Experience the Unforgettable Torres del Paine W Trek

Explained Plain and Simple

Reservations, Itinerary & Logistics

 

What is the Torres del Paine W Trek?

Effectively the Torres del Paine W Trek is a low-altitude, mountain footpath that begins at one point and ends at another point. The actual W trek trail path incorporates three, key valleys, where, at the end of each is a stunning spectacle to see. For example, trekking from the eastern end of the trail, the path goes through the Ascencio Valley at the end of which are the three, vertically sided granite spires more commonly known as “The Towers”. In the middle of the trail is the French Valley, and here, at the end, is the “hanging glacier amphitheater”. Finally, on the western leg the trail passes along the shore of Grey lake and at the end of this path is the stunning Glacier Grey.

It should be noted that in total, from the eastern end at the Welcome Centre to the western end at Glacier Grey the trail distance is around 62.7km (39mi), including the French Valley.

At its highest point the altitude is 870m, which is at the Torres Base viewpoint. Following this is the end of the French Valley at 754m. Then, on the western end at Grey the altitude measures 64m, while at the eastern end at the Welcome Centre the altitude is 135m.

Above all, what we aim to do here is provide an introduction to the Torres del Paine W Trek. For example, we will highlight all the information you need to explore the Torres del Paine W Trek or Circuit Trek. In particular, we will talk about the W Trek route, accommodation and reservations. In addition, we will provide a link to our “Stuff you should know” page.

 

 

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Experience the Unforgettable Torres del Paine W Trek

An Introduction to Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek

Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek is an exhilarating, active walk through a raw and wild natural wilderness. Most people will find the trail moderately challenging, and for this reason for those hiking the trail, although not technically difficult, you need to be in reasonably good, physical shape, capable of walking up to 10hrs a day in some parts, as well as being able to hike up hill.

 Torres del Paine W Trek

About the Torres del Paine W Trek

All in all, if you had to pick one of the greatest hiking trails in the world, then hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek trail in Patagonia, that extends for around 63km, would likely be the choice.

Above all, it can be hiked in part with a super express 2 nights, an express 3 nights or a traditional 4 nights or even longer.

Different from staying at a hotel, each night’s stop over is at a hostel (refugio) or camping. Therefore, you have no need to take a large, cumbersome backpack because a lighter, day pack will suffice. However, it is also possible to stay in the comfort of a hotel and do a leg of the trek each day. Alternatively, we can arrange a stay at a luxury lodge from where you can also hike the W Trek.

As can be seen below, this outstanding W Trek route is iconic to Torres del Paine. Moreover, it is a key destination for those coming to Patagonia.

Torres del Paine W Trek Hiking Season

Usually, the W Trek Trail accommodations are open from early October to Late April.

 

Send Your Enquiry to here: request@experiencechile.org

The Torres Base

Night at Chileno or Central to Access the Torres Base

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French Valley

Night at Cuernos or Frances to Access the French Valley

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On the Way to Grey

Night at Paine Grande

 

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At Glacier Grey End

Night at Grey for Access to the Glacier Grey

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Torres del Paine W Trek Trail Map

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Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek:

The Traditional Route

 

Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek Trail

Ascencio Valley

Starting at the eastern end of the trek, for example from the Welcome Centre, the trail traverses up through the Ascencio Valley to the Torres Base. The sector from where Hotel Las Torres is, up to the “paso de los vientos” can be described as steep, however, once around the bend and into the valley the path declines down to where Chileno is located. Thereafter, past Chileno the trail will cross over the Ascensio river and head into the woods, going up, then flat, and up again until it reaches an opening where the glacial moraine can be seen. From this point it is about one final hour to the Torres Base, but this is the most difficult sector. The path is very narrow, passing beside large boulders, and between rocks. From the trail head and back, this is a distance of around 10.9km one way / 9hrs return trek time, or from Chileno to the Base it is 4.8km one way / 4hrs return trek time. First Night – Central or Chileno – for the Torres Base.

Pre-French Valley

The next day will be the trek from either Chileno or Central to Cuernos or Frances. From either start location the approximate trekking time is 5hrs and around 13kms in distance. This part of the trail is reasonably level, apart from a few small inclines. Second Night – Cuernos (or at Frances, which is a little further along the trail from Cuernos) for the previous night before going to the French Valley.

