Hiking the W Trek Chile Patagonia

Ultimate Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia

Situated in the southern realms of South America , Patagonia is one of the world’s last untouched wildernesses. Chilean Patagonia is a land of towering peaks, crystal-clear rivers, blue-hazed glaciers and treeless steppe, it offers vistas like nowhere else on Earth.

Hiking W Trek Ultimate Bucket List Hikes

Often at the top of hiker’s bucket list, the region’s most celebrated trekking route, the W Trek, takes a ‘W-shaped’ path through Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. There’s perhaps no better way to explore the region’s dramatic landscapes than on foot, so we’ve created a comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about hiking Patagonia’s famed W Trek.

Travel Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia

Hiking the w trek basics.

HikingtheWtrek2

While scenic, hiking the W Trek is no gentle stroll in the park. Demanding in places, it requires a good level of basic fitness to cover its 50-mile length successfully. This is not least because altitude is a significant factor on the route, topping out at more than 3,500 feet above sea level. After all, the W Trek lies deep within the southern reaches of the mighty Andes mountain range. Located within Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park , the W trek can usually be hiked in four or five days.

There are a number of options available for those looking to hike the W trek. Some choose to pre-plan the lodging, purchase a pass and do it on their own. While this is certainly an option, the lodges fill up months in advance. Another option for those that don’t want to hike the W trek alone or are booking closer to your hike date and the lodges are full, is to book a guided hike.

Guided hikes can be private or you can book a small group hike to go with a guide and some other people.

Accommodation on the W Trek

Where to stay when doing the W trek

Most of this multi-day hike will require overnight camping in tents or at a designated lodge, with hostels and hotels accessible at the start and end of the trek. Camping is only permitted with designated refuges, or refugios at Torres del Paine National Park. Keep in mind that these often get booked up a year in advance so make sure to plan ahead to get the best spots at your favorite refugio.

Lodging at the refugios are either tent camping or a shared room inside the lodge. Tents provided at the refuge are meant for the colder weather, rain and wind so they are warmer than tents you may be used to. Still, if you require the comfort of your own bed inside a warm, cozy lodge then make sure to book even further out because those rooms book up the fastest.

The upside of this arrangement is that you’ll have access to shared bathroom facilities, which generally include hot showers ideal for soothing sore muscles after a day’s walk. Refuges also have heating and electric lighting, and a communal dining room for eating meals sheltered from the elements. Most contain a small shop selling basic items.

Many of the refugios even have wifi so you can catch up on communication with loved ones. Keep in mind that the cost is much higher because it is satellite internet. You will not have cell service while hiking the W trek so make sure your loved ones are aware.

HOT TIP : If you find that individual reservations are booked up in all of the refugios, there may still be availability through a guided tour . You can join a guided hiking tour that is organized by the companies that own the shelters and this comes with a guide for your hike as well as lodging at the shelters along the way. It will be slightly more expensive than hiking and booking everything solo and you will be restricted to one company of shelters versus being able to pick and choose but the upside is your dates will be more likely to be available when planning closer to your travel date.

When to Tackle the W Trek

Beautiful waterfall in Torres del Paine National Park

Hiking the W Trek is open right throughout the year, but if you’re planning on heading along it independent of guides and tour groups you’re limited to the period between October and April. This coincides with the southern hemisphere’s summer months and is also great to combine with a visit to the beautiful Atacama desert .

Independent hiking is complicated by the fact that places at refugios need to be reserved ahead of time, and can be fully booked months in advance. This is particularly true for the high season, which lasts from December to February. The route is also at its busiest during these months, which some trekkers find takes away from the overall experience of solitude and isolation Patagonia is renowned for.

Getting Started : Where to Fly Into and How to Get There

The standard gateway to the W Trek is the town of Puerto Natales , Chile. It lies more than 1800 miles south of the Chilean capital, Santiago. Limited flights connect the airport at Puerto Natales with Santiago, and it’s often easier to fly to either Punta Arenas further south in Chile, or even to El Calafate, just across the border in Argentina.

From either of these latter airports, you’ll then have to head to Puerto Natales by road. Long distance buses cover the distance from Punta Arenas in around three hours, or around 7 hours from El Calafate including border formalities. There is also an opportunity to rent a car and drive yourself .

If coming from Argentinian Patagonia, you should arrange your visa for Chile ahead of time. However, most European, North American and Australian passport holders require nothing more than six months validity on their passport for tourist visits of less than 60 or 90 days (dependent on nationality).

Puerto Natales – The Gateway to Torres del Paine National Park

Puerto Natales Gateway to Hiking the W Trek

Puerto Natales has a good cluster of hostels and hotels that are well used to welcoming those starting or finishing hiking the W Trek. Perhaps even more helpfully, this once small fishing village has a number of stores where hikers can rent any equipment they may need. Most stay open until 8 or 9 pm, allowing you to organize any kit requirements even if you arrive later in the day.

It’s also possible to securely store gear you won’t need during the trek. Ideally, your backpack won’t weigh more than around 30 lbs.

Storage can be arranged with your guiding service if you hire a guide, with your hostel/hotel depending on where you are staying or you can rent storage at the bus station. Ask your hotel or hostel if it is possible to store some of your items while you do the W trek. If they don’t have storage available, you can store your items at the bus station. Be aware of the opening hours if you choose this option as you will only be able to drop off or pick up your items during specific hours.

Getting to the W Trek from Puerto Natales, Chile

It’s possible to walk the W Trek in either west to east or east to west directions. That said, the vast majority of trekkers start the trail at the end closest to the entry gates into Torres del Paine National Park, which means they tackle the route from west to east. In turn, starting the trek in this direction means you’re not thrown into the deep end on day one.

Several trustworthy companies run buses that drop off and pick-up hikers from the park entrances. The trip takes between two and four hours depending on which entrance is used. They all have departures in the morning from Puerto Natales, usually around 7 am. If you’re struggling to get a seat, less popular services also operate in the early afternoon, leaving Puerto Natales around 2.30 pm.

You should buy your ticket ahead of time at the company offices inside Terminal Rodoviario , where the buses depart from. You’ll find the terminus on Avenida Espana. Round trip tickets (around $20) permit a ride on any of that company’s returning buses.

Buses generally have stops at Laguna Amarga, Pudeto, and Administrativa. The stop at Laguna Amarga is primarily used by those heading along the W Trek from east to west as it connects with the minibus to Las Torres base camp.

If you’re following the majority of trekkers in starting the W Trek at its western end, you’re better off buying a ticket to either Pudeto or Administrativa. From Pudeto, a catamaran crosses Lake Pehoé in around half an hour. Its destination is Paine Grande. As it lies midway along the W Trek route, arriving via Pudeto means repeating your day one walk on day two.

A way of avoiding this is to head instead to Administrativa and then catch the three-hour ferry that travels the length of Lago (Lake) Grey towards the stunning Grey Glacier where there is a campsite.

Fees for entering the park are the equivalent of roughly $30, and can be paid in Chilean pesos, US dollars or euros. If you pay in dollars or euros try and have the exact amount and don’t rely on there being change available. There are numerous currency exchanges in Puerto Natales. Tickets last as long as you stay within the park, or for five consecutive days of entry.

W Trek Itinerary

Grey Glacier Patagonia

For those crossing Lake Grey, day one of hiking the W Trek will be mostly taken up by arrival at Grey Campsite, situated between the lake and montane forest. However, there’s still a chance to give your hiking boots a little action, with a trail leading to a viewpoint of Grey Glacier. Approximately one mile in either direction, it has an ascent and descent of around 1,200 feet in total.

If you get lucky with the weather you will have incredible views of the glacier and the glacial lake with icebergs swimming in it. The day we went was cloudy, windy and rainy making it very difficult to complete the hike. While you can’t predict the weather, be aware that the glacier creates a micro climate so just because it is sunny in other parts of the park does not mean that it will be the same nice weather near the glacier. Pack a hat and a warm jacket as it can get very cold, windy and wet.

Hiking the W Trek

Day two is usually the first full day of hiking the W Trek, with the path following the eastern shore of Grey Lake for the first third of the day’s route before moving inland.

The path is relatively gentle, and the scenery simply extraordinary from early on. The campsite of choice is called Refugio Italiano, which sits at the southern end of French Valley. In all, hikers usually take around eight hours to reach this point, covering around 13 miles and a further 1,000 feet in altitude.

frenchvalleywtrek

Day three is normally dedicated to hiking French Valley which is the favorite part of hiking the W trek for many.

Following streams and rivers much of the way north, the valley offers spectacular views of glaciers towards the lookout at Britanicos Camp, although it’s uphill all the way. After taking in the majestic scene, you then complete the central part of the ‘W’ by returning to your previous night’s camp, having covered around ten miles and another 1,000 feet in altitude.

The day’s trek usually lasts around seven hours. Just like with the previous treks, the glaciers here can create microclimates which means that the weather could be unpredictable. Parts of this trek can be especially windy so hold on to your hats!

Lago Nordenskjold Hiking the W Trek Torres del Paine National Park

Day four of the W Trek sees hikers take on the second ‘V’ of the W-shaped route, along the Sendero Paso Los Cuernos trail. Much of the day’s path follows the shores of Lago Nordenskjöld, which are typified by alpine grasslands crisscrossed by small streams. You’ll more than likely end the day at Chileno Camp, after seven hours and 12 miles of walking.

Torres del Paine the Most Beautiful Places in the World Chile Patagonia

Day five is normally the last day of hiking the W Trek, although it’s possible to cover shorter distances each day thanks to a chain of intermediate campsites along the way.

For most though, day five means the journey to the base of Los Torres mountains, which rise to a height of 9,500 feet. Heading towards their granite towers you’ll follow the sound of the River Asencio. The trek ends with a scramble over loose moraine, so be sure to save some energy.

In all, you’ll cover around nine miles in six hours, allowing plenty of time to meet the bus back to Puerto Natales.

What to Pack when Hiking the W Trek

What to Pack for Hiking the W Trek Patagonia

Camping equipment can be rented at refugios, but this will add to your costs. If you’re completing the W Trek as part of a tour , tents and meals will be prepared for you. Even so, you’ll still need some specialty equipment to finish hiking the W Trek. In addition to cold weather gear, you should take waterproof clothing, as well as a battery-operated head torch for nights in camp and early morning starts.

Weather can really vary in the summer so you will need both warm clothing on the cold days and nights and light clothing for hotter days.

Below is a brief checklist of the must have things to pack along with you so you are prepared for the elements when hiking the W trek.

While there are many tours and ways to visit Torres del Paine National park , The W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park is an ultimate bucket list experience for anyone visiting Patagonia in Chile. Taking in incredible mountain, lake and glacier views there’s really nothing else like it. Follow the recommendations in our guide to hiking the W Trek in Patagonia, and you’ll be well on your way to being able to tick off this bucket list.

Looking for more epic bucket list destinations in South America? Check out our content for Ecuador for some incredible places to explore.

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All You Need to Know Before Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia (2023 Upd.)

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Looking for the most complete information on the W Trek in Patagonia, the most famous multiday hike in Chile? You’ve found the right place!

1. Where is the W Trek located?

2. When is the best time to hike the W Trek?

3. Where to stay on the W Trek?

4. how difficult is the w trek, 5. what should i pack for the w trek.

6. How long does it take to hike the W Trek? 

7. What are the highlights of the W Trek?

8. should i do the w trek with a guide, 9. w trek vs o trek : which should i choose, 10. how to book the w trek.

The W Trek in Torres del Paine is undoubtedly one of the best treks in Patagonia. This “W” shaped hiking trail highlights the best of Torres del Paine National Park, including Grey glacier, the French Valley and the Towers’ Base Viewpoint. Here, you will spend up to 8 hours a day hiking in the wild, but with some of the world’s most stunning viewpoints, there is no way you’ll get bored.

And while the surreal beauty of Torres del Paine made it a popular destination amongst hikers (and non-hikers!) Patagonia's finest national park still offers plenty of opportunities to disconnect from civilization and reconnect with wilderness, in landscapes more dramatic than Mordor and Westeros combined.

Hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine

Yet more and more travelers suffer a lack of preparation that can potentially ruin the experience. It is not (so) unusual to see hikers going up the mountain wearing a blue jean, or people with only a T-Shirt to protect themselves in a snowstorm. And because we don’t want anything like it to happen, we designed the most complete article to answer your most common questions, so you have a blast on your W Trek! 

Ready for a hike of a lifetime?

The trails of the W Trek are located in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia . The park – an area of 1,814 km2 (700 sq.mi.) - encompasses blue lakes, glaciers, lakes and rivers in the Magallanes Region. It is the southernmost region in Chile, which means the trip to get there is rather long.

Pehoé viewpoint - Los Cuernos

Now, how do I get there? 

Good question! The trip to get to Torres del Paine is indeed long, but connectivity has improved a lot within the last few years. Most travelers fly from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas, a 3-hour flight. From there it’s a 5-hour drive to reach Torres del Paine. There is also the option to fly to Puerto Natales, from which you will only need a 2-hour drive, but this option is mainly available in high season (November to March). 

If you come from El Calafate in Argentina, you can cross the border by driving through Cerro Castillo or Paso Dorotea (near Puerto Natales), an overall 4 to 5-hour trip. 

2. When is the best time to do the W Trek?

The best time to visit Torres del Paine is incredibly hard to define. The region’s notorious weather can change in the blink of an eye and each season has its advantage and drawbacks. With that in mind, it is useful to understand the meaning of “season” here.

Peak season goes from December to February, with the greatest amount of tourists on the trails. The viewpoints are more crowded which can impact the experience negatively, but it’s also a great time to socialize with longer days (there are up to 17 hours of daylight in summer). It is also more expensive and hotels and refuges tend to be (very) busy. 

Hiking to French Valley in Torres del Paine

November and March are still relatively busy and considered high season. As for the low season, it includes the months of September, October, April and May. Most hotels - like EcoCamp - are still open and you will find tranquility on the trails. Off-Season (late May to August) is Winter, with most hotels closed but there is still the option to do a Winter W Trek, if you’re looking for the wildest experience in Patagonia. 

As for the weather, there is not one truth but a few trends. Summer is the warmest time of the year with the least precipitations, but has the strongest winds (winds of up to 150km/h / 95mi/h are usual). Autumn ( April /May) is fresh but also incredibly colorful, with less wind and less crowds. Same for the months of September and October (late Winter/early Spring), where you’ll also get more wildlife sighting opportunities.

Check out our article featuring the details on the best time to visit Torres del Paine to be fully informed!

The coziest way to experience the W Trek is to stay in a hotel in the national park, and we can only recommend EcoCamp Patagonia , the world’s first geodesic dome hotel. Here, you’ll spend the night in a dome with a view of the spectacular granite spires that gave the national park its name. You’ll also socialize with fellow travelers in the community domes and minimize your impact on the area as EcoCamp is a sustainable hotel.

49305888691_16782575ba_k (1)

However, you can’t spend every night in a hotel on the W Trek. Luckily, there are some nice places to stay along the way, namely campsites and refuges . Both options are in the same spots (for every refuge, there is a campsite nearby).

Refuges – locally called “refugios” – are basically mountain huts, but in Torres del Paine they are more like guest houses. They are rustic in a certain way yet they offer plenty of comfort with warm beds and nice communal areas, where you can buy dinner (a good one) and relax near the wood stove. Accommodation is in shared dorms, but there is the possibility to upgrade to private alternatives. There are five refuges/campsites on the W Trek: Grey, Paine Grande, Frances, Cuernos and Central. 

Take a look at our post that features everything you need to know about refugios .

The W Trek is not a difficult or technical trek. Hiking the W Trek doesn’t require you to be a pro, but some hiking experience is highly recommended. Compared to lots of other hiking destinations in South America – especially in the Andes mountains – Patagonia is low altitude. 

Hiking in French Valley in Torres del Paine

The highest point of the W Trek is the towers’ base viewpoint, at 850m.a.s.l (2788 ft). However, some days are long with lots of walking up, especially the French Valley and the Towers’ Base. Both these hikes require an 8-hour walk (round trip), so you should be used to hiking an entire day. Endurance and stamina matter a lot, even though it is easier than the full Torres del Paine Circuit (“O Trek”), designed for the most adventurous. 

Read our post about training for the W Trek for the optimum preparation. 

And don’t forget that the weather is a key aspect when it comes to the difficulty level of the W Trek, which is why you need to be prepared with the right gear.

Note: if you hike the W Trek with Cascada Expediciones you will be provided with much of the food and equipment that independent hikers must bring for themselves. If you’re an independent hiker, check out this post .

Grey Glacier Viewpoint in Torres del Paine

You should always follow the rule of the 3 layers . The weather is unpredictable so you must be able to remove or add a layer as quickly as the weather changes.

Base Layer:  must keep you covered and ensure that perspiration is drawn away from the body.

Mid Layer: must retain the body heat you generate (also called insulating layer). A fleece jacket or medium weight sweater is ideal.

Outer Layer: must protect you from the elements, especially the wind and the rain. A lightweight waterproof layer is always a good idea.

It’s true you should “pack for four seasons”, but consider packing as light as possible. Do not overpack. Hiking poles are highly recommended to protect your knees, and so is sun protection (of at least 30SPF) as the sun can be incredibly powerful here in the south. 

Bring a good backpack (between 50 to 80 liters), hopefully a waterproof one. And consider bringing at least one dry bag. Here, the cocktail “wind & rain” can have you soaked within minutes. 

If you want to pack like a pro, check out our video below and read our post “What Gear Should You Bring to Patagonia”  

6. How long does it take to hike the W Trek?

The full W Trek typically includes 5 days hiking with a total distance of 76km/47mi. 

Our 7-Day W Trek includes 2 days of traveling to/from EcoCamp and 5 days hiking. This is the complete W Trek that also features one day of easy hiking and leisurely car journey towards Laguna Azul, on the eastern side of the park. It’s always great to consider an additional day to enjoy the panoramic views of the mountain range which you can’t get on the W Trek!

Mapa-W-TREK-7-DAY

But the W Trek can also be completed within 3 full days hiking. We offer a shorter 5-Day W Trek that focuses on the highlights of the W (Grey Glacier/French Valley/Towers Base), with a distance of 60km/37mi. 

Check out the differences between the 5-Day and the 7-Day W Trek . 

EcoCamp Patagonia - Torres del Paine W Trek Comparison Chart

The W Trek takes hikers past some of the best sights in Chilean Patagonia. The most famous highlight is the towers’ base, a 22km/13mi demanding hike through a lush green valley with the most rewarding views of the three granite towers that gave the national park its name. But the other highlights are just as beautiful.

Torres del Paine

The hike through French Valley offers a stunning view of a hanging glacier that comes straight from Paine Grande, the highest peak in the region (3050m.a.s.l / 10.000ft). A cool spot to witness some tremendous avalanches. There are also some mesmerizing views of the Horns (“Los Cuernos”) on the way, the other impressive spires that made the park so famous.

Grey Glacier is another highlight. This fast retreating glacier is still massive enough to impress every traveler. A full-day hike will take you to a panoramic view of the glacier walls, but the best way to see Grey glacier is by boat, while opting for the navigation (this option is included in our programs). This 3-hour boat trip will take you to the 3 faces of the glacier, which is impossible by foot. 

Finally, a stay at EcoCamp Patagonia is also a highlight, for a sustainable rest in a geodesic dome and the opportunity to have fun with fellow travelers in a gorgeous place.

While it is possible to opt for a self-guided W Trek, we highly recommend to book a guided tour. Though the W Trek is not a difficult trek, a guide will improve the experience while showing you some hidden gems of Torres del Paine. Whenever it has to do with geology, wildlife or history, Torres del Paine is a fantastic place to study and a guide will provide you with all this amazing information.

The British Viewpoint in Torres del Paine National Park

Also, a guided W Trek is more comfortable. A tour with Cascada means you’ll have to carry less weight (we’ll help you with some kilos), you won’t have to concern for the logistics, you’ll get some delicious food and you’ll get the security of an experienced guide. 

Finally, booking a W Trek with Cascada will have you stay at least 3 nights in a cozy dome at EcoCamp and if you choose to stay in campsites, you won’t have to bother setting up your tent: we’ll do it for you!

You might not be familiar with the other famous trek in the national park, the Torres del Paine circuit – also called “O Trek”. The O Trek is a 360° of the Torres del Paine mountain range, with some epic views of the ice fields and landscapes that stay with you forever (see picture below). It actually includes the hikes of the W Trek.

Hiking the O Trek in Torres del Paine

The main difference between both treks is the duration. The Paine Circuit is a 9-Day program (a 7-day hike) while the W Trek can be completed within 5 days. Also, the O Trek is more challenging than the W Trek. 

Total distance is 140km/86mi for the O Trek VS 76km/47mi for the 7-Day W Trek.

The O Trek includes two days with up to 10 hours of demanding hiking whereas the most demanding hikes of the W Trek take no more than 8 hours. And while you will have no option but to stay in campsites on the O Trek, the W Trek offers the possibility to stay in a warm bed every night.

Conclusion: The O Trek is a good choice for the most experienced, adventurous hikers. The W Trek is the perfect alternative if you are not a pro hiker, with less time to spend in the park.

You can book your W Trek in Patagonia with Cascada through our homepage, while opting for the 5-Day or the 7-Day program.

You can also contact us so we can organize the W Trek you’re looking for!

Base Torres in Torres del Paine National Park

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Torres del Paine

Updated October 4th, 2022

Dear Traveler,

We are very happy to announce that there are currently no travel restrictions in Chile. Together with the above mentioned, it is mandatory to comply with the following requirements:

  • You only have to present the vaccination certificate issued in your country when boarding to Chile. Those who do not have their vaccinations must present a negative result in a PCR test dated less than 48 hours from departure to enter Chile. Those who are under 18 years of age do not have any requirements to enter Chile
  • A negative PCR upon arrival is not compulsory any more but diagnostic tests will be carried out randomly at the entry point to Chile. Confirmed cases shall be isolated according to the general health regulations.
  • Medical insurance covering any expenses caused by COVID-19 is not compulsory any more
  • The use of a face mask is voluntary

In case you have any questions, we will be happy to help you!

The Team at Cascada Expediciones & EcoCamp Patagonia

Two For The World

Hiking The W Trek In Patagonia: A Self-Guided Itinerary [2023-24]

02 feb 2024 11 nov 2023 | dan.

Last updated on 2 February 2024 by Dan

You can choose your own adventure when it comes to trekking in Chile, but if you like to plan ahead, here’s our tried-and-tested 5 day/4 night, east-to-west, self-guided itinerary for hiking the W Trek Patagonia .

Torres del Paine National Park is a place so epic and otherworldly, its name is often spoken with a kind of hushed reverence. This vast and dramatic stretch of Chilean Patagonia is home to some of the most mind-blowingly beautiful scenery on Earth, and hiking the W trek is one of the greatest ways to immerse in it.

This is Patagonian hiking at its very best, but  how you trek the W trail is entirely up to you .

You can go with a guide, or do the W trek self guided (in the warmer months anyway). You can stay in lodges and enjoy a cooked meal and a warm bed. You can carry your own gear and pitch your tent in one of the designated campsites along the way, or carry no gear and book a tent at each site. You can carry all your food, or add a half or full board meal package to your booking, or do a bit of both.

We opted to camp but rather than carry all the gear, we arranged for a pitched tent to be waiting for us each day. We packed food for most of the trek and booked a full board meal package (dinner, breakfast and packed lunch) at one of our overnight camping stays.

The direction you hike and the time you take to do the trek is also your call. As occasional hikers with temperamental knees, we opted for the typical self guided W trek itinerary of  5 days and 4 nights .

Many argue that hiking west to east, and saving the striking granite peaks of Las Torres for the last day is a fitting finale to this incredible hike. We took the opposite view though, starting with the awe-inspiring torres and  hiking the W trek east to west  so that we could tackle the toughest legs of the trail in the first couple of days, while we still had plenty of energy.

At the end of the day, no matter how you take on the W hike, you’re still trekking one of the most spectacular trails on the planet. And you’ll still get to enjoy the jaw-dropping vista of Las Torres. Twice even, if you’re keen.

Heading off into the wilds with a self-guided itinerary for hiking the W trek in Patagonia.

Hiking the W Trek Snapshot Location:  Torres del Paine National Park, Chile Nearest town:  Puerto Natales, Chile Getting to and from the park: Torres del Paine is easily accessible by bus from Puerto Natales. Park entry: Park entry tickets and overnight stays in the park (campsites and lodges) must be arranged before visiting the park. Start and finish:  The W Trek traverses a roughly w-shaped route through Torres del Paine National Park between Refugio Las Torres in the east and Refugio Paine Grande in the west. For this itinerary, we start in the east and hike west. Distance:  appx. 74 kilometres (46 miles) one-way Time:  This itinerary is 5 days and 4 nights Difficulty:  Moderately difficult, with some challenging stretches and steep climbs, plus highly changeable weather. We’re occasional hikers but with some preparation and a reasonable level of fitness, we found the W Trek very do-able (even if all our muscles were screaming for days afterwards!).

What’s in this post?

Preparing for hiking the W Trek Patagonia What time of year is best for hiking the W? Where to stay before and after the trek Entry to Torres del Paine National Park Booking Camping and Accommodation on the W Trail Bus tickets to and from Torres del Paine Packing for the W Trek Our Self-guided itinerary for hiking the W Trail Day 1 – Puerto Natales to Chileno via Las Torres Day 2 – Chileno to Francés Day 3 – Francés to Paine Grande via Francés Valley Day 4 – Paine Grande to Grey Day 5 – Grey to Paine Grande (and return to Puerto Natales)

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Preparing for hiking the W Trek Patagonia

We aim to fully check and refresh this post for each trekking high season (October to April). Things can change without notice though, so we recommend also visiting the links below for information while you’re planning and before you go: 

  • For the latest updates on requirements for travel to Chile, visit the official  Chile tourism website .
  • Torres del Paine National Park is managed by the park agency CONAF – visit the official national park website for park reports, park entry information and more.

What time of year is best for hiking the W?

Patagonian weather will keep you on your toes no matter when you visit Torres del Paine National Park. Be ready for everything. However, there are two distinct periods to be aware of when planning your trip.

High Season – October to April

These are the warmer months in the southern hemisphere, and December to March is the busiest time of year to trek in the park, with visitation peaking over January and February. During this period, you can choose to do a self-guided hike or go with a guide .

If you’re travelling in high season, and particularly if you’re planning to visit during the peak months, be sure to reserve your place in the lodges or campgrounds as far in advance as possible . Torres del Paine is now one of the most popular places to trek in Chile and overnight places book up very quickly.

We hiked the W trail towards the end of March, and while sections were busy, like the path to Las Torres, there were stretches where we wouldn’t see more than a handful of people in hours. That said, despite making our campsite reservations months prior to our visit, we initially struggled to find availability and had to change our trekking dates to suit what we were able to book.

Low Season – May to September

The entry fee to Torres del Paine drops during the low season and you’ll find far fewer people in the park. But temps will also be lower, rain is frequent, it can snow, and many of the mountain trails are closed, as are some of the mountain lodges and services. Trails that are open can also close suddenly due to weather.

Most importantly, to trek in the park during the low season, you must have a guide . 

The bottom line: Given the changeability of the weather in Torres Del Paine, you should check in with park agency CONAF for updates and closures no matter what time of year you visit.

Where to stay before and after the trek

The nearest major population centre, and the main jump-off point for a Torres del Paine trek is Puerto Natales , a low-key Patagonian town hugging the shores of the picturesque Última Esperanza Sound.

The drawcard of Torres del Paine’s trails has seen Puerto Natales develop a buzzing trekker scene.

We suggest giving yourself a couple of days in Puerto Natales before your trek to get organised, shop, hire any gear you need, and sort out transport to and from Torres del Paine if you haven’t already (see our section on sorting out bus tickets further on).

Just about everyone staying in Puerto Natales is out and about doing the same thing, so having extra time in town means you can stress less if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the first place you visit. 

Spending a couple of days here after your trek is also worthwhile – you can rest your weary bones and enjoy this charming little town.

A highlight of Patagonia travel is all about the epic views, like scene overlooking the sound in Puerto Natales.

Accommodation in Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales isn’t a big place, but you’ll find everything from budget hostels through to five-star luxury in and around the town.  

We stayed at the charming, centrally-located Hotel Aquaterra both before and after our trek. This is a great mid-range option and we really enjoyed our time here. They also stored our luggage for us while we were on the trail. 

For more accommodation options like this in Puerto Natales, take a look at Booking.com . Or, if you’re after something more in the budget range, you’ll find various hostel options here .

One place we’ve definitely got our eye on for a future stay is this unique domed apartment . It’s about eight kilometres (five miles) out of town, but with the views this place has, we wouldn’t be moving from the window seats anyway. Perfect for a post-trek, legs-up retreat!

Entry to Torres del Paine National Park

Entry to Torres del Paine National Park is ticketed and there are capacity limits in the mountain lodges and campgrounds. This is for the long-term care and protection of this wild and remote place, and for the safety of visitors to the park. So whether you’re planning to hike the W, trek the O circuit or visit for the day, you will need a ticket to get into the park.

You must now buy your entrance ticket for Torres del Paine National Park at least 24 hours in advance of your visit to the park. You can no longer buy an entry ticket at the park itself. Visit the CONAF website to buy your park entry ticket . 

Entry fees vary depending on whether you are Chilean or international, as well as your age, and whether you intend to stay in the park up to, or more than, three days. At last check, international adults 18 and over will pay CLP$31,200 (CLP is Chilean pesos) for up to three days in the park, and CLP$44,500 for more than three days.

Download your ticket to your phone before you head to the park (you won’t have reception there) and carry a printed copy just in case. You should also carry a copy of your passport as you may be asked to show your ID/nationality.

Booking Camping and Accommodation on the W Trail

There are various ways to stay overnight on the W trek in Torres del Paine National Park, but whether you’re planning a lodge stay, hiring camping equipment, or camping with all your own gear, you’ll need advance reservations to do so.

Overnight reservations are mandatory for Torres del Paine and, like park entry tickets, need to be made in advance . You cannot book camping or accommodation once you’re at the park, or camp outside the designated bookable camping zones.

You’ll also need to carry evidence of your overnight reservations as you may be asked to show proof at any time by a park ranger or when passing through checkpoints. We printed our reservation confirmations and carried these with us.  

With trekking in Torres del Paine becoming ever more popular, limited accommodation spots and advance booking necessary, sorting out campsites or lodge accommodation is – in our experience – probably the trickiest part of planning a self guided W trek itinerary. 

For this reason, we recommend booking your overnight stays as far in advance as possible , preferably as soon as bookings open for the season.  

It also pays to be flexible about where you stay, as you may find you need to rework your trekking dates and approach based on what’s available. 

Our final W trail hiking itinerary was the direct result of where and when we could get an overnight booking.

How to book your overnight stays in the park

There are a number of mountain lodges (refuges) and campsites in Torres del Paine, and you can only stay overnight in these designated zones.  

Broadly speaking, the zones in the east are managed by  Las Torres Patagonia  (formerly Fantástico Sur) and those in the west are managed by  Vertice Travel . 

There are also a couple of free campgrounds in the park which are managed by the Chilean park agency CONAF. However, these campgrounds are closed for the 2023-24 season – visit the CONAF website  for updates. 

You can book direct via the Las Torres Patagonia and Vertice Travel websites, however we know from experience that trying to align availability and book spots for a workable W circuit itinerary across different websites can be complicated and time-consuming. Another reason to plan well ahead.

We’re now aware of a new website called Booking Patagonia , which offers an integrated booking system for travel, tickets and accommodation for Torres del Paine. Tours can also be booked through this site. We haven’t used it yet so we can’t personally vouch for it, but if you do use it, we’d love to know how you go (one of our readers has recently provided some feedback about their experience in the comments at the end of this post).

Bus tickets to and from Torres del Paine National Park

We based ourselves in Puerto Natales, the nearest town to Torres del Paine, before and after our trek and most travellers do the same. From Puerto Natales, it’s an easy bus trip to and from the park.

If you’re travelling by bus, we recommend organising your bus tickets to and from Torres del Paine well in advance . Don’t leave this until the day you head to the park or you may find the buses already full. 

If you plan to buy your tickets when you arrive in Puerto Natales, aim to do so as soon as you arrive in town. You can buy bus tickets at the main bus station (Terminal Rodoviario), or through your hotel or hostel. You can also buy them online here .

It’s important to note that your bus drop-off/pick-up points at the park may vary depending on your final W trail itinerary, so keep this in mind when booking your bus ticket.

If you follow this itinerary and trek from east to west, you’ll start with the bus from Puerto Natales to Laguna Armaga . After your trek, you will board the bus at Pudeto for the return journey to Puerto Natales (this follows a catamaran ride across Lake Pehoe to Pudeto from Paine Grande). Vice versa if you’re hiking the W from west to east.  

To ensure you’re on the trail in good time (and in line with this itinerary), we recommend booking one of the earliest buses out of Puerto Natales on Day 1. 

Packing for the W Trek

Any hike, but especially a multi-day hike, can quickly lose its appeal if you’re carrying too much weight in your pack; something we can personally attest to. So we strongly recommend packing light and only carrying the clothes, gear and food you need for the trek.

If you’re travelling longer term and have more stuff with you – which was our situation – leave it in storage at your hotel. Your back will thank you for it.

You can find most of what you need to buy or rent in Puerto Natales for hiking into the surrounding landscapes, from sleeping bags, camping stoves and hiking poles to dried fruit and nuts for your trail mix.

That said, this is a small and relatively remote town and the local prices reflect it. We’re told there’s more choice and better prices at the supermarkets and shops in Punta Arenas, so if you’re coming from or via Punta Arenas, you might consider doing your trek shopping while in that town.

We’ve also read recent reports that it hasn’t been so easy to find dehydrated meals lately in Puerto Natales. If you’re planning your menu around these, you might think about sourcing them elsewhere.

It’s important to know that Chile has stringent rules around what foods you can and can’t bring into the country (fresh foods, fruits, honey, etc are a no-no). Be sure to declare any foodstuffs you do bring in and plan on buying most of what you need for trek meals and snacks once you’re in the country.

We had a tight meal plan for our spin on the W, but with hindsight, we would swap out some of the bulkier food stuffs we packed for lighter, more compact foods. Next visit, we’ll be looking to pack some dehydrated camping meals and light-weight but filling carbs like cous cous and oats.

The night before the trek, organise any food you’re carrying into daily packages of brekkie, lunch and dinner. Pre-bundling your meals saves scrabbling around in your pack for particular items on the trail). Then pack all the gear you’ll be taking with you in waterproof bags inside your backpack.

Cash, pesos or credit card? One question we get asked is whether to carry US dollars or Chilean pesos into the park, and whether the refuges accept credit cards. We carried all three. We paid for some things in pesos, like snacks and the shuttle to the trail head, and other things in USD, like the catamaran from Paine Grande to Pudeto. We also used our credit card at one of the refuges to buy beers. It’s our understanding that all of the refuges accept credit cards.

Food preparation for our W trek self guided trip.

Our self-guided itinerary for hiking the W Trail

Day 1 – puerto natales to chileno via las torres, total distance: appx. 13.8 km (8.5 miles) total time: appx. 8 hours overnight: camping chileno.

Let’s get trekking! Hopefully you’ve secured your seat on one of the earliest buses out of Puerto Natales this morning (see above regarding buying your bus tickets in advance).

Buses making the run to Torres del Paine National Park generally depart from Terminal Rodoviario in town. Find your bus and load your pack, then kick back until it’s time to go. It’s around two hours to Laguna Amarga, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park, so settle in, this is a perfect excuse to grab some extra sleep before starting the hike. 

When you arrive at the Laguna Amarga Ranger Station, have your pre-purchased park entry ticket ready on your mobile phone or bring a printout. Here, you’ll check in and receive information about visiting the park, and its rules and regulations. 

Don’t forget to buy your entrance ticket for Torres del Paine in advance, and at least 24 hours before you head to the park . It’s no longer possible to buy entry tickets on arrival at at the park. Head to the CONAF website for more information .

At Laguna Amarga, hikers split into two groups: those starting their journey here at the eastern end of the park, and those heading to the western starting point at Paine Grande, which involves a further bus trip to Pudeto and a catamaran ride across Lake Pehoé (even if you’re hiking west to east, you’ll get off the bus here to check-in before reboarding the bus for Pudeto).

If, like us, you’re  hiking the W from east to west , your next step after check-in is to jump aboard the Hotel Las Torres public shuttle bus from Laguna Amarga to the Welcome Centre and the eastern starting point of the trek. This costs around US$5 per person and is paid in cash as you board (we paid this in pesos). 

Alternatively, you can start your hike here from Laguna Amarga. The shuttle will just spare you a dusty 7 kilometre walk along the gravel road. 

There’s a toilet at Laguna Amarga, and another at the Welcome Centre. This is a good chance to go before setting off into the mountains.

Trekking tip: We booked our first night’s accommodation at Camping Chileno, which is en route to today’s main destination – the towering granite peaks of Las Torres. We’ll be checking in at Chileno on the way and dropping off our packs ahead of the steep and challenging climb to the Las Torres mirador.  If, however, you’ve booked your first night at Hotel Las Torres or Central Refuge and Camping, then we’d suggest dropping off your packs there first, and setting out on today’s hike to Las Torres with a lighter load.

Signage marks the start of the W Trek in Torres del Paine.

1st Leg: Hotel Las Torres to Chileno ( appx.  5 km / 3.1 miles, around 2 hours)

We’re officially underway on the W trail around 10.30am and from the word go, the views are eye-popping. After a flat kilometre or so, the path starts to climb: get used to it, it’s pretty much uphill from here.

The hike is moderately steep in some spots, until about a kilometre (0.6 miles) or so from Camping Chileno, where the trail flattens out a little before descending into the campground.

Despite feeling like our hearts might explode for much of this first stretch, we cover the distance in around two muscle-busting hours, with frequent stops to take in the views, rehydrate, and give our racing pulses a break.

Hiking the W trail to Refugio Chileno.

Drinking water There’s no need to lug extra water with you on the Torres del Paine circuit. You’ll pass pristine mountain streams regularly throughout your journey. Bring a water bottle, fill up at nature’s tap and enjoy some of the purest water you’ll ever drink. Just remember to top up well away from the camps and upstream of the trails. 

We   haul our packs into Chileno around 12.30pm . This campground is operated by Las Torres Patagonia (formerly Fantástico Sur), and is the closest camp you can stay at to the famous Las Torres hike and mirador (the CONAF-managed campground near the base of the Las Torres climb has been closed for some time). 

The riverside setting at Chileno is truly stunning and the sheer peaks of the three granite towers – our ultimate goal today – rise tantalisingly above the forested mountains ahead.

The campground itself is a nice set-up of tiered camping platforms among the trees. There are shared bathrooms with hot showers, and a restaurant and bar with big windows, plus an outdoor terrace for soaking up the epic views.

Our tent is ready for us when we arrive at Chileno, so we check in, drop our bags in our tent, grab a smaller pack with snacks, water bottles and cameras, eat the lunch we prepared last night, and  set out for Las Torres around 1.30pm . Timings here may vary depending on your check-in.

2nd Leg: Chileno to Las Torres (appx. 4.4 km / 2.7 miles, around 2 hours)

This is without doubt today’s toughest leg, so there’s a huge bonus in not having to tote your full pack up the mountain.

From Chileno, you’ll hike for around 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) or so along a meandering path through pretty woodland, across rushing rivers, and through a wonderfully moody stretch of fallen forest that we dub the ‘tree cemetery’. It’s a lovely, moderate walk, and we have no sense of what’s ahead when we reach the sign that tells us ’45 minutes to Mirador Las Torres’.

My notes from this point in our trek simply state: ‘hiking hell starteth here’. A touch dramatic maybe, but as irregular hikers, this was probably the hardest section of the entire W for us. Maybe you’ll breeze through it, just be ready for it.

Shortly after the sign, the climb to Las Torres begins in earnest. It’s a gritty, rocky terrain of steep, gravelly inclines and large boulders. The panoramas as you climb are absolutely breathtaking, but so is the hike itself. There are moments while we’re in the throes of it, looking up and spotting the tiny trekkers far above, that this stretch feels like it will never end.

It does end though, about an hour later, and the scene that awaits as we round a final boulder and face the towering granite pillars of Las Torres makes every single breath-wrenching step worth it.

The three towers of Las Torres: a showcase site on the Torres del Paine circuit is Las Torres.

It’s buzzing at the top: hikers drape the rocks surrounding the glacier lake; a bushy-tailed Patagonian fox weaves its way between the boulders; there’s even a guy getting his hair cut at the water’s edge (one hairdresser’s quirky approach to memorialising his travels while promoting his business).

We spend some time taking pics before settling onto a boulder of our own to simply take in this awe-inspiring scene. Aim to spend around an hour at Las Torres .

The three peaks of Las Torres on the W Patagonia.

3rd Leg: Las Torres to Chileno (appx. 4.4 km /2.7 miles, around 2 hours)

The journey back down from Las Torres is in some respects even more challenging than the climb up. The constant down is tough on knees and the gravel makes the going slippery. We’re beyond grateful for our hiking poles, though we both still manage to pull off some memorable butt slides.

Trekking tip: Hiking poles made all the difference for us when we were trekking in Patagonia. We carried one each, which was ideal as it left us both with a hand free to grab branches and rocks, haul each other up and down, and catch our fall when we slipped. Which was often.

It takes us around two hours to get back to Chileno; we have time to shower, buy a couple of well-earned beers and watch the sunset burn the tips of Las Torres molten gold.

It was cloudy the entire time we were up at the base of the towers, so watching them all beautifully backlit now is a bit of a kicker, but if there’s one thing you’ll learn quickly hiking the W Patagonia, it’s that the weather doesn’t give a rats what you think.

Chileno's riverside setting, our first night's stopover on our self guided W trek.

