When I first heard of Torres del Paine, I knew it would be a trip of a lifetime. One of those epic adventures to the end of the Earth where nature is the protagonist and you feel like just one speck in the wind. I wasn’t wrong, but my only concern was, “Can I realistically camp for 4-5 days in a harsh, cold, windy environment?”
I admit it, I love the idea of camping out in the open and I’ve done it in temperate climates, but I also wanted to relax and detach from my busy life and take it easy. For those of you also in the middle of the spectrum between loving and embracing nature and still wanting to be comfortable, there is a solution: Hotel Cabañas del Paine.
A couple hours after arriving in Punta Arenas and taking a sunrise boat excursion to Isla Magdalena to visit the Magellan Penguins, my journey to Hotel Cabañas del Paine began with a four and a half hour ride. It was then that I realized how far away I really was – no cell phone service, just wide open spaces dotted with sheep, cows, horses and pink flamingos all along the way.
Visiting the Patagonian icon Torres del Paine National Park is to disconnect and connect with a slower paced lifestyle immersed deep in nature and southern Chilean culture. Hotel Cabañas del Paine upholds this concept offering a rustic experience surrounded by Rio Serrano, wild animals, and nature walks with a secluded cabin feel and all wooden interior.
Although rustic, there are a few pinches of luxury in these cabins far away from the rest of civilization where you can expect the royal treatment. The staff is warm, welcoming and awaiting your every need in true southern fashion giving you the chance to live a rural experience in complete comfort. The locally sourced cuisine is on par with some of the best restaurants in Santiago, there is WiFi access and despite being so far south, you will not have a cold night here.
Three and a half hours from the nearest city, Hotel Cabañas del Paine makes their guest feel right at home. Instead of spending your free time watching TV, texting and staring at your phone or tablet, this is an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the countryside by visiting the Torres del Paine National Park, sailing, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, hot tubbing or simply enjoying the view from the banks of the river right outside of the hotel. If you need to get in touch, they have satellite internet connection available but that’s as far as you get to connecting with the outside world.
On my first night there, anticipating my arrival the staff greeted me warmly. I quickly settled down in my room with a privileged panoramic view of the Paine Mountain Range nestling the Torres del Paine. Many other hotels and cabins in the area have a partial view or an angle of the mountain range, but here it’s front and center. Stepping out onto the edge of the Serrano River to take in my surroundings, I could feel the magic in the air emanating from the mountain range beautifully reflected in the river changing colors with the sunset. This feeling stuck with me throughout the three days I spent there enchanted by the hotel and surrounding splendors.
Experiencing Southern Chilean Food
Hotel Cabañas del Paine is dedicated to sustainability and the environment. The hotel has its own organic greenhouse where they grow a variety of leafy greens and vegetables used in each meal. All of the baked goods are also made in house as well as some of their fruit ice creams and marmalades. They take special care that all raw materials come from the best local and national suppliers.
One of the hotel’s fortes is that in addition to quality local ingredients, the cuisine represent Chilean Patagonian culture. I wasn’t expecting much since we were in such a secluded area of the world, but once the dishes started rolling out I realized that the food was on par with the rest of the hotel and the spectacular views from the dining room.
In the Patagonia, there are a couple of traditional dishes that you must try, like the cordero al palo (lamb roasted on a spit), and the hotel’s kitchen is equipped with an outdoor grill for roasting meats and fish. I had the chance to try that dish here and it was delicious and tender. You also have to try the salmon and centolla (king crab), two items that were on the menu and prepared just as you would expect from a fine dining experience. Of course, when in Chile, the best pairing is Chilean wine, but they also have local craft beers and pisco sours to raise your spirits.
I had the pleasure of doing some of the excursions offered by the hotel and each one was an unforgettable experience.
We took a two and a half hour walk on horseback along the Serrano River and into a small, forested area.
Full-Day of Torres del Paine
A guided tour beginning at Grey Lake to get a glimpse of the Grey Glacier followed by a scenic drive through the Torres del Paine National Park stopping at the Salto Grande Waterfall and various viewpoints of the Torres del Paine Mountain Range and local flora and fauna. When I booked the tour, I thought there would have been more hiking involved, but instead this is a less strenuous option and great if you want to have time to take photos. In retrospect, I would have done the Torres del Paine base tour to have hiked more and been able to see the Torres del Paine from the frond end.
Hike to a Hidden Laguna (Laguna Escondida)
A three-hour hike from the hotel to a hidden laguna with beautiful views, observing the local flora and fauna.
They also have other tours to the Torres del Paine National Park, sailing through glaciers, whale watching, fishing and biking.
How to Get to Hotel Cabañas del Paine
Hotel Cabañas del Paine is located 11 kilometers outside of one of the main entrances of the Torres del Paine National Park, and they offer transportation services to and from Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas with prior reservations.
You can also take the buses regulares at the bus terminal from either of said cities. Some of the bus companies include Buses JB, Buses Maria José and Buses Gómez which depart between 7:30 AM and 2:30 PM and stop at various places near and in the National Park. Get off at the “Pudeto” area inside the park. From “Pudeto” you must hire transportation to the hotel and it must to be reserved in advance. Your last option is to rent your own car and drive there, which is about 4.5 hours from Punta Arenas and about 3 hours from Puerto Natales. Keep in mind that there aren’t any gas stations along the route so remember to fuel up in Puerto Natales before the road trip!
- They accept reservations for only one night (many hotels in the area require a three-night minimum)
- Breakfast included as well as unlimited coffee and tea throughout the day
- Excursions: Torres del Paine, Horseback Riding, Navigating through Glaciers, Local Flora and Fauna, Victoria Falls, Hidden Laguna, Fly Fishing, Mountain Biking
- Hot Tub — USD$5 per hour
- Restaurant – buffet style when there are more than 20 guests otherwise there is a fixed menu featuring typical local dishes
- Prepared boxed lunches to take with you during your excursions
- Traditional rooms and cabins with private bathrooms and central heating
- Laundry Service
- Transfers to and from Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales
- All-inclusive packages for Torres del Paine and Patagonia, including an option for visitors of the Patagonia Marathon
Hotel Cabañas del Paine
Hotel Office Information in Punta Arenas for reservations, transportation and tour information
Address: Calle José Nogueira 1255, Punta Arenas, Chile
This story was accurate when published. Please be sure to confirm all details directly with the sites in question before planning your trip.
To learn more about Crystal, read her bio!