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The W Trek in Torres Del Paine

2020 -2021

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(Offer: Free Hotel Night in Santiago When Booking Full Program)

The W Trek is one of the most breathtaking hiking routes in Patagonia, making it one of the most breathtaking routes in the world. So-named for the W shape of the trail through Torres Del Paine National Park, the W Trek is an intermediate level hike along mostly even terrain that will have you staring up at snow-capped peaks and walking beside ancient glaciers.

In full, the trail takes between 4-5 days but can be modified to suit your experience in a number of ways. Potentially including additional activities or a touch more luxury, like returning to your hotel each night rather than camping. Experience Chile strives to offer fully customisable itineraries to suit every party, every type of trip and every individual, right down to the last detail.

*We offer Premium Options with Poles & Baggage Custody or Delivery included
*Also Daily Options from your hotel in Puerto Natales

About the W Trek Trail

Torres del Paine W TrekMost will come to Torres del Paine to hike the iconic “W” trek and the more serious walkers will walk the complete “circuit” that goes around the back sector behind the Central Massif. The W Trek is a well-trodden hiking trail that takes the shape of a “W” when seen on the map. It covers approximately 55km, but this distance is divided into sectors where strategically located refugios offer accommodation for the night. 

There are three key valleys on the W Trek that most trekkers want to experience and these are:

The Grey Valley

On the western end, where the middle is filled with water creating Grey Lake. 

The French Valley

In the central sector the French Valley is home to hanging glaciers and incredible views;

The Ascencio Valley

On the eastern side is the Ascencio Valley filled with wooded sides, a river on the valley floor, hanging glaciers and the fabled Torres Base at the end (called so because it is the base of the vertically-sided, needle-like towers).

Check W Trek Season Availability…

W Trek and Circuit Treks Info & Advice

Suggestion

Consider asking us to reserve accommodation in Puerto Natales or El Calafate the night before you start your trek and the night of the day you end your trek. Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine is approx 2hrs on the old road or 1hr to the CONAF ADMIN (Sector Serrano) on the new road that passes by the Milodon cave. Punta Arenas from Puerto Natales is approx 3hrs. There is a direct bus from El Calafate to TDP and also TDP to El Calafate and this transfer takes approx 6hrs.

Fitness

In order to trek the Circuit and “W” people need to be reasonably fit, not necessarily as an athlete, but perfectly able to walk for up to 10hrs a day (in the longest sectors) over rugged terrain, up hill, over streams and rocks, through woods and sometimes in driving rain and strong winds. If you are not able to endure this environment you should seriously consider not trekking in TDP. The routes themselves are sign-posted clearly with orange-painted poles and well-trodden paths and, in the summer season (Dec – Jan – Feb) there will be numerous other hikers about. Nevertheless, this is wilderness country, very remote and subject to sudden changes in weather that can make conditions tough. Do NOT go off the trail because even if you have the slightest incident like a twisted ankle you may find that no one will find you. It is essential that all walkers have the right clothing and food, and know what to do it they are caught out in extreme, unpredicted bad weather.

The Circuit Route

This is the route that goes in a circle around the back of the Central Massif, but also takes in the “W” route too. You can start this route from Laguna Amarga, the Refugio las Torres, Refugio Chileno (eastern side of the W trek), or Camping Seron (the first camp of the circuit).

The W Route

The W route is called so because the path you walk forms a pattern in the shape of a “W”. It can be started either at the Refugio Las Torres or Refugio Chileno (Eastern end), or at Refugio Grey (Western end), or even at Refugio Paine Grande, which is almost central in the route.

To go West to East or East to West? – That is the question!

For most of the time walking the footpaths in TDP you will be staring at the ground a few paces in front and looking up occasionally and then stopping to take in the breathtaking views all around.
A number of people ask which way is better. In reality there is really no specific advantage over the other, but the main differences are that going West to East means that from Paine Grande you will have the Cuernos del Paine in view for most of the way and hanging glaciers on your left, and the prevailing wind, if it is blowing, will be on your back. If you go East to West you will have the beautiful view of the lakes to your left and hanging glaciers on your right and the prevailing wind against you if it is blowing. It is better to plan the route around the reality of travel logistics and connections.

Note:

All regular buses from Puerto Natales pass by Laguna Amarga (and Pudeto and the CONAF ADMIN Center). Laguna Amarga is 7km from sector Las Torres (1.5hr trek, unless you take the shuttle bus, for which there is a very low charge). Shuttle buses run regularly between Laguna Amarga and the area for Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Torres Central and Refugio Torres Norte (located in the same sector). Refugio Chileno is a 2.5hr hike from Refugio Torres Central.

