TORRES DEL PAINE: W TREK CIRCUIT – 5 DAYS 4 NIGHTS
From Puerto Natales, Chile
Trekking the most famous trail in Patagonia
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeAdventure, Camping, Charming, Ecofriendly, Glaciers, GROUP DEPARTURES, Hiking, Ice Trekking, Lake, Mid-range, Mountain, National Park, Navigation, Photograph, Puerto Natales, Quiet, Trekking
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Small Group
W Trek is undoubtedly the most famous trail in Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park. This non-technical hike connects a best-of-the-best selection of Patagonia’s highlights: the Towers Base lookout, French Valley and Grey Glacier. Hike through pristine landscapes, past rivers, lakes and rocky peaks – plus grab the chance to do an ice hike or kayak in Grey Lake. This program differs from the Independent W Trek in two important ways: you have an expert guide to lead you each day, and you’ll travel by boat up close to Grey Glacier’s massive ice wall.
DAY 1: Transfer to Torres del Paine – Round trip hike to Las Torres lookout point
2 HOURS BY PRIVATE TRANSFER / 8-10 HOURS ROUND-TRIP, 22 KM
We leave Puerto Natales at 7:00am and drive to Torres del Paine National Park, passing estancias (ranches) and flat pampas taken straight from Patagonian folklore. Have your camera at the ready en route: ñandu (Patagonian ostrich), Chilean flamingos and black-necked swans are likely to be out in the pampas and lagoons. After arriving at the Refugio you’ll have time to leave your backpack before we begin the W Trek’s first highlight: the hike to the three Towers lookout. The trek begins with an ascent, following the Ascencio River into the Ascencio Valley. After about an hour, we’ll stop to observe how the valley’s beauty unfolds with rich beech forests, glaciers and waterfalls. Past this lookout point, we continue uphill for another ninety minutes before ascending a gigantic terminal moraine (the ridge formed at a glacier’s end point) where we’ll be rewarded by the arresting sight of the three Towers themselves. At this lookout point 900 m above sea level, we’ll rest, take photos and have lunch. Our descent is along the same path, taking us back to the Refugio where we’ll have dinner, stretch and rest.
Night at Refugio Torre Central (BL-D).
DAY 2: One way hike to Los Cuernos lookout through condor territory
4-5 HOURS HIKING, 13 KM
If the weather allows, our morning will be lit by the rich oranges and pinks of a Patagonian dawn. Today you’ll hike to Los Cuernos lookout, where monumental horn-shaped black twin granite peaks shoot skyward. We’ll make our way via Inge Lagoon and may see condors and other birds of prey circling the skies while we trek below. The well-marked trail ascends 200m from the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain (2750m) and crosses the Bader River to Refugio Los Cuernos, today’s destination.
Night at Refugio Los Cuernos or Domo Frances, depending on avaialabality (B-BL-D).
Optional: You can update to private cabins with two beds and sharing bathrooms in between the cabins.
DAY 3: One way hike to Pehoe Lake, via the French Valley
8-9 HOURS HIKING, 18 KM
Today’s hike is a challenging trek to heart of the Paine massif. The French Valley is a spectacular natural basin surrounded by peaks and hanging glaciers. After breakfast, a winding path will take us to the French River (1-2 hour hike depending on whether our accommodation was at Los Cuernos or Domos Frances). At the entrance to the French Valley – a glacial moraine – you’ll scramble over huge boulders and catch the first sight of the hanging glacier atop the valley. From this point, you’ll ascend for an hour through a dreamlike Japanese garden landscape before arriving at the French Valley viewpoint (the “Plateau”). Your reward is a heart-stirring bird’s eye view of granite peaks and hanging glaciers. To one side, the French Glacier and Paine Grande (3050 m); while to the other, La Espada, La Hoja, La Máscara and the main and north “horns” of Los Cuernos arch upwards. In the upper section of the Valley, Cerro Catedral and Cerro Fortaleza loom like turrets above the landscape. Take your time to have lunch at the viewpoint, surrounded by these imposing peaks and open skies. You’ll descend via the same path until you reach the valley’s entrance, at which point you’ll continue around the south-west side of Paine Grande, Torres del Paine’s highest peak. This final leg passes through native firebush and evergreen beech forests to the shores of Pehoe Lake. Dinner will be served at Refugio Paine Grande.
Night at Refugio Paine Grande (B-BL-D).
DAY 4: One way hike to Glacier Grey – Optional Ice hike or kayak
4 HOURS HIKING, 11 KM
We’ll set out early, ascending 200m through the winding path that takes us to Laguna Negra. Here, we’ll see sections of the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field, a geological phenomenon that still guards many unexplored peaks. You’ll continue on to Grey Glacier’s lookout point, passing forests and rivers, with possible sightings of the spectacled and flying steamer ducks that call them home. We’ll have lunch at the lookout with the mammoth Grey Glacier at our feet, and might be lucky enough to catch sight of ice calving from its huge walls into the freezing waters. Today, there is the option to go on an ice hike or kayaking trip (advance booking required, please contact our Travel Specialists).
Night at Refugio Grey (B-BL-D).
DAY 5: Optional ice hike or kayak – Navigation in front of Glacier – Transfer back to Natales
2 HOURS BY BOAT ON GREY LAKE / 2 HOURS BY TRANSFER
Today starts easy with a free morning to stretch, relax and breathe in the landscape. You also have the option to go kayaking – great if you chose to do the ice hike on Day 4 (advance booking required). After lunch we’ll set off by boat across Grey Lake, to the massive facade of Grey Glacier. We’ll stay here for a while to observe the wall’s textures, lines and colors – and of course, watch for ice calvings. On your return journey you’ll see the wind-sculpted “ice mushrooms” atop the massive peaks of Paine Grande, as we sail past blue-hued icebergs. On dry land once again, we’ll take our transfer back to Puerto Natales.
-Regular tour departs from September to April at 07.00 am.
-Private tour departure schedule is coordinated previously with the passenger depending on their availability.
- Pick up and Drop off at your hotel;
- Entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park;
- Four nights lodging in mountain lodges (Comfortable rooms with 6 beds and shared bathroom/No singles available);
- Sleeping bags and liners (when is possible we include a bed with sheets, blankets and a pillow);
- Boat on Grey Lake;
- All meals indicated in the schedule (B: breakfast, BL: picnic lunch, D: dinner).
- English Speaking Guide.
- Any additional nights;
- Medical expenses;
- Insurance of any kind;
- Personal expenses;
- Dinner on day 5;
- Ice hike or Kayak activity on day 4 or 5;
- Porters to carry personal belongings, (available upon request, usually good to share among two hikers);
- Any alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks at the lodges except for the drinks include in the menu;