Torres del Paine W Circuit - 7 days
The patagonia W trek between the Torres del Paine famous craggy mountains is among the world's classic trekking routes. Breathtaking views together with glaciers, rivers, lakes, forests and abundant wildlife provides the trip with memorable experiences.
Day 1, Monday, 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.
We begin our Patagonian adventure with a pleasant walk through the sinuous Cuernos Trail which leads us alongside the beautiful Lake Nordenskjold. During this warm-up walk we will have the opportunity to admire the park’s exquisite flora and fauna, as we enjoy the magnificent views of the park’s central lakes and the Paine’s Horns, majestic black horn-like peaks of slate atop gray granite which crown the center of the Massif. The trek ends at Refugio Los Cuernos, a small and cozy mountain refuge located by the shores of Lake Nordenskjold. Alternatively the trek ends at Domo el Francés, located between Cuernos and Italiano camping sites, with an amazing view of Nordenskjöld lake. The evening is free for relaxing and enjoying dinner.
Day 3, Wednesday, The Paine Massif’s Heart: Valle Frances
After breakfast at Refugio Los Cuernos, 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.
N.B. An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is also available.
Day 4, Thursday, 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 5, Friday, the big challenge: Torres del Paine
The goal of our fifth day of our 7-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 6, Saturday, Eastern Lakes*
The sixth day will consist of a less strenuous trail in order to counter the exhausting efforts of the previous day. After breakfast, we will take a leisurely car journey towards Laguna Azul, passing Cañadón Macho, home to many wild guanacos and ñandúes, en route. We will pause occasionally to admire the views of the Patagonian steppe and the towers from a different perspetive. At Laguna Azul, we will hike to the lookout point where we will be treated to a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and granite towers. After lunch, we will drive to the northern shore of Sarmiento Lake where the Fauna Trail begins. As we hike northbound, we will spot an impressive range of Patagonian fauna on the vast plains, including: guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús and maybe the occasional puma print! We will pass the charming Goic lagoon and after approximately 5km of relaxed walking, we will reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station where we will be picked up and driven back to Ecocamp to celebrate over our farewell dinner.
*Please note that if there are more than 6 travellers in the group there's an option to split into two groups, with one group (or the whole group if everybody's in the mood!) cycling to Laguna Azul!
Day 7, Sunday, Adios 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 to Santiago. Or, alternatively, we board an early morning vehicle to the border to continue our journey to El Calafate.
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.
Regular Departures: Every Monday from September 2016
2016-2017 Prices in standard domes in Chilean Pesos:
Low Season (Oct. 3-15, April 18-24) = CLP 1,095,700 per person in double, 1,643,600 in single
Shoulder season (Oct. 16-31, April 1-17) = CLP 1,278,300 per person in double, 1,917,500 in single
High season (Nov. 1-Dec. 13, Jan. 21-March 31) = CLP 1,778,600 per person in double, 2,667,900 in single
Peak season (Dec. 14-Jan. 20) = CLP 1,867,400 per person in double, 2,801,100 in single
Upgrade to Superior Dome (private bathroom & gas heater):
ask for rates
***Optional Kayaking around the Grey Glacier on Day 4***
When you purchase a program at EcoCamp Patagonia for April or 1st week of May, you'll receive 1 FREE hotel night in Santiago, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales or Calafate, you choose the location!. Plus get to see Patagonian fall colors and escape the summer crowds. When staying at a Suite or Superior Dome, a 4-star hotel will be included. When staying at a Standard Dome, a 3-star hotel will be included (Standard domes are available until April 30th). Location should be chosen when booking is made.
Your booking is based on Chilean pesos (CLP), but you pay in US$ (USD), using the exchange rate valid on the day of payment which will be shown in your order. This exchange rate may vary between the date you pay your deposit and the date you pay your outstanding balance, but rest assured this is the best way to keep our prices competitive and ensure the best rate for you!
The trip starts on Monday and finishes on Sunday 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.
**If refugios are unavailable, alternative accommodation will be provided in tents or domes with prior notice.
N.B. During Shoulder Season (September, October and April) the Towers Trek excursion might be cancelled because of weather conditions and safety considerations.
On day 6 and if there are more than 6 travellers in the group there's an option to split into two groups, with one group (or the whole group if everybody's in the mood!) can cycle to Laguna Azul.
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.
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.