Preparing for Patagonian weather If there’s one constant about the weather in Patagonia, it’s that there’s nothing constant about it. We were particularly lucky on our five days in Torres del Paine, but you should be ready for four seasons in a day. Layer up, have a rain jacket handy, and wear quick-dry clothes. Skip a rain cover for your bag though. While we never experienced the legendary winds that tear through the park from time to time, we heard plenty of stories of pack covers being whipped off suddenly and disappearing into the wilds.  Expect to get rained on, and pack your gear in bag liners or waterproof bags inside your backpack instead.

Cooking stoves are not allowed to be used in the Chileno zone, so we opted for the full board food package here, which includes dinner tonight, breakfast tomorrow and a packed lunch to take with us.

Later in the evening, we join a host of other hikers in the restaurant for a surprisingly tasty and filling three-course meal full of protein and carbs.  

We’re absolutely wrecked by the end of dinner, and we’re tucked up in our sleeping bags by 9.30pm. 

Sunrise at Las Torres When we originally planned our itinerary for hiking the W, we had every intention of doing a second trek to Las Torres for sunrise on Day 2. In late March, this would have entailed getting back on the track up the mountain by 5.30am. As we climbed into our sleeping bags that first night though, we decided to pull the pin: we were just too tired, and we were also a little wary of making the tricky climb again in the dark. It was a tough call at the time, and it didn’t help when we poked our heads out of our tent the next morning to see the torres erupting with golden light above the silhouetted foreground. As we watched though, the clouds rolled in and soon enough the peaks were shrouded in mist. There’s no accounting for Patagonian weather, or how your body may feel after a long day of hiking. The best you can do is plan, and be flexible on the day.

Day 2 – Chileno to Francés

Total distance: appx. 18 km / 11.2 miles total time: appx. 6 hours 45 minutes overnight: camping francés.

Sunrise is around 8am when we do the W trek in late March, and as we haven’t made the dawn hike to Las Torres, we enjoy a more leisurely start to the morning on Day 2. 

If you do decide to do the dawn hike up to Las Torres for sunrise, factor in around five hours this morning and adjust the following timings for today’s next legs accordingly.

As breakfast is part of our full board package at Camping Chileno, we pack up our gear and head to the dining room at 8.30am for a hearty kickstart to the day.

1st Leg: Chileno to Los Cuernos (appx.  15 km / 9.3 miles, around 4.5 hours)

We’re on the trail by 9.15am , heading back towards Hotel Las Torres. We won’t be going all the way to the hotel though as there’s a shortcut off to the right around half-an-hour after leaving Chileno. The shortcut is signposted and takes you along a mostly downward sloping path surrounded by undulating hills and lake views.

Rolling hills and lake views accompany the trekker on our second day on the W trail Patagonia.

We reach the end of the shortcut and  rejoin the main W route around 11am . At some point after this though, we suddenly find ourselves in what can only be described as the Patagonian Swamps of Mordor and we start to wonder whether we’ve veered off on to a secondary trail by mistake.

We can still glimpse the Nordernskjöld Lake off to left, and we know the official trail travels alongside it. To this day, we’re unsure if we did actually go off piste (though the number of bootprints in the mud suggests not).

Eventually, we seem to be back on track according to the map, just a little muddier for the experience (and even more grateful for our depth guage hiking poles).

Navigating through mud is common when hiking Torres del Paine.

The next stretch travels up and down through very pretty lakeside country, with the occasional steep section, before passing down into the valley at Los Cuernos.  We arrive at the Los Cuernos shelter and camping area around 1.45pm .

You could stop at any point along the stretch to Los Cuernos for a lunch break; we stop just past the shelter and find a nice rock with a view. We opted for the full board meal package with Camping Chileno so we’ve been provided with a packed lunch today as part of this. 

We chill for around 45 minutes and then  set off around 2.30pm for Camping Francés , where we’ll be staying tonight.

A swing bridge crosses a river on the W Trek in Torres del Paine.

2nd Leg: Los Cuernos to Francés (appx.   3 km / 1.9 miles, around 1.5 hours)

The trail to the Francés campground is up and down and rubbly, with some steep sections, and a pretty pebbly beach crossing. Today’s walk has been positively sedate compared to yesterday’s heart-starter climbs, but never fear, a leg-burning rise awaits just before the descent into the camp.

We arrive at Camping Francés around 4.00pm . The campground here is run by  Las Torres Patagonia  (formerly Fantástico Sur).

The tent platforms are clustered between the trees and there’s a good shower and toilet block a short walk from the campsite. There’s also a small shop with basic amenities. 

By 5.15pm we’re checked in and set up on our platform. We’ve arranged for a tent at Camping Frances but we’re cooking our own food tonight.  

Sunset is close to 8pm in late March, and having made it through our second day on the W trail, we’re zipped up in our sleeping bags soon after.

Clouds reflect off the mirror-still lake at Camping Francés in Torres del Paine.

Day 3: Francés to Paine Grande via Francés Valley

Total distance: appx. 20.3 km / 12.6 miles t otal time: appx. 9 hours overnight: camping paine grande.

Despite our fatigue, neither of us sleeps particularly well on our second night and we’re both groggy when the alarm goes off at 7am.

Our restlessness is partly due to the strange soundtrack that has accompanied us throughout the night: sharp cracking sounds like distant shot gun blasts and deep, thunderous rumbles. It’s not until we set out on the trail through the Francés Valley today though, that the source of the unnerving noises becomes obvious.

On this itinerary, today is the longest day hiking the W, and based on our experience, we recommend getting on the trail by 8am at the latest to maximise your time in the Frances Valley. We departed later when we trekked, so we’ve adjusted the timings below to suit an earlier start.  

1st Leg: Francés to Italiano Ranger Station (appx. 2 km / 1.2 miles, around 30 minutes)

The first leg this morning is a rejuvenating, 30-minute leg-stretcher to Italiano Ranger Station. Aim to pack up and set out from camp by 8am. 

There’s a ranger at the Italiano Ranger Station when we arrive. He points to some racks opposite the office building; this is where we opt to leave our backpacks ahead of the challenging hike into Francés Valley.  

We sort our valuables and lunch into a smaller daypack, lock up the big packs, and get going again. Look to be back on the trail by 8.45am . 

2nd Leg: Italiano Ranger Station to Británico Lookout (appx. 5.4 km / 3.4 miles, around 3 hours)

The first kilometre (0.6 miles) out of Italiano is a flat trail through pleasant forest, after which the track starts to climb steeply through a rocky, rubbly stretch.

The scenery is seriously beautiful, serving up views of the ironically named Paine Grande Hill – 3,050 metres above sea level – and the Francés glacier that clings to it. This is the source of the crackshots and grumbles we’ve been hearing as the hanging ice shifts, melts and avalanches down the mountain.

Soon enough, you’ll reach a mirador offering spectacular panoramas over the ‘hill’ and its glacier; this is the perfect spot for a short break and a snack, as the next stretch is tough.

The mountain-and-glacier scene at Paine Grande Hill on the W trek itinerary.

From here, the trail to Británico Lookout is a challenging, rubble-strewn boulder dash with lots of climbing.

A flat, rocky clearance scattered with the parched white trunks of dead trees and overshadowed by the jaw-dropping Cuernos massif, marks the final stretch before a steep, 10-minute climb to the mirador itself.

The jaw-dropping Cuernos mountain range in Torres del Paine National Park.

Summitting the boulders of the Británico Lookout around three hours after setting out , we cast our eyes over what will become our favourite panorama of this epic journey: the vast and spectacular Francés Valley. Find a rock to perch on and settle in for lunch with this glorious scene at your feet.

The vast and spectacular Frances Valley is a highlight panorama of the W trail Patagonia.

We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a huge day of hiking the W ahead. To our eternal regret, we were only able to linger here for half an hour as we left camp too late on this morning. That’s why we recommend getting on the trail no later than 8am today – trust us, you’ll want as much time at Britanico as possible and by arriving around 11.45am, you’ll have close to an hour here.

We’ve promised ourselves that next time, we’ll spend an extra day or two in this valley so we can take in this view at our leisure. For us, this remains one of the most magnificent vistas we’ve come across in all our world travels.

Trekking tip: Get on the trail by 8am at latest this morning so you can hang out for at least an hour at Britanico, or better yet, stay an extra day in the Francés Valley. 

3rd Leg: Británico Lookout to Italiano Ranger Station (appx. 5.4 km / 3.4 miles, around 2 hours)

Aim to set off back down the trail to Italiano around 12.45pm . We find this a knee-buckling downward journey and our legs are screaming by the time we reach our packs back at the Italiano Ranger Station just over two hours later. 

Once we’ve retrieved our packs (now four-deep in a giant bag pile), re-sorted them, and stopped for a quick breather, we set out for the Paine Grande refuge and camping area, starting with a bridge crossing out of Italiano.  It’s around 3pm by this stage . 

Crossing a swing bridge en route from Italiano Ranger Station to Paine Grande Lodge on the W Trail.

4th Leg: Italiano Ranger Station to Paine Grande (appx. 7.5 km / 4.6 miles, around 2.5 hours)

The final stretch of the W trail today is a journey of around 7.5 kilometres (4.6 miles) and it’s mostly flat with some sloping ups and downs.

Travelling out of the valley and along the raised walkway as you head towards Sköttsberg Lake, remember to turn around and take in the mountain scene back the other way: it is immense.

Hiking the W Patagonia offers endless epic vistas like the Cuernos mountain range.

After some more steady rises, we make our final descent into Paine Grande Refuge and Camping around 5.30pm . By this stage, we’re seriously sore and tired and very ready for a beer from the lodge bar, which is the first thing we do once we’ve checked in and dropped our packs at our tent.

The campground at Paine Grande, which is managed by Vertice Travel , is large and separated into sections for campers carrying their own gear, and those like us who have booked a tent. A wooden walkway links the campgrounds with the lodge, the campers’ kitchen and bathrooms.

The campground at Paine Grande in Torres del Paine.

As Paine Grande is the western starting point for hiking the W and a transit point for O circuit trekkers, as well as for day trippers and short stay visitors, this is the largest and busiest lodge and campground in the park. 

There’s a good-sized kitchen building, which is heaving with trekkers when we make our way in there to cook dinner around 7pm. 

The camp shower and toilet facilities here are basic. We recommend getting your ablutions out of the way while everyone else is cooking dinner and before the post-meal rush. Paine Grande also has dorms, a restaurant and bar, and a mini-market. 

We’re tucked up in our tent just as a light rain begins to fall around 8.30pm. 

Day 4 – Paine Grande to Grey 

Total distance: appx. 11 km / 6.8 miles total time: appx. 3 hours 45 minutes overnight: camping grey.

Today is our shortest day so far on the W trail, so we decide to set out a little later as we’re definitely starting to feel the past three days’ hiking, and a strange kind of exhilarated fatigue. 

We’re up at 8am with plans to be on the trail by 9am. However the banshee-like screeches of a fox followed by the thrilling appearance of a large, tawny-coloured puma on the hill behind the camp has us – and everyone else – lingering for a while in hushed awe, until the sleek big cat disappears around a bend into the next valley. Which happens to be the same valley we’re about to trek into. 

After checking in at the ranger station for advice on what to do if we see the puma again, we set off through the narrow, pretty dell at around 10am . We’re both relieved (and maybe a touch disappointed) to find no further sign of our feline friend.

The big cats of Patagonia Don’t let the thought of pumas roaming the forests of Torres del Paine put you off trekking there. The fact is, these magnificent creatures are extremely shy and actively avoid humans. Seeing a puma is incredibly rare. Spotting one near camp as we did is apparently almost unheard of. However, it’s important to be across what to do and how to act if you do encounter a puma; you’ll find advice on this in the guide that you receive when you register for your Torres del Paine trek.

The valley walk is flat at first but soon begins to climb, and continues to serve up steady inclines followed by some steep descents into the Grey refuge and camping area.

The scenery on this leg is still epic, but maybe a touch more serene than the high drama mountainscapes of the last couple of days. Grey Lake is flat and still on the day we hike the trail, and dotted with blueish lumps of ice from the vast Grey Glacier at its head.

About halfway along the trail, a rocky lookout reveals the first glimpses of this immense glacier, a sea of ice six kilometres (3.7 miles) wide and 30 metres (98 feet) high in places.

Views over the Grey Glacier from the mirador on the W hike to Grey Lodge.

We arrive at the Grey Camping area around 1.45pm , a journey of 3 hours and 45 minutes, with plenty of photo and snack stops along the way.

Grey Refuge and Camping is also operated by Vertice Travel . The lodge has a lovely bar and lounge area in addition to its dorms, and the campground out front is overlooked by the stunning peaks of the Cordon Olguín. By the time we arrive, the clouds have cleared and the mountains burn golden as the sun drops.

Tents cluster under the golden glow of the Olguin mountains in Torres del Paine.

If you’ve got the energy, check in (or leave your pack with the office if check-in hasn’t opened yet), and then head back out to hike past the western tip of the W trail and on to the first leg of the O circuit towards Paso Ranger Station. This will bring you much closer to the glacier, but bear in mind, it’s a five hour, one-way hike to Paso itself.

Trekking tip: Leaving Paine Grande at 10am worked well for us, but if you do want to hike a stretch of the trail from Grey towards Paso and back to Grey today, consider starting out from Paine Grande earlier in the morning so you have more time to do this.

We opt to stop and enjoy our lunch with mountain views, then roll out our mats and nap in the sun until check-in opens. 

After getting our tent sorted, we hike to a rocky outcrop on the lake just 15 minutes from camp. The views from here towards the glacier’s terminus are gorgeous and we spend time here just soaking up the scene.

Grey Glacier marks the western tip of the W trail in Torres del Paine National Park.

On our return to camp, we head to the lodge for a drink at the bar before making dinner on one of the picnic benches outside the buzzing campers’ cooking area.

In addition to the bar, there’s a restaurant at Grey, and a small shop selling grocery basics. There’s an equally small toilet and shower block for campers (the showers only have certain hours of operation but the water is hot).  

We’re in bed by 9pm and prepped for a very early departure in the morning.

Day 5 – Grey to Paine Grande  (and return to Puerto Natales)

Total distance: appx. 11 km / 6.8 miles total time: 3 hours 15 minutes.

It’s our last day on the W hike! We’re on the trail early so we can get back to Paine Grande in time for the late morning catamaran across Lake Pehoe to Pudeto, where we’ll pick up the bus back to Puerto Natales. 

It shouldn’t take more than four hours to get back to Paine Grande from the Grey campground, but we’re feeling pretty exhausted by this stage and John has nurtured some nasty blisters, so we’re up and on the trail before sunrise . 

It’s freezing when we set out but as the sky starts to lighten, we’re treated to a stunning peach-tinted sky reflecting off the lake, and we stop often to snap pics.

Dawn turns the clouds orange over Grey Lake on the W trail Patagonia.

Despite John’s sore feet, we make good time on the return journey and while we’re climbing for much of the first half, it feels easier than the trek up from Paine Grande yesterday. Maybe it’s because we’re on the home run, even though the thought makes us sad.

Our journey back to Paine Grande takes us 3 hours and 15 minutes , 30 minutes less than yesterday’s hike in the opposite direction. 

We haven’t eaten breakfast and we’re starving by the time we arrive. We were planning to grab something to eat at the restaurant at Paine Grande, but we discover it’s closed between breakfast and lunch. 

We make do with our leftover trail mix instead, which is a bigger deal than you might think: we packed way too much of the bitty hiker’s snack and after five days we have a serious love/hate relationship with it. 

Fortunately, there’s now a mini market at Paine Grande, which is apparently open from 7am. But if you’re setting out really early like us, perhaps have something you can eat on the go for this final morning.

Tickets and times for the ferry between Paine Grande and Pudeto Ferry departure times from Paine Grande and Pudeto change throughout the year so be sure to check the schedule when you’re planning your w trek itinerary, and adjust your final day hiking start time to ensure you arrive back at Paine Grande at least 30 minutes before the ferry departs.   You don’t need to reserve a place on the boat, just hop aboard and buy your ticket with cash (at last check, it’s US$30 for internationals). The journey to Pudeto takes around 30 minutes.  

We board the late morning catamaran  for our return to the eastern side of the park. The boat trip across Lake Pehoé offers spectacular views of the entire mountainscape we’ve spent the last five days traversing. It’s an epic perspective of the W panorama and a mesmerising finale to our W trek itinerary. 

If the weather is nice, we totally recommend taking a seat outside on the catamaran so you can properly admire the breathtaking scenery. 

View of the mountain panorama of the W trail in Patagonia from Lake Pehoé.

Disembarking the ferry at Pudeto, we grab a coffee from the lakeside café (open from October throughout the trekking season), take a seat in the sun, and enjoy our last moments in Torres del Paine while we wait for our bus. 

Pudeto ferry and bus connections   In addition to checking ferry times for the catamaran between Paine Grande and Pudeto when you’re organising your trek, it’s also worth checking the bus connections to and from Pudeto, so you can work out the best approach for your final day on the trail.  

From Pudeto, the bus makes its way back to the Laguna Amarga Ranger Station to collect hikers finishing their trek at the eastern end of the park. From there,  we settle in for the return two hour bus journey to Puerto Natales . 

Tonight, back in Puerto Natales, after a good hot shower and a lamentation on the ridiculous amount of trail mix we’ve got left over, we head out for a celebratory drink.

Our legs might be seizing, our knees protesting and we’re beyond exhausted, but we’re buzzing with the sheer thrill of having completed this epic trek. We’re already talking about when we might come back and hike the W trail again, or better yet, take on the longer O circuit. 

However we do it, trekking in Torres del Paine is one nature experience we’re keeping firmly on our bucket list. 

Two For The World - Hiking the W Patagonia.

Got any questions? Have you trekked in Torres del Paine recently? We’d love to hear from you, drop us a message below.

For more exciting experiences and things to do in this incomparable part of the world, head to our Chile page or our South America section.

35 thoughts on “Hiking The W Trek In Patagonia: A Self-Guided Itinerary [2023-24]”

Thanks for the article, I find it very useful. I have just booked the circuit trail for this April. About that: I looked into using Booking Patagonia for the reservations, and it works really well. Though, there is a downside: they charge an extra $90. You’ll notice this at the very and of the booking process, which I found quite frustrating. For me that was a reason to book directly at Vertice and Las Torres Patagonia, which works fine.

Hi Valentijn, thanks so much for this update, that’s really helpful to know! Thanks also for your feedback on our post, we’re pleased you’ve found it useful. All the best for your upcoming trip in April, have a sensational time and happy hiking! Cheers, Danielle & John

Thanks for the great write up. The details are useful and your descriptions are inspiring. I’m leaving for Chile in a couple days and your post just added to my excitement.

Hey Mike, thanks so much for your feedback, we hope you have a really fantastic trip. Chile is an incredible country, one of our faves!

Cheers, Danielle & John

Thank you for that informativ Blog! I have a question: are there any possibilities to heat up some water in the Refugiés without a stove?

All the best Sophie

Hi Sophie, thanks for your message!

As we had a cooking stove (and booked meals at Chileno where stoves can’t be used), we can’t personally say for sure whether hot water is currently available at all of the stops on the route. That said, we did find a trekker’s report online from late 2023 noting that they were able to access hot water (not boiling) through the coffee/tea dispensers at each of the refugios they stayed at, which they used for their dehydrated meals. Would suggest seeing if there are other trip reports from this season, or posting on a forum for latest updates. Or perhaps hire a stove in Puerto Natales and buy a gas canister just to be on the safe side! We’d love to know what you find out!

Have a magic time trekking the W!

Cheers, Dan & John

Hi guys. Thanks for all the detailed info. Just wondering if you could give an estimate of how much it cost for the W trek. I am being quoted $1180 per person for 4 nights and five days starting 12th February with this included:

•⁠ ⁠camping accommodation with all the equipment •⁠ ⁠all the meals •⁠ ⁠transportation from/to natales-park •⁠ ⁠park entrance •⁠ ⁠catamaran •⁠ ⁠welcome kit

Not sure if this price is really high or if it would work out as that much if I book everything myself separately anyway.

Many thanks

Thanks for your message and feedback – we’re really excited for your trek in Torres del Paine.

We were travelling long-term when we did the W Trek so we went out of our way to keep costs down by booking the campsites directly, carrying some of our own camping gear and bringing most of our own food. Travelling as a pair also helped as the single supplements can add quite a bit. We’d also note that, like everything, prices have hiked post-Covid.

We’ve included some costings in our post but not many as we’re conscious things can change quickly (plus there are so many potential cost combos for accommodation/food, it’s tricky to provide a general estimate). As the bulk of your costs will be in the camping, gear and food components, you might consider checking out the latest price lists for camping and food package options on the Vertice and Las Torres Patagonia websites; that would give you a sense of costs in the context of your quote. Given how quickly accomm/campsites book up for the season and the challenge of trying to coordinate an itinerary across multiple websites, having a third party making the arrangements, while costing more, would take the hassle out of that.

All the best with your planning and we hope you have a sensational time trekking!

Cheers Danielle & John

Your hikes sounded amazing. We are going in Feb and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sounds like I should do some training! Do you recommend stiff hiking boots to navigate the big rocks or are light hikers enough support?

Thanks for sharing, Karen. Canada

Hi Karen, many thanks for your feedback! To be honest, if you’re a regular walker/hiker, you may find the W Trek a breeze – we met plenty of people who barely cracked a sweat, lol. As irregular hikers, we found some of the steeper sections a little more ‘breath-taking’ but still very do-able. We both wore regular lightweight hiking shoes and they were fine (apart from John developing blisters towards the end), but we also saw people in solid boots. I guess it depends on your preference. We did find having a hiking pole each was useful on some of the more uneven terrain like the rocky climb to Las Torres. We’d love to hear about your trek when you get back – have a fantastic time! Danielle

Going in February, cant wait. Did you know how anyone who did the kayak at Grey and talked about there experience?

Hi Efren, that’s so exciting! We don’t personally know anyone who has kayaked at Grey but we wish we’d had time for it – what an amazing experience! The lake is beautiful and the glacier is epic! If you do kayak, we’d love to hear about it! Have a fantastic time, Cheers, Danielle & John

Awesome Post!

I’m looking at doing this the same direction as you guys did around the same time in 2025.

You mentioned availibilty determined your campgrounds; that being said would you change any of your stays if you could in retrospect? Maybe saw some better campgrounds/lodges along the way that you wish you could have booked had there been availibilty?

Hi Chris, thanks for your message and good question! We were on a long travel stint when we did the W Trek so we opted for camping to keep our costs down, plus the campsites we ended up with proved to be very well located for a five-day itinerary. That said, all of the lodges and refuges looked quite nice so if we were to do it again (and we hope to!), we would consider adding some lodge/refuge stays, following the same itinerary. Location-wise, the Cuernos and French refuges would be good alternatives to camping (though these are beds in dorms, which is less appealing to us). We would definitely consider the Cuernos Cabins (2-3 people per cabin), especially if we were planning a longer stay in the French Valley! We’d also consider staying at the lodge at Grey next time as, of all the campgrounds, this was probably our least favourite (plus we were very ready for a bed by that stage!). Overall, the quality of the campgrounds/refuges throughout the park is very good and we were really happy with our camping experience and itinerary. Best of luck with your planning and we’d love to know how you go! Happy travels!

Wonderful description. We are going in Jan 2024! Looking forward to it.

Hi Kishore Joshi, thank you so much for your feedback, we hope you’ve found it helpful! Wishing you a fantastic W Trek, it really is the most incredible place! Happy travels!

Hi! How much cash would we need, knowing that the bus and entrance are paid for and also full board meal plan at the refugios is booked? So for snacks, water or other costs etc? Do they accept USD or should we have it exchanged? Thanks!

PS, did you also really use ‘poop bags’ for your used toilet paper along the way? 😅

Thanks for your message. We carried both USD and Chilean pesos with us just in case, and we were able to use credit cards at the refuges. We paid for the shuttle from Laguna Amarga and the catamaran from Paine Grande in pesos, though we have read that the catamaran operators may take USD in high season. It’s handy to have pesos for smaller purchases like snacks. We carried a refillable bottle and filled up in streams and at the refugios, so we didn’t purchase water.

We have packed degradable doggy bags for carrying out toilet paper on past hikes! 🙂 On the W Trek though, we carried a loo roll and some trusty Ziploc bags, but we mostly just made strategic use of the campground facilities!

Happy trekking!

Hi John and Dan Thanks for such good info. Is it safe doing it self guided ? Thanks

Hey Iris, thanks so much for your message, we hope you found the post helpful. We found going self-guided very easy – the trails are well trodden and during the peak season, there are plenty of other people hiking too (guides are mandatory in winter). Plus all trekkers have to stay in the designated camping and accomm areas so there are others around and you can stay in dorms if you’re not keen on camping. Conditions can vary dramatically though and it is the great outdoors, so having appropriate gear is essential and hiking with friends is good idea though we hear lots of people do it solo. Everyone we met en route were friendly, encouraging and helpful too. We absolutely loved the hiking the W and hope you get to experience it too! Happy travels! Dan & John

This is really helpful thank you so much. Did you have much hiking experience before you took this on? Would you recommend any training prior to going? What size backpack would you recommend taking?

Thank you so much

Hi Jo, thanks for your kind words, we’re glad you found the post useful! We’re casual hikers and while we’d done a bit of hiking before the W, it was certainly one of the ‘biggest’ hikes we’d done. We definitely tried to up our walking/hiking game before the W in preparation and glad we did as we personally found some of the steeper, sustained-climbing parts of the trek relatively tough – we just took our time and had lots of breaks; necessary anyway to take in the gorgeous views! I carried a 30L daypack and John carried a 50L backpack – between us we carried everything we needed for the five day hike, but I would note that we didn’t have to carry tents, sleeping bags or mats as we hired these. We hope you have the chance to hike the W trek, it remains at the very top of our hiking list! Happy travels!

Thank you all for this awesome breakdown and information! We followed it exactly to book our accommodations and plan to do the trek end of March. Thanks again!

Hi Kristen, thanks so much for your feedback! We’re stoked you found our post helpful and we’re very excited for your upcoming trip. Torres del Paine is sooooo spectacular, wishing you a fantastic trek – let us know how you go! ~ Danielle & John

Thanks Dan for the great details and info.

Hi Kristen. I am doing the trek around of march with a friend. We are travelling from Perth, Australia. Would be great to collaborate in planning.

Thanks Bikash

Hello! This page is fantastic, thank you so much. We are looking at November and can be flexible in terms of dates. Did you book your accommodation first? Are there any other considerations i.e. tickets or entry to the park? Or should we just arrange accommodation and go from there? Do you mind sharing how much you paid approximately for your camping accommodation? No worries if not. Thanks 🙂 Amie

Hi Amie, many thanks! We booked our accommodation first and a couple of months in advance. Site availability ended up driving our approach to the trek – so it’s good that you have flexibility! Would definitely get in as early as possible to book. Tickets for the park itself are arranged at the park entry office, but you will need to have the accomm bookings in place (and evidence of them) when you get to that point. So it’s important to book the accommodation and bus tickets to the park in advance. Bus tix you can buy when you get to Puerto Natales, but try and do that as soon as you arrive rather than on the day you intend to travel to the park. Prices for camping and cabins may have changed since we trekked, but if you head to the accomm links in our post, you’ll be able to find out the current prices as it’s all bookable online. Hope that helps and have a fantastic trek! Cheers, Dan & John

Thank you for the detailed information. We are trekking this exact route this March 2020!

Hi Jackie, thanks for your message, we’re really happy you’ve found it helpful for planning. Hope you have a sensational trek!

Thank you so much for the detailed guide! This is really helpful 🙂

Hi Katherine, thanks for getting in touch! We’re really pleased you found the guide useful – happy hiking!

How did you book the campsite ? I unable to locate the source to book just the campsite

Hey Rajesh, thanks for the message.

The Camping areas are run by three different operators in the park, and you can find links to all three operators in our post.

All three operators’ websites have information about their camp sites, and how to book.

Hope this helps.

John & Dan

Exactly what I’m looking for, thanks! Chileno and Los Torres always been there on my bucket list, now I know where and how to start.

Awesome, thanks Rika, we’re really pleased you’ve found it helpful. It is the most spectacular walk – even if you just did the one leg to Las Torres, you’d have photography opps galore! Happy travels!

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Ultimate W Trek Patagonia Map Guide: Tips, Routes, Distances and Essentials for Hikers

where is w trek

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Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable hiking journey in one of the most stunning landscapes on Earth? Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is home to the iconic W Trek, a five-day adventure that takes you through the heart of this breathtaking region. In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the W Trek Patagonia map, from the detailed day-by-day itinerary to essential tips on weather, accommodations, food, safety, and more. Get ready to experience the adventure of a lifetime!

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Patagonia’s wild beauty on the iconic W Trek with this comprehensive map overview
  • Challenge yourself by grasping distances between key points and enjoy an unforgettable journey
  • Prepare for your adventure with essential tips, trail distances, itinerary breakdowns & packing essentials!

W Trek Patagonia: A Comprehensive Map Overview

A map of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, showing the W Trek trail

The W Trek in Patagonia is a thrilling multi-day hiking route that takes you through the mesmerizing Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most remarkable hiking destinations in South America. This 80 km (50 mi) trail offers an exhilarating blend of spectacular scenery, challenging terrains, and unforgettable experiences.

This section offers a thorough trek map overview of the W Trek, covering key points of interest and trail distances, assisting in your adventure planning.

Key Points of Interest

The W Trek is famous for its iconic granite towers, the awe-inspiring French Valley, and the majestic Grey Glacier. These breathtaking landmarks will leave an indelible impression on you as you traverse the challenging yet rewarding trails through the national park.

One of the most exhilarating highlights of the W Trek is the French Valley, where you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at both majestic mountains and tranquil lakes. Another must-see is Grey Glacier, an imposing wall of ice that will leave you speechless as you take in its sheer scale and beauty. And let’s not forget Paine Grande, the grandest peak in the park, standing tall and proud as a testament to the incredible power of nature.

Trail Distances

An image of the W Trek Patagonia Map showcasing the trail distances and routes available for hikers.

Familiarizing yourself with the trail distances between key points is critical in planning your daily routes along the W Trek. The first day of the W Trek, for example, covers an impressive 22 km (13.6 mi) from Hotel Las Torres to Refugio Los Cuernos.

Throughout the trek, you’ll encounter invigorating hikes like the one up to the towers on the final day, boasting an elevation gain of 900 meters (2,956 ft). Along the way, you’ll also have the opportunity to witness the breathtaking Glacier Grey.

Grasping the trail distances paves the way for better preparedness in tackling the W Trek, optimizing your unforgettable journey through Patagonia’s wild and untamed beauty.

W Trek Itinerary: Day by Day Breakdown

W Trek Itinerary: Day by Day Breakdown

The best way to experience the awe-inspiring landscape of the Torres del Paine W Trek is by taking your time and enjoying it over 4 nights and 5 days. This section provides a detailed day-by-day itinerary for hiking the W Trek in Patagonia, inclusive of recommended stops and accommodations you’ll encounter on your journey.

Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a first-time hiker, this itinerary will help you make the most of your adventure in one of the world’s most extraordinary landscapes.

Day 1: Hotel Las Torres to Refugio Los Cuernos

Day 1: Hotel Las Torres to Refugio Los Cuernos

Your first day on the W Trek includes:

  • Journey from Hotel Las Torres to Refugio Los Cuernos
  • Distance of 22 km (13.6 mi)
  • Takes around 6 hours
  • Follow the Ascencio River to enter the Ascencio Valley
  • Pass by the lookout point for the Towers at 900 meters
  • Refugio Los Cuernos is aptly named after “The horns,” a pair of stunning granite peaks in the area.

To kick off your adventure, you’ll take the Bus Sur bus from Puerto Natales to Pudeto at 3 pm the day before, arriving in time for the last ferry of the day at 6 pm. The bus fee is CLP 12,000 (US$14), and the ferry fee is CLP 20,000 (US$25). Alternatively, you can opt for a thrilling walk from Laguna Amarga entrance to Hotel Las Torres, and the bus fee from Laguna Amarga to Hotel Las Torres is CLP 5,000 (US$6).

Day 2: Refugio Los Cuernos to Paine Grande

where is w trek

Day 2 of your W Trek adventure takes you from Refugio Los Cuernos to Paine Grande. This portion of the trek covers an impressive distance of 20 km (12.4 mi) and takes around 7 hours to complete. Along the way, you’ll be able to take in the majestic view of the Grey Glacier from several different vantage points.

On this day, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the French Valley, one of the most breathtaking highlights of the W Trek. This lush, verdant valley offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lakes, making it a perfect spot to rest and soak in the beauty of Patagonia.

Day 3: Paine Grande to Grey Campsite

Screenshot 2023 11 24 at 15.40.17 Ultimate W Trek Patagonia Map Guide: Tips, Routes, Distances and Essentials for Hikers

On the third day of the W Trek, you’ll cover the hike from Paine Grande to Grey Campsite. This segment of the trek is a thrilling 19 km (11.8 mi) journey that takes around 8 hours to complete. You’ll start your day at Paine Grande, then head to the Italiano campsite, followed by the Mirador Frances.

If the weather is good, you’ll have the chance to take a detour to Mirador Britanico, where you’ll be able to admire a stunning ring of toothy granite peaks, including the park’s second most famous landmark, the three-horned Cuernos del Paine. Afterward, you’ll finish off the day in the beautiful Francés Valley and campsite.

Day 4: Grey Campsite to Paine Grande

On the fourth day of the W Trek, you’ll hike from Grey Campsite back to Paine Grande. This leg of the journey covers 11 km (6.8 mi) and takes around 3-4 hours to complete. Along the way, you can enjoy the magnificent views of the Grey Glacier and its surrounding landscapes. Once you arrive at the Paine Grande campsite, you can rest and prepare for the next day’s adventure.

As you make your way back to Paine Grande, take the time to appreciate the stunning vistas of Los Cuernos and the majestic mountains that surround you. This day offers a more relaxed pace, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Torres del Paine National Park.

Day 5: Paine Grande to Hotel Las Torres

The final day of the W Trek covers the hike from Paine Grande back to Hotel Las Torres. This leg of the journey includes a thrilling afternoon of kayaking, ice hiking, or a short hike to the hanging bridges. As you reflect on your incredible adventure through the wild and untamed beauty of Patagonia, take a moment to appreciate the unforgettable memories you’ve made along the way.

After completing your epic journey, you’ll return to Puerto Natales via bus and ferry. The bus fee from Laguna Amarga or Pudeto to Puerto Natales is US$14 (CLP 20,000/US$23 from Hotel Grey). With your W Trek adventure complete, you’ll head home with a heart full of memories and a newfound appreciation for the remarkable landscapes of Patagonia.

Essential Tips for Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia

A person wearing a waterproof jacket and hiking boots, standing in the rain in Torres del Paine National Park

Being well-prepared and well-informed is paramount for the best possible experience on the W Trek. This section shares essential tips for tackling the W Trek, covering aspects like:

  • Accommodations

Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a first-time hiker, these tips will help you make the most of your adventure in one of the world’s most extraordinary landscapes.

Weather and Clothing

where is w trek

Patagonia’s unpredictable weather is one of the factors that make the W Trek such an exhilarating adventure. The best time to do the W Trek is from November to early March, when the average temperatures range from 10°C (50°F) to 18°C (64°F). Although it usually rains and snows throughout the hiking season, March and April are the peak months for precipitation, so it’s advisable to bring waterproof gear.

Selecting clothing and footwear for the W Trek requires consideration of factors like the terrain type, weather conditions, and the trek’s length. Be sure to pack a moisture-wicking base layer, a fleece layer for insulation and warmth, and a waterproof jacket and pants to protect against rain and wind. This layering system will help you adjust your clothing quickly and efficiently as the weather changes on the trek.

Accommodation Booking

where is w trek

Accommodations along the W Trek include paid campsites with basic mountain hotels (refugios) and one free campsite. Booking your accommodations in advance is advised, as spaces may fill up quickly, especially during peak season. Websites like Patagonline can help you check availability and book accommodations directly.

When booking accommodations, be sure to consider factors like location, price, and available facilities. For example, Refugio Los Cuernos offers a stunning location nestled between granite peaks, while Paine Grande and Grey campsites provide breathtaking views of Los Cuernos and the Grey Glacier, respectively. By researching and booking your accommodations ahead of time, you’ll ensure a seamless and enjoyable W Trek experience.

Food and Water

where is w trek

Attending to food and water supplies during the W Trek is a significant aspect of your adventure. Most camping sites and refugios have shops and restaurants where you can stock up on supplies and enjoy a hot meal. However, cooking your own food can be a great way to save money and add an extra element of excitement to your trek.

To ensure you stay well-hydrated, remember to bring a reusable water bottle and a water filter or purification tablets. Drinking water can be found all around the park and is of excellent quality. By planning your meals and water supply, you’ll have the energy and stamina needed to conquer the challenging terrain and make the most of your W Trek adventure.

Safety and First Aid

Safety takes top priority when embarking on the W Trek. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay reachable and inform people back home about your plans.
  • Carry a charged phone with emergency numbers.
  • Consider carrying a satellite phone, a hiking guide, or a paper map for added peace of mind and navigation assistance.

It’s also a good idea to carry a small first aid kit, including items such as band-aids, pain relievers, and any personal medications you may need. By taking these safety precautions and being prepared for minor injuries or ailments, you’ll ensure a successful and enjoyable W Trek experience.

Alternative Hiking Routes in Torres del Paine National Park

If you’re looking for alternative hiking options in Torres del Paine National Park, you’re in luck! In addition to the famous W Trek, there are several other exciting trails for you to explore. This section introduces:

  • The more challenging and longer O Circuit
  • A variety of day hikes
  • Shorter treks, perfect for those with time constraints or seeking a less strenuous park experience.

The O Circuit

The O Circuit

The O Circuit is an incredible full loop around the Cordillera del Paine, covering a distance of approximately 136 kilometers (85 miles) and taking around 6-10 days to complete. This challenging trek includes the popular ‘W’ route and the more remote backside, offering a unique and rewarding experience for adventurous hikers.

While the W Trek is great for those looking for a shorter and somewhat easier trek, the O Circuit is perfect for those seeking a more rugged and remote experience. The O Circuit takes you through a diverse range of landscapes, including dense forests, vast plains, and towering peaks, offering a true immersion into the wild and untamed beauty of Patagonia.

Day Hikes and Shorter Treks

Patagonia Glamping Torres del Paine

For those with limited time or seeking a less strenuous experience, Torres del Paine National Park offers a variety of day hikes and shorter treks, including the popular trek Torres del Paine. Some of the most popular day hikes in the park are:

  • Mirador Las Torres
  • Mirador Cuernos/Salto Grande
  • Laguna Azul
  • Salto Grande Waterfall

These trails provide stunning views of the park’s most famous landmarks and can be completed in just a few hours.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll to take in the breathtaking scenery or a more challenging day hike to push your limits, Torres del Paine has something for everyone. With its diverse range of trails and breathtaking landscapes, the park is a hiker’s paradise just waiting to be explored.

Day Trek: Mirador Las Torres

Mirador Las Torres is one of the most popular day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park, and it’s easy to see why. This trail takes you to the base of the park’s iconic granite towers – the Torres del Paine – providing a close-up view that’s truly awe-inspiring.

Screenshot 2023 11 24 at 15.41.19 Ultimate W Trek Patagonia Map Guide: Tips, Routes, Distances and Essentials for Hikers

The trek is a challenging one, covering a distance of about 19 km (12 miles) round trip with a significant elevation gain. However, the effort is well worth it. As you ascend, you’ll pass through lush beech forests and across rushing rivers before finally reaching the turquoise lagoon at the base of the towers. The sight of the sun rising or setting on the towers is a spectacle not to be missed, making this trek a must-do for any visitor to the park.

Getting to Torres del Paine: Transportation Options

Bus Torres del Paine

Reaching Torres del Paine National Park is easier than you might think, with several transportation options available. This section offers information on bus services and car rentals, assisting in your journey planning to the park.

Whether you prefer the convenience of public transport or the flexibility of driving, there’s an option to suit every traveler’s needs.

Bus Services

There are several bus services available for reaching Torres del Paine from nearby cities like Puerto Natales. We highly recommend either Bus-Sur or Buses Fernandez for your travel to Torres del Paine. The bus ride from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine costs only $25 USD (return), and you can book your tickets online through websites such as:

When planning your bus journey, keep in mind that there are specific departure times from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, such as:

By planning your bus journey in advance, you’ll ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip to Torres del Paine National Park.

Buses Inside Torres del Paine National Park

Once inside Torres del Paine National Park, there are shuttle buses available to transport you between key points along the W Trek. These buses run at regular intervals throughout the day, providing a convenient way to navigate the park and rest your legs between hikes. Be sure to check the timetable and plan your hikes accordingly to make the most of this service. The bus service within the park is an excellent way to save energy for the trail and allows you to cover more ground in a shorter time, enhancing your overall experience of this stunning landscape.

Buses Inside Torres del Paine National Park

Car Rentals

Car rentals

For those who prefer a more flexible and independent travel option, renting a car is a great choice. To rent a car in Patagonia, you must have a valid driver’s license from your country and be at least 21 years old. The general costs of renting a car in Patagonia can vary, but on average, you can expect to pay around $76 per day for a small car rental.

Top-rated car rental companies in Patagonia include:

  • Discover Cars

By renting a car, you’ll have the freedom to explore Torres del Paine National Park at your own pace and take breaks along the way to fully appreciate the breathtaking scenery.

Packing Essentials for the W Trek

Packing the right gear is crucial for a successful and enjoyable W Trek experience. This section provides a comprehensive packing list for hikers embarking on the W Trek, encompassing clothing, camping gear, and electronics.

By ensuring you have all the essentials, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenging terrain and make the most of your adventure in the wild and untamed beauty of Patagonia.

Clothing and Footwear

Choosing clothing and footwear for the W Trek requires consideration of terrain type, weather conditions, and the trek’s length. Here are some recommendations:

  • Pack a moisture-wicking base layer
  • Bring a fleece layer for insulation and warmth
  • Don’t forget a waterproof jacket and pants to protect against rain and wind

This layering system will help you adjust your clothing quickly and efficiently as the weather changes on the trek.

