Two For The World

Hiking The W Trek In Patagonia: A Self-Guided Itinerary [2024]

01 apr 2024 11 nov 2023 | danielle.

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 .

Last updated on 26 March 2024 by Dan

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.
  • When you check-in at the park for your trek, you’ll receive an information guide with a map showing the park’s trails, services and accommodations. The current brochure can be found here .

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

Many people say winter is even more magical in Torres del Paine.

The park entry fee drops during the low season and you’ll find far fewer people in the park. But temps will also be lower, daylight hours are shorter, rain is frequent and there can be snow and ice. Many of the mountain trails are closed, as are a number of the mountain lodges and services. Trails that are open can also close suddenly due to weather (though that can happen at any time of the year).

Most importantly, to do the W Trek or hike to the base of Las Torres during the low season, you must have a qualified guide . This period typically runs from 1 May to the end of August, but check the official Torres del Paine website for more information if you’re planning to visit over this time.

The bottom line: No matter what time of year you visit Torres del Paine, given the changeability of the weather there, you should check in with park agency CONAF for latest updates and closures.

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. We travelled to Puerto Natales by bus so we bought our tickets to Torres del Paine at the bus station the day we arrived. You can also search bus services and buy tickets 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 in the poor dawn light.* 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. *PS. For safety reasons, hiking in the dark isn’t actually allowed in Torres del Paine. Trail sections have opening and closing times, check the park brochure for more info.

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 the Francés mirador, a lookout 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 at dawn but as the day lightens, 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.

53 thoughts on “Hiking The W Trek In Patagonia: A Self-Guided Itinerary [2024]”

I been to Asia a couple times but never to enjoy much of the nature. Your destinations and experiences have me wanting to explore more of the hiking trails abroad. Thanks for sharing!

Cheers Bryan, happy travels!

Thanks for your info, it helps a lot. I’m planning to do W trek in coming January. If I book the camp, can I also use the facilities in the shelter (like shower and toilet)?

Hi Karen, all of the campsites along the W have dedicated facilities for campers, including showers and toilets. Some have cooking areas for campers as well. Happy planning and have a wonderful trek in January! Cheers, Danielle

Great website! We’re hoping to do this February/March 2025, and are wondering how best to spend our time on either side of this hike. Did you travel to El Calafate and El Chalten while you were in the area? Or do you recommend other areas down there? Any advice greatly appreciated!

Hi Lisa, thanks for your message! Fantastic to hear you’re planning a trip to Patagonia! Besides the W Trek, there are various activities you can do in and around Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine, like boat trips on Grey Lake to Grey Glacier or horseback riding.

We most definitely did travel to El Calafate and El Chalten after our trek and absolutely recommend, especially if you’re keen to get out on some further hikes. We bussed from Puerto Natales to El Calafate and the next day did a day trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is an absolute must. From El Calafate, we travelled by bus to El Chalten (the panoramas on the bus ride in are wow – try and get the front seats!) and spent a good couple of days exploring this gorgeous area and just hanging out. There are a range of hikes you can do out of El Chalten – the day hikes to Laguna de Los Tres and Cerro Torre are epic.

If you head south from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas, you can do day trips to see King penguins, Magellan penguins, whales and dolphins, so that’s another option.

Have a wonderful time and happy trip planning! Cheers, Danielle

Thank you for sharing your Patagonia insights! I found it very thorough and incredibly helpful. I we are planning our trip for October 2024. I have a question. How did you book your meal plan? Thanks! Kim

Hi Kim, thanks for your feedback, we’re glad you’ve found our post helpful! When you go through the booking process for each accommodation (including camping) along the trail, you’ll have the opportunity to add meals as part of those bookings. Links to the accommodation providers are in the post. Good luck with your planning and happy trekking in October! Cheers, Danielle & John

Hi thank you so much for this detailed blog. It appears that one would have to stay at Frances camp if going east to west in order to shave hiking time on day 3. Is there a bus company through which we have to pre-book a bus ticket from Pudeto ferry to Las Amargo? Or is it a shuttle service? Do you have any idea if booking a guided tour via Las Torres means that they carry your heavy rucksacks?? Is the last day at Grey really worth it ? Or would you rather end the trek on day 4? Thank you!

Hi SK, thanks for your message. Until the CONAF Italiano camp reopens, Frances camp is the closest camp to the Frances Valley so yes, it is the best bet timing-wise for getting in and out of the Frances Valley and on to Paine Grande on Day 3 if travelling from east to west. You could also stay at Los Cuernos, but that would add around 1.5 hours to Day 3.

The buses running from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine drop off and pick-up from Laguna Amarga and Pudeto. When you buy your bus ticket to Torres del Paine, you’ll note where you’ll be getting off and on again (it will depend on your itinerary, but for us, travelling from east to west, we got off at Laguna Amarga and boarded at Pudeto on our return. Check out the section in our post on bus tickets to and from the park for more info. There’s a shuttle that runs between the Laguna Amarga ranger station and Hotel Las Torres for a fee.

We would suggest contacting the tour company you’re interested in for advice about whether porter services are available on their guided tours. We left most of our luggage in one of our backpacks at our hotel in Puerto Natales and carried only what we needed for the trek to keep the weight down.

We personally feel that every leg of the W is absolutely worth it – the scenery is superb throughout. Five days gave us just the right amount of time to enjoy the whole trail without pushing too hard. To do the trek in four days, you’d likely need to compromise on either the full hike into Frances Valley or the Grey leg in order to reach camps before dark, and we wouldn’t want to skip either. But that’s us. If four days was all we had to trek, we would possibly leave Grey but we’d have to make sure we did a boat tour out to the glacier instead! 🙂

All the best with your planning! Cheers, Danielle & John

This is seriously one of the best breakdowns I’ve read. Patagonia is one of three “Someday” treks I have on my list to head off on once my son is a little bigger and can carry more of his own gear. We’re building up now with longer and longer trips around Central/Eastern Europe

Love this site!

Thanks for your message Brian, we really appreciate your feedback. So cool that you and your son are already hiking together, and what an awesome bucket list adventure to look forward to with him! Happy trekking and thanks again! Danielle & John

Do you have a map with the accommodations you booked or where you rented out tents/gears? Planning on doing this solo in June!

Hi Erika, thanks for your message! There’s a trail map available at the official Torres del Paine website: https://parquetorresdelpaine.cl/mapa-2023-2024/ – it shows all the accommodations/campsites along the trail. You can also find links in our post to the accommodation providers we booked our campsites and camping gear through.

As you’re considering a June trip, we’d also encourage you to check out the official Torres del Paine website for information about winter hiking regulations – https://parquetorresdelpaine.cl/permisos-especiales/ . Many of the accommodations and trails close over winter and while you can visit the park, we understand it’s mandatory to have a guide for the W Trek and the trek to the base of Las Torres between 1 May and 30 August (though the timeframes can change depending on weather). All the best with your planning! ~ Danielle

Hello Dan, What a great find this was. Thank you so much for writing it. I’m looking to mimic your trek with some modifications. I will very likely have a car rental when I arrive into Punta Arenas. My plan is to drive myself and 2 others into the park and leave the vehicle parked at the welcome center or hotel (unsure if this is allowed). At the end you mention that you ferry to Pudeto- then catch a bus that swings by Laguna Amarga into Puerto Natales. Is there a bus that goes directly back to the welcome center or hotel from Pudeto so we can get back in my rental? It looks like the Laguna Amarga ranger station is about 8.5 km from the welcome center. Or is it best to just shuttle from Puerto Natales for the whole thing and leave the rental somewhere in town?

Hi Bruce, thanks so much for your message and feedback! Very good question re. parking – based on our limited research into this, our understanding is that you can leave your car at Hotel Las Torres while you trek if you’re a guest there, otherwise, cars can be parked at the nearby Welcome Centre. We’ve also seen reference online to a small car parking area at Pudeto, so in theory you could arrange bus tickets from Pudeto to Laguna Amarga, and from there get the hotel shuttle to Hotel Las Torres/the Welcome Centre. I would suggest posting your question on Tripadvisor and hopefully someone has done something similar recently and can provide latest info. It might also be worth contacting Hotel Las Torres and asking their advice; no doubt they get questions like this frequently. All the very best for your trip planning and the trek itself – it’s an unforgettable experience! Cheers, Danielle & John

Thank you so much for the great information. I’m a long term planner and we’re looking to book for our family of four, Christmas 2024. I found this blog really really helpful in hiking cost effectively. Thanks Again!

Hi Melissa, thank you so much for your message, we’re really happy you’ve found our post helpful in your planning. Also very excited for you and your family – what a fantastic Christmas experience! We hope you have a really wonderful time hiking the W, it’s just such an incredible place! All the best and happy hiking! Danielle & John

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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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.

Click to navigate 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: The affordable MSR PocketRocket 2 (buy it on REI | Backcountry | Amazon ) is great value for those on more of a budget, and is super lightweight.
  • 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 ). 

Planning Your Trip to Patagonia?

Save time, stress & money with a customized travel itinerary planned for you by a Patagonia expert

What previous clients have said:

Steph’s help laying out an itinerary for Chile was huge toward us having a great trip.  She listened to our interests and compiled a framework that we could follow to make our plans.  She included many practical tips as well as numerous options. She truly saved us many, many hours of research.

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 Puerto Natales. Yaghan House  (O’Higgins 584; contact them here to reserve; they also have a 12pm daily talk about the park) and Lili Patagonico’s  (Arturo Prat 479; you can book online here ) have cheap, good-quality rental gear. Rental Natales (you can book online) has more stock but is very expensive.

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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

Helen Turner

Sunday 4th of February 2024

Excellent article. Plenty of food for thought. Thankyou

Steph Dyson

Friday 9th of February 2024

Thanks Helen! Steph

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?

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

Groovy Mashed Potatoes - Travel Blog

Groovy Mashed Potatoes - Travel Blog

Unique travel experiences, fun itineraries & offbeat places to help you plan your dream trip

Self Guided W Trek - The Best W Trek Route and W Trek Itinerary

Self Guided W Trek - The Best W Trek Route and W Trek Itinerary

Hiking the Torres Del Paine W Trek in Patagonia is a bucket list item for many. Doing the W Trek without a guide is the most cost efficient way to trek through the park and it feels very rewarding to do it yourself.

However, sorting out the W Trek was one of the most challenging bookings we have made to this day. Non English websites, sparse accredited blog coverage on routes, and limited availability due to popularity, made for a difficult journey before we even got to the park.

We have put together a clear and concise way to plan and book your self-guided W trek , including the best W Trek route with a map and W Trek itinerary with hiking distances.

Best time to visit Torres Del Paine

w trek itinerary west to east

You want to have the best chance possible of seeing the towers in clear light. The weather can be treacherous in these mountains, so the best time to hike the W Trek is in the summer months from November to March. During the months outside of summer, most of the services at main lodging companies are closed and the days will also be shorter and cloudier.

How to book refugios and campsites in Torres Del Paine

w trek itinerary west to east

Torres Del Paine National Park has been split up so you must book your sites with at least two of three companies operating campsites there. The first two companies, Fantasticosur and Vertice , have paid refugios (lodges and campsites) where you can either reserve a spot to pitch your tent, rent a tent, or stay in the lodge.

CONAF on the other hand, is a non-profit organization that offers free camping. The CONAF site at Italiano is extremely basic with no lodge, but hey it's free! Whichever you choose, you'll need to book your accommodation through their online booking systems.

Beautiful and strategic sites like Glacier Grey and Chileno book up fast. Book the refugios as far in advance as you can to ensure you get the sites you want.

Top booking tip:

Bookings for the following year's season open around the middle of May. For example, bookings open in May 2020 for the November 2020 - April 2021 season. Message the companies, Vertice and Fantasticosur, directly in advance and ask if they can email you once reservations open up. We got our emails and booked right away!

Should you travel the W Trek east to west or west to east?

This question left us scratching our heads until we finished our trek. There are pros and cons of each. We hiked the 'W' from the left to the right which starts at Paine Grande and ends at Torres Central, but would actually recommend hiking from east to west , since its pros outweigh the cons and the itinerary works out a bit better.

W Trek Map with our Refugio & Campsite ratings

w trek itinerary west to east

What we did and why it wasn't as great:

We hiked the W Trek from left to right and stayed 5 nights. We stayed in Glacier Grey, Paine Grande, Cuernos, and Toores Central (2 nights).

Ultimately, the views are better and the itinerary works more nicely hiking the W Trek from right to left.

The drawbacks of our original route:

  • On the way to the start of our trek, we almost didn't make the catamaran from Pudeto to Paine Grande due to the long line up of people (it's first come, first served). If we missed it we would have had to either wait 3 hours for the next ferry or hike an additional five hours to the start of our trek at Paine Grande.
  • Staying at Torres Central rather than Chileno added an extra 5 km total to our whole trek . It is a 1 km hike from the campsite to the main trail on a gravel road, which is included in the 5km total.  
  • Torres Central feels as if you are not actually on the trek. The camp and refugio is located on a road with tour busses and other vehicles driving by. The service was also the worst we experienced out of all refugios.
  • We had to spend an additional night in Torres Central so we could avoid rushing our hike up to the towers and back in order to catch the bus.
  • The view from Cuernos to Chileno wasn't as nice as the other way around since the sun wasn't in our favour.

The benefits of our original route:

  • Saving the crown jewel, the three Torres Del Paine, for last. After the multi-day trek it was satisfying to finish with the a view of the famous centrepiece of the park.
  • The first two days of the trek covering the Paine Grande to Glacier Grey then back the next day to Paine Grande are the easiest of the trek. It was nice to warm our muscles up and get used to our packs before the harder hiking days.

Will all of these factors in mind, we came up with the ideal itinerary we would use next time!

The Best W Trek Route

  • Day 1: Arrive at Torres Central, hike up to the three Towers and back down to Chileno (13.8km)
  • Day 2: Chileno to Cuernos (13km)
  • Day 3: Cuernos to Frances Valley and back down to Paine Grande (21.5km)
  • Day 4: Paine Grande to Grey (11km)
  • Day 5: Grey to Pudeto where you catch your bus back to Puerto Natales (11km)

W Trek Map with Recommended Route

w trek itinerary west to east

W Trek Itinerary Breakdown

Day 1: puerto natales - las torres hotel - towers lookout - chileno (7 hour hike, 13.8km, 750m ascent, 400m descent).

w trek itinerary west to east

Highlight: Today you will see the crown jewel of the park, the granite towers!

Your first task is getting to the park entrance (Amarga) from Puerto Natales. After your 2 hour bus ride, pay the park fee (cash only) and then take a shuttle to Los Torres Hotel.

  • 🚌 Buy your bus ticket to the park entrance (Amarga) through Busbud .
  • 💳 If you want to buy your park pass by credit card, you have to purchase it online at least 24 hours in advance through aspticket.cl .

Congratulations, you made it. Time to start hiking! From Las Torres Hotel to Chileno it's a 5 km hike with a total ascent of 325 m. Careful on your way, there are very high winds as you enter the valley, so hike slowly and crouch down if a gust catches you off step. Drop off your bags/tent in Chileno where you will be staying the night and take some water. It's much easier hiking with just a day pack up to the spectacular granite peaks. From Chileno, the roundtrip distance to the Towers Lookout is 7.8 km.

Read our article on a ll you need to know about the Chileno refugio.

The weather is crazy in this area. We had two snow storms on our way mixed with sunny blue skies. The last half of the hike to the towers is tough and includes scrambling up large rocks. The 90 km/hour winds didn't help! When we reached the top we were sad to see the towers completely covered by cloud and yet another snow storm. However, we waited patiently beside a large rock for 45 minutes and the weather cleared up to perfect sunny blue skies! Seeing Torres Del Paine in real life was breathtaking.

Top Tip: There are weather reports posted at Chileno, so consider staying a bit or heading off right away depending on the hourly cloud cover forecast.

Day 2: Chileno to Cuernos (4 hours, 13km, 125m ascent, 406m descent)

w trek itinerary west to east

Highlight: Passing the multi coloured lakes and relaxing at the lovely Cuernos camp.

Today you will have spectacular views of the lake as you walk through otherworldly landscapes. The hike is relatively easy with a total descent of 406 meters and a small 125 m ascent in the middle of your hike.

Cuernos was our favourite refugio we stayed at. It didn't feel too busy and we got to pitch our tent on a wooden tent pad overlooking the beautiful lake! It's the perfect place to relax after your long first day.

Read our article on what to know about the Cuernos refugio .

Day 3: Cuernos to Britanico to Paine Grande (10 hours, 21.5 km, 550m ascent, 600m descent)

w trek itinerary west to east

Highlight: Seeing the very much alive Frances Glacier drop massive chunks of ice with a thunderous roar.  

Today will be your longest hiking day. Once you reach the Italiano campsite, drop your bags off to lessen your load for the return hike to Frances Lookout and Britanico. It was partly cloudy when we hiked, but we were lucky to see Frances Glacier and even see and hear the thunderous roar of ice breaking and falling!

Since the clouds were rolling in we decided to stop at Frances lookout and forgo hiking to Britanico further up the mountain. We heard mixed reviews about Britanico and that it wasn't any more spectacular than the view at Frances Lookout. To shorten your hike, you could opt to stop at Frances Lookout and forgo Britanico. This would take about 5 km and 2.75 hours off your total journey that day. Shortcut!

After picking up your bags from Italiano, it is a 2.5 hour easy hike to Paine Grande with small ups and downs on the way.

Read our article on what to know about the Paine Grande refugio .

Day 4: Paine Grande to Grey Lodge (3.5 hours, 11 km, 200m ascent, 185m descent)

w trek itinerary west to east

Highlight: You will see views of Grey Lake and small icebergs before the grand finale views of the massive Grey Glacier.

Watch out for the huge gusts of wind coming at you from the front. Once you reach Refugio Grey it's about a 10 minute walk from there to the Grey Glacier lookout point. You don't want to miss it!

Read our article on what to know about the Grey refugio .

Day 5: Grey to Paine Grande (3 hours, 11 km, 185 ascent, 200 m descent) & back to Puerto Natales

w trek itinerary west to east

Highlight: Today is an easy hiking day with the wind at your back and your last of the trip, so enjoy the views!

It's only 11 km to Paine Grande where you'll catch the catamaran to Pudeto and a bus back to Puerto Natales  (30 minute catamaran & 2 hour bus ride). Hiking this direction is a lot faster and less effort so it's a nice way to end off the trip.

The catamaran is first-come-first-serve so arrive early to ensure you get a seat. The ferry times change depending on the time of year but the last ferry from Paine Grande to Pudeto will take multiple trips to ensure everyone waiting gets across. No stress and you can get yourself a victory cocktail at the Paine Grande refugio while you wait. The catamaran costs 25,000 CLP ($30 USD) one way and you pay for your ticket with cash inside the boat. Once at Pudeto, you'll catch your bus back to Puerto Natales.

Meal options at the refugios and campsites

w trek itinerary west to east

There are a few options for eating while you're on the trek. You can cook, or you can have the cooking done for you. We found it really nice to come into the big lodges and have a seat out of the rain and wind to a nice warm prepared meal.

Full-board/half-board

At Fantastico and Vertice refugios, there are full-board and half-board options. Full board includes breakfast, dinner and a boxed lunch. There was always enough food to keep us full at every meal.

The lunch bag typically consists of a sandwich, Nature Valley bar, juice box, nuts with dried fruit, chocolate bar and a piece of fruit. Dinners are hearty and come with a big piece of meat. Breakfasts are served with eggs and toast. Make sure to state if you are vegetarian.

Get all the info from our article: W Trek Patagonia Camps Ranked and Rated

w trek itinerary west to east

You can also buy a la carte meals during lunch and dinner at some refugios. At our favourite Refugio, Los Cuernos, they had lasagna, burgers and even a charcuterie board, so we wished we had just ordered breakfast and lunch from there!

Cook your own food

Most refugios have a kitchen where campers can prepare and cook their own food. The downside is that you'll have to carry the weight of your food on the trek. Most refugios also have a small convenience store where you can purchase extra items along the way, such as soup, Ichiban noodles, cookies, alcoholic beverages, water, crackers, pasta, coffee etc.

If you're going to cook your own food, ensure the refugio you're staying at has a kitchen. Chileno for example does not have a kitchen.

Most lodges take credit card for snacks, food and drinks, however sometimes the credit machine is down so it is better to have a some Chilean Pesos with you.

Bring snacks!

Even if you're not cooking your own food, grab some snacks at the grocery store before your hike while it's cheap. We brought almonds, dried fruit, dark chocolate, and gummy worms. Check out Supermercado Unimarc in Puerto Natales. There is a dried goods stand at the front door. Full board won't leave you hungry, but it's nice to have a few snacks of choice to lift your spirits during a hard hiking day.

W Trek Packing List

w trek itinerary west to east

Here is our list of what to pack for the W Trek. This is what we brought with us on our multi-day hike. Each item that is linked, is what we own and highly recommend. We have used them over the years for numerous hikes and camping trips around the world (Nepal, Peru etc.).

Note: we ate half board/full board at the lodges, so this packing list does not include gear to make your own food.

Top Tip: You won't need a pack cover we were told and saw first hand these things just act like parachutes on the windy sections of the trail. Garbage bag your goods or use dry bags instead.

What you can rent for the W Trek

w trek itinerary west to east

You can rent a one or two person tent, sleeping mattress, hiking poles, sleeping bag, and hiking shoes (although we recommend bringing your own shoes to avoid blisters!).

Erratic Rock doesn't take advanced reservations and has become very popular, so don't count on getting your gear the night before your trek like we did. We ran over to Rental Natales and luckily found a two-person tent that had just arrived. Rentals Natales has online reservations and they wash their sleeping bags after every use.

Pre-trek prep in Puerto Natales

w trek itinerary west to east

Where to stay in Puerto Natales before your trek

Pre-trek preparation checklist.

