Puerto Natales is the gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and outdoor adventure in the Patagonia region. The small town is located on the Señoret Channel along a scenic fjord, set against the dramatic backdrop of the southernmost peaks of the Andes. As a tourist hub, you'll be able to find great food, supplies, and more to fuel up for your trek, along with local attractions to explore.
The Torres del Paine National park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage biosphere site, and your entry into the natural beauty of Patagonia, including sheep and guanacos, a native llama-like species, who live in the mountains.
Once the home of ancient giant sloths known as milodons, the site is nowadays accessible via cycling (or motorcycling) a 15-mile trail.
It's an enjoyable walk along the waterfront, south beyond the pier to the picturesque boatyard where the wooden vessels are painted and repaired.
You can hike, bike, or take a boat across the cool waters of the fjord and thrill to the stunning views of the mountain peaks that surround you.
There is a thriving dining scene in town, including local dishes along with favorites like gourmet pizza, fresh seafood, and even French cuisine.
Most tourists opt to visit the area during the summer months of November to March, when temperatures average around 65 degrees.
The Teniente Julio Gallardo Airport (PNT) is about four miles from the town, a regional airport with connections to Santiago de Chile during high season. Most visitors arrive at Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (PUQ) in Punta Arenas, about 150 miles south of Puerto Natales. Bus connections make the trip to town for about CLP$7,000.
It is possible to drive from Puerto Natales to Rio Gallegos, Argentina, with paved conditions the whole route, via RP5.
Daily bus connections are available to and from Punta Arenas, Chile, and El Calafate, Argentina, with stops at small towns along the way. Bus Sur is one of the major intercity bus companies.
Hotel Temauken offers clean, modern rooms with fantastic views. At the Singing Lamb, you'll stay in stylish hostel rooms with an eco-friendly theme.
Centro - this is where you will find a concentration of hotels, restaurants, most centered around the Plaza de Armas square, and attractions like the Museo Histórico Municipal.
Puerto Bories - formerly a privately owned company town, this area about 2.5 miles from downtown Puerto Natales offers a quieter alternative for accommodation and dining, along with the Museo Historico e Industrial documenting the town's past.
Waterfront - this is a must-see, even for as simple an activity as a stroll along scenic Avenue Pedro Montt, which runs along the channel.
Local bus service is provided by JBA Company with fares that vary by distance.
Taxis, known as radio-taxis, are available, with an average fare within the town of CLP$1,000-2,000.
Puerto Natales is a small town and easily navigated on foot. A car rental to explore the area is available starting at about CLP$39,400.
You will find shops with locally made handicrafts, including jewelry and textile goods, along Hermann Eberhard through the downtown area. You'll also find many shops with mountaineering and hiking gear.
Unimarc and Don Bosco are the two larger supermarkets in town, with a reasonable selection of food, especially products for hiking. A quart of milk costs about CLP$740 and a dozen eggs about CLP$1,700.
Enjoy bistro-style cuisine in elegant surroundings with leather upholstery and views of the water at the Singular, with mains that start at CLP$6,000. You'll love the local specialties, including imaginative cocktails, at El Rincón del Tata, with main dishes that start at CLP$4,500.