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Tour Operators & Adventure Travel Outfitters

The many tour operators in Puerto Natales can be divided into two groups: conventional sightseeing day tours to Torres del Paine, Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park, the Cueva de Milodon, the Nordenskjöld Trail hike, and the icebergs at Lago Grey; and adventure travel outfitters that arrange multiday, all-inclusive excursions, including trekking the W or the Circuit and climbing in Torres del Paine, kayaking the Río Serrano in Parque Nacional Bernardo O'Higgins, and taking horseback trips. Keep in mind that it's quite easy to arrange your own trekking journey in Torres del Paine; the bonus with these outfitters is that they carry the tents (which they'll set up) and food (which they'll cook). They also will pick you up from the airport and provide guided information about the flora and fauna of the park.

Conventional Day Tours -- These tours are for people with a limited amount of time in the area. Tours typically leave at 7:30am, return around 7:30pm, and cost about $65 (£43) per person, not including lunch or park entrance fees. For day tours, try Turismo Comapa, Manuel Bulnes 533 (tel. 61/414300), or Viaterra, Bulnes 632 (tel. 61/410775; www.viaterra.cl); Viaterra has transfers from Punta Arenas directly to the park on a charter basis. Probably the most interesting way to see the Cueva de Milodon is with Estancia Travel (tel. 61/412221; www.estanciatravel.com), which offers a horseback-riding trip there for $86 to $108 (£57-£72), including transfers, equipment, a bilingual guide, snacks, and a well-trained horse.

Adventure Travel -- Dozens of international adventure travel companies run trips to Torres del Paine, and most work with a local operator. You can save money by going directly to the operator. Most of the following ones offer custom packages. Indómita, Bories 206 (tel. 61/414525; www.indomitapatagonia.com), is one of the most respected local outfitters for climbing, mountaineering, and kayaking. One of their most popular trips is a 3-day kayak descent of the River Serrano, with a paddle around Serrano Glacier. Partner Antares, Barros Arana 111 (tel. 61/414611; www.antarespatagonia.com), focuses on the "softer" (meaning less strenuous and/or technical) side of adventure travel, with a variety of multiday trekking journeys through the park that can include horseback riding, kayaking, and sailing; and they have an office in the U.S. (tel. 800/267-6129). Chile Nativo Expeditions, Eberhard 230 (tel. 61/411835 or toll-free from North America 800/649-8776; www.chilenativo.com), offers high-end trekking, bird-watching, and horseback-riding adventures outside of the more "touristy" areas. Fantastico Sur (tel. 61/615794; www.fantasticosur.com) has wildlife-viewing tours, including a puma-watching tour that has a 70% guarantee of catching a glimpse of the elusive cat. Onas, Blanco Encalada and Eberhard (tel./fax 61/412707; www.onaspatagonia.com), has a half-day zodiac trip down the Río Serrano.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.