A trip to Torres del Paine is in the works. But which season is the best time to visit?
You’ve done your research. You’ve seen the pictures. You know that summer is usually the prime time to visit Torres del Paine National Park. The comfortable temperatures, verdant greenery, and (mostly) clear skies of Patagonia in December through February have made the southern summer the most popular season in which to see Chile’s star national park in all its glory. However…
There are definite advantages to jettisoning the popular opinion in favor of taking the road less traveled. The truth is, no matter the season, Torres del Paine has much to offer, see, and do, and in some cases, even more unexpected and stunning treasures are available for the select few who decide to forego the crowds of summer and experience Torres del Paine during her quieter months.
Here’s a few of the reasons a trip to Torres del Paine during the low-season is just the ticket for an exclusive and rare experience in one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
Fewer Crowds – It’s a fact. As Torres del Paine becomes more well-known and popular, more and more backpackers and trekkers are heading to its trails during the high season to see the sights for themselves. That’s all well and good, but one of Patagonia’s main attractions is its isolation and serenity, which when you’re constantly surrounded by people on the trails shatters the ambience of being in pure nature and detached from society. Visiting the park during the low season months of September, October, March, and April has the advantage of fewer crowds, less people, and less distractions. Attendance falls during these months due to a false perception that the weather suddenly turns unbearable, or that none of the shelters or hotels will be open. Lucky for you, the weather is still fine (albeit a bit colder,) businesses are still open, and the less-crowded trails and off-season views are there for you to enjoy at your leisure.
Unique wildlife viewing – During the summer months, the high flow of visitors can make it more difficult to see some wildlife as they retreat from the noisy crowds. Granted, there will always be prime opportunities to see some of the region’s curious critters. There will be guanacos aplenty, as well as gangly ñandúes (ostrich-type birds) and soaring condors. But what about those rare gems of Torres del Paine: the puma, foxes, or tiny huemul deer? Those are hard enough to see under any circumstance, but with lesser human traffic in low-season, there is less noise, less strange smells, and less disturbances that may drive the wildlife to more protected and isolated areas of the park, thereby increasing the likelihood of a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.
See a different side of the park – You’ve seen the pictures that made you want to visit Torres del Paine in the first place: clear blue sky, the imposing grey and black slabs of the Cuernos rising over the aquamarine of Lake Pehoe, the blue and white shades of Grey Glacier. Imagine seeing those iconic views, but with the first buds of spring. Green gently popping out of a brown landscape. Watching the park’s unique plants slowly come back to life. Can you see it? The rebirth of spring in Patagonia? Or, even more striking, imagine a trek through the French Valley, but surrounded by the bold oranges, reds, and yellows of autumn foliage? The slight nip to the air that hints winter is on its way? Hillsides of shrubs and trees drenched in color? Fall in Patagonia is one of the best times to visit for autumn-enthusiasts, photography lovers, and just about anyone who can appreciate a good view. It paints a pretty picture, one that’s sure to be seared into your memory (and your camera) forever.
Favorable weather – Ask anyone. Locals. Past visitors. Online travel sites with lists upon lists of where to go, what to do, when to do it. There’s no way around it: there is no perfect season in Torres del Paine. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. Even at the height of summer, gnarly winds can whip your hair into a tangle and even unbalance grown men. Days with a forecast for clear will be overcast and drizzly. Hence, it makes sense that even in spring or fall, the weather is still ideal for trekking, hiking, cycling, or doing whatever your heart desires during your visit. As long as you don’t mind a little extra chill to the air in the morning and at night, low-season weather should be no problem for you.
Better bargains – If you’re someone who enjoys stretching a budget and making every penny count, low-season is the time to get more bang for your buck. In summer, with more people begets more demand begets higher prices. So be a savvy-spender and avoid the swell of high season traffic and pricing by coming during low and shoulder seasons! As mentioned above, the weather will still be fine, you’ll be privy to seeing aspects of the park invisible to high-seasoners, (most) hotels and businesses will still be open (never hurts to check during your research as some places have shorter seasons than others), but essentially, you’ll stretch your budget longer by avoiding the crowds and get to add experiences to your trip that maybe before you wouldn’t have been able to include in your budget!
Does a trip to low-season Patagonia sound like your cup of tea? Then click here to learn more about our Fall in love with Patagonian Autumn speciall offer! Join us at EcoCamp Patagonia during the fall months of April and early May, and receive one FREE hotel night in your choice of Santiago, Punta Arenas, El Calafate, or Puerto Natales!