  • Grab your rentals the day before you leave on your trek
  • Purchase your bus ticket in advance to ensure you get an early departure time. You can reserve your ticket online through Busbud .
  • Grab snacks beforehand at a grocery store, such as almonds, dried fruit, dark chocolate, candies, and a roll of toilet paper.
  • Pull out cash for catamaran, Torres Del Paine Park fee, and any extra goodies you wish to buy at the camping lodges. There are reliable ATMs in Puerto Natales to pull out cash. Most lodges take credit card for snacks, food, and drinks, but cash is needed for the catamaran and park fee.

Getting to Torres Del Paine National Park

w trek itinerary west to east

Getting from the Puerto Natales airport to Puerto Natales

A taxi from Puerto Natales airport to Puerto Natales is a flat rate of 7000 CLP for the whole car, not per person. The drive is about 10 minutes.

Taking the bus from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine National Park

Arrive at least 15 minutes early for your bus at 7 AM from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine. Some people didn't get on and had to wait for the 11 AM bus. It's better to get to the park early and is a must for this itinerary.

The bus first stops at Amarga where everyone gets off to purchase their park pass (cash only). Those going further to Pudeto to catch the catamaran to Paine Grande will need to get back on the same bus. The drive is 30 more minutes to Pudeto. Those headed to Las Torres Hotel catch another 15 minute shuttle bus.

Top Tip: Sit on the front left side of bus from Puerto Natales to Amarga for the best views. Sitting at the front also ensures you're first in line to get your park pass and you can quickly hop on the shuttle.

Start planning your trip to Torres Del Paine National Park

  • 💡 Travel tips: see our top 17 tips for the W Trek
  • ⛺ Refugios/Campsites: see how we ranked and rated the W Trek refugios & campsites
  • 🌃 Book your stay in Puerto Natales: Booking.com is our go-to for finding places to stay. Sort by top reviewed.
  • 🥾 Rent your gear: we rented our camping gear from Rental Natales
  • 🚌 Buy your bus ticket to the park: book in advance through Busbud .
  • 🛫 Book your flight to Puerto Natales: use Skyscanner to compare flights across different airlines (we recommend booking direct with the airline however).

Check out what the W Trek was like in our Chile vlog

Save and pin this self-guided W Trek itinerary for later:

w trek itinerary west to east

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out our list of fun adventure ideas for your next trip .

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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)

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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. 

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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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Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia Self-Guided: The Complete Details

Campsite at Paine Grande during the W Trek in Patagonia.

When you think of Patagonia, it’s hard not to imagine the picture of its most famous pristine peaks. Many avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts dream of one day visiting Chile and Argentina to explore the Patagonia region. One of the most famous hikes in Patagonia is the W Trek.

This is the smaller version of the O-trek, but even though it’s shorter, it still offers the adventure of a lifetime. These hikes are located in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

My dream finally came true in December 2024 when I visited Patagonia for the first time. There were beautiful landscapes everywhere, and I couldn’t stop staring at them.

In this guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know (and there’s a lot) about hiking the W Trek in Patagonia self-guided.

w trek itinerary west to east

Table of Contents

What is the W Trek in Patagonia and Why You Should Hike it

What makes this hike unique is how well the trails are maintained, the excellent refugios, the people, and, of course, the views.

When traveling throughout Patagonia, it’s funny and cool to notice the same people repeatedly. Most people stick to a very similar itinerary.

There are options for individuals who want to camp and have gear, don’t have gear, or want to go all out and sleep in beds.

Where is the W Trek in Patagonia?

The W Trek is a four- to five-day hike in Torres del Paine National Park. Patagonia is located in Chile and Argentina , offering something different.

Most people who plan to visit Torres del Paine National Park stay in Puerto Natales . This town is easily accessible by bus if you’re coming from Calafate, where the famous Minitrekking on Perito Moreno Glacier is done.

We stopped by here shortly on our way south, where we decided to see Penguins in Punta Arenas before returning for the trek!

The trail during the W Trek in Patagonia

How to Get to Torres del Paines National Park

Getting to Torres del Paines National Park is relatively easy. We were one group of the many individuals who got to this park to do the W Trek alone, self-guided.

What does this mean? It means there’s a lot of bus options. I liked using Busbud to find bus times while traveling in Chile and Argentina.

This website didn’t have all the buses possible for every town, but it gave me a good idea of the times.

Bus From Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park

Depending on your path, either East to West or West to East, will determine which bus ticket you need to buy.

No matter what, you’ll stop and get off the bus at Laguna Amarga . This is the Entrance to the park and you’ll have to show your entrance ticket. More on that later.

After finding the bus ticket on Busbud, I always visit the bus company’s website. In this case, it’s Bus Sur .

If you’re starting from West to East like us, you’ll first need a bus ticket from Puerto Natales to Puedeto . When we got to the entrance, we showed our tickets, grabbed our bags, and switched buses.

Our bus driver took a break before taking us another 25 minutes up the road to the Pudeto dock. Keep asking the drivers as everyone seemed confused about what was happening.

If you’re going from East to West, the first ticket you’ll need is one to Laguna Amarga . To find these tickets, go to Bus Sur’s website and type in the destination of Torres del Paine.

In the description will be either Laguna Amarga or Pudeto. You’ll need one of each, but you will determine which you need first and last, depending on where you start.

A side note : YOU MUST PRINT OR SCREENSHOT YOUR TICKETS

Wi-fi is scarce or non-existent inside the park.

Bus Schedule

This might be confusing at first but it’ll all become clear soon. I suggest starting a notes page on your phone with your itinerary and all the needed documents in there.

Below is the bus schedule for Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia.

Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga & Pudeto

Current Prices (one-way): ~12,000 Chilean Pesos

Laguna Amarga to Puerto Natales

Pudeto to puerto natales.

I get it if you don’t want to take a bus and would rather drive yourself! I suggest renting a car outside of Puerto Natales as the prices will be more expensive there.

I’m unsure about driving inside the park and to which miradors are possible, but there’s a parking lot behind the Welcome Center. This is next to Refugio Torre Norte.

The Torres del Paine park entrance when hiking the W Trek in Patagonia

Things to Know When Planning the W Trek in Patagonia

The W Trek in Patagonia is a long hike and Torres del Paine doesn’t make the information easy to find.

Below will be a plethora of extra details you need to complete the self-guided hike of the W Trek!

Overview: My Itinerary (West to East)

  • Take the bus from Puerto Natales to the Park Entrance (Laguna Amarga)
  • Switch buses to go to Puedeto
  • Take the ferry to Paine Grande ($25,000)
  • Hike to Grey (11km) and hike back to Paine Grande (11km)
  • Hike from Paine Grande to Mirador Britanico (13km)
  • From Mirador Britanico, hike to Cuernos (10km)
  • Hike from Cuernos to Chileno
  • Wake up early hike from Chileno to Mirador Torres del Paine
  • After spending time at the mirador, hike down to Torres Central and the Welcome Center
  • Purchase a ticket back to the park entrance ($5,000)
  • Take the bus back to Puerto Natales

our first views of Torres during our W Trek in Patagonia

Things to Bring

Patagonia is known for its huge mood swings of weather, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. It’s what makes this area unique. But it’s a good idea to come prepared.

During the peak season, between December and February, there will be warm, cold, and rainy weather. Here are some things I suggest bringing.

  • Hiking Boots
  • Grayl Water Filter
  • Insect Rep ellent
  • Patagonia Down Sweater

Do I have to Purchase a Camping Spot in Torres Del Paine?

Unfortunately, you can’t simply show up in Torres del Paine and expect to camp for free if you have your own gear. I’ve heard many stories of other travelers not doing their research and showing up with no purchased camping spot.

A few companies own these camping spots on the W Trek in Patagonia.

  • For tents/camping spots/beds at Paine Grande, you must book a spot through Vertice Travel .
  • If you’re looking to stay the night at Cuernos, Torres Central/Norte, or Chileno, you must book through Las Torres .

How Far in Advance to Book?

Hiking in Torres del Paine National Park is one of Chile’s most popular activities. This might seem obvious to some but what isn’t so obvious is how early you must book your reservation.

From experience, my girlfriend and I tried booking in early October for late November. There were spots, but many were limited, and not everything was available in three straight days.

We ended up booking our reservations for the park for the middle of December. I’d suggest booking your reservations for Torres del Paine at least two months in advance, if not further.

You don’t need to purchase the ferry ticket in advance as this can only be bought in person with cash.

w trek itinerary west to east

Entrance Fee

Unlike when doing hikes like Laguna de los Tres in El Chalten , there is an entrance fee for Torres del Paine National Park.

You can purchase the entrance tickets here . They are currently $12,000 for a 3-day or more pass.

You must download the QR code before getting on the bus, as there will be no signal once you get to the park.

How Many Days Does it Take to Hike the W Trek in Patagonia?

The days it takes to hike the W Trek in Patagonia will depend on your fitness level and if you want to take your time.

We did this trek in 3 nights and 4 days. This is the shortest time I’d ever suggest, even if you’re a fantastic hiker.

My suggestion would be to do 4 nights and 5 days. This will give you ample time to relax at the beautiful refugios and take it all in without feeling rushed.

w trek patagonia

Camping vs. Refugios

The amazing thing about this trek is that you have multiple options for your sleeping arrangements, depending on your budget.

We rented a tent and slept in the Refugio. On night one, we rented a tent with a mat, and it was honestly more comfortable than I thought it’d be!

For night two, we slept in a dorm room at the Refugio. This wasn’t too bad, but the price was almost triple that of renting a tent the previous night.

We were exhausted and wanted a good night’s sleep. We got that.

For the third night, we slept in another tent but it was large and elevated. I loved these! These were at Chileno Refuge next to Mirador Torres.

The main pros & cons for renting a tent or sleeping in the Refugio are money and if you can’t sleep well in a tent.

I’ll go over the prices of everything next.

w trek itinerary west to east

How Much Does the W Trek Cost?

Hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine is expensive. Especially when compared to other places in Patagonia like Bariloche and El Chalten .

But there’s ways to make this experience cheaper like bringing our own food and camping gear.

Overview (per person) : Our Costs

  • This price includes mats & sleeping pads for both nights we camped.
  • This price is mainly from buying dinner on nights 2 & 3. We packed our food for every breakfast and lunch.
  • Tickets (Bus + Ferry + Entrance) : 61,000 Chilean Pesos or $62 USD
  • Total Cost Per Person : $537 USD

Food Costs :

  • Breakfast = $25
  • Lunch/Box Lunch = $25
  • Dinner = $40
  • Full Board = $80
  • Breakfast = $28
  • Box Lunch = $30
  • Lunch = $50
  • Dinner = $50
  • Full Board (Breakfast/Box Lunch/Dinner) = $100
  • Half Board (Breakfast & Dinner) = $70
  • Same price as Cuernos because they are the same company.

Campsite/Refugio

  • Campsite (with own equipment) = $13
  • Simple Bed = $65
  • Bed w/ Bedding = $100
  • Premium Campsite w/ Everything = $190 single/$220 double
  • Single Bed = $144
  • Premium Tent = $200 single/$288 double

w trek itinerary west to east

Which Direction is the Best for the W Trek?

This is one of the most asked questions about the W Trek in Patagonia. For me, it was quite simple.

I wanted to end this amazing adventure at the best view in the park, Mirador Torres.

Going from East to West might make more sense if you want to explore Lago Grey and do activities such as kayaking and ice trekking.

I personally loved going from West to East, and I’ll tell everyone to do this same route every time.

W Trek Patagonia Map

w trek itinerary west to east

Credit goes to the Torres del Paine Website . There’s a lot of maps out there if you want something better.

How to Make Campsite/Refugio Bookings in Torres del Paine

I mentioned this earlier, but there are two separate websites you must book your accommodation through before arriving.

If you plan on taking the same route we did and going from West to East, you’ll stay at Paine Grande, Cuernos, and finally, Chileno.

Below are the websites to book each night’s stay.

  • Paine Gr a nde

W Trek vs O-Trek in Patagonia

You will hear many people humbly bragging about completing the O-trek, and as they should. It’s definitely difficult, even compared to the W Trek!

The O-trek is much longer and less commercialized in the upper sections. You create a strong bond with everyone who completes it with you.

We did the W Trek because we were short on time and didn’t have our own gear. This meant the trip would be more expensive than we could budget.

w trek itinerary west to east

Is the W Trek Difficult?

Some might not agree, but the W Trek is difficult. You should only attempt it if you’re in decent hiking shape.

If you’re flying into Santiago first before completing this, there’s a hike called Cerro Manquehue . It’s one of the best views in all of Santiago!

W Trek in Patagonia Hiking Details

  • Distance:  This hike is a 45.5-mile point-to-point.
  • Duration: On average, it will take people 4 days to go up and back down. This depends on your fitness level and which route you take.
  • Difficulty:  I’d rank this hike as hard because of the amount of time it takes and the elevation gain.
  • Incline : The elevation for this hike is around 9,917 feet or 3022 meters.
  • Hiking Guide:  A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public

Best Places to Stay in Puerto Natales

  • Yogan House : This is the hostel we stayed at but it felt more like a really nice B&B. The rooms were amazing and it was by far the best breakfast I’ve ever had in South America.
  • Vinnhaus : If you’re looking for a stunning, centrally located hotel, this is it. There’s nothing bad I can say about this place. It honestly should cost more.
  • Hostal Boutique Factoria Patagonia : Looking for a cabin like experience in Puerto Natales? Then look no further than this spectacular Boutique hotel!

w trek itinerary west to east

My Experience Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia

Hiking the W Trek was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I met new people and made new friends, all while taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. It was priceless.

The first day was honestly one of the longest, if not the longest. We started by waking up at 6 a.m. and getting a ride to the bus station.

We took the earliest bus because we knew the day would be long. It was quite relaxing, actually, and most of the people on the bus slept.

Things started getting confusing when we arrived at the entrance two hours later. We were told to switch buses but different people kept telling us different buses.

Eventually, we found the right bus, and we were headed another 30 minutes to Pudeto.

We arrived at the dock, bought a cafe late, and waited for the ferry to arrive. You’ll pay the ferry in cash (25,000 CLP).

Once we arrived at Paine Grande, we unpacked, ate lunch and headed to see Lago Grey! We should have stayed the night here and then hiked in the morning because it was already late and we’ve been moving for quite some time now.

You can stop in different spots; you don’t have to go the entire way.

When we finally returned to Paine Grande, we cooked our dinner and immediately went to sleep.

w trek itinerary west to east

The next day was another long one. All of these days were going to be quite long but the first two were the longest.

We woke up, ate breakfast and hit the trail. Our first goal was to reach Mirador Britanico and then end at Cuernos.

The hike up to this mirador is steep and adds on a lot of mileage. I don’t think going all the way to the top is worth it. Instead, you can go halfway where the views are better and go back down. It’s stunning.

There’s a refugio here, and you can leave your bags at the bottom to hike up since you’ll be coming back down.

From here, we headed to Cuernos, where we then enjoyed a nice salmon meal and a couple of beers and relaxed.

Along this trail to Cuernos, you’ll go along a beach with black and white pebbles. It was raining and the feeling was surreal.

mirador frances during the w trek in patagonia

This was the shorter day and I was excited for that. We woke up, ate breakfast, and once again got on the trail early.

The trail was relatively flat for the early section until you met back up with the trail to Chileno from Torres Central.

This part became very steep but once we reached the top, you could see the refugio. We arrived early enough to have a couple beers, take a nap, shower, all before dinner.

After dinner, we washed up and went to bed early because the next day was going to be the best of them all.

w trek itinerary west to east

Day 4: The Final Day

This was it. This is what we’ve been waiting for. We woke up around 6am, ate a quick breakfast, and got on the trail.

We were actually late to the party as a lot of people who stay at Chileno end up going there for sunrise. I think there was more people there for sunrise then when we arrived around 9am.

The trail was easy at first but became steep and sometimes hard to follow. But once you make it, you’ll know.

I couldn’t stop staring at her. Torres was something from a storytale, and I didn’t want to leave.

We spent around an hour here taking photos and eating snacks before we headed down. As we started to descend, large groups were going up.

After resting at Chileno, we headed back towards Torres Central and the Welcome Center. We bought a shuttle ticket back to the entrance and that was it.

Just like that, it was over.

Mirador Torres Trail during the w trek in patagonia

Final Thoughts

I’ll be back. I told myself I needed to complete the O-trek, and I will. This hike wasn’t only about reaching Torres but everything in between, from making new friends to exploring a totally different part of the world. Patagonia is magical, and everyone should be able to explore this area one day.

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Everything You Need to Know for Hiking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park

  • Last Updated March 17, 2024
  • Chile , South-America

Rising almost 2000m from the Patagonian steppe, the jagged granite spires of Torres Del Paine dominate this region of Chile and make for one of the most jaw-dropping sights in South America. This Unesco Biosphere reserve is one of the finest national parks in the world, covering 181,000 hectares of turquoise lagoons, glacier-fed waterfalls and verdant forest.

However, It’s Torres Del Paines rocky peaks that draw most visitors to the park. The three sheer peaks of Los Torres and the unmistakable outline of Los Cuernos are almost a pilgrimage site for hikers from around the world who flock here to walk the famous ‘W’.

w trek itinerary west to east

Getting to Torres Del Paine from Puerto Natales

During the high season from October to April, 5 different bus companies provide daily trips from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine, stopping first at Laguna Amargh (2hr journey) where you will have to hop of the bus to pay your park entry fee (CH$25,000 for foreigners or CH$35,000 if staying for more than 3 days as of Jan 1 2020; note that this can also be paid at the bus station in Puerto Natales), then onwards to Pudeto (3hrs) where you will leave the bus if you are catching the catamaran to Paine Grande, before finally reaching the administration building (4hrs 15).

Return tickets between the park and Puerto Natales cost CH$15,000. During the high season between September and April, the buses leave Puerto Natales at 7am, 7.30am and 2.30pm, getting to Laguna Amarga at 9am, 9:30am. and 4.45pm respectively and Pudeto at 10:00am, 10.30am and 5.30pm. For the return leg of the journey, buses pick up from Pudeto at 1pm, 1.30pm and 7pm and from Laguna Amarga at 2pm, 2.30pm, 7.45pm each day.

Check Bus prices and availability to Torres Del Paine

It is worth noting that between the park’s busiest months, Bus Sur also run a 6.40am service that reaches Pudeto at 8.45am, in time for the first catamaran of the day.

What is the W Trek?

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 Cuernos. 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  

With a route of 80km (50 miles) the W is moderately difficult, mostly on gentle terrain but with the occasional climb up to 800m. With that in mind, you don’t necessarily have to be an experienced hiker, but it helps to be reasonably fit, especially as you will be hiking with a backpack, sometimes for up to 8 hours in a day.   

w trek itinerary west to east

When is the Best Time to Hike the W?

Accommodation on the w trek.

You have two options of where to stay while hiking the W: In a refugio or on a campsite. Deciding which is best for you is generally a toss-up between ease and cost. While refugios offer an extra level of comfort, they can be much more expensive than camping.

A refugio is basically rustic hostel-meets-hotel and they are dotted around all the major stopping points on the trek. They’re open year-round and have dorm-style rooms, shared bathroom facilities with hot showers and a basic, on-site restaurant/canteen and bar. The rooms are generally warm and clean with comfortable beds and the refugios themselves often have open and sociable communal areas where you can relax in front of a roaring fire after a hard day of hiking.

There is also the added bonus of not having to haul camping equipment, bedding (although I recommend bringing your own sleeping bag to avoid the extra rental cost at the refugios), and food with you throughout your trek. All refugios provide meals on a full-board (breakfast, dinner, & a packed lunch), half-board (breakfast and dinner) or meal-by-meal basis. The food is expensive, even by Patagonian standards, so there is the option of using the refugios kitchen to cook your own food if you wish.

Most refugios also have campsites with separate facilities if you would prefer to camp out of the main building.

interior common room of refugio grey, torres del paine

If you prefer a wilder experience in which you get to sleep under the stars and stare at the park’s incredible views through your doorway, you can camp at certain points along the W Trek’s trail. At refugio campsites you have the option of sleeping in pre-erected tents, meaning you don’t need to carry your own equipment. Sleeping mats and warm sleeping bags are available to rent (although I would recommend bringing your own as they don’t add much extra weight) to keep you cosy. As these campsites are often on the grounds of nearby refugios, you have access to toilets, warm showers, and the communal spaces of the refugios where you can enjoy a hot meal or cook your own dinner.

There is also a free campsite at Italiano, run by the National Park authority (CONAF). You will need to bring your own tent and facilities are a little basic, but they do have on-site toilets, running water and a cooking shelter. Note: You still have to book this free campsite in advance.

BOOKING YOUR ACCOMODATION

With Torres Del Paine being one of Chile’s most popular attractions and the W-trek being the most desirable hiking routes on the South American continent, it’s safe to say that booking your accommodation in advance – even up to 2 months in advance during the high season – is essential. All refugios and campsites can be booked online but to complicate matters slightly, there are 3 different companies that you will potentially have to use, depending which camping spots you choose: CONAF, Vertice Patagonia, and Fantastico Sur.

To check which campsites you will need to book, check out my hiking itinerary lower down this page.

Fantastic Sur  run Chileno, Frances, Los Cuernos and Las Torres and their  booking site can be found here . The booking system is fairly simple. You just select your dates and then choose whether you would like to camp or stay in a dorm room using the drop-down boxes. After this, you can add additional extras such as sleeping bags and mats, full-board, half-board, or sperate meals. If you have any issues with the booking, you can email them at [email protected] or drop into their office in Puerto Natales.

