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Comprehensive Guide to Torres Del Paine W Trek

Torres Del Paine – ‘W’ Trek  is probably one of the most popular hiking route in Chilean side of Patagonia, for obvious reasons. It’s mind-blowing to say the least and very manageable for most hikers including kids. Perhaps, its better to be bit slower to enjoy the beauty as opposed to rushing through.

If  you are ever wondering which one to pick, Torres Del Paine W Trek or Torres Del Paine O Circuit Trek, the answer depends on one major factor :

How many days can you spend hiking Torres Del Paine ? If your answer is 4-6 days, then Torres Del Paine W Trek is for you. Read more to learn about different itineraries and logistics.

Article Contents

My husband I went to Torres Del Paine for our honeymoon and we completed the Torres Del Paine O Circuit Trek.  To read a detailed description of  “O” circuit, click here.

Torres Del Paine

What is unique about Torres Del Paine?

You might be wondering what is so unique about the landscape of Torres del Paine ? And do so many hikers have Torres Del Paine trek on their top of bucket list ?

If you have ever visited any of the national parks in the US, you probably know that each park has its unique natural element and to protect that element, that entire area is declared as a National Park. For example, Glacier National Park is all about the magnificent glaciers, Yellowstone National Park is about the natural geysers, Yosemite National Park’s main feature is the huge rock formations, Joshua Tree National Park is dedicated to the Joshua trees etc.,

On the other hand, Torres Del Paine hike seems to offer slightly different terrain as one hikes through the park everyday. One day you’ll be walking through shaded forest, next day you will stopping to take a close peak at daisy-covered prairies, following day you can’t stare enough at the beautiful rivers and lakes, final days in the park, you will be walking alongside a massive mountain or glacial ice field. With such a wide variety of landscape features that the eye can see in a single space is probably what makes the park really unique.

Why should you Visit Torres Del Paine ?

Turquoise Glacial waters, massive glaciers, towering granite horns are the characteristics of this jaw-dropping landscape of Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. Immersing yourself in the vast National Park like Torres Del Paine, will make you fell completely insignificant in comparison to the nature.

Trekking through Torres Del Paine was certainly one the most humbling experiences I have personally had. When we hiked through the park I imagined that a pair of comfortable shoes and a backpack full of clothes and food are the only things needed to conquer this park, until I was faced with dramatically changing weather, rugged terrain, and mosquitoes that will eat you up.

Th best possible way to explore this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is to take advance of the full 17-hour daylight during the the summer months by doing some of the best activities the park has to offer:

  • Sunrise over the horns of the Torres del Paine massif glowing purple and red
  • Sailing on Lake Grey to admire the glacier
  • Paddle a kayak through glacier grey’s blue and white icebergs
  • Horse back ride across the plains
  • Witness the wild flowers blooming in millions as the spring time breaks in
  • Watch the wild horse galloping
  • Strap on your crampons and get your camera ready to ice hike the glacier grey
  • Hike the Torres Del Paine W trek or O circuit or stay in one place and do day hikes

When to do Torres Del Paine W Trek ?

Peak Season

Late November, December, January and February to early March are the Spring to Summer months aka Austral Summer.

This is usually the peak season to visit Torres Del Paine, since it is the warmest time of year, of course, with average high temperatures of around 15°C but in this time infamous winds are at their strongest and can reach over 120 miles an hour.

Visiting Torres Del Paine during these months will certainly reward you with the best possible weather. Mind it, even though it’s summer, it rained at random times. Weather changes dramatically out there.

Shoulder Season

October-November is the Spring time in Patagonia. If you don’t mind a slightly lower temperature and crazy winds, you are in for a treat.

Similarly, March, April & May are the Fall season and you are nearly guaranteed to beat the crowd during this time.

Tree colors begin to change during the fall season, and begin to shed their leaves for the upcoming winter months. It might still rain without any warning. However, the wild wind is reported to be less severe. That to me makes it a perfect time to do the trekking.

Plus most of the crowd is gone, leaving stretches of the park with no other human to be seen.

It is a great time to go photographing wildlife and landscapes and enjoy the ever changing landscape of Torres Del Paine National Park.