Warning:

Weather can change in an instant in Torres del Paine. Take the right clothes for cold wind and wet weather, sturdy walking boots, extra food and water, and a torch.

Currency:

There is an entrance fee to pay to enter Torres del Paine and this will need to be paid in Chilean Pesos – equal to approx USD35 per person. Payment for all extras at the refugios will also be required in Chilean Pesos. Chile has a modern network of ATM machines called Red Bank located in many areas (banks, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations) in villages, towns and cities. It is easy to use a debit or credit card to get local currency cash out BUT NOT within Torres del Paine so ensure you have enough CASH with you before entering the park. More refugios are now accepting credit cards too (but do not rely on this).

Trekking Accommodation Options in TDP

The most comfortable way to hike the principal trails in TDP is to stay in the sheltered refugios or a mix of refugios and hotels.


What Clients Say About the Trek

Camping

The serviced campsites at:

Chileno, Frances and Cuernos require that tents are pitched upon the wooden platforms provided. If trekkers bring their own tents they will need extra rope to rig their tents on the ground and they may struggle to pitch their tents. The advice is to not bring your own tent and just rent the tent and other equipment (if required) by way of a reservation in advance (which ExperienceChile.Org can arrange).

In camping Chileno and Cuernos you MUST purchase all meals if you want to stay there.

However, the downside to camping on the provided wooden platforms is that you will, in some cases, be next to the refugio and this often means lots of noise from whatever is going on inside the refugio.

Camping at Paine Grande is very crowded and does not have much shelter from the wind.

Circuit Trail

The trails on the CIRCUIT trek (the back country) are heavily degraded.

TDP Food, Sleeping Bags, Ground Mattresses & Tent Rental

Food

You will need to pay for food separately when you are at the refugios unless you have booked full board in advance (and most people do so). The cost for meals varies from refugio to refugio. Full board means: hot dinner, breakfast and box lunch to go (in that order).

Sleeping Bag, Tent and Ground Mattress
All the serviced camping sites offer sleeping-bag rental, when available, and in most cases a soft ground sheet or mattress.

Catamaran

The catamaran operates between Pudeto (no accommodation here) and Refugio Paine Grande. NO previous reservations are accepted and it costs approx USD30 per person, each way. Take Chilean Pesos ($20.000 CLP) if you can, although in the high season they accept USD too.

Glacier Grey Navigation

This operates from Hotel Lago Grey and offers excursions to see the Glacier Grey, but ALSO drops off and collects people at Refugio Grey. The route FROM the Hotel Grey does NOT pass in front of the Glacier Grey. It goes FIRST to the Refugio Grey and AFTER THAT in front of the glacier. The return trip from Hotel Grey back to Hotel Grey passes in front of the glacier and also the one way trip FROM the refugio to Hotel Grey passes in front of the glacier.

Arrivals & Transfers

What transport is there for Torres del Paine?

ExperienceChile.Org will include in the itinerary regular bus transfers and private local transfers. We can also arrange rent a car and private long-distance transfers.

What are the transfer routes for Torres del Paine?

Regular Buses and Private Transfers
El Calafate to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to El Calafate
El Calafate to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine / Torres del Paine to El Calafate
Puerto Natales to el Calafate / El Calafate to Puerto Natales
Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales / Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas
Private Transfer
For those with a higher budget, or for private groups travelling together, a private transfer between cities and / or in to and out of Torres del Paine is the way to go. A private transfer will go at the times you want and take you door to door.

Can I rent a car for Torres del Paine?

For those who wish to have total independence having your own car use is the ultimate winner. You can go where you want when you want. Remember that if you want to take the car across the border a permit is required and this requires about a week’s notice.

How to get to Torres del Paine

What are the principal entry points to Torres del Paine?

Punta Arenas
Most commercial flights will land at Punta Arenas some 3.000km south from Santiago. Note: There are NO commercial flights from Buenos Aires nor El Calafate to Punta Arenas. The direct flight will take just under 4hrs and the one that stops off at Puerto Montt en-route will take around 4.5hrs.

From the airport you would then either be met by a private transfer service (if you have contracted one with ExperienceChile.Org), take the regular bus from Punta Arenas city centre to Puerto Natales and change to another bus to get to TDP, have asked ExperienceChile.Org to pre-arrange a regular bus pick-up at the airport, or have arranged for your own car rental. Note that a permit is required to take any car across the border in to Argentina.

