Conquer Chile's famous "W Circuit" trek on this 7-day self-guided excursion for experienced hikers and the adventurous at heart. Starting in the trekker's paradise of Puerto Natales, you'll set out into Torres del Paine National Park, following the w-shaped route through some of Chilean Patagonia's most spectacular scenery. Pass towering mountains, vast glaciers, and turquoise lakes as you hike the rugged and rewarding 35 miles (56 km) to the base of the magnificent Glacier Grey.

Highlights

  • Trek the "W" in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Visit the famous granite towers of Cuernos del Paine
  • Hike along Lake Nordenskjöld
  • Admire Glacier Grey up close
  • Traverse the scenic French Valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 2 Admire the Famous Granite Towers [W Trek Day 1] Torres del Paine
Day 3 Hike Along Lake Nordenskjöld [W Trek Day 2] Torres del Paine
Day 4 Visit the French Valley [W Trek Day 3] Torres del Paine
Day 5 Hike Towards Glacier Grey [W Trek Day 4] Torres del Paine
Day 6 Admire Glacier Grey & Return to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 7 Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas, Fly to Santiago & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Puerto Natales

Welcome to Puerto Natales—gateway to Torres del Paine National Park
Welcome to Puerto Natales—gateway to Torres del Paine National Park

After arriving at the Punta Arenas Airport, catch a bus bound for Puerto Natales.  This trip will take about five hours (depending on congestion at the border), and along the way, you'll get your first glimpses of the Patagonian Pampas. If you're lucky, you may spot some of the local wildlife, including guanaco and nandu.

Upon arrival, settle into your accommodation and then head to the Dittmar Adventures office for a trip briefing, where you'll be able to ask any last-minute questions as well as pick up all of your tickets and vouchers for the next few days' adventures.

The small port city of Puerto Natales is the main base for excursions into Torres del Paine National Park. It's far less touristic than many other Patagonian hubs and thus retains its air of small-town tranquility. Enjoy the town's simple pleasures, like strolling its waterfront promenade, which sits on the Ultima Esperanza Sound. Facing north from here, you'll see the peaks of Cerro Benitez and Cerro Toro, and the view is phenomenal at sunset. After your walk, check out one of the numerous restaurant options in town.

Day 2: Admire the Famous Granite Towers [W Trek Day 1]

The spectacular view from Mirador Base Torres
The spectacular view from Mirador Base Torres

Hop on a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park (Laguna Amarga Main Entrance) this morning. The total distance is 70 miles (112 km), and the drive takes about two hours, with a short stop at Cerro Castillo Village. The scenery along the way will be incredible, as you'll get your first glimpses of Torres del Paine's massive peaks as well as some of the local fauna like guanacos. 

Arrive at the Laguna Amarga main entrance and register yourself with the park office. Then it's a quick shuttle ride to the Las Torres sector where you'll check-in and leave your heavier bags before trekking up the mountain. From here, you'll hike up Mount Almirante Nieto, which features stunning views of the Asencio Valley and Lake Nordenskjöld. After two hours of hiking, you'll reach Refugio Chileno, an excellent spot for lunch or a rest.

It's another hour of hiking past ancient lenga forests before arriving at a moraine. The next part is a challenging steep ascent for 45 minutes until you reach the top, which is known as Mirador Base Torres. Mirador in English means "viewpoint," and this little section of the mountain, with the Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine) looming over a green lagoon, is the best view in the park. From here, you can also marvel at the towering peaks of nearby Torre Sur, Central Tower, North Tower, Condor's Nest, and Glacier Torre, all set amidst the sweeping backdrop of the Patagonian highlands.

After spending some time enjoying the views at Base Torres, you'll then hike back to Refugio Torre Central to rest up for the evening. 

Hiking Distance: 11.2 Miles (18 km)
Hiking Duration: 8 Hours

Day 3: Hike Along Lake Nordenskjöld [W Trek Day 2]

Blue skies over Lake Nordenskjöld
Blue skies over Lake Nordenskjöld

After a hearty breakfast, get ready for your second day of hiking. You'll leave Refugio Torre Central and walk for four hours towards Refugio Cuernos, located on the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld and at the foot of the Cuernos peaks.  Along the way, you'll follow the skirt of Almirante Nieto and hop across rivers, surrounded by a towering backdrop of glaciers and mountaintops. Spend the night at the foot of the iconic granite peaks at the beautiful Refugio Cuernos.

Hiking Distance:  6.8 Miles (11 km)
Hiking Duration: 4.5 Hours

Day 4: Visit the French Valley [W Trek Day 3]

The spectacular landscapes of the French Valley
The spectacular landscapes of the French Valley

Shortly after breakfast, you'll set off towards Campamento Italiano, reaching the camp after 2.5 hours of trekking across a windy beach and entering a sheltered valley.  Here you can leave your large pack and continue into the French Valley with just a small daypack.  Cross moraine and forests to reach a clearing that offers breathtaking views of Lake Nordenskjold, Skottsberg, Pehoe, and French Glacier.  After leaving the lookout, return to gather your large pack and continue another 2.5 hours to Refugio Paine Grande on the shore of the beautiful Lake Pehoe.

Hiking Distance: 10.7 miles (17.3 km)
Hiking Duration: 7 hours

Day 5: Hike Towards Glacier Grey [W Trek Day 4]

Catch your first glimpse of the magnificent Glacier Grey
Catch your first glimpse of the magnificent Glacier Grey

After a restful sleep and an energizing breakfast, begin the day with a four-hour hike through the dense forest along Lake Grey. Be prepared for Patagonia's famously high winds—this section of the park is particularly open. After about two hours of hiking, you'll be rewarded with your first glimpse of the magnificent Glacier Grey before continuing to Refugio & Camping Grey, where you'll spend the night. If you're feeling energetic, continue past the Refugio for a spectacular view of the glacier and a chance to cross one of the park's famous suspension bridges. 

There are also two optional excursions you can take today in the afternoon or tomorrow in the morning while at Refugio Grey— ice hiking on Glacier Grey or kayaking on Lake Grey. Both can be reserved ahead of time by your specialist.

Hiking Distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking Duration: 4 hours

Day 6: Admire Glacier Grey & Return to Puerto Natales

The stunning ice formations of Glacier Grey
The stunning ice formations of Glacier Grey

This morning, you'll have the chance to hike up to the park's famous suspension bridges before your afternoon catamaran cruise. You'll board the Grey III for a tour of Glacier Grey, which feeds the lake of the same name, Lago Grey. The boat travels across the lake and stops close to the glacier, which gives passengers a prime vantage point to snap photos of its massive ice walls. 

Upon arrival, you'll have a short hike across the windswept beach and through the forest before heading to the nearby hotel where you'll catch a transfer and then a bus back to Puerto Natales.

Day 7: Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas, Fly to Santiago & Depart

Farewell, Chile!
Farewell, Chile!

It's time to say goodbye to Patagonia and Chile. Today you'll take a bus from Puerto Natales to the airport in Punta Arenas and hop on a domestic flight to Santiago. Upon arrival, you'll meet your connecting flight home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Torres del Paine National Park: Self-Guided "W" Trek - 7 Days
Map of Torres del Paine National Park: Self-Guided "W" Trek - 7 Days