Just to give you an idea of what a peak summer might look like, according to CONAF data, here are the number of visitors to the park on a given year. As you can see, the number of visitors is growing rapidly. Although, the data is for the entire year, you can expect the majority of them to be there during the peak summer months.

Year

Number Of Visitors to Torres Del Paine

2012

143,253

2013

170,032

2014

 197,503

2015

211,886

2016

252,447

2017

264,800

How difficult is the Torres Del Paine W Trek ?

There is no elevation gain or altitude issues to worry about. The entire hike boils down to one’s endurance level.

Word of caution: The answer below is for someone wanting to hike the entire W-Trek for themselves without a guide or other transportation methods such as horse ride etc. I will address day hikes and hiking with kids under the subheading for “Kids and Leisure Hikers”. 

Can you walk 10-hours day on a terrain of rolling hills with a small pack with day pack with water, food and snacks ? If so, you can do Torres Del Paine W trek. Mind it, not all days will be 10 hours of hiking. Read on to learn about the distance between attractions.

Luckily, as you are planning the W trek, you will realize that along some parts of the route such as the hike to Refugio Grey, Mirador Frances and Mirador Torres, you can actually leave your heavy backpack at the camp, so you don’t have to carry much weight with you other than what is required for the day hike.

Hiking Patagonia Torres Del Paine Without Guide

Patagonia trip planning can be bit time consuming given all the new restrictions on making campsite reservations ahead of time. Also, to reach Patagonia, travel time takes really long as there are multiple stops before one can start hiking Torres Del Paine. Irrespective of the tedious process, hiking Patagonia without guide is one of the cheap ways to keep Patagonia trip cost under control.

My husband and I did O circuit and W trek entirely on our own. However, I do know friends who have chosen to go with the guide.

Most budget conscious hikers complete w trek Torres Del Paine without guide, self catering.

W Trek with kids or Leisure Travelers ?

If hiking for hours is not the way you want to see the park, the hotels located around and just outside of the park offer day trips into Torres del Paine by arranging horse rides with local guides. Guides can take you through short hikes to get the best possible views.

When we were hiking, we met families with small children hiking. Main thing to consider if you are hiking children is to add extra days, so the hikes can be broken into shorter distances.

Read on to learn about the Patagonia itinerary specifically designed with kids (who can hike) in mind.

Medical Help or Hospital at Torres Del Paine Hike?

Unfortunately, there is no medical facility available inside Torres Del Paine National Park. Ranger stations might have basic supplies like band-aid. But, those basic supplies should be part of your trekking packing list, emergency kit anyway.

The nearest hospital or medical service is available only at Puerto Natales.

With some common sense and caution on the hike, most hikers rarely face any issues. However, you never know what can happen. Even a simple sprained ankle can put you out for several days. So, always go prepared.

Get Travel Insurance

And this is where the Travel Insurance comes in handy. Even if you have insurance in home country, Travel insurance like the one provided by WorldNomads will come in handy to protect you from any emergency situations.

What about ATM and money access ?

There are no ATMs inside Torres Del Paine National Park. Last point to withdraw money is Puerto Natales. Depending on whether you plan to buy food at the refugio stores or restaurants, plan ahead and withdraw money. I will be discussing the cost of the Patagonia trip for different variations of Patagonia itinerary below for your reference.

The camp stores don’t take USD. It’s better to withdraw money in Chile to take local currency with you.

Backpacks

Puerto Natales Gear Rental

I have detailed my Patagonia trekking packing list here. You can use that as a checklist.

If you happen to be an accidental hiker and didn’t plan ahead to bring any equipment, it’s actually possible to rent everything for the trek in Puerto Natales.

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Hiking Poles
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Backpack
  • Cooking Stove and pots
  • Rain cover for the backpack

There are several shops you can rent from. However, Erratic Rock is the most popular one. Here is their prices for rental. There is really no need to book or reserve the equipment ahead of time. They have such a wide collection and you will most certainly find what you need on the day you arrive. If you are at Erratic Rock, don’t forget to stop by for their free 3PM info session of the Torres Del Paine trek. This is one of the most information sessions you can attend.

