TIME Magazine has released its list of the World’s Greatest Places 2023 and Chile’s iconic Torres del Paine National Park is up there in the list of must-visit destinations.

Nominations were made by the publication’s international team of contributors and approved by the editors.

TIME’s senior editor Emma Barker Bonomo explains: “The list we selected reflects a couple big trends in travel right now: sustainability, and authenticity. Many locations on this list are finding ways to let tourists visit with a more limited environmental impact.”

The vast and formidable region of Patagonia stretches around 260,000 square miles across South America, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Patagonian Andes on the other.

Patagonia is one of the most remote regions on earth, spanning both Chile and Argentina.

Awasi guests explore the park with a private guide

Torres del Paine National Park is one of nine national parks in Patagonia and one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations.

Torres is Spanish for ‘towers’ and paine is the indigenous Eastern Patagonian people – the Tehuelche people’s – word for ‘blue’.

The name refers to three huge rock towers that form one of the most famous sites of the area. The tallest of the three rock formations is Torre Central at 9,186 feet (2,800 meters). Grey Glacier, the largest glacier, is 4 miles at its widest point and 12 miles long.

Driving from the national park to the Awasi private reserve

Covering an area of about 700 square miles near the southern tip of Chile, Torres del Paine National Park is an extraordinary natural wonder, comprising rivers and lakes, forests, mountains and glaciers.

Visitors to the park can expect to encounter all manner of vegetation, ranging from scrubland and grassland to forest and even desert and the area is alive with animal life.

There are almost as many penguins as people here, while it is home to birds such as the Andean condor and the southern caracara, a type of hawk. Mammals roaming the park include guanacos, foxes and pumas.

According to TIME journalist Karen Catchpole, “the Torres del Paine region of Southern Chile is…one of the best places on earth to see wild pumas right now. Thanks to a growing population and a high level of habituation to humans, visitors have a good chance of spotting the elusive animals.”

The puma has for some time been under threat from hunters operating outside the boundaries of the park and, while killing pumas is illegal in Chile, hunting has become an increasing problem on private land outside the park.

Awasi Patagonia leases land surrounding the lodge and the puma protection program has involved expanding the safe corridor for puma that habitually roam outside park boundaries and is proving to be a refuge for these large, shy, brown New World cats. 

The Awasi Patagonia private reserve

Guests staying at Awasi Patagonia can take advantage of exclusive puma-sighting expeditions led by experienced trackers. Setting forth early in the morning directly from the lodge, guests will be guided across the open valley that sprawls before Awasi Patagonia and on to the lakeside of Lake Sarmiento to spot the puma in its natural habitat.

‘There are places that are ideal for taking a moment to connect with nature,’ says Cristian Asun, Resident Manager at Awasi Patagonia, who was born and brought up in Patagonia and has been working at the hotel since it opened in 2013.

Awasi Patagonia is located within a 200-hectare reserve of native “lenga” woodland.

Situated in a private reserve overlooking Torres del Paine National Park, our carbon neutral Relais & Chateaux hotel comprises 14 villas and a main lodge.

We love to show our guests the awe-inspiring, untouched beauty of Patagonia and assign each villa an excellent private guide and personal 4×4 vehicle, enabling guests to create their own itineraries and explore at their own pace.  

The best time to visit Torres del Paine National Park is from September to the end of April when weather is optimal for hikers keen to explore the numerous hiking trails of this remarkable untouched landscape. Other activities popular with our visitors include riding, biking, fishing and photography. 

One of the picnics during a stay at Awasi Patagonia

‘Our guests say Patagonia is wilder, more remote and that nature is alive here and you can feel that’ – Cristian Asun, Resident Manager at Awasi Patagonia