Join us on a magical Paine W winter trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.

Visiting Patagonia in winter (Jun-Aug) means a better chance of seeing wildlife and avoiding the summer crowds.

Winter is a magical time – the days may be shorter but the wildlife can be more visible and who knows you may even spot an elusive puma.

 

More on Torres del Paine Trek in winter

Trek Chile’s world famous Torres del Paine National Park in winter and you’ll be away from the crowds and closer to the wildlife.

Trek up the French valley surrounded by spectacular granite spires and view the imposing Grey Glacier.

In the park you will stay in comfortable mountain lodges, in mixed dorms and whilst trekking you will only carry your daypack.

A very popular destination during high season but certainly off-the-beaten-track in winter.

Experience the pristine beauty without the crowds in this small group trip – the park is yours!



Trip Highlights

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  • Magnificent winter scenery, all to yourselves, away from the crowds.

  • Better chance to see wildlife, including the elusive puma and much more.

  • All the main sites - Grey Glacier, French Valley and Towers of Paine.

  • Short but intense days in this most intense of environments.

It was a FABULOUS trip – so THANK YOU!  All the bookings, guides and transport that ANDEAN set up worked out very well for us.

M. Gleason, Patagonia.

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Full Itinerary

Day 1: Transfer from Punta Arenas to the EcoCamp Patagonia, Torres del Paine. (L,D)

You will be picked up from Punta Arenas or Punta Arenas airport (flight arriving before 10 am) and transferred along with the rest of the group to the EcoCamp Patagonia. En route stop for lunch in Puerto Natales.

Your winter journey brings with it the short, intense days of Patagonia’s colder months – which are very different from its longer, lighter summer days.

Arrival to the EcoCamp, time to relax and have dinner.

Overnight in superior or suite dome at the EcoCamp.

 

Day 2: Trek from Serrano Village, Las Carretas trail to Paine Grande, Refugio Paine Grande (B,L,D)

In the morning, we set off on a one hour drive to Serrano Village where we will begin our trek. Set off on the Carretas Trail for the long hike to Refugio Paine Grande. En route we should have good views of the snowy Paine Massif.

Refugio Paine Grande lies on the shore of Lake Pehoe at the base of the Paine Massif.

Dinner and accommodation in a mixed dorm at Refugio Paine Grande.

Walking distance and time approx 9 hours / 17 km

Trek with full pack.

Day 3: Trek to Grey Viewpoint, Refugio Paine Grande (B,L,D)

Today we hike from Paine Grande Refugio along the shores of Lake Pehoe to the northern end of glacial Lake Grey. Along the trek, we have different views of this breathtaking glacier, as well as the chance to enjoy perspectives of the Southern Ice Fields.

We will return along the same route.

Dinner and accommodation in a mixed dorm at Refugio Paine Grande.

Walking distance and time approx 7 hours / 12 km

Trek with day pack.

Day 4: Trek to French Valley, Camping Frances (B,L,D)

After breakfast at Refugio Paine Grande, we 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 leads 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 the same trail finishing at the Frances camp site.

Overnight in a tent, Frances camp site.

Walking distance and time approx 7 hours / 12 km

Trek with full pack.

Day 5: Trek Nordenskjöld Lake, EcoCamp Patagonia (B)

We head off eastwards along the Cuernos Trail which follows the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld.  Our route will take in great views of smal lakes and snowy mountains.

We will finally reach our destination, EcoCamp Patagonia.

Time to relax and have dinner.

Overnight in superior or suite dome at the EcoCamp.

Walking distance and time approx 8 hours / 15 km

Trek with full pack.

Day 6: Trek to the base of the Towers, EcoCamp Patagonia (B,L,D)

In the morning after a refreshing night sleep, we set of on the base of the Torres hike.

We head up through Ascencio Valley, located 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 to return to the EcoCamp for the night.

Overnight in superior or suite dome at the EcoCamp.

Walking distance and time approx 9 hours / 21 km

Trek with day pack.

Day 7: Transfer Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas (B,L)

Morning shared transfer to Punta Arenas airport ( flights after 1600) or Punta Arenas hotel.


Prices From $1,803 / £1,442 per person

Enquire about booking

What's Included?

Transfers as indicated, expert English/Spanish speaking trekking guide, 3 nights in superior or suite domes EcoCamp Patagonia, 2 nights accommodation in mixed dorms in Torres del Paine Refugios, 1 night camping, National Park entrance fee.

Luggage transport: while trekking on days where you trek between different accommodation sites you will carry all your personal belongings including sleeping bag and mat.

What's Not Included?

Flights, services not mentioned in the itinerary, drinks, porterage, extras and tips.


Accommodation

We use a mix of the EcoCamp Patagonia, mountain refugios and camping.

 

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.

At the EcoCamp either superior or suite domes are used.

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.

 

Refugios

These are 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 (for this reason, you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag).

The bathrooms are also shared and have hot water. The Refugios are heated and have a very comfortable dining area where plentiful meals are served.​

 

Camping Frances

Tents, sleeping bags and mats are provided. Facilities include toilets, showers and hot water.

EcoCamp Patagonia (3 nights)
Camping Frances  (1 night)

Tour Staff

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


Meals

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

While trekking, you usually wake early, around 07.00. When staying in refugios, you will be in a bunk bed in a dorm, and meals are eaten in a communal dining hall.

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.

Meals at mountain huts on trekking routes are simple but plentiful.

In the EcoCamp meals are served in community domes with a focus on fresh locally sourced produce. Special meals are catered for.

Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales have a variety of Chilean and international eateries to choose from.

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. The weather can be cold and changeable and you need to be able to adapt to changes in itinerary and temperatures.

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.

Enquire about booking

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.

Geography of 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:

  • The dry band of Andean foothills and wind-blown plateau lying on the Argentine side of the Andes. This remote area is traversed north to south by a gravel highway known as the Ruta Cuarenta (Highway 40).
  • The Chilean portion to the west of the Andean watershed, often referred to as the Careterra Austral (after the little-used gravel highway that crosses it from north to south).

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.

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.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

 

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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