Rental Prices in Chilean pesos per day:

​Sleeping bag (-9C)3.000 clp
Sleeping Mat1.500
2 person tents4.500
Trekking poles (2) 3.500
Waterproof jacket3.000
Waterproof pants3.500
Backpacks4.000
Down Jackets2.500
Hats1.000
Gloves1.500
Headlamps1.500
Cooking  kits (3 people)4.000 (complete)
stove1.500
bowls.500
cups.500
water bottle1.000
pot.500

If you want to do price comparison and get the brand you want, ask your hostel staff for recommendation on where you can rent from.

Accommodation & Food Options during Torres Del Paine W trek

You have a few options, especially on the W trek route. As you are planning your Patagonia trip, think about the following things:

  • What is your budget ?
  • How much weight do you want to carry on your own ?
  • How early are you making the plan ?

Answer to these questions will narrow down your choices. As I am evaluating the options, I will be using the same parameters.

Chilean government is very strict about taking food into the country. I wrote a guide to how to take camping and trekking food to Chile. Feel free to check it out. 

Is Buying Food in Torres Del Paine Possible?

To answer the question if it’s possible to buy food in Torres Del Paine, the simple answer is YES.

Here are the couple of options:

  • Buy Food at Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales to cover for the entire trek.

This is probably cheapest option to buy food either from Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. There are plenty of grocery stores in Punta Arenas such as Unimarc.

Puerto Natales also has small grocery stores where you can get food. But, the options are limited here compared to Punta Arenas.

  • Eat at restaurants

There are couple of fancy restaurants along the W-trek such as Restaurante Coiron – Las Torres Patagonia. 

  • Or eat at Refugios

If you chose not to carry the food around for the entire trek, the best option is to eat at Refugios. Even if you are staying at tent campsites, you can eat at the refugios. As soon as you check in at the campsite, go to the Refugio restaurant and put your name down for dinner.

They also offer breakfast and packed lunch such as a big sandwich.

You can also book meals at the refugios ahead of time.

Patagonia Water

Is Patagonia water Safe to Drink ?

Yes, Patagonia water is probably one of the most pure form of glacier water on planet earth. Through out the hike, we would just fill the bottle with Patagonia water from streams, creaks and rivers. We didn’t filter the water or treat it with anything.

Never got sick from drinking water directly out of sources. Torres Del Paine water is perfectly safe to drink.

Camping at Torres Del Paine

Camping at Torres Del Paine

Torres Del Paine camping is one of the cost effective ways to do the hiking at Torres Del Paine. Depending on where you are starting the journey from, you may or may not have all the camping equipments with you.

All campgrounds have a shop where you can get some basic supplies.

For example at camp grey, we ended up getting some instant soup pouches and instant noodles, and chocolates. The shop had everything you can possibly think of during a trekking trip. However, it is expensive to buy on the trek.

Since Patagonia is known for high winds, all campgrounds will have a shelter to cook that gives break from the wind.

You can also eat at the Refugios if you are craving something other than what you packed.

Pack your own Camping equipments

Take all your Camping equipment with you.  If you are headed to Chile just for the purpose of trekking at Torres Del Paine with some added destinations like we did, its worth it to take all your camping needs with you.

That’s what we did. We flew from San Francisco to Santiago and spent approximately 4 weeks in Chile that included O circuit hike in the middle. So, we ended up carrying all our camping equipments, clothes, food for the trek all in two backpacks. It wasn’t that difficult after all.

So, we ended up paying just for the campsites that ranged from $15 to $20 for the paid sites and sometimes free ones. Certainly a very cost effective way to do the hike.

Rent Camping equipment

You might want to consider renting the camping equipment, if

  • You are including hiking Torres Del Paine as a part of long travel and carrying all the trekking equipment around is not feasible.
  • Your flight to Chile charges a hefty amount for check-in bags and it’s cheaper to do the rental.
  • You want to keep things simple and not worry about breaking and pitching the tent everyday by booking pre-made tents at each refugio. All the way through the W Trek, you can rent pre-made tents ahead of time.

There are three campsite and Refugio providers in the area, Fantastico Sur, Vertice Patagonia and  CONAF.

It is highly recommended that you book rental camping gear well ahead of time. You can rent,

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad

Consider taking a sleeping bag liner (Amazon Link) with you. If you are not sure about using sleeping bags others have used, it’s worth it to use a sleeping bag liner, which are usually very light weight and easy to carry. I personally use the sleeping bag liners even with my own sleeping bag, because those are washable.

