This 11-day trip achieves the Paine Massif Circuit—commonly called the "O"—in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park. More adventurous than its sister trek, the "W" (which follows a portion of this trek), the "O" is suited for those seeking a lesser-visited and more challenging route. You'll also get two nights in Puerto Natales and an arrival day in Chile's capital with just enough time to check out the sites.

Highlights

  • Get a slice of Santiago's up-and-coming dining scene
  • Spend just over a week soaking up the stunning scenery of Torres del Paine
  • Climb the John Gardner Pass for a section of the park that is seldom seen
  • Look for numerous flora and fauna, including grazing wild guanaco
  • Relax in Puerto Natales with restaurants and promenade strolls

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Santiago de Chile Santiago
Day 2 Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas - Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 3 Transfer to Torres Del Paine - O Trek Day 1/8: Visit the Famous Towers Torres del Paine
Day 4 O Trek Day 2/8: Paine River Torres del Paine
Day 5 O Trek Day 3/8: Glacier Dickson & Lake Paine Torres del Paine
Day 6 O Trek Day 4/8: Lengas & Coigues Forest Trekking Torres del Paine
Day 7 O Trek Day 5/8: Cross the John Gardner Pass Torres del Paine
Day 8 O Trek Day 6/8: Hike to Lake Pehoe Torres del Paine
Day 9 O Trek Day 7/8: Explore the French Valley Torres del Paine
Day 10 O Trek Day 8/8: Return to Laguna Amarga - Transfer to Puerto Natales Puerto Natales
Day 11 Puerto Natales to Santiago - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago de Chile

Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal
Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, where you can get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 2,788 feet (850 m) up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. If you aren't the hiking type, not to worry: catch a scenic gondola instead.

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, at once fashionable and bohemian. Stroll past colorful houses adorned with graffiti art and choose between an eclectic array of eateries and bars—great for people watching. 

  • Visit the Plaza de Armas, a stone plaza located in Santiago's historic center dating to 1541. There's also the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748 whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza.

  • Snap pics in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent Presidential Palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Visitors are welcome.

For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas - Transfer to Puerto Natales

Aerial view of Punta Arenas
Aerial view of Punta Arenas

After breakfast, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport, at which time you'll catch a flight to the city of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, you'll hop a bus for a three-hour trip north to Puerto Natales. When you arrive, you'll transfer to your hotel and have the rest of the evening to relax and explore the town. 

This small port city 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. Puerto Natales offers 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 at sunset is phenomenal.

Day 3: Transfer to Torres Del Paine - O Trek Day 1/8: Visit the Famous Towers

Monte Almirante Nieto
Monte Almirante Nieto

This morning, you'll depart early from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine. The trip to the park entrance at Laguna Amarga is approximately two hours by bus.

After arriving and registering yourself in the park, you will begin to hike up Almirante Nieto, a mountain with incredible views of Lake Nordenskjold and the Asencio Valley. You'll make a steady climb for about two hours before arriving to Refugio Chileno for your overnight.

Here you can store your large pack before continuing onto the Las Torres Lookout where you will begin hiking about an hour through a dense Lenga forest. Once you leave the forest you will approach a moraine and climb to see the amazing granite peaks known as the Torres.  After admiring the view you will return to Refugio Chileno for dinner and a good's night rest.

Hiking distance: 9.6 miles (15.5 km)
Hiking time: 6.5 hours

Day 4: O Trek Day 2/8: Paine River

Th Paine River, or Rio Paine
Th Paine River, or Rio Paine

After breakfast at camp, it's time to begin the day with a four-hour hike along a fairly flat trail. As you wind along the beautiful Paine River, you'll have plenty of opportunities to admire the deep blue waters of Laguna Azul and the picturesque view of Encantado Valley—a valley surrounded by rock formations created by centuries of wind.

When you reach Dome & Camping Seron, an old Baqueano (Patagonian cowboy) post, the land will stretch out before you. This hiking day will end with dinner, after which you will fall asleep under the brightly shining stars.

Hiking distance: 8.1 miles (13 km)
Hiking time: 4 hours

Day 5: O Trek Day 3/8: Glacier Dickson & Lake Paine

Trekkers soaking up the views
Trekkers soaking up the views

Today's trail distance is longer than yesterday so make sure to load up at breakfast this morning. The seven-hour route will begin with a steady uphill climb past a small lagoon where you will reach a lookout with incredible views of Lake Paine.

As you descend the hill, breathtaking views will continue to surround you. You will be able to see a range of mountains that separate Chile and Argentina, along with peaks located on the northern side of the park’s Paine Massif. Continuing along, you'll eventually cross over marsh via wooden boardwalks created by park rangers.

Once you've traversed the marsh, you'll begin crossing ancient moraine valleys where you'll start to notice the imposing glacier tongue of the Southern Ice Field. From here, continue to Camping Dickson where you will spend the evening.