El Calafate
You need to fly to El Calafate in Argentina from Buenos Aires or Ushuaia. Here you can stay overnight with an option to go to El Chalten (3hrs away by road) and / or visit Perito Moreno glacier the following day and then the next day come over to TDP. From El Calafate you can take the regular bus across the border (departs 08:00hrs) to Puerto Natales (arrives 13:00hrs approx) and change to the regular bus that then goes to TDP departing around 14:00hrs, or arrange a private transfer service or a car rental. Also from El Calafate ExperienceChile.Org can organise a direct bus transfer to TDP (Laguna Amarga) departing El Calafate at 05:30hrs, which takes 6hrs.

NOTE: No fruit, raw meat, raw vegetables, seeds or cheese is allowed over the border in either direction. If you try to do so you WILL be fined. There is a cafeteria at the Chile border where you can buy snacks as well as at the mini-markets on the W-Trek in TDP.

Puerto Natales
Navimag operates a commercial ferry ship, which also takes passengers, from Puerto Montt. This ship arrives to Puerto Natales and offers a good-value cruise that passes through the channels and fiords in the area en-route to Puerto Natales (the cruise is available from Puerto Natales too) and ExperienceChile.Org can arrange the reservations. From Puerto Natales you either take the regular bus to TDP, have a pre-arranged private transfer meet you or organise a rent a car.

Location Distances
Punta Arenas to Laguna Amarga in Torres del Paine (TDP) – 370km (5hrs drive)
Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales – 250km (3hrs drive)

Puerto Natales to TDP Laguna Amarga – 120km (2hrs to drive)
Puerto Natales to TDP Rio Serrano (newest route via Milodon-Cave road) – 80km (1hr to drive)

Climate & Weather

Torres del Paine W Trek

Catamaran Pudeto to Paine Grande

Torres del Paine W Trek
BETWEEN PUDETO JETTY AND REFUGIO PAINE GRANDE

This service is subject to local weather conditions and can be delayed or cancelled.

Reservations are NOT taken in advance. You need to organise your crossing directly at Pudeto or Refugio Paine Grande. The journey takes about 25mins.

You need to pay in Chilean Pesos even though prices below are shown in USD, but in high season they accept other currencies too (established hard currencies like Euro and USD).

Prices 2019-2020
One way is approx USD35 per person / Return fare is less than two singles
One backpack is included, but USD8 per extra backpack up to 50Kg)

Torres del Paine W Trek

Clothes to Wear

CLOTHES TO WEAR
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. Cotton undershirts are NOT recommended – see below.

Ideally clothes such as:

Over your body skin: an under vest (long sleeved if possible) made, ideally, from synthetic fibres so it dries quickly. If very cold weather (ie early spring, winter months or autumn) then thermal underwear made from synthetic fibres. The reason for synthetic fibres is because when you are walking several hours you will build up a sweat and your under garments will get wet, this then gets cold when you stop and will make you cold unless the wet material dries quickly. Cotton does not dry quickly, whereas synthetic material will dry more quickly.

Over your under vest: a breathable top such as a fleece.

Over your fleece: a waterproof windbreaker over jacket.

For your legs: trekking pants, resistant to rain and wind, but made from a breathable material otherwise you will sweat. Jeans are NOT good as they can get wet and not dry.

Over your trekking pants: waterproof shell pants to go over your trekking pants in the event of heavy rain.

For your feet: wool or synthetic socks. Waterproof trekking boots with ankle support and none-slip sole. If new make sure you break them in prior to using them on a trek.

For your hands: gloves. Close to glaciers it can be very cold.

For your head: a warm hat (not a jockey cap), sunglasses and sun-protection cream and a headband to keep your ears warm when not using the hat.

For your personal use: a back pack for food, water and clothes.

For your safety: a battery-operated torch for when power is out or if you are arriving to a refugio in the dark. Take with you during the trek extra water and snacks. Prepare for all weather conditions and dress for the outdoors. Do NOT go off the trail because if you have the slightest incident such as twisting an ankle, you may not be found.

Average Temperatures in TDP during the year
Summer (Dec – Jan – Feb) Max + 23.5°c / Min + 0.8°c.

Torres del Paine W Trek

Today & 5 Day Forecast (C°)

Torres del Paine National Park

W Trek Custom Itineraries

We specialise in the creation of custom itineraries and possess unique local knowledge of the Patagonia area, where we have a locally-based office and our staff are on hand to ensure you have support should you need it. We offer to create a customised, self-guided or guided W Trek program for you be it 3, 4, or more nights’ accommodation in refugios (or hotels), with in and out transfers from Puerto Natales and/or El Calafate, and pre and post Torres del Paine accommodation included. We can also add in kayak and/or ice hiking at Grey Glacier into the rest of your Patagonia or full South American Itinerary. Another option is to stay pre and/or post the W trek in one of the luxury lodges in Torres del Paine or Puerto Natales, which, of course, we can also arrange.