The ideal footwear choices for the W Trek in Patagonia are waterproof all-leather boots with deep treads. Additionally, gaiters can be a great way to keep your feet dry and prevent water from slipping in over the top of the boots. By investing in the right clothing and footwear, you’ll ensure your comfort and safety on the W Trek, allowing you to fully enjoy the incredible landscape and adventure that awaits.

Camping Gear

Camping gear is essential for your W Trek adventure. Invest in:

  • A good tent, such as the Big Agnes Battle Mountain 2 or the ALPS Mountaineering Highlands Tent
  • A lightweight and compact sleeping bag suitable for cold temperatures
  • A roll mat for sleeping
  • A mess kit for cooking

Additionally, don’t forget to pack:

  • Base layers
  • Trekking pants
  • Hiking socks
  • A waterproof backpack cover

By packing the right camping gear, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenging terrain and make the most of your W Trek adventure in the stunning landscapes of Patagonia.

Electronics and Navigation

Electronics and navigation tools can be invaluable during your W Trek adventure. A GPS device, such as the Garmin inReach Mini or handheld devices from Outdoor Gear Lab and Switchback Travel, can help you stay on track and navigate your way through the park. Additionally, smartphone GPS apps like Gaia GPS and AllTrails can also be useful for navigating your way on the trail.

Remember to bring a charged phone with emergency phone numbers, a satellite phone if available, and a head torch for early morning or late-night hikes. By packing the right electronics and navigation tools, you’ll ensure a safe and enjoyable W Trek experience, allowing you to fully explore the breathtaking landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park.

In conclusion, the W Trek in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park offers an unforgettable adventure through some of the most breathtaking landscapes on Earth. By following our comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenging terrain, plan your accommodations and meals, and make the most of your time in this extraordinary region. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your bags, and get ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the w trail in patagonia.

The W Trek in Patagonia is a moderately difficult hike covering 46 miles (76km) and typically takes 4-5 days to complete. It includes mainly gentle terrain with some challenging climbs of up to 800m. Be sure to come prepared for varying weather conditions.

Where do you sleep on the W trek in Patagonia?

On the W Trek in Patagonia, you can sleep in shared dormitories or upgrade to a private alternative. There are five refuges/campsites available along the route: Grey, Paine Grande, Frances, Cuernos and Central – check out our post for all the details!

What is the hardest trek in Patagonia?

The El Chaltén Trek in Patagonia is one of the most difficult treks to undertake, featuring demanding nature and views of Cerro Solo. So be prepared for a full test and take advantage of stunning scenery in this lesser-known area!

What is the best time of year to hike the W Trek?

The best time of year to hike the W Trek is from November to early March, when temperatures are mild and the weather is more stable for optimal trekking conditions.

How long does it take to complete the W Trek?

You can conquer the W Trek in 4-5 days, depending on how fast you go and what route you take.

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About the author

I am Matias, born in Patagonia, and a lover of my land.

For more than 20 years I help foreign travellers to organise their trip to Patagonia.

I also manage this exotic accommodation on the Atlantic coast.

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Lonely Plan-it: how to organize a hike on Chile’s famous W Trek in 2023

Sarah Reid

Jan 14, 2023 • 8 min read

where is w trek

Tackling the W Trek in Chile’s Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is a challenge and a thrill © sharptoyou / Shutterstock

In this series, we take you step by step through how we planned some of the most complicated travel adventures, so you can recreate them yourself with ease. Here, writer Sarah Reid takes you through how she planned her hike on Chile’s famous W Trek. 

Tracing the foothills of the snow-capped Paine Massif in southern  Chile ’s famous  Parque Nacional Torres del Paine , the W Trek one of the world’s most epic multi-day tramps. Named for the shape sketched by the 80km (50-mile) trail, the W Trek immerses you in some of Patagonia’s most mesmerizing scenery, with turquoise lakes, oozing glaciers, gnarled subpolar forests and wildlife spotting opportunities aplenty (you might even spot a puma).

While it’s easy to follow the well-trodden if not always well-marked trail, planning the expedition is complicated by the numerous ways to access the route and the multiple reservations required before you set out. Having recently experienced the trail in two different ways, I’ve figured out all the tricks you’ll need to plan one of the most memorable hikes of your life. Here’s what I learned.

Step 1: Time it right

Find the best mix of good weather and accommodation availability. 

Hiking the W Trek hinges on the availability of the half-dozen currently operational refugios (hostels with limited dorm beds, a restaurant, hot showers and campsites) dotted along the route, which can book out months in advance during the November-to-February peak season. This is the warmest time of the year comes with the added bonus of long daylight hours – but it can also be very windy. The less-busy shoulder seasons (March to April and September to October) offer increased camping availability and more agreeable weather (potentially; this is Patagonia, after all). A guide is required for a wintertime hike (May to August, when refugios are closed). Wildlife, including pumas, can be spotted year-round.

To get to Torres del Paine, you’ll need to travel to the small, beautifully situated gateway city of  Puerto Natales . You can fly here (or to nearby  Punta Arenas ) from Santiago , take a four-day ferry trip from Puerto Montt  or travel overland from  Argentina (a 5.5-hour bus ride from El Calafate to Puerto Natales). From Puerto Natales, expect a two-hour bus ride to the eastern end of the W Trek, and a three-hour bus ride followed by a 45-minute ferry to the western end.

 Couple admiring scenery at Mirador Las Torres, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Step 2: Decide which direction to hike in

You can start or finish your trek with one of the hike’s most epic views. 

The W Trek can be hiked from east to west or vice versa, independently or guided, and you can take as many days as you like (pending refugio availability). Hikers with a good level of fitness will find it’s an achievable four-day independent hike. Factor in an extra day to add a glacier kayaking or ice-trekking excursion departing from Refugio Grey (arrange in advance; more on this below).

The benefits of hiking east to west include frequent daily bus services from Puerto Natales (from 7am) to the trailhead. You’ll also knock off the challenging hike to  Mirador las Torres , at the base of the three granite towers that give the national park its name, on the first day. Hiking in this direction also means you don’t have to worry about securing a spot on the first ferry of the day across Lago Pehoé to access the western end of the W (critical for a four-day itinerary), as ferry tickets can’t be booked in advance. The early ferry (9am) only operates from November to March.

The beauty of hiking west to east is the opportunity to spend your last night at Refugio Chileno, making it easier to catch the sunrise at Mirador Las Torres on your final day and be back in Puerto Natales by dinnertime (finishing at Paine Grande gets you back to town closer to 10pm). With Patagonia known for its strong westerlies, hiking eastward also keeps the wind at your back for most of the journey.

Step 3: Consider your booking options

Reserve your accommodation, transit and park pass in advance to simplify your life. 

This is where it gets tricky. The two refugios at the trail’s western end (Paine Grande and Grey) are operated by Vertice Patagonia , which also runs glacier trekking and kayaking tours. The other four refugios  (Francés, Cuernos, Chileno and Central; there’s an additional bunkhouse near Central called Torre Norte) are operated by  Las Torres Patagonia . You can book preferred campsites and dorm beds (some refugios also have rooms) separately through their websites, or make reservations at camps run by both operators in a single booking via Booking Patagonia .

Meals, pre-pitched tents, sleeping bags and mats can be prebooked for additional fees,  pushing the cost of a four-day hike from as little as $62 (camping costs only; wild camping is forbidden) to around $400 if you book all the extras (and it’s worth doing so if you’re not keen on carrying all your supplies, including cooking equipment). Booking bus tickets to and from Puerto Natales in advance is also recommended;  Bus Sur services both ends of the trail.

An easier if more expensive option is to book an all-inclusive package. These come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from classic unguided through-hikes, to hikes along sections of the trail each day with a guide then shuttling back to an off-trail camp or lodge each night. (Note that it’s difficult to complete all legs of the W Trek as day hikes given the volume of backtracking required to the two exit points.) Local operators offering good-value unguided through-hike packages with an east-west itinerary (about $1000) include Chile Nativo and ChileTour Patagonia . Las Torres Patagonia and Vertice Patagonia also offer packages with accommodation at their own properties (a through-hike is only possible with the former). International operators including  G Adventures and  World Expeditions also offer through-hike packages.

You’ll also need to book a multi-day national park pass via the  CONAF website ($35), which will be checked at the entrance to the park.

Tents with mountains in the distance at Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

Step 4: Prep for the adventure

Find the perfect gear for your adventure. 

With the entire trail located between 100-900m (330-2600ft) above sea level, there’s no altitude to factor in on the W Trek. But it’s the ever-changing Patagonian weather, along with the uneven, often-exposed trail, that will likely test you. Layers are key, and a waterproof jacket, rain pants and pack cover are essential year-round.

Expect to have next-to-no cellular reception throughout the journey. Wi-fi coupons are available for sale at refugios (provided the router is working) but it’s more fun to stay disconnected and mingle with fellow hikers at the bar instead; every refugio has one. Be mindful when packing that everything you carry into the national park must come out with you – the only rubbish bins at refugios are designed for toilet paper. With a limited number of power points in refugios for charging devices, packing spare batteries is a good idea.

Step 5: Nail the trail

Be adaptable to conditions to get the most out of your journey. 

Days on the trail can be long on a four-day hike; set out by 8am in autumn and spring to arrive in camp well before nightfall. If you’ve booked meals, most refugios have two sittings; book the first sitting when you arrive in camp each day to ensure an early night, and early start the next morning.

On foggy days, reconsider rising early to hike to Mirador las Torres for sunrise. You might also wish to reassess the mostly uphill return hike from Mirador Francés to Mirador Británico (the middle arm of the “W”) in poor weather, though I hiked the latter in average conditions and enjoyed it, particularly as I spotted a pair of endangered huemul deer right below Mirador Británico. Consider leaving non-essentials in a dry bag at Italiano (a CONAF-run camp not currently open for overnight stays) on your way up, as you’ll pass this camp again on your way back down.

If you’re making good time between Paine Grande and Valle Francés (French Valley), consider veering off the main path to hike the lesser-tramped alternative trail around the slightly more scenic eastern side of Lago Skottsberg, which adds about 30 minutes to the trip. Turn left at the first bridge after Italiano if you’re coming from the east, and head right at the fork after the first bridge you cross if you’re coming from Paine Grande.

A hiker on a wooden walkway in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

If I could do it all again…

I booked a last-minute four-day through-hike package on my first W Trek experience. I hiked east to west in March 2022, and camped at Central, Cuernos and Paine Grande, and this itinerary was perfect for me. I’ve since hiked sections of the trail on a guided multi-day, multi-sport tour with Chile Nativo, with superb perspectives on Torres del Paine that complemented my first experience.

If I were to do the W Trek again, I’d aim to tackle the extended version of the trail called the O Circuit, ideally in late September, as I found the weather superb and the crowds thin when I visited then. I’d cut costs by making independent bookings, and I’d book my meals again (though extra comforts are not available at all refugios on the O Circuit).

Since my feet were soaking from the second day onward, I’d also wear waterproof boots; pack fewer snacks, as the boxed lunches were sufficient; and go easier on the Carménère (Chilean red wine) at the refugio bars. Did I mention you can order pisco sours, too? 

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19 Things to Know Before Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine in 2024

So you’re interested in hiking the W Trek in Patagonia – one of South America’s most famous trails. The W Trek zigzags through the heart of Chile’s iconic Torres del Paine National Park , a land where the summits form stunning granite monolith towers and the lakes glisten a breathtaking turquoise blue. The trek is named after the W-shape it forms on a map, running along the base of the iconic mountains before doubling back into the Valle Francés (“French Valley”) at the very heart of the reserve.

This detailed guide will run through all the ins and outs of hiking the W Trek. It will cover the best time of year for hikers to visit this wild part of Chilean Patagonia, some challenges you can expect to encounter, top trip highlights, what gear you will need, how long you may spend in the wilderness, and much more. Happy exploring!

My experience hiking the W Trek

I’ve trekked extensively throughout the Andes, from the dizzying heights of Machu Picchu to the impressive glaciers of Argentine Patagonia, and have learned powerful life lessons from my adventures . However, I still remember the W Trek as one of the most amazing mountain adventures I have taken. There’s a reason why it’s the most famous hiking trail in Patagonia. T he scenery you’ll enjoy along the way is second to none – imagine jagged mountains that resemble massive shards of ice, milky mountain lakes, and the rolling Patagonian Steppe in the distance. 

w-trek-los-cuernos

A personal highlight of the W Trek was the approach to Grey Glacier, which feels like one of the most untouched parts of Torres del Paine. The path to Grey Glacier along Grey Lake is stunningly beautiful and poses a nice challenge as you trek amongst chiseled sculpturesque mountains. Adding to the physical beauty of it all, the hiking route is fantastically well-organized with designated camp / hut sites that boast gorgeous views of the national park, the trekking season is long, and wonderful local guides are available. I highly recommend you experience hiking the W Trek for yourself .

What’s in this guide to the W Trek?

  • An introduction to Chilean Patagonia
  • Where is the W Trek?
  • The history of the W Trek and the Torres del Paine National Park
  • Highlights of the W Trek
  • How long is the W Trek? How many days are needed?
  • Elevation and terrain on the W Trek
  • Is the W Trek difficult?
  • Preparation for the W Trek
  • When is the best time of year to go?
  • What do I need to pack for the W Trek in Patagonia?
  • Accommodations: Where to stay on the W Trek
  • W Trek permits
  • Getting to the start of the W Trek
  • Sample W Trek itinerary
  • The 5-Day W Trek Circuit
  • W Trek Express
  • Alternative routes to the W Trek (O Circuit vs Q Circuit)
  • Where to go after the W Trek
  • Visas for Chile

1. An introduction to Chilean Patagonia

Chilean Patagonia is one side of the greater region of Patagonia. Altogether, it encompasses a whopping 400,000 square miles (that’s over a million square kilometers!) of land at the southern end of South America. It’s a diverse place, rolling from seemingly endless steppes inhabited by unusual Welsh-speaking farming communities to the jagged tops of mountains like the Fitz Roy and the Torres del Paine.

Ever since the first Spanish conquistadors started coming here in the 1500s, Patagonia has been seen as a land of myth and majesty. Open and vast like nowhere in Europe, it wowed explorers with calving glaciers and penguin-spotted islands, mirror-like alpine lakes, and whale-filled oceans. Today, the awe-inspiring nature of the region is still very much intact and trekking here is seen as a bit of a rite of passage a la the Himalaya.

Chilean Patagonia begins roughly 500 miles (805 kilometers) south of Santiago, the capital, and then arcs around the whole of the edge of the continent before finishing at the icy channels of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. It’s all pretty wonderful, but most agree that the zenith is the Torres del Paine National Park, which is where you’ll be doing the W Trek.

2. Where is the W Trek?

The W Trek leads you to the most famous part of Chilean Patagonia: The Torres del Paine. They’re a trio of incredible granite tower peaks that look like daggers shooting straight out of the earth. At their closest point, the three towers are just 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the Argentina border. The nearest main town is Puerto Natales, Chile. More generally speaking, the W Trek takes you down to the ice-capped, snow-dusted ends of the continent, less than 400 miles (645 kilometers) from Cape Horn . It’s truly a wild part of the planet you must see!

3. The history of the W Trek and the Torres del Paine National Park

Arguably the most famous corner of Chilean Patagonia, the serrated tops of the mighty Torres del Paine massif became the centrepiece of their own national park back in 1959. But you have to go back almost 80 years more to discover the moment when the region first entered the limelight.

Yep, Scottish travel-writing pioneer Lady Florence Dixie blazed a trail here during her South American travels in the late 1880s. Her prose recalls “three tall peaks of a reddish hue” stood before plains of ripe berry bushes and grazing guanacos.

Her descriptions piqued the interest of others. Finnish geologist Otto Nordenskjöld took a break from his polar explorations to visit the region in the 1900s. Then came the missionary-mountaineer Alberto María de Agostini en route to his epic crossing of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

It wasn’t until the end of the 1950s that the region was designated an official national park by the Chilean government. It was originally known as Grey Lake National Tourism Park but was subsequently given its modern name in the 1970s, the same decade it was dubbed a prestigious UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

It was also the 1970s that saw the formation of the famous trails. That was spearheaded by a team of local rangers in conjunction with British explorer John Garner (who now has a pass named after him in the range). They laid the foundations of the now-iconic circular route that encompasses the whole massif, including the W Trek section itself.

4. Highlights of the W Trek

hiking-mirador-las-torres-del-paine

If you’re looking to be wowed by the sheer majesty of hiking in Chilean Patagonia, then yes, the W Trek is most certainly worth it. This relatively low-altitude trek takes you through areas of the national park that are widely considered to be the most incredible places in Patagonia. In a region that’s beset by ice fields and soaring peaks, that’s really saying something! 

The W Trek requires a commitment of about 4-5 days of hiking, on average. What’s great is that there is something special to see on every single day of the journey. Views abound from start to finish and there’s always another W Trek highlight to look forward to. The most impressive parts of the trek are:

  • The French Valley & Cerro Paine Grande – See the spectacular summits of Cerro Paine Grande, the tallest peak of the Cordillera Paine mountain range in Torres del Paine National Park, up close as you trek into the French Valley. The French Valley is a hidden cleft in the Andes that’s topped by a hanging glacier and dashed with gnarled beech forests.

w-trek-cerro-paine-grande

  • The Base of the Towers – you will either finish or begin the trek at this stunning location with a turquoise lake set before the iconic Torres del Paine granite spires themselves. The lookout point encompasses three sheer mountains before a milky alpine lake. This is the scene that is the infamous image of the W Trek. 

mirador-base-las-torres-patagonia

  • Mirador Britanico – There are numerous lookout points within the French Valley, but we’d say the Mirador Britanico trumps the lot. Stand on this slab of rock to survey an amphitheater of cathedral-like mountains that descend into forests of Antarctic beech trees filled with finches and woodpeckers.

A wide mountain range with snow at the base surrounding a vast green valley in Chile.

  • Los Cuernos – A set of twisted mountains dominating the northern view for much of the hike. A colossal cirque of peaks all tangled together, the Los Cuernos form the very heart of the Torres del Paine massif. Look up to spy out summits named things like The Blade, The Sword, and the Shark’s Fin.

w-trek-patagonia-los-cuernos-horns

  • Grey Glacier – This colossal ice field with calving sheets of frozen water could be one of the most awe-inspiring things you encounter on the W Trek. It is the largest glacier in the Torres del Paine National Park. Just one of the many tongues of frozen water that cascade down from the great Southern Patagonia Ice Field, Grey Glacier is either the grand finale or the starting point of the W Trek. It’s everything you imagine of a South American ice cap, sporting 98-foot high (30-meter) walls that rise suddenly from the turquoise waters of Lake Grey.

grey-glacier-w-trek-torres-del-paine

  • Pehoé Lake – This many-armed body of water rolls out to the south of the W Trek path. You’ll see it on multiple days, but there’s one epic photo spot that frames the twisted Los Cuernos mountains above a mirror-like dash of water.

View of a large turquoise lake surrounded by green snow-capped mountains and cloudy blue skies.

  • The wildlife in Torres del Paine – Of course, you cannot forget the park’s incredible fauna! You will undoubtedly encounter a diverse range of wildlife on the W Trek. One of the most common mammals you will spot will be the ubiquitous guanacos, which are related to llamas and vicuñas. You may also see Magellanic woodpeckers, Patagonian gray foxes, Andean condors, or even caracaras (a unique-looking bird of prey). Even more elusive are the pumas and the endangered and rare Chilean Huemul, or South Andean deer.

w-trek-torres-del-paine-los-cuernos-guanaco

5. How long is the W Trek? How many days are needed?

The distance of the W Trek is approximately 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) long. One of the great things about this hiking route is just how versatile it can be. It’s easy to chop, change, and add to the W Trek itinerary so you’ll find everything from 4-day treks to 7-day ultimate treks on the menu.

There are many different distances reported by various sources for the W Trek. The below is what I have personally tracked via GPS while hiking the East to West route for 5 days.

Day 1 – Central Sector to Central Sector (Base Torres Hike)

  • 13.5 miles / 22 kilometers

Day 2 – Central Sector to Francés Sector

  • 11.5 miles / 18.5 kilometers

Day 3 – Francés Sector to Paine Grande (including Mirador Britannica Lookout)

  • 15 miles / 24 kilometers

Day 4 – Paine Grande to Grey Mountain Refuge

  • 7.5 miles / 12 kilometers

Day 5 – Grey Mountain Refuge to Paine Grande / Lake Pehoé

If you plan to do the W Trek in 4 days then your Day 4 (Paine Grande to Grey to Paine Grande) will be 15 miles (24 kilometers) in length.

You can do the trail in different directions. There are ways to skip one leg of the journey and add on extra excursions. So long as you follow the basic idea of a W-shaped route through the Torres del Paine park and include a trek into the stunning French Valley along the way, you can rest assured that you’ll see the Patagonian national park’s highlight attractions. 

6. Elevation and terrain on the W Trek

The pinnacle of the W Trek reaches 2,788 feet (850 meters) above sea level. Now, that might sound positively low for veterans of Everest Base Camp, Mount Kilimanjaro, or the Inca Trail – and it is. However, where this trek gets tricky is in elevation gain and loss and the daily distances. Some sections of the W Trek see hikers clock up altitudes of over 2,000 feet (610 meters) in just a few hours, only to lose it all again that afternoon as they head to the rest site for the night. You’re likely to notice this most after the hike to the base of Las Torres, which is followed a few days later by the ascent into the French Valley.

hiking-torres-del-paine

The good news is that there’s zero technical climbing on the W Trek. The trek is on a mix of well-maintained paths, packed mud, loose gravel, and stones. There are some parts where you may need to navigate wet rocks, low streams, and cable bridges, but there’s nothing overly challenging on the route itself in terms of terrain.

7. Is the W Trek difficult?

The W Trek multi-day hike isn’t a cinch, but it’s also not on the same level of difficulty as other world-famous hikes such as Mount Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp . So how hard is the W Trek in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine? Well, there’s no technical expertise needed and you don’t have to acclimatize. The trail is well-marked and maintained for a majority of the route. I’d say one of the the biggest challenges is the unpredictable weather, which can change from snow to heavy rain to blazing sun in just a matter of hours. In addition, Torres del Paine is known for its extreme winds which can reach speeds of up to 100 mph (161 kph). 

hiking-the-w-trek-chile-patagonia

The W Trek also packs a lot of walking into single days. For comparison, you are asked to hike between 6-8 miles (9.7-12.9 kilometers) per day on average on an Inca Trail tour. However, on the W Trek, you can expect to hike between 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) and 15 miles (24 kilometers) per day depending on how your adventure is structured. I highly recommend a training plan that builds in long distances (over 10 miles / 16 kilometers per day) and consecutive day hikes.

8. Preparation for the W Trek

We’ve already mentioned how the W Trek isn’t up there with Kilimanjaro and other high-altitude expeditions. Most trekkers of decent fitness level should be able to complete it with a solid training schedule beforehand. That said, the days are long on this one – some pack in up to 10 hours of hiking across tough terrain that can get tougher when the weather changes.

For that reason, we’d say a good program of regular exercise starting around 12 weeks prior to the start of your hike is always a good idea. Begin with local walks of 2-3 hours and short runs of just a few miles each. By six weeks out, you should be able to up your runs to three miles and complete a hike of 7-9 continuous hours. With three weeks to go, try to double your number of runs and do weekly hikes of at least 7-9 hours each. I also recommend that you begin doing consecutive day hikes at this time and ensure you are wearing a pack with the same weight you will bring with you on the trek. Resistance training can also work wonders for muscle fatigue and recovery, something that’s often an issue with such long days on the W Trek.

9. When is the best time of year to do the W Trek?

The seasons can be very unpredictable this far south in Patagonia. As a general rule, summer (November to March) is better for trekking, making it the peak season for hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine. That’s because it’s warmer, with midsummer temperatures typically between 43-63°F (6-17°C), and there’s less rain (average of just 4 millimeters each month).

However, it’s not totally clear cut that the summer season is the best time to hike the W Trek. It all depends on your preference and the type of experience you’re looking for. There are way more people hiking the trail so the W Trek lookout points are busier and the mountain huts more expensive. Additionally, high summer winds can spoil a hike in Patagonia so you’ll have to be ready to change plans if the gusts get up to over 80 mph (130 kph) or so.

trekking-torres-del-paine-national-park

Autumn (April is a good alternative to the main summer trekking season. The upsides include fewer hikers and beautiful colors on the Patagonian Steppe – think pale yellows, deep oranges, and muted browns rolling out from the base of the mountains. However, there is usually more rainfall and the temperatures at night get low. Keep in mind that the main W Trek route closes on April 30th each year. 

Spring (September to November) is another popular time to hike the W Trek but this season can bring the risk of snowfall. This means you’ll need to pack extra thermals. The W Trek route typically opens in mid-September each year. However, a few of the huts are closed until October 1. So, if you want to do the Trek in September you will need to do an amended version. 

Winter (May to August) a majority of the huts and campsites along the standard W Trek route are mainly closed due weather conditions and snowfall. However, it is possible to do three of the four segments of the W Trek as out and back hikes by staying in two of the refugios that are open during the Winter months. Also, please note that there are fixed group dates for these excursions and the treks are guided by a professional mountain guide which is required by the National Park for safety reasons.

We offer trips all year long on the W Trek. Click HERE to learn more.

10. What do I need to pack for the W Trek in Patagonia?

What you pack for your W Trek trip will depend on when you decide to visit Torres del Paine to hike the trail, but try packing as light as possible. Travelers in the high season (summer and autumn) won’t need as much thermal gear as those visiting in the low season (spring and winter), when there’s a bigger risk of snow and sub-zero temperatures. That said, every hiker on the W Trek should have a good thermal under-layer, a fleece, and waterproof outer layers for the upper and lower parts of your body . The weather can be pretty wild and unpredictable, even in the height of summer, so it’s a good idea to bring multiple layers to wear .

When it comes to trekking equipment, there are some must-haves: sturdy walking boots, a good set of trekking poles, a high-volume and lightweight water bottle and/or reservoir, sunscreen, and a reliable waterproof trekking backpack . Depending on how you choose to do the trek, you may also need camping equipment and a sleeping bag. Note: when booking with us, sleeping bags will be ready for you in both the mountain hut and/or tent at each sector, and you are also provided a ‘welcome kit’ that includes a sleeping bag liner, water bottle, map, and personal towel at your Pre-Trek Briefing in Puerto Natales.

Also, drinking water is not treated at huts/campsites along the trail. Many hikers feel comfortable drinking the water along the route (including from rivers or streams). But, if you prefer additional protection and peace of mind, you can certainly bring your own portable water filter (e.g. Katadyn BeFree, LifeStraw, Grayl, Sawyer Squeeze, etc.). Some of these systems only weigh a few ounces!

packing-for-patagonia-treks

Some hikers will go for a porter service on their W Trek trip to help carry baggage and equipment. That’s an optional extra with most providers. A porter on the W Trek will typically carry 33 pounds (15 kilograms) of your clothing and gear. Keep in mind that if you do decide to get a porter, you won’t need one on the Base Towers hike as this day is an out and back trek. In addition, if you are doing the 4-day trek from East to West you also won’t need a porter for the last day as you can pay a small fee to leave your baggage at Paine Grande while you trek to Grey.

My team at The Explorer’s Passage makes it easy for trekkers who plan their travels with us. Because the requirements for the W Trek change with the seasons and the sort of trek you go for, we can provide our guests with a full packing list so they’re fully prepared – just ask us !

11. Accommodations: where to stay on the W Trek

There are a number of options when it comes to accommodations on the W Trek. Depending on the sector you are staying in, the options include standard camping, premium camping, cabanas, refugios / mountain huts, and hotels. I’m going to describe each of these options in greater detail below:

Standard Campsites

For the most part, the campsites on the W Trek are of very high quality, at least for true backcountry camps. They’re well equipped with all the things that trekkers might need, and even have extras that you could only dream of in the far-flung basecamps of other major trails. Take the site at Paine Grande, for instance: it has hot showers during designated times each day, bathrooms, access to the restaurant and bar at Refugio Paine Grande, and even pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi. At the various campsites, some of the tents are set up on the ground and others are set up on wooden platforms.

Mountain hut and tents surrounded by Patagonian mountains

Premium Camping

A few of the campsites on the W Trek circuit have a newer concept known as premium camping, which consists of a raised tent approximately 6 feet (1.8 meters) off the ground and has a ladder for access. The tents in premium camping are larger and sturdier than in standard camping, and there is no need for mattress pads as the entire base floor of the tent consists of a ~3-inch (7.6-millimeter) comfortable pad. Currently, premium camping is currently available at Chileno and Francés Sectors but there are plans to bring this concept to more sectors (such as Central Sector) on the W Trek in the coming years.

camping-torres-del-paine

Cabanas (cabins)

At Cuernos Sector there is a wonderful accommodation option known as cabanas (cabins). They are mini villas that dot the landscape around the main refugio building and are private accommodations that can fit 1-3 people. There are bathrooms and showers that are shared by all guests who are staying in the cabanas.

Most of our guests doing the East to West W Trek hike directly from Central Sector to Francés Sector on Day 2 of their hike, which is ~11.5 miles (18.5 kilometers). Chileno is located ~9.5 miles (15.3 kilometers) from Central Sector and is 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) short of Francés Sector. So, if you would like private indoor accommodations, then you can sleep in a cabana (cabin) at Cuernos for the evening. Just note that if you do choose to sleep at Cuernos on Day 2 of your trek then it will tack on ~2 miles (3.2 kilometers) to your trip on Day 3 of your hike.

Refugios / Mountain Huts

Refugio is the local name for a refuge or shelter that’s essentially a mountain hut or lodge that offers dorm-style (bunk beds) accommodations along the W Trek. Refugios are rustic but comfy, and typically have warm communal areas with dining halls where you can meet and mingle with other trekkers. The bathrooms and showers at the refugios are communal.

Some of the refugios have bar areas, like Central and Paine Grande sectors. Many of the refugios have small shops where you can purchase an assortment of goods such as water, soda, energy bars, eggs, noodles, toothpaste, toothbrush, and clothing. All of the main refugios on the W Circuit have Wi-Fi for an additional fee as well. Depending on which sector you are in, the number of people per room will differ. The room size on the W Circuit ranges from 2-8 people.

Hotels  

On the standard W Trek route there is only one hotel option, Hotel Las Torres, which is located in the Central Sector. Hotel Las Torres is a very nice 4-star hotel located approximately 100 yards (nearly a meter) from the refugio and camping area at Central sector.

If you are doing the East to West Route, then you will most likely be spending two nights in the Central Sector as your first day of hiking is an out and back trek. We have many guests who stay at Hotel Las Torres for the first two nights of their journey, then do either camping or huts for the remainder of the trip.

Please note that EcoCamp is located in the Central Sector. While not a traditional hotel, EcoCamp consists of luxury domes of different sizes and amenities. We have many guests that stay in EcoCamp for a few nights as part of their W Trek journey. 

w-trek-accomodation-ecocamp

If you would prefer to stay in a hotel every night while in Torres del Paine, there are six wonderful hotels that offer all-inclusive programs for their guests. Please note: If you stay in one of these hotels you won’t be able to do the full W Trek. However, you will be able to do some of the W Trek segment hikes as guided day trips with vehicle / boat support to the trail heads. At the all-inclusive hotels in Torres del Paine, you get to choose between a range of guided hikes and adventure activities, many of which are included as part of your package. 

Below is a list of the main all-inclusive hotel properties in Torres del Paine:

Hotel Las Torres 4-Star Hotel Located in the Central Sector, 100 yards (~1 meter) from the Central refugio and camping 

Hotel Lago Grey 4-Star Hotel Located in between the south shore of Grey Lake and Lake Pehoé

Explora Lodge 5-Star Hotel Located near the southern shores of Lake Pehoé

EcoCamp Patagonia  5-Star Domes Located on a hilltop overlooking the Central Sector

Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa  5-Star Hotel Located in on the Eastern shore of Lake Sarmiento de Gamboa

Awasi Patagonia  5+ Star Hotel with 14 private villas Located East of the Central Sector in a private reserve

The W Trek is punctuated with a host of rest areas and the conventional plan of the hike makes use of seven of these Sectors along the way. Let’s take a closer look at each rest site:

  • Central Sector – The Central Sector is the base of operations on the eastern side of the W Trek. It’s often used as the starting point or ending point of the entire W Trek journey and is one of the most developed sites in Torres del Paine.

Accommodations at Central Sector include camping, two mountain huts/refugios (Central Refugio & Torre), EcoCamp Dome, and Hotel Las Torres. In the camping area, there is standard camping, which has hot showers, bathrooms, and designated picnic tables. It is expected that premium camping will be added in the near future in the Central Sector. The refugio in the Central Sector has a large common area that has a very fun and social atmosphere so you can meet people from all across the globe. It has 6-person hut rooms, communal bathrooms and showers, and a restaurant and bar area.

Hotel Las Torres is situated 100 yards (~1 meter) from the camping and refugio in the direction of the Las Torres Base Hike. The EcoCamp domes are situated on a hilltop overlooking the entire Central Sector.

  • Chileno – Chileno is wedged into the narrow valley that runs north to the base of Las Torres themselves. It-s a pit stop before or after seeing arguably the greatest vista on the W Trek and the location is one to match – scenes of snow-capped peaks and cascading pine woods dominate on both sides. The site is much like the Central Sector, with standard camping and a refugio. The refugio has 6-person hut rooms. Chileno has premium camping as well. There are communal bathrooms, showers, and a small restaurant. It’s a quality lodge with a fantastic outdoor area by a roaring river.
  • Los Cuernos – You’ll be greeted with sweeping 180-degree views of glimmering Lake Nordenskjöld when you enter Cuernos sector. It is set on a soft slope right under the twisted tops of Los Cuernos massif itself. In true Patagonia style, it’s well appointed with standard camping, a refugio, and a series of 20 private cabanas (cabins) that are situated in the beautiful terrain throughout the sector. The refugio has 6-person hut rooms. Cuernos has an onsite bar, restaurant, and a snack kiosk, as well as communal bathrooms and showers, and Wi-Fi. 
  • Francés – Remember when we said that the French Valley was one of our top highlights on the whole W Trek? Well…the Francés Sector is the gateway to it all. Just 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) to the west of Los Cuernos, it’s an alternative midway option for hikers wanting to enter that secret Shangri-La of the Andes. The site has standard camping, premium camping, and 8-person dome huts. It’s also just as comfy as the other sites listed here, complete with hot showers, bathrooms, a restaurant, shop, and wifi. 
  • Italiano – This campground on the main course of the W Trek is a free-to-camp alternative at the base of the French Valley. Because it’s free, don’t expect the same amenities and frills as in the sites on the W Circuit. The basics are all taken care of: Running water, toilets, and a cooking shelter. We rarely have guests stay at this site as it is very basic, but our trekkers primarily use it as a location to drop their bags off for the up-and-back excursion into the French Valley.
  • Paine Grande – There’s a pretty slick lodge at the Paine Grande sector on the edge of Lake Pehoé that some trekkers use as the first point of call on the W Trek if doing the West to East Route. The site has a large standard camping site with space for over 200 campers and 2-, 4-, and 6-person hut rooms. There are communal bathrooms, showers, a shop with an extensive assortment of items, and a large restaurant area. Don’t miss the onsite Paine Grande Bar here – it’s a chance for a pre- or post-trek drink overlooking the serrated Paine Grande Massif.
  • Grey – Grey sector marks the western end of the W Trek and, as such, is an important starting point, not to mention connecting point for those looking to join with the larger O Trek. The lodge here is one of the best on the trail. It’s got 60 beds in 4- and 6-person rooms, and a cozy restaurant and bar area to enjoy after dark. The campground has room for 120 people in standard camping and offers a covered cooking space and shared toilets. There’s paid Wi-Fi if you need it as well. 

One important item to note is that if your group size is below the minimum room s ize in the refugios, then other travelers will fill the empty spots on the rooms. Guests are not permitted to purchase the extra room spaces to create a private room. 

Since the sectors are run by three different companies and itineraries often require a separate reservation, booking accommodations for the W Trek can be a chore. It doesn’t have to be, though! The Explorer’s Passage makes visiting Torres del Paine easy. Book your trip to Patagonia with us and let us take the stress out of planning so you can focus on hiking the W Trek. Also, with us, all meals are included from the start of the hike to the finish.

12. W Trek permits

In planning this journey, you may ask yourself “Do I need a permit for the W Trek?” Although you’ll need an entrance ticket to enter Torres del Paine National Park, there’s no official permit system for the W Trek as there is for the classic Inca Trail route to Machu Picchu. There are, however, capacity limitations on the number of trekkers that are permitted to stay in the park’s campsites, huts, cabanas (cabins), and hotels. That acts as a sort of de facto limit on the number of people who can do the trek, governed mainly by who was quick enough to book their accommodations. 

My advice? Start planning early to avoid disappointment. The huts, campsites, and cabanas (cabins) go on sale in May and June each year for the upcoming trekking season which typically goes from September 8 to April 30. Spaces in Central, Chileno, Cuernos, and Francés Sectors are typically released in early to mid May. Spaces for Paine Grande and Grey sectors are typically released in early to mid June. I typically recommend that our guests try to get their bookings in before the first release dates to ensure they get their desired spots.

If you would like help with this process, you can plan to travel with us and our experienced team will take care of all the important details for you, including campsite, hut, cabana (cabin), and hotel bookings, meals, National Park permits, transfers, gear rentals, and much more.

13. Getting to the start of the W Trek

Most people start the W Trek hike with an organized bus transfer from the city of Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park.

getting-to-torres-del-paine

Your journey to the trailhead of the W Trek will depend on which direction you will be hiking it: either from East-to-West, or vice versa. At The Explorer’s Passage, we recommend East-to-West, primarily because you get the hardest day of hiking (to and from Las Torres Lookout Point) out of the way on the first full day, when your legs are still fresh. However, some prefer to save the view of these granite towers as a reward for the final day, so they start the journey in the West and head East. As with all adventures, there are pros and cons to each option!

  • To hike the W Trek from East to West, you will get off the bus at the National Park office at Laguna Amarga, then take a connecting bus to the Welcome Center at Central Sector.
  • To hike the W Trek from West to East, you can get off at the Pudeto stop and catch the catamaran across Lake Pehoé to the refugio at Paine Grande. There are boat departures throughout the day, but be sure to check the schedule before you depart because they can change at short notice.

All of the above trips can be done from Punta Arenas , but expect transfer times to the trailhead to be in the region of five to six hours, instead of a 2-3 hour bus ride from Puerto Natales.

getting-to-the-w-trek-patagonia

14. Sample W Trek 4-Day Hike itinerary

As noted in the prior section, at The Explorer’s Passage we recommend hiking the W Trek from east to west. Below you will find a sample itinerary for this option (visit our W Trek trip page to download a full detailed itinerary):

  • Day 1: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park –  After breakfast at your hotel in Puerto Natales, you will have the morning to explore the town a bit more. Later, you will travel by bus to Torres del Paine National Park. Enjoy dinner in the Central Sector as the excitement builds for the days ahead, where you will have the rare privilege of exploring one of the planet’s most striking national parks!
  • Day 2: First Day of W Trek (Las Torres Lookout) –  Today, you will start early and begin your hike of the W Trek – one of South America’s most famous trails. Today’s destination is the iconic Las Torres Lookout Point! During the first stretch, you will walk through the pampa, cross the Ascencio River, and then hike up to Los Vientos Mountain Pass, where you will enjoy amazing views of the valley and lakes. You will continue your journey to the Chileno Mountain Refuge, and then go deep into a lenga beech forest up to La Morrena, where the hardest part of the day’s hike begins. From there, you will follow a rock trail to the spectacular Las Torres Base Lookout Point. Later, you will return to the Central Sector to have dinner and rest.
  • Day 3: Second Day of W Trek (Nordenskjöld Lake & Francés Sector) –  Today is your 2nd full day of hiking the W Trek. You will walk along the shores of Nordenskjöld Lake, below the peaks of Almirante Nieto and the striking Cuernos del Paine. During the hike, you will enjoy magnificent views of Los Cuernos, hanging glaciers, lakes, and the abundant vegetation and wildlife. You will have dinner and sleep in the Francés Sector.
  • Day 4: Third Day of W Trek (French Valley) –  This day features one of the most memorable portions of the W Trek: the Valle Francés. You will start early with a light hike to the Italiano Campsite. From there, you will progress through the woods up the Francés River Valley. You will continue to the Francés Lookout Point, where you will enjoy one of the most breathtaking views of the trek: the view of the valley framed by the Paine Grande, Catedral, Hoja, Máscara, Espada, Aleta de Tiburón, and Cuerno del Norte mountains. The landscape will undoubtedly leave you speechless! Later, you will begin the descent to the Paine Grande Sector for the evening.
  • Note: we can arrange optional add-on excursions in the Grey Glacier area if you are interested: kayaking (~3 hour activity) and/or ice hiking (~5 hour activity). These activities will require more time on your itinerary, and potentially an additional overnight in the park.

