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Hotels of Torres del Paine

A hotel in Torres del Paine is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Torres del Paine hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Torres del Paine are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Torres del Paine hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Torres del Paine hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Torres del Paine have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Torres del Paine
An upscale full service hotel facility in Torres del Paine that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Torres del Paine hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Torres del Paine
Full service Torres del Paine hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Torres del Paine
Boutique hotels of Torres del Paine are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Torres del Paine boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Torres del Paine may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Torres del Paine
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Torres del Paine travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Torres del Paine focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Torres del Paine
Small to medium-sized Torres del Paine hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Torres del Paine traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Torres del Paine hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Torres del Paine
A bed and breakfast in Torres del Paine is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Torres del Paine bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Torres del Paine B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Torres del Paine hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Torres del Paine
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Torres del Paine hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Torres del Paine lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Torres del Paine often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Torres del Paine on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Torres del Paine
A Torres del Paine motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Torres del Paine for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Torres del Paine motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Torres del Paine

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Torres del Paine National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Cuernos del Paine from Lake Pehoé.jpg
Cuernos del Paine from Lake Pehoé
Torres del Paine National Park location.svg
Location Magallanes Region, Chile
Nearest city Puerto Natales
Coordinates  / -51.00000; -73.00000  / -51.00000; -73.00000
Area 181,414 ha (448,280 acres)
Established May 13, 1959 (1959-05-13)
Visitors 252,447 (in 2016)
Governing body Corporación Nacional Forestal

Torres del Paine National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Torres del Paine) is a national park encompassing mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in southern Chilean Patagonia. The Cordillera del Paine is the centerpiece of the park. It lies in a transition area between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes. The park is located 112 km (70 mi) north of Puerto Natales and 312 km (194 mi) north of Punta Arenas. The park borders Bernardo O'Higgins National Park to the west and the Los Glaciares National Park to the north in Argentine territory. Paine means "blue" in the native Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language and is pronounced PIE-nay.

Torres del Paine National Park is part of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas Silvestres Protegidas del Estado de Chile (National System of Protected Forested Areas of Chile). In 2013, it measured approximately 181,414 hectares. It is one of the largest and most visited parks in Chile. The park averages around 252,000 visitors a year, of which 54% are foreign tourists, who come from all over the world.

The park is one of the 11 protected areas of the Magallanes Region and Chilean Antarctica (together with four national parks, three national reserves, and three national monuments). Together, the protected forested areas comprise about 51% of the land of the region (6,728,744 hectares).

The Torres del Paine are the distinctive three granite peaks of the Paine mountain range or Paine Massif. They extend up to 2,500 meters above sea level, and are joined by the Cuernos del Paine. The area also boasts valleys, rivers such as the Paine, lakes, and glaciers. The well-known lakes include Grey, Pehoé, Nordenskiöld, and Sarmiento. The glaciers, including Grey, Pingo and Tyndall, belong to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.

Torres del Paine National Park: History

Torres del Paine

Lady Florence Dixie, in her book published in 1880, gave one of the first descriptions of the area and referred to the three towers as Cleopatra's Needles. She and her party are sometimes credited as being the first "foreign tourists" to visit the area that is now called Torres del Paine National Park.

Several European scientists and explorers visited the area in the following decades, including Otto Nordenskiöld, Carl Skottsberg, and Alberto María de Agostini. Gunther Plüschow was the first person to fly over the Paine massif.

The park was established in 1959 as Parque Nacional de Turismo Lago Grey (Grey Lake National Tourism Park) and was given its present name in 1970.

In 1976, British mountaineer John Gardner and two Torres del Paine rangers, Pepe Alarcon, and Oscar Guineo pioneered the Circuit trail which circles the Paine massif.

In 1977, Guido Monzino donated 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) to the Chilean Government when its definitive limits were established. The park was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978.

