The W Trek in Torres del Paine is by far the most famous trek in Patagonia. The W stands for the shape of the route if you look at it from a bird’s eye perspective. There are many options if you want to conquer this massif. Although the W trek is the shortest, it includes the most beautiful highlights of the Torres del Paine National Park.In this blogpost, we will tell you all that you need to know about the refugios on the W-trek, the map, the itinerary, and more!
Last update: July 2022
The W trek is not that long, which is why many mountaineers choose to do it in 3 days. Nevertheless, we recommend taking it a little bit slower so as to make the most out of every site. With the most varied and colorful landscapes, this trek is guaranteed to leave you speechless. Along the way you will find hanging glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and granite peaks. The red color given by the lengas in autumn and winter provide you with a dreamlike scenery.
Get ready to conquer some of the most austral peaks in the world. Find the perfect W Trek for you here!
Do I hire a guide or do I go on my own when trekking in Torres del Paine?
The first thing to know about this trek is that you can either do it on your own or you can hire a guide. Is it dangerous to go on my own? not at all. The trails of the W Trek in Torres del Paine are very well marked and you will most probably find other trekkers on your way, so you won't be completely alone. Getting lost in Torres del Paine is highly unlikely. The good thing about booking a self-guided trek with a trekking company is that all the logistics get sorted out for you: the accommodation, the transport and the meals are arranged by our partners.
Now, although you can do it by yourself, hiring a guide is always a good idea. As we said before, the trek is completely safe, but a guide will always be able to add that little extra touch to the whole experience. The guides in Torres del Paine National Park will be able to share with you all the knowledge they have about the flora and fauna of the region and maybe show you some of the hidden gems that only those familiar with the park get to enjoy. In the end, it is up to you. Either way, you will love the W trek!
Discover the different options for the W trek here, both with and without a guide.
W-trek in Patagonia, Map
Here is a map that shows the W-shaped rout that gives the W-trek its name:
What is the best season to do the W-trek in Torres del Paine?
You want nice weather when trekking in Torres del Paine National Park. At the park is situated in the Southern Hemisphere, one has to be mindful of the seasons there. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is actually summer in the deep South. Hence, the best trekking season for Torres del Paine National Park is during the summer months: From November to early March. However, Spring (September-November) are and Autumn (March-May) are also favorable trekking and hiking seasons, as the crowds are fewer and the natural scenery is colorful. Think fresh colors in Spring and stunning brown colors in the Fall months. Winter lasts from June to August and it is then that Torres del Paine National Park and the rest of Patagonia is quiet. At this time of the year, most attractions are closed for maintenance. Regardless of your choice in trekking season, make sure you bring enough layers for during your hike.
What are the accommodation options during the W trek in Torres del Paine?
Accommodation in Torres del Paine will not be a luxury show, but at least you will have a roof over your head while resting your legs from the W trek. Refugios are mountain lodges and can be found scattered all over the National Park. Our trekking providers are making use of these Refugios but it is also possible to stay in a tent on a campsite, or in one of the domes of an EcoCamp that you can find in the park. Regardless of where you stay, your accommodation fulfills all the basic needs for getting a blissful rest during your trek through Torres del Paine.
At Bookatrekking.com we offer all the different accommodation alternatives available in Torres del Paine. Find the perfect W trek for you here!
Refugios on the W Trek in Torres del Paine: what are they like?
The "Refugios" are mountain lodges scattered all over the Torres del Paine National Park. When you have done your hiking and trekking for the day, you are most likely to stay in one of these Refugios. Refugios come with comfortable dorm-style rooms that are best compared to a standard you can find at neat backpacker hostels around the world. Think mountain huts with all the comfort you need. A great advantage of using Refugios is that you can limit the amount of equipment that you bring along. On top of that, you have a roof over your head, you are likely to meet more people and you can enjoy nourishing meals. If you prefer to camp, you can still use Refugios. They often come with space where you can pitch a tent. Here are some of the Refugios you can find during your W trek in Torres del Paine:
Refugio Torres Central & North
The Mountain lodges of Torres Central and North are two comfortable refugios located at the base of the hike to the Towers lookout and part of the W trek and “Circuit” walks. They are within walking distance to the Hotel Spa at Las Torres for a variety of services including massage and saunas.
Refugio Los Cuernos
Los Cuernos is found on the shore of lake Nordenskjöld nestled in a Coihue Forest lays Refugio Cuernos with 32 beds. This cozy lodge is located on the W trek walking between the French Valley and the Torres del Paine lookout and base camp area.