Vertice Patagonia  run both Paine Grande and Grey. Their  booking site can be found here . The process for booking with Vertice is slightly different from the one for booking with Fantastico Sur. First, you will need to select the number of people, set your nationality to ‘another’ if you are not Chilean, and the currency to US dollars. On the next page, you will select the W-trek option and then on the following page, you can choose which accommodation you would like to book. If you follow my itinerary below, you will need to select the Grey and Paine Grande option, however, there are multiple combinations as well as the ability to book each one separately. If you have any issues, you can contact them at [email protected] .

The only free campsite on the trek route is Italiano, managed and maintained by the National Park authority (CONAF). Although the site is free, you still need to make a booking in advance via the  CONAF booking site . Make sure to print out your reservation and bring it with you.

What Equipment do you need?

If you plan on spending as little money as possible when hiking the W, you will need to bring plenty of camping equipment to avoid having to rent it at the refugio campsites. However, if you choose to stay in the dorm rooms or pre-erected tents, you will obviously avoid having to bring your own tent. I still recommend carrying a sleeping mat and sleeping bag as otherwise, you will have to pay to rent these each night despite forking out for a pre-erected camping spot.

Please remember that whatever you pack you will have to carry with you on your back for up to 7 hours a day so try to pack as lightly as possible.

Camping Essentials : Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, small camping stove and gas canisters, a lightweight set of pans and cutlery, a bowl and a mug.

The weather is incredibly changeable in Patagonia, meaning that you can encounter almost every possible combination of sun, rain and snow that nature can throw at you over the course of just one day. I’m not joking: on one day of my hike, I went from hiking in shorts and a t-shirt in glorious sunshine to having to navigate my way through a blizzard wearing as many layers as possible. Even on a bright clear day, the winds can reach up to 100km/h.

The key to surviving Torres Del Paine’s climate it layering. Try to pack a mix of thin under-layers and warmer, insulated outer layers.

Clothing Essentials : Zip-off convertible hiking trousers x 2, t shirts x 5, warm jumper, fleece jacket, waterproof jacket, hiking socks x 5, underwear x 5, hiking leggings or long johns, gloves, a warm hat, scarf and a lightweight travel towel.

Hiking Essentials : Good quality walking boots, hiking poles, a 50 – 60 litre rucksack for your main gear, a 15 litre daypack, headlamp or torch, and a water bottle.

Additional Items : Sunglasses, suncream, phone, phone charger and universal adapter, padlocks, compact first aid kit, toiletries, and a good camera.

If you are spending an extended length of time travelling around Patagonia or the South American continent, it’s understandable that you may not want to carry a full range of camping equipment with you for your entire trip and will have to get some when you reach Torres Del Paine. If this is the case, you have 3 options: Buy equipment; Rent equipment in Puerto Natales; Or rent equipment at each campsite in the park.

As Puerto Natales is heavily tourist-focused and you should have no problem finding all of the equipment that you need in the myriad hiking and camping shops. However, for high-ticket items such as tents and sleeping bags, you may be better off purchasing them in Punta Arenas (if you have come from southern Patagonia) as the city’s duty-free status reduces the prices significantly.

I chose to rent all of the equipment that I needed from  Erratic Rock  in Puerto Natales. Not only is this a fantastic hostel, but they also host a daily seminar, nicknamed the 3 o’clock talk. You can join their expert guides each day at 3pm for a cup of coffee and seminar that covers everything you need to know about Torres Del Paine. This includes current weather conditions, accommodation, equipment, trail routes and transportation.

Erratic rock don’t allow reservations on gear and so operate on a first-come-first-serve basis, so you may just have to hope that they have everything you need. Their prices are below and listed as Chilean pesos per day.

Sleeping bag – CH$3000; Sleeping mat – CH$1500; Trekking poles x 2 – CH$3500; Waterproof jacket – CH$3000; Backpacks – CH$4000; Down Jackets – CH$2500; Gloves – CH$1500; Headlamp – CH$1500; Cooking kits for 3 people (Stove, bowls, cups, cooking pot, & water bottle) – CH$4000

w trek itinerary west to east

Food on the Trek

Although a hot meal at the end of a hard day of hiking may sound tempting, food in refugios can be incredibly expensive, even by Patagonian standards. They are generally set menus and can be pre-booked online when booking accommodation. Many of the refugios do have shops where you can buy basic food supplies such as rice, pasta and sauces as well as snacks but the prices of these are also inflated.

I recommend bringing enough food for the entire trek, packing plenty of non-perishable items that are easy to carry and cook such as rice, pasta and cans/jars of sauces. Noodles, powdered soups and pasta pots will go a long way to keep you fed and energised throughout the hike. Cured meats or sausages also make a great addition to liven up the meal slightly.

For breakfast, bring some sachets of quick-cook porridge and instant coffee. You will not need to bring any bottles of water with you as you can re-fill bottles in the park’s rivers and streams or at the refugios.

Note: You are only able to use stoves at certain spots within camp sites. If you think you will need a warm coffee or tea while hiking, boil water in a morning and take an insulated flask with you.

Meal Costs at Refugios and Campsites

Mirador las torres is torres del paine national park,patagonia

What Route Should You Take?

The W Trek can be walked in two directions; from east to west, starting at Refugio Las Torres and ending at Refugio Paine Grande; or from west to east, starting with the catamaran ride across lago Pehoe and ending with a spectacular view of the morning light bouncing off the spires of Las Torres at sunrise.

The hike from west to east is the most popular as it offers superior views and ends at the park’s most iconic viewpoint.

ITINERARY OVERVIEW

5 days / 4 night itinerary for the w trek in torres del paine.

Day 1 : Puerto Natales to Grey Day 2 : Grey to Paine Grande Day 3 : Paine Grande to Frances/Los Cuernos Day 4 : Frances to Chileno Day 5 : Chileno, La Torres and back to Puerto Natales

DAY 1 ITINERARY

Puerto natales to grey.

Distance : 11km/6.8 miles Time : 3 – 4 hours

7am : Take the bus from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine National Park. You will have to hop off the bus at the park entrance to pay the entry fee (CH$35,000) but try to hop off quickly to get to the front of the queue and pay quicky as you will need to re-board the bus in order to get to the next stop.

10am : You should arrive at Pudeto sometime between 10am and 10.30am giving you enough time to head to the ferry office and buy a ticket for the boat ride over to Paine Grande. The ferry is operated by Hielos Patagonicos and costs CH$18,000 one-way. If you have enough time before departure, you may be able to visit Salto Chico waterfall but if not, the boat ride in itself offers spectacular views of the Cuernos del Paine’s horn-shaped peaks. The usually leaves around 11am but timetables can change depending on the weather conditions.

You should arrive at Paine Grande between 11.30am and 11.40am and from here you will begin your first day of trekking.

w trek itinerary west to east

If you want to Hike the W in 4 Days / 3 Nights...

It is possible to do the hike in one day less by hiking from Paine Grande up to Glacier Grey and back in one day, but this will mean a long day trekking 22km. You will be able to set up camp in Paine Grande before beginning your hike and just take your daypacks with you – just be sure to take any valuables. Upon reaching the Grey Campsite, you will be continuing along a short trail path to the first rocky outcrop with a spectacular view across Lago Grey to the glacier. This viewpoint is only around 1km from the campsite but as the path between Grey and Paine Grande closes at 4pm (you are not allowed to begin your hike after this time), you won’t really have time to hike further north to any of the other viewpoints.

The entire hike will take around 6 hours and with the time spent admiring the glacier, you will probably arrive back at Paine Grande between 6pm and 7pm, ready for the next day of hiking (day 3 in this itinerary).

From the pier at Paine Grande, the clearly marked path initially leads north through scrubland before meandering into Quebrada de Los Vientos, the windy gorge, after an hour or so (I can confirm that it was very windy when I hiked this path). From here you will catch your first glimpse of Lago Grey with enormous chunks of pale blue ice bobbing in its water with the glacier itself peeking out behind the almost black shape of La Isla Nunatak.

Continuing the walk alongside the lake, you will enter an eerily silent lenga wood. Part of this area was badly damaged by the forest fire that sadly ran rampant through the park on 27th December 2011. The devastating fire only affected 7% (about 40,000 acres) of the park’s area but went on for nine days before it was finally extinguished by the fire brigade. Unfortunately, some of the affected vegetation will take 200 years to reach maturity again, but the charred, contorted remains of the trees do add a haunting, melancholic beauty to the area.

You should arrive at Refugio y Camping Grey around 3 or 4pm, giving you chance to set up your tent before cooking dinner if you have opted to camp, or relax with a well-earned coffee or glass of wine if you have pre-booked a dorm room and dinner. While it is still light, you may want to take the small trail that forks off from the main path and head over to the glacier viewpoint on the shore of Lago Grey (1km walk).

DAY 2 ITINERARY

Grey to paine grande.

Distance : 19km/11.8 miles Time : 7 hours

Starting your hike at 8am, you will head north from Grey, towards the viewpoints that overlook Glacier Grey. You can leave the majority of your equipment and gear at the campsite or refugio as and just take your daypack and valuables as you will be looping back to Grey again on your way towards Paine Grande.

Walking alongside Lago Grey, you will eventually reach a series of rope bridges suspended over gorges that offer spectacular views of the Glacier and, on a clear day, the entire ice field. The icy ramparts tower as high as 100m in some places and the glacier stretched the entire 6-mile breadth of the lagoon, grey in both name and colour, only brightened by the shimmering turquoise of the glacier and the bobbing icebergs that navigate its waters.

This section of the hike is around 3.5km each way, meaning that you should arrive back at Grey before lunch, just in time to retrace your steps from the previous day and walk the 11km trail back to Paine Grande.

w trek itinerary west to east

DAY 3 ITINERARY

Paine grande to frances or los cuernos.

Distance : 20.5km/12.7 miles Time : 7.5 hours

Leaving Paine Grande at around 8am, you will begin a 2-hour walk eastbound along the scrubland bordering Lago Pehoe, before catching a glimpse of the blue waters of Lago Skottsberg with the towering 3000m peak of the Paine Grande massif on your left-hand side. After around 2.5 hours and crossing a wobbly bridge, you will reach Italiano, a free campsite where you can leave your bags with the ranger before continuing the hike.

The steep path leading up Valle Frances, the middle section of the W, can either be a breeze of a slog, depending on the weather conditions but the 1-hour section leading to Mirador Frances isn’t too challenging no matter the weather. Here you will find spectacular views of Glacier Frances and Glacier Los Perros and it is the perfect point to stop for a quick lunch beside the turbulent Rio del Frances. On my W-Trek, this is the point I had to stop my journey up Valle Frances: blizzard-like conditions had left me freezing cold and the trail had become dangerous so I had to turn around.

Terrible weather isn’t uncommon in this section of the park, but if you have a clear day, continue onwards through the woods towards Mirador Britanico. It is an additional 3.5km/1.5 hours each way but the lookout is one of the best in Torres del Paine, giving you a close-up view of Los Cuernos. Ensure you have hiking poles as the steep walk down can be a little treacherous.

If you are staying at Campamento Italiano, you can set up for the eveing and relax, otherwise, it is another 30-minute walk along the shore of Lago Nordenskjold to Frances. If you feel like you will have the energy to do it, you can book to stay in Refugio y Camping Los Cuernos, a further 2-hour hike along Lago Nordenskjold. This will make your walk on day 4 significantly shorter and they even have double cabins available if you fancy a quiet night away from a dorm.

DAY 4 ITINERARY

Frances to chileno.

Distance : 17km/10.6 miles Time : 5 hours

If you are staying at Italianos or Frances, you will need to start your penultimate day of hiking at 8am. If you have opted to stay at Los Cuernos, you can treat yourself to a well-deserved lie-in, leaving the refugio at 10am to begin your walk.

The hike begings with a long, meandering walk along the lake through hilly scrubland and across small glacial streams before you turn northwards into Valle y Rio Ascencio for the uphill, 2-hour slog to Chileno. You will have an early start the next morning in order to see the towers of Mirador Las Torres at sunrise, so ensure that you get an early night

DAY 5 ITINERARY

Chileno to las torres & back to puerto natales.

Distance : 13km/8 miles Time : 6 hours

To see the sunrise at the famous Mirador Las Torres, you will have to wake up well before dawn at around 4.30 to begin your walk pre-5am. Just take a small bag of warm clothes and food, as well as a headtorch, for the steep 2-and-a-half-hour ascent to the towers alongside the Rio Ascendio. The final part of the climb is a 1-hour long scramble across boulders and rocks, emerging in front of the magnificent Torres, their peaks reflecting in in the still waters of Laguna Torres. When I visited in March, sunrise was at 7.30am.

Mirador Torres in Torres Del Pain national Park at sunrise

If you feel up to it, you can hike further north through the aptly named Valle de Silenco (1 hour each way) to the little-visited Mirador Japones, otherwise, the hike back to Chileno to collect your backpacks and equipment is a little easier than the morning’s ascent, taking just 1.5 to 2 hours.

The W Trek ends with the walk back down Valle Ascencio to Hotel Las Torres (2 hours; 5.5km). From here, you can either catch 2pm shuttlebus (CH$5000) to Laguna Armarga in order to board the 2.30pm bus back to Puerto Natales or walk the extra 1.5 hours to Laguna Amarga Ranger Station yourself just make sure you arrive in time to get one of the buses.

Alternatives to Hiking the W

For more experienced hikers, the O-Circuit is a challenging seven to ten-day hike that includes the entirety of the W, with the addition of a trail that leads walkers further north, around the back-side of the Torres. This allows you to catch glimpses of the park’s much-quieter outer reaches as well as have bragging rights over anyone that has hiked the W.

While the circuit starts and ends at Paine Grande, some people decide to stay on the shuttle bus past Lake Pehoe until it reaches the Park Administration building, adding a scenic 5-hour walk onto the circuit, which is called doing a Q.

If a multiday trek isn’t for you, each of the W’s sections can be split into day hikes while staying over night at some of  Torres Del Paine’s luxury lodges  or eco accommodation spots.

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Dave McClane

w trek itinerary west to east

David McClane is a photographer and travel writer based in Leeds, UK. Since first picking up a camera on a yearlong journey through Central and South America in 2014/2015, He has carefully documented his travels through almost 50 countries.

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2 responses.

Hello David, thanks a lot for posting about your Patagonia W Trek trip. I found it very helpful as my wife and me are preparing to visit the trek in October this year. I have one question on the routing: Is it possible to start the hike at the “left top” of the W near Refugio Grey? On your map it looks like there is a boat trip available to get there. It would enable us to not walk the same way twice between Grey and Paine Grande. Thanks a lot in advance, Best Nils

Hi Nils. I’m glad that you found the post helpful! As far as I am aware, you can only take the boat across to Paine Grande, meaning you will have to hike the section between there and Refugio Grey in both directions (at least this is what I had to do). I think the boat trip shown on the map doesn’t actually stop near Glacier Grey.

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w trek itinerary west to east

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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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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Explore With Wine

5-Day W Trek Guide | Torres del Paine National Park

  • South America

W Trek is one of the most popular multi-day treks in the world and gets its name from the shape of the trail. The beauty and ruggedness of Patagonia attracts visitors from all over the world. Due to its popularity, booking accommodations has become harder and harder.

5-Day W Trek in Torres del Paine can be hiked in East to West or West to East direction. It is a well-marked trail where a guide is not necessary but using a tour company to book the accommodations and all the meals may be worth the investment.

Where is Torres del Paine National Park?

Torres del Paine is a national park in Chile, Patagonia. It is accessible by bus or car from either Puerto Natales, Chile or El Calafate, Argentina.

Things to do in El Calafate

To get to Puerto Natales you can either fly directly from Santiago or fly to Punta Arenas and take a 3-hour bus ride to Puerto Natales. The main reason to fly to Punta Arenas is there are more flight options from Santiago, and if you have an extra day to spare you can take an excursion out of Punta Arenas to see the penguins. From Santiago, there is only one flight to Puerto Natales at 5:55 am.

To get to El Calafate take a flight from Buenos Aires. From El Calafate, it is approximately a 3-hour drive to Torres del Paine.

There is public and private transportation from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine. However, from El Calafate, all the transportation to the park is private and must be scheduled beforehand.

When to do W Trek In Torres del Paine National Park?

Torres del Paine National Park is open year-long. However, the refugios, their services, ferries, and other park services are only available from September to April.

Using a Tour Company Vs Booking Yourself

If you are a person who likes to plan and book a trip like this a year in advance and are ok with carrying your tent, sleeping bag, and backup food it is probably better and cheaper if you book everything yourself for the W Trek. The refugios are operated by two different companies Las Torres Patagonia (Fantastico Sur) and Vertices Travel .

If you are more like us and don’t plan too far in advance and like to minimize the number of things to carry with you, then using a tour company to book everything for you is probably a better choice. We used Chile Tour Patagonia . It worked well for us without any issues but some other people in the group had a few minor hiccups.

The Classic W Trek option with Chile Tour Patagonia offers accommodations the night before the trek and the night after with dinner on both nights. It follows the East to West trail, and it includes refugio accommodations every night, hot breakfast and dinner and boxed lunch for every day, and ferry and bus tickets.

With the tour, guides hike with you on the first day to the towers and after that, you hike at your own pace on your schedule. We had a large group with a large age span and it was fun to hang out together in the evenings and share our experiences of the day.

w trek itinerary west to east

East to West vs. West to East

W Trek can be done either East to West or West to East. It really is a personal choice of how you’d like to do it.

Going East to West, the hardest day is on the first day, the hike to the towers. It is also the most iconic view of the hike.

Going West to East you start at Glacier Grey and the last day is the hardest day of the hike. I also felt, like going East to West you are hiking with the best views in front of you whereas the other way around those views would be behind you.

Patagonia Hikes

How hard is W Trek in Torres del Paine

I would consider W Trek as a moderate hike. It has some difficult parts but also very easy parts. The weather conditions play a big part here and can impact difficulty significantly, mainly high winds. But if you are in good condition and frequently hike W Trek would not be that difficult for you.

We have done a few different multi-day hikes around the world, TMB , Slakantay Trek , and Colca Canyon Trek , and all three of these were more difficult due to elevation, distance or altitude.

W Trek Day 1 – Hike to the Towers

The day starts with the shuttle transfer to the park. The drive is about 1.5 hours and you will most likely see Guanacos, Red Foxes, Ostriches, and other wildlife during this drive (same if using a public bus). You need to purchase a park entrance ticket online before the start of the trek and present the QR code at the park entrance. The park entrance is also where you can use bathroom facilities before starting the hike.

The trailhead is by the Las Torres Hotel, another location where they may allow you to use the restroom. We were able to leave our stuff in the shuttle and only carry a day pack on today’s hike.

After a short walk, the trail starts going uphill, with minimal tree coverage and on a sunny day it can get really hot. It takes about 3 miles to arrive at Chileno Refugio. At Chileno, you can take a break, grab a snack, refill the water, and use the restroom. From Chileno, the trail goes through the forest for approximately 2 miles. Once out of the forest, the hardest part starts.

W Trek

It is a steep climb, with switchbacks and scrambling over the rocks all the way to the towers. The last part is over 1200 ft, elevation gain in less than a mile. Once on top, on a clear day, you will be rewarded with one of the most iconic views in the world. Expect crowds on this hike.

w trek itinerary west to east

The way down is exactly the same.

OPTIONS: There are three accommodation options for this part of the hike. Las Torres Hotel and Refugio Torre Central are close to the trailhead, and you can leave your 5-day pack there and just carry your day bag with you to the base of the Tower. Or if staying at Refugio Chileno, you can leave your pack thereafter a 3-mile hike up.
TIP: From Chileno, the trail to the towers usually closes at 5 pm, but because we did this hike on Christmas Eve it closed at 2 pm and a lot of people got left out. I’d recommend checking in at the welcome center before starting the hike.

W Trek Day 1 Stats

Distance: 11.33 mi Elevation: 4015 ft Facilities: Park Entrance, Chileno Refugio and WC on the Trail Accommodations: Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Chileno, Hotel Las Torres

W Trek

W Trek Day 2 – Cuernos Sector

Today is the first day you will carry your full pack with you, and it makes a difference.

From Refugio Torre Central the trail to the Torres and Cuernos sector starts together and after about a mile in it parts ways. Once on the Cuernos sector the crowds disappear and it becomes a much quieter walk.

It is an easy hike to the first pass where you get a first glimpse of Nordenskjöld Lake and snowcapped mountains in the distance. From this point on the views never stop.

W Trek

Maybe because we had a cloudless day of hiking, this was the most scenic hike on the W Trek. The hike is mainly walking by the lake with breathtaking beauty all around you and views of Cuernos and Glacier Frances. Yes, the view of the Towers steals the best view but during the hike, there is not that much to see going up, on Day 2 the views never stop.

W Trek

Be aware that Glacier Frances breaks off frequently which sounds like thunder.

We stayed at the Domos Frances.

W Trek Day 2 Stats

Distance: 10.76 mi Elevation: 1932 ft Facilities: Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Cuernos & Refugio Frances Accommodations: Refugio Cuernos, Domos Frances and Refugio Italiano and campsites

W Trek Day 3 – Paine Grande Sector

Day 3 hike can be as hard or as easy as you would like it to be. The main objective is to make your way to Paine Grande Refugio. You have the option to hike via viewpoint Frances and then Viewpoint Britanico while leaving your stuff at Refugio Italiano.

For us, the weather turned overnight. The clouds rolled in, it started raining and the wind picked up. We decided that we will go up to Frances viewpoint and then decide if we want to continue to Britanico. Left our stuff at Italiano and hiked up but the weather wasn’t cooperating, so we turned around a little after we passed Frances viewpoint.

By the time we returned to Italiano, the park ranger closed the trail to go to Frances or Britanico due to unfavorable conditions. The trail is steep and rocky and it got slick with the rain.

From Italiano it is 4.6 miles to Paine Grande. Luckily rain eventually stopped but the wind kept picking up. We spotted a few little tornados in the Skottsberg Lake while hiking next to it.

