Torres del Paine, Chile by Yepo
Don’t miss any part of Torres del Paine National Park’s W hike — you’ll visit the Towers of Paine, the French Valley, Lake Nordenskjöld, and Grey Glacier.
We’ll do the logistics, reserving the buses, entrance fees, ferries, and meals, so you can concentrate on hiking. At night, choose to stay in fully-equipped campsites or cosy mountain hostels where everything is ready for you on arrival. (You will carry your own belongings in your own back pack – we suggest 15kg max).
There are hot showers, warming meals, and campsite chat from fellow trekkers to enjoy. Read all about how it works with Kat’s insightful self-guided Paine W trek review.
Discover the wide-open spaces of Torres del Paine National Park on this W trek, and let us do the logistics.
Walk to the famous granite towers that give the park its name — Torres del Paine — with fantastic views of hanging glaciers, green lakes, and mountains.
The name Paine comes from a Tehuelche Indian word meaning blue. The Torres – or Towers – are named after three spectacular granite peaks, the highest reaching 2,900m/9,514ft, that form the centrepiece of Torres del Paine.
Next, you’ll trek along the shore of the magnificent Lake Nordenskjöld, which offers stunning views over the Patagonia landscapes.
The park’s heart is the French Valley, where forests line rushing streams overlooked by the hanging glaciers of nearby mountains. Finish at Glacier Grey, whose crystal blues are made more striking when enormous chunks of its ice calve to form icebergs in the lake below.
We make all the Torres del Paine W trek reservations for you: campsites, mountain hostels, and meals, so you need only enjoy the sights.
This Torres del Paine W trail route goes anti-clockwise, but we can run it the other way, too. You will carry your own belongings in your own back pack – we suggest 15kg max.
Self-guided Torres del Paine W hike in Chilean Patagonia
Visit the famous Towers of Paine, French Valley, and Grey Glacier
Hike at your own pace
All mountain hostel (refugios) and campsite reservations made for you
Carry only personal belongings — all meals and sleeping arrangements included
It was a FABULOUS trip – so THANK YOU! All the bookings, guides and transport that ANDEAN set up worked out very well for us and made for a great trip.
M. Gleason, Self-guided Tour
This self-guided Torres del Paine W trek starts in Puerto Natales at 2.30 pm with a bus from the station to Torres del Paine National Park.
Note: All passengers must collect their Welcome Pack and accommodation and food vouchers in good time before catching the bus, ideally the night before.
Recommended: Add a guided briefing the day before the trek to collect your welcome pack and vouchers. We can also book hotel nights in Puerto Natales before and after the tour.
Once aboard the bus, it’s a two-and-a-half bus ride (70 miles/112km) from Puerto Natales to the Central Sector of Torres del Paine National Park. Spot estancias among the pampas and keep an eye out for guanacos and Patagonian ostriches called ñandus.
Settle in on arrival or go for a stroll — Patagonian Chile is famous for its long evening light. All evening meals are served in the communal dining rooms of the campsites and mountain hostels.
Bus: 2.5 hours
Sleeping options: camping, shared mountain hostel, upgrade to Hotel Las Torres
Your Torres del Paine W tour starts in earnest today and with a real highlight.
There are trails and signposts to follow as well as your Paine W trek map to keep you on the right path. The Ascencio river is your first companion and leads you into the Ascencio Valley.
Don’t forget to look around; beech forests and glaciers abound. The name Paine comes from a Tehuelche Indian word meaning blue, and you’ll understand why.
Los Vientos Mountain Pass offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and landscapes. Your path then takes you past the Chileno Refugio, where you can stop for a drink should you wish.
The trail continues upwards through a native lenga forest that eventually gives to a final challenge; steep and rocky moraine that leads to the base of the Torres del Paine. The Torres – or Towers – are named after three spectacular granite peaks, the highest reaching 2,900m/9,514ft. Its glacial lagoon is inviting to cool the feet after such an ascent and makes a perfect picnic spot.
Retrace your steps to the Central Sector and your campsite/mountain hostel or hotel.
Distance: 12 miles / 19.5km
Walking time: 8-10 hours
Highest altitude: 870m/2,854ft
Sleeping options: camping, shared mountain hostel, upgrade to hotel
Meals included: Breakfast, boxed lunch, dinner
Today is a shorter day but no less beautiful for it. As you leave behind the Towers’ day-trippers, there are fewer people from hereon in.
You hug the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld and trek along the base of the magnificent Mount Almirante Nieto and its hanging glaciers. Lake Nordenskjöld’s photogenic turquoise waters are home to many birds, and you may even spot a condor soaring overhead.
The path later follows the Arriero River, an excellent spot to refill water bottles with glacier-fed, fresh running water (we recommend using purifiers). A viewpoint unveils Lake Nordenskjöld in its glory, coupled with unrivalled views of the French Glacier that dangles from Paine Grande Mountain.
Rest at your campsite or mountain hostel deep in Torres del Paine National Park.
Distance: 8.4 miles / 13.5km
Walking time: 5-7 hours
Altitude gained: 200m/656ft
Sleeping options: camping, shared mountain hostel
Prepare for a fantastic and challenging day, having restored your energy with yesterday’s shorter day.
You awake in the peace and quiet of the mountains and enjoy breakfast before setting off for the French Valley. The majestic Los Cuernos mountains stay to your right while you climb through forests, accompanied by the sound of rushing mountain streams.
There are some large boulders and moraine to navigate, your efforts rewarded with snow-capped peaks and overhanging glaciers. The forests eventually thin as you approach the French Valley viewpoint.
This lookout is one of the Torres del Paine W trail highlights. Peaks loom from all angles in what feels like an amphitheatre of mountains and ice. You’ll see the park’s highest peak, Paine Grande, plus Mount Catedral, Mount Fortaleza, and many more, including the horns of Los Cuernos. And don’t forget the French Glacier!
You can also see Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress).
Your descent is from whence you came, reaching the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld and turning right towards Paine Grande through beech forests. Tonight, you’ll sleep next to a new body of water, Lake Pehoé, at Paine Grande campsite or refugio.
Distance: 12.7 miles / 20.5km
Highest altitude: 762m/2,500ft
Glacier day! Paine Grande (3,050m/10,006ft) is the park’s tallest mountain and stands sentinel on your path during the trail.
You leave after breakfast and walk on an undulating path through forests and rocky terrain. Lake Grey remains on your left throughout, its waters pocked by icebergs broken from Grey Glacier.
Various viewpoints afford fantastic views of the glacier as you get closer. With luck, you’ll see icebergs calving from the glacier into the waters below. Some spots afford views of the massive Southern Patagonia Ice Field that dominates the local geography.
Choose how close to walk and ensure your timings are accurate because you need to return to Paine Grande Refugio to catch a ferry over Lake Pehoé. The entire walk to the glacier is 13.7 miles/22 km and takes 8-10 hours, depending on your pace.
Catch the catamaran over Lake Pehoé and pick up the bus, which will take you back to Puerto Natales, arriving between 9-10pm.
With the trek complete, you can reflect on a fantastic 5-day Paine W trek.
Note: We can book hotels in Puerto Natales at an extra cost.
Did you know? This trek can run in the opposite direction, too. Please ask for more.
Distance: 13.7 miles / 22km
Sleeping options: we can book a hotel in Puerto Natales at extra cost
Total Torres del Paine W trek distance: 47 miles / 75.5km
Prices From $1,416 / £1,201 per person
Enquire about booking
Meals from dinner on day 1 to boxed lunch on day 5, sleeping bag, welcome kit with sleeping bag liner and towel, catamaran crossing of Lake Pehoé, park entry ticket, bus to and from Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park, use of shared bathrooms with hot showers, toilets, and personal locker.
Note: You will carry your own belongings in your own back pack – we suggest 15kg max.
CAMPERS: Pre-set-up mountain quality tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat.
HOSTELS: Comfortable bed in a shared room (6 beds).
HOTEL LAS TORRES: Private room (2 nights) then shared accommodation.
International and domestic flights, insurance, personal items, snacks, and alcoholic or soft drinks.
Choose between camping, mountain hostels (refugios), and two nights at Hotel Las Torres. Campers and hostellers have access to the same shared facilities.
Camping: The tents arranged for this program are typical mountain tents that are set up ready for your arrival and come with a sleeping bag and mattress.
Hostels: Mountain hostels, called refugios, have bunk beds in rooms that are shared with up to six other travellers.
Facilities at campsites and mountain hostels (refugios)
Shared bathrooms with toilets and hot showers, shampoo, soap, WiFi, shop/kiosk, restaurant and bar.
This is a self-guided Torres del Paine W trek tour. Participants need to be able to follow mountain trails and routes independently.
You will carry your own belongings in your own back pack – we suggest 15kg max.
We can cater for almost all dietary requirements – please enquire for more information.
Campers and hostel guests eat breakfasts and dinners in a communal dining hall. Breakfasts usually feature a mix of hot drinks, cereals, fruits and toast with jams.
Hikers receive boxed lunches from the site where they stayed and may feature sandwiches, crackers, snacks, and energy bars (the exact menu depends on the lodge). Dinners vary, too, often featuring pasta or rice dishes.
We recommend trekkers can take extra snacks with them before the hike or purchase items at hostel kiosks.
This is a moderate to challenging Torres del Paine W trek with some long ascents and descents. The total distance covered is 47 miles / 75.5km over four trekking days.
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 arriving.
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.
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.
Southern Patagonia (latitudes 49° to 55°), encompassing the southern Andes of Chile and Argentina plus Tierra del Fuego, has an altogether more vertical aspect than the rest of Patagonia.
As the continent tapers towards its southern point, the Andes take on new characteristics and offer some truly impressive panoramas.
Much of southern Patagonia is characterized by virgin landscapes where man’s hand has either not been present or, because of the scale of the landscapes, goes almost unnoticed. To the west of the semi-arid Patagonian plateau, mile-high granite spires – e.g. Cerro Torre and Fitzroy in Argentina and the Torres and Cuernos del Paine in Chile – rise abruptly from the Andean foothills, while vast blue glaciers, fringed by southern beech forest, gouge out thevalleys below.
At the heart of these magnificent landscapes lies the South Patagonian Ice Field, an utterly remote icy wilderness spanning hundreds of kilometers, whose glaciers – including the Perito Moreno and Upsala – are tens of kilometres long by severalkilometers wide.
Also characteristic of the southern Patagonian Andes are its turquoise, iceberg-filled lakes. To the west lies the southern portion of the Chilean Archipelago, comprising snow-capped islands and fjords.
Across the Magellan Straits from mainland Patagonia lies Tierra del Fuego which, like the rest of Patagonia, is divided between Argentina and Chile.
The north and east of Tierra del Fuego is flat, but flanking the Beagle Channel in the south, the tail end of the Andes provide very dramatic mountain scenery.
The Lake District (latitudes 40° to 45°) or the Araucania, is a region of dramatic conical volcanoes, evergreen, high-canopy forests and, of course, lakes.
It straddles the Chile-Argentine border, and also takes in Chiloe island, in the extreme north of the Chilean Archipelago. This region stretches from Temuco in the north to Chiloe in the south.
Central Patagonia (latitudes 45 to 49) is one of South America’s best-kept secrets. The vast wilderness area can be divided in two:
This huge region, embracing the sparsely-inhabited southern Araucaria and Aisén Region, features temperate rainforests, snow-peaks (often extinct volcanoes), lakes and, to the west, the Chilean Archipelago: a labyrinth of fjords and mountain-islands. This, the Chilean portion of central Patagonia, boasts the northernmost of Patagonia’s many giant, sea-level glaciers.
The San Raphael Glacier, probably this region’s most famous landmark, is an immense hanging glacier whose seracs calve into an iceberg-filled lagoon.
Find out more about Patagonia with our blog about its wildlife.
We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Patagonia visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.
Be nice to your feet! Make sure hiking boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin, Second Skin (or similar) for fast foot treatment and blister prevention.
If you are bringing a camera, include plenty of film or digital cards with enough megabytes for hundreds of pictures and spare batteries. Please note, film and digital cards are difficult to find and often expensive to buy in Patagonia.
When planning for the varied climatic conditions encountered in Paine, 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, and that you carry all your own kit around Paine.
We suggest you leave all other luggage in Puerto Natales hotel and just take the minimum. Stuff sacks are great for sorting your gear. Use different sizes and colours to differentiate the contents in your duffel bag/backpack.
Typically, you will need a spare set of clothes, a water-bottle, fleece or wind stopper jacket, rain jacket & trousers, your camera and wash kit. Keep it light.
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:
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.
Suggested kit list
Official name: Republic of Chile
Country population: 17,000,000
Capital city: Santiago (6 million)
Largest cities: Santiago, Concepcion, Valparaiso
Languages: Spanish (official)
Official currency: Chilean Peso
Major industries: Copper mining, agriculture, fish
Time zone: GMT-5 in winter (Mar-Sep) and GMT-4 in summer (Sep-Mar)
Official name: Argentine Republic Country
Capital city: Buenos Aires (11 million)
Largest cities: Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario
Official currency: Argentine Peso
Major industries: Agriculture (Soy), motor vehicles, chemicals
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.
Chilean Patagonia is a pristine wilderness of fjords, glaciers, plains, mountains and forests.
Southern Patagonia’s main attraction is the Torres del Paine National park. The granite spires attract many visitors to what some have called the 8th Wonder of the World. The park is a trekkers paradise with two classic treks, the Paine W and the Paine Circuit.
Northern Patagonia, the Aysen region, is one of the least populated parts of the country and is blessed with spectacular countryside.
The main airport is Balmaceda near the city of Coyhaique and must see places include Lake General Carrera and the Marble Caves, The San Rafael Glacier, the Quelat Hanging Glacier as well as driving the Austral Road.
The Futaleufu River is a must for white water enthusiasts.
The region also offers great horseback opportunities as well as kayaking ones. Nature enthusiasts can admire the impressive scenery, imposing glaciers and fascinating wildlife and flora.
Puerto Natales has the feel of a small frontier town.
Located on the banks of the Last Hope Sound this town had its origins in the shipping out of lamb from the local estancias.
Now it is the gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and boasts an impressive selection of accommodation and restaurants.
Nearby attractions include the Milodon Cave and a full day sailing tour to the Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers.
If you have time it’s worth trekking to the top of the nearby Dorotea hill for a spectacular view of the surrounding country side.
The granite spires of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are one of the great draws to Patagonia.
The Horns of Paine and the Towers of Paine look down on a network of valleys and lakes punctured by the odd glacier, which are a trekker’s paradise.
There are two classic treks, the Paine W and the more challenging Paine Circuit.
As well as the spectacular scenery the flora and fauna are great attractions and you will find many herds of guanacos as well as rheas, the odd Pudu – a rare miniature deer.
And if you are lucky, even a puma.
2023-24 price, shared tent, camping basis
Camping: USD 1,416pp
Season: October to April, daily departures
Trek can be run in reverse: Grey-French Valley-Towers
2023-24 price, refugios
Refugios: USD 1,780pp
Season: October to April, daily departures
Trek can be run in reverse: Grey-French Valley-Towers
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