French Valley

Trekking from Cuernos to Frances is 3.2km one way / 1hr 15mins trekking time, then Frances to CONAF Camp Italiano 1.8km one way / 1hr 15mins. CONAF Camp Italiano to end of the valley is 5.5km one way / 2hrs 30mins (but you can cut it short by going halfway), and don’t forget the same 5.6km and 2hrs 30mins to come back to the CONAF Camp Italiano. From Camp Italiano to Refugio Paine Grande, it is 7.8kms one way / 2hrs 30mins trekking time. Total trek time with full French Valley is around 10hrs.

The trail from Cuernos towards the French Valley entrance passes through wooded areas and has a few “up and down” parts, but nothing too difficult. However, into the French Valley requires hiking uphill most of the way. Third Night – Paine Grande (here you have the option to end the trek and forget about a night at Paine Grande). In the event that you do end here, you need to depart from Paine Grande by catamaran to Pudeto.

Grey Lake Leg

On the other hand, if you do stay at Paine Grande then today is all about going to Grey Lake and maybe Refugio Grey. From Paine Grande the trek to Refugio Grey viewpoint is 4km one way / 1hr 15mins, then, from here it is 6.6km one way / 2hrs 15mins to Refugio Grey. The most strenuous part of this sector is the quite steep uphill sector from behind Paine Grande to the woods, whereupon the trail flattens out before arriving to the Grey Lookout. From here the path descends to almost lake level and continues mainly level until it reaches Grey. Fourth Night – Grey (usually the trek will end after a night here). From here you can get up close to see Grey Glacier and / or do an ice hike and /or kayak. Also, from here you can get the Navigation Grey across the lake to Hotel Grey.

 

Enquiry Form at Foot of this page or:

Send Your Enquiry to here: request@experiencechile.org

Cuernos of Paine from W Trek Trail

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Q. What kind of equipment will I need to do the W Trek?

We recommend bringing high-quality hiking boots, windproof and waterproof coats, sturdy ergonomic waterproof backpacks for hiking and plenty of water receptacles. If you need guidance on what to bring with you, please get in touch and we’re happy to provide more detailed information.

Q. When is the Torres del Paine W Trek Open?

The Torres del Paine W Trek Trail is open from October through to April each season, with occasional extensions each end depending on demand and local suppliers’ preparation.

Q. Where is Patagonia?

Patagonia is located in the far south of South America, occupying the final “cone” part of the continent. As a matter of fact, this area is still, fortunately, a stunningly natural environment with little in the way of human urbanization. On the positive side, here there are vast open spaces of wilderness where land, lakes, rivers, mountains and wildlife still interreact in harmony with one another. It is within this beautiful and dramatically inspiring land where one can feel in awe of nature and discover a spiritual awakening of oneself.

The W Trek with Antarctica?

or any Torres del Paine Itinerary?

Special W Trek or Torres del Paine with Antarctica Combo

Should you wish to mix a W Trek itinerary with an Antarctic trip, Experience Chile will offer you an attractive discount (such as a half price W Trek), or maybe other free services, on top of any other combination offer already on the table. Therefore, ASK US FIRST if you intend to do Antarctica AND Torres del Paine!

 

Send Your Enquiry to here: request@experiencechile.org

Torres del Paine W Trek

Glacier Grey

In addition, the W Trek has gained a reputation for being an incredible walk through a stunning wilderness. Another key point is that you can add kayak and/or, the grey glacier ice hike by refugio grey and then add in the navigation grey boat at the end.

 

 

 

Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek: Tips

Some Key Tips Prior to Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek Trail

  • Most important, before embarking on any trekking ask yourself if you are reasonably fit. For example, being used to long walks and take trekking poles too.
  • It should be noted that the use of poles helps a lot with regard to the exertion of force when walking.
  • In addition, you also need to have the right footwear and clothing (see our “what clothes to pack”, that includes an illustration, in the drop-down menu below).
  • Waterproof outer garments and waterproof footwear are highly recommendable.

Suggestions and Info for When you Hike in Patagonia

Hiking the Torres del Paine W or circuit Trek Trail

Below is a list of items and tips that we feel will enable you to enjoy your W Trek even better:

Trekking Poles

Certainly, if you have them, it is a good idea to take trekking poles with you. Specifically, they help a lot with preserving walking energy and are useful in certain circumstances as an extra source of support.

Food

All things considered; all of our Torres del Paine W Trek all-inclusive programs will include three meals a day. For example, and in this order: Cooked Dinner, Breakfast and a box lunch to go. In addition, there will be liquids by way of water and juices.  However, although you will also find snacks in the box lunch, you may wish to add your own snacks to nibble on during the hike.