W Trek Trail Map

Torres del Paine W Trek

W Trek Elevation

If you would like for us to create a custom-built itinerary for you, email us…

Torres del Paine W Trek Trail Route

West to East (Glacier Grey to Torres Base)

Brief Descriptions

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

WESTERN END: Grey Sector
This includes the trek beside Grey Lake and Refugio Grey 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.

EASTERN END: 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.

NOTE:
To start this trek at Refugio Grey you will either:

Becoming from Los Perros and be on the full Circuit Trek.

or

Have come over on the Navegation Grey boat from Hotel Grey.

or

Have trekked from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Grey the previous day having taken the catamaran from Pudeto to Refugio Paine Grande.

West End - Grey Sector

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 the 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. The path from Camp Italiano is a little up and down, but nothing too strenuous and it follows beside Nordenskjold Lake.

Estancia Sector to the Mirador Las Torres (Torres Base)

Operated: Between end of 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 Refugi

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.

nos. The path from Camp Italiano is a little up and down, but nothing too strenuous and it follows beside Nordenskjold Lake.

Torres del Paine W Trek Trail Route

East to West (Torres Base to Glacier Grey)

Brief Descriptions

Start at Estancia Sector and End at Grey Sector

How many sectors can the W Trek 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.
Hosteria 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. 

Estancia Sector to the Mirador Las Torres (Torres Base)

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte or ECO Camp. And, of course from the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre, which is located in this area.
End: Back at the same start point or at Refugio Chileno, Refugio Cuernos, Cabañas Cuernos or Domos Frances.
Trek Time: Allow 9hrs return time
Distance: Trail head to Torres Base and back: 18km. However, many people stay at Refugio Chileno to break this trek. Refugio Chileno is half way between Estancia Sector and the Torres Base (base of the Towers) and a 2hr trek up from the trail head beside Hotel Las Torres and 2hrs from the Torres Base.
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.

Description

This trek can be broken into four sectors:

Estancia sector to the entrance to the Ascencio Valley

This is the route up to Refugio Chileno and takes about 1hr 15min up a steady incline.

Entrance to the Ascencio Valley to Refugio Chileno

This takes about 45min and is mostly downhill. For the first 200 metres, on the right side of the trail is a steep drop down into the valley and the river below.

BE CAREFUL – THERE ARE OFTEN VERY STRONG WINDS AROUND THE ACUTE BEND WHERE THE PATH ENTERS INTO ASCENCIO VALLEY.

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.

Estancia Sector to Cuernos

(Hiking East to West) or on to Domos Frances (1hr past Cuernos)

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: 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.
End: Refugio Cuernos, Cabañas Cuernos or Domos Frances.
Trek Time: Allow 5hrs one way.
Distance: 11km to Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos, and 13.5km if to Domos Frances.
Difficulty: Medium.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 250m

Description

This trek passes along the northern shore of the Nordenskjold Lake on the left, with its amazing dark-bluish water and on the right-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. Just before arrival at Refugio / Cabanas Cuernos the trail passes through a beech-tree wood.

Cuernos Sector to Refugio Paine Grande via French Valley

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Refugio or Cabañas Cuernos, or Domos Frances

End: Refugio Paine Grande

Trek Time: Allow 5hrs if trekking direct to Paine Grande and 10hrs if trekking into and out of the French Valley. If starting at Domos Frances take one hour of these times.

Distance: 24km if going via the French Valley and 13km if going direct to Paine Grande. If starting 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 sector Los Cuernos the trail undulates going up, down, across some streams and into wooded areas, but nothing too strenuous. After about 1hr it will pass by Domos Frances and then after another 1hr you will arrive to the un-serviced camping ground called Camp Italiano, which is at the entrance to the French Valley and a short-suspended foot bridge.

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 called Camp Italiano, where the trail will veer right (if going to Refugio Paine Grande), across a suspension foot bridge to go over the Frances River and then the trail flattens out until reaching Refugio Paine Grande. From Camp Italiano to Paine Grande is about 2.5hrs.

Paine Grande to Refugio Grey

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Refugio Paine Grande
End: Refugio Grey
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 Paine Grande the path ascends a hill to an altitude of 485m. This ascent is initially gradual and steady, becoming steeper the closer you get to the top of the hill. Once over the apex the path flattens out through a wood until it then drops down the other side towards Grey Lake. In parts the path is narrow and steep. Where the path follows the lake it is largely level, surrounded by old beech trees and bushes and if you are lucky you may hear the sounds of the Magellan Woodpecker. Once Grey Lake is in full view you will see glacial icebergs, which, if you have never seen such a sight is an amazing experience, but when you see Glacier Grey for the first time in the distance, the view is outstanding.

