We spent 3 nights in the park basing ourselves at Hotel Los Torres. We travelled by bus from Puerto Natales to the park and there are a number of bus companies which offer this service. We used JBR Patagonia 10,000 cp return. On arriving at Laguna Amarga, everyone gets off the bus to pay their entry free (18,000cp) receive their permits/map and view a compulsory safety video. From here, there is a shuttle bus to the hotel and other nearby accomodations while the Puerto Natalies buses continue through firstly to Pudeto where there is a catamaran across Lago Pehoe to Paine Grande and lastly to park administration. Note if you have a return ticket to PN then the ticket provides free transport on these buses while you are in the park. There are two buses a day, the ferry and shuttles co-ordinate with each other. On our first afternoon, we hiked around 10km return (around 5 hours) a relatively flat route which got us halfway between the hotel and Los Cuenos taking us far enough so we walked onto a promontory providing spendid views on both sides of Lago Nordernskold. On our second day we hiked from the hotel to Mirador iBase De Las Torres around 20 km return taking around 7.5 hours. Fortunate to have a clear day with great views on the way but nothing prepares you for the extraordinary beautiful views which greet you on reaching the final ascent. Truly stunning.
The Mirador walk is divided into 3 segments. The first up to Refugio Chileno rises from around 180m to 500m over 1.5 hours, here there is a cafe and toilets if required. The second part of the hike takes you close to Campamento Torres and is less undulating, the third and final part of the walk is a scramble over bolders and another stiff rise in altitude to 900m and it is only when you reach the top that you see the Mirador in all its glory. The final segment is probably the most difficult part of the walk but still manageable and the route is well marked.
On our last full day we caught the buses mentioned above to travel on the 12.00 catamaran to Paine Grande for the Lago Grey hike. It is 12,000 single but it is possible to buy a round trip ticket for 19,000. Note that the boat out gets very busy as it marks the start of the 'W' route. Although the boat will come back for a second trip, this is impractical for a day trip if travelling up Glacier Grey (1 hour return) so it is important to get there reasonably early. The buses from Laguna Amarga generally get there around 11.30 so if you make your way to the jetty you should be ok. Tickets are purchased on the boat. The walk took just under 5 hours enough time to catch the 18.30 catamaran back to Pudeto.
Hiked though steady rain in the morning which slowed our walk going out but as if by magic, the rain stopped and the sun shone for the last hour of our outward journey and as with the first day we were greeted with a jaw dropping magical view of Glacier Grey. The walk is much less challenging than Mirador Las Torres. Again we were so lucky with the weather with almost no breeze in a area noted for its gale force winds.
This park truly lives up to all the superlatives showered on it- a magnificent experience.
In terms of the degree of difficulty, all the hikes are described as 'medium' in the park guide but perfectly manageable for anyone with a reasonable degree of fitness. Mirador Las Torres was the hardest of the three walks we undertook.
We have two tips 1) invest in good walking gear including waterproofs gloves and a hat as the weather can change very quickly and its gets colder the higher you climb and 2) buy a pair of hiking poles. We bought some after reading other TA reviews and we were so glad we did, what a difference it makes on rough ground underfoot and on steep uphill and downhill parts of the hike.
We were moving on to El Calafate on the final day and Chalten Travel were able to arrange a direct transfer from Laguna Amarga to El Calafate without the need to return to Puerto Natalies using a company called Always Glaciers. Cost Us$49 per person.