Torres del Paine Short W Circuit Trek
The Torres del Paine Short W Trek is a 5 day version of the 7 days trek, utilizing the award winning Ecocamp for most nights.
Day 1, The Patagonian Adventure starts
The trip begins with you being picked up from your hotel in Punta Arenas or Punta Arenas airport in the morning and driven to EcoCamp Patagonia, located in the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. Alternatively, you can start your trip in Calafate (see our weekly transfer board for EcoCamp's pick up & drop off schedule). En route we make a couple of stops - First in Puerto Natales, a small, lively town on the shores of "Seno de Ultima Esperanza", where we enjoy a hearty local lunch, and second at Cueva de Milodon, a massive prehistoric cave where the remains of a giant ground sloth were discovered in the 1890’s. The journey is scenic and highly atmospheric, featuring many wild birds and wonderful Patagonian landscapes.The day ends with our arrival and overnight stay at EcoCamp Patagonia (optional), nestled in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park and with a prime view of the majestic Torres. Sunset is usually around 11pm during the summer months, meaning that there will still be enough daylight for you to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked mountain horizon once you arrive.For more details about trek distance and walking time, click here to check out our Trekking Chart.
Day 2, The Paine Massif’s Heart: Valle FrancesAfter breakfast, we will begin the challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley), along a steep trail that leads to the very heart of the Paine Massif. How far in we go depends on our group's trekking rhythm. A swifter walk will lead us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south east face of the Massif, where we will be treated to fantastic views of the valley. We will then continue to ascend towards the upper section of the valley where we will be able to marvel at the extensive mass of the valley's geological formations: Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress). After our upward trek, we will pause for a picnic and relax a while. This day's trek will end as we descend through an undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest which will take us to Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe.
*An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is also available.
N.B.The excursion to French Valley varies throughout the season depending on the catamaran connecting Pudeto and Refugio Pehoe:
From October 1st to November 15th and from March 16th through April the navigation operates only once a day, therefore the hike will be limited and only reach Italian campsite. (From November 16th to March 15th the excursion operates on a regular basis)
Day 3, Glacier Grey
This day will see us hike from Paine Grande Refugio along the shores of Lake Pehoe to the northern side of the glacially beautiful Lake Grey. We will feast on a picnic lunch before boarding the boat that sails right to the huge, crystalline facade of Glacier Grey, where we will have plenty of time to marvel at the calving glacier. From the southern end of Glacier Grey we will transfer to EcoCamp.
Due to the temperamental weather of the region, boat trips across the lake may occasionally be restricted during Shoulder Season (October and April) or cancelled if the required minimum of 10 passengers is not reached. If either is the case, we will trek up to the sightseeing point and profit from wonderful, panoramic views of the Glacier instead. Then we will return on foot to Paine Grande and take a catamaran to Pudeto’s dock, where we will be picked up and driven to EcoCamp.
Day 4, The big challenge: Torres del Paine
The goal of the penultimate day of our 5-day trek will be to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres del Paine National Park! We will walk from the campsite towards Hostería Las Torres before ascending to Ascencio Valley on the Tower's eastern face. Mountain ridges, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. Our big challenge comes in the form of the steep moraine, a huge mass of boulders which will lead us to that iconic base-view of the Towers - Three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After a tough uphill climb, the Towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before us, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and our picnic, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp for a well-deserved dinner.
Day 5, Depart Torres del Paine!
We will board an early morning vehicle, sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic ride back to Punta Arenas in time to catch the evening flight.
The weather in Patagonia can be difficult to deal with at times. We reserve the right to change the order of the days in any itinerary at the discretion of the trip guide and based on operational considerations. The trip guide can modify, change or eliminate part of the itinerary based on safety/weather considerations.
The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. In addition, the strong marine influence and the affect of the Southern Patagonia Ice field make the weather hard to predict. In spring or early summer fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rain and even snow. Even in summer (December to March) you should come prepared to find strong cold winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfall. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºCmax, 2ºC min). However, just as quickly as the weather turns nasty, it can become lovely and sunny. So come prepared for all types of weather!
This is the right trip for energetic people who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. To enjoy this trek it is essential to be in shape before you arrive. It is not wise to regard this trek as a means of getting into shape or losing excess weight. Start a program of conditioning well before departure.
Regular Departures: Every Sunday from October 2017
We regret to inform you that, due to prolonged and unavoidable construction on the road to the Cueva del Milodon, a side excursion that is included in EcoCamp itineraries, we will be unable to offer this excursion for the 2017-2018 season.
The Cueva del Milodon is a small cave located along the route to Torres del Paine National Park, where the remains of a giant sloth were found in 1895. The road to the cave, Ruta Y-129, is expected to be under construction for roughly a year, and as the detour route adds an additional 4 hours to the drive to EcoCamp, we must suspend this excursion for the season.
2017-2018 Prices for 5 day trek in standard dome in Chilean Pesos:
Low Season (Oct. 2-15, April 18-22) = CLP 863,784 per person in double, 1,295,676 in single
Shoulder season (Oct. 16-31, April 1-17) = CLP 1,007,640 per person in double, 1,511,460 in single
High season (Nov. 1-Dec. 14, Jan. 21-March 31) = CLP 1,402,056 per person in double, 2,103,084 in single
Peak season (Dec. 15-Jan. 20) = CLP 1,472,040per person in double, 2,208,060 in single
Upgrade to Superior Dome (private bathroom & gas heater): ask for rates
Do a Short W Trek during the fall months of April and May, and get a free night at a hotel in your chosen city of Santiago, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, or Calafate.
Starting / Finishing Points
The trip starts on Sunday and finishes on Thursday with pick ups and drop offs in Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales or El Calafate. Please visit our Weekly Transfer Board for details of EcoCamp pick up and drop off times from both Chile and Argentina.
**During Shoulder and low season (October and April), some excursions are subject to the weather conditions and might be cancelled or modified for reasons of security, for example the Navigation on Grey Lake, the excursion to the French Valley and to the Tower base trek. In any case we will either modify the original itinerary or offer you a good alternative of excursion within the park.
Group Size & Guiding Staff
9 travelers is the most typical group size, plus guiding staff. Maximum 12 clients. Guide to passenger ratio: 1:6
In Torres del Paine and throughout Patagonia transport is in minivans that normally seat from 8 to 14 people. Pick up / Drop off times shown in the Weekly Transfer Board are approximate and will be confirmed locally by our operations team.