I use the following product:

The Friendly Swede Sleeping Bag Liner – Travel and Camping Sheet, Pocket-Size, Ultra Lightweight, Silky Smooth (Silver Grey, Velcro)

Staying at Refugio dorm rooms

There are two types of sleeping arrangements at the dorm rooms with shared bathroom.

  • MADE UP BED that includes sheets and cover bed.
  • SIMPLE BED where you bring your own sleeping bag. This might be a good option if you have a sleeping bag but not the tent.

If you are staying at Refugios, you can either eat at the restaurant there or make your own freeze dried food. You can’t cook at the rooms. You would have to step out to the campsite area where campers are cooking if you want to make your own meal.

Staying at Lodges and Hotels

Clearly this is an option, if you would prefer a warm shower, private bathroom, well made bed and hot meals. But be ready to pay the price and book ahead of time for the peak season.

Torres Del Paine W Trek Altitude

The highest elevation you will hit is 1100 m or 3608ft. Majority of the hike is rolling hills. Don’t confuse this with flat. It still requires a decent fitness level due to the fact that the hikes are long.

Can I visit Torres del Paine without crossing the border to Argentina ?

Yes, absolutely. We did the O circuit, which includes W trek, as I mentioned earlier. We saw Argentina across the river as we were hiking but never had to cross it. So, there is no need to cross the border to Argentina on this hike.

How do you book campsites in Torres del Paine?

As you already know by now camping Torres Del Paine in itself is a worth while activity to do. Here are the three links you need to know:

CONAF

  • CAMPSITES: Paso, Italiano, and Torres (Torres closed for 2018/2019 season).

CONAF campsites are free. There are some basic facilities available at these sites.

  • Space to pitch a tent
  • Restroom
  • Wind shield shelter to cook

Since they are free you can image that it is competitive to get these campsites on the spot. However, you can make a reservation ahead of time online here.

Vertice Patagonia

  • CAMPSITES: Los Perrosm, Dickson, Gray, and Paine Grande
  • REFUGIOS Dickson, Gray, and Paine Grande

Last time I researched it, campsites and Refugios are getting booked up as early as 4 months before the peak season. So, plan well head and book let’s say even 6 months ahead. You can make reservations online here.

Fantastico Sur

  • CAMPSITES:  Frances, Chileno, Las Torres, Seron
  • REFUGIOS: Cuernos, Chileno, Torre Norte,  and Torre Central
  • DOMES: Frances
  • CABANAS: Cuernos
Camping at Chileno and Cuernos don’t have cooking area. So, you have to pay the full price that includes meals. 

To make reservations at FANTÁSTICO SUR click here.

Read on further to pick your ideal Patagonia itinerary where I have mentioned the exact campsite or Refugio names to book.

Glacier Gray

How to get to Torres Del Paine ?

Everyone has to enter the park through Puerto Natales, a town approximately 100-km outside of the park. There are couple of ways to reach Puerto Natales.

Stop 1: Reach Punta Arenas if you are coming from Chile.

If you are coming from Argentina, this stop is skipped. You directly go to Stop 2.

Fly into Punta Arenas:

  • Fly from Santiago, Chile
  • Fly from Puerto Montt, Chile

Other Transportations:

  • The long bus ride that crosses through Argentina and back into Chile to reach Punta Arenas. (Watch out those of you, who need Visas to enter these countries.)
  • A 4-day sail from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas and from there a bus to Puerto Natales

Stop 2: Reach Puerto Natales

From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales

After you reach Punta Arenas, you have to take a 254 kilometers journey to Puerto Natales.

There are frequent buses and few different companies operating buses from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales central bus station. You can get the tickets online or at the individual bus terminals. Each bus company has their own location. There is no central bus stop.

  • Buses Pacheco: 7:30, 11:00, 15:00, 18:00 (6-7,000 Chilean Pesos).
  • Buses Fernandez: 8:00, 9:00, 13:00, 14:30, 17:00, 18:30, 20:00 (7,000 Chilean Pesos).
  • Buses Sur: 10:00, 12:30, 15:00, 17:15, 19:00 (6,000 Chilean Pesos).