If you prefer to hike the W Trek from west to east, culminating with an up-close encounter with the iconic towers themselves, here is a sample itinerary:

  • Day 1: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park  – You can get an early pickup in the towns to the south of the Torres del Paine National Park and then a transfer north to the Hotel Lago Grey. From there, a ferry whisks you across Grey Lake (Lago Grey) with the icy tongue of the colossal Grey Glacier looming ahead. This is your first chance to catch a glimpse of the famous Torres massif highlight, with a broadside of the twisted tops of the Cerro Paine Grande rising to the east. Your destination is the campsite and hut at the base of the Grey Glacier, a starting point for the west-to-east W Trek route. An alternative option here is to catch the catamaran ferry across Lake Pehoé (Lago Pehoé) and then walk to the Grey Glacier lodging from there.
  • Day 2: First Day of W Trek (Grey Lake & Glacier)  – Your W Trek hike starts by skirting the milky waters of Grey Lake going southwards. This is right beneath the Cerro Paine Grande and the Paine Horns, which are some of the most famous mountain summits in South America. Before setting off, I’d recommend taking some time to visit the Mirador Glaciar Grey. It adds a few hours of walking but offers a sweeping panorama of the point where the ice meets the frigid waters, with the potential to see calving ice sheets.
  • Day 3: Second Day of W Trek (Paine Grande to French Valley)  – For many, this day is the highlight of the whole W Trek. The path bends eastwards and north from your second campsite, taking you deep into the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park. The first step is the trek along the south side of the massif to the Italiano campsite. You can leave your main bags there for the expedition into the French Valley. Then, take the north spur into that famous cleft in the Andes, which soon becomes a lush land of twisted pine trees and meadows beneath the hanging French Glacier. If the group is walking well, the aim will be the jaw-dropping Mirador Británico at the end of the valley, all before a return to the Italiano campsite.
  • Day 4: Third Day of W Trek (Nordenskjöld Lake and Francés Sector) – You’re now back to skirting the southern edge of the Torres del Paine. Head east from the Italiano campsite and join the path that circles Nordenskjöld Lake (Lago Nordenskjöld). It will take much of the day to link up to your next W Trek overnight spot, but there are some fantastic lookouts along the way. They’ll put the high peaks of the Torres just behind and the rolling tundra of Chilean Patagonia in front, not to mention the placid waters of numerous alpine waters in the foreground.
  • Day 5: Fourth Day of W Trek (Las Torres Lookout) – After an early morning start, you will begin a tough uphill ascent through the craggy easternmost valley of the Torres massif. It’s steep but opens the way to the Mirador Las Torres, which is surely one of the most unforgettable viewpoints on the planet! There, you’ll see the three jagged peaks that give this region its name and reputation, jutting straight up from pearly blue waters. You should finish with photos around mid-morning, because you’ll be descending back down to the Central Sector and then to Laguna Amarga to board a bus back south to Puerto Natales (or Punta Arenas, for a longer journey).

These sample itineraries are just a start and the opportunities are endless. Regardless of whether you’re traveling solo or in a group of any size, our expert Adventure Consultants will craft extraordinary itineraries for your private travel needs. See how to get the ball rolling on your private travel dreams here .

15. The 5-Day W Trek Circuit

The W Trek circuit is often completed in four full days of trekking. However, approximately 30% of our travelers elect to do it in five days and spend a night at the Grey Mountain Refuge by Grey Glacier, either camping or in huts.

With this 5-day hike option, the typical fourth day of the standard 4-Day route’s 15-mile (24-kilometer) hike is essentially split in half and shared between Days 4 and 5: from Paine Grande Sector to Grey Sector on the fourth day and then back to Paine Grande Sector the next day to catch the catamaran across Lake Pehoé.

Trekkers who select the 5-day option and spend a night in Grey Sector also have the opportunity to take an ice trekking excursion on Grey Glacier (with crampons and ice axes) or go kayaking in Grey Lake, with amazing views of the massive glacier. Both of these adventure activities are offered multiple times per day, and are a great way to complement a trek in Torres del Paine.

16. W Trek Express

Most experts agree that this is the single most incredible trek in the whole of Patagonia, both on the Argentinian and Chilean sides of the border. However, not all travelers have the time to complete the entire adventure, which is why a more condensed version of the W Trek is now on the menu…

Cue the W Trek Express route. This cuts down your travel time by one day but still ensures you get to see all the legendary parts. Your travel from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine will take place on the same day that you begin trekking. It runs east to west, starting with the dramatic outlook over the Torres del Paine on an up-and-back route. Day two skirts the top end of Nordenskjöld Lake beneath the amazing Los Cuernos peaks. Day three is another there-and-back hike into the heart of the French Valley before a final day that whisks you across Lake Pehoé to be collected.

The whole Express W Trek can be self-guided or guided and done with hut accommodation or camping. One other important piece of information to note, since the Paine Grande hut does not typically open until October 1 each year, then your only option to do the W Trek trail in September is via the Express route.

17. Alternative routes to the W Trek (O Circuit and Q Circuit)

patagonia-trekking

The W Trek may be the most popular trail in Torres del Paine but it certainly isn’t the only walking route that will let you experience this awesome corner of Chilean Patagonia. Usually open from November to April, there are also two route extensions that take you counterclockwise on the trail but promise to whisk you even higher into the clouds as you explore the mountains and glaciers. They are:

  • The O Circuit (6-10 days) – Also known as the Paine Circuit, the O trek is the full circuit around the Cordillera del Paine mountains within the national park and includes the W route. It’s definitely a tougher and longer route, but its lesser traveled 74 miles (119 kilometers) of pure Patagonian wilderness will take you to the heights of the John Gardner Pass at about 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) above sea level. O Circuit trail highlights you’ll see include the reflective Lago Paine, a mesmerizingly turquoise lake, and the mountains from the northern section of the park.
  • The Q Circuit (7-11 days) – The Q Circuit is the longer version of the O Circuit. The Q route includes one extra day of trekking past Lake Pehoé. This one’s for the most dedicated of trekkers who have the most time (and money) to spare.  

If you have more time to spare and are up for an extended trek, definitely try out one of the treks above.

18. Where to go after the W Trek

You’ve got a few options for onward travel once you’ve finished the W Trek. The most obvious and popular place that hikers return to is Puerto Natales. Many trek packages even include a drop-off back in that town, which has become a bit of a buzzy outdoors hub in recent years, touting craft beer emporiums and wine tasting establishments. Puerto Natales also happens to be the best base for launching boat trips through the stunning fjords of Chilean Patagonia, including to the far-flung Tierra del Fuego for penguin watching and the Serrano Glacier a little closer by.

You might also want to use this opportunity to cross over into Argentinian Patagonia. The W Trek takes you very close to the border and there are regular buses that make the trip up to towns like El Calafate (5 hours) and El Chaltén (nine hours) from Puerto Natales. It’s a top option for continuing your adventures through the Andes, opening up hikes under the Fitz Roy (arguably the most famous mountain in Argentina) and visits to the Perito Moreno Glacier (a UNESCO site that showcases huge chunks of ice peeling off a glacier tongue).

Large blue glacier sheet on a lake surrounded by mountains

19. Visas for Chile

There’s a long list of 90 countries that get visa-free access to Chile, including virtually all of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. That means administrative work at the border or prior to departure shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you’ve got your heart set on the W Trek. Notable exceptions include Australian citizens, who are no longer charged a hefty reciprocity fee when they enter but do need to go through the process of pre-applying for a single- or multiple-entry visa. All travelers should have at least six months’ validity left on their passport before traveling.

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to 19 things you should know before hiking the W Trek in Chilean Patagonia! I hope this post has provided you with the necessary information to help you begin planning a truly memorable adventure tour to Chile. If you feel inspired, here are the other best places to visit in Chile .

hiking-w-trek-torres-del-paine-patagonia

This guide has covered a lot, but you may have more questions on hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine. If so, my experienced team here at The Explorer’s Passage would love to hear from you so please contact us and let’s chat .

We have been running trips and treks to Chile for 10 years. We pride ourselves on delivering extraordinary tours based on travelers’ needs and are humbled by our guests’ testimonials . In fact, our dedication has earned us a 5-star rating on Tripadvisor , and awards by Travel+Leisure Magazine and Newsweek. Check us out and discover why so many travelers worldwide choose us . My team and I would love for you to join us on the W Trek or any of our other adventures !

I hope to go exploring with you soon! 

Jeff Bonaldi Founder & CEO The Explorer’s Passage

About Jeff Bonaldi

Jeff Bonaldi is the Founder and CEO of The Explorer’s Passage, a premier adventure travel company. His mission is to provide travelers with the opportunity to transform their lives and the planet through the power of adventure.

Learn more about Jeff’s story and his company HERE .

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where is w trek

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Middle east, latin america, north america, comprehensive guide to hiking the w-trek in patagonia, destination guides.

There are some views that are so iconic that they’re instantly recognizable – the Mona Lisa or Starry Nights of the natural world. They’re places that, even though you’ve seen hundreds of photos, feel surreal as you’re standing there, gazing, happily letting time slip away as you soak in their remarkable spirit.

The Base of the Towers in Chilean Patagonia is one of those spots. I’ve browsed through dozens, maybe hundreds of photos, hoping that I’d get the chance to see it myself. When that chance came last February, I grabbed it – even though I only had a couple of days to plan for a whirlwind trip. Luckily I had my friend Carrie from Venture Patagonia to plan the entire thing!

I would be joining my friend Andrea along the W-Trek through Torres Del Paine National Park, one of the most famous trails in a land famous for its natural beauty.

where is w trek

What is the W-Trek?

The mileage and elevation gain of the W-Trek is no joke – almost 50 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing through Torres Del Paine National Park. But that walking can be spread out between three and seven days, making it a manageable trip for those new to trekking. We decided to take four days but needed another day of travel to reach the hike’s launch point at Glacier Grey.

The W-Trek is normally walked east to west, starting at Refugio Las Torres and ending at Refugio Paine Grande. It runs up three valleys, creating the W shape that gives it its name. Instead of traveling east to west, we actually started on the west and at Glacier Grey.

There were two reasons for this: First, Andrea was actually backpacking the entire “O-Circuit” which, unlike the W-Trek, can only be completed in one direction. Second, we wanted to end our trek at its most famous viewpoint – the Base of the Towers.

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The W-Trek in five days

Day one: lago grey.

Torres Del Paine is a huge national park, covering about 700 square miles, and the larger Patagonia region encompasses 400,000 square miles. Not unlike its largest American cousins, just traveling through the park can take some time.

To reach our launch point, we took The Grey III Ferry across Lago Grey, a lake at the base of the Grey Glacier. We stayed at the campground at Glacier Grey but had time for some fun before calling it a night. There are two great options that can both be completed in a few hours.

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Activity One: Kayak Lago Grey

That first afternoon, after meeting up with Andrea, we kayaked Lago Grey , soaking in views of the glacier cascading into the lagoon, with more ice dotting the surrounding peaks. Talk about a cold lake – it was literally chilled by icebergs that had broken off the glacier!

Our 2.5 hour beginner-friendly expedition service outfitted us with kayaking gear, including a neoprene suit, additional drysuit and booties, and other safety gear. At the time (2022), kayaking Lago Grey cost: $66.000 CLP per person.

Andrea and I shared a double kayak, slowly weaving through icebergs as the sun glinted off the water. It was the sort of unexpected joy that can be hard to capture on a meticulously planned backpacking trip!

Activity Two: Suspension Bridge Hike

A great second option is to hike to a pair of suspension bridges that span the lagoon and glaciers, offering stunning views of the massive, shifting ice. The 2.3 mile hike gains about 950 feet of elevation, making it manageable for the day before embarking on a major trek.

Day 2. Glacial exploration and Paine Grande: 11 km/6.8 miles

It’s hard to comprehend the scope of glaciers in Torres Del Paine. That’s what makes a hike on a glacier so incredible; there’s really no other way to feel so dwarfed by these amazing structures.

Before hitting the trail on our second day, Venture Patagonia arranged for us to go on a five-hour walk across the Grey Glacier. Our guide did a wonderful job of pointing out pools of stunning blue melt water, navigating safely around crevasses, and finding great photo spots. We were outfitted with crampons, an ice axe, and helmets.

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After the glacier walk, it was time to actually begin our path on the W-trek. Our first leg was the easiest, an 11km/6.8 mile walk. We set up our tent at Paine Grande and indulged in some luxuries like wifi, a shower, and a why-is-this-so-good ramen noodle dinner.

Day 3: Paine Grande to Los Cuernos: 25 km/15.8 miles

The realities of trekking set in quickly on day three. Sometimes, you just need to cover some miles. And sometimes, those days are hot – hot enough to make you wonder if hiking an extra section is worth it.

I’ve run into this question in a lot of different conditions. Making the safe choice matters most, but I’m almost always happy when I push forward… and we were thrilled that we pushed on to Mirador Britanico. After all, if you don’t do the French Valley to Mirador Britanico, did you even really hike the “W”?

This series of lookouts covers the middle swoop of the W, where the French Valley slices from Lake Nordenskjold into jagged highlands. We weren’t sure exactly what views would greet us as we hiked through the forested valley.

But the scenery was spectacular. Hanging glaciers lined sweeping rock walls, and sharp peaks gave us a taste of the famous towers to come. It’s amazing to think about how the same glaciers we walked across a few days ago helped to shape these gigantic peaks.

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These were the sort of views that end up on Instagram feeds – the greatest hits of a hike. And that’s great! They’re hits for a reason!

But for me, the hot, wooded trek there, the decisions we made along the way, and even the extensive travel to just get to our trailhead all help build into a crescendo that peaks at these kinds of beautiful spots. Without the journey there, they don’t have the same power.

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We stayed at Refugio Los Cuernos, which is named after “the horns,” a pair of massive granite peaks in the area. If you’re looking for a shorter day, Frances also has lodging options.

At Refugio Los Cuernos we opted to upgrade to our own private hut. Such a fun luxury! It was at this point that we also started enjoying breakfast and dinners at the refugios.

Day 4: Los Cuernos to Chileno: 12.8 km/8 miles

In some ways, this felt like a wrong way day. We hiked away from some of the most spectacular views at Los Cueros, traveling back along the middle swoop of the W, downhill past the towering granite and hanging glaciers.

At multiple points, Andrea and I mentioned how cool it would be to hike the W-Trek in the opposite direction – into the views. But we were soon back on the right track, continuing on the westward route that would eventually lead us to Los Torres.

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We climbed into the Ascension Valley gaining about 500 feet in a little more than a mile, reaching our camp at Refugio Chileno. Tomorrow would be our big day at the Base of the Towers… or at least we hoped so.

Day 5: Sunrise at Los Torres: 14 km/8.7 miles

This wasn’t a necessary sunrise hike. It’s only about 3 miles from Refugio Chileno to Los Mirador del Torres – The Base of the Towers – and we had enough time for a leisurely morning. Our beautiful weather was also running out.

A ranger at our refugio warned that ripping winds and rain were likely this morning. Those iconic towers would probably be swathed in clouds. But I’d seen too many photos of the stunning alpenglow that stains the towers bright pink at sunrise to give up that easily.

In hindsight, maybe it’s fitting that we decided to go anyway. It was a trip that I joined at the last second, that depended on so many little things going right. We put our faith in this one last thing breaking our way.

There’s no better way to soak in a beautiful view than in the early, changing light, as it shifts from a pale, even haze to a soft glow with hues of orange and pink.

We hiked up about 1,600 feet from Refugio Chileno, taking on the second major climb of the route. When we arrived at the base of the towers, it was still dark. We waited to see if we would get a weather window as the sun rose.

Did. We. Ever.

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Orange light bathed the towers and washed into the lake below. It was a fitting way to cap a trip that I had already spent so much time thinking about.

Ironically, I botched the camera settings for my own photos. Maybe it was the 4 a.m. wake-up call. Maybe it was cold fingers. I’d like to think that I was just lost in a surreal moment.

where is w trek

After the light show was over up at The Towers, we headed back down to Refugio Chileno to eat some lunch and pick up all the gear we had left behind for our quick assent that morning. Once we had packed up it was time for the final push. We ended our W-Trek at Hotel Las Torres with celebratory pisco sours.

We spent our final night with a surprise stay at EcoCamp Patagonia , a domed refugio that sits at the western edge of the trail. There’s nothing like a hot shower at the end of a trek, and a picturesque rainbow gave us one last shot of Patagonia beauty.

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Final Thoughts About My Experience On The W-Trek

The towers are among the most spectacular scenery that I’ve seen. It’s truly a privilege to be able to explore natural beauty far beyond my backyard, with logistics taken care of by Venture Patagonia to ease our path.

It’s also a fundamentally different experience than taking friends to places I’ve long visited in Washington, where I’m the one who can teach them about what we pass by on the trail.

Travel can be a pain (Paine? Too much?). There’s cost, planning, time off work, logistical hurdles, and simply the anxiety of putting yourself in an unfamiliar place.

But it can be so rewarding, and not just for the spectacular views that show up in an Instagram post. I got to spend time with my friend Andrea, an amazing writer and photographer in her own right. I met wonderful people from Venture Patagonia, who graciously shared their wisdom about Torres Del Paine.

And, as it gets increasingly difficult to take time off for outdoor adventures, I got to spend five days on the trail filled with appreciation for natural beauty and personal reflection.

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Camping vs. Refugios

It’s important to understand how lodging and backpacking operate in Torres Del Paine. There’s no dispersed camping like in some National Forests in the U.S. You can’t pitch a tent wherever you please.

Instead, camping occurs only at designated campgrounds. These are operated by different companies, have different costs, and are booked through different services.

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CONCAF (Chile’s version of the NPS) runs the Paso and Italiano campgrounds. Both are currently closed but might reopen for the 23-24 season. When open, they are free to stay at but need to be booked in advance at this Spanish-language website.

Fantastico Sur runs the Chileno, Frances, Los Cuernos, Seron, and Los Torres campgrounds. Each costs $21 USD for two people per night with an extra $11 USD per person. Book here.

Vertice Patagonia runs the Dickson, Los Perros, Glacier Grey, and Paine Grande campgrounds. Each campsite costs $9 USD per person. Book here.

We were lucky enough to get to experience a bit of everything. Our first two nights we camped in a 2-person tent I brought from home. Our third night we had a private hut at Los Cuernos, and our last night was spent in a dorm-style refugio room at Chileno.

There’s one huge advantage of spending every night at a refugio – you can carry way less stuff! There are also luxuries like wifi, showers, soft beds, and the comfort of enclosed sleeping quarters.

The flip side? Refugios are significantly more expensive than campgrounds. They aren’t available at all campgrounds in the park, including Italiano about halfway through the W-trek. Plus, you might end up in a dorm with a noisy sleeper.

Whether staying in a tent or refugios, you’ll share amenities like stores, restaurants, and bars. Some are great; others are a mixed bag. Most stores aren’t well stocked, campground bars can be a little noisy, and lodging whether by tent or refugio can seem a little cozy for those used to backpacking in solitude.

There’s also a middle ground. Many campsites rent tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads, helping you save on pack weight but avoid spending on a refugio. You can also bring some gear and rent some.

Does this seem like a lot to navigate? If so, you may want to work with a guide service like Venture Patagonia as we did !

where is w trek

Full Board vs. Self Supported – The Best Way to Eat on the W-trek

The availability of restaurants and stores at campgrounds along the W-trek opens up a variety of possibilities for staying fueled. You can select options ranging from full board, with meals prepared for you to get through the entire day, to self-supported, which is more like a solo backpacking trip where you carry all your food.

Most campgrounds have a restaurant that can provide dinner and breakfast on site, plus lunch to go. They can accommodate vegetarian and gluten-intolerant diets. You can order full board whether you stay in refugios or campsites.

If you prefer to prepare your own food, options are much like backpacking that many of us are used to in the U.S. You carry what you can eat and what you need to cook with. This includes dried meals, snacks like bars and gels, and larger cooked meals if you like a larger spread and can carry a bit more.

Campgrounds also have stores that focus on calorie-heavy staples like pasta, beans, candy, soda, chips, and ramen. They also have hygiene products, and if you like to unwind, beer and wine.

You can also pick and choose from available options. Do you want to eat breakfast and dinner on full-board but prefer your own snacks for lunch? That works. Do you want to prepare your own meals but enjoy an evening beer? That works. At our first campsite, we feasted on ramen noodles. You do you!

where is w trek

The Value of a Guide

A self supported hike along the W-Trek is not only possible, it’s an amazing experience! There are few things as rewarding as a successful solo backpacking trip. BUT given the extensive time and travel cost required to even get to Patagonia, you might consider going on a guided trip. Especially if you don’t have any previous trekking experience.

Reasons to Do a Guided Trek:

You don’t just hike the route, you learn about it. Guides are a wealth of information about the history, plants and animals, and hidden gems along the route. Hiking is so much more than trodding a path; guides help you immerse yourself in a place.

Lodging is a breeze. Guide companies take care of the sleeping arrangements, letting guests relax and enjoy the hike. A guide can also help secure any additional permits and fees you need.

No giant packs! I know I mentioned this already, but it’s a real treat to be able to embark on a multi-day hike without hoisting on a full pack.

Guides support local jobs. Outdoor recreation can be a critical resource for local economies, and services like guiding help local residents steward amazing natural places while providing for their families. Venture Patagonia’s owners Carrie and Kevin, live in Patagonia where Kevin grew up in a 5th-generation ranching family.

Self Supported W-Trek

If you are an experienced backpacker, self-supported can be a great option. The trail is in good shape and easy to follow, especially if you use a mapping application. You frequently see other hikers, who are usually happy to help with questions.

In many ways, the biggest challenge is booking campgrounds and refugios, arranging transportation into Torres Del Paine, and navigating the wider scope of international travel.

Self-Guided – An In-Between option!

You can also select a mix of services – which is what Andrea and I did. We felt confident that we could hike self-supported, but didn’t want to deal with the logistics of booking campgrounds, ordering meals, planning activities along the route, or arranging transportation before and after the trek.

That’s where Venture Patagonia came in! Many services let you customize the level of support you need.

When to Visit Torres Del Paine

Torres Del Paine is best visited during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months of December-February, though spring (September-November) and fall (March-May) also have their charms.

Winter (June-August) is more challenging and usually requires a guide but can be an amazing experience. Even during the summer months, be prepared for all types of weather!

where is w trek

What to Pack for The W-Trek in Torres Del Paine

Packing layers is a crucial aspect of preparing for any trekking trip as it helps you stay comfortable and safe in changing weather conditions. The weather can be unpredictable in Torres del Paine, and temperatures can vary significantly at different elevations and times of day.

Packing appropriate layers for the W-Trek allows you to adjust your clothing to match the changing conditions, keeping you warm, dry, and protected. I have an entire blog post dedicated to the gear you will need for the W-Trek , but here’s a packing list to help you get started:

where is w trek

  • Hiking boots : Choose sturdy, waterproof hiking boots that provide ankle support.
  • Waterproof and breathable rain jacket : The weather in Torres del Paine can be unpredictable, so a waterproof and breathable rain jacket is essential.
  • Insulated jacket : Nights can get chilly, so bring a warm, insulated jacket.
  • Quick-dry hiking pants : Opt for lightweight and quick-dry hiking pants that are comfortable for long hikes.
  • Moisture-wicking base layers : Bring moisture-wicking base layers, including shirts and underwear, to stay dry and comfortable during the trek.
  • Hiking socks : Pack several pairs of moisture-wicking hiking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
  • Sun hat : A wide-brimmed sun hat will protect you from the sun during the trek.
  • Gloves and beanie : Bring gloves and a beanie for warmth, especially if you plan to hike during the colder months.

Camping gear (For Self Supported Trips):

where is w trek

  • Tent : If you plan to camp along the trail, bring a lightweight and waterproof tent.
  • Sleeping bag : Choose a sleeping bag suitable for the weather conditions, preferably rated for cold temperatures.
  • Sleeping pad : A sleeping pad provides insulation and comfort while camping.
  • Cooking equipment : If you plan to cook your meals, bring a lightweight camping stove, cooking utensils, and a fuel canister (wait until you get to Patagonia to purchase).

Food and water:

  • High-energy snacks : Bring lightweight, high-energy snacks like nuts, trail mix, and energy bars to keep you fueled during the hike.
  • Water bottles or hydration bladder : Carry enough water bottles or a hydration bladder to stay hydrated along the trail, as water sources may be limited.

Other essentials:

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  • Backpack : A sturdy and comfortable backpack with a hip belt is necessary to carry all your gear during the trek.
  • Trekking poles (optional): Trekking poles provide stability and reduce strain on your knees during steep ascents and descents.
  • Headlamp : A headlamp is essential for navigating in the dark, especially if you plan to camp.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses : Protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s harsh rays with sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Insect repellent : Torres del Paine has mosquitoes and other insects, so bring insect repellent to protect yourself.
  • First aid kit : Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, blister pads, and any necessary medications.

Remember to check the weather forecast and trail conditions before your trip, and pack accordingly. It’s also advisable to pack light and only bring what you absolutely need to keep your backpack manageable during the trek. Happy hiking!

Just a quick heads up! Some of the links on this blog may be affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Don’t worry, though – it won’t cost you anything extra, and it’s a way for me to keep this blog up and running. Thanks for your support!

Leave No Trace

Don’t be that tourist! It can be tough to remember that areas of Patagonia are a fragile wilderness when your campground has a bar. But continue to keep a clean camp and embrace zero-impact principles when on the trail and in the backcountry to ensure that future generations have the chance to enjoy this amazing place!

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Complete Packing List For The W-Trek In Patagonia

Tips For Hiking The Tour Du Mont Blanc

Complete Guide To Backpacking The Mineral King Loop

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WoW! Always inspiring and so hard to choose which views are my favorite when all are fantastic. I love living my life vicariously through your treks!

Thanks so much for the kind feedback John! the W-Trek was definitely one of my favorite adventures. Thanks for taking the time to stop by the blog and leave a comment – always very appreciated.

Amazing W-trik. I go through your blog post and it’s Wounderfull and very attractive. For a short time I feel like I was with you on your five day trip. Enjoy your day

Hi Jess, thanks a lot for the very detailed itinerary. Wondering what did you do on the final day after the trek before returning to Puerto Natales ? Did you have some private transportation to get you back while stopping at view points along the way ?

Yes! That’s exactly what we did. After the trek we spent the night at EcoCamp Patagonia, then the next day Venture Patagonia picked us up and drove us on a scenic tour through the park back to Puerto Natales.

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Worldly Adventurer

The Ultimate Guide to Hiking the ‘W’ Trek in Torres del Paine Without A Tour

By Author Steph Dyson

Posted on Last updated: 12th December 2023

Hiking the W in Chilean Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park is one of the absolute highlights of a visit to Patagonia – I should know, I’ve done it twice!

Back in March 2016, I walked the Torres del Paine W trek as part of a tour around Patagonia and was so struck by the park that I returned in March 2017 to hike the Full O Circuit .

In September 2022, I returned on a third occasion, this time to explore the other attractions of Torres del Paine National Park beyond these two, multi-day hikes.

It’s fair to say that on all occasions I have fallen head over heels in love with this part of Chilean Patagonia.

The problem is, the first time I hiked the W trek in Patagonia, I did so as part of a guided tour. We were dropped off at the Pudeto ferry port on Lake Pehoé and from that point onwards barely even had to think for ourselves.

We hiked the W during the day led along the one path by our guides and arrived at night to pre-pitched tents and pre-paid food.

However, it didn’t take more than five minutes of being in the park to realize that a tour was utterly unnecessary and that trekking in Torres del Paine solo and self-guided is easy and will also save you a whole stash of money.

What's in this article:

At the towers of Torres del Paine National Park after hiking up. The Torres del Paine W hike is easy to organise and arrange without a tour.

Know-before-you-go facts about the Torres del Paine W Trek

  • How long is the W trek in Torres del Paine? It’s an 80-kilometer (50-mile) hike that most do over four or five days.
  • When can you hike the W trek? The park is open year-round, however, for self-guided trekking, you can only hike between October and the end of April. If you want to hike during the winter months (May through September), you’ll need to arrange a guide. Our local partner, Chile Nativo, lead winter tours of the W trek and  offer a 5% discount to Worldly Adventurer readers  (use “Worldly Adventurer” in the referral discount box when you book!).
  • Do you need to reserve camping spots/dormitory accommodation in advance of hiking the W? Yes, you must have reservations at each of the campgrounds or dormitories in which you plan to stay during the hike. You might be required to show your reservations when you enter the park, too.
  • What about food? You can reserve full board at the campgrounds, which will include an evening meal, breakfast the day after your stay, and a packed lunch for you to take to the next campground. This typically needs to be booked in advance, although if you get to the campground early enough, you can sometimes do it on the day. Some campgrounds offer buffet dining (Grey and Paine Grande), so can be a good place to stock up on some snacks for the following day.
  • Are reservations open for the campgrounds and dormitories along the W trek for the 2023/2024 season? Yes, reservations opened in July.
  • How fit do you need to be to hike the W trek? While previous backpacking experience is not necessary, you do need a reasonable level of fitness to be able to climb up into the Frances Valley and up to the towers themselves. It’s helpful to have done a couple of practice walks, with a backpack weighing around 10 kilograms (22 pounds), in preparation for the trail.
  • Do you need to book your park entrance ticket in advance? You must book online as they are no longer accept payments at the park entrance. Book your ticket online here . You need to download the QR code in Puerto Natales while you have internet (there is no signal in the park) and may need to show a copy of your passport to prove you do not live in Chile.
  • How much does it cost to enter Torres del Paine National Park? The cost of entering the park varies according to how long you plan on staying. For up to three days in the national park, it costs $31,200 CLP ($34 USD) for adults and $16,000 CLP ($17 USD) for children aged 12 to 17. For over three days in the park, the cost is $44,500 CLP ($48 USD) for both adults and children.
  • What is the altitude of Torres del Paine National Park? The highest point in the park is the John Gardner Pass at an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) above sea level. However, only those trekking the O Circuit are required to reach this height; all of the W trek is at altitudes below this.

Firstly though, what actually is the W? The W is a four- or five-day hike in Chilean Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. It’s named the W because it follows a W-shaped route and can be hiked either from west to east (my preferred route) or from east to west.

Along the way, you stay overnight in official campgrounds, which also have indoor dormitories, covered cooking areas for campers, and restaurants where you can eat pre-ordered meals.

Is the W worth it, though? It’s one of Patagonia’s easiest multi-day hikes and, while hiking for five days might not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list, the scenery in Torres del Paine National Park makes up for the hard work! Every day has spellbinding views: whether of Grey Glacier on day one, the French Valley on day two or three, or the eponymous towers on the final day of the hike.

You’ll finish tired but truly fulfilled by the experience – and proud of yourself for having completed it! Bear in mind that the W trek is a moderately challenging hike. If you’re able to walk up to 18 kilometers (11 miles) per day (and feel like you would be able to do that over multiple days), then you will find this hike perfectly doable.

That said, the hike up to the towers on the final day of the W (or the first, if you’re hiking east to west), is classed as a difficult hike due to the elevation gain of 900 meters (2,956 ft).

Bear in mind that you will be trekking with a backpack; the contents will depend on whether you’re carrying your tent and meals or planning on renting camping equipment and paying for meals at the campgrounds en route. Before hiking up the French Valley and up to the towers, you can also leave your backpacks at the rangers’ station or campsite, which means you won’t have to carry them up much elevation.

I highly recommend that, before heading to Patagonia, you go on a couple of hikes of around 18 kilometers (11 miles) with a backpack that will mimic the weight you’ll be carrying in the park – this will also help you to break in any hiking boots you might have bought for the trek and find out if they give you blisters!

How much does it cost to hike the W?

I’ve hiked the W twice: once as part of a tour and another time independently as part of hiking the O Circuit (which is a nine- or ten-day hike circumnavigating the national park and whose final five days are the W).

On my second visit to the national park, it became clear that I really didn’t need to hike the trails using a tour company. Not only is it expensive (it costs from $1,500 USD per person), but it’s unnecessary; all of the trails are clearly marked and busy with people and it’s easy enough to make camping reservations yourself.

Hikers on the Torres del Paine W trek, Patagonia with views across Glacier Grey

Hiking the W independently costs $157,000 CLP per person ($173 USD – check here for the most up-to-date conversion), plus the cost of food .

Camping and Transport cost breakdown*

  • Return bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park: $13.323 CLP ($15 USD)
  • Adult entrance fee into the park: $44,000 CLP ($49 USD)
  • One-way ferry from Pudeto de Paine Grande Ranger Station: $30,000 CLP ($40 USD) 
  • Grey Campsite: $11,000 CLP (per person) ($12 USD)
  • Paine Grande Campsite: $11,000 CLP (per person) ($12 USD)
  • Francés Campsite: $31,000 CLP (per person) ($35 USD)**
  • El Chileno Campsite: $31,000 CLP (per person) ($35 USD)***

* these figures are all updated for the 2023/2024 season.

**based on two people sharing a tent

***Torres Ranger Station (the free camping closest to the towers) is closed for the foreseeable future.

Food breakdown

  • When we hiked the Full Circuit, we paid $68,620 CLP ($95 USD) between four people for all of our food. That’s $17,155 CLP ($20,5 USD) per person. No kidding.
  • So for your food budget, expect to spend no more than $10,000 CLP ($12 USD) (read this full outline of exactly what we took with us in terms of food when we walked the Circuit)

If you want to save time, the website Torres Hike can show you the availability of accommodation and allows you to book it directly through them , rather than having to go via the Vertice Patagonia and Las Torres (previously known as Fantastico Sur) websites. All you need to do is plug in your dates and it’ll show you which campgrounds and refugios are available – saving you LOTS of time. You can then book directly with them, rather than having to try and book through the other websites!

How do you make campsite and refugio bookings for Torres del Paine?

The system for making refugio and camping reservations has changed dramatically over the past couple of years and a lot of the information you find online about the subject is out of date.

I also put together this epic, 5,000-word post about securing camping reservations in Torres del Paine that literally walks you through the process. However, I highly recommend just using Torres Hike . Yes, they charge you a small fee, but it honestly saves you so much time.

The reason it’s so challenging to make reservations independently is because there are two different companies who offer campgrounds and dorms in the park and you will have to reserve some campgrounds with one on their website and some with another on their website; trust me, it’s a painful process. Save yourself the stress and hassle of doing this by using Torres Hike instead.

Reservations are now open for the 2023/2024 season. If you’re struggling to find spots for the coming season, you should also read my article about alternative ways to hike the W if you can’t get camping reservations .

You can also check out this ultimate guide to Torres del Paine National Park , covering everything from the best time to visit, to where to stay and what to do beyond the W trek.

If you’re completely baffled by the process and just want someone else to deal with it, you can book with my partner in the region, Chile Nativo , who organise, guided, self-guided and fast-track (three-day) W treks. They give a 5% discount to Worldly Adventurer readers (use “Worldly Adventurer” in the referral discount box when you book!).

What equipment do you need to hike the W without a tour?

To pay as little as possible trekking Torres del Paine solo, it does require that you have the following pieces of equipment:

  • A tent: I strongly recommend the lightweight Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 tent  ( REI | Backcountry | Amazon ), the North Face Stormbreak 2 (buy it on REI | Amazon ), or, for more room, the North Face Stormbreak 3 (buy it on ( REI ).
  • A sleeping bag: I recommend the Nemo Disco 15 for women (buy it on REI ) and for men (buy it on REI ).
  • A sleeping pad: Get a cheap foam pad ( REI | Backcountry | Amazon ) or a more comfortable Therm-a-rest Prolite (buy it on REI | Backcountry | Amazon ).
  • A headlamp : Useful for midnight toilet visits and the hike up to the towers (buy one on REI | Black Diamond | Backcountry ).
  • A cooking stove and gas: My favourite is the MSR Dragonfly (buy it on REI | Backcountry | Amazon ), although the cheaper MSR PocketRocket 2 (buy it on REI | Backcountry | Amazon ) is great value for those on more of a budget.
  • Cooking pots: I recommend the MSR pots set (buy them on Backcountry | Amazon ) as they’re good quality and food will stick less, which will make them easier to clean.
  • Plates, a mug, and cutlery : A collapsible bowl is a great space saver (check out Sea to Summit on REI | Backcountry | Amazon ); I recommend a reasonably cheap, plastic mug (buy it on REI | Backcountry | Amazon ) and for cutlery, a multipurpose spork is a good choice (check them out on REI | Backcountry | Amazon ).

Torres del Paine Patagonia W trek at Cuernos campground with views across Los Cuernos

I’ve detailed exactly the items that I packed for the O Circuit in Torres del Paine (and which are still relevant to the W trek) and also what  I pack in my rucksack on a trip to Patagonia in this packing checklist . Both have a free packing checklist download, too. 

I recommend you take a look if you’re thinking of investing in camping equipment before you head over to Patagonia (something I would strongly advise if you plan on doing any other hikes or  wild camping or if you’re looking at exploring the Carretera Austral ). 

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If you’re already traveling around Patagonia, what can you do to get your hands on this camping equipment for Torres del Paine?

You have three options:

Buy equipment in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales

There is a wide range of hiking and camping equipment shops in these two towns. Punta Arenas is a tax-free zone so prices here are cheaper than you will find in Puerto Natales, although Calle Manuel Bulnes in the latter has some gear shops.

I actually found a pair of waterproof trousers for only $15,000 CLP ($18 USD) in one of the shops there, which is a lot cheaper than I thought they would be.

If you’re looking to buy equipment for camping and hiking in Torres del Paine National Park, you should be able to find everything that you need in these shops, but you will pay an elevated price for good-quality gear.

Estimated additional cost: $360,000 CLP+ ($400 USD+) per person

Rent equipment from Puerto Natales

Your second option is to rent all of your camping and cooking equipment from Rental Natales (you can book online) in Puerto Natales. However, they are very expensive.

There are other places in Puerto Natales to rent equipment too, so I suggest having a wander around and looking out for signs for rental equipment. Yaghan House (O’Higgins 584) and Lili Patagonico’s (Arturo Prat 479) have much cheaper, good-quality rental gear.

Remember to check the equipment thoroughly before committing as it does get a lot of wear and tear on the trail and you want something without holes and with zips that close to keep you warm and dry!

Estimated additional cost: $147,000 CLP ($162 USD) per person (based on two sharing) for five days’ rental

Rent equipment at each campsite in Torres del Paine National Park

Your final option is by far the most expensive. Each of the main camping grounds in Torres del Paine rents out tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats – but at a very high cost.

For example, in Grey campground, you can hire a two-man tent for $29,000 CLP ($32 USD), a sleeping bag for $21,000 CLP ($23 USD), and a sleeping mat for $8,000 CLP ($9 USD), bringing up your overnight cost (including the cost of the camping site) to $53,000 CLP ($58 USD) per person per night (based on two sharing).

Bear in mind, this doesn’t include the cost of hiring cooking equipment (which you can’t do at the campsites), so you will also need to pay for meals at each – an additional cost of between $55,000 CLP ($61 USD) and $80,000 CLP ($88 USD).

Estimated additional cost: $232,000 CLP ($256 USD) per person for equipment and $256,000 CLP ($282 USD) per person for full board for five days hiking the W circuit (based on two sharing).

How do you get from Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales ?

It’s easy enough to get to Torres del Paine National Park with public transport.

Four companies travel from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine each morning and all cost around $22,000 CLP ($25 USD) for a return ticket (which can be used on any of the company’s buses back from the park).

You can buy tickets online for Bus Sur (who have lots of departures); other companies do run this route, however you need to buy tickets from their offices, which are inside the Terminal Rodoviario (Av. España 1455) in Puerto Natales.

If there are a few of you, consider negotiating a group price like we did, which got us a few thousand pesos off per ticket.

It’s advisable to book your bus ticket at least a week in advance when visiting the park in high season (December through February).

Timetables for buses from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (east to south: Laguna Amarga, Pudeto and Administración)*

Conventionally, buses have departed from Puerto Natales and entered the park via the northeastern entrance at Laguna Amarga (for the minibus to the eastern starting point for the W), before continuing to Pudeto (for the catamaran to the western starting point for the W) and finally to Administración (not a destination along the W trek).

These now continue along to Hotel Lago Grey and stop at Camping Pehoé en route, too.

These bus timetables are below and can be booked online in advance via Bus Sur’s website:

Pre-pandemic, the following companies also offered services. However, their websites are no longer active and I can’t find them on any local booking sites.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have buses, however; if you can’t get a reservation with Bus Sur then it’s still worth going to the bus terminal in Puerto Natales as some will likely still be in operation and with similar departure times:

  • Transport Maria José (tel. 61/2410 951)
  • Buses Gómez (tel. 61/2415700)
  • JB Buses Patagonia (tel. 61/2410 242)
  • Buses Juan Ojeda (tel. 9/8943 7808)

*Service available November through April

Timetables for buses from Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales (Administración, Pudeto, Laguna Amarga)*

The following timetables are when buses can return you to Puerto Natales from the four different stops in the park. They can also be booked online and in advance via Bus Sur’s website.

Note that you have to return with the same bus company you entered the park with – you won’t be allowed on a different company’s buses. You don’t have to book a particular bus time; you will be able to turn up and get onto whichever bus you choose.

As above, there should be other companies offering buses to and from Puerto Natales into the park; visit the Terminal Rodovario in Puerto Natales to find out if you can’t make a reservation with Bus Sur.

Where do you buy your Torres del Paine entrance ticket?

The cost of entering the park varies according to how long you plan on staying. For up to three days in the park, it costs $31,200 CLP ($34 USD) for adults and $16,000 CLP ($17 USD) for children aged 12 to 17. For over three days in the park, the cost is $44,500 CLP ($48 USD) for both adults and children.

It’s no longer possible to buy your ticket at the Laguna Amarga entrance to the national park (the first stop on the bus if entering via that entrance) or at the Administración entrance (if entering via that entrance).

The signposts indicting the start of the Torres del Paine W hike Patagonia at the Paine Grande campground

You must buy it in advance online here . You must download the QR code to your phone before you enter the park (as you won’t have signal when you get there!) and bring your passport to show that you’re not a Chilean resident.

Torres del Paine W trek itineraries

Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park is significantly cheaper if you go self-guided.

There is also absolutely no chance that you’ll get lost. Believe me, the W trek is now so busy that (unfortunately) you see people all the time.

If you want to trek Torres del Paine solo, you can either hike from west to east (my preference, as I’ll go into below) or east to west.

When you enter the park and pay your fee, you will be provided with a Torres del Paine W trek map to be used when you’re walking.

Unfortunately, the map that you get from CONAF doesn’t include distances. I would strongly recommend you download Maps.me, a free app that has all the trails marked and you can use it to work out distances if required.

Itinerary one: W trek in five days with sunrise at Mirador Las Torres (west to east route)

Why hike this route:

  • This trail builds up to the most exciting part of the trek, the Mirador Las Torres viewpoint on the final day.
  • It also starts with a short first day, giving you time to get into your stride.

Want to know how to book the campsites mentioned in this itinerary? Head over to this comprehensive article about booking Torres del Paine camping or hostel accommodation . 

