Torres Del Paine Full Circuit Trek

(or Macizo Trek or “0” Trek) → East to West

W Trek  Refugio Accommodation  Hotels  Luxury Lodges Glamping

Brief Descriptions

The circuit can be broken into five sectors which are:

HIGH EASTERN END: Seron Sector.
This includes the trek from Estancia sector to Camping Seron.

BACK PART: Dickson & Perros Sector
This includes the trek from Dickson and Perros.
Refugio Dickson and Camping Perros.

WESTERN END: Paso John Gardner, Grey Sector & Refugio Paine Grande
This includes the trek along Paso John Gardner, Grey Lake and Glacier Grey.
Refugio Grey and the trek beside Grey lake to Refugio Paine Grande

CENTRAL PART: Cuernos Sector
This includes the trek into the French Valley.
Refugio Paine Grande to Cabañas Cuernos, Domos Cuernos and Refugio Cuernos, and then on to Refugio Chileno.

LOW EASTERN: The Estancia Sector
This includes the trek to the base of the Towers.
From Refugio Cuernos and Cabañas Cuernos (or Domos Frances) to Refugio Chileno and then up to the Torres Base and down to Hosteria Las Torres, and the Refugio Torre of Central, Refugio Torre Norte, ECO Camp and the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre.

Estancia Sector to Camping Seron

Operated: The second week of November to end of March
Start: Welcome Center
End: Camping Seron
Trek Time: 5hrs
Distance: 8,9km
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 200m.

Description

The trail initially passes through a beech-tree (lenga) wood with openings that offer a constantly changing view. The identifying characteristic of this trail is its abundance of panoramic views (“vistas”), and its excellent bird-watching opportunities.

Camping Seron to Refugio Dickson

Operated: The second week of November to end of March
Start: Camping Seron
End: Refugio Dickson
Trek Time: 6hrs
Distance: 18,5km
Difficulty: Medium.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 200m

Description

The trail passes through woods and then opens into “pampa” (flat prairie) with views of the northern face of the Paine Massif. This trek allows an opportunity to see “behind” the “Oggioni”, “Tridente” and “Cabeza del Indio” peaks. The viewpoint is not seen by many as this trail is not frequented by as many backpackers as other parts of the park, and rarely is this beautiful sector of TDP highlighted in postcards or photos. From time to time, and on clear days, the peaks of the Towers can be seen rising from behind the mountains. After 6 hours hiking you will be able to see Dickson Refugio and campsite.

Camping Seron to Refugio Dickson

Operated: The second week of November to end of March
Start: Camping Seron
End: Refugio Dickson
Trek Time: 6hrs
Distance: 18,5km
Difficulty: Medium.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 200m

Description

The trail passes through woods and then opens into “pampa” (flat prairie) with views of the northern face of the Paine Massif. This trek allows an opportunity to see “behind” the “Oggioni”, “Tridente” and “Cabeza del Indio” peaks. The viewpoint is not seen by many as this trail is not frequented by as many backpackers as other parts of the park, and rarely is this beautiful sector of TDP highlighted in postcards or photos. From time to time, and on clear days, the peaks of the Towers can be seen rising from behind the mountains. After 6 hours hiking you will be able to see Dickson Refugio and campsite.

Refugio Dickson to Camping Perros

Operated: The second week of November to end of March
Start: Refugio Dickson
End: Camping Perros
Trek Time: 3hrs 30min
Distance: 8,7km
Difficulty: Medium
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 700m

Description

During the first hour, if the weather permits, hikers will get a view of the granite needles that encircle the French Valley. The trail then passes through a valley with mountains on both sides before entering a dense forest of towering beech trees before crossing a hanging foot bridge over the “Los Perros” River. Once over the other side the path climbs over glacial moraine whereupon the “Los Perros” Glacier comes in to view. The glacier is bordered by great deposits of rock that create a tiny lake to form at the glacial face. After another hour you will reach the Los Perros camp ground, set within a wood.

Camping Perros to Refugio Grey

Operated: The second week of November to end of March
Start: Camping Perros
End: Refugio Grey
Trek Time: Between 10 & 12 hrs.
Distance: 22km
Difficulty: Difficult.
Experience Required: You need to be reasonably fit. No trekking experience required, but you should be accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 1,200m.

Description

This is the longest and most difficult sector of the trekking routes in Torres del Paine. The trail begins with a slight climb, which continues to increase in severity until it reaches a 45° incline at the top of the tree line (approx. 900 meters above sea level). The trail in this sector is also often muddy making it slippery. There is also mud on rocks leading up to the famous John Gardner Pass, at 1,240 meters above sea level.

 

Once at the summit of the John Gardner Pass, on a clear day, there is undoubtedly the most spectacular view in the Park of Glacier Grey, including Grey Lake and part of the Southern Ice Field. The trail continues on a long, very steep descent followed by what feels like an endless undulating path passing through beech wood (lenga), with occasional glimpses through open areas of the massive Glacier Grey all the way to Refugio Grey.

Refugio Grey to Paine Grande

Operated: Between September to end of April
Start: Refugio Grey.
End: Refugio Paine Grande.
Trek Time: 4hrs.
Distance: 11km.
Difficulty: Medium.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 485m .

Description

From Refugio Grey the path is reasonably flat for the first 1hr or so, passing through a wood, crossing over some small streams and then it will start to go up a little. There will be various opportunities to see Grey Lake on the right. The hike will undulate a little until it starts to go up in order to reach a flat plateau area in the woods at an altitude or 485m. On the ascending stretch you can stop and look back to where you have come from and see a marvellous view of the Glacier Grey in the distance.