For the peak season, do consider booking tickets online and ahead of time.

If you didn’t around to booking online, don’t fret. The buses from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales run every 30-mins and you don’t HAVE to book ahead. We got the ticket on the spot. Ticket may not be available for the next immediate time, but you will definitely get ticket for the day you chose.

We went at 7AM in the morning to Bus Fernandas and got the ticket for the bus that left at noon. If you happen to stay in Punta Arenas for more than a day, just stop by at the bus office and book ahead.

From Argentina

If your question is how to get to Torres del Paine National Park from Argentina side, you can fly into El Calafate from your starting point.

From El Calafate, take the 5 long hour bus ride to Puerto Natales. This includes border control for passport and visa checking at the Argentina/Chile border.

Here are the two companies that offer bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales.

  • Cootra
    • Departure 8:00AM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays
    • Departure: 4:30PM on Mondays and Fridays
  • Turismo Zaahj
    • Departure: 8:00AM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays
    • Departure 4:30PM on Mondays and Fridays during peak months of November through March

Stop 3: Reach Torres Del Paine

Once you reach Puerto Natales, you have to take another bus to Torres Del Paine. So, plan to spend a night at Puerto Natales, get your supplies and rental equipment ready before you get on the bus to Torres Del Paine from Puerto Natales.

Buses Gomez from Puerto Natales bus station to Torres del Paine departs twice a day

  • 7:00AM
  • 2:00PM

Return buses from Laguna Amarga (the entrance at Torres del Paine) back to Puerto Natales depart at

  • 2:30PM
  • 7:45PM

This bus operates everyday.

Even during the peak season, you can purchase tickets directly at the bus station in Puerto Natales. They run several buses at the same time to cater to the needs of the crowd. It was 15,000 chilean pesos for the round trip.

It’s a short 2 hour bus ride to the park from Puerto Natales.

Pick Your Torres Del Paine Entrance:

picking your Torres Del Paine Entrance determines the direction of your W trek.

Are you going from East to West or vice-versa ?

All buses from Puerto Natales stop at the following three stops.

Laguna Amarga ( typical starting point for ‘O’ circuit)

  • Point ‘H’ on the map.
  • From this point, after paying your park entrance, you have to take another shuttle that runs regularly. You just have wait till the next one arrive. Another option is to want to walk for 2-hours to reach the trail head that starts at Hotel Las Terras.

Lake Pehoe

  • The buses stop at the lake Pehoe from where you catch a ferry(catamaran) to directly reach point ‘B’ on the map.

Administration Office:

This is the last bus stop for those who want to add on extra mileage of walking from administrator office to the lake Pehoe. Point A on the map below.

2011-patagonia-map

 

Torres Del Paine Trekking Itineraries

Torres Del Paine 3 Day Trek

3 days in Torres Del Paine is not impossible. But question to you is, if you took the trouble to reach this far, why only spend 3 days trekking or touring Torres Del Paine?

Nevertheless, here are two different options if you only have 3 days at Torres Del Paine to trek.

Aggressive Hiker Version:

Day 1: Reach Paine Grande by boat and hike to Glacier Grey and Stay at Italiano. 

On the map above it’s Point B to C to D.

  • Get on the first bus at 7:00AM from Puerto Natales to reach Laguna Amarga bus stop around 9:30AM.
  • Pay your park entrance fee and get the permit. To avoid wasting time here, pay for the entrance fee ahead of time by getting it online.
  • Get your free campsite permit for Campamento Italiano and Campamento Torres at the entrance. Or avoid the hassle and book online.
  • If you can’t get the free campsites, don’t fret. Refugio Frances is another option. Again, book ahead.
  • Get back on the waiting bus and get down at pudeto catamaran dock to catch the next ferry. Pay at the dock.

On Day 1 hike towards Grey Glacier after dropping the bags at Refugio Paine Grande for storage.

  • First mirador or First View Point of the Lago Grey: You will reach this point in approximately 5.5 km, 3.4 miles from Refugio Paine Grande. A strong hiker can reach this in 1.5 hours.
  • Second mirador or Second View Point of Lago Grey where the W trekkers strive to reach. This is where Refugio Grey is located. You can grab a bite at the Refugio Grey. The hike is approx. 11 km, 6.9 miles from Refugio Paine Grande.
  • Third mirador is another 3.6km from Refugio Grey the peak of hike. Only attempt this section if you are super fast hiker.