The only accommodations here are at Paine Grande, either the refugio or the campsite. This is where the Lago Pehoe ferry runs to and from to take you back to the bus stop.

PRO TIP: The Lago Pehoe ferry is a lot more reliable and operates in unfavorable conditions where the ferry on Lago Grey gets canceled more frequently. Which turned out to be the exact case when we were returning.

We stayed the night at the Paine Grande Refugio.

W Trek Day 3 Stats

Distance: 8.95 mi Elevation: 2615 ft Facilities: Frances, Italiano & Paine Grande Accommodations: Paine Grande Refugio and Campsites

Day 4 – Grey Sector

This is the windiest part of the hike and winds in Patagonia are no joke. The hike starts from Paine Grande valley up to the pass and then back down to Refugio Gray.

Coming across the pass we experienced extreme winds, rain, and hail. The weather conditions are what makes this hike hard. The hike from Paine Grande to Gray Refugio is approximately 7 miles with little over 2000 ft elevation gain. On paper, an easy hike. But add over 50 km/h winds and hail and it becomes a different ball game.

Once at Refugio Gray, you can call it a day or continue hiking to 2 nd hanging bridge (another 4 miles), go kayaking by the glacier, or ice trekking on the glacier. We took a short break and then hiked up to a 2 nd hanging bridge to get better views of the glacier.

Glacier Grey W Trek

Big Foot is an operator that organizes kayaking and ice trekking if interested.

If you are too tired for any of these activities or if the weather is not cooperating, you can do these activities the following day as the hike on Day 5 is hiking back to Paine Grande and taking the Lago Pehoe ferry.

TIP: Instead of walking back to Paine Grande, you can also take Grey Ferry and catch the bus to Puerto Natales. However, due to high winds, this ferry gets canceled very frequently but it is an option on a good day.
PRO TIP: If you are coming back to Paine Grande and taking the ferry Pehoe back, you have the option to leave your big pack here and only carry a day pack with you to Grey. It costs 3000 CLP.

W Trek Day 4 Stats

Distance: 11.4 mi (6.85 miles just to Grey) Elevation: 3400 ft (2080 ft just to Grey) Facilities: Paine Grande and Grey Refugio Accommodations: Refugio Grey and Campsite

W Trek Day 5 – Paine Grande Sector and Ferry

Today’s hike is the same as yesterday’s, it is walking back to Paine Grande. We didn’t think the winds could be worse than the day before, well we were wrong. I strongly recommend using hiking poles here, as they were the only reason helping me stay upright at times.

We started at 6 am to make it back to Paine Grande in time to catch the 9:35 am ferry. There are also 11:05, 17:00 and 18:35 ferries in December. Please look at the end of the post for the ferry schedule by month.

PRO TIP: Lake Pehoe ferry has a limited number of people it can take on (we were told 100) so if you are time-limited, make sure you queue up early enough as the 17:00 and 18:35 ferries get full quickly. The 9:35 am ferry was half empty.

Once on the other side of the lake, you can hop on the bus to Puerto Natales right away (make sure you buy a bus ticket ahead of time BusSur.com ) or you can take a short hike to the Mirador Salto Grande (viewpoint of the waterfalls) and viewpoint of Cuernos.

Los Cuernos W Trek

W Trek Day 5 Stats

Distance: 6.85 mi Elevation: 2080 ft Facilities: Grey and Paine Grande Refugio

Suggestions For the Best Experience On the W Trek

Patagonia is truly unpredictable, and you can experience four seasons in one day so come prepared.

It is important to invest in good quality waterproof clothing. A lot of people we hiked with thought they had waterproof boots or clothing and ended up soaking wet. At the refugios, there are only a few spots with a fire furnace where you can dry your stuff off.

Hiking poles are very helpful, especially during high winds to maintain your balance. If it wasn’t for them, I would have been knocked down a few times.

Sunscreen and bug spray are a must. On sunny days, the sun is intense in Patagonia and bugs are relentless. I left the bug spray behind, thinking no way the bugs are going to be a problem. Why carry the weight? I was wrong.

Torres del Paine National Park does not have any trashcans. Everything you pack in, you will need to pack out. Practice the same standards you do in the US National Parks with Leave No Trace.

All the refugios have water filling stations to refill water as needed.

It is a good practice to carry toilet paper with you, as not all toilets have toilet paper. And in Torres del Paine, and Patagonia in general, do not flush the toilet paper or any other paper products.

Food is not the greatest at the refugios. It’s usually just rice or mashed potatoes with overcooked protein for dinner. The Central Refugio had the best dinner, it was buffet style with a lot more options than other refugios. They do accommodate dietary restrictions and at times it looked like gluten-free options were better than regular food.

Wi-Fi at the refugios is available for purchase. It was 15,200 CLP for 10 hrs. You can share it with others but only one person can use it at a time.

Refugios book up quickly so plan early or have a little more flexibility with your dates and accommodations .

Refugios are not well stocked with products, it depends on their location and how accessible means of transportation are. Paine Grande and Grey Refugio Mini Markets were the best stocked with different food and drink options. Some refugios also offer to rent the towels or store your stuff for a price, usually around 3000 CLP.

There is a lot of flexibility when trekking the W Trek. You can shorten it down to 4 days if Grey Ferry is running, or you can stay at different parts of the park and do day hikes and cover most of the W that way. That’s the beauty of it, you can make it work for you.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Thanks !

The overall experience of hiking the W Trek is unforgettable and a dream come true for most hikers. We had all different kinds of weather. From a very overcast first day, that cleared up just as we hiked up to the towers, a really hot and cloudless second day, an overcast, cold, and rainy third day, and rainy and windy fourth and fifth day.

A lot of people were leaving the trail early due to the weather, but we wanted to finish it no matter what and still got to see a lot more of Torres del Paine’s beauty than expected.

Lago Pehoe Ferry Schedule

The ferry is operated by HipSur and the table with the schedule is below.

Other helpful posts…

Things to Do In and Around El Calafate W Trek Accommodations and The Cost 13-Day Itinerary in Chile 16-Days Itinerary in Argentina Things to Do in Bariloche

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Everything you need to know about the Torres del Paine W Trek

W Trek is the most popular and most celebrated route in Chilean National Park Torres del Paine. Its name comes from the shape the trek draws on the map and it can be completed in 3-5 days . The W Trek is almost 50 miles (80 kilometers) long. It is considered moderately difficult; the total elevation gain is 8,956 feet (2,730 meters), and unlike the O trek, the W trek is open all year . 

However, if you come to Torres del Paine during the winter season, you can only do the W Trek with a guide. You can walk the W Trek in two directions , either from east to west or from west to east. Both options have some pros and cons, but the great thing is that whichever direction you decide to walk, you will not miss any of the breathtaking views.

Torres del Paine W Trek map

How many days do i need for the w trek.

We strongly advise allocating 4 or 5 days , with 3–4 nights spent in campsites or refugios in the Torres del Paine, to fully enjoy everything W Trek has to offer. 

If you don't have much time, you can still complete the W Trek in 3 days. In that case, be prepared for a tough walk and a busy schedule. Alternatively, you could skip some of the sights along the W Trek.

The points of interest along the W Trek

The W Trek takes you to some of Chile's most stunning locations. It usually begins or ends (depending on the hike’s direction) in the Ascencio Valley with the Base Torres lookout , then continues through the famous French Valley (Valle Francés), located in the heart of Torres del Paine, where you can truly appreciate the amazing Patagonian nature. And don't forget about Grey Lake and the Grey Glacier , where you can see massive icebergs falling from the glacier's base.

Torres del Paine Ascencio Valley

Ascencio Valley leads to one of the park's most iconic sights, the Base Torres , also known as Mirador las Torres. The valley is characterized by its dramatic landscape and changing scenery, surrounded by steep, craggy mountains. This part of the trek gets tough due to the steep ascents and rocky terrain.

The Base Torres (Mirador las Torres)

The Base Torres is, without a doubt, the goal of most of the visitors and is also what the park is named after. Once you reach the Base Torres viewpoint, you are rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in the park; three distinct peaks of the Towers of Paine rising above a turquoise glacial lake. 

Torre D'Agostini (also known as the South Tower), Torre Central, and Torre Monzino (also known as the North Tower) stand more than 8,200 feet (2,500 metres) tall.

w trek itinerary west to east

Torres del Paine French Valley

The French Valley (Valle Francés) is one of the highlights of the Torres del Paine. It's situated between the highest peak in the Paine Massif, Cerro Paine Grande, with its hanging French Glacier , and Los Cuernos peaks. The route follows the French River through beech forests to Mirador Francés and Mirador Británico, where you can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.

When planning this portion of the hike, keep in mind that the French Valley route (from Camp Italiano to Mirador Británico) is not open 24 hours a day . Typically, it closes in the afternoon. It means you have to start this portion of the trek before that. The closing time varies, so you may need to check when you arrive at the park.

French Glacier

The French Glacier (Glaciar Francés) is one of the most remarkable features of the French Valley, and it can be observed from certain points along the trail. French Glacier, like many glaciers in Patagonia, is active . This means it regularly calves large chunks of ice into the valley below.

w trek itinerary west to east

Los Cuernos

Los Cuernos, also known as the Horns , is a breathtaking mountain formation known for its horn-shaped granite peaks and multicolored contrast due to the various types of rocks. It can be viewed from several locations along the northeastern shore of Lake Nordenskjöld .

w trek itinerary west to east

Grey Glacier

A massive glacier is one of the most visited sights in the park. It is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and measures about 30 meters high and 6 kilometers wide. It’s located in the western part of the W Trek and can be best observed from several viewpoints. You'll discover the most popular one near Refugio Grey .

w trek itinerary west to east

How to walk the W Trek

This is the eternal question. Is it better to hike the W Trek from west to east or from east to west? In our opinion, it makes little difference . The west-to-east direction is more popular. It also allows you to witness the sunrise at Mirador las Torres (if you spend the night in Chileno). However, if you do not need to go there early in the morning to catch the sunrise, base your decision on logistics and personal preferences.

W Trek West to East

This direction follows the counter-clockwise path from the park's west to the east.

Points to consider

Gradual difficulty : Starting the trek on the west side allows for a more gradual increase in difficulty. In the beginning, the terrain is relatively easy, giving you more time to become accustomed to walking each day.

The best for last : If you consider the Base Torres to be the park's highlight, save this experience for your final day.

Transportation : It’s often easier to start the trek in the west because of the catamaran from Pudeto to Paine Grande. 

W Trek West to East suggested itinerary for 5 days/4 nights

This itinerary should give you an idea of where to make your reservations and the distance on each day, but you can always alter it to suit your needs.

Day 1: Grey

  • Take a bus from Puerto Natales, which departs at 7 AM from the Puerto Natales Bus Terminal. Have your tickets and passports checked at the park's entrance (Laguna Amarga station), where the bus stops. The bus then continues to Pudeto. The website BusSur.com provides an updated bus schedule. We recommend buying bus tickets in advance, either online or at the bus terminal.
  • From Pudeto, take a catamaran across Lake Pehoé to Paine Grande. The catamaran waits for the bus connection, and tickets can be purchased on the spot. Payment is only accepted in cash. The website Hipsur.com provides more information about the catamaran. 
  • From Paine Grande walk to Camping & Refugio Grey.

Total walking distance: 11 kilometers

Day 2: Paine Grande

  • To see the Grey Glacier, walk from Camping and Refugio Grey to Mirador Grey. 
  • Walk to Paine Grande and stay the night.

Total walking distance: 18 kilometers

Day 3: Cuernos/Francés

  • Start trekking from Paine Grande through the magnificent French Valley all the way up to Mirador Británico. Keep in mind that the route from Camp Italiano to Mirador Británico is not open all day and if you want to go there, you need to start your hike in the morning. It is better to check the closing time at the park, as it varies.
  • Return from Mirador Británico and spend the night either at Francés Camping or in Cuernos. In Cuernos, you can make reservation for a refugio, camping, or mountain cabin, depending on the availability. 

Staying in Cuernos 

Total walking distance: 23 kilometers 

Staying in Francés 

Total walking distance: 20 kilometers

Day 4: Torres Central & Norte/Chileno

  • Walk all the way to either Torres Central & Norte or Chileno. If you want to hike to Mirador las Torres the next morning to catch the sunrise, make your reservation in Chileno.

Staying in Torres Central & Norte with previous night in Cuernos

Total walking distance: 13 kilometers

Staying in Torres Central & Norte with previous night in Francés

Total walking distance: 16 kilometers

Staying in Chileno with previous night in Cuernos

Total walking distance: 14 kilometers

Staying in Chileno with previous night in Francés

Total walking distance: 17 kilometers

  • Hike to the Mirados Las Torres and see the famous Towers del Paine. 
  • Walk back to Torres Central & Norte, where you can catch a shuttle bus to the park entrance and from there, take a bus back to Puerto Natales. Laguna Amarga is the name of the station at the park entrance. Before finalizing your plans, check the bus schedule online , as it varies depending during the low and high seasons.

Staying night in Torres Central & Norte

Staying night in Chileno

W Trek East to West

This direction follows the clockwise path going from the park´s east to the west. 

Starting strong: If you begin at the east, you will tackle the most challenging parts of the trek in the first two days and then you can relax more and enjoy relatively easy terrain.

Less crowded: More people choose to head in the opposite direction. This can sometimes mean that you will see fewer hikers in the early morning.

W Trek East to West suggested itinerary for 5 days/4 nights

Day 1: Torres Central & Norte/Chileno

  • Take the bus from Puerto Natales, which departs at 7 AM from the Puerto Natales Bus Terminal. Get off at the park's entrance (Laguna Amarga) to have your tickets and passports checked. The website BusSur.com provides an updated bus schedule. We recommend buying bus tickets in advance, either online or at the bus terminal.
  • Take a shuttle from the park entrance to Torres Central & Norte. The shuttle leaves at the same time as the bus from Puerto Natales arrives.
  • Depending on where you made your reservation for the first night, either drop your gear in Torres Central & Norte and head towards the Mirador las Torres and back or walk to Chileno to check in and go to Mirador las Torres and then back to Chileno to spend the night.

Staying in Torres Central & Norte

Staying in Chileno

Total walking distance: 15 kilometers

Day 2: Cuernos/Francés

  • Go from Chileno or Torres Central & Norte all the way to either Francés Camping or Cuernos. In Cuernos, you can make reservation for a refugio, camping, or mountain cabin, depending on the availability. 

Staying in Cuernos with previous night in Torres Central & Norte

Staying in Cuernos with previous night in Chileno

Staying in Francés with previous night in Torres Central & Norte

Staying in Francés with previous night in Chileno

Day 3: Paine Grande

  • Hike through the French Valley all the way to Mirador Británico. Keep in mind that the route from Camp Italiano to Mirador Británico is not open all day and if you want to go there, you need to start your hike in the morning. It is better to check the closing time at the park, as it varies.
  • Return from Mirador Británico and continue to Paine Grande, where you spend the night.

Previous night in Cuernos

Total walking distance: 23 kilometers

Previous night in Francés

Day 4: Grey

  • From Paine Grande walk to Refugio and Camping Grey where you can drop your gear and head further north to the Mirador Grey to get a better view of the Glacier Grey. Then return to Grey for the night. 
  • Walk from Grey to Paine Grande.
  • Take the catamaran to Pudeto. Check the catamaran schedule on Hipsur.com website. Payment is only accepted in cash.
  • From Pudeto, take the bus to Puerto Natales. Check the bus schedule on BusSur.com .

How difficult is the W Trek?

The W Trek is considered moderately difficult, but this can vary. It really depends on your experience, fitness level, and the weather conditions.

Every day, you walk for 6-8 hours and cover a distance of approximately 9-12 miles (14-20 kilometers). In addition, the terrain in the French Valley and the hike to Mirador las Torres are steep and physically demanding for those unfamiliar with multi-day hiking.

Remember that the weather in Patagonia can be unpredictable, and you may experience sun, rain, snow, and winds all on the same day. That means you must be prepared and have the proper equipment.

The good news is that there are many accommodation options along the way where you can at least take a break. Also, the trail is well marked, and the park is frequented by hikers, making it difficult to get lost.

W Trek accommodation

Camping Grey (Vertice Patagonia)

  • Check in 1 PM/Check out 9:30 AM
  • Open from September to April
  • Capacity for 120 campers (camping)
  • Shared bathrooms, hot water showers, food service, designated cooking area, restaurant, bar, mini market
  • Possible to rent sleeping bags, sleeping mats and tents

Refugio Grey (Vertice Patagonia)

  • Capacity for 60 guests
  • Bunk beds and single beds with mattress cover, pillow and pillowcase, shared bathrooms, hot water showers, food service, designated cooking area, restaurant, bar, mini market
  • Possible to rent sheets and blankets

Camping Paine Grande (Vertice Patagonia)

  • Capacity for 260 campers
  • Shared bathrooms, hot water showers, food service, designated cooking area, restaurant, bar, mini market, cafeteria

Refugio Paine Grande (Vertice Patagonia)

  • Open all year round
  • Capacity for 100 guests
  • Bunk beds and single beds with mattress cover, pillow and pillowcase, shared bathrooms, hot water showers, food service, designated cooking area, restaurant, bar, mini market, cafeteria

Francés Camping (Las Torres Patagonia)

  • Capacity for 120 campers
  • Shared bathrooms, hot water showers, designated cooking area, restaurant, food service, bar, mini market
  • Possible to book a tent with or without sleeping bag

Cuernos Camping (Las Torres Patagonia)

  • Open from November to April (subject to weather condition)
  • Capacity for 90 campers

Cuernos Mountain Hostel (Las Torres Patagonia)

  • Open from November to April
  • Capacity for 32 guests
  • Bunk beds with fully made beds, shared bathrooms, hot water showers, designated cooking area, restaurant, food service, bar, mini market

Cuernos Mountain Cabins (Las Torres Patagonia)

  • Capacity for 16 guests
  • Private cabins (maximum capacity 2 people), fully made beds, towels, shared bathrooms, hot water showers, firewood heater, designated cooking area, restaurant, food service, bar, mini market

Chileno Camping (Las Torres Patagonia)

  • Open from September 15th to April
  • Capacity for 30 campers
  • Shared bathrooms, hot water showers, designated cooking area, food service, restaurant, bar, mini market

Camping Central (Las Torres Patagonia)

  • Capacity for 250 campers
  • Shared bathrooms, hot water showers, designated cooking area, restaurant, bar, mini market, food service

Central Mountain Hostel - Torres Central & Norte (Las Torres Patagonia)

  • Bunk beds with fully made beds, shared bathrooms, hot water showers, designated cooking area, restaurant, bar, mini market, food service

 When is the best time to hike the W Trek?

In general, the best time to visit Torres del Paine National Park is during the summer months , which in Chile are December through February. The weather is milder, the days are longer, and everything is open, including campsites and restaurants. The park is bustling, and there are numerous hikers. However, if you prefer to visit the park during the off-season while still having access to the majority of the facilities, come in April . The rates can be slightly reduced, and it is much easier to find available accommodations.

From November until early December

Patagonia's spring will be your favorite season. The park is a little less crowded, wildflowers are blooming, and nature is awakening. However, the weather can be unpredictable.

Mid-December to February

Definitely the peak season. The weather is warmer; however, the trails and accommodations are usually crowded.

It is still considered the peak season, but the crowds begin to thin out as time passes. It's a popular time for those who want to enjoy the park with fewer visitors.

As autumn approaches, the park becomes less crowded, and the landscape bursts with autumn colors. However, the weather cools and the days get shorter. We recommend this time of year for more experienced hikers.

What to pack for the W Trek?

Packing for the W Trek requires careful consideration of the changing weather conditions. It also depends on whether you're renting camping gear, staying in refugios, etc. Check out this list of essential items to pack for the W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park.

Backpack: A comfortable and durable backpack (40-70 liters) is ideal for transporting all of your gear. However, if you have reservations for refugios or tents with sleeping bags and have also made meal reservations, a smaller backpack for your clothing will be adequate.

Clothing: Keep in mind that the weather in Patagonia can be unpredictable, so pack at least two sets of clothing. You may get wet during the day, so have a spare set of clothes to keep you dry and warm at night. To protect your clothes, consider using a plastic bag or waterproof case. Here are some suggestions for what you might need.

  • Base layers: moisture-wicking underwear and thermal base layers for warmth
  • Outer layers: waterproof and windproof jacket and pants
  • Trekking pants
  • Fleece or down jacket
  • T-shirts: both short-sleeved and long-sleeved for layering
  • Quick-drying underwear and socks
  • Gloves and a warm hat
  • Sturdy, waterproof and broken-in hiking boots with ankle support
  • Gaiters to keep dirt and moisture out

Gear (if staying in the camp most of the time)

  • Sleeping bag (suitable for low temperatures)
  • Sleeping pad to provide insulation and comfort. Even during the summer, temperatures in Torres del Paine can drop significantly at night. The ground can be very cold, and a sleeping pad provides a barrier between you and the ground, keeping you warm throughout the night.
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Trekking poles (only if you are used to trekking with them)
  • Multi-tool or knife
  • Water purification method (iodine tablets or a filter)

Cooking and eating

  • Lightweight stove and cookware
  • Freeze-dried meals or lightweight food
  • Snacks (nuts, energy bars, dried food)
  • Water bottle or hydration system

Personal items

  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap)
  • First aid kit
  • Dry bags or plastic bags to keep clothing and electronics dry

Miscellaneous

  • Permits, identification, and confirmations about the reservations

Keep in mind that the key to comfort is layering, as the weather can change rapidly. Remember to pack light, as carrying too much weight can make your trek more challenging. 

Have any further questions about the W Trek? Ask away .

w trek itinerary west to east

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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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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.

w trek itinerary west to east

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 !

w trek itinerary west to east

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!

w trek itinerary west to east

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!

w trek itinerary west to east

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:

w trek itinerary west to east

  • 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):

w trek itinerary west to east

  • 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:

w trek itinerary west to east

  • 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!

