Torres del Paine, Chile

The Torres del Paine circuit will give your eyeballs a whole new gauge for “the best view you’ve ever seen.” Here, blue glaciers saw into the earth, exotic animals–like the llama-esque guanacos–dot the hillsides, and the mountains themselves take on wild, seemingly impossible shapes. The 52-mile, 10-day loop, which sits 1,500 miles south of Santiago, encircles the Torres del Paine–8,000- to 10,000-foot granite monoliths that twist and curl like frozen waves of rock above glacial lakes studded with icebergs. Go ahead, linger at each pretty spot: The sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. in summer.

Beta  Fly into Punta Arenas, on the Straights of Magellan, the world’s southernmost city. Then bus it three hours north to Puerto Natales, the park’s gateway town. Forgo the crowded huts in favor of camping (sites are next to each hut) and follow the trail’s orange markers counterclockwise to conquer the biggest climbs early. From the trailhead, you’ll follow the Rio Paine to Lago Dickson, and see spiky peaks coming into view as the trail skirts Dickson and Los Perros Glaciers. The descent from 4,000-foot John Gardner Pass, the circuit’s highpoint, deposits you at the edge of Grey Glacier; camp here to watch crumbling ice thunder into the water. Cold winds blow all year, but December through March offers your best weather window, with highs in the upper 50s and the lowest chance of precip all year.

Local’s tip  Pre-hike, crash at the Erratic Rock Hostel  in Puerto Natales, where $14 buys you a bed, shower, and a Trekker’s Breakfast of eggs, potatoes, and nuclear-strength coffee. It’s three blocks from the park information center.

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Sunrise over the Salto Grande cascades, with the Cuernos del Paine mountains - in Torres del Paine national park, Chile.

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F0G13T Guanaco with mountains in the background Torres del Paine National Park Chilean Patagonia Chile

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Herd of guanacos in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia Chile

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Wonderland spots on earth