Torres del Paine W Trek Patagonia - Map, Refugios, Itinerary and More!

By Sierd van der Bij

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Torres del Paine W Trek Patagonia - Map, Refugios, Itinerary and More!
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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!

Do I hire a guide or do I go on my own when trekking in Torres del Paine?

The W trek is not that long, which is why some trekkers 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.

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!

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W-trek in Patagonia, Map

The W-Trek is a popular hiking route in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. It's called the "W-Trek" because of the shape the route makes as it winds through the park - it looks like the letter "W" when drawn on a map.

The trek takes you to some of the park's most iconic sights including the stunning granite towers that give Torres del Paine its name, the beautiful French Valley, and the Grey Glacier. It's one of the most famous hiking routes in the world, and is renowned for its dramatic landscapes and diverse wildlife.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the W-Trek with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

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 is the best season to do the W-trek in Torres del Paine?

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.

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.

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.

How much does doing the W trek in Patagonia?

Do you have a self-guided adventure on your wish list and are you curious about all the possible alternatives? Check out all our offers for the W-Trek here!

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.

Day
1

Transfer to Torres del Paine – Round trip hike to Las Torres lookout point

Duration: 07:50 h
Distance: 19.7 km
Ascent: 880 m
Descent: 880 m

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). We will follow an unpaved road heading to Refugio Las Torres to spend our first night. Upon entering the park we will have excellent photographic and birding opportunities as we drive alongside lagoons frequented by Chilean flamencos and black-necked swans. After leaving your backpack at the Refugio, we start the trek 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. We’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 we’ll start the descent, following the same path back to the hut. Dinner will be served in the Refugio.

Refugio Torres Central

Info
Refugio Torres Central
Day
2

One way hike to Los Cuernos lookout point

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 250 m
Descent: 300 m

We will start early morning to enjoy, weather permitting, a magnificent dawn filled with orange-pink colors. As we leave the campground 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. We follow a well mark trail ascending around (200 M) from the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain (2750 M), crossing the Bader River to arrive at Refugio Los Cuernos where we will stay overnight.

Refugio Los Cuernos

Info
Refugio Los Cuernos
Day
3

One-way hike to Pehoe Lake, via the French Valley

Duration: 09:00 h
Distance: 22.7 km
Ascent: 730 m
Descent: 780 m

We will start our day with a 2-hour walk going to an undulating path until reaching the French River for our first glimpses of the hanging glacier. Then we 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. We will lunch here with good possibilities of seeing avalanches from the hanging glacier or simply observe the west side of the Cuernos (2600 M), Espada (2400 M) and Fortaleza (2800 M). Our way back will be the same until we reach the entrance of the valley where we 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 Pehoe Lake.

Refugio Paine Grande

Info
Refugio Paine Grande
Day
4

One-way hike to Grey Glacier

Duration: 04:00 h
Distance: 11 km
Ascent: 300 m
Descent: 260 m

We will begin the early morning with our hike to the Grey Glacier. Initially ascending 200mts up a winding narrow path leading us to Laguna Negra, a place where we will observe the first glimpses of the South Patagonia Ice Field with its many unclimbed mountains. We will advance through forests and rivers, with possible sightings of spectacle and flying steamer ducks, up to the glacier viewpoint. We will have lunch at this place to see, if we are lucky enough, ice calving from the huge glacier wall.

Refugio Grey

Info
Refugio Grey
Day
5

One-way hike to Catamaran – Transfer back to Puerto Natales

Duration: 06:07 h
Distance: 21.2 km
Ascent: 280 m
Descent: 310 m
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.
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Packing List for the W-Trek

No matter where you go hiking or for how long, bringing the right equipment is of utmost importance. For your hike, the first thing you need is a good backpack. The size of it will depend on the number of days you will be trekking, the season and the clothes you take with you. If you have luggage transport, the comfort level of your daypack is most important. We have compiled a packing list with a few essential items of clothing you should bring and some extras you might find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

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

8:00, 9:00, 11:00, 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.

Safety tips for the W-Trek

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The W-Trek is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

  • Know your limits

    Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts.

  • Stay on marked trails

    The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the W-Trek. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

  • Fully equipped

    Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of W-Trek and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the W-Trek.

  • Respect for nature

    Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the W-Trek?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided W-Trek and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the W-Trek not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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