Other Treks You Might Enjoy

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

Thru-Hike The Enchantments In One Day

4-Day Ausangate & Rainbow Mountain Trek

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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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> Destinations > Torres del Paine National Park, Chile > Torres Del Paine Trekking > All About the W Trek in Torres del Paine > Torres del Paine W Trek West to East

Torres del Paine W Trek West to East

Torres del paine arrivals and transfers.

Torres del Paine is quite simply one of the most amazing geographical wonders of the world. The Park is set in an area of incredible outstanding natural beauty in the heart of Patagonia. It is also a main trekking destination, home to the iconic Torres del Paine W Trek and Circuit trek trails, as well as the stunning Grey Glacier, waterfalls, rivers and lakes.

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Refugio Grey to the Torres Base

The W Trek is Patagonia’s most famous trek, where you can traverse the three valleys that the trail enters, which, in turn creates a W form and when viewed from above tis W shape is what gives the trek its name.

Torres Del Paine General Map

The W Trek West to East Start and End

The trek can start at either the Western end, therefore at Refugio Grey, or even at Refugio Paine Grande and end at the Eastern sector meaning Refugio Chileno, Hotel Las Torres, Refugios Central or Norte or even ECO Camp.

Main W Trek From West To East

On the other hand, it can be walked in reverse, starting at the Eastern end at any of the accommodation establishments mentioned above and then end at the Western sector at Paine Grande or Grey.

Here, we will describe the trek starting from Refugio Grey and walking EAST towards the Torres Base.

ALSO, for those who are coming from the full circuit trek, you will join the W Trek at Refugio Grey.

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Torres De Paine Cuernos French Valley Credit Dominik Wojtarowicz

The Three Main Sectors of the Torres del Paine W Trek

Torres Del Paine Grey View Point

Western End (is the Grey Sector)

The first section of the trek runs parallel to Lago Grey (the Grey lake) . This a world-famous geological phenomenon dominated by Glacier Grey (the Grey Glacier).

You can begin this trek from Refugio Grey if you are on the full-circuit trek from Los Perros.

Or if you have come over on the Navigation Grey boat from Hotel Grey.

Or, in the case that you have travelled from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Grey the previous day.

Torres Del Paine W Trek Valle Frances

Central Part (is the Cuernos Sector)

In the central part is the French Valley . Consequently, this is the middle, or central section of the hike and prominently features the stunning Glacier Francés, which you’ll be able to see up-close.

Torres Del Paine W Trek Torres Base

Eastern End (is The Estancia Sector, or the Las Torres End)

The Ascencio Valley – will take you right up to the base of the towers that you’ll see in every photo of the W Trek. To get to the base of the towers you’ll begin from Refugio Chileno followed by a demanding 800m ascent until you arrive to the Torres Base. The return trip will involve trekking down to Hosteria Las Torres, Refugio Torre Norte, Refugio Torre of Central, Eco Camp and the welcome centre.

Torres del Paine W Trek Trail Description

Trek From Refugio Grey To Refugio Paine Grande Map

Trek from Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande

Operated: Between September to the end of April

  • Start: Refugio Grey
  • End: Refugio Paine Grande
  • Trek Time: 4 hours
  • Distance: 11km
  • Difficulty: Medium.
  • Experience Required: None.
  • Altitude Gain at Highest Point: 388m

Torres Del Paine W Trek Grey To Paine Grande

Trail Description

When beginning from Refugio Grey, the path is flat for the first hour and you’ll pass through a wood, cross over some small streams and then begin going up a slight slope.

There will be many opportunities to see Grey Lake. However, on the uphill portion, you can pause and look back on the path you have travelled, whilst catching a glimpse of the spectacular Glacier Grey in the distance. The entire trek from Refugio Grey is said to take around 3.5 hours, but some people take 4 hours and some do it faster.

From Paine Grande To Refugio Cuernos Map

From Paine Grande to Refugio Cuernos (via the French Valley)

  • Start: Refugio Paine Grande
  • End: Refugio Cuernos, Cabañas Cuernos, or Domos Frances
  • Trek Time: 5hrs (direct to Refugio Cuernos and Cabañas Cuernos) or 10hrs (through the French Valley). You can take an hour off both of these times if you’re staying at Domos Frances.
  • Distance: 22.6km (if going via the French Valley) or 11.6km (if going direct to Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos).
  • Difficulty: Medium to high.
  • Altitude at Highest Point: 762m (at Camp Britanico)

Torres Del Paine W Trek Paine Grande To Cuernos

If you’re starting from Refugio Paine Grande, you’ll travel along the well-trodden path towards the Cuernos of Paine. The path is mostly level; however, it gets slightly steeper in parts.

Moreover, on the right, you will catch a glimpse of the Nordenskjold Lake, and after around two and a half hours you will arrive at a pedestrian, hanging bridge. On the other side of the bridge is the non-serviced campsite, Camp Italiano, but if you turn left after the bridge you will start to head towards the French Valley.

If you want to travel across the French Valley and back it will take 5hrs, but you can cut this short if you prefer.

Trek From Camping Frances Refugio Or Cabanas Cuernos To Refugio Chileno Map

From Camping Frances / Refugio or Cabañas Cuernos to Refugio Chileno

Operated: Between September to end of April

  • Start: You’ll begin from Camping Frances, Refugio Cuernos or Cabañas Cuernos
  • End: Refugio Chileno
  • Trek Time: 5.5 hours one way from Cuernos, 7 hrs from Frances
  • Distance: 11km (to Refugio Chileno) or 14.5km (if travelling from Domos Frances)
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Experience Required: None
  • Altitude at Highest Point: 550m (at Refugio Chileno)

Trek From Cabanas Cuernos To Refugio Chileno Map

This trek passes through a distinctive beech-tree wood and continues along the northern shore of the Nordenskjold Lake. During the hike you will encounter medium-difficulty terrain. Therefore, this means that there are some hills, but you’re met with stunning views at the top of each peak.

At some stage, you will come across a fork where you will have an option to miss out Refugio Chileno and, instead, carry on towards to the start, or end, of the trailhead at Hotel Las Torres.

However, if you decide to head towards Refugio Chileno, you will walk uphill for about an hour and a half until you get to a point where the path narrows and bends quite sharply to the left. This is the entrance to the Ascencio Valley.

Trek From Refugio Chileno To The Torres Base

From Refugio Chileno to the Torres Base

  • Start: Refugio Chileno
  • End: The welcome centre, Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte, the welcome centre or the Eco Camp.
  • Trek Time: 2 hours up from Chileno, 2 hours back to Chileno and 2 hours down to Hotel Las Torres. Add an extra half an hour to your trip if you’re travelling back to down to Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte, the welcome Centre, and add an hour if you’re heading to back to the Eco Camp.
  • Distance: 6 km from Refugio Chileno to Torres Base and back
  • Difficulty: Medium to high
  • Altitude Gain: 870m

Torres Del Paine W Trek Chileno To Torres Base

Refugio Chileno to the Glacial Moraine Sector

This section will take around an hour. You’ll cross two rivers and pass through a dense lenga forest during this portion of the trip.

The Moraine Sector

It will take approximately one hour to travel over and around the large boulders of glacial moraine.

This part of the trek heads north towards the Mirador, which means that the wind is usually head-on, making this portion of the trek more difficult than it would normally be.

The Torres Base

Once you travel around the final bend of the path, you will see the sky-high ‘towers’ and a stunning, blue-coloured lake at their base.

Most people take about half an hour to relax, enjoy some food and take in the view. When you’re done soaking up the scenery, you’ll head back the way you came up; stopping by Refugio Chileno if you wish and then continue down to Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Central, Refugio Torre Norte, Eco Camp or just depart the Park.

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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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Journeys worth taking

w trek itinerary west to east

Torres del Paine, Chile

W-trek: budget friendly, w-trek west to east in 5 stages.

Refugios, Camping

Trip Details

Self-Guided

From $1,350 USD per person

Shared Transfers

Pygmy miles

Desolate and unforgiving yet beautiful and serene, Patagonia has mystified explorers since the days of Magellan. It only makes sense to explore this pristine wilderness ourselves. On this journey, you will hike five days in Torres del Paine National Park, the resting place of the W-Trek and its extension, the O-Trek. In total, you will hike 44 miles (70 km) and see the most famous formations of the Paine Massif. You will see the shining blue of the icebergs on Lago Grey, Glaciers in Valle del Frances and marvel at the turquoise water of Lago Nordenskjöld. Perhaps the most stunning natural formation of all is saved for the last day - the Towers of Paine. You will need stamina and resolve to tackle the hardest part of the W-Trek to see the Towers basking in the morning's golden light.

This journey includes shared transfers from Puerto Natales and the park, in order to keep costs down. It also includes all nights in refugio dormitories. In some cases, if there is no availability in dormitories, we can offer camping with all equipment provided (tent, mat and sleeping bag) as a substitute.

The remoteness and beauty of the W-Trek brings people together, making this itinerary suitable for those looking to make trail friends and have a good sense of camaraderie while exploring Torres del Paine.

Please note that we customize all of our tours, both start dates and the actual itinerary to suit your preferences (subject to availability). However, due to the popularity of the W-Trek, we have already reserved some dates to ensure availabiltiy. To check what dates are currently reserved, hit the inquiry button. If you don't see a date that works for you, don't lose hope, we can still create a tour based on your specific dates. Just drop us a line and mention the dates you would like in the inquiry and let us work our magic. 

Itinerary options

Adjusting the hike to your budget and preferences, budget friendly.

  • 4 NTS / 5 STAGES
  • 4 NTS IN DORMS OR CAMPING
  • BUS TRANSFERS
  • 4 NTS / 4 STAGES
  • 1 NT 4 STAR HOTEL
  • 3 NTS DORMS
  • PRIVATE TRANSFERS
  • LAGO GREY NAVIGATION

IN LUX AND STYLE

  • 5 NTS / 4 STAGES
  • 3 NTS 4 STAR HOTELS
  • 1 NT PRIVATE CABANA
  • PORTER SERVICE

w trek itinerary west to east

Trek one of the most famous and beautiful hiking routes in the world.

w trek itinerary west to east

Wildlife Viewing

You may see guanaco, rheas (a large ostrich-like bird), south Andean deer or foxes on your visit to Torres del Paine.

w trek itinerary west to east

Glide across the waters of Lago Pehoe.

w trek itinerary west to east

Drink a Pisco Sour made from the ice of Glacier Grey.

  • See the towers at sunrise—a powerful and awe inspiring experience.
  • Stay in local refugios that offer a chance to connect with travelers of a similar spirit.

Optional Extensions:

  • 1 day extension for ice hiking, kayaking or horseback riding
  • 2 day extension to Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate
  • 5 day extension of Argentina—includes Perito Moreno Glacier and hiking to Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy in El Chaltén
  • Complete end to end vacation planning in Chile or Argentina

Torres del Paine is a national park in the Chilean part of southern Patagonia. The park is located 70 miles (112 km) south of Puerto Natales and 194 miles (312 km) from Punta Arenas, the largest city in the region and where most travelers arrive. The peaks of the Paine Massif, the centerpiece of the park, reach up to 9,462 feet (2,884 meters). Exploring this remote region will bring you into the heart of Chilean’s unique biome, a mix of Magellanic subpolar forests, Patagonian steppe and Pre-Andean shrubland. The region is also the lair of a large set of mammals like guanacos, rheas(a large ostrich-like bird), south Andean deer and foxes, and big birds such as the Andean condor.  The weather is unpredictable and it’s often possible to experience four seasons in a single day. Especially remarkable is when snow that is produced above the mountains is pushed down to lower altitude, where the temperature is warm enough for a t-shirt. Quite a rare experience.

The following itinerary is an example of our budget trek. There may be differences due to accommodation availability, including the direction of the hike, camping vs. dormitories, and the overnight location. 

Hit the inquire button and drop us a line to get a quotation . Based on your preferred dates, we can provide an exact itinerary breakdown. 

Please remember we  customize all of our tours , both start dates and the actual itinerary (accommodation, transfers, number of days, meals and activities), to suit your preferences (subject to availability).

Just let us know your preferred start date and preferences in the comments section of your inquiry and we will provide a customized quotation. 

Transfer to Torres del Paine, Navigation on Lago Pehoe, Hike to Refugio Grey (3.5 hours - 10.5 km / 6.5 mi)

You will take a morning bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National park. The trip takes approximately 3.5 hours and there are plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. After going through briefing at Administration, you will take a boat navigation on Lago Pehoe and arrive at Paine Grande. From there, you will hike 3.5 hour to Refugio Grey. Before ending your hike for the day, make sure to continue on 20 minutes past Refugio Grey to look at the imposing wall of ice of Glacier Grey. There is a second lookout about 2 hours from Refugio Grey if you up for the challenge as well.

Hike from Refugio Grey to Paine (3.5 hours - 10.5 km / 6.5 mi)

After breakfast, you will hike along the shores of Lago Grey. Before embarking on your hike, make sure to take a look at the imposing wall of ice of Glacier Grey. Heading south, this section of the tour is undulating, however one of the easier hikes of the W-Trek. Enjoy the floating icebergs and the lookout points located slightly off trail. In around 3.5 hours, you will reach Refugio Paine Grande.

Paine Grande to Dome Frances via Valley Frances (7 hours - 19.6 km / 12.1 mi)

Today you will hike along Lago Skottsberg and then up into Valley Frances. It take about 2.5 hours to reach Campamento Italiano and another 1.5 hours to reach the first lookout, high above Lago Nordenskjold. On your left hand side you will see Glacier Frances, where frequent small avalanches take place. The noise booms throughout the valley, although the ice that breaks away seems much smaller than it should considering the noise. After ducking in and out of the forest, with sporadic views of Rio Frances below, you will eventually reach Campamento Britanico. In another 25 minutes, you will reach the lookout point, which is a highlight of the trek. Return via the same track and then take a 30 minute trek to Dome Frances along Lago Nordenskjold.

Dome Frances to Refugio Chileno (5.5 hours - 15.9 km / 10 mi)

After leaving the refugio, you'll encounter an undulating, with some steep sections, all they way to Refugio Los Cuernos. Once there, the path becomes easier to handle. Shortly after the refugio, the mighty Los Cuernos will open up to your left hand side. Halfway through the hike, you will have the opportunity to take a shortcut that goes directly to Refugio Chileno, or your can continue on to Hotel Los Torres for one of the better lunches available along the trek. From Hotel Los Torres, its a 2 hour uphill slog skirting Rio Ascencio to reach Refugio Chileno.

Refugio Chileno - Mirador Base Las Torres - Hotel Las Torres (5 hrs - 13 km / 8.1 mi)

A highlight of the trip, you will need to wake up at least 2.5 hours before sunrise (ask for sunrise times when you inquire). It’s also the most difficult hike of the W-Trek. You will need to do a bit of light scrambling up some rocky areas, and if it’s been raining (which it does a lot), then things can get very slippery. Take your time, travel with a hiking partner and bring a flashlight. But it’s all worth it once you reach the towers. The morning hues of purple, pink and blue paint the three towers in a fantastic light. A tip: Bring a sleeping bag up to the top so you can stay warm—the weather is especially brutal up here. After seeing the towers, head back to Refugio Chileno for breakfast and then down to Hotel Las Torres, where your private transport will be waiting to take you on to your next destination (Breakfast - Recommendation to have lunch at Hotel Las Torres).

Pygmy Miles Total

w trek itinerary west to east

Base Sustainability

Traveling in Patagonia requires a certain level of responsibility. By visiting the park and learning of Leave No Trace and fire prevention, you will help with conservation efforts to keep the park pristine for future travelers. Many of the refugios inside the park source electricity from off-the-grid methods and have implemented many green initiatives.

Hiking Distance

For every mile that you hike, you will receive 10 Pygmy Miles. Specifically you will receive 480 Pygmy Miles for hiking 48 miles in 5 days.

See the Sunrise

We believe in spicing things up during a trip. Conquer a challenge or two. If you can wake up (as early as 3:30 am) and make the trek to see the towers during sunrise, we will award you with 250 Pygmy Miles. Take a picture and send it to us after your trip as proof, and we will credit your account.

Total Pygmy Miles

Accommodation.

w trek itinerary west to east

Refugio Grey

Torres del paine.

One of the newest refugios, Refugio Grey has one of the nicest lounge areas on the whole trek; wood floors, comfortable leather couches and a bar that will serve you a pisco sour using ice from Glacier Grey. The rooms are 4 to 6 person mixed dorms with shared bathrooms with a total capacity of 60 people. Camping facilities available as well. If your muscles are aching, there is also a massage therapist on staff.

w trek itinerary west to east

Refugio Paine Grande

Paine Grande is located at the drop-off point of the catamaran on Lago Pehoé. The building can accommodate 100 hikers in 22 dormitory rooms with bunk beds for 2, 4, or 6 people. The refugio has a restaurant, bar, lounge and shop with camping supplies. This refugio is a good overnight option if you choose to do an ice hike early on day 2.

w trek itinerary west to east

Domos Frances

Domos Frances is located approximately an hour west of Refugio Los Cuernos. It features 3 recently constructed domes with private bathroom for 8 people each (a shared bathroom and a dome). A nice feature of the domes are the individual outlets and reading lights attached to each bunk. Also, the view of Lago Nordenskjöld is perhaps the best view from any of the refugios. Services available: Breakfast, Packed lunch and dinner.

w trek itinerary west to east

Refugio Chileno

Located 2.5 hours from the base of the towers and 2 hours from Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Chileno is ideally located for those that would like to see the towers at sunrise, yet would like some creature comfort as well. The food is surprisingly good and there is quite a bit of it. There is capacity in the refugio for 32 people (four shared and mixed dorms of 8 people each) and plenty more camping spots.

w trek itinerary west to east

Refugio Los Cuernos (Domos Frances substitute)

Torres del paine.

Probably the most popular and busy of all the refugios, Refugio Los Cuernos is located not far from the beach of Lago Nordenskjöld. It has a capacity for 36 people. Four shared, mixed dorms hold 8 people each. For hikers looking for private accommodation, there are 8 double cabins that provide access to a hot tub. There are also camping pitches available here. All bathrooms are shared by guests in each category, meaning cabin guests share a bathroom with other cabin guests, refugio guests share with refugio guests and campers share with other campers. Dinner is served at communal tables in two shifts.

w trek itinerary west to east

Campamento Italiano (Optional)

Free camping site with limited facilities. There are toilets and a small warming hut, but no showers available.

w trek itinerary west to east

Campamento Torres (Optional)

Free Camping site with limited facilities. There are toilets and a small warming hut, but no showers available.

w trek itinerary west to east

Remota Patagonia Lodge (Optional)

Puerto natales.

Before or after the W-Trek, Remota is an upscale option located near Puerto Natales. All of Remota's rooms invite guests to rest body and soul. The relaxing aroma of the lenga wood together with the light radiating from the heat-reflecting windows and the magnificent views of the fjord of Last Hope create perfect setting for comfort. Remota offers 72 wonderfully appointed, spacious rooms, all en suite, which measure 360 square feet / 34 square meters. Read more

w trek itinerary west to east

Hotel Lago Grey (Optional)

Lago grey, torres del paine.

Lago Grey Hotel is situated on the eponymous lake, from which you can enjoy amazing panoramic views of Grey Lake and beautiful floating icebergs. Glacier Grey is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest freshwater ice field in the world. There are 60 rooms available in the hotel, all with comfortable spaces, heating, Wi-Fi, safe for valuables, direct dial national and international calling, and most importantly, all of which are surrounded by nature and beautiful scenery that can only be found in the Torres del Paine National Park.

Practical info

Most people complete the W-Trek during the southern hemisphere's spring through fall months, between October and March. It is also possible to complete the trek in winter, but a guide is recommended. Peak travel is in January and February. Expect rain almost daily, along with sun, possible snow and high wind. In fact, just expect all four seasons in one day.

Self guided

Self guided does not mean you are alone. We help you coordinate and plan your trip beforehand. Once you are on the trail, we provide 24-hour customer service in case there are any urgent issues with your bookings.

We can also arrange private guides for this itinerary.

Service Category

Pygmy itineraries, pygmy itinerary benefits.

  • Price Transparency:  see where your money is going with line-item pricing
  • Never Lose Your Deposit Guarantee : 50% refund, 50% credit to future trip
  • Customized Handbook with Journey Details : maps, elevation profiles, tips and more
  • Destination Book Digital Travel App : everything in your handbook, in digital form
  • One Year Premium GAIA GPS Membership : your GPS routes, on your phone
  • Complete Itinerary Customization : build the trip you want to take
  • Special Meal Requests : we'll help you stick to your diet of choice
  • Before-You-Go Email Series : helpful emails to get you prepared for your trek
  • Transportation Options Information : timetables, routes and contact info
  • 24/7 Phone Support for Urgent Issues : give us a call if anything goes wrong
  • Email Support (24-hour turnaround) : answers for not-so-urgent questions

Challenge Level

Technical ability.

Level : Low

Mental Strength

Level : Medium

Physical Conditioning

  • Path is well marked, however previous hiking experience recommended as terrain is rocky and uneven. Those without experience may be more comfortable in a guided hike.
  • Mental strength is rated at medium because of lack of creature comforts, snoring from fellow guests (bring earplugs!) and waking early for the ascent to the towers.
  • The hiking is challenging, however only treks into Valle del Frances and to the towers have much elevation change. Only those in good physical health should book this trip. 

Starting at $1,350 per person, based on double occupancy

After initial consultation, we will customize your itinerary to meet your fitness level, budget, accommodation wishes and schedule. Depending on the journey, it might be possible to skip stages, rearrange their order, substitute accommodations, and add or subtract transfers. Find more information on the base itinerary and possible customizations below.

