torres del Paine National
Park. By bicycle we border the lake heading toward Puesto
21- Maitenes in Patagonia
full day / 6-1/2 hours hiking / difficulty level: medium
Departing Remota we pass by Puesto Castillo Viejo where
we begin a hike from the Refugio Juvenil Maravilla bordering
the lake of the same name, amid typical forests of the area.
We continue through Paso de la Guitarra, arriving at the
Bay of Los Maitenes, the only place in Patagonia where this
tree species is found.
22- Cerro La Olla
full day / 5-1/2 hours hiking / difficulty level: high
This mountain, Cero la Olla, is located in the sector of
the Estancia Dos Lagunas, north of Puerto Natales. It is
named for its unusual shape, like an olla, or cooking pot,
and reaches an altitude of 1,350 meters above sea level,
making it one of the principal peaks visible from the town.
From here we have a privilidged view of Lake Sofía
and the fiord of Última Esperanza.
23- Forests, lakes, and ice of the Torres
del Paine National Park
full day / 4-hour hike / difficulty level: low
Patagonian Chile is a complex combination of vast plains
intersected by glistening lakes whose waters are multicolored
because of their mineral contents; of ice fields extending
like vast trampolines toward the sea; and gigantic floating
icebergs gliding quietly through the cold lakes. Combed
by the winds, forests of endemic lenga, ñirre and
coigüe trees are beautiful throughout the year, and
especially during autumn with their leaves of intense yellows
and reds. On this hike we visit Sarmiento, Nordenskjold
and Grey lakes.
24- Wildlife and Cave Paintings
full day / 3-1/2-hour hike / difficulty level: low
Animal life is a main attraction of Chilean Patagonia: los
ñandúes (lesser rhea) wander freely in the
plains; flocks of guanacos (relative of the llama and alpaca)are
ubiquitous; puma (mountain lions), scarce and mysterious,
prowl between pampas and ravines. In the lakes of the National
Park, pink flamingos can be seen mingling with a wide variety
of species of ducks as well as swans and upland geese (caiquenes).
The condor is known as “king of the skies” with
a 3-meter wingspan hovers high above. In these surroundings,
the presence of pre-historic
man, and his paintings in the caves he inhabited, give testimony
to the early interaction between culture and nature.
25- Base of the Torres (Torres del Paine
full day / 8-hour hike / difficulty level: high / ascent
The Ascensio River valley, surrounded by century-old forests,
traces the long path toward the Torres del Paine for which
this Park is named. The silence in nature, whispers of the
waterfalls, and the extreme beauty of the landscape give
the traveler a feeling of intimacy with Patagonia. Breathtaking
views of the three sheer granite towers that form the Torres,
towering above the lake, make this an unforgettable experience.
26- Two lakes: Laguna de la Cal and Lago
full day / 6-hour hike / difficulty level: medium-high
We depart from lake Pehoé, hiking toward la Quebrada
de la Feria where the wind has transformed the forest into
bonsai-like formations. The cuernos (the antler-like three
peaks of the Torres del Paine) are constantly in view. The
hiking route continues toward Laguna de la Cal, and to Lagos
Sarmiento which is the largest lake in the Park. The Laguna
de la Cal, frozen in winter, breaks the silence with its
eerie sounds of ice bending, shifting, and breaking into
the water (a spectacular sight).
27- Sierra Baguales
full day / 2-1/2-hour hike / difficulty level: medium
We begin our hike toward Sierra Baguales where we will find
fossils and condor nests. We follow the famed Route of Lady
Florence Dixie, named for the aristocratic member of the
first European “tourist” expedition to the Torres
del Paine National Park.
28- Estancia Lazo - Lago Toro
full day / 4-hour hike / dificulty level: low
We start at a picturesque Patagonian ranch(estancia), one
of the oldest in the area, where the first settlers began
raising cattle. We continue bordering the vivid Laguna Verde,
hiking through forests and along lagoons rich with wild
birds that, during their mating season, can be seen and
heard seeking mates and defending their territory. Along
they way we enjoy seeing the variety of Magellanic forests.
29- Valle del Francés (French Valley)
full day / 7-hour hike / difficulty level: high
We cross Lake Pehoe by boat, arriving at the foot of El
Paine Grande where we begin our hike through the Valle del
Francés with breathtaking views of the Glacier del
Frances (French Glacier) and the Paine mountain topped by
30- Valle del Pingo
full day / 7-hour hike / difficulty level: high
One of the Park’s most hidden valleys, the Pingo is
inhabited by baguales horses that characteristically live
in valley flatlands. En route we pass through forests of
lenga trees and an enormous waterfall. From the Valley we’ll
enjoy privilidged views of the Paine Grande, the Cordón
Olguín, and the Pingo and Zapata glaciers.