Some of the Andes’ youngest peaks, the Torres del Paine are among the most emblematic. Some 10 million years ago, a magma intrusion failed to reach the earth’s surface, cooling underground into resistant granite; in the interim, water, ice, and snow have eroded softer surrounding terrain to liberate these spires into one of South America’s most dramatic landscapes.
So strong a draw are the Torres that some time-pressed visitors settle for day tours that allow only a few hours in the park . Many others walk to the base from Hostería Las Torres, a fairly easy day hike where it’s hard to avoid the crowds.
A longer and more tiring alternative, up the steep Río Bader canyon, provides a different perspective and far more solitude.