Base Itinerary

  • Shared transfer between Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine park
  • 4 nights accommodation in refugios (dormitory for 4 to 8 people)
  • 4 dinners, 4 breakfasts and 4 box lunches

Customizations

  • Pick-up and/or drop-off in Punta Arenas or El Calafate
  • Substitute private cabana at Refugio Los Cuernos for Domos Frances
  • Substitute Hotel Las Torres for Refugio Chileno
  • Substitute camping for all accommodations
  • Increase or decrease number of hiking days, depending on fitness and motivation

Optional Add-ons

  • Guide (daily fee + expenses)
  • Porters (fee per porter, per day)
  • Internal transfer to Laguna Amarga
  • Catamaran on Lago Pehoé
  • Private transfer between Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine park
  • Kayaking on Lago Grey
  • Ice Hike on Glacier Grey
  • Horseback riding in Puerto Natales
  • Navigation to Balmaceda Glacier
  • Navigation to Serrano Glacier
  • Navigation to Isla Magdalena to see penguins
  • Visit an estancia, a traditional Patagonian ranch
  • Torres del Paine park entrance fee

Optional Extensions

  • 1-day extension for ice hiking, kayaking or horseback riding
  • 2-day extension to Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate
  • 5-day extension to Argentina, including Perito Moreno Glacier and hiking to Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy in El Chaltén
  • Complete end-to-end vacation planning in Chile or Argentina

not included

  • Incidentals
  • Travel insurance

w trek itinerary west to east

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TripTins

The Stunning Torres del Paine W Trek (2023/2024 Circuit Overview)

By: Author Charles

Posted on October 25, 2023

The Stunning Torres del Paine W Trek (2023/2024 Circuit Overview)

If you are looking to take part of one of the world’s most beautiful multi day hikes, then look no further than the W Trek of Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia.

What usually is a one way 5 day trek that can be completed in either direction, the W Trek offers hikers the opportunity to admire some surreal Patagonia landscape. Whether is is rivers, lakes, mountains, valleys, or glaciers, the W Circuit will have something for you.

This guide is here to give you a complete overview of what the W Trek is all about and how to prepare yourself for your time out on the trail.

*  Affiliate Disclosure : This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting the work I put into TripTins!

1) What is the W Trek

Within Torres del Paine National Park, you will come across two main multi day hikes to decide between. There is the W Trek (which we will focus on in this guide), a 4-5 day one way hike, and the O Trek, an 8 day counter clockwise loop trail that also heads to the backside of the park.

The reason they are called the “W” and the “O”, is because the routes themselves are shaped like the letters W and O. 

It is important to note that the O Trek includes the entirety of the W Trek. So, if you head on the O Trek, you are also completing the W Trek (in addition to a few extra days on the trail).

All along the W though, you will find some of the best overall landscapes that Patagonia has to offer .

Whether it is a viewpoint over the Grey Glacier, taking in the Cuernos del Paine from Paine Grande, visiting the French Valley, or seeing the famous Mirador Las Torres. The W has it all, and is sure to be one of the top trekking circuits that you will take part of in your life.

For the W Trek, you will have a few different options to consider when deciding on your hiking accommodations.

You can choose from ready-made campsites, cozy refugios, or you can bring your own camping gear and do it all on your own .

Depending on availability and what you are most interested in will help determine what your accommodation will be on a nightly basis. Many people (including myself) mix and match these options to get a little bit of everything out on the trail.

Another great part about trekking in Torres del Paine, is that you can also find breakfast, lunch and dinner served at these refugios & campsites. If you choose to take advantage of these offerings, then you won’t necessarily need to bring along too much additional food weight on the hike.

Overall, the W Trek of Torres del Paine has a vast array of options to align with trekkers’ desires .

On one hand, you can decide to go about it completely self-supported bringing along your own tent and food. While on the other hand, you can simply take advantage of the refugios/ready-made campsites & food offerings.

However you decide to take part, you are sure to enjoy this once in a lifetime type of trek.

If you are spending more time in Patagonia, be sure to check out the various hikes in El Chalten , like the multi day Huemul Circuit & the Laguna de Los Tres day hike

W Hike Patagonia

2) Hiking Map & Route

To start, lets lay out the W Trek map so you can get a better understanding of the trail itself. On the map you will find the route, campsites/refugios, and other points of interest.

Learn More : Check out this Patagonia Itinerary that can better help you put together a complete trip to the region.

3) Patagonia W Trek Itinerary

The W Trek offers the opportunity to take part of the hike in either direction – either west to east or east to west. Below I will layout both of those options and give some insight on what my recommendation would be.

In general, the standard W Trek is completed in 5 days , and that is what I will be talking through in this overview. There are ways to cut it down to 4 (or even 3) days, but you would either need to have some very long days or cut some highlights out altogether.

For the most part, you will just have one campsite/refugio (also may be called “sectors”) to choose from for each night on the route. However, there are a couple nights, where you could consider alternate campsites if one or another is sold out.

So, with that said, below is how you should plan a Patagonia W Trek itinerary:

West to East

Day 1 : Bus to Pudeto | Catamaran to Paine Grande | Hike to Grey Day 2 : Hike from Grey to Glacier Grey Suspension Bridges & Back to Paine Grande Day 3 : Hike from Paine Grande to Frances (or Cuernos) via Valle del Frances Day 4 : Hike from Frances to Chileno (or Central or Las Torres Hotel) Day 5 : Hike to Mirador Base de Las Torres & Hike Back to Welcome Center | Van to Amarga | Bus to Puerto Natales

Day 1 : Bus to Laguna Amarga | Van to Welcome Center | Hike to Mirador Base Las Torres | Hike to Chileno (or Central or Las Torres Hotel) Day 2 : Hike from Chileno to Frances (or Cuernos) Day 3 : Hike from Frances to Paine Grande via Valle del Frances Day 4 : Hike from Paine Grande to Grey & Hike to Glacier Grey Suspension Bridges Day 5 : Hike from Grey to Paine Grande | Catamaran to Pudeto | Bus to Puerto Natales

W Circuit Trek Map

Which Direction to Choose?

If I were to choose between these two routes, my recommendation would be to take part of the circuit from west to east . This is primarily due to some reasons regarding the famous viewpoint of Mirador Las Torres (the panorama of the three famous peaks with the lagoon in the foreground – see below!).

By taking part of the hike from east to west, the viewpoint would be your first day out on the trail (and it is going to be a long one – 9 miles & 3,500 feet of elevation gain). Personally, I would rather ease into a circuit like this and have a shorter first day (Paine Grande to Grey)

Alternatively, if you do the hike west to east, you get to save the top highlight of the trek for the final day .

This not only lets you have an easier day 1, but it also gives you the chance to hike to Mirador Las Torres for sunrise on day 5.

What better way to end the W Trek than seeing this famous view at sunrise with few other people all around. I can tell you that if you visit the viewpoint on day 1, you will more than likely have an overcrowded trail and viewpoint area (mostly due to day trekkers).

At the end of the day though, you can’t go wrong. Depending on availabilities and preference, you can make the choice that is best for you.

Las Torres Viewpoint

Hiking Resources & Checklist Before heading out for the trails, be sure to read up on some of the hiking resources up on the site. These are here to better prepare you for all types of outdoor adventure. Gear : Hiking Packing List Weather : How to Prepare for Hiking Weather Navigation : Hiking GPS & Navigation Tips : 20+ Hiking Tips & Tricks for the Trail Accommodation : Book Your Hotel Today Rental Car : Book Your Car Rental Today

4) How Long is the Trek

The W Trek comes in just around 47.5 miles / 76.4 km in total length over the course of 5 days. That means on average you should be comfortable with hiking 9.5 miles / 15.3 km per day.

Based on the west to east itinerary mentioned above, here is a breakdown of the mileage to expect on a daily basis:

  • Day 1 : Paine Grande to Grey: 6.6 miles / 10.6 km
  • Day 2 : Grey to Grey Suspension Bridge to Paine Grande: 10.6 miles / 17.1 km
  • Day 3 : Paine Grande to Frances via Valle del Frances: 12.0 miles / 19.3 km
  • Day 4 : Frances to Chileno: 9.6 miles / 15.4 km
  • Day 5 : Chileno to Mirador Base La Torres to Welcome Center: 8.6 miles / 13.8 km

W Trek Elevation Gain Profile

5) Is the Trek Difficult

While the W Trek comes in at 5 days, 48 miles, and over 12,000 feet of elevation gain (~3,700 meters), I would not consider this a difficult hike from a technical standpoint.

The trail is easy to navigate, without many technical aspects to it (although you will find some hiking up the Valle del Frances and to Mirador Las Torres). With that said though, there are certainly some longer days out on the trail.

One of the most important questions to ask yourself when deciding about the W Trek, is whether or not you are in the physical state to be on your feet hiking for 5 days straight (some of which may be in less than ideal weather conditions with less than ideal sleeping situations).

You will also need to think about how you will take part of the trek in general. If you are carrying all your own gear and food, it will be much more difficult than if you are staying in refugios and have all meals taken care of for you.

In my opinion, if you are comfortable with being on your feet for five days and hiking around 10 miles per day, then you will find the W Trek to be quite rewarding. While there are some tougher days spread throughout, I did find the W Trek to be just a moderate trekking experience altogether.

W Circuit Trek

6) Refugios & Campsites

Now that you have a better idea of what the itinerary for the W Trek will look like, let’s talk a bit more about the Torres del Paine refugios and campsites that you will find out on the trail.

While all of these refugios and campsites are located within Torres del Paine National Park, they are not all operated by the same company. Instead you will find 3 different companies operating within the National Park. These include Vertice, Las Torres (formerly Fantastico Sur), and CONAF.

Note that the nights refer to the itinerary if going west to east.

Vertice runs 2 of the campsites on the W Circuit – Paine Grande & Grey. They also run two additional campsites on the O Circuit (Dickson and Los Perros), but you will not need to worry about those.

  • Grey (night 1) -> campsites & refugio
  • Paine Grande (night 2) -> campsites & refugio

Las Torres (formerly Fantastico Sur)

Las Torres runs the other 5 campsites in Torres Del Paine. For the W Trek, you will utilize them on nights 3 & 4 (choosing between a couple options for each). They also run the Seron campsite that is located on the O.

  • Frances (night 3) -> campsites & refugio
  • Cuernos (night 3 alternative) -> campsites, refugio, & mountain cabin
  • Chileno (night 4) -> campsites & refugio
  • Central (night 4 alternative) -> campsites & refugio

CONAF runs two free campsites in TDP National Park, however these are closed for the time being and booking them has always been a bit of an issue.

While the Paso camp is not used on the W, the Italiano camp can be used on night 3. For the purpose of this guide I will not be really mentioning these as options.

  • Paso (not needed for W) -> campsites only
  • Italiano (night 3 alternative) -> campsites only

With all that said, you are most likely looking at booking 2 nights with Vertice (1 & 2) and 2 nights with Las Torres (3 & 4), when taking part of the W Trek.

Grey Refugio W Trek

7) Campsite & Refugio Pricing

Each one of the sectors offers various options for visitors, with some offering more or less than others. Below you can find accommodation & food options along with the relevant prices.

As you go through some of the options and prices below, do note a few important details:

Options : For those that opt for the campsites, you will essentially have two main options to consider:

  • If hiking with all the appropriate gear (tent, sleeping bags, etc), you will just need to pay an individual camping site fee.
  • However, if you are coming without any gear, then you will need to pay the camping site fee + the rental fee for the tent, mat and sleeping bag. Note, that you can rent these items individually if you happen to bring along one or more of them already.

Sheet Discount : Some refugios offer discounts if you don’t want sheets. Rather you would be bringing your own sleeping bag. This option may be best for those who may be camping on their own but want a night in a refugio here or there.

Booking Meals : If you want to eat at the refugios, I would recommend buying meals when you are booking. With that said, at some refugios (such as Grey), you will have the chance to buy meals a la carte. Snacks are also available at some campsites/refugios.

Meal Hours : Meals are only served during certain hours of the day. For example, don’t expect to show up at 4PM for lunch or 10PM or dinner. Each sector has their specific hours, which match up with standard hiking times.

Note that these prices are for the 2023/2024 season in USD. I will be updating this yearly to reflect the latest.

Vertice Pricing

Below are the accommodation and food options for Vertice (Grey & Paine Grande)

Accommodation

  • Individual Camping Fee per Person : $11 ($13 at Paine Grande)
  • Campsite Equipment Rental : Tent $40, Sleeping Bag $25, Mat $12
  • Simple Bunk Bed in Shared Room : $100 (with bedding kit) | $43 without bedding ($65 at Paine Grande)
  • Full Board : $80
  • Breakfast : $25
  • Lunch / Box Lunch : $25
  • Dinner : $40

Las Torres Pricing

Below are the accommodation and food options for Las Torres (Frances, Cuernos, Chileno, Central)

  • Campsite (single/double) : $56 / $70
  • Campsite Equipment Rental : Tent $46 / Sleeping Bag $30 / Mat $10
  • Premium Campsite (single/double) : $190 / $220
  • Mountain Hostel Bed (refugio) : $144
  • Mountain Cabin (single/double) : $430 / $460 (Cuernos Sector Only)
  • Full Board : $100
  • Breakfast : $28
  • Lunch / Box Lunch : $50 / $30
  • Dinner : $50

Camping W Trek

8) How To Book the Trek

Now that you have a better idea about the overall route and the refugios, campsites, & meals, let’s talk through how to book the W Trek.

The overall booking process is pretty simple as Vertice and Las Torres have online booking systems to utilize. The tougher part is making sure there is availability between the two for the exact dates you are looking for.

I would not recommend making a booking for either until you have both websites open and have confirmed that the refugios/campsites are available for the appropriate nights.

However, there now seems to be a solution to that problem:

Booking Patagonia

Recently a new site called Booking Patagonia  offers the opportunity to book both Vertice & Las Torres through a single site . Prices seem to be in line with the two companies, so that may be an easier option moving forward.

I gave it a try, and the site offers a very friendly interface, where you can build your route as you go. In addition to purchasing the food and accommodation, you can also purchase bus tickets and entrance tickets to the park (more on both of those soon).

So, instead of booking through 4 separate website (Vertice, Las Torres, bus tickets, entrance tickets), you can do it all through a single site. They also have a live customer support in case you have questions or changes to your booking.

Booking Patagonia

If you do want to still book directly with the providers, below is how you would go about it.

Vertice Booking

Below are the steps to go about booking with Vertice on nights 2, 3, 4, & 5.

  • Step 1 : Go to the Vertice website
  • Step 2 : Choose the number of people, your nationality, & currency
  • Step 3 : Choose the W or O Circuit (Paine Massif)
  • Step 4 : Choose your starting point (Dickson or Los Perros)
  • Step 5 : Continue choosing your next nights
  • Step 6 : Once complete, click the red button “Yes, I want to choose my date”
  • Step 7 : Choose your starting date (the rest will fill out automatically)
  • Step 8 : Once you choose your accommodation and additional services (food, rental gear) for each night, click Continue. From there you will be shown your booking summary and you will have 25 minutes to then put in your personal details and pay for the reservation.

Vertice Patagonia Booking Screen

Las Torres Booking

Below are the steps to go about booking with Las Torres on nights 3 & 4 (west to east).

  • Step 1 : Go to the Las Torres website
  • Step 2 : You will be taken directly to the booking page where you will find the five campsites/refugios to choose from with check in / check out dates (change these initially before continuing to the next step).
  • Step 3 : By clicking the magnifying glass icon on the right hand side of each sector, you will be shown booking options for that sector.
  • Step 4 : Choose your accommodation and food options for each of the two nights needed
  • Step 5 : Click the “Book Here” button, and follow the instructions to fill in your personal details & pay for the reservation.

Las Torres Booking

Additional Booking Notes

All Inclusive : On the Vertice & Las Torres sites, you can also choose “W Trek”, which puts together a total package for you. This seems to be an all inclusive type of deal, where you can’t pick and choose what you want each night. Because of this, the price will be on the higher end.

Third Party Websites : You may also come across third party websites that offer W Trek packages . This companies usually buy allotments of spots at campsites/refugios and then upsell them as packages. I would say the main reason to book through a third party is if your dates are sold out through Vertice/Las Torres, but the third party company happens to have openings.

Last Minute Openings : Going off of that last note – don’t be surprised if you see any last minute openings for Torres del Paine. These third parties seem to give back any unused nights a couple weeks prior. I met several people, who were able to make reservations just days in advance due to these cancellations.

Torres Del Paine Entrance Fee

While you will need to pay for your accommodation, food, and transport to Torres Del Paine, you will also need to pay for entrance tickets.

I would recommend simply purchasing your tickets online through the official website . Scroll down to Torres Del Paine and complete the forms on the following pages to make your purchase.

Since you will be taking part of the W Trek, you will want to purchase the 3+ Day ticket at $49 . Once you stay over three days, there is no additional cost per day.

Mirador Las Torres W Hike

9) How to Get to Torres del Paine

Getting to Torres del Paine National Park will be the next set of logistics to figure out when taking part of the W Trek. Busses, catamarans, & shuttles will all come into play when getting yourself back and forth to TDP.

Before getting to Torres del Paine itself, you first must make your way to Puerto Natales – the closest major town to the National Park. While you can make your way from other places, Puerto Natales will be the most convenient of options.

Getting to Puerto Natales

I would recommend spending one night there prior to the trek, and then one night after finishing up with the trek (depending on your overall itinerary).

Puerto Natales has its own airport (PNT), located just 10 minutes outside of the city center. Currently, the only direct flights to Puerto Natales are through Santiago and Puerto Montt.

While flying in and out of Puerto Natales is one option, you can also take a bus there from other places in Patagonia. The main two closest hub cities would be El Calafate, Argentina (3.5 hours) and Punta Arenas, Chile (3 hours).

If visiting El Calafate be sure to check out the Perito Moreno Glacier , Cerro Frias , and a Todo Glaciares Boat Tour

Once in Puerto Natales, it is time to then make the journey to the Torres del Paine National Park.

If you are looking for hotels in Puerto Natales, check out Hotel Vendaval and Vinnhaus – two highly rated & recommended hotels downtown.

On the other hand, you can also decide to stay at one of the top Torres del Paine hotels !

Puerto Natales Flight

W Trek Starting & Ending Point

Since this is a one way hike, the starting & ending point of the W Trek will be at two different locations. This will also depend on which way you go about the circuit in general:

Starting Point : Paine Grande Ending Point : Torres del Paine Welcome Center

East to West

Starting Point : Torres del Paine Welcome Center Ending Point : Paine Grande

W Trek – West to East Logistics

If taking part of the W from west to east, you will be starting your hike at Paine Grande and ending your hike at the Torres del Paine Welcome Center.

Start: Puerto Natales To Paine Grande

Getting yourself from Puerto Natales to Paine Grande will involve a bus ride to Pudeto, followed by a catamaran to Paine Grande.

Step 1: Puerto Natales to Pudeto Bus

The first part of the day will entail taking an early bus ride from Puerto Natales to the Pudeto entrance of the National Park. Bus Sur runs busses throughout the season from Puerto Natales, with the earliest one at 6:45AM (be sure to always check latest schedules and to book in advance).

The bus will first stop at the Amarga park entrance, before continuing onto Pudeto. The total length of the bus ride should be just around 3 hours (arriving closer to 10:00AM).

Step 2: Pudeto to Paine Grande Catamaran

Once you arrive in Pudeto, you can then take a ~30 minute catamaran across Lake Pehoe that will drop you off right at the starting point of Paine Grande.

The first catamaran leaves at 9:00AM (not possible to make it with the bus) and the second at 10:30AM (times up perfectly with the bus). The cost is $30 USD one way and can be paid on arrival.

Note that catamaran schedules change throughout the year. Please be sure to check out Hipsur and this Torres del Paine website for latest departure times for the catamarans.

Finish: Torres del Paine Welcome Center to Puerto Natales

After completing the hike, you will end up at the Torres del Paine Welcome Center on the eastern side of the park. Getting back to Puerto Natales will involve a quick shuttle & then a bus ride.

Step 1: Torres del Paine Welcome Center to Amarga Shuttle

Since the busses do not pick up/drop off directly at the welcome center, you will just need to take a quick 10 minute shared van to the Amarga TDP entrance. Shuttles will be timed up with the bus schedule and cost around $5 USD.

Step 2: Amarga to Puerto Natales Bus

Just like you began the journey, you will end the journey with a bus ride back to Puerto Natales. This time though, you will be departing from Amarga. I would recommend booking a later afternoon bus (most likely 3:00PM – but be sure to check the latest schedules).

W Trek – East to West Logistics

If taking part of the W from east to west, you will be starting your hike at the Torres del Paine Welcome Center and ending your hike at Paine Grande. Logistics will be similar to above but just in the reverse direction.

Start: Puerto Natales To Torres del Paine Welcome Center

Step 1: Puerto Natales to Amarga Bus

The first part of the day will be taking an early bus ride from Puerto Natales to the Amarga entrance of the National Park (the same bus that then heads to Pudeto).

Bus Sur runs busses throughout the season from Puerto Natales, with the earliest one at 6:45AM (be sure to always check latest schedules and book in advance).

Step 2: Amarga to Torres del Paine Welcome Center Shuttle

Since the busses do not pick up/drop off directly at the welcome center, you will just need to take a quick 10 minute shared van to the TDP Welcome Center from Amarga. Shuttles will be timed up with the bus schedule and cost around $5 USD.

Finish: From Paine Grande to Puerto Natales

Step 1: Paine Grande to Pudeto Catamaran

Once you finish up your final hike on day 5, you will then make your way back to Paine Grande, and catch the catamaran to Pudeto. Catamaran schedules change throughout the year (be sure to check out schedules linked above for the latest).