Basically for the Mirador section, based on your ability pick as far as you want to go and come back to Refugio Paine Grande. No matter how far you go, you are constantly looking at Glacier Grey on your left and the view will never disappoint you. Even if you just hike for an hour, the view will be well worth it.

  • Hike back to Refugio Paine Grande.
  • Pickup your stuff and hike towards Campamento Italiano or camping at Refugio Frances. From Refugio Paine Grande to  Italiano it’s a good 7.5 km or 4.8 miles.
  • If you didn’t get a spot at Campamento Italiano it’s another ½ hour downhill hike to Refugio Frances.

Day 2: Camp Italiano to Mirador Frances to Refugio Chileno

Be prepared for a REALLY long day of hiking.

Start Day 2 by leaving your stuff back at the campsite or Refugio and hike to get a great view of the Glacier Frances.

  • Hike 2km one way from Camp Italiano
  • Return to Camp Italiano to get your bag and walk to Refugio Los Cuernos via Lago Nordenskjöld for 5KM.
  • From Refugio Los Cuernos hike to Refugio Chileno via the short cut trail without going through Hotel Las Torres, which is another 8KM.

Total distance hike on Day 2 : 17KM

Day 3: Sunrise at Torres, hike to Hotel Las Torres and Bus to Puerto Natales

Start 3rd day hike at 4AM from Regufio Chileno to Torres for sunrise. It’s a 3 km one way hike.

  • Take layers to keep yourself really warm as it will be super cold and windy even in December’s summer.
  • Hike 8KM back from the Torres view to Hotel Las Torres.
  • From Hotel las Torres take the bus to catch 2:30PM bus back to Puerto Natales at the Laguna Amarga Entrance Station. I am not sure about the exact time of the bus from hotel. I believe it is 2PM. Please double check. If you miss the 2:30PM bus, don’t worry, there is an evening bus too. Here are the bus schedules.

Well, that was a hectic schedule in my opinion.

Torres Del Paine 4 Day Trek

From West to East

Day 1: Refugio Paine Grande to Glacier Grey to Refugio Paine Grande

Start the hike at Refugio Paine Grande after dropping the bags at the storage and walk up to the Third mirador or Second mirador of Glacier Grey.

  • This is a 15KM one way hike to third mirador Or stop at Second Mirador with 11KM one way.
  • Return to Refugio Paine Grande for a overnight stay.

Day 2: Refugio Paine Grande to Mirador Frances to Refugio Los Cuernos

Drop the bags at Camp Italiano and walk to Mirador Frances and further to Mirador Britanico, and hike to Refugio Los Cuernos for night stay.

Distances:

Refugio Paine Grande to Mirador Britanico : 13KM

Mirador Britanico to Refugio Los Cuernos : 10.4 KM

Day 3: Refugio Los Cuernos to Refugio Chileno

A relaxing day of hiking from Refugio Los Cuernos to Refugio Chileno, which is 8KM without going through Hotel Las Torres.

If you are not tired hike to Mirador Las Torres for an evening view. This is a 8.8KM round trip hike.

Day 4: Sunrise at Torres, hike to Hotel Las Torres and Bus to Puerto Natales

Start 4th day hike at 4AM from Regufio Chileno to Torres for sunrise. It’s a 4.4 km one way hike.

  • Take layers to keep yourself really warm as it will be super cold and windy even in December’s summer.
  • Hike 8KM back from the Torres view to Hotel Las Torres.
  • From Hotel las Torres take the bus to catch 2:30PM bus back to Puerto Natales at the Laguna Amarga Entrance Station. I am not sure about the exact time of the bus from hotel. I believe it is 2PM. Please double check. If you miss the 2:30PM bus, don’t worry, there is an evening bus too. Here are the bus schedules.

From East to West

For a 4 day trek, east to west is not that ideal, if you want to do Sunrise hike to Torres. That would mean, you will have to stay back in Torres area on night one and 2nd day early morning hike to watch Sunrise.

