Hike in some of the most stunning landscapes in the Western Hemisphere, located at the extreme of the South American continent. This itinerary will be sure to challenge even experienced hikers, and offers stunning views of sharply-defined peaks, azure lakes, and vast ice fields.

Highlights

  • Enjoy picturesque sights of Torres Del Paine National Park
  • Explore diverse landscapes: steppes, forests, mountains, and ice fields
  • See Grey Glacier, one of the largest and the only expanding glacier in the park
  • Spot unique wildlife, such as guacanos, pumas, and birds of prey
  • Enjoy breathtaking view of the French valley and hike to the turqouise-colored Nordenskjöld Lake, both surrounded by soaring granite peaks. 

Overview

Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most spectacular parts of the Patagonia region and the southern Andes. Located at the southern tip of the Americas, the park is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and one of the most visited in Chile. This itinerary will cover the striking pointed peaks and massive glaciers of the Paine Massif and Southern Patagonia Ice Field, along what is popularly known as the "W" route based on its shape. In less than a week, you will trek through almost 37 miles (60 km) of trails and stay at a variety of lodges and shelters (refugios) overnight.

This tour is best suited for trekkers with hiking experience, or physically-fit adventurers who are willing to practice hiking trails with demanding conditions. Unless otherwise stated, it's best to start each day early around 9 am to cover as much ground as possible.

Note that the park requires an entrance fee which varies in price depending on whether it's the high season (October to April) or low season (May to September). Crowds are larger during the high season, which also overlaps with pleasant summer weather in the Southern Hemisphere. Accommodations and transportation on the first and last days are included.

Brief Itinerary

Day Destination Overnight Duration
Day 1 Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine (Bus) Refugio Las Torres 2.5 hours (70 mi/112 km)
Day 2 Las Torres (Trek) Refugio El Chileno  6 hours
Day 3 Los Cuernos (Trek) Los Cuernos Shelter 4-5 hours (6.8 mi/11 km)
Day 4 French Valley (Trek) Paine Grande Shelter 10-12 hours (15.7 mi/25.3 km)
Day 5 Grey Glacier - Puerto Natales (Trek & Boat Ride) N/A 8-9 hours (13.7 mi/22 km)

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park

Boats at Puerto Natales

At around 2 pm, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the Puerto Natales Bus Station, where you will take a regular bus from Puerto Natales to the Torres del Paine National Park (Laguna Amarga Main Entrance). The trip takes 2.5 hours (70 miles/112 km), with a short stop at Cerro Castillo Village. You will arrive at Laguna Amarga around 4:30 pm.

Once you enter park grounds, pay the entry fee, and take one last quick shuttle to the Las Torres sector. Here, you will check into Refugio Las Torres, a hiker's lodge that offers comfortable accommodations for travelers from all over the world. Take the rest of the day to relax and explore the surroundings, and make sure to get plenty of rest to begin hiking tomorrow.

Day 2: Trekking to Las Torres Base

Guacanos in Torres Del Paine National Park

Wake up and begin your first day of trekking. The first 4.5-hour stretch offers stunning views of Lake Nordenskjöld and Mount Almirante Nieto (2,670 m), following a steep trail until Refugio El Chileno. Then, continue on through temperate lenga forests for another hour to the base of a moraine, where you will finish off the day with another challenging ascent. After 45 minutes of climbing, you will reach one of the most breathtaking vantage points in the park, at the base of Torres del Paine.

Take a moment to soak in the scene, with the mountains of Torre Sur (2,850 m), Torre Central (2,800 m), Torre Norte (2,600 m), and Cerro Nido de Cóndor (2,352 m) in the background. Continue to a nearby lodge for shelter. If space is not available, a 2-hour trek may be required to return to Refugio Las Torres.

Day 3: Trekking to Los Cuernos Refuge

Lake Nordenskjöld and nearby mountains

Today's trail cuts through the base of Mount Almirante Nieto, part of the Paine Massif. After half an hour of walking, complete with great views of Lake Nordenskjöld, you will reach a shortcut to your right that leads towards Los Cuernos Refuge.

For the next 4-5 hours, hike through hanging glaciers, local flora, and rugged mountain scenery. Once you arrive at the base of Los Cuernos, you will have completed today's trail. Recover and rest in one of the park's most serene locations, then retreat to your lodge for tomorrow's rigorous trek.

Day 4: Trekking to French Valley

Viewpoint at French Valley

One of the itinerary's most challenging hikes, the trail to French Valley, will start with two hours of ascents and descents near Lake Nordenskjöld toward Campamento Italiano, a forested campground from where the trail enters the valley. Due to the intense inclines, it's best to start an hour early and bring only the bare necessities (such as food, water, and layers) in a smaller backpack.

Next, a one-hour ascent will take you up to another viewpoint, where you can appreciate a fantastic view of the hanging glacier and possibly even minor avalanches. The trail then continues until you reach another campground, Campamento Británico.

After another 20 minutes, you will arrive at Mirador Británico, today's final lookout point and one of the most jaw-dropping in the entire circuit. Admire the peaks and glaciers of Paine Grande, Cerro Hoja, Cerro Máscara, Cerro Catedral, Cerro Aleta de Tiburón, and Cuerno Norte before returning to Campamento Italiano and then to the Pehoé sector.

Day 5: Trekking to Grey Glacier and return to Puerto Natales

Catamaran at Grey Lake.

On your final day of trekking, you will be able to see one of the largest and most iconic glaciers in the park's ice fields, Grey Glacier. The route to the outlook goes through the western side of the Paine Massif and also provides views of Grey Lake, which contains the glacier, as well as nearby mountains. If you'd like, you can leave your backpack in the storage room at Refugio Paine Grande for the day.

Once you reach the first lookout point, after a 1.5-hour hike, you will reach the main lookout right in front of the glacier. Get a full view of the miles of floating icebergs and expanding jagged ice formations, then return back along the same route towards Pehoé Lake. Finally, head to the adjacent pier by 6 pm and depart on a scenic Catamaran ride at 6:30 pm for a ride across Pehoe Lake to the Pudeto sector. A bus ride will have you back in Puerto Natales by 10 pm. 

Map

Map of Torres del Paine "W" Circuit Trek - 5 Days
Map of Torres del Paine "W" Circuit Trek - 5 Days