However, during peak season (December to February), there are boats to Pudeto at 9:35AM, 11:05AM, 5:00PM and 6:35PM

Step 2:  Pudeto to Puerto Natales Bus

The final part of your day will be taking a bus back from Pudeto to Puerto Natales. Again, please check the Bus Sur website for the latest schedules. Currently the last busses leave Pudeto between 7:00PM – 8:00PM.

Amarga Bus

10) Best Time to Hike

While the W Trek certainly offers some of the world’s best landscapes, it also offers some of the world’s most unpredictable weather. Hiking for 5 days in Patagonia can offer a little bit of everything from a weather standpoint – both on a day to day basis and on an hourly basis.

It is a popular saying that you will experience 4 seasons of weather in a single day. Sun, rain, wind, clouds, snow, and more will be coming and going throughout your time on the trail.

With that said though, the best time to hike the W Circuit in general will be during the summer months of the region between December and February. During this time, you have the best chance for the most stable of weather with less rain and overcast skies.

A trip during the shoulder months of November and March are also potential options for you. During this time you will have a quieter park altogether, and may be just as lucky with the weather.

This also holds true if you are visiting places like Ushuaia, home to Tierra del Fuego National Park , which has plenty of top Ushuaia hikes to choose from, and the chance to walk with penguins .

Opening Times

When it comes to the W Trek, you will only be able to complete it during the times that the refugios and campsites are open.

To simplify things, that means the W Trek is only possible between September 1 2023 and April 2024 .

Below you can find the latest (I will update this each year):

  • Central Sector : September 1 – April 30
  • Chileno Sector : September 15 – April 30
  • Frances Sector : September 1 – April 30
  • Grey Sector : September 1 – April 30
  • Paine Grande Sector : September 1 – April 30
  • Cuernos Sector : November 1 – March 30

Torres del Paine Snow W Trek

11) Packing List

Perhaps the most important aspect of the W Trek will be the gear that you bring along with you. Since this is 5 days out in Patagonia, you simply will need to be prepared for it all.

If you would like more detail, check out the Torres del Paine packing list I put together that deep dives into all of the below.

Below is my recommended packing list for all hikers that you can put into your hiking backpack ( Hyperlite Southwest recommended)

From a clothing perspective, you will want to bring along what is needed for five days on the trail. I am usually a bit more lightweight here as I use the same layers on a day to day basis.

Note that the weather can change quickly, so you will want to be prepared with the appropriate layers (all outlined below). Also, be sure to have moisture wicking materials for your clothing items.

  • Hiking Boxers (2-3)
  • Hiking Socks (2-3)
  • Hiking Pants (1)
  • Hiking Shorts (1)
  • Long Sleeve Sun Hoodie (1)
  • Short Sleeve Hiking Shirt (2)
  • Puff Jacket (1)
  • Hard Shell Jacket (1)
  • Baseball Hat
  • Quick Dry Towel
  • Packing Cubes & Laundry Bag

Hiking Shoes

A hike like the W Circuit must be done with the appropriate footwear. Be sure to invest in quality hiking shoes for your time on the trail. Some of my recommended shoes include:

  • Keen (Targhee Series)
  • Merrill (Moab Series)
  • North Face (Ultra Series)
  • Salomon (X Ultra Series)

Electronics

Most of my electronics were used for photography and navigation purposes, so each person may be a bit different here (note you can recharge your electronics at campsites).

  • iPhone & USB Cable
  • Headlamp | Petzl Actik Core
  • Portable Charger | Anker Portable Charger 10,000 mAH

Action Camera

  • GoPro Stick
  • Extra GoPro Batteries

Mirrorless Camera

  • Extra Battery
  • 256GB SD Card
  • Mini Tripod

Satellite Communicator |  Garmin inReach 2 Mini

While there are many people along the trails of the W Circuit, having a satellite device like the Garmin inReach is always going to be a good idea. This small device gives you the chance to communicate with family, track your route, and call for SOS in case of emergency.

Food & Drink

Remember, you will also need to bring all food for five days out on the trail if you do not want to purchase food along the way. There are also supermarkets in Puerto Natales where you can stock up on certain items. If you want to come prepared with food that you prefer, then check out my usual food purchases below (high calorie / low weight).

Lunch/Snacks

  • Variety of Bars including PROBAR Bars , Honey Stinger Bars , Clif Builder Protein Bars
  • Fruit & Nut Mixes
  • Variety of dehydrated meals including Peak Refuel , Outdoor Herbivore , and GOOD TO-GO

Note that you will easily be able to fill up your water bottle consistently throughout the trek. Along most of the hike you will find rivers and streams, where you can get some fresh Patagonian water.

During my time on the circuit, I just filled up directly from these without any filtration. However, if you do want to play it safe, you can get a filtered water bottle like the   Katadyn BeFree water bottle.   I also brought along some Liquid IV hydration packets  to keep hydrated at the beginning of the day.

Cooking Gear

  • Cooking Stove : Jetboil Micromo
  • Spork : TiTo titanium spork
  • Cooking Gas (purchase in Puerto Natales)

This last section of the packing list will be toiletries. Each person will also be different here, but below are the main items I brought along with me.

  • Deodorizing Body Wipes  | Alcala Bamboo Deodorizing Body Wipes
  • Body Deodorant
  • Toothbrush / Toothpaste
  • Contact Lenses / Solution
  • Travel Shampoo & Soap
  • Moisturizer
  • Personal Creams & Medications
  • Bandaids 
  • Nail Clipper
  • Small Mirror
  • Toilet Paper

Camping Gear

Now if you plan to bring your own sleeping gear on the trek, you will need to account for those items as well. Below is a list of the hiking & camping gear essentials for your time on the trail. Note that much of these can be rented or bought in Puerto Natales if you do not have everything already.

  • 3-Season Tent | Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL
  • Sleeping Bag (20 F – 40 F)  | Thermarest Questar 20 ; Thermarest Hyperion 32
  • Sleeping Bag Liner | Sea to Summit Liner
  • Sleeping Pad | Thermarest NeoAir Xlite
  • Camping Pillow | Thermarest Camping Pillow
  • Hiking Poles | Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles

12) Patagonia Travel Insurance

Considering travel insurance for the W Circuit? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more (making it an option for those taking on the W Trek in Torres del Paine). For years, World Nomads has been protecting, connecting & inspiring independent travelers, offering travel insurance & safety advice to help you travel confidently. Their mission is to support and encourage travelers to explore their boundaries . World Nomads has simple and flexible travel insurance that has been designed by travelers for travelers. Even if you leave home without travel insurance or your policy runs out, you can buy or extend out on the road. Get a quote for a World Nomads travel insurance policy today!

13) Torres del Paine Tips & Things to Know

I did want to layout a few helpful tips and things to know as you go about your time in Torres del Paine.

WiFi: You will find WiFi throughout the trek at most sectors that you have to pay for on an hourly basis. If you just wanted to get a weather forecast, the folks checking you in will be able to give you some insight.

Closing Times : Be very aware of closing times around the National Park for certain trails. For example, during my time there, the Britanico Mirador closed at 1:00PM and the Mirador Base Torres closed at 4:30PM. These times seem to change, so be sure to keep an eye out at the campsites and ranger stations for the latest.

Bookings : Remember, there is no open camping or entering the park for overnights without accommodations reserved. Be sure to come prepared with your bookings prior to your arrival.

Cooking : For those cooking your own food, camping stoves are allowed in authorized areas at campsites. There are no open fires allowed whatsoever.

Forecasts : If checking weather prior to and along your hike (using the WiFi), I would recommend using Windguru or Meteoblue. This can give you a better idea if certain parts of the day may be better or worse than others (although you can never really trust the weather in Patagonia).

Showers : Hot showers can be found at all campsites on the W. As I mentioned in the packing list section, be sure to bring a small quick dry towel with you.

Food : If you are bringing your own food, you do have the option to purchase some in Puerto Natales. There are supermarkets there, so that should not cause too much trouble. You will also find gear shops if you need to rent or purchase any last minute essentials for the hike.

GPS : Lastly, I would highly recommend downloading the W Trek route onto you phone for navigation purposes. Apps like AllTrails or Maps.me would work here. While the route is easy to follow, the apps also give you a heads up when you are approaching viewpoints and other highlights.

W Trek Day 3 Paine Grande to Frances

14) Hiking Checklist

In the following section I will dive into the day by overview of the W Trek. However, before doing so I did want to put together a “W Trek Checklist”. I know we covered a lot already, so this is a good spot for a quick recap.

1) West to East or East to West

One of the first decisions you will need to make is whether to go about the circuit from west to east or east to west. This may come down to accommodation availabilities or just personal choice. Since I love the idea of ending with Mirador Las Torres, west to east is my overall preference.

2) Campsite vs Refugios

When going about booking your accommodation, you will need to decide between (1) bringing all of your own camping gear, (2) sleeping at ready made campsites, or (3) staying at the refugios. Note you can always mix and match as you see fit too!

3) Purchase Meals vs Cooking

Going hand in hand with booking accommodation will be meal choice as well. Do you want to bring your own meals and cook yourself? Or do you want to purchase breakfast, lunch and dinner from the refugios? This is another place where you can mix and match to your preferences.

4) Bus Tickets

Logistically, the only transport you will need to book in advance are round trip bus tickets to Torres del Paine (in addition to getting to Puerto Natales in the first place). The catamaran and shuttle bus don’t require reservations.

5) TDP Entrance Tickets

Don’t forget to purchase Torres del Paine entrance tickets prior to arriving. They offer the 3+ day option, which can be used for the full W Trek.

6) Packing List

A packing list may change based on whether or not you bring your own camping gear and food. However, the rest of the packing list holds true. Be sure to come prepared with all the essentials, so you are ready to hit the trail when you arrive.

7) Hotels in Puerto Natales

Lastly, booking hotels in Puerto Natales will be important for before and after your trek. You can book for a night on either end (or even extend your stay if you would like).

W Circuit Torres del Paine

15) W Trek Torres del Paine Day by Day

For the purposes of this day by day breakdown, I will be going about the route from west to east (starting in Paine Grande and ending at the Welcome Center) . This should still be plenty helpful if you decide to go about the route in the opposite direction.

Day 1 – Paine Grande to Grey

Starting Point : Sector Paine Grande Ending Point : Sector Grey Distance : 6.6 miles / 10.6 km Elevation Gain : 1,430 feet / 435 meters Duration : 3-4 hours

After leaving Puerto Natales by bus and arriving in Pudeto, you will take a pleasant catamaran ride across Lake Pehoe to Paine Grande.

At Paine Grande you will find a refugio and campsite (which you will be staying at the following night). Once all set it is time to begin the first day of hiking. Altogether this is going to be one of the easier days out on the trail, and a great way to ease into the hiking experience.

From the starting point, the trail will ascend for the first half of the hike. This is where most of the elevation gain for the day will come into play. As you continue up, you will have the massive Cerro Paine Grande hovering up above with other mountains filling out the landscape.

You will soon reach a small lake – Laguna Los Patos, before the views start to get better and better out in front of you. One of the highlights of the W Trek is the Grey Glacier , which feeds Lago Grey.

The glacier will start coming into views and throughout much of the hike, you will now be able to enjoy the views from a far. There will be an “official” lookout point as well, but overall you won’t be disappointed with what the first day entails.

Soon enough, you will reach the high point for the day and then descend further down towards the first campsite. Continue to enjoy those views before easing right into the Grey campsite and refugio.

Grey Lake Lookout

After checking in and getting all settled, I would recommend taking a late afternoon walk to the Mirador Grey.

This lookout point is located just nearby the campsite and gives you a great view of the glacier with large icebergs floating in the lake right besides you.

Once all done there, enjoy your first night on the W Trek, before getting ready for day 2.

Lago Grey Lookout

Day 2 – Grey to Grey Glacier Suspension Bridges to Paine Grande

Starting Point : Sector Grey Highlight : Grey Glacier Suspension Bridges & Lookouts Ending Point : Sector Paine Grande Distance : 10.6 miles / 17.1 km Elevation Gain : 2,400 feet / 730 meters Duration : 6-7 hours

On day two of the W Trek, you will get to head further along the Grey Glacier and take in some views, before turning back around to Paine Grande. You can really split this day into two main parts.

For the first portion of your day, you can leave you bags behind and just take a day pack. This hike will entail an out & back route heading to some more viewpoints and a couple famous suspension bridges overlooking the Grey Glacier.

Most people opt to head to what is known as the second suspension bridge – a 2 mile (4 mile round trip) uphill hike from the Grey campsite. Throughout this out and back trail, you will get continuous beautiful views of the glacier out in front of you, and eventually right beside you.

While you can head even further up the trail past this second suspension bridge, remember that you will need to make it all the way back to Paine Grande at day’s end. Due to this, many just opt for this second suspension bridge lookout.

If you do have the energy and fitness to get it done, feel free to continue all the way up to the Paso campsite (4 mile one way / 8 mile round trip).

Suspension Bridge Grey Glacier

Once back at the Grey campsite, it is time for the second portion of the day. You can pack up your bags, and retrace the same route from the prior day to Paine Grande.

Similarly, you will leave the campsite, gain elevation and take in some views (with many views behind you now). After reaching the high point, you will descend down into Paine Grande after a successful day out on the trail.

While it would be a pretty long day already, there is more to explore if you have it in you. Feel free to walk the pathway along Lake Pehoe, where you can get some surreal views of the lake, Cuernos del Paine, and Cerro Paine Grande all in one shot.

Be sure to then get a good night’s rest since day 3 is going to be a big one!

Paine Grande Pehoe Lake

Day 3 – Paine Grande to Frances via Valle del Frances

Starting Point : Sector Paine Grande Highlight : Valle del Frances (French Valley) Ending Point : Sector Frances Distance : 12.0 miles / 19.3 km Elevation Gain : 2,995 feet / 913 meters Duration : 8 hours

Up next on the W Trek of Torres del Paine is the hike from Paine Grande to Frances. Along the way though you will have the chance to head up the Valle del Frances (French Valley). During this day you will be completing the “middle line of the W”.

This is also one of those nights where you have more than one accommodation option to choose from – either Sector Frances or Sector Cuernos (another 2 miles further).

Most of the first portion of the day will entail hiking through the surrounding greenery with the Cuernos del Paine out in the distance. Your aim is to hike to the base of the mountainside before exploring the Valle del Frances.

Cerro Paine Grande W Trek

You will pass by some beautiful lake views as you slowly get closer and closer the valley itself. Once you reach the valley turnoff, you can head up to the two viewpoints – Mirador Frances and Mirador Britanico.

Now, you do not need to go to both viewpoints, but they are both well worth the effort if you have it in you.

The hike through the valley will be one of the more technical parts of the W Trek. Instead of a nice easy pathway all the way through, the tail can get rockier and steeper at times. Be sure to just consistently watch your step along the way through.

The first viewpoint of Mirador Frances will offer views of Cerro Paine Grande and the Frances Glacier. Further up the valley, you will find Mirador Britanico.

Here you have views of a whole array of Torres del Paine mountains out in front, as well as the Cuernos del Paine up above.

Once you have enjoyed one or both viewpoints, it is then back down the same way you came, until you reach the Valle del Frances turnoff.

It is then another 20 minutes walk until you reach the Frances sector (or another hour or so if you opt for the Cuernos sector).

Frances Lookout W Trek

Day 4 – Frances to Chileno

Starting Point : Sector Frances Ending Point : Sector Chileno Distance : 9.6 miles / 15.4 km Elevation Gain : 2,810 feet / 856 meters Duration : 5 hours

On the fourth day of the W Trek, the circuit takes you from Frances to Sector Chileno. This will be a beautiful route as you get to walk right alongside the Nordenskjöld Lake for much of the day.

I ended up waking up early and I opted to just get started hiking around sunrise. This in turn led me to experience some beautiful colors lighting up Torres del Paine. If you have it in you for one (or more) days of the trek, I would recommend a sunrise at some point.

After walking along and above the lake, there is an intersection. To the right is a trail that heads towards the Welcome Center, and to the left is Sector Chileno. Take that left hand turn, and start hiking through the Ascencio Valley.

W Trek Sunrise

From here you will begin the hike up the valley along the pathway etched into the hillside. Down below will be the winding Ascencio River and further in the distance will be more alpine peaks.

After hiking above the river, the trail descends towards Chileno, where you can check in and get ready for the final day of the hike.

This is another day in which you can choose to opt for alternate accommodation. However, I would highly recommend going with Chileno for your first choice. If it is sold out, then you could end up going with Sector Central or even the Hotel Las Torres.

W Trek Ascencio Valley

Day 5 – Chileno to Mirador Las Torres to TDP Welcome Center

Starting Point : Sector Chileno Highlight : Mirador Las Torres Ending Point : TDP Welcome Center Distance : 8.6 miles / 13.8 km Elevation Gain : 2,665 feet / 82 meters Duration : 5 hours

It is now time for the final day of the W Trek as you make your way from Chileno to the famed Mirador Las Torres viewpoint (one of the best hikes in Torres del Paine ).

At the viewpoint you will have a beautiful turquoise lake in the foreground with the three granite peaks of Torre Sur, Torre Central, and Torre Norte hovering up above.

Most people opt for a sunrise at the lake. This means you will need to wake up in the middle of the night and hike in the dark.  

During my times in the park, it was pouring rain when I woke up. While some people did opt to hike in the wet darkness, most people waited it out a couple of hours. I am sure glad that I did because, the weather ending up clearing and the remainder of the morning was a memorable one.

Taking part of a sunrise hike though at Mirador Las Torres is still in my eyes one of the best overall highlights of the W Trek. I would highly recommend it if you are up for the early wake up.

Torres del Paine View Sunrise

This is also going to be one of the more technical days out on the trail, as there is a good portion of the hike that is on uneven, rocky, and steep terrain.

You will first make your way through the forest portion as you continue to gain elevation. Once out of the forest, the tougher section begins as you head up the rocky and steep hillside to get to the lake itself.

As you arrive at the lake, you can expect some surreal views of your surroundings (on a clear day at least).

Ascent to Torres del Paine

Be sure to remember throughout this day that you will need to catch a bus out later in the afternoon. Pay attention to your timing, so you can get back to Chileno and to the Welcome Center in time.

After enjoying the views though, make your way back down to Chileno, where you can pack up your belongings. It is then retracing your steps along the river and out of the valley, where you can then follow the path to the Torres del Paine Welcome Center.

Once there, hop in one of the shared shuttle vans to the Amarga park entrance, where you can then get onto your bus back to Puerto Natales.

All said and done, while there are some logistics to a hike like this, the W Trek will be well worth the planning and effort.

Hotel Las Torres to Chileno

16) Torres del Paine W Trek Cost

From a cost perspective, the W Trek of Torres del Paine can cover a wide array of budgets.

On one side, you have the chance to bring all your own gear and food, and simply just pay for campsites (and transport). On the other end, you have refugio rooms and full board to choose from.

Obviously, the budgets for these two trips can be vastly different. And while those are the two ends of the spectrum, many people fall right in between (mix between campsites/refugios & bringing some food but not all).

From a high level perspective, below is what you should expect the Torres del Paine W Circuit to cost from a few different standpoints (note all currency in USD).

Low Cost Option

  • Accommodation : bring all of you own gear = ~$130 (campsite fees)
  • Food : bring all of you own food = ~$75 (can vary greatly based on food choice)

High Cost Option

  • Accommodation : refugios only  = ~$500
  • Food : full board = ~$360

Mid Cost Option

During my time out on the trail, I brought most of my food with me, and ending up buying a couple meals along the way (not guaranteed everywhere). For accommodations, I split up my time between refugios and ready made campsites.

You can expect this to fall right in between the low and high cost options.

In addition to the food and accommodation, your other cost considerations should be:

• Puerto Natales Hotel (before/after): varies • Round Trip Bus Tickets: ~$25 • Pudeto Catamaran: $30 • Laguna Amarga Van: $5 • Torres Del Paine Entrance Tickets: $49

Refugios W Trek

17) Self Guided vs Guided

Many people ask can you do the W Trek without a guide? The answer to that question is certainly yes. In general, I would imagine most people who hike the W Trek do so unguided.

For the vast majority of the hike, the trail is obvious with trail markers sprinkled throughout. Getting from campsite to campsite should not be an issue given the trail (and having a navigation app just in case).

I would say a guided W Trek can be valuable for those with less hiking experience.

If you are someone who has just not completed multi day hikes and are not comfortable doing something like this on your own, then a guide can be very valuable to help lead the way (and help you out with some tips).

In general, if you are not one of those people, then a self guided hike is going to be more than doable. This also gives you the chance to be on your own schedule, and not worry as much about the larger group.

18) W vs O Trek Patagonia

While the W Trek is certainly a bucket list worthy type of hike, you may be asking yourself whether you should do the O Trek instead.

At the end of the day, this will just be based on the amount of time you have and whether or not you actually want to hike for an additional three days.

Remember, the W is part of the O. So if you complete the O, you are completing the W. With the O Circuit you get to hike the backside of Torres del Paine during your extra three days in the park. This section is much quieter than the W side of the park.

From a duration perspective, you will need just 5 days to complete the W (or maybe even less) but 8 days to complete the O .

You will need to ask yourself whether you even want to hike for 8 days in a row. That can be a lot of hiking for most people. Since the W may be hiked in as few as 4 days, some people may be more than happy with that amount of hiking.

Another consideration in general will be your overall fitness. While the O Trek is 70+ miles, the W Trek is just about 45 miles . So, that is another 25+ miles your body will need to make its way through (including the toughest part of Torres del Paine up the John Gardner Pass).

Lastly, you will also want to take your budget into consideration . By doing the W, you are sure to save on accommodation and food within the park. While on the O, you are going to spend more based on the longer duration.

While those are just some of the main questions to ask yourself, if you can answer those, you should have a better sense of which option is best for you.

Learn more about Torres del Paine O Trek to get a better idea of what it is all about .