 

Once in the wooded area and walking the flat sector it will not be long before you reach the path that is downhill and takes you all the way to Refugio Paine Grande. The entire trek from Refugio Grey is marked as 3.5hrs, but some people take 4hrs and some do it quicker than 3.5hrs.

Central Part - Cuernos Sector Paine Grande to Refugio Cuernos via French Valley

Operated: Between September to end of April
Start: Refugio Paine Grande
End: Refugio or Cabañas Cuernos, or Domos Frances
Trek Time: Allow 5hrs if trekking direct to Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos and 10hrs if trekking into and out of the French Valley. If staying at Domos Frances take one hour of these times.
Distance: 24km if going via the French Valley and 13km if going direct to Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos. If staying at Domos Frances these distances will be about 2.5km less.
Difficulty: Medium to high. Involves up-hill sectors, and scrambling up and over boulders.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 1,100m

Description

From Refugio Paine Grande the well-trodden path leads towards the Cuernos of Paine in the far distance. The path is level, going up a little in parts, passing through woods and over small streams. The view to the right is of the Nordenskjold Lake and later on the amazing sight of contorted layers of ancient sedimentary rock in the hills the other side. After about 2.5hrs you will arrive to a rickty-looking pedestrian hanging bridge, like something out of an “Indiana Jones” movie. The other side of the bridge is the non-serviced camp ground called Italiano, but if you turn left after crossing the bridge you will be on the path into the French Valley. To get to the end of the French Valley and back will take 5hrs, but you can, of course, not go all the way to end and cut it short.

The French Valley part is a steady up-hill trail reaching an altitude of around 900m at the non-serviced Camp Britanico located about 1hr before at the “end” of the valley. However, if the weather is clear the views in the French Valley are spectacular, especially around Camp Britanico. Here, after traversing rivers and passing a beech-tree (lenga) wood, the skyline is dwarfed by granite spires and the “Paine Grande” – the highest mountain peak in the Park at 3,050m above sea level. The return trek will involve back-tracking until your reach the non-serviced camp ground of Camp Italiano again. From here you will continue towards Domos Frances – about 1hr trek from Camp Italiano, and a further 1hr or so is Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos. The path from Camp Italiano is a little up and down, but nothing too strenuous and it follows beside Nordenskjold Lake.

Central Part - Cuernos to Refugio Chileno

Operated: Between September to end of April
Start: Domos Frances or Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos
End: Refugio Chileno
Trek Time: Allow 5hrs one way.
Distance: 11km to Refugio Chileno, and 13.5km if from Domos Frances.
Difficulty: Medium.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 500m

Description

This trek passes through a beech-tree wood and continues along the northern shore of the Nordenskjold Lake on the right, with its amazing dark-bluish water and on the left hand side the breathtaking granite spires of Los Cuernos. The hike is along medium-difficulty terrain, with some hills, but every time you reach the top of a hill there is an amazing view.

After about 2hrs 30mins the path will start to veer up. At one point you will come across a fork where you will have an option to forgo the destination of Refugio Chileno and head, instead, to the beginning of the trail head at Hotel Las Torres. However, considering you will be heading to Refugio Chileno, you will walk up hill for about 1hr 30min or so until you get to a point where the path narrows and bends quite sharply to the left. This is the entrance to the Ascensio Valley. Here it is OFTEN VERY WINDY and you need to be CAREFUL. To the right is an acute decent down to the valley floor and river – people HAVE ended up down there and not survived. Once you are past this bend the path starts to go down and after about 1hr you will arrive to the Refugio Chileno.

Estancia Sector to the Mirador Las Torres (or Torres Base as it is also known)

Operated: Between September to end of April
Start: Refugio Chileno
End: Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte, ECO Camp or Refugio Chileno. And, of course from the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre, which is located in this area.
Trek Time: Allow 2hrs up from Chileno, 2hrs back to Chileno and then 2hrs down to Hotel Las Torres or 2.5hrs down to Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte, the TDP Welcome Centre and 3hrs if heading to ECO Camp.
Distance: Refugio Chileno to Torres Base and back down: 11km approx.
Difficulty: Medium to high. Involves up-hill sectors, and scrambling up and over boulders.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 866m.

Refugio Chileno to the Glacial Moraine Sector

This takes about 1hr along an undulating trail, steep in short sections. There are two river crossings, with bridges, and a dense lenga (beech tree) forest (older than 100 years) to walk through.

The Moraine Sector

This takes 1hr approx, uphill, over and between large boulders of glacial moraine, which is the most difficult part and walking poles are very helpful. Since this part of the trek heads north, towards the Mirador, the wind is usually head-on and this makes it more strenuous and difficult than it would normally be.

The Torres Base

Once you turn the final “bend” you will see the imposing spectacle of the vertically-sided giant towers and blue-milky coloured lake at the base. Most people take about 30min to relax, have a sandwich and enjoy the view. However, this is at altitude, windy and cold and it is easy to get “too cold” if you are standing still for too long. At the right time for you, you will turn around and head back the way you came up, maybe stopping off at Refugio Chileno. Once past Refugio Chileno you head back along the same path you came up, to the bend at the entrance to the French Valley, being careful about any wind coming down the valley, and head downhill all the way towards the buildings of Hotel Las Torres and further along will be the Welcome Centre and Refugios of Central and Norte and then ECO Camp. From here you need to meet your previously-arranged private transfer or take the shuttle to Laguna Amarga and the bus back to Puerto Natales or to El Calafate. The El Calafate bus requires previously-bought tickets.

END OF THE FULL CIRCUIT

Torres del Paine

W Trek Info

Why is it called the
W Trek?

The W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park is called so because the path marks out a “W” shape on the map. The total distance is around 55km.

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Full Circuit Trek

W Trekking Route

W Trek & Circuit Treks

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