Ear Plugs

It should be noted that in order to help get a better night’s sleep in refugios, where there are other people, perhaps snoring, silicone ear plugs should help.

Electricity at the Refugios

Above all, you need to consider that you will be in the wilderness, in remote areas. Therefore, do not expect home comforts at refugios such as charging points for phones and computers. By the way, the electricity in Chile is 220v.

Binoculars

Another key point is to bring some binoculars, they will be useful for really zooming in on any wildlife you spot.

Wi Fi

Once in a while Wi Fi will be available at some refugios, but do not depend on it.

Safety

Above all, you will be responsible for your own safety whilst trekking. Therefore, you need to be sensible and very careful whilst walking. For example, if you end up with a sprained ankle, or broken leg, you could be waiting for an extremely long time for help. Moreover, this could be very serious if you happen to be out of sight of other trekkers, so walk at a safe pace for yourself.

Q. What Clothes Should I Pack for the W Trek?

Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek Trail

Suggestion on What to Pack in Your Luggage 

Most important is what we aim to do here is advise you on what to pack in your suitcase (or backpack) and bring with you when coming to any part of Patagonia, be it land or sea. Moreover, the weather here has one constant, which is change! It is often windy, and it can rain or offer beautiful sunshine within the space of an hour. Therefore, please bring the right clothing to keep yourself dry and warm. Further below there is a graphic detailing what you should, ideally, bring with you.

Layered Clothing is the Answer

At least try to bring LAYERS of breathable clothes that can be taken off or put on easily to adapt to any change in weather and as you heat up and cool down on a trek. For example, cotton undershirts are NOT recommended – see below.

Above all, travel light. For example, take a day backpack for the trek days.

Suggested Clothes to Wear

As an illustration, please see our dedicated “Clothes to Bring” illustration below (scroll down).

On Your Feet

To begin with you need “hiking boots”. In other words, boots that are durable, but strong and especially WATERPROOF. In addition, if you have gaiters also bring these. Above all break-in any new boots well before arrival.

Also, a pair of flip flops for indoors. It should be noted that the refugios demand that you take off outdoor footwear when you enter the building.

By the same token, bring socks that are for hiking use, that fit well within your hiking boots, and maybe 3 pairs. These socks should be a little thicker than your normal socks.

Over Your Legs

For the purpose of practicality, hiking pants as well as a waterproof outer shell to go over your hiking pants if it rains are the best option. In addition, optional underwear such as synthetic leggings to go under your trekking pants are also useful if it gets cold.

For Your Upper Body

Most important, here you need to have “layered” clothing. This is because you get hot when trekking, therefore you need to be able to take layers off as well as put them on when you cool down.

Ideally, you will need a long sleeved under vest. This should be in a synthetic material. Why? Because you will sweat when you trek, and the synthetic material will dry more quickly than cotton material. If you are trekking in the summer and it is hot, you may not need to wear this undervest, but take one anyway in case the weather changes to be cold.

In addition, over the under vest, you will need a shirt, long sleeved ideally. Therefore, this can be considered to be a second layer.

Covering your second layer you need a fleece or similar, ideally with a front zipper so you can undo it or close it up with ease.

Finally, to cover everything you will need an outer jacket with a hood, and this needs to be waterproof and if is not, take another outer shell which is waterproof.

Around Your Neck

It should be noted that even if the rest of your body is covered and snug, bring a scarf or neck muff – this is very useful if it is cold, and easily taken off if it is hot.

Covering Your Hands

Most important, don’t forget your gloves! These are required specifically for when you are close to ice, like Glacier Grey or even at the Torres Base, where the air is cold. Again, waterproof is the way to go.

On Top of Your Head

Bring a head band to cover the ears – because they can get very cold. In addition, try to bring a hat like a woollen “beanie”.

Protection from the Sun

Most important: Pack the sunscreen cream.

For When you are Thirsty

Also, bring a water Bottle.

To Protect Your Eyes

Equally important, pack a pair of sunglasses. The light reflection from glaciers, snow and just brightly lit days can be strong.

Other Useful Items to Include in Your Luggage

Must be remembered: Portable USB Charger

Of course, a Travel Towel

Also, to help with sleeping when in a shared accommodation environment: ear Plugs, eye mask and maybe sleeping pills.