After sunrise, you would have to push your way to Camp Italiano.

Torres hike itself is considered the most challenging in the park. So, if you only have 4 days, I highly recommend the West to East route. And West to East is indeed the most popular way anyway.

Torres Del Paine 5 Day Trek

w trek map torres del paine 3

East to West

Get off at Laguna Amarga entrance. After paying the entrance fee, take the shuttle to Hotel Las Torres or walk 2-hours to reach the trail head.

Day 1: Arrive at Laguna Amarga either at 9:00AM or in the afternoon at 4:00 PM. After getting the park permit, take the shuttle to reach Las Torres campground.

Distance: 8KM from Hotel Las Torres to Camp Las Torres.

If you reached the park in the morning, you will have plenty of time to hike to Mirador Las Torres and back down to sleep at Camp Las Torres.

Distance: 2.8 KM round trip to Mirador Las Torres from Camp Las Torres.

Day 2: Early morning pack your bags, leave them back at the campground, and hike to Mirador Las Torres again for sunrise view.

Return to pick up the bags and head via Refugio Chileno, grab something to eat and hike to Refugio Los Curenos for the night.

Distance: 12.5 KM from Mirador Las Torres to Refugio Los Curenos

Day 3: Hike from Refugio Los Curenos to Valle France and stay at Camp Italiano. On the way from Refugio Los Curenos, you will have to pass by Camp Italiano. So, drop the bags and take just the day pack for the French Valley hike. There is really no point carrying the heavy backpack, if you don’t have to.

Distance: Refugio Los Cureno to Camp Italiano is 5 KM

Distance : Camp Italiano to French Valley that ends at Mirador Britanico is 5.4 KM one way.

Day 4: Hike from Camp Italiano to Refugio Grey. You would be passing by Miradors to the Grey Glacier on this day.

Distance: 18.5KM

Day 5: Start the day early and hike to Glacier Grey Mirador.

  • Third mirador is another 3.6km from Refugio Grey the peak of hike.

After the hike, return to Refugio Grey and pick up your bags and hike down to Paine Grande to catch the catamaran back and get the last bus out of the park. Alternately, you can stay back at Paine Grande and make your way back to Puerto Natales next day morning.

5 Day Trek, West to East

Get off at the Lake Pehoe, take the catamaran straight to Paine Grande campsite.

Day 1:Hike from Paine Grande to Refugio Grey which is 11 KM.

Day 2: Hike from Refugio Grey to Camp Italiano which is 18.5 KM

Day 3: Leave the bag behind at Camp Italiano, hike to Mirador Britanico and back to Camp Italiano. Pick up your bags and hike to Refugio Los Cuernos.

Distances:

Camp Italiano, hike to Mirador Britanico : 5.4 KM one way

Camp Italiano to Refugio Los Cuernos: 5 KM

Day 4: Refugio Los Cuernos to Camp Las Torres via the short cut which is 8KM and stay back that night.

Day 5: Early morning sunrise hike to Torres Mirador. And hike back to Hotel Las Torres.

Distances:

Camp Las Torres to Torres Mirador : 2.8KM round trip

Camp Las Torres to Hotel Las Torres: 8KM

On day 5 catch the shuttle to park entrance and bus back to Puerto Natales.

Again, West to East is my favorite for the 5 day trek as well.

w trek map torres del paine 5

Torres Del Paine 5 day trek starting at Refugio Grey

On purpose, I have discussed different accommodation options such as Domos Frances and Refugio Torres to highlight alternate options. Replace Domos Frances with Refugio Los Cuernos as needed. Since they both are pretty close by.

Day 1 : Puerto Natales to Hotel Lago Grey by bus/shuttle. And take the the boat from Hotel Lago Grey to Refugio Grey. To check the rates, click here.

With this option, you can avoid hiking from Paine Grande and back, instead start the hike straight from Refugio Grey.

Day 2 : Day hike to Grey glacier overview. Hike down to Refugio Paine Grande. Sleep at Refugio Paine Grande.

Distances:

Mirador Grey Glacier: 3.6 KM round trip.

Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande: 11KM

Day 3: Trek Refugio Paine Grande to Domos Frances. And have a good night sleep at Domos Frances.

