6-day option (staying at 4 lodges along the 'W' trail)
Day 1 • Bus Journey to Torres del Paine National Park – Transfer to Refugio Torre Central
You will take an early bus ride to Torres del Paine National Park, leaving approximately at 7am.
This journey takes about 2 hours and you will enter the park through Laguna Amarga entrance, main access to this World Biosphere Reserve. After your official entrance, by paying the park fee and filling your entry form, you will be transferred to Refugio Torre Central.
Here you will have time to relax and explore the surroundings and study your route map for the next days.
The mountain huts (refugios) have a nice and friendly atmosphere; there are ample common areas with great views of the towering peaks, and some of the rooms have good views as well. Here you will meet the friendly "refugio" staff, mostly local, which will make their best in order to provide good service and food.
The refugios offer shared facilities and each room have 6 bunks. After dinner you can socialize with other guests, but be aware that the lights will be turned off at around 11pm.
Overnight at Refugio Torre Central, Torres del Paine. (Dinner).
Day 2 • Full day hike to Las Torres (The Towers) base
This is your chance to see your first sunrise in the park; have your cameras ready and batteries properly charged in order to enjoy and photograph this great nature spectacle; the first sun rays give the characteristic orange coloration to the granite walls of the Paine towers. You can start your hike to the base of the towers around 8, right after breakfast. This is a full day hike and it has the reputation of being one of the most strenuous in the entire park. The path steadily climbs the foothills of Mount Almirante Nieto for 1.5 hours. Then you will see the dramatic Ascencio Canyon, one of the valleys that dissect the Paine Massif from west to east.
You will pass through secondary woodlands along the Ascencio River, and will have great views of the hanging glaciers of Mount Almirante Nieto and the contrasting rock layers of Mount Paine.
An impressive moraine will block your view of the "Towers" for a while. This part of the trail has to be done with extreme caution and slow pace; it takes nearly 45 minutes of steady climb until you will gain altitude and enjoy the most impressive view of the Paine towers.
This is the grand finale of the hike. Huge boulders surround the hidden lake at the very base of the mountains; its greenish water is loaded with glacial sediment. From here you can study the different shades of the granite rock. Then you will start hiking back to Refugio Torre Central, app. 3.5 hours, following the same trail.
Overnight at Refugio Torre Central, Torres del Paine. (Breakfast, Box-lunch, Dinner).
Day 3 • Hike to Los Cuernos (The Horns) – Lake Nordenskjöld
You will continue the hike along the "W" trail but this time you will move in a southwest direction.
This is the beginning of the Lake Nordenskjöld, part of the park's fluvial system, which is entirely connected by Paine River.
From here you will have fantastic views of Mount Almirante Nieto and its dramatic pleating of sedimentary rock.
Along the northern edge of the lake, the view angle will dramatically change as you keep moving and shortly you will see the Horns.
There are several viewpoints from where you will have spectacular views of the surrounding lakes and the distant Andes Mountains located in the southern fringes of the park. The vegetation will also change, and you will see Chilean Firebush (of the Protea family) and its dazzling scarlet-red flowers among a good selection of montane flora.
Soaring condors on this part of the trail may offer great chances for photography and observation.
After nearly 4 hours you will reach Refugio Los Cuernos, and its great setting at the base of the mountains.
From the refugio you will be marvelled by the impressive views of the granite walls of the Horns and part of Mount Paine Grande in the distance.
Don't forget the great sunsets with dramatic lenticular cloud formations and the granite walls glowing with the sunrise light.
NOTE: This part can be one of the windiest of the whole trail as most of the path is exposed to the katabatic winds. Are you interested to learn what is a katabatic wind?
Overnight at Refugio Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine. (Breakfast, Box-lunch, Dinner).
Day 4 • Full day hike to Valle del Francés (French's Valley)
You will start your day with a two-hour hike to Italian Camp, located along Francés River. From here you will have commanding views of the huge hanging glacier of Mount Paine Grande, highest peak in the park (3,050 m/10,000 ft)
Avalanches are often heard and you can even see them in the distance across the river.
These avalanches feed an ever-growing piedmont glacier with a large melting lake at its base; you will see huge volumes of water flowing fast towards the river.