By all means bring both Cash and a Credit Card

Most important: Passport for check-in and TOURIST ENTRY VISA – given to you when you pass through Chile immigration.

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W Trek Catamaran Connection Service Between Pudeto and Paine Grande

The Lago Pehoe Catamaran Ferry Operates Between

Refugio Paine Grande and Pudeto

When hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek trail, you will use this service to either start their trek and stay at Paine Grande or Grey; or leave their trek from the same places. However, people also use this service to do the French Valley trek in a full day and not stay at any refugios. In addition, there is a car park at Pudeto as well as a cafeteria, as well as at Refugio Paine Grande where there is a restaurant that serves drinks and snacks.

Most important to note is that this service is subject to local weather conditions and can be delayed or cancelled.

Another key point is that reservations are NOT taken in advance.  Therefore, you need to organize your crossing directly at Pudeto or Refugio Paine Grande, for the 25-minute navigation.

Tickets in Advance (Included with an All-Inclusive W Trek Itinerary Booked with us)

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Payment

It should be noted that unless you have your tickets included in an Experience Chile “all-inclusive W trek itinerary”, you will need to pay in cash in Chilean Pesos even though prices below are shown in USD. However, during the high season they accept other hard currencies too (such as the USD and Euro).

Prices for Season 2024 – 2025
The fare is approx USD40 per person each way.

Moreover, one backpack is included, but USD10 per an extra backpack up to 50Kg.

Hiking the W Trek East to West Short Summary

Start at Welcome Centre and End at Grey Sector

How many sectors can the Torres del Paine W Trek Trail be broken into?

The W trek can be broken into three sectors which are:

EASTERN END:

The Estancia Sector
This includes the trek to the base of the Towers.
Hotel Las Torres, and the Refugio Torre of Central, Refugio Torre Norte, ECO Camp and the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre.

CENTRAL PART:

Cuernos Sector
This includes the trek into the French Valley.
Cabañas Cuernos, Domos Cuernos and Refugio Cuernos.

WESTERN END:

Grey Sector
This includes the trek along Grey Lake to Glacier Grey.
Refugio Paine Grande and Refugio Grey.

NOTE: The information further below is for a W- Trek going East to West. If trekking West to East, you can enter the W Trek trail from Refugio Paine Grande. To do this you will need to cross over on the catamaran from Pudeto (pay the passage on board in cash) and from Paine Grande either go West to Refugio Grey (4hrs) and after that walk the entire W Trek West to East or go East from Paine Grande walk straight to Domos Frances or Cuernos.

You can also take the boat from Hotel Grey across Grey Lake to Refugio Grey and start from there, again, West to East.

 

Other W Trek Frequently Asked Questions

 

How to make Bookings and Reservations

for the W Trek and Circuit Trek Trail

It should be noted that you need to make your Torres del Paine W Trek reservations and bookings with a reputable operator at least six months ahead of time.

All-Inclusive – What Does This Mean?

Included in your W trek itinerary will be accommodation in refugios, camping or hotels along the trek, all meals, bedding or sleeping bags. Also, the regular bus transport in and out of Torres del Paine. Furthermore, the park entry tickets and the catamaran ticket between Paine Grande and Pudeto.

W Trek Accommodation – Where, What, How?

You need to ask yourself: Do I want to stay in the W Trek refugios? Or Camping? Perhaps you want both camping and refugios? What about hotels? If hotels, do you want high end luxury, or middle of the road level? Here at Experience Chile we specialize in sorting this out for you along with the travel logistics.

 

Email Us here: request@experiencechile.org

Q. How Can I Hike the Torres del Paine W Trek and Stay in a Private Room?

Effectively the only way to have your own, private room, for sleeping each night of the W Trek is to let Experience Chile book you a custom W Trek itinerary staying in hotels. This will mean coming off the trail for some nights, but we will work it so that you then get taken back to the next trail head in order to continue the W trek route. Also, there is the option to let us book an all-inclusive stay that includes the W Trek, and you are based in one hotel, or one luxury lodge for the duration of the hike.

Q. Which is Best the W Trek or the Circuit Trek?

This is not so much a question of “which is best”. Each trek is different and outstanding in its own right. Considering that the Circuit Trek actually includes the full W Trek, when hiking the Circuit Trek you have extra days to walk the back country of the Torres del Paine main trail. This sector opens up different, dramatic views as well as being more challenging than the W Trek. The Circuit trek requires at least 7 nights’ accommodation, and the full W requires 4 nights’ accommodation, but can be done in 3 nights also.