Map of the Torres del Paine W trek itinerary from West to East in four days

Day One: Puerto Natales to Grey

  • Distance:  11 kilometers (6.8 miles)
  • Duration: 3-4 hours hiking

6:50am Take a bus from Puerto Natales to the Pudeto (the catamaran ferry stop). You will stop at the park entrance when you first get into Torres del Paine to show your entrance ticket.

You must have bought this in advance online here and downloaded the QR code to your phone (there isn’t internet cell service at Laguna Amarga!).

9:50am Arrive at Pudeto. Queue up for the catamaran ferry across the lake.

10:30am Take the ferry across to Paine Grande*. This service is operated by  Hielos Patagonicos  ($25,000 ($30 USD) single, cash only). Tickets cannot be reserved in advance; you buy them at the ferry port.

Ferry schedules do sometimes change; you can check up-to-date ones here .

11:40am Arrive at Paine Grande and trek to Grey. The trail starts to go uphill but soon levels off and has great views of Lago Grey to keep your spirits up!

16:00pm The hike from Paine Grande takes between three and four hours so expect to arrive late afternoon at Grey to pitch your tent, meet some other hikers, and cook dinner.

Day Two: Grey to Paine Grande

  • Distance:  18 kilometers (11 miles)
  • Duration: 6-7 hours hiking

8:00am Wake up and have breakfast.

9:00am Leave your stuff at the campsite and return a few hours later to pack everything up. From the campsite, an additional one kilometre north through the forest brings you go two viewpoints lying over a kilometre from the glacier’s snout. From here, look out for enormous chunks of ice in the water.

Continue a further 2.5 kilometres (around a one-hour hike) along the path along the edge of the glacier to reach a series of two rope bridges hanging over ravines.

From here you get the best views of the glacier and, if you’re lucky and it’s a clear day, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field beyond.

Return to Grey along the same path and back to Paine Grande.

16:00pm You’ll arrive at Paine Grande at around 4pm, which is where you’ll spend the night. The facilities are great here, with a covered dining area for campers.

A drawbridge over a river on the Torres del Paine W hike Patagonia

Day Three: Paine Grande to Francés

  • Distance:  11.5 kilometers (6.8 miles) plus 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) for the extension to Mirador Británico)
  • Duration: 4 hours hiking (7.5 hours with extension to Mirador Británico)

8:00am Get up, have breakfast and pack up your tent.

9:00am Today begins with a flattish trek around Lake Nordernskjold to Guardería Italiano. You can leave your bags here with the ranger before hiking up into the Francés Valley.

Note that there’s a new trail that begins about one km (15 mins) after you leave Paine Grande. It’s a little longer – 9 km (5.6 miles) rather than 7 km (4.3 miles) – and so takes around 30 minutes longer, but it has fewer hikers on it and is really pretty.

11:00am The hike up the Francés Valley may be long or painfully short – all depending on the weather. Both times I’ve walked Torres del Paine W hike I’ve experienced dreadful weather in the Francés Valley.

This part of the hike marks the central section of the W and it’s all uphill. After an hour’s steep gradient up a rocky, slippery trail to Mirador Francés, look for Glaciar Francés as it clings to the mountainside in the west.

If you’re feeling energetic, and the weather’s playing fair, you can continue climbing to Mirador Británico (an additional 3.5 km (2 miles) each way; around three hours’ return), where you’ll view a ring of toothy granite peaks, including the park’s second most famous landmark, the three-horned Cuernos del Paine.

It’s one of the park’s most stunning viewpoints—when the sky is clear. You may even see an endangered Southern Andean huemul (a type of deer) around here.

Luckily, the hike back is downhill to return to Campamento Italiano, where you pick up your rucksack and hike the 30 minutes to reach Francés.

13:00pm-16:00pm Arrive at Francés*, pitch up and enjoy the views across the lake.

*If there is no availability at Francés when you go to make your refugio or campsite reservations , you can instead book to stay at Los Cuernos, which is a further 3.5 kilometers (one hour) from Francés.

Day Four: Francés to El Chileno*

  • Distance:  17 kilometers (10.5 miles)
  • Duration: 4-5 hours hiking

9:00am Leave the campsite and begin the trek to El Chileno, situated about two hours from the bottom of the towers.

This trek meanders alongside the lake, gaining and losing altitude as it goes, until you reach the start of the valley where it becomes all uphill. The views are incredible but if it’s sunny, it will be hot!

16:00pm Arrive at El Chileno* and pitch your tent. Get everything organised for the morning as you’ll be leaving early. Check with the staff what time sunrise will be the next morning.

*For the 2023-2024 season, and for the foreseeable future, Torres Ranger Station is not open to the public. It’s no longer as easy to get to the towers for dawn as the distance is now around four kilometres, rather than one kilometre; however, it is still possible to do it.

If you can’t get a pitch at Chileno, it is possible to hike from Torres Central/Norte ($25 USD camping pitch per person). Although you’re not officially supposed to hike from here up to the towers, you can: leave four hours ahead of sunrise. It’s an additional one-hour 45 minutes if starting from Torres Central/Norte to reach the towers.

Dawn at the towers on the Torres del Paine W trek

Day Five: El Chileno*  to Laguna Amarga and Puerto Natales

  • Distance:  13 kilometers (8 miles) plus 8 kilometers (5 miles) for the hike from the Centro de Bienvenida to Laguna Amarga)
  • Duration: 6 hours hiking (add an extra 1.5-2 hours for the hike to Laguna Amarga)

4:30am Wake up and take a small bag (including warm clothes and a snack) to see the torres at dawn. Don’t forget your torch as the route is over rocks and can be treacherous.

4:45am Start hiking up to the torres . For us at the very start of March, dawn was at about 7:15am.

8:00am Leave the torres and return to the campsite. Pack up, have breakfast start the long walk down.

12.30pm When you get to Las Torres Hotel car park, there is a shop selling ice creams. To get the shuttle minibus to take you to Laguna Amarga, you need to hike one kilometre down the road towards Torres Central/Norte to reach the Centro de Bienvenida /Welcome Centre.

Shuttles ($4,000 CLP ($6 USD) – you must pay in cash at the shuttle) leave throughout the day to take you to Laguna Amarga. Departures leave the Welcome Centre at 8am, 2pm, 4pm and 7pm daily , and take about 30 mins.

If you can face the walk, it’s about another one and a half hours to the Laguna Amarga Ranger Station where buses are waiting to pick you up.

Hiking there, you can get good views of the towers as they rise out of the Cordillera Paine if the weather is clear.

14:30pm Take the bus from Laguna Amarga back to Puerto Natales.

17:00pm Arrive in Puerto Natales bus station and go and enjoy a pint at Cerveza Baguales on the Plaza de Armas to celebrate!

If time allows, consider spending a night in Puerto Natales to explore all the town has to offer before your onward journey. Our guide to the best hotels in Puerto Natales caters for all budgets, styles and preferences.

*If you can’t get a pitch at Chileno, it is possible to hike from Torres Central/Norte ($21 USD camping pitch per person). Although you’re not officially supposed to hike from here up to the towers, you can: leave four hours ahead of sunrise. It’s an additional one-hour 45 minutes if starting from Torres Central/Norte to reach the towers.

Make sure you bring a headtorch for climbing in the dark (it will get lighter as you reach the more difficult stretch of hiking just below the towers), plus warm clothing (even including a sleeping bag) to use at the top and keep you cozy as you enjoy the sunrise.

Itinerary two: Torres del Paine W trek in four days with sunrise at Mirador Las Torres (west to east route)

Why hike this route?

  • It’s a good option if you don’t have much time

Map of the Torres del Paine W trek itinerary from west to east in four days

Day Zero – Puerto Natales to Paine Grande

  • Distance: nil
  • Duration: nil

2.30pm Catch the Bus Sur bus from Puerto Natales.

You will stop at the park entrance at Laguna Amarga when you first get into Torres del Paine to pay your entrance fee.

You must have paid for your ticket in advance online here AND downloaded the QR code; you will not find cell service or WIFI at the entrance.

Tents in the Paine Grande campsite in Torres del Paine, on the W hike Patagonia

5.15pm Arrive at Pudeto take the ferry across to Paine Grande at 6pm. This service is operated by  Hielos Patagonicos  ($25,000 ($30 USD) single, cash only).

Tickets cannot be reserved in advance; you buy them at the ferry port. Ferry schedules and prices do sometimes change; you can check up-to-date ones here and the 9am ferry only runs November through the end of March.

6.30pm Pitch up at Paine Grande, have some dinner and then have an early night in preparation for a long day’s hiking tomorrow.

Day One – Paine Grande to Paine Grande

  • Distance:  22 kilometers (14 miles) plus 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) if you hike to the last viewpoint)
  • Duration: 7-9 hours hiking

7:00am Get up, have breakfast, and pack up your tent.

08:00am Take the trail towards Grey; it starts uphill but soon levels off and has great views of Lago Grey to keep your spirits up!

If you’re fit, you can hike an additional one kilometre north through the forest brings you go two viewpoints lying over a kilometre from the glacier’s snout. From here, look out for enormous chunks of ice in the water.

Turn back and return the way you came, past Grey and then back to Paine Grande.

17:00pm  Arrive late afternoon back at Paine Grande to meet some other hikers and cook dinner.

Day Two – Paine Grande to Frances

9:00am  Hike to the ranger station, Guardaria Italiano (around two hours), where you leave your rucksack with the ranger. You’ll pick it up on your way back down from the Francés Valley.

The hike up the Francés Valley may be long or painfully short – all depending on the weather. Both times I’ve walked Torres del Paine W hike I’ve experienced dreadful weather in the Francés Valley.

If you’re feeling energetic, and the weather’s playing fair, you can continue climbing to Mirador Británico (an additional 3.5 km each way; around three hours’ return), where you’ll view a ring of toothy granite peaks, including the park’s second most famous landmark, the three-horned Cuernos del Paine.

Luckily, the hike back is downhill to return to Italiano, where you pick up your rucksack and hike the 30 minutes to reach Francés.

*If there is no availability at Francés when you go to make your refugio or campsite reservations , you can instead book to stay at Los Cuernos, which is a further 3.5 kilometres (one hour) from Francés.

The Torres del Paine W circuit path leading up to the Torres

Day Three: Francés to El Chileno*

9:00am Leave the campsite and begin the trek to El Chileno, situated about two hours from the bottom of the towers. This trek meanders alongside the lake, gaining and losing altitude as it goes, until you reach the start of the valley where it becomes all uphill.

The views are incredible but if it’s sunny, it will be hot!

*For the 2023-2024 season and for the foreseeable future, Campamento Torres, the campground just below the towers, is not open to the public. It’s no longer as easy to get to the towers for dawn as the distance is now around four kilometres, rather than one kilometre; however, it is still possible to do it.

Day Four: El Chileno* to Laguna Amarga and Puerto Natales

Shuttles ($4,000 CLP ($6 USD) – you must pay with cash in the shuttle) leave throughout the day to take you to Laguna Amarga. Departures are at 8am, 2pm, 4pm, 7pm and takes about 30 minutes.

All You Need to Know About Hiking the Torres del Paine O Circuit Story Poster Image

*If you can’t get a pitch at El Chileno, it is possible to hike from Torres Central/Norte ($25 USD camping pitch per person). Although you’re not officially supposed to hike from here up to the towers, you can: leave four hours ahead of sunrise.

Make sure you bring a headtorch for climbing in the dark (it will get lighter as you reach the more difficult stretch of hiking just below the towers), plus warm clothing (even including a sleeping bag) to use at the top and keep you cosy as you enjoy the sunrise.

Itinerary three: Torres del Paine W hike in five days (east to west route)

Why hike this route: 

  • Not only do you get to complete the W, it gives you time for a bonus extra hike to the Los Cuernos or Salto Grande viewpoints.

Want to know how to book the campsites mentioned in this itinerary? Head over to this comprehensive article about booking Torres del Paine camping or hostel accommodation .

Map of the Torres del Paine W trek itinerary from East to West in five days

Day One: Puerto Natales to Mirador Las Torres & Torres Central/Norte

  • Distance: 18.4 kilometers (11.4 miles) 
  • Duration: 6-7 hours hiking 

6:45am Take a bus from Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga. You can book tickets online with Bus Sur or go to the bus station in Puerto Natales the day before you start hiking and book with them or one of the other companies there. 

8:45am Arrive at Laguna Amarga. Show your entrance ticket at the ranger’s station.

9:00am To get to the start of the W, you need to take a shuttle bus ($4,000 CLP ($6 USD) – you must pay in cash at the shuttle) to the Centro de Bienvenida (Welcome Centre). 

Departures theoretically leave from Laguna Amarga at 9am, 3pm,  5pm and 8pm daily , and take about 30 mins. However, Las Torres (who run the shuttle service) have assured me that the shuttle bus awaits the arrival of the bus from Puerto Natales and will take all passengers that are waiting to board – sending for a second shuttle if there are more passengers than seats. 

9.30am You’ll be staying overnight at the Torres Central/Norte campground, so check in and leave your big bags and take warm layers, food, and plenty of water for the hike up to the towers. 

Start hiking up to the torres . It’s all uphill and it can be quite steep at points, but it’s worth the effort! All in all, you gain around 800m (2,620 feet).

A hiker stands on a rock in front of Laguna Torres in Torres del Paine National Park along the W hike, a must-visit destination for any Patagonia itinerary

Take your time, drink plenty of water, and relax when you get to the top. 

13:30pm Arrive at Mirador Las Torres and enjoy the views. 

15.00pm Start hiking back to the campsite; you’re trekking back the way you came. 

17.00pm Pitch your tent, have dinner, and relax! 

Day Two: Torres Central/Norte to Francés 

  • Distance: 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) 
  • Duration: 5.5 hours hiking

9:00am Get up, have breakfast and pack up your tent.

10:00am You leave Torres Central heading west and reach Lago Nordernskjold. The trail meanders alongside the lake, gaining and losing altitude as it goes. The views are incredible but if it’s sunny, it will be hot!

15:30pm Reach Francés campground, where you’ll stay tonight. Pitch up and enjoy views across the lake. Bear in mind that check-in at Francés doesn’t start until 2.30pm and hot showers aren’t available until 5pm, so take your time on the hike. 

Day Three: Francés to Mirador Británico & Paine Grande

  • Distance: 14 kilometers (8.6 miles) from Francés to Mirador Británico and 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from Guardería Italiano to Paine Grande
  • Duration: 5.5 hours hiking from Francés to Mirador Británico and 2.5 hours from Guardería Italiano to Paine Grande

9:00am If the weather is good, today is going to be a long day as you climb up into the Francés Valley. Both times I’ve walked Torres del Paine W hike I’ve experienced dreadful weather in the Francés Valley.

From Francés, head west along the path beside the lake to reach Guardería Italiano, a rangers’ station and former (now defunct) campground. Here, you can drop your big rucksacks; just take warm clothing and food for the hike up to the Mirador Británico* (British Viewpoint). This part of the hike marks the central section of the W and it’s all uphill. After an hour’s steep gradient up a rocky, slippery trail to Mirador Francés, look for Glaciar Francés as it clings to the mountainside in the west.

Views across the amphitheatre of the Cordillera Paine at the Mirador Britanico, accessible on a two-day hike in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia

Luckily, the hike back is downhill to return to Guardería Italiano. Pick up your bags and take the new trail that begins just after the rangers’ station; take the lefthand fork that follows closer along the lake. It’s a little longer – 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) rather than 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) – and so takes around 30 minutes longer, but it has fewer hikers on it and is really pretty.

18:30pm Arrive at Paine Grande, pitch your tent and enjoy a hot shower!

*You’re only allowed to start hiking up to the viewpoint until midday, so don’t delay getting to the rangers’ station – although this rule isn’t always enforced!

Day Four: Paine Grande to Grey & Puerto Natales

  • Distance: 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) plus six kilometers (3.7 miles) to reach rope bridges
  • Duration: 4 hours hiking plus 1.5 hours to reach rope bridges

10:00am Take the trail heading north to Grey. It starts by going uphill but soon levels off and has great views of Lago Grey to keep your spirits up! It takes between three and four hours. 

14:00pm Arrive at Grey, where you can leave your big bags. From the campsite, an additional one kilometre north through the forest brings you to two viewpoints lying over a kilometre from the glacier’s snout. From here, look out for enormous chunks of ice in the water.

A person sites on a rock overlooking Lago Grey and Glaciar Grey on the W trek in Torres del Paine, Patagonia's top hiking destination

From here you get the best views of the glacier and, if you’re lucky and it’s a clear day, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field beyond. Return back to Grey. 

16:00pm Arrive at Grey, pitch up and relax – you’ve almost finished the hike!

Day Five: Grey to Paine Grande and Puerto Natales

  • Distance: 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) plus 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) to the Cuernos Viewpoint
  • Duration: 4 hours hiking 

7:00am Get up, pack up your tent, and have breakfast. Return to Paine Grande along the same path.

10:30am Join the queue for the ferry to Pudeto.

11:00am Take the ferry to Pudeto. This service is operated by Hielos Patagonicos ($25,000 ($30 USD) single, cash only). Tickets cannot be reserved in advance; you buy them at the ferry port.

11:30am Arrive at Pudeto. From here, you can either have lunch in the tiny cafeteria at the ferry dock or you can hike from Pudeto to the Cuernos Viewpoint, a 2.3-kilometer (1.4-mile) one-way hike from the ferry dock; it should take you around an hour each way and grants you incredible views west and east along the Paine Massif range.

A shorter option is the 600-meter (0.3-mile) trail to the Salto Grande Waterfall, which has stunning views of Los Cuernos behind it., 

2:30pm Take the bus from Pudeto back to Puerto Natales. You should arrive around 5.05pm. 

Itinerary four: W trek in five days with sunrise at Mirador Las Torres (east to west route)

  • You get to see the sunrise at Mirador Las Torres and hiking to it on your first day means your legs won’t be as tired. 

Map of the Torres del Paine W trek itinerary from East to West in five days

Day Zero: Puerto Natales to El Chileno

  • Distance: 5 kilometers (3miles) 
  • Duration: 2 hours hiking 

12:00pm Take a bus from Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga. 

2.00pm Arrive at Laguna Amarga. Show your entrance ticket at the ranger’s station.

2.30pm To get to the start of the W, you need to take the shuttle bus ($4,000 CLP ($6 USD) – you must pay in cash at the shuttle) to the Centro de Bienvenida (Welcome Centre). 

Tents between the trees at El Chileno in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia

3pm Start hiking up to El Chileno, the closest campground to Mirador Las Torres, the famed viewpoint of the towers. This is the smallest campground, so sells out fast.

If you can’t get a spot here, you’ll need to camp at Torres Norte/Central and hike four hours tomorrow to reach the viewpoint. 

5pm Arrive at El Chileno. Set up your tent, have dinner and relax. 

Day One: El Chileno to Mirador Las Torres and then Los Cuernos 

  • Distance: 19.4 kilometers (12 miles)
  • Duration: 6.5 hours hiking 

4:30am Wake up and take a small bag (including warm clothes, a sleeping bag, and a snack) to see the torres at dawn. Don’t forget your torch as the route is over rocks and can be treacherous.

8:00am Leave the mirador and return to the campsite. Pack up, have breakfast start the walk down. When the trail splits, you’ll need to take the righthand path that goes alongside Lago Nordenskjöld.

Jagged mountain peaks overlooking a glacial lake. Best Places to Hike in South America.

This trek meanders alongside the lake, gaining and losing altitude as it goes. The views are incredible but if it’s sunny, it will be hot!

3:00pm Arrive at Los Cuernos*, pitch up and relax. 

*If there is no availability at Los Cuernos, when you go to make your refugio or campsite reservations , you can instead book to stay at Francés, which is a further 3.5 kilometers (one hour) beyond Los Cuernos.

Day Two: Los Cuernos to Paine Grande

  • Distance: 17.5 kilometers (10.8 miles) from Los Cuernos to Mirador Británico and 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from Guardería Italiano to Paine Grande
  • Duration: 6.5 hours hiking from Francés to Mirador Británico and 2.5 hours from Guardería Italiano to Paine Grande

7:00am Get up, have breakfast and pack up your tent.

8:00am Today begins with the path alongside Lake Nordernskjold to Guardería Italiano. You can leave your bags here with the ranger before hiking up into the Francés Valley to Mirador Británico*.

10:30am The hike up the Francés Valley may be long or painfully short – all depending on the weather. Both times I’ve walked Torres del Paine W hike I’ve experienced dreadful weather in the Francés Valley.

A huemul looks at the camera in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, a possible sighting on a day hike

Luckily, the hike back is downhill to return to Campamento Italiano. From there, pick up your rucksack and hike the two remaining hours to reach Paine Grande. 

Note that there’s a new trail that begins just after Campamento Italiano; take the lefthand fork that follows closer along the lake. It’s a little longer – 9 km (5.6 miles) rather than 7 km (4.3 miles) – and so takes around 30 minutes longer, but it has fewer hikers on it and is really pretty.

17:00pm-18:00pm Arrive at Paine Grande, pitch up and enjoy the views across the lake.

Day Three: Paine Grande to Grey and back to Paine Grande

9:00am Hike from Paine Grande to Grey; you can leave everything in your tent, except the items you need for today. The trail starts to go uphill but soon levels off and has great views of Lago Grey to keep your spirits up! 

13:00pm Arrive at Grey. From the campsite, an additional one kilometre north through the forest brings you to two viewpoints lying over a kilometre from the glacier’s snout. From here, look out for enormous chunks of ice in the water.

where is w trek

15:00pm Return to Grey along the same path and back to Paine Grande.

19:00pm Arrive at the campground, relax, have dinner and enjoy the feeling of finishing the trek!

Day Four: Paine Grande to Puerto Natales

  • Distance: N/A
  • Duration: N/A

9.00am Join the queue for the ferry to Pudeto.

9:30am Take the ferry to Pudeto. This service is operated by Hielos Patagonicos ($25,000 ($30 USD) single, cash only). Tickets cannot be reserved in advance; you buy them at the ferry port.

10:00am Arrive at Pudeto.

10.30am Take the bus from Pudeto to Puerto Natales and celebrate your successful completion of the W!

Top tips for hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek self-guided

A view of the Torres del Paine towers on the W circuit, Patagonia

Having now been hiking in Torres del Paine National Park twice, I’ve learned a few important tips that have kept me happy, sane and comfortable en route :

Top equipment tips

  • Camping in Torres del Paine at Francés, Los Cuernos, and El Chileno is on wooden platforms. If you plan to stay at any of these campsites, you will need extra cord or string to help you attach your tent without using pegs.
  • Bring a range of warm and wet weather clothing. Check out my packing list for hiking the Circuit in Torres del Paine for the full guide to the clothing that I packed for the trip (and which is also a good guide to what to pack for the W). It also includes a free, downloadable checklist. 
  • Bring a book or some cards for the evenings as you tend to finish hiking quite early and if it’s cold and wet, you’ll want to retire to the shelters with something to do.
  • Having a lightweight tent really does make a difference camping on this trek. Have a look at my review of the Big Agnes HVUL2 , the really lightweight backpacking tent that we used for the O Circuit.
  • If you’re carrying all of your own equipment, a 60-litre rucksack should be big enough.
  • Pack all of your clothes into dry bags (better than a bin bag which can easily rip). The weather changes rapidly and on days when it’s pissing it down, you’ll welcome the fact that your sleeping bag and clothes are dry. I recommend the Sea to Summit dry bags (buy them on REI | Amazon ).
  • Bring a rucksack cover. I’ve heard mixed advice on this one, but a rucksack cover kept our bags dry (and so lighter) when we were hiking in Torres del Paine National Park and no, they didn’t blow away in the wind. If your rucksack doesn’t come with its own, you can find them in various sizes on | Osprey | Amazon (make sure it’s the correct size for your bag – otherwise it will blow away!).

Top food tips

  • There is a much wider (and cheaper) selection of food in the supermarkets in Punta Arenas than in the one Unimarc supermarket in Puerto Natales. I recommend doing your food shop there before you take the bus to Puerto Natales. We left the stuff we didn’t need in our hostel in Punta Arenas.
  • You can also buy trekking food and bring it with you , but it’s heavier and far more expensive than organising your food when you get to Puerto Natales.
  • Pack everything into zip-lock plastic bags and bin all the original packaging that you can to save on carrying any extra weight. Also, don’t bring the full pack of rice if you’re only going to eat half of it – every bit of weight counts!
  • You can buy basic staples (pasta, biscuits, tomato puree etc.) from the shops at Paine Grande, Grey, Francés and El Chileno to stock up on supplies. It’s pretty expensive, but totally worth it. They also all stock beer – an additional expense that I didn’t include in the costings for the W trek!
  • You don’t need to bring water with you as it’s available from all the glacier meltwater streams that you’ll run into along the W and is drinkable from the taps at each of the campsites. If you’re nervous about drinking the water, you can also bring a Steripen  (read my review of the Steripen Adventurer  or buy one from  Amazon or buy a newer Steripen UV Ultra from REI ) to zap anything that might be nasty or a Grayl ( REI | Backcountry | Amazon ) – find out why I recommend these water filters for South American travel .
  • My dad is a pro at packing food for multi-day treks. Read what food we took with us for the O Circuit (and which you can use as a guide for the W too).
  • You will need Chilean pesos on you for the park as nowhere accepts cards. You’ll need $25,000 CLP ($35 USD) for the catamaran ferry and then extras for additional food, beer, and anything else you want to buy.

cooking and camping in Torres del Paine on the W circuit

Camping in Torres del Paine

The following summarises some of the main points about booking campsites and refugios in Torres del Paine for the W trek, but you can get a full overview of how to book campsites in Torres del Paine  with this article updated for the 2023/2024 season.

Reservations with Las Torres and Vertice Patagonia

You will need to book your campsites in Torres del Paine in advance. For example, in August 2022, many of the campsites and refugios were fully booked for December through February 2023, which just shows how far in advance it gets booked up.

Before you start panicking, what happens each year is that reservations free up again in September/October, probably due to the fact that tour agencies in Puerto Natales make mass reservations for the high season, and then cancel them when they don’t fill the bookings.

If you need anything planned well in advance, then this isn’t going to suit your plans. If your plans are a little more open and you can wait until closer until the time (and keep checking back to see if any spots have opened up), then you should still be able to hike the W during these months.

My recommendation would be to hike outside of these months anyway (November or March) to avoid the crowds as much as possible, but either way, you still MUST SECURE YOUR RESERVATIONS with Las Torres (Francés, Los Cuernos, El Chileno) and Vertice Patagonia (Paine Grande and Grey).

If you’re trying to get a space last-minute, you can always pop into either of their offices in Puerto Natales and see if they can book you in. I’ve heard of people having success with this with only a day or two’s notice.

Reservations with CONAF

For the 2023/2024 season, and for the foreseeable future, all of the CONAF campsites remain closed.

Upgrade your solo Torres del Paine W trek, Patagonia with these changes

If you’re not so bothered about hiking the W in Torres del Paine National Park on a complete budget, consider making the following small tweaks to your itinerary.

Camping and accommodation in Torres del Paine along the W circuit, Patagonia

Stay overnight at Los Cuernos ($80,000 CLP ($88 USD) per person full board) instead of Francés

Again, this is only really possible if you stay overnight on Day Two in Paine Grande. When we hiked the Full Circuit, we decided to treat ourselves to an all-inclusive night at Los Cuernos.

This meant we still pitched our own tent on a wooden platform, but we had a three-course dinner, breakfast, and packed lunch for the next morning, which reduced the amount we had to pack in our rucksacks for the hike.

The food from Las Torres (previously known as Fantastico Sur) is much better than Vertigo Patagonia too, so I would recommend this instead of eating in the big canteen at Paine Grande.

Los Cuernos now offers camping sites without full board (previously you had to pay for full board at this campsite).

This means that for $25 USD per person you can pitch up your own tent here. They also offer half-board options priced at $62 USD per person, which include dinner and breakfast.

Book full board and a tent or bed at each campsite

You can rent gear and get food at all campgrounds, so if you don’t want to carry anything, then you can also book this way!

Bear in mind that full board at Los Cuernos comes in at $158 USD per person for a fully-equipped tent and full board – so it certainly won’t come cheap!

Did you find this guide to the Torres del Paine W hike useful? Pin it!

Read this complete guide to hiking the Torres del Paine W trek in Patagonia without a tour, fully updated for the 2018/2019 trekking season. Everything you need to know about hiking routes, camping and accommodation and costs. #TorresdelPaine #Chile #hikingchile #torresdelpainetrekking #torresdelPaineWTrek #patagaonia #worldlyadventurer #hikingpatagaonia #travelsouthamerica #treksinchile

Sunday 26th of November 2023

We were hoping to hike to Refugio Grey, then take the Navigation boat toward Hotel Grey, then take a shuttle to our car at Pudeto. But I'm not sure how the timing works out. If we take the 14:00 navigation from Refugio Grey, is there time to make the last shuttle from Hotel Grey?

Steph Dyson

Tuesday 28th of November 2023

Hi Karen, I'm not sure. You would need to go off the timings on the Hotel Grey website or reach out to them directly. Steph

Jonny Collins

Tuesday 24th of October 2023

Thank you for your brilliant blog posts on all things South America - they're perfect for someone like me that loves knowing the logistics of our upcoming trips! My wife and I were meant to visit Patagonia for the first time in 2020 as part of a wider trip that was cut short due to COVID - we read your blog posts at the time whilst planning. We're finally planning to visit in 2024!

Unfortunately due to work commitments we are not able to take more than two weeks off and it is making our itinerary from the UK quite tight (we want to get to El Calafete and El Chalten in the same trip).

Whilst I appreciate you recommend doing the W Trek in 4 or 5 days, we are considering doing it in 3 days (we are experienced hikers and have done multi day hikes before). We had always planned hiking West to East. For the most even split on distance it seems that staying at Paine Grande and Los Cuernos would work best. We're really keen to see the towers at sunrise but appreciate that staying at Paine Grande and Torre Norte to do this would result in a very big second day. We have thought of two alternatives:

Option 1 (West to East): Night 1: Campo Italiano Night 2: Torre Norte

Option 2 (East to West): Night 1: Refugio Chileno Night 2: Campo Italiano

We've not considered yet if these options work with bus and ferry timetables. Do you think either of the above options are feasible to do the hike in 3 days and get to see the towers at sunrise? If not is there an alternative that might work, or if we do the trek in 3 days do we need to accept that we would not be able to see the towers at sunrise?

Any advice on the 'best' way to do the W trek in 3 days would be much appreciated. Apologies if anyone has asked this before! Thanks in advance :)

Sunday 28th of January 2024

Hi Steph, Thank you for your reply. In the end we decided to find an extra day from elsewhere in the trip so that we could do the W Trek and not miss out on anything! Thanks again for your help and for keeping this brilliant blog post up to date!

Thursday 23rd of November 2023

Hi Jonny, Italiano isn't open any more unfortunately. I would recommend just doing day hikes rather than the W. That way, you can actually enjoy your day hikes and not worrying about trying to cover the ground quickly. Steph

Tuesday 10th of October 2023

Great post, thank you! A group of five of us is heading to TDP to do the W-trek in January 2024. Very excited! We're flying from Santiago (SCL); is Puerto Natales a great option to fly into? I heard the drive to TDP from P. Natales is shorter than when coming from P. Arenas? It seems SKY airline has some flights during our time frame. Any great spot to hang out or visit at in P. Natales?

Hi LuAnn, yes you can fly directly into Puerto Natales. Steph

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Hi Steph! Can you please provide link where it is stated that a guide is required for hiking in May in Torres del Paine? I had not come across this requirement yet. Thank you!

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

Hi Megan, it's something I was told in a conversation with CONAF, the national parks office. You can reach out to them https://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-torres-del-paine/ Steph

Saturday 4th of March 2023

We are planning a trip for December of 2023. I have tried to make reservations at various campsites but none of them seem to be open for bookings beyond April of this year. When do they open up for reservations for December?

Thursday 13th of July 2023

@Steph Dyson, I'm looking to book for Dec. of this year as well and booking for the Las Torres sites is already a mess. Cuernos and Chileno are completely booked, none of the refugios at any site are available, and Frances doesn't even have it's refugios on the booking page. Food availability is already a problem for these sites too. This is while there appears to be much more availability for the Vertice sites in the West. Is this normal or is there weirdness happening and more space should appear soon?

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

Hi Andre, normally around July! Steph

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The Ultimate Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia: Full Itinerary, How to Self Book, Cost Breakdown & More!

March 28, 2023.

Hiking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park is an incredible experience that will reward you with endless views and memories that will last a lifetime. You will see jagged mountain peaks, aqua blue lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and more as you take the journey. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see giant condor birds and make new friends as you stay at the inns along the way.

I found the W Trek to be incredibly rewarding and definitely worth the effort, planning and costs. The trek is also perfect for those who are newer to backpacking but are experienced day hikers. Trekking during the day with inns to stay overnight is the perfect combination!

This blog includes a W Trek itinerary and covers everything you need to know to book the W Trek self guided, pack for the W Trek and be prepared. This is based on my experience visiting over New Year’s in December 2022 and January 2023.

Table of Contents

Overview of the w trek, when to hike the w trek, hiking the w trek self guided vs with a guide, how to book the lodging for the w trek, booking an entry ticket to torres del paine national park, booking transportation between puerto natales and torres del paine national park, w trek planning checklist (for self booking), tips and important things to know before hiking the w trek, day one of the w trek, day two of the w trek, day three of the w trek, day four of the w trek, how should you end the w trek, ways to save money on the w trek, what to pack for the w trek, other ways to see torres del paine national park, faqs about the w trek, final thoughts.

  • Located in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile
  • 50 miles/80 km
  • Typically done in 4 Nights, 5 Days
  • The highest elevation is at the Base of Towers, 2,788 feet above sea level

The W Trek refers to a multi-day hike that is shaped like the letter W. This area is unique because there are several inns along the trek where you can spend the night. You can choose between hostel-style lodging, have them provide you a tent at the campgrounds or bring your own tent. Each inn serves food, has restrooms and showers and even offers wifi for an additional fee.

The W Trek is about 50 miles and is typically done in 5 days and 4 nights. There are very few technically challenging sections of the trail, but there are long days with steep climbs. If you have experience hiking 10+ miles in a day in mountainous areas and feel that you can do that for a few days in a row, then you will be set up for success.

Because of the amenities offered, this is a great trip to do if you’re new to backpacking or if you just prefer to stay in a bed instead of a tent. If you stay in the refugios and purchase their full room and board package, you will not have to carry all of your food, water and sleeping equipment. The lighter you can pack for the trek, the more comfortable you’ll be.

While the hike itself is not overly difficult, dealing with the unpredictable weather is the toughest part. I experienced really high winds during my trek. Bad wind is common and it’s not uncommon to experience heavy rain, fog or even snow. You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with the good layers and keep your expectations low in case it’s too foggy to see some of the best views along the trail.

Looking across an aqua blue colored lake at the three towers inside of Torres Del Paine National Park. A few people are enjoying the view in the bottom right corner.

For a shorter version of this blog, check out my top 30 tips for hiking the W trek!

You will most likely hike the W Trek in the summertime for the Southern Hemisphere (winter in the Northern Hemisphere). The W Trek is typically open to hiking self-guided from October to the end of April, and you’ll likely have the best weather from November to March. I hiked the trek over New Years (December and January), which was really special!

If you would like to hike in the park during the winter months, you can do so with a guide.

There are several companies that offer guides if you’re not comfortable hiking the W Trek on your own. This can be a great option for some!

However, I think a guide is unnecessary, as the trail is well marked and easy to follow. It all depends on your comfort level, abilities and budget.

If you are looking for a guide, some companies that offer services include Swoop Patagonia, Tangol Tours, Chile Nativo and many more.

How to Self Book the W Trek

Many people assume you have to go through a third party company to book the W Trek. A third party would certainly be a little bit easier, but if you prefer to do it all yourself, I’m going to tell you exactly how!

Two separate companies own the various lodges in Torres Del Paine National Park: Vertice Travel and Las Torres Patagonia (previously called Fantastico Sur).

For this itinerary, you will book with Las Torres Patagonia for the first two nights at Los Cuernos and El Chileno, and Vertice Travel for the second two nights at Paine Grande and Refugio Grey.

You can book directly with each company on their websites.

A couple of light blue buildings with a boardwalk trail connecting them. There is a porch on each buildings and a satellite dish outside.

To book El Chileno and Los Cuernos, start on the Las Torres website . Choose to book the ‘shelters’ and then make reservations at the Central Refuge and the Chilean Refuge. Upon booking, you can select to add on full room and board (breakfast, packed lunch and dinner) or any combination of only dinners, only breakfast, etc.

To book Paine Grande and Refuio Gray, start on the Vertice Travel website. Under accommodations, make reservations at ‘Refuge & Camping Paine Grande’ and ‘Shelter & Camping Gray.’ When you book, you will select that you’re doing the W Circuit and be able to book both lodges at once, along with the full room and board.

If you have any dietary restrictions, be sure to request that when booking. If you don’t see the option, send an email to their customer service to confirm. I am a vegetarian and all of the inns were very accommodating!

I booked my trip for December/January in May and June. In 2022, the reservations for Las Torres went on sale well before the reservations for Vertice Travel. So, I booked half of the trek and then waited until the Vertice released their openings. Keep an eye on their social media platforms and/or send an email to their customer service to stay up to date.

After your lodging and transportation is squared away, it is very important to book an entry ticket into the national park. I did this a week or two ahead of time.

To buy your ticket, go to aspticket.cl and select ‘buy or reserve.’ You will then select the correct park, which is listed as ‘Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Venta)’ in Spanish. From there, you will input your entry and exit dates in and out of the park.

You will then need to fill out a variety of information, such as your birthdate and passport number, where you are staying each night of the trek, if you are traveling with a guide and more.

When you complete the form, you will pay the fee ($49 USD per person at this writing) and receive an email with a QR code. Make sure you have this QR code saved offline (and/or printed) for when you arrive at the park! The rangers will scan it upon arrival and there is not reliable cell reception.

The cheapest and easiest way to get between Puerto Natales and Torres Del Paine National Park is by bus! There are a few different bus companies that run multiple daily trips between the city and the park.

I booked my tickets a week or two in advance with Bus-Sur, and I used busbud.com for easy booking. For the beginning of the trek, I recommend leaving Puerto Natales as early as you can (mine left at 6:45AM).

Keep in mind that you will be starting and ending at different places inside the national park.

For the beginning of the W Trek, book a ticket from Puerto Natales (Rodoviario) to Terminal Laguna Amarga . For the ending of the W Trek, book a ticket from Pudeto (Catamaran Paine Grande) to Puerto Natales (Rodoviario). I recommend an afternoon or evening time for the end of the trek, my bus left Pudeto at 2PM.

The bus rides will take about two hours and there are some great views along the way. Be sure to print out your bus tickets ahead of time and arrive a little early.

If you’re booking everything yourself, here is a quick checklist to make sure you have everything you need before setting out!

  • Los Cuernos
  • Paine Grande
  • Refugio Grey
  • National Park Entrance Ticket
  • A morning ride from Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga to start the trek
  • An afternoon or evening ride from Pudeto to Puerto Natales to end the trek
  • (Optional) A glacier trek or glacier kayaking from Refugio Grey (book with Bigfoot Patagonia)
  • (Optional) The catamaran ride on Grey Lake

A large glacier-fed lake is in the distance. In the foreground, there are some reddish rocks. There are green mountains in the distance behind the lake.

  • Expect all kinds of weather, especially high winds. Wind is very common in the area and can be really intense. Also know that it’s possible fog will sock in some of the most epic views. Keep your expectations low just in case.
  • You can drop off your heaviest gear at parts of the trail! Bring a day pack and drop your packs at El Chileno and Camp Italiano before ascending up the most difficult parts of the trail.
  • The towers will be crowded but the rest of the trails won't be. But overall, the W trek is not the best for solitude and you will often see other people around. It’s a good social hike because you can meet people every night at the inns.
  • The elevation of this region is relatively low (2,788 feet is the highest point on the W Trek), so you shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the altitude.
  • Each inn on the trek has drinking water, food and alcohol for sale, plus wifi for purchase and more. You will not exactly be roughing it on this journey! That being said, you should bring a water filter just in case you’re sensitive to the water or want to make sure you can fill up at streams on the way.
  • Download the map of the trail on All Trails to follow along with your progress throughout the trail.

For a full list of tips for hiking the W Trek, check out my top 30 W Trek tips !

W Trek Itinerary: East to West

I hiked the W Trek from East to West. You can also hike it in the opposite direction, but hiking it east to west tends to be more common. I liked hiking it from east to west because I got the most difficult portions out of the way early. It was also fun to end the trek with a gorgeous catamaran ride across Lake Pehoe!

Below is my full itinerary for hiking the W Circuit! I hiked 50 miles over 4 nights and 5 days total.

  • Take the bus from Puerto Natales, hike to the Base of the Towers, stay at El Chileno
  • 9.9 miles, 3,000 feet of elevation gain

The best way to get to Torres Del Paine National Park is by taking a bus from Puerto Natales. The bus ride will take about 2 hours to reach the main entrance of the park (Laguna Amarga), which is where you’ll be exiting the bus for this itinerary.

When you arrive, you will need to exit the bus and have a ranger scan your entry ticket. You should have your ticket saved offline ahead of time and ready to show from your phone.

There was a bit of a language barrier for us here, as none of the instructions were given in English. How it worked was that everyone got off to get their ticket scanned here, whether you were getting off here or not. After they scanned our tickets, we went back to the bus to collect our backpacks.

From there, you will take a smaller shuttle bus to get to the start of the W Trek. This bus costs an extra fee of 4000 Chilean pesos per person in cash. It was a quick, 10 minute bus ride to reach the Torres Del Paine Welcome Center, where you will officially begin your trek! The welcome center has packed lunches, hiking poles and other items if you have forgotten something.

I calculated the day one milage to be 9.9 miles with just over 3000 feet of elevation gain. In terms of steepness, it was definitely the hardest day of the trek for me.

A flat trail next to a curving river with a mountain in the background.