From Refugio Grey you either stay the night and the next day take the boat across Grey Lake (pre-booked by Experience Chile) to Hotel Lago Grey or trek back to Paine Grande. Alternatively, if you arrive to Refugio Grey early you can take the boat across the lake to Hotel Grey that same day. Other options are to do an Ice Hike on Glacier Grey and / or Kayak – both need to be pre-booked, which we can arrange.

Another option is to return back to Paine Grande (4hrs remember) and take the catamaran across the lake Pehoe to Pudeto.

END OF THE “W” (East to West)

Torres del Paine W Trek

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Torres del Paine W Trek Refugio Accommodation

Torre Norte

Torre Central

Refugio Chileno

W Trek Frequently Asked Questions

How fit do I need to be to hike the W Trek?

The full distance of the trekking path is around 55km and daily treks vary from between 4hrs to 10hrs in walking time. Therefore, it is important that you are accustomed to walking long distances and be in good physical shape. The path is a mixture of turns and twists, ups and downs, across and sometimes through streams, through woods, and a few sectors that require a scramble up and over rocks.

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.

 

How long does the W Trek take?

 

Typically, the W trek will require 4 nights. It can, however, be done in 3 nights if you cut out one of the ends and it can, of course, be extended to 5 or 6 nights in order to relax and enjoy the beauty and dramatic scenery in the Park.

 

Why is the Torres del Paine W Trek so sought after?

 

Why this trekking path is so sought after is simply because it offers the trekker a moderately challenging walk amid one of the most spectacular natural geographically created places on Earth. And, within this marvel of nature are glaciers, forests, lakes, rivers and waterfalls.

 

What is the Torres Base?

 

The Torres base is beside a lagoon at the base of the three vertically sided, “needle” towers of the Park. This iconic trail is nick-named “the Torres base trek” starting at Hotel Las Torres, eastern end of the Park and from here it takes 4hrs to get to the base. On the way up the trail passes by Refugio Chileno and from Refugio Chileno it is 2hrs to the base.

What is the French Valley?

 

The French Valley is a very beautiful valley in the middle of the W Trek and is one of the iconic valleys to enter when walking the Trek. Its entrance is beside the NON-SERVICED camp site called Camp Italiano, halfway between Refugio Paine Grande and Refugio Cuernos. From Camp Italiano it takes about 2.5hrs to get to the end, then, of course it is 2.5hrs back to the entrance.

When is Most Popular Time to Come to Torres del Paine?

 

The Summer: December, January and February is typically the most popular time for visitors because the weather is warmer and it is the Winter holiday period in the Northern hemisphere.

When is Best Time to Come to Torres del Paine?

 

To avoid the crowds the best time to visit is before mid November or after March.

When is the Best Month to Come to Torres del Paine?

 

The opinion of many is that April is the best month to come because usually the wind has died down, there are few people and the weather is often very good.

What are the Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit Trek Trails?

 

The W trek is called so because the footpath (or trekking trail) takes the form of a “W” on the map when looked down upon from above. The Circuit Trek is the footpath that includes the W Trek but also goes around the back of the Central Massif, effectively offering a perimeter path from where you can start and end at.

 

How can I book Accommodation on the W Trek?

 

There are serviced camp sites, refugios, and in one place: Cuernos, there are also private cabins, all of which you can book through us. You can also stay in hotels, certainly at the eastern end at the Las Torres trail head; and in the western end at Grey. We can also make a program for you based at Puerto Natales with daily excursions into Torres del Paine to the different trail heads. Alternatively, we can book the luxury lodges and you can do the W Trek, or parts of it, from these hotels.

If you would like for us to create a custom-built itinerary for you, email us…

Torres del Paine W Trek & O Circuit Trek Itineraries

Classic Self-Guided W Trek

with Puerto Natales

Classic Self-Guided W Trek

with El Calafate

Self-Guided "O" Circuit

Anticlockwise

W Trek Offer – Free Night in Santiago (Min. 2 People per Room)

* The W Trek Prices include: Transportation from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine and back |Accommodation |Breakfast at Hotels | Bedding at accommodation on the W trek | Towels at accommodation on the W trek |All meals (full board) at refugios or alternative accommodation on the W trek route.

For custom-built W Trek itineraries, email us…

Torres del Paine W Trek & Other Premium Itineraries

Tierra Patagonia Itinerary

Premium W Trek Itinerary

Explora Hotel Itinerary

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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.

Torres del Paine W Trek

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Torres del Paine W Trek

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