Q. When is the Busiest Time for the W Trek?

The peak season for hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine is Christmas Week between Christmas and New Year. However, it is also pretty busy most of December, January and February. Therefore, if you wish to avoid “the crowds” and have a better chance of securing refugio accommodation, consider coming in October, November, March and April. In addition, book as early as you can with Experience Chile.

Q. Can I Use Cash on the W Trek?

These days nearly all the refugios accept credit cards. However, it is always a good idea to have a cash back-up in the event that the card machines are down for any reason. Having said that, if you book an all-inclusive W trek with Experience Chile, for example, you will not need to buy anything extra on the trek. One exception to this is the catamaran between Paine Grande and Pudeto. The Catamaran, which IS included in an all-inclusive W Trek itinerary, will require a cash purchase of tickets if you do not have it included as just mentioned.

Q. What are the Meal Times on the W Trek?

Usual meals times at refugios along the W Trek trail are set at: Dinner between 19:30hrs – 21:30hrs / Breakfast between 07:30hrs – 09:30hrs / Lunch is usually a box lunch to go, however, if you happen to be at the refugio for lunch then between 12:00hrs – 14:00hrs you can usually pick up snacks and things like a pizza.

Q. Can I Order a Vegetarian or Special Meal on the W Trek?

All the refugios, as well as hotels in Torres del Paine, cater for people who have special dietary needs be it vegetarian, no gluten, no other foods due to allergies and so on. However, your operator, in this case Experience Chile, will need advance warning as to what your specific dietary requirements are. In addition, when you check into a refugio you should alert the reception to what your needs are to ensure that they get it right.

 

W Trek: Accommodation Options

Refugios and Camping

For those of you who wish to trek the entire W trail from one end to the other, staying overnight on the trail, you will need to stay at refugios or camping at set stages along the path. Having said that, it is possible to stay at a hotel for the first and optional second night in the eastern end. Refugios mean communal dorm rooms, sleeping in bunk beds, and then sharing communal bathrooms. Camping means tent set up, along with ground mat and sleeping bag provided and all meals included and taken inside the adjacent refugio. One benefit of camping is privacy.

Hotels

On the other hand, if you prefer the comfort of a private room with en-suite bathroom, then it is also possible for Experience Chile to arrange all nights at a hotel, or hotels, from where you would trek a leg of the trail each day, returning to your hotel each night.

Luxury Lodges

However, in the event that you have the budget, and you want the best, top-end, luxury accommodation, features and services, then we can arrange an all-inclusive stay at one of the luxury lodges. Here, you will enjoy fabulous accommodation with modern bathrooms, great food, in some places the added facilities of an indoor pool and spa as well as educated guides. But, most important, staying at a top end lodge adds another dimension to your overall experience in Torres del Paine. And to be clear, you would hike a leg of the W trek each day and return to the lodge at the end of each day.

Send Your Enquiry to here: request@experiencechile.org

W Trek See All Refugios

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See All Hotels

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W Trek See All Luxury Lodges

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What ExperienceChile.Org says about the W Trek

Experience Chile has been arranging W Trek itineraries in Torres del Paine National Park since 1996. We are an English owned and managed, receptive travel operator, based in Chile. In particular, we are the pioneers who began offering W Trek all-inclusive itineraries and it is only true to say that we are outright specialists in this destination.

The W trek in Torres del Paine is a unique, outdoor, hiking experience amid one of the most incredible natural, geographical wonders of the world. If you want the best in the business to handle your personal itinerary, please get in touch.

 

Send Your Enquiry to here: request@experiencechile.org

Please Send Us Your Enquiry

For the best service please supply us with as much information as you can. For example, where you want to go, what you want to do, what you want to experience and how much money you want to spend (or do not want to spend!).  How many people, what type of beds (matrimonial, twin, single etc.)

VIP

In the event that you are a VIP in any of the fields such as celebrity and/or political and/or business, and you need “special attention”. For example, privacy and/or security for your trip please use an alias in the enquiry but mention that you are VIP and one of the directors will handle your request and keep your real name and details confidential.

OFFER

Ask us to handle ALL of your South America, or Chile trip and we WILL include some items for free or at special lower-than-public rates. How much we can offer you depends on how much we can arrange and book for you. REQUEST@EXPERIENCECHILE.ORG

Remember, our specialty is to create a travel itinerary custom-built to your needs.

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