As you begin the trail, you’ll start with a short and flat walk back to Hotel Las Torres Patagonia. This is where most people stay to do a day hike up the Towers, and some people stay here for the first night of the W trek. It’s an option, but I definitely recommend staying in El Chileno instead if possible!

The trail is flat at first but you will quickly begin to gain elevation. A little under 2 miles from Hotel Las Torres, you’ll come to the first fork in the trail. Stay to the right as you continue up into the Windy Pass.

This portion of the trail gets a bit steep and there is a chance you’ll experience high winds. Luckily, there are some amazing views whenever you stop to take a break. Two miles from the hotel, you’ll reach a high point and then need to descend to reach El Chileno. El Chileno is located right next to the river and the perfect place to stop for lunch.

You can use the cubbies inside of El Chileno to drop off your heaviest gear before continuing up to the Towers. Depending on the time of day, I don’t recommend spending too long on a break at El Chileno. At some point in the afternoon, the park rangers will stop letting anyone hike up to the Towers, so be sure to stay on schedule.

A view of Mirador las Torres, a lake with green water and the three towers across the water.

Since you will be staying at El Chileno tonight, go ahead and check in when you pass through. Your room will probably not be ready, but you can let them know you're there and be assigned a time for dinner.

The hike to the Towers gets quite steep for the last 0.7 miles. There is a bit of rock scrambling and a lot of dusty areas if conditions are dry. Be sure to watch your step and take your time. This is also a popular day hike so you’ll likely encounter crowds and need to spend a lot of time stepping aside for other hikers.

But the crowds and steep scrambling are worth it. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view face to face with Lago Torres and the three Towers. The towers; Torres d'Agostini, Torres Central and Torres Monzino, are the most iconic sight in Torres Del Paine National Park, and certainly could be considered among the best views in the world. On a clear day, the towers stand tall as a backdrop to the bright turquoise lake below.

A beer and a glass with a purple drink outside on a picnic table at El Chileno. Several people sit at other tables in the background.

After enjoying the towers, make your way down to El Chileno for your first dinner of the trek. While El Chileno had my least favorite food of the W trek inns, I loved the atmosphere. Before or after dinner, you can hang out outside where there are picnic tables overlooking the river. Dinner at El Chileno is served at long tables and offers a great chance to get to know fellow hikers.

The rooms inside El Chileno were pretty basic. My room slept 6 people over 3 bunk beds (but there were only 4 of us for this night). There were shared bathrooms divided by gender down the hall. Overall, El Chileno is nothing fancy but I had no complaints.

  • Hike from El Chileno to Los Cuernos
  • 8.2 miles, 1,174 feet of elevation gain

On day two of the W trek, you’ll hike from El Chileno to Los Cuernos. In this itinerary, this day is tied for the easiest. The day will begin uphill as you hike out of the valley where El Chileno sits, but then it will be mostly downhill the rest of the day.

This trail includes many fantastic views of Nordenskjöld Lake. The lake is a brilliant aqua green color and there are some beautiful viewpoints.

Lydia standing on a curved rockface with her arms in the air. In the background, there is a lake with a brilliant blue color.

This is the day where I saw a large hoard of condor birds flying up above and sitting on nearby cliffs. Condor birds are the largest flying birds in the world and they’re fascinating to watch!

Los Cuernos is owned by the same company as El Chileno and has a similar vibe. I actually was here on New Year’s Eve, so we were served a special meal. They also threw a NYE party for the staff (that we were invited to as well). I’m not sure what it’s like on other nights, but the atmosphere was lively and celebratory. This meant it was loud and hard to sleep, so you may want to bring along ear plugs.

Los Cuernos also offers private cabins that sleep 2 people, so try to book one of these if you prefer things a bit quieter.

  • Hike from Los Cuernos to Paine Grande and into the French Valley on the way
  • 16.4 miles, 3,102 feet of elevation gain

Day three is the longest day of the W Trek. You will hike up into the French Valley, the center of the ‘W,’ to reach Mirador Britannica. Then you will continue onto the third inn of the trip, Paine Grande.

If you do the entire trail, it will be about 16.4 miles and 3,102 feet of elevation gain. I turned back early due to high winds and fog on this day, so I only went about 13 miles.

The trail starts out relatively flat and easy until you reach Camp Italiano. If you have a very windy day like I did, watch out for the beach areas. The beaches are very exposed and the wind almost knocked us over at one point.

A blue building with a shelf up against the exterior. The shelf is full of several large hiking backpacks.

When you reach Camp Italiano, there are some outdoor shelves where you can drop off your heaviest gear. There was also a whiteboard here that had information on what time the viewpoints would close for the day and a warning about the high winds.

The hike up into the French Valley is steep at times, but felt more gradual than the hike to the Towers. You will go in and out of forest areas and viewpoints. Even if you just go part of the way, there are some fantastic views where you can admire the surrounding mountains and look for waterfalls, avalanches and glaciers in the distance.

There are four main viewpoints along the way. When I reached the second one, Mirador Valle de Frances, the wind was extremely strong, so many people turned around here. We went a little bit further, but decided to turn around before making it to the third.

A river with light blue water flowing. There are mountains across the water with glaciers.

After returning to Camp Italiano to pick up your gear, it will be about 5 more miles to reach your inn for the night. It’s mostly downhill and relatively easy. However, the wind was very intense for me and made the miles feel quite long.

There was one suspension bridge crossing that felt particularly daunting, as the wind was shaking the bridge all over the place while we crossed over a river canyon.

You will also pass an area of wildfire damage. Unfortunately, there have been multiple cases of fires started from the mistake of tourists in the park, so please make sure to follow the rules. Open fires are strictly prohibited and camp stoves are only allowed to be used in designated areas.

After this long day, it’s a great feeling to reach Paine Grande. This inn feels nicer than the first two inns, as it’s newer and larger. However, what you gain in newness means that there is less of the great community feeling you get from the smaller inns.

The rooms here are equipped with two bunk beds and more comfortable bedding than Los Cuernos and El Chileno. They also have real lockers if you want to lock up any valuables. Dinner is served buffet style and there is a bar upstairs as well.

  • Hike from Paine Grande to Refugio Grey. Optionally, hike up to the suspension bridges and a view of Grey Glacier.
  • 6.9 miles, 1,319 feet of elevation gain
  • Second hike is 5 miles with 1,014 feet of elevation gain

On day four, you’ll hike to the final inn of the trip, Refugio Grey. You also have the option to hike an additional few miles to see some suspension bridges and close up views of the Grey Glacier, which I highly recommend doing.

The first trail between the two inns is 6.9 miles with 1,319 feet of elevation gain. While it isn’t difficult, this was the windiest area of my trek. The wind made it difficult to move forward at times and definitely slowed us down.

A blue lake surrounded by mountains and hills of various sizes. There is a small rainbow coming up from one of the hills.

However, the trail has some fantastic views of Grey Lake and about halfway through you’ll start to see the Grey Glacier in the distance. The trail has multiple ups and downs, so you’ll have a nice variety.

At one point about 2 miles from the inn, there is a short portion of the trail where you’ll have to climb down a rock scramble that can be slick. It’s very doable if you have some hiking experience, but I found this to be one of the most technical portions of the entire W Trek.

A rocky trail with several rocks to climb up.

When you reach the Refugio Grey, there are a few excursions and additional trails you can choose from if you’re up to it. First, you have the option to kayak next to the glacier or go on a guided glacier trek. These activities cost extra and you should reserve them in advance if possible. We reserved the kayaking excursion, but unfortunately it was too windy for us to go out. It had been too windy to kayak for a couple weeks, so keep in mind that this cancellation is very common.

Additionally, you can take a hike up to see some incredible suspension bridges and a view of the Gray Glacier. This trail is about 5 miles with a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. It is part of the O Circuit, so you’ll likely see hikers on the O coming the other way.

Lydia standing in the middle of a long suspension bridge. In the background, you can see the Grey Glacier.

There are three suspension bridges you can hike to, but I only went to the first two.

The second bridge is especially magnificent. It is quite long and dangles 100’s of feet in the air over a large valley. On one side, you get a fantastic view of the glacier. On the opposite side, you can see a tall waterfall coming down from the mountains. I don’t recommend this if you’re afraid of heights, but it’s a really neat experience if heights don’t bother you.

If you aren’t up for the longer trail, there is also a viewpoint very close to the Grey Inn (a half mile) where you can get a nice view of the glacier.

After an additional hike, an excursion or some rest, enjoy your final dinner of the W Trek. I thought that Refugio Gray had some of the best food for dinner on the trip!

Day Five of the W Trek

  • Hike from Refugio Grey to Paine Grande, take the catamaran across Pehoe Lake, take a bus back to Puerto Natales.
  • 6.9 miles, 1,208 feet of elevation gain

On your final day on the W Circuit, hike back to Paine Grande to catch the Grande Catamaran. This is the same trail that you did on day four in the opposite direction, but you’ll have about 100 less feet of elevation gain. When you reach Paine Grande, line up to take the catamaran to Peduto.

There are actually catamarans from both Refugio Grey and Paine Grande, and they go different places. I was confused about this, so I’m going to explain the difference and the pros and cons of each.

A white ferry boat on the bright blue waters of Lake Pehoe.

For the least amount of hiking, you can end your trek from Refugio Gray and take the catamaran across Lago Grey. This journey will take about an hour and costs $75 one way. It will take you to Hotel Lago Grey.

Pros of the Lago Grey Catamaran

  • Less hiking! You get to leave from your final lodge via a beautiful boat ride.

Cons of the Lago Grey Catamaran

  • It’s about 3 times the cost of the Lake Pehoe Catamaran.
  • We were told that this boat is much more susceptible to delays and cancellations due to wind.
  • It will bring you to the Lago Grey Hotel, which has fewer transportation options to get you back to Puerto Natales. You may need to stay at the hotel and arrange private transportation.
  • This boat is not first come first serve like the Lake Pehoe Catamaran. You should make a reservation before your trek because it is likely to sell out.

For the reasons listed above, most hikers return from the trek via the Lake Pehoe Catamaran. The boat ride takes about 25 minutes and runs a few times a day. Check for the most up to date schedule at Paine Grande.

Jagged mountain peaks in the background and a green hill in the foreground.

You cannot make a reservation for the Lake Pehoe boat. You’ll need to wait in line by the dock and board first come, first served. You also need to make sure you have cash - the boat requires $30 USD or $25 Chilean pesos per person, each way. During peak season, they take cash in US dollars or Euros as an alternative to Chilean Pesos.

The boat is quite large so you shouldn’t worry if there is a long line to board. Also note that even though there is a schedule, the boats do not always run on time.

The boat also has stunning views! If it’s a clear day, you’ll get a new perspective of the park and see incredible mountain peaks as you ride through turquoise colored water.

When you reach Pudeto, take a bus ride back to Puerto Natales to end your time in Torres Del Paine National park. There is a small cafe to wait in before your bus ride. You should make sure that you have reserved a bus ticket ahead of time.

I took the second ferry of the day back from Paine Grande (it was scheduled for 11 but ended up being closer to 12) and then waited about 2 hours in the cafe for my 2 PM bus ride. The cafe sold lunch items, coffee, beer and more. There is also a one mile waterfall trail you can enjoy if you have the energy!

When you reach Puerto Natales, celebrate your hard work with a delicious meal, a pisco sour and a nice hotel stay. I loved eating at Cafe Artimana, Cafe Kaiken and La Guanaca Pizza.

How Much Does it Cost to Hike the W Trek?

In December/January 2022/2023, we paid $872 per person to hike the W Trek. This included 4 nights of lodging, full room and board, the bus tickets to and from the park, the ferry at the end and the entry ticket into the national park. We had to pay about $37 extra for a special New Year’s Eve Dinner, so you can subtract that if you’re not going over Christmas or New Years!

Here is the cost breakdown:

Night 1: El Chileno - $125 per person for the bed with sheets, $88 per person for the food

Night 2: Los Cuernos - $125 per person for the bed with sheets, $124 per person for the food (This was New Years Eve so the food cost extra - they did something special!)

Night 3: Paine Grande - $92 per person for the bed with sheets, $61 per person for the food

Night 4: Gray - $92 per person for the bed with sheets, $61 per person for the food

Ferry to return from Paine Grande and end the trek: $30 per person (cash only)

Bus Tickets on Bus Sur between Puerto Natales and the national park: $10 per person each way. There is also a shuttle between the entry to the park to the actual start of the trek that cost $5 per person (chilean pesos only)

Entry ticket into Torres Del Paine National Park: $49 per person

You also have the option to pay extra for wifi, alcohol or extra food at all of the inns. They all take credit cards.

Prices are subject to change, these were the prices for the 2022 - 2023 season.

This does not include flights into Puerto Natales to start and end your trip. This can vary a lot based on where you’re flying from! Note that it is very likely to need to connect through Santiago first.

There are definitely ways to cut out some of the costs!

  • You can camp instead of staying inside the inns. The inns all offer options to rent out tents so you don’t have to carry your own. Or you will pay the least if you carry your own.
  • You can bring your own food instead of paying for full room and board. I would recommend bringing your own breakfast and lunch items and only paying for dinner if this is something you’re considering. I did not love the breakfast service because on some days, I wanted to leave earlier than breakfast was being offered.

Lydia leading forward against the wind. She wears a green jacket and has her hood up. She is also holding trekking poles in one hand.

  • A backpack that will fit your needs for carrying your things for 5 days and 4 nights. I carried a 40L backpack and thought it was the perfect size.
  • A small day pack to carry the essentials for the times you can leave your bigger pack behind.
  • A water bladder or water bottle.
  • A water filter (We only filled up on water from the inns, which have drinkable water. But it’s good to have a water filter just in case. It depends on your comfort level and sensitivity.)
  • Snacks! I did not need any extra food than what was provided from the full room and board, but it’s always good to have some options if there are items in the packed lunches that you don’t like.
  • Hiking essentials including a first aid kit , knife, emergency shelter, headlamp and sun protection.
  • Your passport, printed out tickets and confirmations, cash and credit card.
  • Rain gear. Rain is common on the trek, make sure you have a good rain coat and a rain cover for your backpack.
  • Layers. It might get cold, so I recommend bringing a warm hat and gloves.
  • Sturdy hiking boots .
  • Hiking socks and the clothing you’ll need for 5 days and 4 nights. Avoid cotton and bring items that are moisture wicking.
  • Small towel for showering .
  • Toiletries such as soap, moisturizer, toothbrush and whatever else you need.
  • A second, lightweight pair of shoes to wear around the inns.
  • A phone charger and portable battery.
  • A buff to help protect against the dust on windy days.
  • Insect repellent . I did not encounter mosquitoes, but I’ve heard during certain times of year they can be bad.
  • A kula cloth to use instead of toilet paper.
  • Trekking poles .
  • Ear plugs if noise would bother you in the inns.

For a more detailed packing list for the W Trek, check out my W Trek packing guide !

A bright blue lake surrounded by mountains. There is a mix of greenery and rocky areas across the mountainous landscape.

There are certainly many other things to do in Torres Del Paine National Park besides the W Trek!

If you’re up for a more challenging adventure, consider the O-Trek, which is approximately 68 miles and takes 6-10 days.

If hiking for 5 or more days isn’t your thing (or you have less time) but you want to see some of the park, consider some day hikes.

Day Hike Options Include:

  • Mirador Las Torres, the most iconic view in the park, is often done as a day hike. Stay at the Hotel Las Torres and the trail will be about 12.5 miles.
  • Take the catamaran from Hotel Grey and hike up to the suspension bridges for a view of Glacier Gray. The hike from Refugio Grey is about 5 miles.
  • Hike to the Salto Grande from Pudeto, the trail is 0.9 miles.
  • Hike to the Rio Pingo waterfall from Hotel Grey, the trail is 5.3 miles.

There are many more day hike options, these are just a few! You can also go horseback riding, fly fishing or biking or a variety of other activities.

Lydia standing on a large rock and holding out her trekking poles. In the background is a blue river with mountains in the distance.

How difficult is the W Trek?

The trail itself is not difficult on the W Trek. It is well marked and there are just a couple areas of rock scrambling. However, the difficult part is hiking a long distance every day and carrying heavy packs. You should be used to hiking 10+ miles on a day hike and carrying a heavy bag.

Can you hike the W Trek solo?

While I did not hike the W Trek solo, I would be very comfortable doing so. I thought that the trail was well marked and felt very safe. With the shared dorms and communal dinners, it’s really easy to meet other hikers and make friends along the way.

Would you recommend the W Trek or doing day hikes?

My experience on the W Trek was one I will never forget and I think it is very much worth doing! If you have the time, I highly recommend doing the entire W trek instead of just day hikes.

Is the water safe to drink in Torres Del Paine National Park?

The water tends to be safe to drink from the water sources at the inns. Some hikers also drink water directly from streams, but I’ve heard mixed reviews and that is not something I would recommend. I recommend bringing a water filter just in case, but it all depends on your comfort level and sensitivity.

Are there mosquitoes on the W Trek?

I did not encounter mosquitoes on the W trek, but I’ve heard that others have during certain months when it is rainy and warm. Bring insect repellent just in case.

What is the hardest part of the W Trek?

I thought the hike to the Base of the Towers was the hardest part of the trek. It’s a long day with a steep climb.

What kind of wildlife will you see on the W Trek?

I saw very little wildlife on the trek, but I did see several condor birds! There are gauchos (llamas) in Torres Del Paine National Park, but it’s rare to see them on this trail. You will likely see them along the roads driving in and out of the parks instead.

Other animals that live in the park but are rare to see are pumas, huemul deer and foxes. There are no bears in Torres Del Paine, so there is no need to carry bear spray.

If you have dreamed about a trip to Patagonia, I hope this guide will help you make it a reality! The W trek and a visit to Torres Del Paine National Park a bucket list experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

If you’re flying all the way to Patagonia, I recommend more adventures than just the W Trek. After the trek, I drove into Argentina to continue my trip. Check out my 2 week Patagonia itinerary and my guide to renting a car in Patagonia to continue planning!

For more Patagonia guides, check out these blogs:

  • The Ultimate 2 Week Itinerary for a Patagonia Road Trip
  • A Guide to Renting a Car and Driving in Patagonia
  • 30 Tips for Hiking the W Trek
  • A Detailed Packing List for the W Trek

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If you're thinking about hiking the W Trek in Patagonia, let this be your guide! This blog covers everything you need to know to book and plan the W Trek.

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Beginners’ Guide to W Trek: an Unforgettable Hike in Patagonia

where is w trek

The W Trek in Patagonia counts among the most popular hikes in South America, drawing thousands of visitors every year. The area offers breathtaking landscapes of glaciers, icy fjords and charismatic mountains; so it’s natural that both beginners and experienced hikers dream of completing it. Although it’s a multi-day and moderately strenuous trek, even people with little hiking experience can challenge themselves and enjoy the scenery. So h ere’s a comprehensive travel guide to help all of you beginner hikers tackle the W Trek!

Located in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park , in the region of Magallanes, the W Trek takes hikers on an 80-kilometer (50-miles) journey. The nearest city is Puerto Natales , a small town that serves as the gateway to Torres del Paine.

Jump to: W Trek for beginners?   |  What to expect?   |  W Trek breakdown   |  Hikes off the main trail   |  Booking the campsites   |  What you’ll need   |  Tips for a cheap W Trek

Base of Torres hike Cuernos del Paine

Of course, Torres del Paine is on our list of best national parks in Chile !

Is W Trek suitable for beginner hikers?

In such a remote and unforgivingly wild part of the world, it’s normal to wonder whether the W Trek is suitable for beginner hikers. The answer is yes, but it does require a certain level of fitness and planning. We’re here to help you plan, but the fitness is up to you.

The W Trek is indeed a moderately challenging hike that involves steep climbs, long distances, and unpredictable weather conditions. However, with the right gear, training, and mindset, it is possible for beginners to successfully complete the trek .

What to expect on the trail

The W Trek is a 5-day, moderately difficult hike that is considered the jewel of Chilean Patagonia for its unspoiled, picturesque scenery. You will indeed marvel at glaciers, lakes, mountains, and immemorial forests.

Because of this, and its relatively short length, it’s pretty popular with hikers, so don’t expect to be alone. The trail is well-marked and maintained, and there are several campsites along the way. Some of them have small shops and a canteen – but meals have to be pre-booked together with the campsite.

The weather can be unpredictable , with rain, wind, and even snow possible at any time of year. Therefore, it’s essential to have clothing suited for all conditions. The good news is that there’s no high altitude involved on the W trek, so no need to acclimatize.

The W trek can easily be hiked without a guide in the summer months, from October to the end of April. Outside of this period (May to September) it’s still possible to hike it, but an organised tour is a must. In that period, definitely prepare for snow!

Besides the popular W trek, the other multi-day option in Torres del Paine is the O circuit , taking 8 days.

Torres del Paine Glacier Grey

W Trek daily breakdown

The W trek is a linear trail (in the shape of a W – hence the name), that starts at either one of the two park entrances. Both directions are of equal difficulty. The one we detail below starts at Pudeto  and exits at Laguna Amarga , conveniently leaving the trail’s highlight for the end.

But 1st of all, learn how to get to Torres del Paine National Park from Puerto Natales.

Day 1: Pudeto entrance to Grey campsite

On the first day, you won’t create the heavens and earth, but will rather take a catamaran across Lake Pehoe, and then hike to the Grey campsite, located near the Grey Glacier. It’s worth arriving early and taking a walk up to Glacier Grey; or alternatively, plan here an extra day for a hike along the glacier.

➔ The distance covered is approximately 11 km (6.8 miles), and it should take around 4-6 hours to complete.

Day 2: Grey campsite to Paine Grande

On the second day, you will hike from the Grey campsite to the Paine Grande campsite, located on the shore of Lake Pehoe. The path is relatively easy; you’ll hike mostly with a constant view of Lago Grey, which will be switched to Lago Pehoe at the end of the hike.

➔ The distance covered is approximately 12.5 km (7.8 miles), and it should take around 4-6 hours to complete.

Paine Grande camp W trek Torres del Paine

Day 3: Paine Grande to Frances or Los Cuernos campsite, with a detour to Mirador Británico

On day three, you’ll hike to one of two campsites, depending on your preference: Frances or Los Cuernos. Along the way, we recommend taking a detour to the Mirador Britanico viewpoint, for stunning views of the Paine mountain range.

➔ The distance covered is approximately 20 km (12.4 miles), and it should take around 8-10 hours to complete.

Day 4: Frances or Los Cuernos to Central or El Chileno campsite

On day four, you’ll hike to either Central or El Chileno campsite, depending on your choice. Central is located a bit further from the base of the Towers (“l as torres “) but is bigger; El Chileno offers a shorter hike to the Towers but fewer amenities (don’t worry, there are toilets). So if you are planning to watch the sunrise from the Las Torres viewpoint, choose El Chileno. The hike itself is moderate difficulty.

➔ The distance covered is approximately 14 km (8.7 miles), and it should take around 6-8 hours to complete.

Day 5: Hike up to Las Torres viewpoint, then exit the park at Laguna Amarga entrance

On the last day of the trek, you will finally hike to the base of the Towers. All your efforts will be rewarded as you witness the stunning 3-fingers granite rocks. Expect more hikers on the path, as this section is also a common day hike (lazy bums!).

You’ll then hike back down to the El Chileno / Central campsite and continue to the Laguna Amarga checkpoint to exit the park. There are steep sections on rocky terrain, so it’s again a strenuous day.

➔ The distance covered is approximately 18 km (11.2 miles), and it should take around 8-10 hours to complete.

Nordenskjöld Lake Torres del Paine

Possible extension hikes off the main trail

Torres del Paine is one of the most beautiful corners of the world and it really triggers our love for the mountains! So if you have the time (and the money), we highly recommend you spend more time in the park and explore more views. Plus, you’ll probably enjoy this fascinating landscape with a bit less crowd.

In addition to the main W Trek, there are several day hikes that you can do off the main trail. These include:

  • Glacier Grey : a 3-hour hike (one way) from Camp Grey to Glacier Grey, which is one of the highlights of Torres del Paine, so it’s worth extending your stay.
  • Mirador Condor : a 3-hour hike (one way) from the Paine Grande campsite that offers stunning views of Lake Pehoe and the surrounding mountains.
  • Mirador Británico : a 3.5-hour hike (one way) from the Italiano campsite that takes you to the top of the French Valley. The views from up there are some of the best in the park.
  • Lago Nordenskjöld : a 2.5-hour hike (one way) from the Los Cuernos campsite that takes you along the shores of Nordenskjöld Lake.

And for more of a backcountry experience within the park, consider replacing the W trek with the 8-day O circuit .

Booking the campsites and entrance

If you plan to do the W Trek, it is essential to book your campsites months in advance . As in, at least half a year. We’re not kidding. The campsites are run by 2 companies and they fill up quickly, especially during peak season (December to February).

You can book directly on the Vertice Patagonia and Las Torres Patagonia websites. Alternatively, the most convenient way is to book them on the Torres Hike platform . It gives you a recommended route depending on how many days you want to stay on the trail; it also books all the campsites for you, charging an admin fee.

It is important to note that camping is the only form of accommodation available within the park. Wild camping is strictly forbidden.

Campsite booking can be an overall headache with so many options, so we wrote a full guide to Torres del Paine campsites to help you with the planning.

Chileno camping Torres del Paine

Apart from the campsites, the park entrance ticket also needs to be booked before your trip. You can book directly on the official national park’s CONAF website (in English).

Things you will need on the W trek

To complete the W Trek without crying to your momma every evening, you’ll need these essential items:

  • A good quality backpack
  • Hiking boots
  • Warm clothing (including a waterproof jacket) – think in layers
  • Sleeping bag for low temperatures (e.g. 2 degrees Celsius / 35 Fahrenheit)
  • Cookware and stove
  • Water bottles or hydration system
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Personal hygiene items (toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • Power bank to charge your phone/camera
  • Hiking poles – not essential but a great help in the uphill-downhill sections

Ñirre forest Torres del Paine O circuit

Tips for the cheapest possible W trek

Sure, the W Trek can be an expensive adventure, but there are ways to make it more affordable. Trust a couple of veteran stingy travellers! Here are some tips based on our own experience:

  • Travel during the shoulder season (October to November or March to end of April) when prices are lower and crowds are thinner.
  • Bring your own gear .
  • Or, if you’re missing something, rent gear in Puerto Natales instead of buying it.
  • Bring your own food and cook your own meals at the campsites.
  • Do the trek without a guide . It’s well-marked throughout so very easy to follow.
Do you know all the other amazing multi-day hikes in Patagonia, besides Torres del Paine? Check out our favourite 16 thru-hikes in Patagonia .

Are you now convinced that YOU TOO can tackle the W Trek? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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Anna is a world citizen, an avid traveller, a passionate environmentalist and a digital nomad. Writing about her year backpacking through South America, she tries to encourage everyone to discover this beautiful continent as a traveller or a digital nomad and pass on her love for responsible travel.

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Wild Travel Tales

Solo Hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine: A Comprehensive Guide to Trekking without a Guide in Chilean Patagonia

Are you ready to embark on an epic solo hiking adventure? Look no further than the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, Chile. This comprehensive guide will equip you with everything you need to conquer the one of the best hikes in Patagonia . Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or new to the trail, we’ll ensure you have all the information you need for solo hiking the W Trek. From crafting your perfect itinerary to packing the essentials and navigating the logistics, let’s prepare you for the journey of a lifetime.

This article contains affiliate links from the Amazon Associate and Travelpayouts programs. Wild Travel Tales will earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you .

Key Takeaways

  • Day 1: Puerto Natales to Grey (bus, ferry, 11km walk)
  • Day 2: Grey to Paine Grande (11km), plus optional glacier hike
  • Day 3: Paine Grande to Francés/Los Cuernos (21km)
  • Day 4: Francés/Los Cuernos to El Chileno/Central (18km)
  • Day 5: El Chileno/Central to Mirador Las Torres to Puerto Natales (9km)

where is w trek

Checklist to Hike the W Trek without a Guide

This post explains everything you need to do to plan your W Trek adventure in detail. Before we get started, here is a simple checklist you will need to check-off.

  • Book your accommodation via Torres Hike , or directly via Vertice and Las Torres – you need to book as early as possible, as it it can book out!
  • Book your entrance ticket to Torres del Paine National Park online
  • Pack proper equipment and food
  • Book your return bus ticket from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park
  • Ensure you have at least $28,000 pesos in cash ($25,000 pesos for the ferry, $3,000 pesos for the shuttle bus) as well as extra for any additional purchases you may want to make while in the park (e.g., snacks, drinks, meals, etc) – you should definitely bring extra money, just in case!

Where is the W Trek Located?

The famous W Trek is located in Torres Del Paine National Park, nestled in the southern reaches of Chilean Patagonia. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve boasts pristine landscapes, dramatic peaks, and crystal-clear lakes, making it a dream destination for adventurers like you. The name “W Trek” originates from the distinct W-shaped path you’ll follow through the park, which offers a curated experience of Patagonia’s finest offerings.

When is the Best Time to Do the W Trek?

Planning your visit to Torres Del Paine is a crucial first step. While the park is open year-round, selecting the best time to hike the W Trek can greatly impact your experience. This will mostly come down to your preferences and desired experience.

Here’s a breakdown of your options:

  • Shoulder Seasons: For milder weather and fewer crowds, consider hiking during late October to early November or late March to early April.
  • Peak Season: If you crave the vibrant colours of Patagonian spring or the lushness of summer, be prepared for larger crowds during the peak season from November to March.

Where to Stay on the W Trek?

The W Trek offers a range of accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets:

  • Camping: Experience the wild by camping under the stars. This is a budget-friendly option for adventurous backpackers.
  • Refugios: For a more comfortable stay, opt for refugios, which are similar to hostels. They offer a warm and cozy atmosphere after a long day of hiking and often provide shared facilities.

Camping vs Refugios on the W Trek

For those with an adventurous spirit and a desire to be as close to nature as possible, camping is an excellent choice. It is also substantially cheaper than staying in a refugio, which is a great way to bring down the cost of hiking the W Trek.

Many campsites are strategically located right outside the doors of refugios, granting you easy access to their facilities. This means you can enjoy the perks of refugios, such as meals and hot showers, while still savouring the authenticity of sleeping under Patagonia’s star-studded skies. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to carry your camping gear, including a suitable tent, sleeping bag, and cooking equipment, to ensure a comfortable stay. However, there are premium campsite options available with a pre-erected tent provided!

On the other hand, if you prefer a bit more comfort and convenience, the refugios are ready to welcome you. These cozy mountain lodges provide dormitory-style accommodation and shared facilities, including dining areas and hot showers. Staying in a refugio means you don’t have to lug heavy camping gear with you, allowing for a lighter backpack. However, it will make hiking the W Trek more expensive.

Booking Campsites & Refugios for the W Trek

As one of Patagonia’s most sought-after hikes, it can be difficult to secure campsites or refugio beds for the days you want. It is essential that you book your accommodation in advance (as early as possible), especially during the peak season. It is not uncommon for campsites and refugios to book out. 

The campsites and refugios at different points along the W Trek are operated by two different companies, Vertice and Las Torres (formerly Fantastico Sur) . You have two different options to book these sites:

  • Book via Torres Hike , a platform which aggregates availability from both Vertice and Las Torres. All you need to do is enter your planned dates, the direction of your hike and which type of accommodation you want, and the website will allow you to make one single booking (instead of coordinating separate bookings via both Vertice and Las Torres). This will save you lots of time compared to the second option…
  • Make reservations with Vertice and Las Torres directly, via their websites. This option requires you to ensure the availability of campsites offered by both providers aligns with your planned itinerary in the correct order of your hike, then booking each night of accommodation on each company’s separate website. Meticulous planning is necessary.

Why would anyone book through separate websites when it is all collated in one platform via Torres Hike? Good question. Unfortunately, Vertice and Las Torres only allocate a limited number of campsites for purchase via Torres Hike. And because Torres Hike is a far easier process, these sites will book out more quickly than direct bookings. So, if Torres Hike does not show any availability for the dates you want to hike the W Trek, you may be able to book under your original itinerary if you book via Vertice and Las Torres.

There are often different options you could book for each night, depending on the distance you plan to cover each day. Below are the campgrounds along the W Trek in order.

  • Refugio and Camping Paine Grande (Vertice Patagonia)
  • Refugio and Camping Grey (Vertice Patagonia)
  • Domes and Camping Francés (Las Torres)
  • Refugio and Camping Los Cuernos (Las Torres)
  • Refugio and Camping Torres Central (Las Torres)
  • Refugio and Camping El Chileno (Las Torres)

You will only stay at 3 or 4 of the campsites, depending on how many days you plan in your itinerary. Plan ahead, consider your preferences for camping or staying in refugios, and make those reservations promptly to guarantee a smooth and enjoyable W Trek experience.

where is w trek

How Difficult is the W Trek?

The difficulty of the W Trek can vary along its route. Understanding its challenges is paramount for a successful journey. Here’s an in-depth look at what you can anticipate.

Physical Fitness: The W Trek is considered moderately strenuous, making it accessible to hikers with a range of fitness levels. While it doesn’t require you to be an elite athlete, it’s essential to have a reasonable level of physical fitness. This includes the ability to hike for several hours a day, navigate uneven terrain, and endure uphill climbs and descents. Prior conditioning and cardiovascular endurance can significantly enhance your experience.

Changing Trail Conditions: Patagonia’s weather is notorious for its unpredictability. Be prepared for rapidly changing conditions that can range from sunny and pleasant to windy, rainy, or even snowy. Proper clothing and gear are crucial to adapt to these changes and ensure your safety and comfort.

Route Options: The W Trek offers flexibility in choosing your direction, whether east-to-west or west-to-east, each with its own highlights. Starting from the east provides a dramatic introduction to the famous Torres Del Paine, while the west-to-east route saves the iconic towers for a breathtaking finale. Your choice can influence the level of challenge and the order in which you encounter terrain difficulties.

Mental Preparedness: Apart from physical stamina, mental preparedness is equally vital. The W Trek can be mentally demanding due to its length and the ever-changing Patagonian weather. Staying positive, focused, and patient in adverse conditions or challenging moments will contribute significantly to your overall experience.

Trail Easing Tips: To make your hike more manageable, consider using hiking poles for stability, wear appropriate footwear with ankle support, and break in your hiking boots before the trip. Additionally, packing smartly, including essential items, such as moleskin for blisters, sunscreen, and extra layers, can help ease your journey.

Prepare mentally and physically for the challenges that await you, and you’ll conquer the trek with confidence.

What Should I Pack for the W Trek?

The key to a successful W Trek is packing the right gear. Here’s a list of essentials.

Camping Gear:

  • Sleeping bag (rated for 20 degrees or less)
  • Sleeping mat
  • Gas stove /jet boil
  • Gas canister
  • Lightweight bowl/plate /utensils
  • Travel towel
  • Layers are essential. Pack a handful of lightweight shirts/base layers.
  • Fleece jacket
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Water-resistant pants
  • Several pairs of socks
  • Hiking boots
  • Camp/refugio slippers
  • Comfortable camp clothing

Hiking Gear:

  • Consider hiking poles for stability
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • Refillable water bottle
  • First-aid kit

With the right gear in your backpack, you’ll be prepared for whatever Patagonia throws your way.

How Long Does it Take to Hike the W Trek?

The W Trek offers flexibility in both duration and direction. You can choose to complete it in 4, 5, or 6 days, depending on your pace and preferences. A fit hiker can complete the route in 4 days with careful planning. Choosing a 5-day itinerary can provide some extra time to explore side trails and enjoy the scenery, without rushing to meet longer distances. If you are new to hiking and want to take it easy, make it a 6-day adventure.

How Do I Get to the W Trek?

The best way to get to Torres del Paine National Park is from Puerto Natales, a charming town that serves as the main entry point to the national park. Wherever you are, you need to get here!

Travellers can now enjoy the convenience of direct flights from Santiago to Puerto Natales, thanks to the Teniente Julio Gallardo Airport (PNT), with a flight duration of approximately 3 hours. After landing, a short 10-minute taxi ride will swiftly transport you from the compact airport to the heart of downtown Natales, where the majority of hotels and accommodations are thoughtfully situated for your ease and comfort.

If you need other options, you can also catch a flight to Punta Arenas and take a bus to Puerto Natale. We recommend booking your bus tickets in advance, especially if you’re aiming for early morning departures, as they can fill up quickly.

Stay overnight in Puerto Natales to rest and prepare for your adventure. The town offers various accommodation options , and it’s an excellent opportunity to stock up on supplies, including any last-minute gear or provisions you might need for your trek. After a peaceful night’s rest and final preparations, you can embark on the short journey from Puerto Natales to the enchanting wilderness of Torres Del Paine National Park, where the W Trek awaits, ready to unveil its natural wonders.

Chilean Patagonia Lake, Hiking in Patagonia

Food & Water for the W Trek

You will be able to buy food and drink at each of the refugios along the W Trek. However, this can get very expensive. We recommend that you try to be fully self-sufficient – and bring some extra cash to treat yourself on difficult days!

Food: You can stock up on food supplies from a supermarket in Puerto Natales, before departing to Torres del Paine National Park. Make sure to take a high-quality gas stove , gas canister, and mess kit .

Water: All campsites have access to fresh water sources to cook and refill your bottles. To avoid waterborne illness, we suggest that you use a water purification filter or water purification tablets before drinking this water.

5-Day Itinerary for Hiking the W Trek without a Guide

You will hike the W Trek one-way – meaning, it’s not a loop! You can choose to trek from either direction, east-to-west or west-to-easy. Each offers its own unique highlights:

  • East-to-West: If you start from the east, your journey begins with a dramatic encounter with the famous Torres Del Paine, leaving you with diverse landscapes to explore.
  • West-to-East: Opting for this direction allows you to save the magnificent towers for your grand finale while hiking through stunning valleys and forests.

The choice is yours, so customise your adventure to match your desires. The itinerary below is a sample 5-day itinerary for solo hiking the W Trek, from west-to-east. You can follow the plan below in reverse to do the trek from east-to-west, or make amendments to shorten or extend your total hike.

Please note that this itinerary provides an overview of the daily routes, but actual hiking times may vary based on your pace and trail conditions. Additionally, availability at refugios and campsites should be confirmed and booked in advance, especially during the peak trekking season. Enjoy your unforgettable journey through the stunning landscapes of Torres Del Paine!

Day 1 (Puerto Natales –> Refugio Grey)

  • Total Kilometers: Approximately 11 km
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
  • Start Point: Puerto Natales
  • Finish Point: Grey

Begin your journey by catching the 7 am bus from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine National Park. This service will get you to the Leaving early will ensure you have enough time to hike and explore, without stressing about daylight.

Most buses that leave from Puerto Natales will stop: 

  • First at Laguna Amarga, where you get off if you plan on hiking the W Trek from east-to-west
  • Second at Pudeto, where you get off if you plan on hiking the W Trek from west-to-east

where is w trek

Everyone will get off the bus at Laguna Amarga to show your entrance ticket for the park. You need to book your National Park permit online in advance. It is also advisable to download a copy of your ticket to your phone, as you are unlikely to have cell service in the park. If you are hiking the west-to-east route, you will then get back onto the bus to continue to Pudeto and Lake Pehoé.

When you get off the bus and Pudeto, stroll to the wharf. A catamaran service operated by Hipsur departs Pudeto for Paine Grande, transporting you for 30 minutes across Lake Pehoé to the start of your hike. The service departs at 9:30am, 10:30am, 4:15pm and 6:00pm over December to March. You should check their website for up-to-date operating times. The catamaran costs $25,000 pesos or $30 USD one-way, cash only. Tickets cannot be reserved in advance.

where is w trek

The hike to Grey Lodge is approximately 11 km and offers spectacular views of Lake Pehoé and the surrounding mountains. You’ll pass through enchanting forests and possibly catch a glimpse of local wildlife. Refugio Grey or Camping Grey is your destination for the night, offering stunning lakefront views. You should arrive in the early afternoon, so pitch your tent, meet some other hikers and cook dinner. 

where is w trek

You can also choose to take an optional side trek, by continuing further north past the campsite. An extra 1 km through the forest will bring you to the snout of Grey Glacier, where you will have views of the enormous ice field. A further 2.5km along the path by the edge of the glacier will take you over a series of rope bridges with amazing views. This is about a 1hr round trip.

where is w trek

Day 2 (Grey –> Paine Grande)

  • Start Point: Grey
  • Finish Point: Paine Grande 

Today, you’ll retrace your steps back to Paine Grande. The trail is mostly flat or downhill, making for a more relaxed walk. Along the way, you can choose to hike to the hanging bridges for an extra adventure. 

Optional Add-On: Grey Glacier Ice Hike

One optional adventure you can undertake on the morning of Day 2 of the W Trek is an ice hike on Grey Glacier . Equipped with crampons and guided by experts, you can venture onto the glacier’s surface, exploring its captivating formations, deep blue crevasses, and surreal ice caves. This excursion provides an up-close encounter with the mesmerising world of glacial ice and a chance to witness the park’s natural wonders from a whole new perspective. It’s an unforgettable addition to your W Trek adventure for those seeking an extra dose of excitement and natural beauty.

Cost: The cost for the ice hike on Grey Glacier can vary, but it’s typically around $150 to $200 USD per person. This fee includes the necessary equipment such as crampons and the guidance of expert glacier guides.

Company: The ice hike on Grey Glacier is organised by Bigfoot Patagonia . This experienced tour provider ensures your safety and provides guidance throughout the excursion.

Duration: The ice hike adventure can take approximately 3 to 4 hours. This allows you to explore the glacier’s stunning features and take in the awe-inspiring surroundings.

Overnight Stay: To partake in the ice hike, it’s recommended to stay overnight at the Grey Lodge or campsite. This is because the ice hike usually takes place early in the morning to ensure the best ice conditions. 

Adding the ice hike to your W Trek itinerary can be a memorable and thrilling way to connect with the glacial beauty of Torres Del Paine National Park.