You will keep ascending for two to three hours up Valle del Francés, until you literally walk along a lateral moraine. A spectacular mountain formation, one of the finest in Patagonia, awaits here, and you will realize there is no need to reach the head of the valley to see this; just a short distance from Italian Camp you will be amazed by the grandiose mountain scenery.
There is a fantastic amphitheatre of granite spires, the least-known peaks of the Park, but also some of the most beautiful and a fantastic location for landscape photography.
You will have unusual angles of a group of peaks including the Horns, the Mask, the Blade and the Sword.
In terms of wildlife, the striking Torrent Duck is often seen along the river rapids. Lots of orchids and an interesting array of montane flowers are usually found along the path.
After some time for silence and appreciation, you will descend towards Refugio Paine Grande (nearly 2 hours from Italian Camp); this is an easy and relatively level walk.
Overnight at Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine. (Breakfast, Box-lunch, Dinner).
Day 5 • Hike to Grey Glacier
From the Refugio Paine Grande it takes about 4 to 5 hours to reach the viewpoint of the Grey Glacier.
The path ascends for an hour and then descends along the eastern side of the lake. Impressive indigo-coloured icebergs drift towards the other side of the lake, driven by impressive gales. You will be walking along the formation source of the entire Paine Massif; impressive layers and foldings which here are rather vertical than horizontal as well as feeding dykes, granite intrusions and deformed sedimentary rock layers, they all talk about the dramatic origin of these magnificent set of mountains.
The Paine Massif is very young in comparison to the much eroded Andes that you can see beyond the glaciers towards the west and north. You will eventually reach the Grey Glacier, one of the most impressive glaciers of the whole Patagonian Ice Field, yet one of the most rapidly receding.
If you are lucky you can even see some calving from its heavily-crevassed front wall. Here, there is another great sunset opportunity with dramatic clouds rapidly driven by the strong westerly winds.
This will be your last night in the park.
It is worthwhile seeing a sunset at Pehoe Lake, its impressive emerald-coloured waters, contrasting with the dramatic colors and cloud formations of the sunset.
Overnight at Refugio Grey, Torres del Paine. (Breakfast, Box-lunch, Dinner).
Day 6 • Pehoe Lake – Catamaran trip to Pudeto – Bus journey to Puerto Natales
This morning we will head back to Refugio Paine Grande and board the catamaran "Campos de Hielo" in order to reach the eastern side of Lake Pehoe. This is a short ride of approximately 30 minutes from where you will have one of the last views of the Paine Massif; this will be one of the last of your activities within the park.
By noon you will be transferred from Pudeto Camp to Puerto Natales and from there you will take a connecting regular bus service to Puerto Natales. Arriving to Puerto Natales at around 10pm.
7-day option (staying at all four lodges along the 'W' trail | you will have an extra day to explore the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, see Day 6)
Day 6 • Southern Patagonian Icefield – Hike to Pehoé Lake
One the highlights of the whole itinerary is to walk along the eastern edge of the magnificent Campo de Hielo Sur (Southern Patagonian Icefield).
You can walk up to Camp "Los Guardas", approximately 2 hours from the lodge, from where you will get commanding vistas to the colossal ice tongue which produces the Grey Glacier.
It is really impressive to see the abrasive ice action and the resulting polished rock, in the places where the ice cover has recently disappeared. Evergreen Nothofagus southern beech forests slowly start to colonize these ice-free areas and you will imagine this process by seeing the huge nunatak completely covered by beech woodlands.
Some interesting birds inhabit these woods, such as the Green-backed Firecrown, southernmost-ranging hummingbird in the world, and White-crested Elaenia, a flycatcher that will migrate to winter in the Amazon basin after the breeding season. This is truly a remote location where very few people have been able to explore, as most hikers just reach the edge of these pristine territories.
During the afternoon you will walk back to Paine Grande Lodge, nearly 4 hours at a good leisurely pace.
This will be your last night in the park. It is worthwhile seeing a sunset at Lake Pehoe, its impressive emerald-coloured waters contrasting with the dramatic colours and cloud formations of the sunset.
Overnight at Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine. (Breakfast, Box-lunch, Dinner).