Cabins Los Cuernos (Optional)
8 cozy cabins for 2 persons each with shared bathrooms and showers exclusively for people who are staying at the cabins. The cabins are located next to the Refugio Los Cuernos and all meals are taken in the Refugio.
Refugio Paine Grande
Paine Grande is a large and modern refugio set on the banks of the Lake Pehoe, including internet connection and full-service bar. It’s the jump off point for the catamaran crossing Lake Pehoe and the walks to the French and Grey Valleys part of the W trek and “Circuit” hikes.
Ideally situated on the edge of Lake Grey, this refugio is in a forest of Lenga trees. A small and cozy hut, with a privileged access to the Grey Glacier and is part of the W Trek and “Circuit” hikes.
It is very important to highlight that the accommodation in the refugios is limited and they can be fully booked weeks or even months in advance. If you want to spend your nights at the refugios, make sure you book your trek in advance. If any of the refugios is full, the alternative will be to spend the night camping.
How much does doing the W trek in Patagonia?
Hiking in Torres del Paine can be a costly matter, but there are most definitely affordable ways of doing it. The prices of the W trek can go from USD 1250/ EUR 1100 and up to more than USD 3000/ EUR 2700. The more support you receive, the more you will be paying for your trek. After all, the guide that shows you the way and tells you about all the highlights along the way, needs to be paid a fair salary. When comparing a guided to a self-guided trek, one can see that it can make a difference of almost 1000 USD. It is, however, good to note that not all the trekking costs lie in enjoying the skills of a guide or not. A typical W Trek includes food and accommodation in the form of Mountain Lodges, known as Refugios.The entrance fees to Torres del Paine National Park and all transportation needed are also included in the total trekking price. There are many alternatives for the W Trek, with different accommodation options, number of days, and prices.
Browse through our different options and find the W Trek that best suits your budget.
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What does a W trek Itinerary look like?
The W trek in Torres del Paine is pretty much the same for every trekking company since there is only one route. What does change is the number of days you spend on the trails and which highlights you get to see. The W trek is most commonly completed in 5 days, which gives you enough time to see all the main attractions along the way.
Here is the itinerary of the 5-day, self-guided W trek by our partner Chile Nativo:
Day 1 – Transfer to Torres del Paine – Round trip hike to Las Torres lookout point
Starting from Puerto Natales at 7:00 AM, we drive all the way to Torres del Paine National Park. We will drive through open pampas and huge ranches (estancias), and chances are we will be able to observe one of the most typical animals in this area, the ñandu, (rare South American ostrich).
The bus arrives at Laguna Amarga, the main entrance to the park where you connect with a shuttle to the Refugio Torre Central. After leaving your backpack at the Refugio, you start the trek with your lunch box to the base of the Towers, following the Ascencio River to enter the Ascencio Valley. The walk will be uphill for one hour before stopping to observe the first glimpses of the valley surrounded by unbelievable beech forests, glaciers, and waterfalls. You’ll continue through the valley for another hour and a half before ascending a huge terminal moraine to a lookout (900 M), excellent for picture taking. This amazing view will be accompanied by lunch to add to the enjoyment.
After being awed by the towers you’ll start the descent, following the same path back to the hut. Dinner will be served in the Refugio.
Duration: 2 hours by public bus, 30 minutes by shuttle, 8-10 hours round-trip, 18 KM
Meals: Lunch, Dinner included
Accommodation: Night at Refugio Torres Central
Day 2 – One way hike to Los Cuernos lookout point
After breakfast at the Refugio you request your pack lunch and start the hike to Refugio Los Cuernos. As we leave the hut we will arrive at Inge lagoon.
Chances are, on this path, we may see the flight of an Andean condor or eagles hunting hares or small rodents. You follow a well marked trail ascending around (200 mts.) from the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain (2750 mts.), crossing the Bader River to arrive at Refugio Los Cuernos where you will stay overnight, after enjoying a good meal.
Duration: 6 hours hiking, 17 km
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included
Optional: You can upgrade to private cabins with two beds and sharing bathrooms in between the cabins only for USD $ 230 per single occupancy or USD $ 140 per double occupancy.
Day 3 – One-way hike to Pehoe Lake, via the French Valley
After a breakfast in the Refugio, and once you request your pack lunch from them; you will start the day with a 2-hour walk going to an undulating path until reaching the French River for your first glimpses of the hanging glacier. Then you will ascend (300 M) for one hour through a surreal Japanese garden landscape, crossing beech forests, to reach the French valley viewpoint gifting us with a magnificent view of both mountains and lakes.