Lago Grey Ice Hiking, Patagonia

Day 3 (Paine Grande –> Francés/Los Cuernos)

  • Total Kilometers: Approximately 21 km
  • Estimated Time: 8-9 hours
  • Start Point: Paine Grande 
  • Finish Point: Francés or Los Cuernos

This is a challenging day involving significant elevation gain, but it rewards you with some of the trek’s most stunning vistas. The trail takes you through valleys, along the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld to Guardería Italiano. You can leave your bags here with the ranger before hiking into the Francés Valley.

Hiking through the Francés Valley can vary greatly depending on the ever-changing Patagonian weather. This stretch of the hike marks the central segment of the W, and it’s a relentless uphill journey. After an hour of navigating steep and rocky terrain on a sometimes slippery trail, you’ll arrive at Mirador Francés, where you can catch sight of Glaciar Francés clinging to the western mountainside.

The O Circuit, Torres del Paine, Hiking in Patagonia

For those feeling especially adventurous and blessed with fair weather, there’s the option to continue ascending to Mirador Británico, adding an extra 3.5 kms each way, roughly three hours for the round trip. At Mirador Británico, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of a circle of jagged granite peaks, including the park’s second most famous landmark, the three-horned Cuernos del Paine. This spot ranks among the park’s most breathtaking viewpoints, particularly when the sky is clear. Keep a sharp eye out, as you might even spot the endangered Southern Andean huemul, a rare deer species, in this area.

Thankfully, the return journey is downhill as you make your way back to Campamento Italiano, where you can retrieve your backpack. Continue on for about 30 minutes to stay at Francés. If there is no availability at Francés, you can instead book to stay at Los Cuernos, which is a further 1 hour from Francés.

Valle Del Frances The French Valley, Hiking in Patagonia

Day 4 (Francés/Los Cuernos –> El Chileno/Central)

  • Total Kilometers: Approximately 15 km
  • Estimated Time: 6-7 hours
  • Start Point: Francés or Los Cuernos
  • Finish Point: El Chileno or Central

The trail from Los Cuernos to El Chileno includes a steady elevation gain throughout the day. You’ll be treated to beautiful river and lake views along the way. As you approach El Chileno, you’ll be surrounded by lush Patagonian forests. Camping and refugio options are available for your overnight stay.

Los Cuernos Trail, Hiking in Patagonia

El Chileno is the ideal campsite for Day 4, as it is 4 kms from the Torres del Paine towers. This is important if you want to catch the sunrise at the viewpoint, so you don’t need to wake up so early! If you can’t get a booking at El Chileno, it is possible to hike from Central, but it is an additional 1hr and 45 minutes to reach the towers.

Day 5 (El Chileno/Central –> Torres del Paine –> Puerto Natales)

  • Total Kilometers: Approximately 9 km (round trip to Mirador las Torres)
  • Estimated Time: 5-6 hours (including time at the viewpoint)
  • Start Point: Camping El Chileno or Refugio El Chileno
  • Finish Point: Puerto Natales

Rise early to hike the trail to the famous Torres del Paine viewpoint. This is about 4km from El Chileno, meaning you should leave camp about 2hrs before dawn. If you are staying at Central, the hike is about 9km and you should leave camp about 4hrs before sunrise. Make sure you bring a head torch, as the rocky trail will be difficult in the dark. Expect the sun to rise around 7am – but be sure to check with the campground the night before your ascent.

Mirador Las Torres, Patagonia

This challenging ascent is rewarded with breathtaking views of the iconic towers. After visiting the towers, descend to Hotel Las Torres. From here, you can take a shuttle bus back to Laguna Amarga for $3,000 pesos, cash only. This is where you get on a bus back to Puerto Natales, completing your W Trek adventure.

How Much Does it Cost to Hike the W Trek Without a Guide?

Before embarking on the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the costs involved. This detailed cost breakdown will help you budget for your adventure effectively:

1. Park Entrance Fee – the park entrance fee for Torres Del Paine National Park varies depending on the season:

  • High Season (November to March): Approximately $40 to $50 USD per person.
  • Shoulder Season (Late October to early November, late March to early April): Around $20 to $30 USD per person.
  • Low Season (April to September): Roughly $10 to $15 USD per person.

2. Transportation:

  • Flights: The cost of flights to reach Teniente Julio Gallardo Airport (PNT) in Puerto Natales can vary widely based on your departure location. On average, round-trip flights from Santiago to PNT range from $150 to $300 USD.
  • Buses: Bus tickets from Puerto Natales to the park entrance or various points within the park can cost approximately $20 to $50 USD round-trip. You can book tickets from the companies’ offices at the Puerto Natales bus station.
  • Pudeto to Paine Grande Ferry: This ferry route is commonly used for the W Trek, and it crosses Lake Pehoé. The cost of the ferry ride can vary, but it was typically around $30 to $40 USD for a one-way ticket. The duration of the ferry ride is relatively short, approximately 30 minutes.

3. Accommodation:

  • Camping: Camping fees at the park’s designated campsites typically range from $10 to $20 USD per person per night. These campsites are equipped with facilities such as bathrooms, showers, and cooking areas.
  • Refugios: Staying in refugios offers more comfort but comes at a higher cost. The price per night in a refugio can vary between $60 and $150 USD per person, depending on the level of luxury and the time of year. This often includes meals.
  • Self-Cooking: If you opt to prepare your meals, you can expect to spend approximately $10 to $20 USD per day on food. This estimate includes purchasing supplies in Puerto Natales before your trek.
  • Meals at Refugios: Dining at refugios can be convenient, but it’s also more expensive. An average meal at a refugio restaurant can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 USD. Keep in mind that some refugio packages include meals.

5. Gear Rental:

  • If you need to rent gear such as tents, sleeping bags, or hiking equipment, budget an additional $20 to $40 USD per day, depending on the items you require.

Please note that these cost estimates can vary based on individual preferences, the exchange rate, and any special promotions or discounts available at the time of booking. It’s advisable to check current prices and plan your budget accordingly to ensure a worry-free W Trek experience. Additionally, consider carrying some extra cash for unexpected expenses or emergencies during your journey.

Hiking on Glacier Grey, W Trek, Torres del Paine

Hiking the W Trek Independently vs With a Guide

Deciding whether to embark on the W Trek independently or with a guide is a significant choice, and it largely depends on your preferences, experience, and what kind of adventure you seek. Below, we delve into the pros and cons of both options to assist you in making an informed decision:

Hiking Independently:

  • Flexibility: Independence grants you the freedom to set your pace, choose your daily itinerary, and make spontaneous decisions along the way. You have full control over your adventure.
  • Cost-Effective: Independent trekkers often find it more budget-friendly, especially when it comes to accommodations. You can opt for camping and self-cooked meals to save money.
  • Personal Connection with Nature: Solitude in the wilderness can provide a deeper connection with the natural surroundings and a more profound sense of adventure.
  • Adventure of Self-Reliance: Successfully navigating the W Trek independently can be immensely rewarding, boosting your self-confidence and outdoor skills.
  • Logistical Challenges: Planning and booking accommodations, transportation, and permits can be time-consuming and occasionally frustrating, especially during peak seasons.
  • Navigation: You must rely on your navigation skills and research to stay on the right path, which can be challenging in the ever-changing Patagonian weather.
  • Safety Considerations: Solo travellers should be well-prepared for emergencies and have basic wilderness first aid knowledge.

Hiking the W Trek with a Guide

  • Expert Guidance: Guides are experienced and knowledgeable about the trail, local wildlife, and weather patterns. They can enhance your understanding and appreciation of the environment.
  • Safety Assurance: With a guide, you have a safety net. They can provide assistance in emergencies, navigation, and first aid.
  • Group Camaraderie: Joining a guided tour allows you to meet like-minded adventurers and share the experience, making it a social and potentially less solitary journey.
  • Simplified Logistics: Many logistical aspects, such as accommodations and permits, are often handled by the guiding company, reducing your planning burden.
  • Cost: Guided tours can be more expensive due to the added services and expertise provided.
  • Less Independence: Your schedule and daily activities are often predefined, leaving less room for spontaneity.
  • Group Dynamics: Group tours may vary in size and composition, and you might not always have full control over the pace or itinerary.

In conclusion, the choice between hiking the W Trek independently or with a guide is a matter of personal preference and what aligns with your goals for the journey. Consider your budget, level of outdoor experience, desire for flexibility, and your comfort with navigating the trail. Both options offer unique advantages, and the W Trek promises an unforgettable adventure, regardless of the path you choose.

where is w trek

Trek Highlights and Scenic Spots

The W Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park is a visual symphony of natural wonders. Each leg of the journey unveils a new chapter in this captivating wilderness narrative. Here, we delve into the breathtaking highlights and scenic spots that await you:

1. Torres Del Paine – The Crown Jewels:

  • Iconic Towers: No visit to Torres Del Paine is complete without witnessing the park’s namesake – the monumental Torres Del Paine. These three towering granite peaks, sculpted by the forces of nature, rise majestically against the Patagonian sky. The sight of the Torres, especially during sunrise or sunset, is a moment that etches itself into your memory forever.

2. Spectacular Valleys:

  • French Valley (Valle del Francés): This emerald green valley enchants with its hanging glaciers, colossal rock faces, and panoramic vistas. Hiking through the French Valley feels like stepping into a postcard, surrounded by nature’s grandeur from every angle.

3. Lush Forests:

  • Patagonian Wilderness: The W Trek meanders through pristine Patagonian forests, where moss-covered trees, vibrant lichens, and unique flora create a rich tapestry of greens. Walking amidst these ancient trees evokes a sense of timelessness.

4. Azure Lakes:

  • Lago Pehoé and Lago Nordenskjöld: These crystal-clear lakes reflect the azure sky and surrounding peaks like mirrors. Their beauty is not only in the vibrant blue hues but also in the tranquility they offer. Pause by their shores and feel the serenity wash over you.

5. Glacier Grey:

  • Glacial Majesty: Glacier Grey is a spectacle of ice and light. As you approach its shimmering blue face, you’ll be captivated by the sheer size and beauty of this ancient ice giant. The viewpoint offers an up-close encounter with one of Patagonia’s most remarkable glaciers.

6. Flora and Fauna Encounters:

  • Wildlife: Keep a watchful eye for the diverse Patagonian wildlife. Guanacos, foxes, condors, and even the elusive puma inhabit these lands. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the variety of avian species that call this region home.

7. Mirador Cuernos:

  • Cuernos Lookout: This viewpoint provides a mesmerising panorama of the iconic Cuernos del Paine, the horn-like peaks that define the landscape. It’s a place to pause, take in the surroundings, and appreciate the rugged beauty of Patagonia.

8. Southern Patagonian Ice Field:

  • Distant Giants: While not part of the W Trek itself, the view of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field from certain points along the trail is awe-inspiring. Witness this vast expanse of ice, where countless glaciers originate, and feel the enormity of the natural forces at play.

The W Trek is a mesmerising journey through a pristine wilderness that will leave you humbled by nature’s artistry. Each of these highlights adds a unique stroke to the masterpiece that is Torres Del Paine National Park. Whether you’re an avid photographer, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking serenity in the wild, the W Trek has something extraordinary to offer at every turn.

Booking the W Trek and Practical Information

Embarking on the W Trek adventure requires meticulous planning, from securing permits to arranging transportation. Here, we delve into the practical details you need to know to ensure a seamless journey through Torres Del Paine National Park:

1. Permits and Excursions:

  • Booking Your Trek: The W Trek is in high demand, especially during the peak season (November to March). You must secure your accommodations and camping permits in advance. Remember that the campsites and refugios are operated by two different companies, Vertice and Fantastico Sur. Each has its own booking system, so it’s crucial to book dates that align with your itinerary. Start the booking process as early as possible, as securing the exact dates you need can be challenging.
  • Excursions: If you’re interested in guided excursions or activities within the park, such as glacier hikes or boat trips, it’s advisable to book these in advance as well. This ensures you don’t miss out on the experiences that enhance your W Trek adventure.

2. Timetables for Buses and Park Entrance Tickets:

  • Getting to Puerto Natales: To reach the starting point of the W Trek, you’ll likely fly into Santiago and then take a flight to Teniente Julio Gallardo Airport (PNT) in Puerto Natales. A 10-minute taxi ride will transport you from the airport to the downtown area, where most accommodations are situated. It’s recommended to spend a night in Puerto Natales to stock up on supplies before heading to the national park.
  • Buses to the Park: From Puerto Natales, you’ll need to take a bus to Torres Del Paine. Various bus companies, such as Buses Fernandez, operate this route. Ensure you purchase your bus tickets in advance, particularly if you plan to catch an early morning departure. Timetables can vary, so check the schedules well in advance to align them with your trekking itinerary.
  • Park Entrance Tickets: You’ll need to pay an entrance fee to access Torres Del Paine National Park. These tickets can be purchased at the park entrance or online. Having your entrance tickets ready in advance will save you time and streamline the process when you arrive.

3. Equipment and Supplies:

  • Gear Checklist: Ensure you have all the necessary gear for your trek, including camping equipment, clothing layers, hiking boots, and more. Refer to the packing essentials section for a comprehensive checklist to make sure you’re well-prepared.

4. Safety and Emergency Contacts:

  • Emergency Preparedness: While the W Trek is a stunning adventure, it’s essential to prioritise safety. Familiarise yourself with emergency contacts and park regulations before setting out. Have a plan for communication and emergency situations.

5. Accommodation Flexibility:

  • Last-Minute Options: While booking accommodations in advance is wise, some refugios may have last-minute availability for hikers. Keep this in mind if your plans are flexible, but don’t rely on it entirely, especially during peak seasons.

Navigating the logistics of the W Trek ensures that your adventure unfolds smoothly, allowing you to focus on the awe-inspiring landscapes and experiences that await you. By planning ahead, you’ll maximise your enjoyment and make the most of your journey through the pristine wilderness of Torres Del Paine.

In conclusion, embarking on a solo adventure along the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, Chile, is a remarkable experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. By planning carefully, packing smartly, and embracing the breathtaking beauty of Patagonia, you’ll embark on an unforgettable journey that showcases the very best of nature’s wonders.

To hike the W in Torres del Paine, plan your itinerary, book accommodations, and obtain permits in advance. Start from either the east or west side, following well-marked trails and taking in the breathtaking landscapes along the way.

Yes, you can definitely hike the W Trek without a guide. Many solo hikers and groups explore the trail independently. The trail is well marked and sign-posted the whole route. Just be sure to plan and prepare well, including booking accommodations and permits in advance. If you are new to hiking and camping, consider hiking the W Trek with a guide or group.

No. Camping in Torres del Paine is restricted to designated campgrounds. This means there is no free camping. The purpose is to minimise the environmental impact and reduce the risk of fires, which have previously ravaged significant portions of the park, covering approximately 17,000 hectares (41,000 acres) or 7% of its total area.

The duration of the W Trek can vary depending on your pace and itinerary. On average, hikers complete the W circuit in 4 to 6 days. It’s a flexible trek that allows you to choose your route and pace.

While it’s technically possible to complete the W Trek in 4 days, it would be a very strenuous and rushed experience. Most hikers opt for a 5-day itinerary to fully enjoy the trek and its stunning landscapes. A 4-day trek would require covering significant distances each day.

The difficulty of the W Trek varies, but it’s generally considered a moderate hike. It involves steep ascents and descents, variable weather conditions, and covering significant distances. Being physically prepared and having the right gear is essential.

To start the W Trek, you’ll typically fly to Santiago, then catch a flight to Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres Del Paine National Park. Spend a night in Puerto Natales to stock up on supplies before heading to the park.

Charging facilities are available at some refugios and campsites along the W Trek, but they may be limited. It’s advisable to bring a portable power bank to ensure you can keep your devices charged throughout the trek.

The best months to hike Torres del Paine are during the shoulder seasons of late October to early November and late March to early April. These periods offer milder weather and fewer crowds. However, if you prefer vibrant spring or summer landscapes, consider the peak season from November to March.

Absolutely! The W Trek is worth it for its stunning natural beauty, iconic landmarks like Torres Del Paine, and the sense of adventure it offers. It’s a memorable experience for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

Yes, you can find water sources along the W Trek route. It’s essential to bring a water purification filter or water purification tablets to ensure the water is safe to drink from streams and rivers.

For the W Trek, it’s essential to bring lightweight, high-energy, and non-perishable foods. Consider items like energy bars, nuts, dried fruits, instant oats, pasta, dehydrated meals, and freeze-dried options. Make sure to pack foods that are easy to prepare on camping stoves and provide the necessary nutrition for your journey. Additionally, you can purchase some supplies at refugios along the trail if needed.

While some places in Torres del Paine accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry some cash. Cash can be useful in case you encounter places that don’t have card payment facilities, or when reception in the park is not working. You will also need cash for the boat from Pudeto to Paine Grande.

Yes. There are well-maintained toilets at each campsite along the W Trek.

Torres del Paine can be relatively expensive due to park entrance fees, accommodation costs (especially in refugios), and dining options. However, there are ways to manage costs, such as camping and preparing your own meals if you’re on a budget.

Some of the best parts of the W Trek include witnessing the iconic Torres Del Paine towers, exploring spectacular valleys, hiking through lush forests, and marveling at crystal-clear lakes that dot the landscape.

Photo of author

Lucas is a travel writer with deep experience exploring South America. He enjoys hiking through mountain ranges, cycling across deserts and paddling down rivers.

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Trekking type, torres del paine w trek patagonia - map, refugios, itinerary and more, by sierd van der bij.

Torres del Paine W Trek Patagonia - Map, Refugios, Itinerary and More!

The W Trek in Torres del Paine is by far the most famous trek in Patagonia. The W stands for the shape of the route if you look at it from a bird’s eye perspective. There are many options if you want to conquer this massif. Although the W trek is the shortest, it includes the most beautiful highlights of the Torres del Paine National Park. In this blogpost, we will tell you all that you need to know about the refugios on the W-trek, the map, the itinerary, and more!

Do I hire a guide or do I go on my own when trekking in Torres del Paine?

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The W trek is not that long, which is why some trekkers choose to do it in 3 days. Nevertheless, we recommend taking it a little bit slower so as to make the most out of every site. With the most varied and colorful landscapes, this trek is guaranteed to leave you speechless. Along the way you will find hanging glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and granite peaks. The red color given by the lengas in autumn and winter provide you with a dreamlike scenery.

The first thing to know about this trek is that you can either do it on your own or you can hire a guide. Is it dangerous to go on my own? Not at all. The trails of the W Trek in Torres del Paine are very well marked and you will most probably find other trekkers on your way, so you won't be completely alone. Getting lost in Torres del Paine is highly unlikely. The good thing about booking a self-guided trek with a trekking company is that all the logistics get sorted out for you: the accommodation, the transport and the meals are arranged by our partners.

Now, although you can do it by yourself, hiring a guide is always a good idea. As we said before, the trek is completely safe, but a guide will always be able to add that little extra touch to the whole experience. The guides in Torres del Paine National Park will be able to share with you all the knowledge they have about the flora and fauna of the region and maybe show you some of the hidden gems that only those familiar with the park get to enjoy. In the end, it is up to you. Either way, you will love the W trek!

Self Guided W-Trek (Camping)

Self Guided W-Trek (Camping)

Guided W-Trek

Guided W-Trek

The W-Trek is a popular hiking route in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. It's called the "W-Trek" because of the shape the route makes as it winds through the park - it looks like the letter "W" when drawn on a map.

The trek takes you to some of the park's most iconic sights including the stunning granite towers that give Torres del Paine its name, the beautiful French Valley, and the Grey Glacier. It's one of the most famous hiking routes in the world, and is renowned for its dramatic landscapes and diverse wildlife.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the W-Trek with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

You want nice weather when trekking in Torres del Paine National Park. At the park is situated in the Southern Hemisphere, one has to be mindful of the seasons there. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is actually summer in the deep South. Hence, the best trekking season for Torres del Paine National Park is during the summer months: From November to early March. However, Spring (September-November) are and Autumn (March-May) are also favorable trekking and hiking seasons, as the crowds are fewer and the natural scenery is colorful. Think fresh colors in Spring and stunning brown colors in the Fall months. Winter lasts from June to August and it is then that Torres del Paine National Park and the rest of Patagonia is quiet. At this time of the year, most attractions are closed for maintenance. Regardless of your choice in trekking season, make sure you bring enough layers for during your hike.

What is the best season to do the W-trek in Torres del Paine?

Accommodation in Torres del Paine will not be a luxury show, but at least you will have a roof over your head while resting your legs from the W trek. Refugios are mountain lodges and can be found scattered all over the National Park. Our trekking providers are making use of these Refugios but it is also possible to stay in a tent on a campsite, or in one of the domes of an EcoCamp that you can find in the park. Regardless of where you stay, your accommodation fulfills all the basic needs for getting a blissful rest during your trek through Torres del Paine.

The "Refugios" are mountain lodges scattered all over the Torres del Paine National Park. When you have done your hiking and trekking for the day, you are most likely to stay in one of these Refugios. Refugios come with comfortable dorm-style rooms that are best compared to a standard you can find at neat backpacker hostels around the world. Think mountain huts with all the comfort you need. A great advantage of using Refugios is that you can limit the amount of equipment that you bring along. On top of that, you have a roof over your head, you are likely to meet more people and you can enjoy nourishing meals. If you prefer to camp, you can still use Refugios. They often come with space where you can pitch a tent.

It is very important to highlight that the accommodation in the refugios is limited and they can be fully booked weeks or even months in advance. If you want to spend your nights at the refugios, make sure you book your trek in advance. If any of the refugios is full, the alternative will be to spend the night camping.

Hiking in Torres del Paine can be a costly matter, but there are most definitely affordable ways of doing it. The prices of the W trek can go from USD 1250/ EUR 1100 and up to more than USD 3000/ EUR 2700. The more support you receive, the more you will be paying for your trek. After all, the guide that shows you the way and tells you about all the highlights along the way, needs to be paid a fair salary. When comparing a guided to a self-guided trek, one can see that it can make a difference of almost 1000 USD. It is, however, good to note that not all the trekking costs lie in enjoying the skills of a guide or not. A typical W Trek includes food and accommodation in the form of Mountain Lodges, known as Refugios. The entrance fees to Torres del Paine National Park and all transportation needed are also included in the total trekking price. There are many alternatives for the W Trek, with different accommodation options, number of days, and prices.

How much does doing the W trek in Patagonia?

Do you have a self-guided adventure on your wish list and are you curious about all the possible alternatives? Check out all our offers for the W-Trek here!

The W trek in Torres del Paine is pretty much the same for every trekking company since there is only one route. What does change is the number of days you spend on the trails and which highlights you get to see. The W trek is most commonly completed in 5 days, which gives you enough time to see all the main attractions along the way.

Transfer to Torres del Paine – Round trip hike to Las Torres lookout point

Starting from Puerto Natales at 7:00 AM, we drive all the way to Torres del Paine National Park. We will drive through open pampas and huge ranches (estancias), and chances are we will be able to observe one of the most typical animals in this area, the ñandu, (rare South American ostrich). We will follow an unpaved road heading to Refugio Las Torres to spend our first night. Upon entering the park we will have excellent photographic and birding opportunities as we drive alongside lagoons frequented by Chilean flamencos and black-necked swans. After leaving your backpack at the Refugio, we start the trek to the base of the Towers, following the Ascencio River to enter the Ascencio Valley. The walk will be uphill for one hour before stopping to observe the first glimpses of the valley surrounded by unbelievable beech forests, glaciers and waterfalls. We’ll continue through the valley for another hour and a half before ascending a huge terminal moraine to a lookout (900 M), excellent for picture taking. This amazing view will be accompanied by lunch to add to the enjoyment. After being awed by the towers we’ll start the descent, following the same path back to the hut. Dinner will be served in the Refugio.

Refugio Torres Central

Refugio Torres Central

One way hike to Los Cuernos lookout point

We will start early morning to enjoy, weather permitting, a magnificent dawn filled with orange-pink colors. As we leave the campground we will arrive at Inge lagoon. Chances are, on this path, we may see the flight of an Andean condor or eagles hunting hares or small rodents. We follow a well mark trail ascending around (200 M) from the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain (2750 M), crossing the Bader River to arrive at Refugio Los Cuernos where we will stay overnight.

Refugio Los Cuernos

Refugio Los Cuernos

One-way hike to Pehoe Lake, via the French Valley

We will start our day with a 2-hour walk going to an undulating path until reaching the French River for our first glimpses of the hanging glacier. Then we will ascend (300 M) for one hour through a surreal Japanese garden landscape, crossing beech forests, to reach the French valley viewpoint gifting us with a magnificent view of both mountains and lakes. We will lunch here with good possibilities of seeing avalanches from the hanging glacier or simply observe the west side of the Cuernos (2600 M), Espada (2400 M) and Fortaleza (2800 M). Our way back will be the same until we reach the entrance of the valley where we will continue on a different path around the South-West side of Paine Grande, the highest peak in the Park, through native forests of Chilean fire bush and evergreen beech (Nothofagus Bethuloides), up to the shore of the Pehoe Lake.

Refugio Paine Grande

Refugio Paine Grande

One-way hike to Grey Glacier

We will begin the early morning with our hike to the Grey Glacier. Initially ascending 200mts up a winding narrow path leading us to Laguna Negra, a place where we will observe the first glimpses of the South Patagonia Ice Field with its many unclimbed mountains. We will advance through forests and rivers, with possible sightings of spectacle and flying steamer ducks, up to the glacier viewpoint. We will have lunch at this place to see, if we are lucky enough, ice calving from the huge glacier wall.

Refugio Grey

Refugio Grey

One-way hike to Catamaran – Transfer back to Puerto Natales

Your trekking adventure will begin in Puerto Natales, where your trekking company will drive you to the Torres del Paine National Park's entrance. As your trekking starts early in the morning you need to get to Puerto Natales one day before the start of your trek. You need to fly on Puntus Arenas (Airport code: PUQ). From there you can take the bus to Puerto Natales. It’s advisable to arrange this upfront. We recommend either Bus-Sur or Buses Fernandez . These are the departure times:

Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales

8:00, 9:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:30, 16:00, 17:00, 18:30, 19:15, 20:00, 21:00

Puerto Natales – Punta Arenas

7:00, 7:15, 9:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:30, 17:00, 18:30, 19:15, 20:00, 21:00

Do you make it to your destinations as planned? Often this depends on the unpredictable weather in the mountains. However, it can also depend on your own physical condition.

Do you like walking, have you done trekking at an altitude more often and do you sport twice a week on average? With a little extra training, you’ll soon be ready for the beautiful W trek.

Is this the first time that you are trekking in the mountains? Make sure you are well prepared. This is important for your safety, but also for that of your team. Make sure you start six months in advance with an hour’s walk twice a week.

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The W-Trek is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

Know your limits

Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts .

Stay on marked trails

The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the W-Trek. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

Fully equipped

Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of W-Trek and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

Stay reachable

If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the W-Trek.

Respect for nature

Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided W-Trek and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here . Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the W-Trek not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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Torres del Paine - The W Trek

6 days, puerto natales to puerto natales.

where is w trek

  • Full itinerary
  • Tour details

Here's a quick six-day trip that's simply perfect as an add-on to other Patagonian adventures. Torres del Paine's W Trek is celebrated by active travellers globally as one of the most scenic treks anywhere. Spend four days walking through stunning landscapes surrounding Grey Glacier, French Valley, and the imposing three towers. While the trek alone is challenging enough, the real contest comes in needing to take your camera out so frequently.

Puerto Natales to Puerto Natales

Special offers, is this tour for me, travel style: active.

Hiking, trekking, biking, rafting, and kayaking adventures all over the world, made for outdoor types.

Service Level: Camping

Camping most nights with some hotel/hostel stays to start and throughout; affordable public and private transport.

Physical Rating: 4 - Demanding

Some high-altitude hikes or more strenuous activities, but accessible to most healthy travellers.

Trip Type: Small Group

Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12

Age requirement: 12+

All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Map of the route for Torres del Paine - The W Trek

Places visited

Ready to take on Patagonia? Get familiar before you go.

Day 1 Puerto Natales

Arrive at any time.

Exclusive Inclusions:

Day 2 puerto natales/laguna azul camp.

Embark on a 4-day excursion within Torres del Paine National Park, hiking the famous W Trek. Start the 62km (38.5 mi) route by trekking to the base of Las Torres to see the dramatic three towers and turquoise lagoon below.

Meals included:

Day 3 laguna azul camp/cuernos camp.

Wake up surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. Enjoy breakfast with a view, pack your bag and jump in the van. Our drive today goes along the Paine river until we reach the Welcome Center in Torres del Paine NP. Be on the lookout to spot some wildlife! Once at the welcome center, meet the porters and continue hiking along the W route towards Cuernos Campsite. Stop at Nordenskjöld lake and enjoy the view before reaching Cuernos Camp.

Day 4 Cuernos Camp/Paine Grande Camp

Today hike to the French Valley lookout to see the imposing French glacier hanging over Paine Grande mountain. Take in the dramatic, contrasting greens and greys on the landscape and enjoy a 360 view from above. Head to Paine Grande Campsite after crossing an eerie and beautiful forest of dead trees.

Day 5 Paine Grande Camp/Puerto Natales

The final day of the W Trek leads to Grey Lake and the lookout point for Grey Glacier. Gaze off into the distance admiring the scale of this immense glacier. Hike back to Lake Pehoé and finish by taking a picturesque ferry ride across the lake enjoying the sense of accomplishment before returning to Puerto Natales for the night.

Day 6 Puerto Natales

Depart at any time.

What's Included

  • Your Welcome Moment: Welcome Moment - Meet Your CEO and Group
  • Torres del Paine National Park camping and trekking excursion along the the "W Route" (3 nts)
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Accommodations

Hotels (2 nts), camping (3 nts).

5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners Allow USD80-105 for meals not included.

Transportation

Van, ferry, hiking.

Staff & experts

CEO (Chief Experience Officer) throughout, specialist mountain guides in Torres del Paine NP, local guides.

Make it a private tour

Book this tour as a private departure, with your own CEO and all the benefits of a G Adventures group tour.

10 Tips For Hiking The W Trek In Chilean Patagonia (Read Before You Go)

Hiking the W Trek is the trip of a lifetime! Here's what to know in order to prepare for the adventure and make the most of it.

Patagonia is a dream destination for many hikers and outdoor enthusiasts: it’s got mountain peaks, glaciers, vibrant blue lakes, and tons of wildlife . One of the most popular hikes in the region is in Chilean Patagonia , inside the Torres del Paine National Park.

This is home to the W Trek, a once-in-a-lifetime journey through the wilderness over the course of 5 days. Here’s what travelers need to know before departing for the classic W Trek.

10 The Park Entrance Fee Is Paid In Cash On Arrival

To start the trek, travelers must enter Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The park entrance fee is CLP $7.300 (~$8.62) for a single day and CLP $10.500 (~$12.38) for a +3 day pass.

When paying the fee at the entrance, travelers must have cash in Chilean Pesos because cards are not accepted. Travelers should keep their pass on them throughout the trek as proof of payment.

9 Dress For All Seasons

It’s often said that in Patagonia, hikers can experience all four seasons within a single day. Although the weather tends to be most stable in Autumn (March to May), in the summer, winter, and spring , it’s common to experience sunny skies, rainfall, and heavy winds all within 12 hours.

To ensure comfort in all conditions, hikers must dress for any weather. This means having moisture-wicking clothing, waterproof rain shells, and layering.

Related: Experience Chile's Great Views With These Hiking Spots

8 Plan Your Duration Based On Your Ability

The classic W Trek is completed in 5 days and 4 nights. However, some travelers who are pressed for time choose to do it in 4 days and 3 nights, so they can see more of the park and other parts of the country during their trip.

While this can be tempting, it’s important to understand that accelerating the hike means covering more distance each day. Avid hikers may find this manageable but for beginners, spending less than 5 days on the trail means multiple days of hiking 20+ km at a time.

Be sure to plan the duration of the trek according to your physical fitness level.

7 Bring Your Food (Don’t Buy)

There is food at every campsite and Refugio along the W Trek trail, so hikers will never go hungry if they run out of food during the hike. However, the prices of the food at these Refugios can be astronomical compared to the cost of simply purchasing dried goods in advance and cooking them along the way.

Travelers on a tight budget may want to forego the fancy dinners and packed lunches available on the trek in favor of boiling some water each night and adding it to dehydrated camping meals, instant noodles, and other easy meals that they can carry in their packs.

6 Save Money By Booking Early

There are various options for accommodation at each stop along the W Trek. Grey, Paine Grande, Chileno, and other campgrounds on the route offer basic campsites, premium campsites, or rooms in mountain lodges. Depending on a traveler’s budget, the price of a mountain lodge room or even a premium campsite may be out of the question.

The basic campsites are the most affordable option at $12/per person per night . This option requires the individual to provide their own tent and sleeping bag.

To get this budget-friendly price, backpackers should book their campsite months in advance of the trek, especially if they plan to visit in the high season (December to March). Bookings for January typically open in September and are almost completely full by late October.

Related: Road Trip Patagonia: Driving Scenic Ruta 40 From Esquel To Bariloche

5 Leave Your Luggage At Your Hostel

Before arriving at the bucket list destination of Torres del Paine , travelers will spend a night in the town of Puerto Natales. They should ensure their accommodation in Puerto Natales, whether it’s a hostel or hotel, enables them to leave behind their bulky luggage during the hike, so they only have to carry the essentials on the W Trek.

Most hostels allow guests to store their suitcases in a locker while they’re away; ask ahead of time and come prepared with a lock to secure your belongings.

4 Plan To Be Completely Off-Grid

There is little to no cell reception in Torres del Paine National Park, so hikers should plan to be largely off-grid for the duration of the W Trek. This means 5 days with potentially no cell service or Wi-Fi.

Many Refugios offer Wi-Fi for a fee ($4 USD per hour) but the Internet speed is slow. Checking email is possible, but not much else.

3 Bring Or Rent Trekking Poles

On a multi-day trek, using trekking poles can help alleviate the pressure on the knees and makes the journey feel more manageable when facing major inclines.

Consider packing trekking poles for the journey or renting them in Puerto Natales on arrival. During the high season, it can be difficult to secure rentals on short notice.

2 Consider Your Direction And Difficulty Level

The W Trek can be done from East to West or from West To East. Sometimes, the decision on which direction to trek will be determined for the hiker by their tour group or, if hiking alone, based on campsite availability.

However, when given the choice, it’s worth noting that many people consider West to East to be the easier direction to trek. The section of the trail from Campamento Italiano to Refugio Cuernos is more difficult from East to West. It also puts the hardest part of the hike first: the ascent to Mirador Las Torres.

Note, when doing the W Trek as part of the O Circuit, it must be done from West to East.

1 Check The Weather Forecast Before Hiking To Mirador Las Torres

Travelers starting their W Trek from the East will have the pleasure of hiking to the iconic viewpoint at Mirador Las Torres on day 1. Those who hike from West to East will finish their trek with an ascent to this scenic viewpoint.

Regardless of when they plan to arrive at Mirador Las Torres, travelers should check the forecast in advance to ensure good weather and clear skies.

Knowing when the best weather is expected will help them make the choice to ascend to the viewpoint in the evening before heading to camp at Chileno or in the morning, before departing Chileno.

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W-Trek Hike from a Luxury Lodge, Torres del Paine National Park

where is w trek

Discover the best of the W-Trek on this guided hike returning each day to your luxury lodge base overlooking Torres del Paine National Park

This luxury lodge-based experience offers a chance to complete the three must-do sections of the W-Trek in Torres del Paine National Park while enjoying exclusive accommodation and local food and wine at award-winning Tierra Patagonia. You'll be led by a professional local guide each day as you tick off the Towers Base hike, Grey Glacier bridges hike and a walk to the hanging glaciers of the French Valley. In the evening enjoy local produce over a three-course dinner prepared by Tierra's chef, and a Chilean wine from the open bar. The onsite facilities include a sauna, steam room and indoor pool and are the perfect way to relax and ease sore muscles post-walk. All ground and boat transfers are included on this all-inclusive journey to the heart of Southern Patagonia. For the ultimate convenience, departures are available on any date in-season (October to April), with transfers included from Puerto Natales.

This itinerary includes shared transfers and you may be joined on your hikes by fellow Tierra guests (up to six guests per guide). Please let your Journey Designer know if you'd prefer a fully private option and we can arrange a personal guide for a small supplement. Private transfers and other destinations such as Punta Arenas and El Calafate are available (additional cost applies).

Tierra Patagonia hiking excursion

Your four night itinerary includes:

  • Four nights' luxury accommodation at Tierra in a standard room with Torres mountain views
  • Daily breakfasts and three-course dinners with Chilean wines
  • Open bar including soft drinks, house wines and spirits
  • Packed picnic lunches to enjoy on the trail
  • Guided hikes on the W Trek including Grey Glacier, Towers Base and French Valley*
  • Complimentary use of steam rooms, sauna and indoor pool facilities
  • All boat and ground transfers required to/from trails
  • National Park passes
  • Return shared scheduled transfers from Puerto Natales

* Your itinerary includes a shared guide so you may be joined by other Tierra guests on your guided day hikes (up to six guests per guide). Please let us know if you'd prefer a personal guide for a fully private experience.

** From pricing is per person, twin share, based on low season (October, April); please enquire for pricing for your preferred month of travel

This journey commences and concludes in Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas, in Chilean Patagonia. Flights from Santiago to Puerto Natales are seasonal and normally operate from November to April. Flights to Punta Arenas are available year-round. Complimentary scheduled transfers from Puerto Natales are included with your journey. For an additional fee, transfers can be arranged to/from Punta Arenas or El Calafate, making it easy to combine your W-Trek with time in Argentinian Patagonia. View a detailed W-Trek Map here .

Please enquire about pre and post-accommodation in and around Torres del Paine National Park, and extension options to El Calafate and El Chalten.

WIL MAP SOUTH AMERICA Southern Patagonia

Welcome to Torres del Paine National Park and the wonderful Tierra Patagonia. Today is all about settling into your luxury lodge surroundings and preparing for your walk to begin tomorrow. A shared transfer from Puerto Natales is included to the lodge, which offers time to soak in the views of the Patagonian landscape. Keep an eye out for the guanacos and other native wildlife on the drive. Tonight enjoy a Chilean wine by the fire and a taste of Patagonia during your three-course chef-prepared dinner.

Included: D

Tierra Patagonia dining room

The Towers Base Hike is arguably the best day hike in Torres del Paine National Park, if not the world. Located on the famous W Trek, the full day guided walk begins at the Ascensio River with a climb to Paso los Vientos. As you hike up the pass, the mountains come into view before crossing through native lenga forest. After a final scramble up a rocky hillside you will reach the base of the three towers for which Torres del Paine is named. Return to your luxury lodge base this afternoon and soak in the warmth of the sauna or pool before a hearty dinner in the restaurant. The views to the towers will remind you of your day's adventure as you dine.

Daily walk distance: 18 kilometres, full day hike

Included: B - L - D

Note: The sequence of your walks may vary based on the weather and your selected departure date. A detailed itinerary will be provided when you book and updated by your guide as required on arrival.

Torres Del Paine Base of Towers hike W Trek Tierra

After breakfast, set off with your guide on today's hike to the 'Valle Frances' or French Valley, a section of the W-trek known for its hanging glaciers. After a transfer to Pudeto jetty, the day begins with a beautiful boat ride across Lake Pehoe to the Paine Grande, where the trailhead is located. As you set off, you’ll soon pass two beautiful lakes with views of the 'Cuernos' or Horns as you cross small footbridges to avoid the mud and tree routes of the mountainside. After 7 kilometers, after crossing the French River, you will emerge from native forest to a view of the hanging French Glacier that spills into the Paine Grande. If fitness and conditions allow, continue climbing for another hour passing through lenga and coihue forests and by waterfalls until you reach the Plató lookout. This is a great lunch spot with its unique views of the imposing Paine Grande and the beautiful granite rocks opposite. Return along the same trail to another access point to Lake Pehoe for your cataman crossing back to the vehicle. An evening at Tierra awaits.

Daily walk distance: up to 19 kilometres, full day hike

Tierra Patagonia 13

After a scenic transfer by road and boat, today you will enjoy another highlight of the W-Trek, Grey Glacier and the Bridges Grey hike. This time commencing on the northern side of Lake Grey, begin with a 3.5 kilometre trek in a northerly direction to approach the east side of the glacier. Photo opportunities are everywhere as you traverse scenic suspension bridges and pass lenga forest opening to views of the Patagonian Ice Fields and dramatic Grey Glacier. Continue your hike along the Grey Glacier sector of the W-Trek for a further 11 kilometres in the direction of Paine Grande to complete your bucket-list day hike in Torres del Paine National Park. You will cross Lake Pehoé via catamaran one last time to reach your transfer back to the lodge. After completing such a special few days of hiking, tonight is all about relaxing with new friends at the lodge and perhaps indulging in a well-earned massage before dinner.

Daily walk distance: up to 15 kilometres, full day hike

Grey glacier hike bridges lr

Enjoy a sleep-in and leisurely breakfast soaking in the views of the Towers from the lodge restaurant. Your shared scheduled transfer to Puerto Natales* is included today.

*Private transfers and other destinations such as Punta Arenas and El Calafate are available (additional cost applies)

Included: B

Tierra Patagonia

October to April season. Any date departure is possible in-season, subject to availability.

Towers base trek torres del paine national park Tierra

Combine with

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Glaciers Gourmet Cruise Maria Turquesa hero

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Hike the Andes with a private guide and enjoy the food and wine of Mendoza’s Uco Valley on this four day luxury adventure in Argentina

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Walk the Perito Moreno 'balconies' footpaths or hike on the ice at Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina's Glaciers National Park

Chalten Camp Dome Bed

Fall asleep under the stars and wake to panoramic views of Mount Fitz Roy from your cosy dome at Camp Chalten, in Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park

Awasi Iguazu HERO 5

Surrounded by rainforest, experience the ultimate Iguazu Falls adventure at all-inclusive luxury lodge Awasi, in northern Argentina

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4 Night Expedition Cruise

Experience the majestic glaciers and unique wildlife of southern Patagonia on this all-inclusive four-night cruise through the fjords of Tierra del Fuego

Tierra Atacama 1

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AWA Hotel HERO 2

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Frequently asked questions

Best way to hike the w-trek in torres del paine np.