Hiking distance: 11.2 miles (18 km)
Hiking time: 6 hours

Day 6: O Trek Day 4/8: Lengas & Coigues Forest Trekking

A lush forest within the park
A lush forest within the park

After breakfast at camp, it's time to begin another day of hiking! Today's route is relatively easy and takes just over four hours as it traverses one of the oldest forests in the park. In fact, you'll hike past forests of Lengas and Coigues—both of which flourished after the glaciers receded.

After lunch, you'll reach a moraine at the foot of Glacier Los Perros where you will set up camp for the night and have dinner.

Hiking distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking time: 4.5 hours

Day 7: O Trek Day 5/8: Cross the John Gardner Pass

A sample of today's scenery
A sample of today's scenery

Today, you will have the privilege of waking up and having breakfast surrounded by a beautiful forest. Then it's time to begin a slow but steady climb up a hill for approximately 650 feet (200 m). Since the beautiful Lenga and Coigue trees cover some of this trail, the surface at the beginning of the day will likely be on the moist side before drying out.

With over an hour of hiking, you'll reach the end of the forest and begin trekking up rockslides towards the John Gardner Pass. You'll then reach smaller patches of trees while gaining a bit of elevation. From this part of the trail, you will be able to see Glaciar Amistad, Cerro Blanco Sur, Punta Puma, and, finally, the John Gardner Pass.

You will begin climbing again until you reach 3,937 feet (1,200 m). This is where an astonishing view of Glacier Grey and Patagonia’s Southern Ice Field awaits. After capturing this breathtaking vista, it's time to begin hiking downhill for about two hours until you reach Campamento Paso for a short rest.

From here you will continue hiking for four more hours along an undulating trail with views of the glacier, as well as Lake Grey and Ferrier Hill. Before reaching Campamento Grey you will cross several of the parks famous suspension bridges, ultimately bringing you to some close-up views of Glacier Grey. Once you reach Grey you will have time to shower and rest before enjoying a nice hot meal in the Refugio.

Hiking distance: 13.7 miles (22 km)
Hiking time: 11 hours

Day 8: O Trek Day 6/8: Hike to Lake Pehoe

Camp on the shores of Lake Pehoe
Camp on the shores of Lake Pehoe

After a restful night and an energizing breakfast, you will be ready to hike again. Today you will have a four-hour hike along Lake Grey and then through a small forest. During most days, this section of the park is very windy due to the openness provided by Lake Grey, Glacier Grey and the Southern Ice Field—in other words, keep your windproof jacket within easy reach. 

In the afternoon you will arrive to Camping Paine Grande on the shore of the beautiful Lake Pehoe.

Hiking distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking time: 3.5-4 hours

Day 9: O Trek Day 7/8: Explore the French Valley

Keep your camera close for these stunning views
Keep your camera close for these stunning views

This spectacular day on the trail starts with a leisurely hike to the entrance of the French Valley. As you walk along the border of Lake Skottsberg, you'll admire the tremendous peaks towering in front of you: Los Cuernos!

After about 2.5 hours, you will arrive to Campamento Italiano where you can rest for a bit before continuing your journey.

Now, ascending into the valley, the views in every direction—Lake Nordenskjold, Los Cuernos, and the French Glacier—are absolutely stunning. Meanwhile, in the back of the valley you can see various peaks. After soaking up the views, you will hike back down to Campamento Italiano to continue alongside rolling hills as you follow the coastline of Lake Nordenskjold.

You will continue on for another two hours until you reach your camp, located on the lake. After a relaxing afternoon and a filling dinner, it's time to hit the hay for a well-deserved night’s sleep.

Hiking distance: 10.7 miles (17.3 km) 
Hiking time: 7 hours

Day 10: O Trek Day 8/8: Return to Laguna Amarga - Transfer to Puerto Natales

Savor one last sunrise in the park
Savor one last sunrise in the park

Today is the last day of the trek! Your morning starts with breakfast, and then you'll pack up head out on the trail again. Your mission is to leave the monstrous Los Cuernos behind and begin hiking back to entrance of the park. The walk is about four hours in duration and you'll arrive at Las Torres in time to take a shuttle back to Laguna Amarga. This is where you'll also bid farewell to your trekking guide! 

From the park entrance, you'll take the return bus ride all the way back to Puerto Natales, arriving in the early evening—just in time for a restaurant dinner and a cozy night´s sleep in a warm bed. 

Hiking distance: 7.5 miles (12 km)
Hiking time: 4.5 hours

Day 11: Puerto Natales to Santiago - Departure

Farewell, Chile!
Farewell, Chile!

Today, you’ll transfer from Puerto Natales to the airport in Punta Arenas. You'll then hop on a domestic flight from Punta Arenas to Santiago where you'll transfer to the international terminal for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Torres del Paine "O" Circuit Adventure - 11 Days
Map of Torres del Paine "O" Circuit Adventure - 11 Days