Enjoy our short, 5 day, Paine W trek in Patagonia.

You will walk the highlights, and take in the eponymous Torres (towers) del Paine, Grey Glacier and French Valley.

As you walk Chile’s famous Torres del Paine National Park’s main attractions, you can full enjoy these spectacular mountains as you’ll be carrying only a day pack.

No camping is required as every night is spent at our cosy Eco-Camp or a refugio, with beds, linen and all meals provided.

There is a choice of pick up points for starting and finishing the trip. we can organise pick up from El Calafate, Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. This gives lots of flexibility for extending your holiday in Chile or in Argentina.

There is a choice of accommodation. Choose from superior, suites or standard accommodation at the Eco-Camp.

More on short Paine W trek in Patagonia

There are two long days of hiking that sandwich a more relaxed half-day of walking, to allow you to see everything.

We spend a full day exploring the French Valley on foot.

This is followed by a relaxing half day of hiking to Grey Glacier, followed by a boat trip to float past this immense glacier.

We finish the trip off with a wonderful day hike to see the Towers of Paine – a real holiday highlight.



Trip Highlights

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  • Guided W trek tour in Torres del Paine.

  • Perfect for people short on time but wanting all the adventure.

  • No camping - stay in our cosy Eco-Camp.

  • Trek to the base of the Towers, French Valley and Glacier Grey.

  • See all the Paine W's highlights in just 5 days.

Everything was great - the guides were very good (it was particularly good having 2 guides since people do walk at different paces, and we were able to split the group in 2 so some people could go all the way into the French Valley while the rest of us decided to continue), the food (especially at the Eco Camp) was very good, and the refugios were great especially considering how far from civilization they are! The transfers were all very well organized.

The W trek tour highlight was the hike up to the Torres - loved the challenge and the weather was very good all the way up, with the clouds almost completely clearing when we got to the top! Also the glaciers on Grey Lake.

Good that the Eco Camp is environmentally friendly.

Debbie, W Trek Guided Tour in Torres del Paine

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Full Itinerary

Day 1: Travel from Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales or Calafate to Torres del Paine Eco-Camp (L,D)

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 – we include the public bus and transfers in Natales, plus lunch.)

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.

Our second stop is at Cueva de Milodon, a massive prehistoric cave where the remains of a giant ground sloth were discovered in the 1890s. The journey is scenic and highly atmospheric, with the chance to spot many wild birds among the wonderful Patagonian landscapes.

The day ends with our arrival and overnight stay at EcoCamp Patagonia (various options available: standard/suite/superior), nestled in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park and with a prime view of the majestic Torres.

Sunset is usually around 23.00 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.

Note: If you take the public bus from El Calafate to Natales, we include:

Transfer from El Calfate hotel to bus station, bus to Natales, lunch in Natales and transfer to the Eco-camp.

Day 2: Trek Valle del Frances trail, refugio (B,L,D)

After breakfast we drive toward Pudeto dock where we board the catamaran to Pehoe, from here 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 are treated to fantastic views of the valley.

We continue to ascend towards the upper section of the valley where we can marvel at the extensive mass of the valley’s geological formations. After our upward trek, we pause for a picnic and relax a while. This day’s trek ends 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 Británico 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)

Walking time:  Approx. 8 hours

Distance walked:   25km / 15 miles

Maximum altitude:  686m/2,250 ft

Day 3: Trek Pehoe - Grey Glacier trail, Eco-Camp (B,L,D)

This day sees us hike from Paine Grande Refugio along the shores of Lake Pehoe to the northern side of the glacially beautiful Lake Grey.

We feast on a picnic lunch before boarding the boat that sails right to the huge, crystalline facade of Glacier Grey, where we have plenty of time to marvel at the calving glacier. From the southern end of Glacier Grey we transfer to Eco-Camp. 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 trek up to the sightseeing point and profit from wonderful, panoramic views of the Glacier instead. Then we return on foot to Paine Grande and take a catamaran to Pudeto’s dock, from where we are picked up and driven to Eco-Camp.

Walking time: 4 hours approx.

Distance:  11km / 7 miles

Maximum altitude:  244m / 800ft

Day 4: Trek to the Towers, Eco-Camp (B,L,D)

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 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 leads 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 Eco-Camp for a well-deserved dinner.

Walking time:  9 hours approx.

Walking distance: 22km / 14 miles

Maximum altitude:  914m / 3,000 ft

Day 5: (Thu) Transfer out to Punta Arenas/bus to El Calafate or Natales, ends (B,L)

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.

For those wishing to travel to El Calafate, we transfer you to Cerro Castillo and include the public bus ticket from here to El Calafate, plus snacks and  a transfer from the bus station to a hotel (hotel not included) in El Calafate.


Prices From $1,450 / £1,160 per person

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What's Included?

Ground transport, Lake Grey crossing, 3 nights in Eco-Camp (sharing a 2 person dome), 1 night in refugios (or camping if refugios are full), Paine National Park entry fees, bilingual trekking guide, sleeping bag for the refugios if needed, trek support – you carry just your daypack, meals – 4 dinners, 5 lunches, 4 breakfasts, some wine with some meals.