Our essential guide to Patagonia's most popular hike, discover the best ways to hike the W-Trek and stay in Torres del Paine National Park, from luxury lodges to glamping

When is the best time to hike the W Trek in Torres del Paine NP?

The hiking season in Torres del Paine National Park and for the W Trek runs from October to April.

Get in touch

Start planning your luxury w trek in torres del paine national park with walk into luxury.

To find out more about this journey or discuss a personalised trip, please get in touch

Let us plan an exceptional journey tailored just for you

Begin your journey today, discover australia, nz and beyond on a private journey or walk.

where is w trek

US: +13314652129

Chile: +56957902936.

where is w trek

Torres del Paine

CHILE TOURS PATAGONIA + W-TREK DAY 1 PHO

W TREK CLASSIC

6 nights, 7 days

All-inclusive, w/ Garden Domes

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W TREK ACTIVE

5 nights, 6 days

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9 nights, 10 days

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W TREK ALTERNATIVE

4 nights, 5 days

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Day tours from Puerto Natales operated by our sister company, Paine Travel

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WTREK EXPRESS

4 nights accomodation, 5  days (3 days of  hiking, a ll-inclusive)

Essential Items To Pack For The W Trek In Patagonia

  • Last updated Jan 31, 2024
  • Difficulty Intemediate

Naim Haliti

  • Category United States

what to pack for w trek patagonia

Embarking on the renowned W Trek in Patagonia is an adventure like no other, enticing adventurers with its pristine landscapes and staggering beauty. But before immersing yourself in this breathtaking journey, it is essential to have a well-prepared backpack. From sturdy hiking boots to waterproof gear, and from warm layers to nourishing snacks, packing the right essentials is the key to a successful and enjoyable experience. So, grab your pack and get ready to discover the list of must-have items for the W Trek in Patagonia!

What You'll Learn

What are the essential items that should be packed for the w trek in patagonia, are there any specific clothing items or gear that are recommended for the varying weather conditions in patagonia, what type of backpack is recommended for the w trek in patagonia, are there any specific food or water items that should be packed for the trek, are there any additional items or gear that would enhance the experience of the w trek in patagonia.

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The W trek in Patagonia is a popular hiking route that takes you through some of the most beautiful and remote landscapes in the world. While the trail itself is well-marked and relatively safe, it is essential to be prepared with the right gear and equipment. Here are the essential items that should be packed for the W trek in Patagonia:

  • Clothing: Patagonia's weather is known to be unpredictable, so it is important to pack layers. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry and warm. Add a fleece or down jacket for insulation, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer to protect you from the elements. Don't forget to pack a hat, gloves, and a buff to keep your head, hands, and neck warm.
  • Footwear: A good pair of hiking boots is crucial for the W trek. Look for boots that provide ankle support and have a sturdy sole for traction on rocky terrain. Make sure to wear them in before your trip to avoid blisters.
  • Backpack: A comfortable and durable backpack is essential for carrying all your gear on the trail. Look for one that has a hip belt and adjustable straps for proper weight distribution. It should also have enough capacity to hold your clothing, food, water, and other essentials.
  • Sleeping bag and tent: While there are refugios (basic mountain huts) along the W trek where you can sleep, it is recommended to have your own sleeping bag and tent for extra flexibility and comfort. Make sure your sleeping bag is suitable for cold weather and your tent is lightweight and easy to set up.
  • Food and water: The W trek takes several days to complete, so it is important to have enough food and water to sustain you. Pack lightweight, high-energy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, and energy bars. Carry a water bottle and consider bringing a water filter or purifier to refill from streams along the way.
  • Navigation tools: While the W trek is well-marked, it is always a good idea to carry a map and compass or a GPS device to ensure you stay on track. Additionally, bring a headlamp and extra batteries for emergencies or for navigating in the dark.
  • First aid kit: Accidents can happen on the trail, so it is important to have a basic first aid kit with you. Include items such as band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, blister treatment, and any personal medications you may need.
  • Miscellaneous items: Don't forget to pack a lightweight camping stove and cooking utensils if you plan to cook your meals along the trail. Also, bring a sturdy water-resistant dry bag to protect your belongings from rain and river crossings. A camera or smartphone with extra batteries or a portable charger is also essential for capturing the breathtaking landscapes.

Remember, the W trek in Patagonia is a challenging but rewarding adventure. By packing the right gear and being prepared, you can fully enjoy the beauty and solitude of this remote region. Plan ahead, stay safe, and have an unforgettable experience on the W trek in Patagonia.

Essential Packing Tips for Your Royal Caribbean Cruise: What to Pack for the Perfect Vacation

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When traveling to Patagonia, it is important to be prepared for the varying weather conditions that can be experienced in this region. From unpredictable wind and rain to intense sun and snow, Patagonia can throw a variety of weather challenges at visitors. To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip, it is recommended to pack specific clothing items and gear that can withstand these conditions.

Layering System:

Patagonia experiences drastic temperature fluctuations throughout the day. Therefore, it is essential to dress in layers to accommodate these changes. The layering system typically consists of a base layer, mid-layer, and outer shell. The base layer should be made of moisture-wicking material such as merino wool or synthetic fibers to keep you dry and comfortable. The mid-layer should provide insulation, and options such as fleece or down jackets are popular choices. Finally, the outer shell should be windproof and waterproof to protect you from the elements.

Waterproof Jacket and Pants:

Patagonia is known for its notoriously unpredictable rain and strong winds. Investing in a high-quality waterproof jacket and pants is crucial to staying dry and protected during your adventures. Look for jackets and pants made of waterproof and breathable materials such as Gore-Tex, which will shield you from the rain while allowing moisture to escape.

Sturdy Hiking Boots:

Whether you plan to hike in Torres del Paine or explore the glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park, comfortable and sturdy hiking boots are a must. Choose boots with ankle support and a good grip on the sole to navigate the rugged terrain. It is recommended to break in your boots before your trip to avoid blisters or discomfort.

Sun Protection:

Despite the changing weather, the sun can still be intense in Patagonia. Pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen with a high SPF, and sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. The reflection of the sun off the glaciers and snow can be particularly intense, so it is important to take precautions.

Thermal Underwear and Insulated Hat:

For the colder months in Patagonia, thermal underwear and an insulated hat are essential to keep you warm. Look for thermal underwear made of merino wool or synthetic materials that provide excellent insulation. Additionally, bring a warm hat that covers your ears to prevent heat loss from your head, which is crucial for staying warm in cold weather.

Gloves and Scarf:

To protect your hands from the cold and wind, pack a pair of waterproof and windproof gloves. Look for gloves with insulation that will keep your hands warm even in sub-zero temperatures. Additionally, don't forget to pack a warm scarf to cover your neck and lower face during chilly winds.

Waterproof Backpack:

Having a waterproof backpack is essential to protect your belongings from rain or snow during your outdoor adventures. Look for a backpack made of waterproof materials and with sealed seams to keep your gear dry and secure.

Remember, weather conditions in Patagonia can change rapidly, so it is advisable to check the forecast regularly and be prepared for unexpected changes. By packing the right clothing items and gear, you can fully enjoy the stunning landscapes of Patagonia without compromising your comfort or safety.

Essential Items to Include in Your Day Trip Bouldering Pack

When embarking on the famous W trek in Patagonia, one of the most important items you'll need is a reliable backpack. The right backpack can make or break your experience, as it will be carrying all your essentials and supplies for the trek. So, what type of backpack is recommended for the W trek in Patagonia? Let's dive into the details.

Size and Capacity:

When it comes to choosing a backpack for the W trek, size matters. A backpack with a capacity of around 50-65 liters is ideal. This size strikes a balance between having enough space to carry all your gear, and not being too bulky or heavy to hinder your movements on the trail.

Comfort and Fit:

Comfort should be a top priority when selecting a backpack for the W trek. Look for a backpack with adjustable straps, a padded hip belt, and a back ventilation system. These features will distribute the weight evenly across your body, reduce strain on your shoulders, and keep you cool and comfortable during long hikes.

Durability and Weather Resistance:

Patagonia is known for its unpredictable weather, which can change rapidly. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a backpack that is durable and weather-resistant. Look for backpacks made of high-quality materials with reinforced stitching and water-resistant or waterproof coatings. This will ensure that your belongings stay dry and protected from the elements.

Access and Organization:

A backpack with multiple compartments and access points will make it easier to organize and access your gear. Consider a backpack with a separate main compartment, side pockets, and a hip belt pocket. This will allow you to keep your essentials within reach, such as a water bottle, snacks, map, and camera.

Weight and Compactness:

On long hikes, every ounce matters. Opt for a lightweight backpack that won't add unnecessary weight to your load. Additionally, consider a backpack with a compact design that can be compressed when not fully loaded. This will make it easier to transport and store your backpack when traveling to and from the trek.

Brand and User Reviews:

Do your research and read user reviews about different backpack brands before making a decision. It is always helpful to hear from others who have used the backpack you're considering. Look for brands that are well-known for their quality and durability in outdoor gear.

Example of a recommended backpack for the W trek in Patagonia:

One highly recommended backpack for the W trek is the Osprey Atmos AG 65. This backpack offers a 65-liter capacity, providing ample space for all your gear. It features an adjustable harness system and a suspended mesh back panel that provides excellent comfort and ventilation. The backpack is made of durable materials with a water-resistant coating, ensuring your belongings stay dry even in Patagonia's challenging weather conditions. With multiple compartments, side pockets, and a hip belt pocket, it offers great organization and easy access to your essentials. The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is also known for its lightweight design and compressibility, making it an excellent choice for the W trek.

In conclusion, when choosing a backpack for the W trek in Patagonia, prioritize comfort, durability, weather resistance, access, and organization. Consider factors such as size, fit, weight, and compactness to find the perfect backpack for your needs. Remember to read user reviews and choose trusted brands for the best possible experience on the W trek.

Essential Items to Pack for an Evacuation: A Comprehensive Guide

When embarking on a trek, it is essential to pack the right food and water items to ensure fuel for your body and stay hydrated throughout the journey. While the specific items will vary depending on the length and intensity of the trek, here are some general guidelines to follow.

  • Water: Water is the most important item to pack for any trek. It is crucial to stay hydrated to prevent dehydration and keep your body functioning optimally. Carry a sufficient amount of water based on the duration of your trek and the availability of water sources along the way. It is recommended to carry at least two liters of water per day and plan for refills at water sources on the route. Additionally, consider investing in a water filter or purifier to treat water from natural sources if necessary.
  • Electrolyte Replacements: During a trek, you will lose electrolytes through sweat, so it is important to replenish them. Pack electrolyte replacement tablets, powder, or sports drinks to help restore the minerals lost during physical exertion. These will help maintain the balance of electrolytes in your body and prevent fatigue, cramps, and other issues caused by electrolyte imbalances.
  • Energy-Rich Snacks: Trekking requires a significant amount of energy, so pack lightweight, energy-rich snacks to keep your energy levels up. Choose snacks that are easy to carry and consume, such as trail mix, energy bars, dried fruit, and nuts. These snacks provide a mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to fuel your muscles and sustain you throughout the trek.
  • High-Calorie Meals: Depending on the duration of your trek, you may need to pack meals as well. Opt for lightweight, dehydrated meals that can be easily prepared with just boiling water. Look for options that are high in calories and nutrients to replenish your energy reserves. These meals often come in the form of freeze-dried pouches and are available in a variety of flavors to suit your preferences.
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: While fresh produce adds weight to your pack, it is important to incorporate some fruits and vegetables into your trekking diet. These will provide essential vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system strong. Choose hardy fruits and vegetables that can withstand the rigors of being carried in a backpack, such as apples, oranges, carrots, and cucumbers.
  • Hygiene and Food Safety: Pay attention to food safety and hygiene when packing food items for your trek. Ensure that perishable items are stored in airtight containers or sealed packets to prevent spoilage. Use hand sanitizers or wet wipes to clean your hands before eating and consider investing in a lightweight camping stove or burner to cook your meals properly.

Remember, the specific food and water items you pack will depend on factors such as the duration and intensity of your trek, your personal preferences, and any dietary restrictions or allergies you may have. It is always beneficial to plan your meals and pack accordingly, ensuring you have a balance of nutrients to keep your body fueled and ready for the adventure ahead.

Essential Items to Pack for a Memorable Bachelorette Weekend

If you're planning a trip to Patagonia to hike the famous W trek, it's important to come prepared with the right gear to ensure a successful and enjoyable adventure. While the basics such as sturdy hiking boots, waterproof clothing, and a backpack are essential, there are a few additional items that can greatly enhance your experience on the trail.

One item that can make a big difference on the W trek is a good pair of trekking poles. These poles can provide stability and support, especially when navigating through uneven terrain or crossing streams. They can also help to distribute the weight of your backpack, reducing strain on your back and legs. Trekking poles can make uphill climbs easier and downhill descents more controlled, allowing you to maintain your balance and reduce the risk of injury.

Another item that can greatly enhance your experience on the W trek is a quality sleeping bag. Patagonia's weather can be unpredictable, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night, even during the summer months. A warm and insulated sleeping bag will ensure a good night's sleep, allowing you to rest and recover after a long day of hiking. Look for a sleeping bag with a temperature rating appropriate for the season and conditions you will be facing.

Additionally, a lightweight camping stove and cookware can be useful for preparing hot meals and drinks on the trail. While many trekking lodges along the W trek offer meals, having your own stove and cookware allows you to have greater flexibility and independence. This can be especially helpful if you have dietary restrictions or preferences. Just be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and properly dispose of any waste from your cooking.

Lastly, a portable water filter or purification tablets are essential items to have on hand for any outdoor adventure. While there are water sources along the W trek, it's important to treat the water before drinking to avoid the risk of waterborne illnesses. A portable water filter or purification tablets can be lightweight and easy to use, ensuring that you have access to clean and safe drinking water throughout your trek.

Overall, having the right gear and additional items can greatly enhance your experience on the W trek in Patagonia. Trekking poles provide stability and support, a quality sleeping bag ensures a comfortable night's sleep, a camping stove and cookware provides flexibility in meal options, and a portable water filter or purification tablets allow for safe drinking water. By coming prepared with these items, you can maximize your enjoyment of this incredible trekking experience.

Essential Items to Pack for Your 5 Month Old Baby

Frequently asked questions.

When packing for the W Trek in Patagonia, it is recommended to bring layers of clothing. Patagonia's weather can be unpredictable and can change rapidly, so having layers will allow you to adjust to the changing conditions. Start with a good base layer made of merino wool or synthetic materials that will wick away moisture. Add a mid-layer for insulation, such as a fleece or down jacket. Finally, pack a waterproof and windproof outer layer, such as a rain jacket and pants, to protect you from the elements.

Choosing the right footwear is crucial for the W Trek in Patagonia. It is highly recommended to bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots that provide good ankle support and have a waterproof and nonslip sole. The terrain can be rough and uneven, and there may be muddy or wet sections on the trail. It is also a good idea to pack a pair of lightweight, comfortable shoes for wearing around the campsite or during rest days.

Yes, it is essential to bring a warm and comfortable sleeping bag for the W Trek in Patagonia. The temperatures can drop significantly, especially at night, so a sleeping bag with a good temperature rating is necessary for a good night's sleep. Look for a sleeping bag that is lightweight and compressible, as you will need to carry it with you during the trek. It is also a good idea to bring a sleeping bag liner for added warmth and cleanliness.

In addition to clothing, footwear, and a sleeping bag, there are several other essential items that you should pack for the W Trek in Patagonia. These include a backpack with a rain cover, a headlamp or flashlight, a water bottle or hydration bladder, a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, sunglasses, and a power bank or portable charger for your electronics. It is also recommended to bring a lightweight camping stove and cookware if you plan to cook your meals along the trek.

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Formula E season 10 starts Saturday – new tracks and 600kW mid-race charging

Avatar for Jameson Dow

Formula E returns to track this Saturday for its tenth season with a race in Mexico City, in a season that brings three new tracks and the debut of Formula E’s new ultra-fast mid-race charging system.

Formula E is the FIA’s top-level electric open-wheel racing series, racing single-seater racecars mostly on downtown street tracks in the world’s great cities. The series has so far raced in 24 countries and 30 cities across its first nine seasons, with 3 more new tracks and 1 new country added to the calendar for the tenth season.

At nearly 2,300m/7,500ft altitude, Mexico City’s track provides an excellent demonstration of the strengths of electric drive. Combustion vehicles that race there have to contend with thinner air, which means less efficient combustion and lower engine power. With electric drive, this isn’t a worry – electric motors work equally well at any elevation.

where is w trek

For season ten, Formula E’s faster, lighter, and much more angular Gen3 car returns, which debuted last season . It promised faster laptimes, but we saw only mildly improved laptimes compared to the previous year’s Gen2 equipment as teams got used to the new cars throughout the year.

But in this season’s winter testing in Valencia, the Gen3 cars proved to be more than a second faster than last year, suggesting that the teams might be getting the hang of their equipment (although part of this may have been due to testing occurring a month and a half earlier, in October, when the track was slightly warmer).

New tracks – Tokyo, Shanghai and Misano

Formula E will race on three new tracks and in one new country this year.

The biggest news is Formula E’s arrival in Tokyo , the world’s largest megacity and the series’ first race in Japan. The Tokyo race occurs around the “Tokyo Big Sight” international exhibition center, right alongside Tokyo Bay.

where is w trek

While Formula E has held many races in nearby Asian countries, it hasn’t been to race-obsessed Japan. Japan has its own racing leagues and Formula 1 is quite popular in the country, and the country has a particularly strong automotive industry. But that automotive industry has so far been hesitant to adopt electrification, so it will be good to see the reception for Formula E there.

Another new track will be in Shanghai, China. Formula E has raced in China multiple times before, at tracks in the capital Beijing (which held Formula E’s first race ever) and southern resort city Sanya. It has also raced in Hong Kong.

The Shanghai race will be held at Shanghai International Circuit , a true race track rather than a street track. This track has been used for Formula One races in the past and is scheduled to host another F1 race again this year, and is a high speed circuit with several long straights. High speed circuits have offered an interesting challenge for Formula E in the past, as higher speeds mean lower efficiency and increase the benefit gained from drafting, especially in a low-downforce and energy-constrained series like this one.

Last year at Portland (another purpose-built race track, which the series returns to this year), the race ended up taking on similar strategy to a bicycle race, with cars saving energy in a peloton-like pack until later in the race where the true sprint began. We might expect to see something similar from Shanghai – though it’s also likely that Formula E will use a shorter layout instead of the full high-speed F1 layout, as it has done on other tracks before .

where is w trek

Finally, the last new track is in Italy, where the series has raced many times before on the downtown street circuit at the Rome ePrix, but the race is moving this year to another actual race circuit at Misano Adriatico, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. This track is often used as a motorcycle track, much like Formula E’s winter testing track in Valencia, with lower speeds and a shorter lap length than the full Shanghai circuit (but longer than the Portland circuit).

Mid-race charging is finally here

We’ve come a long way since the first Formula E season, when originally drivers would stop in the middle of the race to swap from one car to another with a fully-charged battery. Formula E had gone with this system because it would be too difficult to set up mid-race charging or battery swapping, so they just swapped the driver from one car to the other instead.

The Gen2 car solved this problem , as battery density had improved enough that battery (or car) swapping was no longer necessary. Since then, Formula E cars haven’t needed pit stops, and finish the race on the same battery and tire they started on.

But with EVs maturing and DC quick charging being in focus , Formula E is trying to incorporate that concept into racing now.

where is w trek

Formula E had originally planned to introduce a mid-race charging stop alongside the Gen3 car last year, but had to push back the plans for a year due to problems getting the equipment built.

Now, the system is ready to be used at select races this year, and it will debut at the aforementioned Misano Adriatico ePrix in Italy in April. For the races where it’s active, it will replace Formula E’s “Attack Mode” system, which gives every driver a period of boosted power use that they can use strategically to gain positions during the race.

The new mid-race charge system will be called “Attack Charge,” and will charge cars at up to 600kW, quite a bit faster than consumer-available fast charges today that top out at 250-350kW.

Formula E says that a mandatory 30-second charging stop in the middle of the race will deliver about 4kWh of energy to the cars – this is only about ~10% worth of charge, but that’s not bad for 30 seconds of charging. This extra energy will be usable during periods later in the race where cars can boost power output to 350kW, rather than the standard 300kW.

The addition of a mid-race charging stop promises to shake up race results more, as teams will have some strategic flexibility about when to take their pit stops. This means more passing, which has always been a strong point of Formula E.

What to expect

Formula E has offered exciting racing all along, with significantly more lead changes and unpredictable racing than Formula One. Some of Formula E’s more chaotic races, like Portland last year, have had almost as many position changes during a single race as Formula One will see over an entire season.

Last season, 7 drivers from 6 teams won a Formula E race, whereas in F1 a single driver won 19 out of 22 races on his own. The championship – which went to Jake Dennis, whose team Jaguar got second in the Teams’ championship behind Envision – wasn’t decided until the final race weekend, whereas the F1 championship was decided months before the season ended.

where is w trek

So if you’re interested in seeing unpredictable racing, Formula E is likely to provide that.

As with most years there have been a number of driver and team changes , with Nio leaving the sport and the team rebranding to ERT after new sponsorship. Several teams have swapped drivers or brought back former Formula E drivers, but the one new rookie is Jehan Daruvala, who joins Maserati. He comes from Formula 2 where his best season result was 7th, though he has ranked as high as 2nd in other series.

As much as the racing is unpredictable, over the course of a season the cream does tend to rise to the top. Some teams have classically done better across seasons, so we can expect the likes of Jaguar, Envision, Andretti, DS Penske and Porsche to show up near the top of the table. In winter testing, it looked as if the Jaguar powertrain, used by the Jaguar and Envision teams, performed best, so that bodes well for those two teams and their drivers Mitch Evans, Nick Cassidy, Robin Frijns and Sebastien Buemi.

The first race of Formula E’s tenth season is this Saturday at 8 PM UTC, Noon/12 PM PST, 3 PM EST, or 2 PM local Mexico City time. In the US, all sessions will be streamed live on Roku, or will be broadcast delayed on Sunday at 4:30PM on CBS . To find out how to watch it in other regions, check out Formula E’s “Ways to Watch” page .

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Formula E

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for electrek.co since 2016.

You can contact him at [email protected]

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Star Trek: Voyager Had A 'Get Out Of Delta Quadrant' Plan (& Why It Wasn't Used)

  • Star Trek: Voyager originally had a plan to leave the Delta Quadrant, but it was scrapped in season 2.
  • The show took a risk by making the "lost in space" concept its premise, but it paid off by expanding the Star Trek mythos.
  • Season 2 of Voyager was the worst season, but getting rid of the plan to return home opened the door to more interesting storylines.

Star Trek: Voyager originally had a "Get out of the Delta Quadrant" plan, but scrapped it at the beginning of season 2. While Voyager 's sister show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine , expanded the franchise as far as the Gamma Quadrant, Voyager took things a step further when the ship was thrown 70,000 lightyears across space to the uncharted Delta Quadrant. After a plan to have the entity that brought them there send them home failed, Voyager 's cast of characters was stuck on the other side of the galaxy with a long journey and no way to contact Starfleet.

Voyager was the first series in the Star Trek franchise to make the "lost in space" concept their entire premise. Cutting the show off from everything familiar in the franchise was a risk, but one that ultimately paid off as Voyager 's crew explored the Delta Quadrant and expanded the Star Trek timeline mythos. However, there was no guarantee that the series' premise would be a success with audiences , which was why Voyager worked to include a guaranteed way for the ship to return home if it needed to as early as the pilot episode, "Caretaker."

Every Upcoming Star Trek Movie & TV Show

Star trek: voyager had a plan to leave the delta quadrant but didn't use it.

Voyager baked a plan to leave the Delta Quadrant into its premise when the show established that there was another entity like the Caretaker (Basil Langton) . From the start, it was understood that part of Voyager's mission in the Delta Quadrant was to look for any way to return home, including trying to find the Caretaker's mate, Suspiria (Lindsay Ridgeway). Having another entity like the one that had brought them to the Delta Quadrant should have been a guaranteed ticket home, and it would have made sense for Voyager to turn the crew's search for Suspiria into a season-long journey.

However, Voyager's crew ended up encountering Suspiria early, in season 2, episode 10, "Cold Fire." Not only that, but Suspiria proved hostile and unwilling to help them , taking her off the table entirely as a means to return home. It's unclear why Voyager chose to remove Suspiria as an option instead of just forgetting about or not using her. This could have been because the show was no longer worried about the popularity of its premise with audiences, but that idea is contradicted by the fact that "Cold Fire" was another unpopular episode in a string of season 2's worst.

Season 2 Is Star Trek: Voyager's Worst Season

Season 2 is empirically Star Trek: Voyager 's worst season , with more misses than hits in terms of episodes. Although there were some decent additions to the season, it also contained some of the worst-reviewed episodes of the show, including "Threshold" which has become possibly the most divisive episode of Star Trek ever made. Star Trek shows tend to have a hard time finding their feet until season 3 or 4 , especially the 1990s-era cadre of series, and Voyager was no exception to this rule.

It's interesting then that Voyager chose to scrap their "get out of jail free" card in season 2 when there was no guarantee that the show would continue uphill. As it turned out, the crew didn't need Suspiria, but there was no way to know that in season 2. However, getting rid of her opened the door for Star Trek: Voyager to embrace more well-established parts of the franchise, namely the Borg, as a means to get home. Ultimately, this paid off and introduced more interesting storylines to later seasons than a prolonged search for Suspiria ever could have.

Star Trek: Voyager is available to stream on Paramount+.

Star Trek: Voyager

Release Date 1995-05-23

Cast Jennifer Lien, Garrett Wang, Tim Russ, Robert Duncan McNeill, Roxann Dawson, Robert Beltran, Kate Mulgrew, Jeri Ryan, Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo

Genres Sci-Fi, Action

Story By Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor

Writers Jeri Taylor, Michael Piller, Rick Berman

Network UPN

Streaming Service(s) Paramount+

Franchise(s) Star Trek

Directors Michael Vejar, Allan Kroeker, Winrich Kolbe, David Livingston

Showrunner Kenneth Biller, Jeri Taylor, Michael Piller, Brannon Braga

Star Trek: Voyager Had A 'Get Out Of Delta Quadrant' Plan (& Why It Wasn't Used)

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Inside Line: Scoop on S.W.A.T ., Quantum Leap , #OneChicago, For All Mankind , Star Trek: Section 31 , La Brea and More!

Matt webb mitovich, editor-in-chief.

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Will #OneChicago’s short seasons feature any crossovers? Will S.W.A.T. ‘s farewell run feature a blast from the past? Will Quantum Leap leave fans hanging? Read on for answers to those questions and many more! ( You can and should email brand-new Qs to  [email protected] . )

Are there any plans to bring Chris (played by Lina Esco) back for S.W.A.T. ‘s final season or the series finale? –Emily When I ran your Q by S.W.A.T. boss Andy Dettman just the other day, his answer was an honest, “I don’t know.” If this is in fact the crime drama’s farewell run, “It’d be wonderful to bring everybody back,” Dettman said. “In our mind, Chris is very much a part of Street’s life, so if we can find a way to bring her back through, I’d love to. But I haven’t figured it out yet.”

Does Season 2 of  Quantum Leap end on a big cliffhanger or is it closed-ended? –Ivan We got your question to Caitlin Bassett, who stars as Addison, and she reported back that while the not-yet-renewed sci-fi drama’s season finale leaves things “wide open,” “we also didn’t want to do anything without a Season 3 order in hand. Nobody wanted to leave it where people would hate it if that was the end.”

All of these names announced for the Star Trek: Section 31 movie , but still nothing said about Shazad Latif returning or not as Ash Tyler? –ScreenSavant We wondered about that, too, seeing as Tyler was placed in command of Section 31 (well, in at least some timeline) in Star Trek: Discovery ‘s Season 2 finale. But a CBS Studios rep confirmed for TVLine that Latif will not appear in the Section 31 movie.

One chicago crossovers 2024

Any hope for some small #OneChicago crossovers? –Ingmar Small crossovers will be happening, but the bigger question is whether a major three-way one is in the cards. “I think shortened seasons make it trickier,” Chicago Fire showrunner Andrea Newman notes, “and we all had to jump so fast, like out of a cannon, at the beginning because we were airing so quickly, too. But now that we’re all kind of getting our footing and coming up for air, there’s definitely talk of that. There’s always a chance of a crossover — potentially a bigger one, and then we will cross over characters. We have [ Chicago P.D.’ s] Trudy in one already.”

Any Season 2 scoop for  Not Dead Yet ? I’ll take anything! –Fernando Lexi (played by Lauren Ash) will get a potential love interest early in Season 2 (premiering Wednesday, Feb. 7 on ABC).

Anything on  NCIS: Hawai’i ? –Lindsay Both Vanessa Lachey and LL Cool J are pretty terrific in the CBS drama’s Feb. 12 season premiere, as Sam revisits his reaction to wife Michelle’s incredibly tragic death in order to help Tennant cope with her own trauma/demons.

La Brea Ty 2021

Will La Brea ‘s Ty have any Back to the Future moments where he runs into himself, or almost does? –Dee Cast member Chiké Okonkwo told me that the idea of Ty crossing paths with his slightly younger self in 2021 “was one of the things we spoke about the most — and I wish there were some moments where I had to ‘hide behind a thing’ to make sure I don’t mess up [the timeline].” But as showrunner David Appelbaum explained, “That was a story we certainly entertained, but we only had a limited amount of time to tell stories [in these final six episodes] and had to pick the ones we found most compelling. So, Ty does not ‘find himself’ — but if the season had gone longer, he might’ve .”

Hey, I’ve been desperately trying to find out what a song is called in  The Rookie  Season 5, Episode 19. It starts playing 39 minutes into the episode…. –Izzy This took some doing, but… the song that played during that montage is called “Soul on Fire (feat. Indigo Sparke),” by the artist SUR, and apparently is still unreleased.

Chicago Fire Sylvie replacement

Who will replace Sylvie Brett on Chicago Fire ? –Jordan With Brett (played by Kara Kilmer) leaving Firehouse 51 this season , her pal Violet is going to step up on ambo. “Ultimately, there will be somebody new coming in and they’ll be working under Violet (Hanako Greensmith),” Fire showrunner Andrea Newman previews. “That’s part of the great Violet journey this year, as she continues to grow as a character and gets to step into a leadership position on ambo, too.” (And Vi might be moving on romantically , as well!)

Any word on Fox’s  HouseBroken ? –Andrew Coming up on six months since its Season 2 finale aired, there is no decision yet on a Season 3 renewal.

Please tell me where I can watch Snowpiercer Season 4. It’s driving me crazy! –Aaron As we continue to await news on a (possible) new home for the TNT castoff’s farewell season, here is series vet Mike O’Malley teasing it (some more ). ( Kinda-sorta spoilers ahead? ) “Season 4 was probably the season where I had the most on-screen time,” Roche’s portrayer told TVLine. “We get off the train, there’s incredible storytelling done by our showrunner Paul Zbyszewski, and the production designers on that show were unbelievable . They built this really amazing place called New Eden, and the visual effects [were great].”

True Detective Season 4 Episode 2 Frozen Bodies

Any idea if the remaining True Detective: Night Country episodes might out-gross the corpsicle? — Craig I did ask showrunner Issa Lopez if that chilling (in so many ways) tableau is as disturbing as this season gets. “It depends on what you call disturbing …,” she hedged. “But it stays pretty dark and twisted, let’s put it like that.”

Any information on Paramount+’s live-action Dungeons & Dragons series? –Joey Only that it is still in development.

Any news on a Season 5 of For All Mankind ? –LaDonna Should the Apple TV+ space drama get renewed, Samantha and the others who helped steal asteroid Goldilocks will be in a heap of trouble. “There’ll be justice!” co-showrunner Ben Nedivi avows with a laugh. Adds co-showrunner Matt Wolpert: “I think the dominos of the fallout of this asteroid heist are going to be really interesting to figure out once we are able to kind of dig into a potential Season 5, and we just have to see how that all unfolds. But there’s definitely going to be some consequences for some of these people.”

Do YOU want scoop/have questions about a favorite show? Email  [email protected] ! Questions plopped in Comments will  not  be read and may very well count against your final score.  ( With additional reporting by Vlada Gelman and Keisha Hatchett )

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Given the lead time necessary for animated fare, the no news on HouseBroken is sort of its own news, right?

Well, dang, that sucks about Shazad Latif not returning as Ash Tyler in the “Section 31” movie.

So disappointed. 😔

Yes, that is really disappointing.

He was the best part of discovery season 1

Unless “La Brea” becomes a top 10 shows, I don’t see it returning next year as NBC already announced its cancellation.

I don’t think anybody suggested it might possibly return?

Aside from Mike O’Malley, do we know what other cast members carried over to season four of Snowpiercer? I remember the fate of Jennifer Connelly’s character in particular was up in the air.

What’s going on with Raven’s Home?

Chicago PD — I would like to see Kim Burgess and Adam Ruzek develop more as a loving family and working together on episodes becoming more heroic. Thanks

Snowpiercer S4 should go to Netflix like the other seasons. It would be hit if they would do some PR and get new subscribers. They have been shopping the serie for while now and it doesn´t look good. Must lower the price to get a deal!

The original movie ‘Snowpiercer’ is on US Netflix but the TV series isn’t. At least, as of 1/31.

The new season of True Detective is a train wreck. Why would such a world class actress like Foster agree to this. Nothing will ever be as great as Season 1.

Are you kidding me, I believe season 4 is the best season they have had even beating the first season.

They better bring back Chris for a wedding with Street, because there is no way that final season could go without her especially we were hoping for a proper continuation of their romance.

I don’t understand at all how exactly are they not going to bring back Tyler and yet still be continuity if he is not back as Head of Section 31, they either will be mentioning him as him back or undercover or they better explain him missing.

Too many changes, i think i will stop watching altogether

I would love for SWAT to come back I enjoy that show, I miss it……

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IMAGES

  1. A map of the W trek

    where is w trek

  2. W Trek Torres del Paine Map

    where is w trek

  3. Map showing the W trek. The W Trek is Patagonia's most famous hiking

    where is w trek

  4. The W Trek: The Ultimate Guide

    where is w trek

  5. Hiking The W Trek In Patagonia: A Self-Guided Itinerary [2023]

    where is w trek

  6. Torres del Paine W Trek Complete Guide to Plan Your Trip!

    where is w trek

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  3. What's Your Opinion of this 'Trek-a-Day' Channel So Far?

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COMMENTS

  1. Ultimate Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia

    Located within Chile's Torres del Paine National Park, the W trek can usually be hiked in four or five days. There are a number of options available for those looking to hike the W trek. Some choose to pre-plan the lodging, purchase a pass and do it on their own. While this is certainly an option, the lodges fill up months in advance.

  2. All You Need to Know Before Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia ...

    1. Where is the W Trek located? 2. When is the best time to hike the W Trek? 3. Where to stay on the W Trek? 4. How difficult is the W Trek? 5. What should I pack for the W Trek? 6. How long does it take to hike the W Trek? 7. What are the highlights of the W Trek? 8. Should I do the W Trek with a guide? 9. W Trek VS O Trek : Which should I choose?

  3. Hiking The W Trek In Patagonia: A Self-Guided Itinerary [2023]

    This vast and dramatic stretch of Chilean Patagonia is home to some of the most mind-blowingly beautiful scenery on Earth, and hiking the W trek is one of the greatest ways to immerse in it. This is Patagonian hiking at its very best, but how you trek the W trail is entirely up to you.

  4. Ultimate W Trek Patagonia Map Guide: Tips, Routes, Distances and

    The W Trek in Patagonia is a thrilling multi-day hiking route that takes you through the mesmerizing Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most remarkable hiking destinations in South America. This 80 km (50 mi) trail offers an exhilarating blend of spectacular scenery, challenging terrains, and unforgettable experiences.

  5. The W trek in Torres del Paine

    It's one of the most famous hikes in South America. The trek is a good compromise between day hikes in Torres del Paine and the challenging O-circuit. The W route takes hikers to all highlights of the National Park including the Mirador Las Torres, Grey Glacier, and Pehoé Lake.

  6. Organize a hike on Chile's famous W Trek

    Tracing the foothills of the snow-capped Paine Massif in southern Chile 's famous Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, the W Trek one of the world's most epic multi-day tramps.

  7. Torres del Paine W Trek

    The W Trek is normally walked east to west, starting at Refugio Las Torres and ending at Refugio Paine Grande. It runs up three valleys, creating the W shape that gives it its name. In each of those valleys lies one of the iconic sights of the park:

  8. Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia's Torres del Paine in 2024

    There's a reason why it's the most famous hiking trail in Patagonia. The scenery you'll enjoy along the way is second to none - imagine jagged mountains that resemble massive shards of ice, milky mountain lakes, and the rolling Patagonian Steppe in the distance.

  9. Comprehensive Guide to Hiking the W-Trek in Patagonia

    The W-Trek in five days Day One: Lago Grey. Torres Del Paine is a huge national park, covering about 700 square miles, and the larger Patagonia region encompasses 400,000 square miles.

  10. W Trek Patagonia

    The W Trek is a "W"-shaped hiking trail to the Grey Glacier, the French Valley, and the Torres del Paine viewpoint. With unbelievable destinations, Patagonia's W Trek is one of the most scenic mountain adventures in the world. The W Trek trail in a nutshell: The hike starts in Refugio Las Torres and ends at Refugio Paine Grande.

  11. How to Hike the Torres del Paine W Trek [2024 Guide]

    It's an 80-kilometer (50-mile) hike that most do over four or five days. When can you hike the W trek? The park is open year-round, however, for self-guided trekking, you can only hike between October and the end of April. If you want to hike during the winter months (May through September), you'll need to arrange a guide.

  12. The Ultimate Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia: Full Itinerary

    The W Trek refers to a multi-day hike that is shaped like the letter W. This area is unique because there are several inns along the trek where you can spend the night. You can choose between hostel-style lodging, have them provide you a tent at the campgrounds or bring your own tent.

  13. 36 Things to Know Before Hiking the W Trek Patagonia

    The W Trek is the most popular multi-day hike in Torres del Paine. Featuring the park's top highlights and taking an average of 4-6 days to complete, the W Trek is an absolute dream for adventure travelers looking for a pure physical achievement.

  14. Everything You Need to Know for Hiking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine

    Although there are myriad hiking routes in Torres Del Paine National Park, the most famous and most popular is the W, a 4 to 5-day hike that takes in the park's most spectacular sights: from the iconic spires of Mirador Las Torres and the enormous Grey Glacier to the steep trail along Valle Francis and the contorted, multicoloured horns of Los C...

  15. Beginners' Guide to W Trek: an Unforgettable Hike in Patagonia

    The W Trek is a 5-day, moderately difficult hike that is considered the jewel of Chilean Patagonia for its unspoiled, picturesque scenery. You will indeed marvel at glaciers, lakes, mountains, and immemorial forests. Because of this, and its relatively short length, it's pretty popular with hikers, so don't expect to be alone.

  16. Solo Hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine: Multi-Day Itinerary

    The W Trek is a mesmerising journey through a pristine wilderness that will leave you humbled by nature's artistry. Each of these highlights adds a unique stroke to the masterpiece that is Torres Del Paine National Park. Whether you're an avid photographer, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking serenity in the wild, the W Trek has ...

  17. Torres del Paine W Trek Patagonia

    The W Trek in Torres del Paine is by far the most famous trek in Patagonia. The W stands for the shape of the route if you look at it from a bird's eye perspective. There are many options if you want to conquer this massif. Although the W trek is the shortest, it includes the most beautiful highlights of the Torres del Paine National Park.

  18. Torres del Paine

    Torres del Paine's W Trek is celebrated by active travellers globally as one of the most scenic treks anywhere. Spend four days walking through stunning landscapes surrounding Grey Glacier, French Valley, and the imposing three towers.

  19. 10 Tips For Hiking The W Trek In Chilean Patagonia (Read ...

    One of the most popular hikes in the region is in Chilean Patagonia, inside the Torres del Paine National Park. This is home to the W Trek, a once-in-a-lifetime journey through the wilderness over the course of 5 days. Here's what travelers need to know before departing for the classic W Trek. 10 The Park Entrance Fee Is Paid In Cash On Arrival

  20. The Best 4 Day W Trek Itinerary in Patagonia

    The W Trek is an iconic multi-day hike in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. It is also considered one of the best hikes in all of Patagonia and even South America. There are numerous ways you can tackle the W Trek, from the direction you hike to the number of days.

  21. 4 Night Luxury W Trek, Torres del Paine National Park

    Located on the famous W Trek, the full day guided walk begins at the Ascensio River with a climb to Paso los Vientos. As you hike up the pass, the mountains come into view before crossing through native lenga forest. After a final scramble up a rocky hillside you will reach the base of the three towers for which Torres del Paine is named.

  22. W Trek Torres del Paine, Patagonia's most famous hike by ChileTour

    W Trek Torres del Paine, Patagonia's most famous hike by ChileTour Torres del Paine W Trek W TREK CLASSIC 2023-2024 6 nights, 7 days All-inclusive, w/ Garden Domes From: Learn More $1,720 W TREK ACTIVE 2023-2024 5 nights, 6 days All-inclusive, w/ Garden Domes From: Learn more $1280 O TREK 2023-2024 9 nights, 10 days All-inclusive, w/ Garden Domes

  23. Hiking the W Trek Circuit in Torres del Paine Chile Patagonia ...

    00:00 Intro00:29 Day 1 03:22 Day 207:19 Day 310:00 Day 4~~~~~More detail on the hike: https://travelwithfawn.com/solo-hiking-the-torres-del-paine...

  24. Essential Items To Pack For The W Trek In Patagonia

    Example of a recommended backpack for the W trek in Patagonia: One highly recommended backpack for the W trek is the Osprey Atmos AG 65. This backpack offers a 65-liter capacity, providing ample space for all your gear. It features an adjustable harness system and a suspended mesh back panel that provides excellent comfort and ventilation.

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