Trek the W Circuit of Torres del Paine – Chilean Patagonia
We have all seen the photos of the iconic towers of Torres del Paine National Park. They are the images that are printed on postcards, ads, and anything representing travel and adventure in the Patagonia Region of Chile.
These almost unnatural looking rock peaks point high into the sky and look like they are ready to tumble into the blue glacier lakes below. The highest tower is Torre Sur (South Tower), then comes Torre Central (Central Tower), and Torre Norte (North Tower). Just seeing a glimpse of these natural monuments will make any outdoor junkie succumb to wanderlust and book a plane to Patagonia to see them in person.
One of the most recommended and more adventurous ways to see the peaks is by trekking the multi-day W Circuit. This hike is named for the W shaped path it takes into the three Valleys of the Park; Valle del Ascencio , Valle del Francés & Glacier Grey.
Good equipment and overnights at Refugios are required to navigate this rough terrain. We would recommend using Wild Chile, a boutique travel agency that offers Patagonia Tours, including a 6-Day/ 5-Night trek along the W Circuit. This tour is specifically made for lone adventurers who want to get the most out of the Trek.
The founders of Wild Chile all met while working as guides in a prestigious hotel located within Torres del Paine National Park. They know the Park’s terrain in and out and can ensure that those seeking adventure will experience the best the park has to offer on a tailor-made trip.
If you are interested in exploring Patagonia by trekking glaciers, ice hikes, kayaking, and enjoying some of the wildest views on this planet than we recommend the W Circuit trek with Wild Chile for the true adventurers. The difficulty level can jump from Medium to High by the day, so good physical condition and equipment is a must.
Day 1: Transfer from Puerto Natales Torres del Paine National Park where you will see the amazing natural rock and glacier formations of the Park for the first time. Overnight at Refugio Torre Central.
Day 2: Trek to the Base of the towers (Base de las Torres) passing by glacier lakes and stunning scenery. Now you can finally rest easy knowing that you have finally laid eyes on the iconic Towers of Paine (Torres del Paine). Overnight at Refugio El Chileno or Torre Central.
Day 3: Today you will trek through the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain to Los Cuernos. You will have magnificent views of the Nordenskjöld Lake and the blooming Ciruelillos or (Fire Bushes). Overnight at Refugio Los Cuernos.
Day 4: Trek into the French Valley where you will stop at the French Glacier lookout to view the hanging glacier and small avalanches. You will then trek further to the Mirador Británico lookout which offers the most impressive views along the W Circuit Trek. Overnight at Domos El Francés.
Day 5: Trek by the western side of the Paine Massif with views to Grey Lake and Mountains then onto the Grey Glacier lookout where you will view this beautiful natural formation in all its glory. You will also have the option of kayaking later in the day. (additional cost may be applied) Overnight at Refugio Grey
Day 6: Today your journey has come to an end. You will take a catamaran across the Pehoe Lake to Pudeto sector. *You may take part in an optional ice hike or kayaking around the Grey Glacier (additional costs may apply). You will be supplied with crampons, ice axe, harness and helmet as well as training. You will be transferred to the glacier by zodiac where you will explore cracks, rivers, lagoons and tunnels with their rich hues of blue glowing from the reflecting sun. The glacier is part of the Southern Ice Field which is the third resource for fresh water in the world. For those wanting to kayak, you will enter the Grey Lake from the shore where you will then observe icebergs and float close to the Grey Glacier if the weather allows it.
Included in a Wild Chile Adventure
- 5 Overnights in Refugios with shared dorms in bunk beds with sleeping bag & 1 night in Domos El Francés
- Transport in a Regular/Public Bus from Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine – Puerto Natales.
- Shuttle from Laguna Amarga main entrance to Las Torres sector.
- Catamaran Pehoé Lake Crossings
- English/Spanish speaking and experienced guides
- Equipment for optional excursions
- All meals
Passengers need to be prepared for summer and winter all at once.
Essential equipment includes –
- A one day backpack (30 liters – to carry camera, glasses, rain coat, etc)
- Trekking or hiking boots,
- Extra shoes for evenings or in case others get wet
- Waterproof jacket
- Two pairs of woolen socks
- Fleece jacket or sweater
- Shorts or comfortable loose pants,
- Sun protection (glasses, hat, lip balm and sunscreen)
- Optional capilene
- Underwear for the upper and lower body
- US$ in cash for buying extra drinks/snacks or souvenirs in Torres del Paine National Park
All ready to begin your adventure in Patagonia? Book an adventure with Wild Chile here.
Photo credits: Rodrigo Díaz, Juan Cristobal Cruz and Agostina Quintana