Torres del Paine National Park: Fires

Wild fire at Nordenskiöld Lake in December 2011

In 1985, a tourist started a fire that burned about 150 km (58 sq mi) of the park. The blaze affected the areas east and south around Lake Pehoé.

In February 2005, an accidental fire started by a Czech backpacker, which lasted for about ten days, destroyed 155 km (60 sq mi) of the park, including about 2 km² of native forest. The Czech government offered aid after the fire and donated US$1 million to reforestation efforts.

In late December 2011 through January 2012, a fire started by an Israeli backpacker burned about 176 km (68 sq mi) of the reserve, destroying about 36 km² of native forest and affecting most of the areas around Lake Pehoé and the western areas around Lake Sarmiento, but moving away from the Cordillera del Paine, the park's centerpiece. The Israeli government sent reforestation experts to the zone, and has committed to donate trees to replant the affected areas.

Nevertheless, recent paleoenvironmental studies performed within the Park indicate that fires have been frequent phenomena at least during the last 12,800 years.

Torres del Paine National Park: Climate

Map of the Park

According to the Köppen climate classification, the park lies in the “temperate climate of cold rain without a dry season." The meteorological conditions of the park are variable due to the complex orography.

Torres del Paine National Park: Temperatures

The zone is characterized by cool summers, with temperatures lower than 16 °C (61 °F) during the warmest month (January). Winter is relatively cold, with an average high temperature in July of 5 °C (41 °F), and an average low of −3 °C (27 °F).

Torres del Paine National Park: Precipitation

The rainiest months are March and April, with a monthly average rainfall of 80 mm. This represents double the July–October (winter) rainfall, which are the drier months. A study of the exact chemical components of the precipitation in the park has been carried out.

Torres del Paine National Park: Hydrology

The park possesses a large drainage network, which consists of numerous rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and cascades that come from the Southern Patagonia Ice Field and flow towards the northeast until the Última Esperanza Sound that bathes the coasts of the city of Puerto Natales. The courses of water come from a longitudinal profile and are very turbulent with brusque changes in course, generated by waterfalls and rapids.

The Southern Patagonian Ice Field takes up the entire western side of the park. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field feeds four main glaciers; they are from north to south the glaciers: Dickson, Grey, Zapata, and Tyndall. This last glacier is rapidly receding. The largest is Glacier Grey. It is divided into two arms, because of the appearance of a peninsula of ice, commonly called the Island or Nunatak, that becomes apparent a little more with each year that passes. The eastern arm measures about 1.2 km while the western has a width around 3.6 km. The longitude of the glacier in its path towards the interior of the park is 15 km.

Studies of the glaciers in the park have given scientists a clearer picture of the epochs of the earth, or what happened after the last glacial age.

In June 2014, scientists uncovered fossils of at least 46 ancient specimens of nearly complete skeletons of dolphin-like creatures called Ichthyosaurs which lived between 245 and 90 million years ago. The finding came after melting glaciers revealed new rock faces beneath.

Torres del Paine National Park: Geography

French Valley

The landscape of the park is dominated by the Paine massif, which is an eastern spur of the Andes located on the east side of the Grey Glacier, rising dramatically above the Patagonian steppe. Small valleys separate the spectacular granite spires and mountains of the massif. These are: Valle del Francés (French Valley), Valle Bader, Valle Ascencio, and Valle del Silencio (Silence Valley).

The head of French Valley is a cirque formed by tall cliffs. The colossal walls of Cerro Cota 2000 and Cerro Catedral punctuate the western region of the Valley. Cerro Cota 2000 is named for its elevation; its highest contour line is about 2,000 m (6,562 ft). Cerro Catedral is named so because its east face resembles a cathedral's facade. To the north stands the granite arête called Aleta de Tiburón (English: Shark's Fin). To the east, from north to south, lie the peaks Fortaleza (Fortress), La Espada (The Sword), La Hoja (The Blade), La Máscara (The Mummer), Cuerno Norte (North Horn), and Cuerno Principal (Main Horn).