O Trek Lakes

I hope you enjoyed this extensive overview about the W Trek of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. If you do happen to have any additional questions or concerns, feel free to add them in below.

Also, be sure to check out the other Patagonia itineraries and guides up on the site. Have fun out there and safe travels!

The W Circuit Torres del Paine

Related posts:

Glacier Martial Trekking

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Saturday 25th of March 2023

Great write up, this is really helpful! Any idea if bookings are open for 2023/2024 season or when to expect them to open? I'm looking at booking for December 2023 and none of the websites work for any of those dates, but I dont think it would be completely full already. How far in advance would you recommend booking?

Monday 27th of March 2023

Hi Kirsten - I would guess bookings will open up soon (in the next month or two). The current season is almost at its end and I am guessing they will have the bookings open soon enough. December can be quite busy depending on if you are heading for holiday season. If that is the case I would honestly advise to book as soon as you are able to. Any other question feel free to reach out.

w trek itinerary west to east

  • Testimonials
  • T’s & C’s

Torres Del Paine W Trek

East to West

Torres del Paine W Trek East to West

Torres del paine w trek east to west introduction.

Hiking the Torres Del Paine W Trek East to West means that you are starting at the trail head located close to Hotel Las Torres. Also in this sector is the Eco Camp and Refugios Central and Norte. In addition, the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre is also located in this area.

Typically, a person will start their trek from the above-mentioned area and hike 2hrs up to the Refugio Chileno. Basically, Refugio Chileno is the place to stay for your first night on the W Trek, if there is space. Above all, the trek from Refugio Chileno is only 2hrs to the iconic Torres Base, which is where the lagoon is located at the base of the three tower spires, after which the Park gets its name “Torres”, meaning “Towers” of Paine.

Direct W Trek Request Email: [email protected]

After the torres base.

Following a visit to the Torres Base and a night at Refugio Chileno the trail comes back down to a point where it will fork right and lead to where Refugio, Cabins and Serviced Camping Cuernos is located. This is a main stop off for people trekking the W. Alternatively, there is an option to walk a further 1hr and stay the night at Domos Frances. Moreover, staying at Domos Frances means that you will be one hour closer to the entrance to the French Valley.

After Cuernos, trekkers have the option to go into the stunning French Valley and back out, or cut it entirely and hike on to Refugio Paine Grande.

Refugio Paine Grande is a large refugio and also the start, or drop off point, for the catamaran that operates between Paine Grande and Pudeto. Some people terminate their Trek here, whilst others prefer to do the “full W Trek” and continue on to Refugio Grey, located at the far western arm of the trail, close to Glacier Grey. The trail will pass beside the Grey Lake and at one point, on a clear day, there is a spectacular view of the lake and Grey Glacier at the end, coming down from the Southern Ice Field of the Andes.

Advantages to Trekking East to West

Many of our clients ask the question: Which is the best direction to hike the W Trek Trial? Our answer is always, “in reality is does not matter”. As long as you stop regularly to admire the views, you will get the same views. However, if the prevailing wind is blowing, hiking East to West will mean that you are headed IN TO the wind.

Our Suggestion

Here at ExperienceChile.Org we have developed thousands of Torres del Paine W Trek itineraries. The reality is that the first thing we do is to get you the accommodation. Without the accommodation nailed you cannot do the trek, therefore this is the first base reality.

Once we have the accommodation confirmed we then look at all the other logistics connected to your wider travel itinerary. For these reasons, should we take care of all your requirements in an, and around Patagonia, you will have a lot of hassle taken off your mind!

Our East to West Sector Breakdown is over on our W Trek Description Page – See Link Below

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

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2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

Jan 14, 2023 • 8 min read

w trek itinerary west to east

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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Globe Guide

The ultimate guide to the Torres del Paine W Trek in Chile

w trek itinerary west to east

The W Trek in Chile is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And that’s coming from someone who thought it would be a good idea to cycle across the entire country of Jordan.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you why hiking in Torres del Paine National Park is also one of the most rewarding travel experiences I’ve had.

Patagonia packing list for the Torres del Paine W Trek

It’s rare to find an adventure that pushes your physical limits every single day, has you cursing under your breath more times than you can count as you face yet another sloshy water crossing or steep incline with a fully loaded pack on your back, and leaves you with aches, sore muscles and a few bruises on account of the inevitable stumbles over rogue rocks.

Yet, at the end of this multi-day grind, the feeling of accomplishment is unmatched. You just trekked through freaking Patagonia, one of the most remote and picturesque places on the planet!

w trek itinerary west to east

The scenery is stunning, the logistics and conditions are challenging, and your body is pushed to exhaustion with very little rest time.

Not only will you learn how capable your mind and body really are, but there’s the added bonus of not feeling guilty at all when indulging in a slice of chocolate cake and glass of Carmenere at a refugio at the end of each day. Because my god will you ever burn a lot of calories.

w trek itinerary west to east

Is this trip for everyone? No.

Is it epic and unforgettable? Absolutely.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re thinking about tackling the Torres del Paine W Trek in Chile.

w trek itinerary west to east

The Patagonia W Trek route

The W Trek takes four days to complete, and while its exact length seems to change depending on who you ask or which map you look at, the general consensus is that the trail is about 64 kilometers (40 miles) long.

Expect anywhere from six to 12 hours of hiking each day, more than 100,000 steps (my Apple Watch logged 125,458 to be exact) and of course countless photo-ops.

w trek itinerary west to east

This is the most popular way to hike Patagonia, and those who are up for even more of a challenge can continue along the O Circuit which takes about nine days to complete the 122 kilometer, counter-clockwise loop.

This W Trek map outlines the exact route:

The W Trek in Torres del Paine can be done in either direction, starting from either the Torres del Paine Welcome Center on the east side or Lago Grey on the west which requires a boat ride over.

Deciding which side to start from simply comes down to preference and logistics, with the availability of refugios (the campsites that hikers stay at each night) being the most important to account for.

w trek itinerary west to east

Another factor is when you want to take on the Mirador Base de Las Torres hike: this is the view you’ll see on pretty much every single postcard and basically the entire reason most people come all the way to Patagonia.

Thing is, it’s a very steep eight hour round trip hike, and the most challenging day of the W Circuit. So, some like to get it out of the way on day one while their legs are fresh, while others opt to start from the other side and save it for the last day of the hike as a culmination of their efforts.

w trek itinerary west to east

We did it on the first day, and there are pros and cons to both. I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been after already hiking for three full days and feeling worn down from camping and cold showers; that said, going full throttle on the first day wasn’t the best warmup as someone who doesn’t do intense hikes on a regular basis, and my legs were basically jelly the whole rest of the trip.

One perk of going from west to east is you can stay at Refugio Chileno the night before summiting Mirador Las Torres. That saves about 90 minutes of hiking compared to starting from Centro on the other side–a huge advantage for those wanting to make it up for sunrise or try and beat the crowds.

When I asked my guide who’s done the trek hundreds of times which direction he prefers, he said he likes to do it on day one to get it over with. So there you have it.

w trek itinerary west to east

How to book a W Trek itinerary

As you might have noticed already, there are a stupid amount of logistics involved with trekking in Torres del Paine–and in true Chilean fashion, they don’t make it easy.

Some of the things you’ll need to book and consider are:

  • Transportation to and from the park gates and to/from the welcome centre (yup, these are separate buses)
  • Refugios for each night of the trek
  • Food (either carry your own or book meals at each stop)
  • Sleeping bag and mat rentals (if not carrying your own)
  • Permits/entrance fees

w trek itinerary west to east

The problem is that tour operators secure a lot of the spots ahead of time, so there are a limited amount left for those planning self-guided trips. You’ll also have to ensure you book each night you need in the correct order of the route, and since two different companies ( Vertice and Fantástico Sur ) operate the refugios you’ll need to coordinate this on separate websites.

Fun, right?

Globe Guide tip: Some hikers have had success contacting the companies directly via e-mail or WhatsApp in advance to secure bookings.

w trek itinerary west to east

My recommendation: save yourself a lot of time and stress, and book through a small group tour operator instead.

I went with Traverse Journeys , which offers both self-guided and group trip options, as well as (optional) stops in the Strait of Magellan to see the famous penguins, horseback riding, wine tasting among the Casablanca vineyards and city sightseeing in Valparaiso and Santiago.

Traverse handles every single detail right down to what’s in your lunch bag, and donates a portion of the proceeds from each trip to support a local community partner. We saw this firsthand by learning about the efforts the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund is spearheading to conserve the fragile environment and ensure a safer experience for visitors, and even passed some of their volunteers working on the trail.

Globe Guide readers get $200 off of any booking with Traverse Journeys by entering code GLOBEGUIDE200 at checkout!

w trek itinerary west to east

Getting to and from the entrances for trekking Torres del Paine National Park

The cute town of Puerto Natales is like basecamp for Torres del Paine National Park, despite being a scenic 90 minute drive away.

This is where the closest airport is, along with lots of great restaurants and accommodations, grocery stores for stocking up on food or snacks, and gear outfitters for any last minute purchases.

Puerto Natales, Chile

Buses depart from the main depot around 7 AM for both entrances to the park. If you’re starting on the east side like we did or doing the day hike up to Mirador Base Torres, you’ll present a QR code with your permit then hop on another bus (3,000 pesos) to get to the Torres del Paine Welcome Center.

Those starting from the west will head to Lago Grey and take a catamaran over. In theory this means all the way up to the glacier for incredible views, but if the weather is bad a ferry crosses Pehoe Lake to the Paine Grande refugio instead.

w trek itinerary west to east

In this case, you’ll have to do an out-and-back to see the glacier on foot, before taking the ferry across Pehoe Lake. This website has more information on prices and schedules.

Globe Guide note: If neither of the boats are operating which happens on occasion due to weather or maintenance issues, it adds an extra 6-7 hours of walking to get to the pickup/dropoff spot.

w trek itinerary west to east

W Trek refugios

Refugios are a key part of the experience, and not all are created equally.

At the very least you can expect a communal eating area, shared bathrooms with (sometimes) warm sinks and showers, a canteen, bar and outdoor hangout area. Camping options are either elevated tents or tents on low platforms (both with sleeping pads), or sites for pitching your own tent.

w trek itinerary west to east

Some refugios also offer dorm-style rooms that sleep about six to eight people in bunk beds, private rooms for couples in the main lodge, and even unique accommodation options like domes and tiny houses.

w trek itinerary west to east

We didn’t get to stay at Refugio Los Cuernos, but absolutely loved the vibe of it from the short time we spent there on a lunch break. It has lovely views from the patio, a warm hangout space and some very cool accommodation options.

Paine Grande has a great feel with lots of communal spaces and a second-floor bar, and Centro has a cozy wood-stove fireplace and large dining area (though we didn’t love how far we had to trek to get to our tent–it felt like climbing another soggy mountain!).

w trek itinerary west to east

Frances was a total bust and we couldn’t wait to get out of there.

The layout is awful, with all the tents at the top of a hill and the restaurant at the very bottom and not well marked—not fun to deal with going up and down after a full day of hiking. To add insult to injury, dinner seatings start early and there’s no other warm place to sit or enjoy a drink, so you’re literally stuck out in the cold waiting to get in.

The bathrooms were filthy (to be fair, they aren’t very clean at most refugios ) and even though there were limited hours for hot water it still ran out before the time was up. My top tip would be to stay at Los Cuernos instead of Frances if possible.

w trek itinerary west to east

Prices differ by refugio , but expect to shell out about (per night, in USD):

  • $13 for a campsite
  • $40 for a tent
  • $25 sleeping bag rental
  • $12 mat rental
  • $65 per bunk in bunk bed (comforter extra)
  • $100+ for private accommodations like domes

w trek itinerary west to east

Hikers can bring their own food, or opt for a meal plan with breakfast (usually just bread and a small portion of scrambled eggs), boxed lunch and a hearty family-style dinner (timed seatings).

You’ll get a lot more out of the experience if you embrace being off-the-grid during the trek; however, those who need to connect can pay for minutes at the WiFi stations inside most refugios .

There are also outlets in the refugios for charging devices, but they can be in-demand so I recommend bringing a lightweight portable charger instead.

w trek itinerary west to east

Life on the trail during the Torres del Paine W Trek

There’s a huge sense of camaraderie on the trails that feels like the good ol’ backpacking days. You’ll see the same people over and over, since there are only two potential routes and a handful of refugios.

You’ll spend anywhere from six to twelve hours walking per day (depending which part of the route you’re on), and likely only see a few dozen hikers until you get to a refugio.

The exception is the Mirador del Torres hike, which is absolutely packed with people. It sees about 1000 people per day since it’s the area’s most famous trail and can easily be done by day trippers from Puerto Natales.

w trek itinerary west to east

In terms of the age range, hikers seemed to be anywhere from in their early 20s to late 60s. My mom did it, and she’s turning 70 this year! I only saw one child the entire time, so the W Trek doesn’t seem to be popular with families.

It’s definitely a good idea to have hiking experience (and make sure you break in your shoes and test your outdoor gear ahead of time, obvs). That said, a couple people in our group aren’t regular hikers and managed alright, as it’s not a super technically challenging trail.

w trek itinerary west to east

The main challenge for me was how long each day is, with very little time to rest before doing it all over again the next day. And let’s be honest, tents aren’t that comfortable. 10/10 would recommend upgrading to a bed if budget allows.

Completing the W Trek is definitely a mental and physical challenge–luckily, the feeling of accomplishment coupled with jaw-dropping scenery like soaring peaks shrouded in mist, calving glaciers and gem-toned lakes makes it all worth it.

w trek itinerary west to east

Patagonia packing list: The essentials

It’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a single hour in these parts, so preparation is key when planning your packing list for Patagonia.

Unless you hire a porter you’ll be carrying all of your belongings in a large trekking pack for at least two full days, and will also need to bring a lightweight sleeping bag, mat and travel pillow unless you rent them at each refugio.

READ MORE: Patagonia packing list for the Torres del Paine W Trek

w trek itinerary west to east

This W Trek packing list outlines every single item you’ll want to bring and a few you might not have thought of– you’ll definitely want a lightweight portable charger , collapsible hiking poles , a quick dry towel and Chilean pesos in case there’s a connectivity issue with using credit cards at the refugios .

w trek itinerary west to east

Insider tips for the W Circuit, Torres del Paine

  • The Patagonia W Trek can be done all year round, but the best time is from November to March. Chile is in the southern hemisphere, so this is spring/summer when temperatures are warmer and there’s usually less rain and snow.
  • If you’re planning to hike Torres del Paine without a guide, it’s critical to download a GPS map ahead of time. While the trail is generally well marked, one wrong step away from the path can get you lost in a hurry since the terrain is so untouched. Unfortunately this happened to me near Glacier Grey and resulted in a frantic 20 minutes of running up and down ravines and ridges, yelling ‘help!’ in hopes fellow hikers would hear me over the wind–luckily, a couple did. Man, was I ever thankful to see them (side note: stick with your hiking buddies!).

w trek itinerary west to east

  • While most people complete the W Circuit in four days straight, another option is to spend an extra day at Los Cuernos. Not only is it one of the nicest refugios with spectacular views, but that way you’ll be able to either spend the day resting up, or do the hike up to the French Valley and back to save several hours the day after by walking straight to Paine Grande.
  • It’s not uncommon for refugios to ‘lose’ reservations, so bring a printed or screenshot confirmation of your booking with you on the Torres del Paine W Trek.

w trek itinerary west to east

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IMAGES

  1. Torres del Paine W Trek

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  2. Turn About Town

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  3. Torres del Paine W Trek Complete Guide to Plan Your Trip!

    w trek itinerary west to east

  4. The W trek in Torres del Paine

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  5. Torres del Paine W Trek Map

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  6. Self Guided W Trek

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COMMENTS

  1. Hiking The W Trek In Patagonia: A Self-Guided Itinerary [2024]

    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

  2. Hiking the W Trek East to West in Torres del Paine National Park

    For the 3 day or more pass it is 35.000 CLP due in cash. Credit cards are not accepted. If you are hiking the W Trek from east to west, you'll want to take the minibus from the front gate towards Las Torres Hotel, Lodge, and Camping Zone. This costs 4.000, also due in cash.

  3. The W trek in Torres del Paine

    W trek in Torres del Paine - a 4-day itinerary. If for some reason your time in Torres del Paine is limited you can walk the W trek in 4 days. Day 1. Paine Grande campsite - Grey campsite - Paine Grande campsite, 22 km/13,6 mi. Bus Puerto Natales Torres del Paine (Pudeto); ferry Pudeto - Paine Grande, 3-4 hours.

  4. How to Hike the Torres del Paine W Trek [2024 Guide]

    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.

  5. Self Guided W Trek

    The Best W Trek Route. Day 1: Arrive at Torres Central, hike up to the three Towers and back down to Chileno (13.8km) Day 2: Chileno to Cuernos (13km) Day 3: Cuernos to Frances Valley and back down to Paine Grande (21.5km) Day 4: Paine Grande to Grey (11km)

  6. Torres del Paine W Trek Patagonia: How to Hike It In 4 Days

    Torres del Paine W Trek Itinerary: Self-Guided 4 Days (West to East) This guide on trekking the Torres del Paine W trek in Patagonia will cover how to organise and complete the trail independently in 4 days. The W Trek in the Torres del Paine National Park is often on top of a South America bucket list and rightly so.

  7. Solo Hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine: Multi-Day Itinerary

    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.

  8. Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia Self-Guided: The Complete Details

    Things to Know When Planning the W Trek in Patagonia. The W Trek in Patagonia is a long hike and Torres del Paine doesn't make the information easy to find. Below will be a plethora of extra details you need to complete the self-guided hike of the W Trek! Overview: My Itinerary (West to East) Day 1:

  9. The Best 4 Day W Trek Itinerary in Patagonia

    Day 1: Hike To and From the Base of the Towers (Mirador Las Torres) Distance: 22 Km. Ascent: 2956 ft of elevation gain. Time: 7 - 9 hours. The first day of this 4 day W trek itinerary in Patagonia will cover a lot of ground. You'll kick off the day bright and early departing from Puerto Natales.

  10. Everything You Need to Know for Hiking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine

    The W Trek can be walked in two directions; from east to west, starting at Refugio Las Torres and ending at Refugio Paine Grande; or from west to east, starting with the catamaran ride across lago Pehoe and ending with a spectacular view of the morning light bouncing off the spires of Las Torres at sunrise. ... 5 DAYS / 4 NIGHT ITINERARY FOR ...

  11. Ultimate Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia

    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. ... W Trek Itinerary Day 1. 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 ...

  12. Torres del Paine W Trek West to East

    When hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek West to East, it means that you are walking from where Refugio Grey is located, which is close to the Glacier Grey, down the arm that runs parallel to Grey Lake and to Refugio Paine Grande. In addition, Refugio Paine Grande is where the catamaran arrives and departs from for the ferry trip to Pudeto.

  13. 5-Day W Trek Guide

    W Trek is one of the most popular multi-day treks in the world and gets its name from the shape of the trail. The beauty and ruggedness of Patagonia attracts visitors from all over the world. Due to its popularity, booking accommodations has become harder and harder. 5-Day W Trek in Torres del Paine can be hiked in East to West or West to East ...

  14. W Trek Guide: Master the Torres del Paine Hike in Patagonia

    W Trek West to East. This direction follows the counter-clockwise path from the park's west to the east. Points to consider. Gradual difficulty: Starting the trek on the west side allows for a more gradual increase in difficulty.In the beginning, the terrain is relatively easy, giving you more time to become accustomed to walking each day.

  15. Comprehensive Guide to Hiking the W-Trek in Patagonia

    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 ...

  16. Chile's W Trek: 4-Day Itinerary from West to East

    W Trek: Day 1. Paine Grande to Mirador Lago Grey. Steps logged: 24,345. Roughly 11 miles, 18 km. We started our trek early by catching the 7 a.m. bus from Puerto Natales, Chile, to Torres del Paine National Park. The three-hour bus ride was smooth, and we saw guanacos, flamingos and emus along the way. The bus dropped us off at Pudeto where we ...

  17. Torres del Paine

    The W Trek West to East Start and End. The trek can start at either the Western end, therefore at Refugio Grey, or even at Refugio Paine Grande and end at the Eastern sector meaning Refugio Chileno, Hotel Las Torres, Refugios Central or Norte or even ECO Camp. ... so thank you for putting together such an enjoyable itinerary for us.

  18. The Ultimate Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia: Full Itinerary

    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 ...

  19. W-Trek from West to East: Torres del Paine Chile

    The following itinerary is an example of our budget trek. There may be differences due to accommodation availability, including the direction of the hike, camping vs. dormitories, and the overnight location. ... W-Trek East to West: In Lux and Style. Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine, Chile W-Trek and Multi-Sport Adventure in ...

  20. The Stunning Torres del Paine W Trek (2023/2024 Circuit Overview)

    3) Patagonia W Trek Itinerary. The W Trek offers the opportunity to take part of the hike in either direction - either west to east or east to west. Below I will layout both of those options and give some insight on what my recommendation would be. In general, the standard W Trek is completed in 5 days, and that is what I will be talking ...

  21. Torres Del Paine W Trek East to West

    Hiking the Torres Del Paine W Trek East to West means that you are starting at the trail head located close to Hotel Las Torres. Also in this sector is the Eco Camp and Refugios Central and Norte. In addition, the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre is also located in this area. Typically, a person will start their trek from the above-mentioned ...

  22. Organize a hike on Chile's famous W Trek

    The W Trek can be hiked from east to west or vice versa, independently or guided, ... 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.

  23. The ultimate guide to the Torres del Paine W Trek in Chile

    The W Trek in Torres del Paine can be done in either direction, starting from either the Torres del Paine Welcome Center on the east side or Lago Grey on the west which requires a boat ride over. Deciding which side to start from simply comes down to preference and logistics, with the availability of refugios (the campsites that hikers stay at ...