What's Not Included?

International and domestic flights, insurance, personal items, tips, personal items, alcoholic or soft drinks.


Accommodation

Mixture of Eco-Camp and refugios.

 

Eco-Camp: Eco-Camp Patagonia is located in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, with a unique view of the majestic granite towers. The region’s first fully sustainable accommodation south of the Amazon and the first of its kind in the Patagonian wilderness, Eco-Camp offers upscale camping in geodesic domes inspired by the region’s ancient nomadic inhabitants.

Eco-Camp standard domes were the world’s first Geodesic Dome hotel room. At 3.6m/12ft in diameter and 2.4m/8ft in height, they allow two people to sleep and stand comfortably inside. They are resistant to the strongest Patagonian winds, rains, and snow, and come equipped with two single beds (doubles on request), very cozy fleece blankets, feather quilts and organic elements for decoration. There are round windows in the ceiling to look at the stars. Eco-Camp’s standard domes offer shared bathrooms, which aid our environmental initiative by collecting waste in a central heated composting chamber and allowing more control of water consumption and heating.

Superior Domes at Eco-Camp are spacious, comfortable and equipped with private bathrooms, Superior Domes are the optimum choice for trekkers wanting that bit more space and comfort at the end of a long day’s walk. Guests can fall asleep looking up at the star-lit sky from their cozy bed and wonder at nature’s immensity as they hear the wind hurtling outside. Each Superior Dome has comfortable queen-size or twin beds, a propane heater and a private bathroom with a sophisticated composting toilet.

Suite Domes at Eco-Camp are comfortable Geodesic domes (28m2 / 300ft2)built in the same shape as the ancient Kaweskar tribe dwellings. Their structure produces minimal environmental impact while providing an efficient thermal and wind resistant unit, with great exposure to nature in the most magnificent Patagonian setting. Guests can gaze at the stars through the ceiling windows while falling asleep each night, after enjoying a spectacular sunset from their private terrace.

Each Suite Dome has comfortable double or twin beds, a private bathroom with a state of the art composting toilet and a modern low-emission wood stove. Electricity is very limited inside the domes, meaning hairdryers are not permitted, but laptops and cameras can be charged. Inside Suite Domes, open terrace to read, relax and admire the view.

Enclosed porch to hang wet clothing; Comfortable King-size or twin beds; Low-emission wood stove; Patagonian decoration; Propane heater in bathroom; Private fully-equipped bathroom; State of the art composting toilet.

Refugio / Mountain huts (night 2): Typical mountain huts, open to the public visiting Torres del Paine. They have rooms for 4-6 people. The beds are single bunks and we will provide you with a sleeping bag and a polar fleece liner (you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag!). The bathrooms are also shared and they have hot water. The refugios are heated and have a very comfortable dining area where plentiful meals are served. If refugios are unavailable, alternative accommodation will be provided in tents with prior notice.

 

Note: If Eco-Camp / refugios are full, we may be able to offer camping.

Camping: The tents arranged for this program are typical mountain tents with enough room for 2 people overnight in comfortable conditions. We provide all the camping gear but you have to bring your own mat and sleeping bag (please ask us for mats and bags rental rates).

Our team will be responsible for setting up the tents in the camping site. There will also be a big and comfortable dining tent for enjoying dinners and breakfasts. Additionally, the camping sites along the trek will have mountain bathroom facilities in good condition.

Tour Staff

Guides are bilingual, English-speaking trekking experts with many years’ experience of trekking in Paine.

The Eco-Camp staff and porters are all locals.


Meals

We can cater for almost all dietary requirements – please enquire for more.

At Eco-Camp Patagonia a lot of effort has been put into developing a menu of fresh hearty meals using locally-sourced ingredients. Meals at mountain huts on trekking routes are simple but plentiful.

While trekking, you usually wake early, around 07.00. If you are staying in refugios, you will be in a bunk bed in a dorm, and meals are eaten in a communal dining hall. If there is no space in the refugios, we camp in the grounds, and your meals are prepared and served to you in a dining tent, and will be a mix of hot drinks, cereals, fruits and toast with jams.

After breakfast, packs are prepared and your guide will explain the day’s walk, and you typically walk 3-4 hours in the morning before lunch, with a short or break or two en route.

Each trip will have its own menu depending on the local food and typical dishes prepared in the area and on many trips meals are enjoyed in restaurants providing a wide array of local cuisine.

Activity Level

This is a moderate trek with some long ascents and descents.

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.

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Practical Information

Introduction to Patagonia

For most people, Patagonia evokes a vast, windblown plateau, jagged mountains and the life of the gauchos.

The steppe that occupies much of southern South America is only one aspect of a magical region, jam-packed with amazing and contrasting landscapes.

Patagonia (latitudes 40°-55°, approximately) embraces a vast portion of southern Chile and Argentina, from the Rio Colorado in the north, to Tierra del Fuego in the south.

For convenience, we have divided the region into three zones: the Lakes District of northern Patagonian, central Patagonia and southern Patagonia.

Weather

Patagonia, the very southern tip of South America, has a four-seasons-in-one day climate.

Summer (Nov-March) see temperatures reach up to 20°C, when glorious light pours over the region for up to 18 hours. This is the best time to visit, nevertheless, spring and summer is also when the central and southern Patagonian regions sometimes get buffeted by strong, westerly winds.

Summer days in national parks can also bring sunny, windless conditions, and you may well find yourself hiking in shorts and t-shirt. Afternoons can be warm with lots of sunshine. (Note: Patagonian UV rays are very strong).

It is usually cool and windy all year round but seldom does the temperature fall below freezing point. Some days start with snow and end in balmy sunshine. It is always interesting, and can range from 10°C-20°C in the summer, although the wind can make it feel chilly.

Even in summer (Dec-Mar) you should come prepared to find cold, strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min). It has been known to snow in camps in summer!

In general, the further south you go, the cooler it gets and the further west you go – towards the Andes and Pacific coast – the wetter and less predictable the weather is. The further east – towards and across the Patagonian plateau – the drier and more stable.

Winter (May-Sept) visits to these southern areas are possible, but many hotels close and not all trips are possible. Daylight hours can be very short and temperatures typically range from -2°C in the winter.

The lack of visitors can greatly improve chances of seeing wildlife in parks such as Paine. Winds tend to die down.

 

 

On the South Patagonian Ice Field (average height, 1,500 metres), the appearance of lenticular clouds – signifying changing conditions – can translate into extreme winds (up to 150 kmh) and heavy snowfall. Here, summer pre-dawn temperatures commonly reach -20°C, with wind chill lowering temperatures even more. However, on sunny, windless summer days, you might get away with wearing just a couple of thin layers.

In Peninsula Valdes, it does not rain much in the region on an annual basis, summers are usually mild, and the temperature sometimes gets very hot (touching 30ºC) and then eases off in the evening. The area does get very windy at times, especially on the peninsula, and warm and water/windproof clothing is recommended.

If you head to Ushuaia, due to its extreme southern location, temperatures may remain chilly during summer (Oct-March) the use of plenty of warm layers of clothing. Winter and Antarctic visits will require extreme clothing.

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

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Overview

When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered in Patagonia, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.  It’s worth remembering that our clothing keeps us warm by retaining and isolating the heat we ourselves create.

To best maintain body heat, several layers of lightweight, warm and quick-drying clothing are far more efficient than one or two thick layers. Layers should have the following qualities:

 

  1. Breathability (able to wick away the humidity produced by sweat):
  2. Isolation (able to keep in the warm air our body produces); and
  3. Impermeability (able to impede the passing of wind and water).

 

First (base) layer: This layer wicks the sweat away from our skin, thus helping keep the body dry and warm. To this end, synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene should be used.

Mid layers: These isolating layers should also be synthetic (e.g. the known polar linings such as polartec or windblock, which are light and insulate twice as well as wool). Very important layers for retaining body heat.

Outer layer / shell: Finally, the vital layer which protects us from climatic adversities. A breathable, wind-proof and waterproof anorak, such as Goretex.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

We also carry an extensive first aid kit & oxygen on all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only.

Below is a more detailed kit list.

 

Detailed kit list

  • Sleeping bag liner (optional), for hygiene purposes.
  • 2 pairs synthetic inner socks (e.g. polypropylene, thermastat, coolmax) and 2 pairs thick loop-stitch/wool socks for cold.
  • Trekking boots – should be well broken-in, waterproof and provide good ankle support.
  • Trainers/sandals for city-wear, evenings at lower camps & river crossings.
  • Base layer leggings (1 pair).
  • Thick fleece leggings (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Goretex-type over-trousers (or salopettes) (1 pair).
  • Gaiters (optional).
  • Trekking trousers (2 pairs).
  • Shorts – wear sparingly in early stages at altitude, as sun burns.
  • Thermal base layer shirts (2).
  • Microfleece mid-layer shirt (1).
  • Shirt/t-shirt 1 or 2 for lower altitudes. Long-sleeved, collared shirt protects against sun
  • Fleece jacket or similar (1).
  • Warm jacket (down or synthetic). For camp and upper slopes.
  • Waterproof Goretex-type jacket.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Warm hat, fleece or wool. (N.B. Up to 30% of body heat can be lost through the head).
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Scarf for cold.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Light inner gloves
  • Warm gloves, e.g. fleece, and outer waterproof gloves or mittens (1 pair)
  • Mittens allow you to keep the fingers together, and better conserve heat (though they also make it difficult to perform certain tasks).
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Large rucksack or suitcase.
  • Pair of telescopic trekking poles (optional).
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Toilet paper (1)
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!).
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.

All non-personal trekking / camping gear e.g. tents, cutlery etc is provided.

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

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