In the Valley of Silence the gigantic granite walls of Cerro Fortaleza and Cerro Escudo (Shield Mountain) stand face to face with the western faces of the Torres del Paine. Ascencio Valley is the normal route to reach the Torres del Paine lookout, which is located at the bank of a milky green tarn. The highest mountain of the group is Paine Grande, whose height was measured in 2011 using GPS and found to be 2,884 m (9,462 ft).

The Southern Patagonian Ice Field mantles a great portion of the park. Glaciers include the Dickson, the Grey, and the Tyndall.

Among the lakes are the Dickson Lake, Nordenskjöld Lake, Lake Pehoé, Grey Lake, Sarmiento Lake, and Del Toro Lake. Only a portion of the latter is within the borders of the park. All are vividly colored, most due to rock flour suspended in their waters. The main river flowing through the park is Paine River. Most of the rivers and lakes of the park drain into Última Esperanza Sound via Serrano River.

Cuernos del Paine with typical Patagonian weather

Torres del Paine National Park: Geology

Much of the geology of the Paine Massif area consists of Cretaceous sedimentary rocks that have been intruded by a Miocene-aged laccolith. Orogenic and erosional processes have shaped the present-day topography, and glacial erosion is mainly responsible for the sculpturing of the massif in the last tens of thousands of years. A good example of the latter is the Cuernos del Paine, whose central bands of exposed granite contrast strongly with the dark aspect of their tops, which are remnants of a heavily eroded sedimentary stratum. In the case of Las Torres, what once was their overlying sedimentary rock layer has been completely eroded away, leaving behind the more resistant granite.

Torres del Paine National Park: Biology

Calceolaria uniflora

Torres del Paine National Park: Flora

The last study of significant scope carried out concerning the flora of the park was realized by Pisano in 1974. This study examined four biotic zones that made up the territory of the park, determined by their vegetational type.

Torres del Paine National Park is adorned with beautiful vegetation, including the evergreen Embothrium coccineum, which produces vivid red flowers grouped in corymbs, and Calceolaria uniflora, of striking shape and colors.

The park has 7 documented species of Orchidaceae, including Chloraea magellanica.

In the park 85 non-native plant species have been recorded, of which 75 are of European origin and 31 are considered to be invasive.

The park contains four vegetation zones: Patagonian steppe, Pre-Andean shrubland, Magellanic subpolar forests and Andean Desert. The vegetation of the Patagonian steppe is dominated by Fescue species (mainly Festuca gracillima), which are resistant to harsh winds and weather conditions that are typical of the Patagonian region. Some of the dominant plant species of the Pre-Andean shrubland are Mulinum spinosum (a cushion plant) and Escallonia rubra, which are frequently associated with other species, including Anathrophyllun desideratum and Berberis buxifolia. The Magellanic deciduous forest is home to various species of trees such as the Nothofagus pumilio and Nothofagus antarctica. Above the tree line in the Andean Desert, Escallonia rubra, Empetrum rubrum, and Senecio skottsbergii take the place of Nothofagus pumilio trees.

A study on the beech trees and forest regeneration patterns in the park was published in 1992.

Torres del Paine National Park: Fauna

Guanacos are one of the most common mammals found in the park. Other mammals include foxes and pumas. It is also home to the endangered Chilean Huemul. The puma's predation on guanacos in the park has been studied.

The park contains breeding populations of 15 bird of prey species and two others are likely reproducing here. Among them are Andean condor, black-chested buzzard-eagle, rufous-tailed hawk, cinereous harrier, chimango caracara, magellanic horned owl, austral pygmy-owl, to name but a few. Other birds occurring in the park include the Chilean flamingo, Darwin's rhea, coscoroba swan, black-necked swan, Magellanic woodpecker, Magellan goose, and black-faced ibis.

