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Hiking in Torres del Paine: The Ultimate Music Playlist!

When you hike in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, there’s a good argument for leaving the iPod at home and devoting all of your attention to the sounds of the birds and animals, the whistling wind and the crack-boom-splash of icebergs splitting from the giant glaciers and dropping into one of the many lakes. On the other hand, if you’re feeling tired and demoralised the perfect upbeat tune could be just the thing to keep you pushing on to the next rest stop, whilst a downbeat song can make the otherworldly scenery even more stirring.

A good playlist should have as many ups and downs as the landscape of the national park itself, including songs for contemplation, songs for motivation, and songs to enjoy when you’re on top of the world. It would be impossible to put together a playlist for every minute of the long Paine Circuit Trek or even the shorter W Trek, but here are our essentials for you to build your own hiking playlist around.


Dickson LakeDickson Lake - Mr. Blue Sky, Electric Light Orchestra
If you’re heading out on the Paine Circuit Trek, the hike to Dickson Lake could well be your first taste of hiking in Torres del Paine. Since it’s your first day on the trail, you’re likely to be full of energy and optimism, making lighthearted, peppy Mr. Blue Sky by the Electric Light Orchestra the perfect choice to set you on your way. You might also want to think of it as a little prayer to the capricious gods of Patagonian weather, as it’s a rare day in Torres del Paine when “there ain’t a cloud in sight”! Dickson Lake itself sits in a picture-perfect valley surrounded by snow-dusted mountains with a view of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.


Forest at Los PerrosLaguna Los Perros - Baba O’Riley, The Who
The trail to Laguna Los Perros takes you along the river through patches of southern beech forest rich in birdlife, whilst the crystalline laguna itself is filled with small icebergs bobbing gently on the surface. This trail supplies a taster menu of the outlandish natural features that you’re yet to see on your hike, and Baba O’Riley by The Who (sometimes referred to as Teenage Wasteland) has a chord sequence perfectly suited to building on that sense of anticipation and excitement. Just make sure you look up from your air guitar every once in a while to enjoy the scenery and keep an eye out for woodpeckers and parakeets.


John Gardner PassJohn Gardner Pass - Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Heading up and over the John Gardner Pass is considered one of the most challenging trails in Torres del Paine National Park. Not only is it physically tough, but the weather in this exposed spot can be especially ferocious. The wind will probably be howling and your knees may be aching, so you’re going to need something upbeat and motivational to keep you going and to be heard over the sound of the wind. The John Gardner pass reaches an altitude of around 1,200 metres, which is probably quite high enough for even the most enthusiastic trekkers, but the views are spectacular.


Grey GlacierGrey Glacier - Heartbeats, José González
Tempting as it may be to suggest that you listen to Vanilla Ice’s classic Ice Ice Baby on this trail, the commanding expanse of the Grey Glacier demands to be taken a little more seriously. Surely there has never been a better moment for the mellow tones of Swedish-Argentine indie folk singer, José González. This meditative yet uplifting tune is perfect easy listening for a rest break overlooking the breathtaking Grey Glacier. The enormous furrowed face of the glacier extends as far as the eye can see in a startling shade of aquamarine, whilst small iceberg float in the lake at its side.


Lake PehoePehoe Lake - Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley
Situated at the very heart of Torres del Paine National Park, Pehoe Lake brings together mountains, water, snow, forests and grasslands in a scene that it almost spiritual in its beauty. The glassy waters of the lake reflect the imposing mountains and wide open sky behind it, creating a mirror image for double the drama. Stopping for a break from your hike at Pehoe Lake, it’s hard not to be filled with the sheer joy of being alive. You could make any of the many cover versions of the heartbreakingly beautiful Hallelujah the soundtrack to this introspective moment, but our favourite version is sung by Jeff Buckley.


French Valley CirqueFrench Valley - May it Be, Enya
The top of the French Valley makes the perfect natural lookout point over the cirque - or semicircle of cliffs - that surrounds it, including peaks with evocative names like the Shark’s Fin, the Sword, the Blade, the Fortress and the Horns. These mountains give the French Valley an imposing, gothic cathedral-like quality that requires the backing of a beautiful tune with just a hint of darkness, such as Enya’s May it Be. Enya wrote the song for the film version of the Lord of the Rings and it fits as perfectly with the pristine landscape of Torres del Paine National Park as it does with the ancient landscape of Middle Earth!


Los CuernosLos Cuernos - Blackbird, The Beatles
The Horns - Los Cuernos in Spanish - are part of the natural rock formation that can be seen clearly from the French Valley and the trail then descends down to the level of Lake Nordenskjöld, winding its way along the shores with the horns retreating into the background. Down in the valley, this section of the trail is a good opportunity to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna of the park. Compliment your nature spotting with Blackbird by the Beatles playing quietly in the background. This gentle, acoustic-led song is great for enhancing your hike without completely overwhelming the appeal of these peaceful surroundings.


Torres del Paine Torres del Paine - Don’t Stop Believing, Journey
The final day of both the Torres del Paine Circuit and the W Trek is the hike to the base of the striking stone Towers that give the park its name, the highpoint of any visit to the park. It’s not an easy trail though, especially the final leg which involves a challenging ascent up a steep rocky moraine. There might be moments where you’re not sure if you’ll make it, so if doubt starts to creep in make sure you’ve got Don’t Stop Believing by Journey in your back pocket to help you over the hump. It’s also the ideal power ballad for celebrating when you do make it to the top of the trail and embrace the awe-inspiring view.


Have we missed one of your favourite trekking songs off the list? What would you put on your Torres del Paine hiking playlist? Get involved in the debate using the comments section below!