AdventureSmith Specialist Andrew Browning recounts his Towers Base hike in Torres del Paine National Park, and shares why he thinks the sustainable resort EcoCamp is the best basecamp for this particular Patagonia hike. Note that while Andrew traveled on the Patagonia Wildlife Safari, you can also do this hike on the Torres del Paine Trek.
A highlight of my trip to EcoCamp was the iconic Torres del Paine Towers Base Trek. This hike is probably the most famous part of the W Trek and a main reason that travelers visit Torres del Paine National Park. At EcoCamp, an eco-lodge that sits on the northeast side of the park (near the trailhead for the Towers Base), you can complete the journey in a day hike from the lodge.
We had several days at EcoCamp and the Towers base guided hike is offered a few days a week, so my tip would be to try and time this hike on a day where weather looks more favorable. I would also advise that since it is a 14-mile round-trip with 3,000 feet of elevation gain that planning an easier excursion the day before would be a good idea. You would not want to start out on this hike with sore legs.
A bonus of staying at EcoCamp is that your hike starts right from the lodge.
A bonus of staying at EcoCamp is that your hike starts right from the common area domes of the lodge. So you don’t take a van ride or anything to the trailhead; you hike straight from the lodge and also end right at the lodge.
The bigger challenge was in front of us: climbing the boulders and uneven rocks that lead to the base of the towers.
The hikes from EcoCamp are with a small group usually with two guides accompanying the group. We made our lunches after breakfast to bring with us and set out on the trail. We kept a steady pace from EcoCamp, through the Ascencio Valley and up to the start of the glacial moraine. The trail for those sections is well maintained and though it is pretty far (about 4-5 miles) it is not too challenging. The bigger challenge was in front of us: climbing the boulders and uneven rocks that lead to the base of the towers. This final stretch of the hike is slow, steep and requires the use of trekking poles for most hikers. I was glad to have trekking poles and I would recommend them for this trail.
The plan for our hike was to not take many breaks on the way up so that we could have more time at the top to enjoy the view. We made it to the trail’s end and were blessed with a clear day and sun shining on the three towers of Torres del Paine: Torre Sur, Torre Central and Torre Norte. We had our packed lunch at the glacial lake at the Towers’ base and learned about the climbing history of the area from our guides.
This hike is demanding but I would recommend it highly to active travelers. It is amazing to access the area you have been seeing from a distance from other areas of the park.
This hike is demanding but I would recommend it highly to active travelers. It is amazing to access the area you have been seeing from a distance from other areas of the park. I spent a week exploring the other sections of Torres del Paine National Park, and doing the Towers Base hike with EcoCamp as your home base is a great, convenient way to go. After the hike, relax and enjoy the stunning view from EcoCamp.
EcoCamp Domes & Lodge Review
EcoCamp is an excellent base for exploring Torres del Paine. The lodge has a few different types accommodations, and I recommend choosing a Suite Dome for the best experience. They are larger than the other domes but the main reason I recommend them is they have little fireplaces inside that the staff from EcoCamp will make fires in before you arrive back from your long day hikes. The guides ask you on the trail if you want a fire made in your room and they radio the lodge to let them know; by the time you get back, your dome is warmed up. It is very nice after a full day on the trail. The Suite Domes are also a little farther from the common area domes so I think that is nice for solitude.
The guides ask you on the trail if you want a fire made in your room and they radio the lodge to let them know; by the time you get back, your dome is warmed up.
The Loft Suite Domes are also a nice option for families or a group of three or four traveling together. They have the same amenities of the Suite Domes but with an added loft to sleep two more people. I enjoyed staying at EcoCamp and exploring the surrounding area. If the skies are clear it can be a great place for nighttime photography. I also hiked above the grounds to take a photo of EcoCamp from above.
The food at EcoCamp is excellent. I would describe it as international-Patagonian fusion. It was unique, delicious and healthy. You could choose from several different items for each course. They were paired with our choice of a few wines from Chile and Argentina. Tables were set for small groups and divided up based on the activity we had chosen for the next day or the one we had done that day. So we would eat with other travelers who did the same activities, or those we would be sharing activities with the next day. It was a nice way to do it as we made lots of new friends.
After dinners you can enjoy the common area dome with others. There is cozy seating and a small bar where the guests and guides trade stories from the day. Outside is a communal lounge space overlooking the valley and up-valley are incredible views of the Towers base we had just seen so close that day.
For more photos from this trip, including domes and incredible landscapes, view my Facebook album on AdventureSmith Explorations’ Facebook page.
This Patagonia tour and lodge review was written by an AdventureSmith Explorations crew member. Read all AdventureSmith Reviews for more reviews from our team and travelers, or contact one of our Adventure Specialists to learn more about our small ship cruises and wilderness adventures: 1-800-728-2875.