Hunting for Fossils in Torres del Paine

(7 customer reviews)
Tour is rated as #2 in destination Chile

Escape the crowds (for real!) on this trek to Southern Patagonia´s most secluded valleys in search of the fossilized remains of the dinosaurs, marine life, and flora that once made their home in Chile’s extreme south. This remote trekking and camping experience takes place in Torres del Paine National park, one of the 17 parks that make up the ´Route of Parks of Patagonia´. Journey along to unspoiled valleys and canyons once covered by oceans teeming with life.

Trip highlights

• Featured Route of Parks of Patagonia Experience.
• Visit Torres del Paine’s Most Remote Valley.
• Wild, Untouched Trekking & Camping Experience.
• Hike Through the Zapata Valley.
• Get Close to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
• Trek to the Summit of Cerro Zapata.
• See Impressive Ichthyosaurus Fossils.
• Search for Fossils in the Sierra Baguales.
• Visit Tyndall Glacier.
• Stay at an Authentic Patagonian Estancia.




6 Days


English, Spanish

Level of Difficulty



Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner as per itineraries


Cooking Utensils, Plate, Retractable Bowl, Sea to Summit Folding Chair
1 Porter to Carry Portable Toilet
Professional Hiking and Paleontology Guides (English-Spanish) Guide Ratio 1:6 Guests

Other Inclusions

Tour Guide, Tickets & Entry Fees

Tour Style

Private, Small Group


Airconditioned Vehicle


NOT included


International flights are NOT included


NOT Included


Any Additional Nights
Medical Expenses
Personal Expenses
Breakfast on Day 1, Dinner on Day 6
Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Gratuities for Guide & Driver

Meals Definition

B: Breakfast
BL: Box Lunch
L: Lunch
D: Dinner


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Hunting for Fossils in Torres del Paine

Trek back in time to Torres del Paine’s hidden valleys and canyons, where paleontology is very much alive and evidence of Patagonia’s prehistoric life awaits. Pour over Ichthyosaurus fossils, hike the Zapata Valley, and explore steppes dotted with the fossils of ancient leaves. This trek through ancient history weaves through secluded valleys, steppe, and canyons far from the park’s more crowded trails. This exclusive journey is part of the Route of the Parks of Patagonia which connects 17 national parks throughout Chile.

Day 1: Transfer to Torres del Paine – Full Day Trek to the Zapata Valley (BL, D)

An early morning transfer will pick you up from your hotel in Puerto Natales and take you to Torres del Paine National Park. Upon entering, we’ll drive to the post at Grey Lake and begin our 6-hour hike to the Zapata Valley – the most ancient one in Torres del Paine! This is an extremely unfrequented valley and your group will experience the peace of trekking alone, accompanied only by stirring scenery, and (if we’re lucky) the watchful gaze of the foxes, guanacos, woodpeckers, and huemuls (Andean deer) that live here. Hikers will share the weight of common equipment, carrying food and tents between them. A group porter and cook will carry the portable toilet and cook meals during your time at the Zapata campsite. This is a remote camping experience, staying at a basic campsite without access to hot water – but with the transcendent backdrop of Torres del Paine’s (truly) untamed landscapes on all sides. Upon arrival, we’ll set up camp, settle in and recharge with a nourishing evening meal.

2 Hour Private Transfer
6 Hour Hike, 14 KM
🏚️ Hotel Option: Night at Zapata Campsite

Day 2: Explore the Ichthyosaurus Graveyard (B, BL, D)

Today we´ll hike to rocky slopes near Tyndall Glacier to the site of a precious paleontological discovery. Here, 46 examples of Ichthyosaurus fossils, a dolphin-like “fish lizard” that lived 245 million to 90 million years ago in the Mesozoic Era, are seen as if etched into the rock itself. Adult and embryo specimens are present, showing us the remains of what is likely a pack that was entombed by catastrophic mudflow that rushed into the underwater canyons they hunted. We’ll make our way back to our campsite via the same route and settle in to share a good meal. Tonight, take time to stretch and rest: tomorrow’s hike is our most challenging.

12 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 24 km
🏚️ Hotel Option: Night at Zapata Campsite.

Day 3: Full Day Hike to the Summit of Cerro Zapata (B, BL, D)

This morning we’ll begin at around 4:00 am. Our destination is the Cerro Zapata (1590 m). This is a non-technical hike, but one that is long and requires hikers to interact closely with the landscape: weaving through forests of native trees, crossing snow, and bouldering across huge rocks carved out by the glaciers’ ancient movements. The summit of Cerro Zapata has 360° views of fantastic Patagonian scenery, being surrounded by lakes, glaciers, mountain ranges, and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Its peak is a particularly wonderful lookout for glaciers and the lakes they give birth to: from the summit, Glaciers Grey, Tyndall, Geike, Pingo, Olguín (and others still unexplored) will be laid out below you. Our return hike to camp will be along the same route.

12-14 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 26 km
🏚️ Hotel Option: Night at Zapata Campsite.

Day 4: Return Hike, Private Transfer to Estancia La Cumbre (B, BL, D)

This morning we’ll break camp and begin our return hike across the grassy steppe and undulating slopes of the valley, with energy-boosting views of the Paine Massif along the way. Back at the post at Grey Lake we’ll board a private transfer service to Estancia La Cumbre, where we’ll stay for the next two nights. The drive crosses the National Park, giving you a chance to catch extra glimpses of its most famous peaks and landscapes, such as Paine Grande, Los Cuernos, and its intensely colored lakes. After settling in at Estancia Las Cumbres, we’ll share dinner together and enjoy a good night’s rest.