Distance:

Refugio Paine Grande to Domos Frances: ~9KM

Day 4: Day hike to French Valley. To get to Mirador Britanico it’s approximately 15km round trip from Domos Frances. But you can hike as much as you want and return.

Day 5: Domos Frances to Refugio Torres Central . Sleep at Rufugio Torres Central. It’s approximately ~8KM

Day 6: Hike to base of Torres and back if you have the energy and decent weather, hike back down to Hotel Torres to take late shuttle/bus to Puerto Natales.

Torres Del Paine 6 Day Trek

Non Hiking Activity:

If you can spend 6 days at Torres Del Paine, I recommend sticking to 5 day Patagonia itinerary mentioned above. And add an extra night at Paine Grande.

The extra day at Paine Grande is a perfect way to catch up on non-hiking activities:

  • Kayaking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Horse Riding

There are several companies providing Kayaking and non-hiking adventure activities in the area. Google for best deals. We didn’t do any of these. So, I can’t give first hand recommendation.

Torres Del Paine with Kids

Assuming your kids can hike and physically fit, you can easily do the 5 day hike that I have recommended that starts from Refugio Grey.

However, if the kids are really young and you would rather have a relaxing Patagonia trip here are some options to consider:

Day 1: Paine Grande to Grey Glacier Mirador. Keep it short by visiting the first mirador. Stay back at Paine Grande.

Day 2: Take the catamaron to Park entrance. Catch the shuttle to Hotel Las Torres. Start hiking to Camp Chileno. This is a 5KM hike.

Day 3: Camp Chileno to Mirador Torres and back. It’s 8.8KM roundtrip.

Day 4: Hike back to Hotel Las Torres and catch the bus back to Puerto Natales.

Best part is, if you plan well in advance, you don’t have to take any tent, sleeping bag or sleeping pads for the family. Everything can be booked ahead, including the meals. So, the hikes can actually be fairly light weight.

Another option is to book with a hotel like EcoCamp that seem to have kids specific tours.

Torres Del Paine in winter

If you want to brave the cold weather and witness a different aspect of the iconic W Trek in Torres del Paine, you will be one of the few who have ever seen or experienced it before.  Welcome to the “Winter Wonderlands!”

One can attempt the entire W trek during winter months. However, there are several things to take into consideration.

  • Most Refugios are closed
  • Hotel Las Torres is closed
  • Catamaron runs just once a day.

Since there are restricted availability in the services in the park, you might have to extremely well prepared and be ready to walk a lot more.

However, it is still possible.

Torres Del Paine in Winter Itinerary:

Day 1:

Take the bus from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine National Park and the administration area. From the Administration area start the hike for a good 6 hour hike to the shore of lake Pehoe along Las Carretas trail.

You will reach Ecocamp, the Moutain Hut. 

Mountain hut will be the place to stay for 2 to 3 nights during the winter months.

Day 2:

Take a 22km roundtrip hike to Glacier Grey and stay back at Mountain Hut.

Day 3:

Hike ~20KM (round trip) to French valley and back to stay back at Mountain Hut.

Day 4:

Walk back along Las Carretas trail to reach Administration office to catch the bus back to Rio Serrano area and stay at Mountain Hut Cabañas Lago Tyndall  here.

Day 5 :

Day hike to Mirador Torres and back.

Day 6:

Transport out of Torres Del Paine to Puerto Natales.

Things to do ahead of time if you fancy a winter trip:

  • Book both Eco Camp and Lago Tyndall ahead of time
  • Ask those two Mountain huts to arrange for your pickup and drop off shuttles from Park entrance.
  • Make sure you know the bus service timings from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine

One Full Day in Torres Del Paine & Torres Del Paine Day Trip

If you are really short on time and just want to do Torres Del Paine day tours, or perhaps shoot for Torres Del Paine day hikes, it is entirely possible. We met a few people on the trails who were part of a full day Torres Del Paine tour and they were certainly happy with the services. Here are some of the tours I can recommend, if that is what you are looking for.

Torres Del Pain W Trek Elevation Map

HEIGHTS

I hope this complete guide to Torres Del Paine W trek was useful and you got all your questions answered. I would be happy to share more details, if you need anything else.

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