Torres del Paine National Park: Tourism

Hiking trail in Torres del Paine

The national park has over 252,000 visitors per year. It is a popular hiking destination in Chile. There are clearly marked paths and many refugios which provide shelter and basic services. Hikers can opt for a day trip to see the towers, walk the popular "W" route in about five days, or trek the full circle in 8 to 9 days. The refugio locations also have campsites. Cooking with the campstove is not permitted except in refugio locations. Camping is only allowed at specified campsites and wood fires are prohibited throughout the park. Fantastico Sur (private) and Vertice Patagonia (concessionaire) feature various refugios and campsites in the park. Since October 2016, it is mandatory to book campsites or refugios before entering the park. For less adventurous visitors, there are several hotels located around the park.

Hikers are not allowed to stray from the paths in the national park. The visitor impact on the park has been scientifically measured.

A certified guide is required to access some parts of the park. These arrangements need to be made before entering the park.

Visiting the park is recommended between September and April, during the southern spring, summer and early autumn. During summer, daylight hours are very long given the extreme southern latitude. Outside of this time frame, the weather becomes extreme for the majority of the public. During the southern winter, daylight dwindles to only a few hours a day.

The park has been elected as the fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic, and the 8th Wonder of the World by TripAdvisor.

Torres del Paine National Park: Access routes

The park can be reached by Chile Route 9, which is paved and connects Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales and continues as an asphalt road for 100 km and then becomes a gravel road. In the winter using tyre chains is recommended due to unstable climatic conditions. The park can also be reached through maritime and aerial routes. There are buses that leave from Puerto Natales.

Torres del Paine National Park: See also

  • Laguna San Rafael National Park
  • Los Glaciares National Park
  • Salto Grande (waterfall)