Your way back will be the same until you reach the entrance of the valley where you will continue on a different path around the South-West side of Paine Grande, the highest peak in the Park, through native forests of Chilean fire bush and evergreen beech (Nothofagus Bethuloides), up to the shore of the Pehoé Lake. Dinner will be served in the Refugio.
Duration: 8-9 hours hiking, 18 KM
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included
Accommodation: Night at Refugio Paine Grande
Day 4 – One-way hike to Glacier Grey – Optional Ice hike or kayak
You will begin the early morning with the hike to the Grey Glacier. Initially ascending 200mts up a winding narrow path leading us to Laguna Negra, a place where you will observe the first glimpses of the South Patagonia Ice Field with its many unclimbed mountains. You will advance through forests and rivers, with possible sightings of spectacle and flying steamer ducks, up to the glacier viewpoint. You will have lunch at this place to see, if we are lucky enough, ice calving from the huge glacier wall.
Duration: 4 hours hiking, 11 KM
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included
Optional: Ice hike or Kayak
Accommodation: Night at Refugio Grey
Day 5 – One-way hike to Catamaran – Transfer back to Puerto Natales
You return to Paine Grande following the same path with views of Cordon Olguín and Paine Grande. You need to be on time to take the Catamaran to cross the Pehoe Lake. Once you arrived at the other side, a public bus will be waiting to drive back to Puerto Natales.
Duration: 4 hours hiking, 11 KM, 35 minutes by Catamaran, 3 hours by public bus
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Included
REGARDING THE SCHEDULE
The schedules indicated above are subject to change due to weather conditions or unexpected circumstances beyond our control, but we will try our best to keep them unaltered.
Book the 5-day self-guided W trek with Chile Nativo here!
What should I pack for my W trek in Torres del Paine, in Patagonia?
Trekking in Patagonia requires decent gear. Especially the basics like an 80-90l backpack and quality trekking socks. Read an extensive blog here about what to bring with you.
– Regular synthetic underwear
– Long thermal underwear bottoms
– Full length hiking pants
– Hiking shorts
– Long thermal underwear top
– Long-sleeved synthetic top
– Short-sleeved synthetic t-shirts
– Medium-weight fleece jacket
– Sun hat with brim
– Woolly hat
– Water and windproof parka jacket
– Waterproof gloves
– Synthetic hiking socks
– Sturdy and supportive waterproof trekking boots
– Waterproof pants
– Fleece pants for camp
– Athletics socks for camp and town
– Casual city clothes
– Casual shoes
– Combined shampoo/conditioner
– Sunblock (SPF 15 or higher)
– High factor sunblock lip balm
– Insect repellent
– Travel towel
– Deodorant spray or wipes
– Camera with spare memory
– Camera charger
– Phone charger
– Electrical adapter
– Mini sewing kit
– Pack of playing cards
How do I get to Torres del Paine for my W trek?
Your trekking adventure will begin in Puerto Natales, where your trekking company will drive you to the Torres del Paine National Park's entrance. As your trekking starts early in the morning you need to get to Puerto Natales one day before the start of your trek. You need to fly on Puntus Arenas (Airport code: PUQ). From there you can take the bus to Puerto Natales. It’s advisable to arrange this upfront. We recommend either Bus-Sur or Buses Fernandez. These are the departure times:
Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales
8:009:0011:00 13:00 14:30 16:00 17:00 18:30 19:15 20:00 21:00
Puerto Natales – Punta Arenas
7:00 7:15 9:00 11:00 13:00 14:30 17:00 18:30 19:15 20:00 21:00
How fit do I need to be for the W-Trek in Torres del Paine, Chile?
Do you make it to your destinations as planned? Often this depends on the unpredictable weather in the mountains. However, it can also depend on your own physical condition.
Do you like walking, have you done trekking at an altitude more often and do you sport twice a week on average? With a little extra training, you’ll soon be ready for the beautiful W trek.
Is this the first time that you are trekking in the mountains? Make sure you are well prepared. This is important for your safety, but also for that of your team. Make sure you start six months in advance with an hour’s walk twice a week.
Read this blog post and get fit for trekking in Patagonia.
Patagonia W trek tours: how do you select a reliable trekking operator for the W trek?
The great thing about the internet is that you can find anything anywhere. The same goes for hiking and trekking providers. However, since there is so much on offer, it can be overwhelming to find a trekking operator of your liking.
That is why Bookatrekking.com does the selection for you. We only join hands with the best hiking and trekking providers we can trust. You can rest assured that the trekking operators on Bookatrekking.com are reliable. Find your perfect W trek here.
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