When it comes to learning about our environment, nature and all the amazing animal and plant species that share the planet with us, there is no better place to visit than a national park. Some of them, such as the Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park or Kruger National Park, are famous all over the world, attracting millions of visitors every year. But there are many more marvelous national parks that also deserve the worldÂ´s attention and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is definitely one of them. The park is particularly attractive for photographers and after you take a look at these 25 Magnificent Torres del Paine National Park photos, you’ll see why.
25. Occupying an area of over 2,400 square kilometers (935 square miles), the park lies between the Magellanic sub-polar forests and the Patagonian Desert in Southern Chile.
24. Established in 1959, the Torres del Paine National Park is easily recognizable thanks to its three distinctive granite peaks of the Paine mountain range which is an eastern spur of the Andes. The peeks extend almost 2,900 meters (9,500 feet) above sea level.
23. The spectacular granite spires and mountains of the massif are separated by small valleys. There are four of them: Valle del Frances (French Valley), Valle Bader, Valle Ascencio, and Valle del Silencio (Silence Valley). The French Valley is characterized by strikingly green, lush vegetation.
22. In the Valley of Silence the gigantic granite walls of Cerro Fortaleza and Cerro Escudo (Shield Mountain) stand face to face in the western part of the park.
21. But the park is not only about mountains, it also boasts of many beautiful lakes, ponds, streams and rivers. Most of them drain into Ãšltima Esperanza Sound via the Serrano River with its distinctive sinuous water flow.
20. Some of the rivers feature spectacular waterfalls and rapids, creating sceneries that no photographer can resist.
19. The main river flowing through the park is the crystal clear Paine River which rises from the Dickson Lake, a glacially fed lake located in the northern portion of the park. The riverÂ´s deep and wide lower course is a popular area for kayaking.
18. During its way to the Del Toro Lake where the Paine River ends, it falls into the Pehoe Lake where it forms a spectacular waterfall known as the Salto Grande. In the vicinity of the waterfall, there is a variety of natural vegetation forms as well as certain wildlife species.
17. With a surface area of 22 square kilometers (8.5 square miles), the Pehoe Lake is another popular spot. In the upper reach of the lake watershed there are numerous flora and fauna species, including grazing wild Guanaco.
16. Guanacos are one of the most common animals found in the park. These camelid mammals native to most South American countries stand up to 1.2 meters (almost 4 feet) at the shoulder and usually weigh about 90 kilograms (200 pounds).
15. Guanacos are hunted by another animal species typical of the Torres del Paine National Park – the puma. These elusive predators are so hard to track and observe that even local biologists are not sure about the exact numbers of their population. The estimates suggest there might be between 50 to 100 pumas in the park.
14. The park is home to several other mammal species including the endangered Chilean Huemul, a species of deer native to the mountains of Argentina and Chile. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the species’ original global population is estimated to have suffered reductions of 99% with just hundreds of surviving specimen left.
13. Bird fans can admire numerous bird species including 15 birds of prey such as Andean condor, black-chested buzzard-eagle, rufous-tailed hawk, cinereous harrier, or magellanic horned owl. One of the largest birds in the world, the condors love soaring high above the park peaks.
12. The park is also adorned with beautiful vegetation, including the evergreen Embothrium coccineum, which produces vivid red flowers grouped in corymbs.
11. Another flower typical of local mountains is Calceolaria uniflora (also known as slipperworts) with its striking shapes and vivid colors, resembling funny puppets.
10. The park is open all year round; however, the best season to visit the park is from October to April, which is spring and summer in the southern hemisphere. This season has more sunny days with less rain and more than 16 hours of natural light every day.
9. But if you happen to be in the park after sunset, you will not regret it either. The twilight gives the landscape a unique, magical appearance that is worth seeing.
8. The parkÂ´s tour operators say one of the most amazing ways to explore the park is via horseback riding. Visitors can choose from 2-hour to 10-day trips.
7. But the park offers perfect conditions for hiking too. There are clearly marked paths and many mountain huts which provide shelter and basic services. No matter what way of transport you choose, breathtaking panoramas and unspoiled nature can be found all around.
6. Thanks to its unique ecosystem and abundant fauna and flora species, the park was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978.
5. As incredible as it may seem, even this picture is from the Torres del Paine National Park. Located on the west side of the park, the spectacular Grey Glacier is one of the glaciers that form the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.
4. Occupying an area of 270 square kilometers (100 square miles), the Grey Glacier flows southward into the lake of the same name. Stretching over a length of 28 kilometers (17 miles), it looks like an impenetrable ice barrier.
3. When looking at the lush, flourishing vegetation, it is hard to believe that the park has experienced several devastating fires. Therefore, camping is only allowed at specified campsites and wood fires are prohibited throughout the entire park.
2. Since January 2012 when the last conflagration was put out, the only reminder of fire is the splendid reddish tinge of sunset romantically reflecting in the mountains.
1. Now it is as clear as the local glacial lakes why this park has been elected as the 5th most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic.