A Zodiac Ride into Torres del Paine National Park
On a recent visit to Torres del Paine National Park, I opted for an alternate entry into the park. In the past I had entered the park via the land route (a stunning drive from Puerto Natales into the park). On this subsequent visit, however, I decided to enter the park via the Rio Serrano River. This ended up being quite an exciting day!
Starting in Puerto Natales, you leave your bags at your hotel (they get picked up and transported into the park), then head off to the nearby pier. From the pier you board a catamaran that takes you on an adventurous cruise through Patagonian waters. The cruise takes you first to the Balmaceda Glacier, where you get close enough for some stunning pictures. Then you continue on to the Serrano Glacier, where you disembark for a 45 minute walk along a short trail that brings you to a close lookout point of the glacier. After viewing the glacier you return to the water, where a Zodiac boat is waiting to take you up the Rio Serrano River.
Before boarding the Zodiac you put on a full body suit, right over your clothes, to protect you from the wind, cold, and water. Once you are suited up you get into the Zodiac and cruise full speed up the Rio Serrano River. The initial journey takes about 1 hour, arriving at a port where you disembark and take a short walk to another port, continuing from there in another Zodiac for 10 minutes more.
Now, how to describe the Zodiac journey is rather difficult. This isn’t just a beautiful ride – it is also a chance to feel Patagonia. Pictures alone don´t do it justice; the feeling of the wind and the sunshine or rain along with the stunning scenery transport you to another world.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. This is an amazing, adventurous way to enter the park, and one that is often remembered as a highlight of a Patagonian trip.
As a last side note, keep in mind that the journey may be cancelled due to weather conditions. If this is the case, you will be transported by land into the park.