Key information: Lago Pingo
- Escape the crowds at popular Torres Del Paine NP with a solitary walk through its glaciated western stretches.
- Follow the Rio Pingo upstream to the Refugio Zapata, and enjoy views across to the Tyndall glacier.
- Unfortunately, the main (and much more spectacular) route to Lago Pingo, where the Zapata glacier calves into icy waters, is no longer accessible. Park authorities have had to close the trail after the small bridge across Rio de los Hielos was repeatedly washed away by flooding.
- ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!
- Walkopedia rating84
- Natural interest18
- Human interest0
- Negative points0
- Total rating84
- Length: 2-5 days
- Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Torres del Paine NP is perhaps the best known and most popular in Chile. To avoid the crowds, which are generally centred on the Torres del Paine Circuit and Torres del Paine Lookout, some walkers choose to revel in the isolation of the park's glaciated western stretches.
Unfortunately, the main (and much more spectacular) route to Lago Pingo, where the Zapata glacier calves into icy waters, is no longer accessible. Park authorities have had to close the trail after the small bridge across Rio de los Hielos was repeatedly washed away by flooding, and the river is now too dangerous to cross. Now, the trail follows the Rio Pingo upstream only as far as the Refugio Zapata; from here a short side-trip takes in views across to the Tyndall glacier.
The walk proper begins at Guaderia Lago Grey, on the southern shores of the long, freezing Grey Lake, and winds along beside the Rio Pingo to the isolated Refugio Zapata. However there is no public transport to this point: if you don't have your own vehicle you may have to trek an extra (fairly dull) 17km - which can add up to two days - or hitchhike. Once at the trailhead, take the time to appreciate the views from the southern end of Lago Grey. If you want a closer look at the vast glacier which flows into the lake from the north, a launch departs from very near here and heads up the lake to Refugio Grey on its north-eastern shores.
Once on the main trail, walking is through attractive forested landscape and across grassy meadows, with brief glimpses of the Rio Pingo: sometimes flowing widely across a broadened valley, at other times cascading in thunderous waterfalls. In these densely vegetated western areas keep an eye out for shy huemul deer, and the even more elusive puma.
From Refugio Zapata a short side-trip (about two hours return) takes in views of the icy lakes and massive glaciers of the area, including the nearby Tyndall glacier to the west.
Refugio Pingo, a short distance from the start of the trek, and Refugio Zapata provide the most obvious accommodation. However, be prepared for these to be occupied (especially in busy January and February) and bring a tent. Refugio Zapata is basic but comfortable, with wooden pallets for sleeping. The only potential downside is that you will have to share the hut with an extended family of mice - keep food well sealed and hanging out of reach while you sleep.
The climate here is very wet, and the trail is often very muddy. Come prepared for some miserable weather.
For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Torres Del Paine walk page.
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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