6 Hour Hike, 14 km
2 Hour Private Transfer
🏚️ Hotel Option: Night at Estancia Las Cumbres.

Day 5: Full Day Fossil Hunt in Sierra Baguales (B, BL, D)

A meditative day’s hike in the wild open steppe of the Sierra Baguales, exploring the region’s paleontologic past through the intricate fossils left from when the Atlantic Ocean’s waters flowed here. Throughout the day your guide will show you natural relics – fossilized leaves, tree trunks, shellfish, and shark teeth – left as souvenirs from Patagonia’s changing landscapes. We’ll explore remote lakes, follow guanaco tracks, be introduced to unique flora and fauna, and hike to a viewpoint (1200 m) to see the Tetas de las Chinas rock formation. You’ll spend the night once again at the Estancia and enjoy a Patagonian-style lamb barbecue for dinner.

7 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 11 km
🏚️ Hotel Option: Night at Estancia Las Cumbres.

Day 6: Full Day Expedition to Rodas Lagoon and Fossil Canyon, Return to Puerto Natales

With rugged peaks as our backdrop, today’s trek takes us through vast landscapes that have beared witness to important moments of Patagonia’s prehistoric and modern history. Following the wild waters of the Baguales River, this gentle, 2-hour hike passes the crumbling remains of abandoned estancias once owned by the region’s first fearless inhabitants. We’ll visit Rodas Lagoon, see wild trout surfing its waters, and have lunch beneath the red-hued cliffs and lava-sculpted peaks (some up to 2000m high) that surround the lagoon. Afterward, you’ll visit Fossil Canyon where a rocky outcrop is studded with fossils of mollusks, oysters, and other marine life that flourished here in the ancient waters of the Atlantic some 18-23 million years ago. Later, we’ll follow a gentle path back to the Visitor’s Center and prepare to transfer back to Puerto Natales.

6 Hour Round-Trip Hike, 12 km
2 Hour Private Transfer (B-BL)

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7 reviews for Hunting for Fossils in Torres del Paine

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  1. Joe Williams

    Excellent trip to Torres Del Paine. Chile Nativo handled everything from front to back. Including bus rides to and from airport and everything in between.

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  2. Carter Sample

    My wife and I just completed the O Circuit with Chile Nativo. Our guides Fernando and Ignacio were absolutely amazing! Aside from the beautiful trip, we learned so much because of Chile Nativo Travel and our two guides. They were very accommodating of my wife’s food allergies and were constantly upbeat and encouraging to us and our group. They even taped up ankles and sore joints when we expressed any sort of discomfort. A+ experience all around!

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  3. Adrienna Bunti Robotham

    We had a once in a lifetime experience with Chile Nativo and Felipe which we will never forget. We enjoyed the 5D/4N Torres del Paine Winter Multisport Adventure in early September. It was fantastic to be there in the “fringe” season, the weather was beautiful and we felt like we had the place to ourselves! We were very fortunate to have Felipe all to ourselves as well, giving us flexibility around our capabilities and the weather. Felipe was incredibly knowledgeable about the area, the fauna, flora and even the geology (which impressed me as I’m a geologist!!). Felipe’s English is perfect, his cooking was delicious, and we felt very much at home during our trip. Our kayaking was cancelled due to very extreme weather, and Felipe not only found an alternative for the day for us, but also arranged for a generous refund.There was an issue with our international bank payment (through no fault of Chile Nativo’s) and the entire team continued to communicate with us and chase the payment at their end for weeks. We really appreciated this!Cannot recommend Chile Nativo, Felipe and Torres del Paine enough!

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  4. Serena Clardie

    I can’t recommend this company enough! The initial planning and email correspondence leading up to our trip was professional and seamless. They even took care of adding on and planning an additional leg to our trip to Argentinean Patagonia with a reliable local company there. Most importantly though, our Fast Trek W trip with Chile Nativo was everything we hoped it would be and more. Our guides, Baru and Nacio, were THE BEST. I was sad to leave them at the end of our 3 days together. They were responsible, knowledgeable, kind and so much fun – and they kept us going when spirits might have been a little down after 2 straight days of pouring rain and relentless wind. 🙂 The camp is fantastic – the domes were super comfortable and the dining hall dome was a great meeting place to eat (and stretch and drink wine and pisco and even dance!). The drivers were great, the chefs were impressive (thanks Alexis!! – the food was an unexpected treat because it was seriously good, not just camping good). We somehow also managed to get extra lucky and click with the rest of the people in our group and are already planning our next trip together, so thanks for that added bonus! It was a magical trip that we will never forget. Thanks Chile Nativo! ❤️

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  5. Nerile Rimiene

    We had W trek in Patagonia in February 2019. Everything was organized perfectly, thanx a lot! Enjoyed a lot! That was the only company who managed to organize trek on our particular dates and everything went just smoothly.

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  6. Donna Murr

    Our two fantastic, knowledgeable and fun guides (with very good English) helped to make our W hike an unforgettable experience.

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  7. Eline Lonchay

    The staff at Chile Nativo were so helpful with our pre trip enquiries. The plan and briefing we received for our 5 day Independent W Trek were so useful, we enjoyed every moment of our trek. Big thanks to the team for a very memorable experience.

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