A horseback ride in Torres del Paine can be one of the most enjoyable ways to see the park. Both Hotel Las Torres and Explora have their own stables, but only the hotel has daily horseback rides, even to the Refugios Chileno and Los Cuernos (tel./fax 61/363636; www.lastorres.com). The full-day trips cost $125 (£83) per person, and they leave from the hotel. Your hotel can reserve a horseback ride leaving from the concession-run stable near the administration center, too. For multiday horseback-riding trips, contact Chile Nativo Expeditions, Eberhart 230 (tel. 61/411835 in Chile or 800/649-8776 in the U.S.; www.chilenativo.com). Chile Nativo can plan custom-made journeys within the park and to little-known areas, some of which include an introduction to the baqueano and estancia (ranching) way of life. Most trips require prior experience.
Excursions around Glacier Grey
A surprisingly accessible and electrifying excursion in the park is taking a crampon-shoed walk across the quickly disappearing Glacier Grey. Trips begin from the Refugio Grey with a 15-minute zodiac boat ride to the starting point on the western arm of the glacier. The excursion is a full-day trip, so the only way to participate is to lodge at the refugio. Guests are provided with full equipment, including crampons, ice axes, ropes, and harnesses, and are given basic ice-climbing instructions. Visitors who have taken this hike have consistently given it rave reviews for the chance to peer into deep blue crevasses and explore the glacier's otherworldly contours up close.
Now that the glacier has receded, the best way to view it up close is to ride Hostería Grey's half-day boat ride, which takes passengers past floating icebergs and directly to the face of the glacier. Passengers ride round-trip from the shore at Lake Grey; hikers can take the Pehoé ferry, walk approximately 4 hours to the Grey refugio, and then ride back on the Hostería Grey boat ($65/£43 one-way), and transfer to the administration center and wait for a bus to drop them back at their hotel (though most hotels will arrange pickup for this excursion). The price is $85 (£57) round-trip and $51 (£34) one-way, and there are two trips leaving daily, at 8:30am and 3:30pm. Best of all, the journey runs year-round. Reservations are imperative, as are transfer reservations from the administration center; contact the hostería at tel. 61/410220 or www.turismolagogrey.com. Travelers who are not lodging at the Refugio Grey may take the early boat from the Hostería Grey, participate in the glacier walk, and head back with the late boat.