Torres del Paine National Park: References

  1. "CONAF, Por Un Chile Forestal Sustentable" (PDF) (in Spanish). CONAF. May 2013. p. 76. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  2. "Visitor Statistics" (PDF). National Forest Corporation (Chile). 31 January 2017. p. 3. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  3. "Blown Away in Patagonia – Hiking Torres del Paine National Park". GORP.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  4. Abraham, Rudolf (2011). Torres del Paine: Trekking in Chile's Premier National Park. Milnthorpe: Cicerone Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-84965-356-5. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  5. Dixie, Florence, Lady (1880). Across Patagonia. Available at the internet archive.
  6. "History of the park". Official website. National Forest Service. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
  7. "Ice bold". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2008-11-13.
  8. "History of Estancia Torres del Paine". Fantastico Sur Lodges. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  9. UNESCO - Park description at UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve
  10. "Front page". El Mercurio. 2012-01-02.
  11. "Chile and Czech Republic work to restore Torres del Paine Park - MercoPress". En.mercopress.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  12. Magnezi, Aviel. "Israeli tourist: Wildfire in Chile not my fault". ynet.co.il. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  13. Becerra, Alex; Diaz, Marcos; Zagal, Juan Cristobal. "Feasibility study of using a Small Satellite constellation to forecast, monitor and mitigate natural and man-made disasters in Chile and similar developing countries" (PDF). Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  14. "Cómo el fuego destruye esta reserva de la biósfera". El Mercurio. 2012-01-02.
  15. "Infografía: Áreas afectadas por el incendio en Torres del Paine". Emol.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  16. "Israel presentará plan de reforestación en dos etapas para Torres del Paine". La Tercera. 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  17. Francois, J.P. "Historia paleoambiental del ecotono bosque-estepa al interior del Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Región de Magallanes, Chile) durante los últimos 14.800 años". Thesis.
  18. "Ecocamp Patagonia". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  19. Galloway, James N.; William C. Keene (March 20, 1996). "Processes controlling the composition of precipitation at a remote southern hemispheric location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile". Journal of Geophysical Research. 101 (D3): 6883–6897. Bibcode:1996JGR...101.6883G. doi:10.1029/95jd03229. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  20. Fogwill, C.J.; P.W. Kubik (22 July 2005). "A Glacial Stage Spanning the Antarctic Cold Reversal in Torres del Paine (51°S), Chile, Based on Preliminary Cosmogenic Exposure Ages". Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography. A. 87 (2): 403–408. doi:10.1111/j.0435-3676.2005.00266.x. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  21. Marden, Christopher J. (1997). "Late-glacial fluctuations of South Patagonian Icefield, Torres del Paine National Park, southern Chile". Quaternary International. 38-39: 61–68. doi:10.1016/S1040-6182(96)00019-5. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  22. Rivera, Andrés; Gino Casassa (November 2004). "Ice Elevation, Areal, and Frontal Changes of Claciers from National Park Torres del Paine, Southern Patagonia Ice Field". Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. 36 (4): 379–389. doi:10.1657/1523-0430(2004)036[0379:IEAAFC]2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  23. Dinosaur graveyard discovered in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park. 4 June 2014 – via YouTube.
  24. "Video: Dinosaur 'graveyard' discovered in Chile - Telegraph". Telegraph.co.uk. 4 June 2014.
  25. Uwe Altenberger; Roland Oberhansli; Benita Putlitz; et al. (July 2003). "Tectonic controls and Cenozoic magmatism at the Torres del Paine, southern Andes (Chile, 51°10'S)". Rev. Geol. Chile. [online]. 30 (1): 65–81. doi:10.4067/S0716-02082003000100005. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  26. Michel, Jürgen; Lukas Baumgartner; Benita Putlitz; Urs Schaltegger; Maria Ovtcharova (2008). "Incremental growth of the Patagonian Torres del Paine laccolith over 90 k.y.". Geology. 36 (6): 459–462. doi:10.1130/g24546a.1. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  27. Domínguez, Erwin (2004). "Catálogo preliminar de la familia Orchidaceae del Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, XII Región, Chile". Chloris Chilensis. 7 (1). Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  28. Domínguez, Erwin; Arve Elvebakk; Clodomiro Marticorena; Aníbal Pauchard (December 2006). "Plantas introducidas en el Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile". Gayana Bot. [online]. 63 (2): 131–141. doi:10.4067/S0717-66432006000200001. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  29. Armesto, J.J.; I. Casassa; O.Dollenz (1992). "Age structure and dynamics of Patagonian beech forests in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile". Vegetatio. 98: 13–22. doi:10.1007/bf00031633. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  30. "A Wild But Fragile Chile: Torres del Paine National Park". Sounds and Colours. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  31. Wilson, Paul (Oct 2009). "Puma predation on guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile". Mammalia. 48. doi:10.1515/mamm.1984.48.4.515.
  32. Jaksic, Fabián; Iriarte, J. Agustín; Jiménez, Jaime E. (June 2002). "Las rapaces del Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile: biodiversidad y conservación". Rev. Chil. Hist. Nat. [online]. 75 (2): 449–461. doi:10.4067/S0716-078X2002000200014. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  33. "Fantastico Sur". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  34. "Vertice Patagonia". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  35. "Accommodation". TorresDelPaine.com. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  36. Farrell, Tracy A.; Jeffrey L. Marion (15 November 2010). "Trail Impacts and Trail Impact Management Related to Visitation at Torres del Paine National Park, Chile". Leisure. 26 (1-2): 31–59. doi:10.1080/14927713.2001.9649928. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  37. "National Geographic The World's Most Beautiful Places Special Issue". National Geographic. 2013. ASIN B00CUJ4K9Q. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  38. "About Us". Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  39. "Interpatagonia". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  • Official website
  • Parque Nacional Torres del Paine at CONAF
  • Torres del Paine at the Chile Tourism Board
  • Patagonia webcam at EarthCam
  • TorresdelPaine.com
  • Torres del Paine National Park Travel Coverage at The New York Times
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