Day 7 • Pehoe Lake – Catamaran trip to Pudeto – Bus journey to Puerto Natales
This morning we will board the catamaran "Campos de Hielo" in order to reach the eastern side of Lake Pehoe. This is a short ride of approximately 30 minutes from where you will have one of the last views of the Paine Massif; this will be one of the last of your activities within the park.
By noon you will be transferred from Pudeto Camp to Puerto Natales and from there you will take a connecting regular bus service to Puerto Natales. Arriving to Puerto Natales at around 9pm.
Codes: B=Breakfast; L=Lunch/Box-lunch; D=Dinner; G=Guide.
• W Circuit without a guide? See what the forums say. Click here.
• Another good introduction to this famous hiking trail. Click here.
Rates & Conditions
Available from mid-September 2015 through April 2016. You choose the date.
Daily departures from Puerto Natales, Chile. Optional transfers to/from Punta Arenas, Chile or El Calafate, Argentina (please inquire). Trips are guaranteed to depart with no minimum of participants.
|Torres del Paine Hiker
Multishare: 6 people in bunk-bed rooms w/ shared bathroom facilities
|6 days, 5 nights • Self-guided trip
|Price per person
|7 days, 6 nights • Self-guided trip
|Price per person
- The above prices are per person in US$, based on shared occupancy.
- The refugios normally have 6 bunks per room. See refugio descriptions.
- Christmas & New Year's Eve dinner have an extra charge of $20 per person
What the trip price includes/excludes
Single supplement will be added if single accommodations are requested.
The trip price includes: All accommodations and meals as stated in the itinerary, guide services (only guided option), tickets on scheduled buses to/from Torres del Paine, and catamaran one-way tickets from Refugio Paine Grande to Pudeto.
The trip price excludes: Park entrance fees (USD 40 per person), domestic flights, tipping, travel insurance, entrance tax to Chile, excess baggage charges, private excursions, à la carte dishes, snacks, drinks, laundry, telephone calls and anything else of a purely personal nature.
To register for this tour, complete our online registration form. Full payment of the tour fee is due 60 days prior to tour departure.
Notice of cancellation can only be accepted IN WRITING from the person who signed the booking form and takes effect on the day such noticed is received by us.
Refunds are made according to the following schedule:
If cancellation is made 60 days or more before departure date, the trip fees less 30% is refundable.
If cancellation is made fewer than 59 days before departure date, no refund is available.
This policy and fee schedule also applies to pre-trip and post trip extensions, as well as any transfers from one tour to another. We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself.
Descriptions and images of the mountain lodges we use on this hiking itinerary and their facilities
Refugio Las Torres, Torres del Paine
Refugio "Las Torres" is located at the starting point of the many hiking excursions that make this park, a true mecca for hikers, adventurers and explorers from all over the world. Among the best-known hiking trails is the hike to the base of the Towers (Base de las Torres), the long "O" round-circuit, and of course, the spectacular and popular "W" Circuit.
The lodge (or refugio) is a meeting point of hikers from different corners of the planet and the local people. Here you will have the opportunity to rent horses, learn how to rock climb or have a bath in a hot tub with an amazing view, among several other services.
This "refugio" is divided into two buildings (plus a camping site) as described below:
Refugio Torre Central
This is the main and the newest building of this mountain lodge facility. The lodge have 54 beds plus a restaurant, a bar, two lounge rooms, a souvenir shop and a store. This section of the lodge offers slightly better comfort and infrastructure than the more older Refugio Torre Norte.
Refugio Torre Norte
This building is situated only a few yards from the Refugio Torre Central and has 64 beds, a bar and a lounge room. All the meals are served at Refugio Torre Central.
This is a mountain lodge and as such it offers shared rooms, each one having six bunks. There are spacious shared bathrooms (with WC and hot showers) for gents and ladies.
For this program you can bring your sleeping bag or we can arrange a proper bed (with sheets and blankets) ready for your arrival. This "treat" is available at most of the different "refugios". Try to minimize the weight of your backpack; don't bring too much camping gear as you will spend each night on a refugio, with cozy bedrooms and cooking facilities. Bring your camera, memory cards, battery chargers, and even a light tripd instead!
Refugio Los Cuernos, Torres del Paine
This refugio is located along the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld,approximately 4 hours hike from Refugio Torre Central.The lodge is surrounded by beech forests and scrub vegetation, but it is renowned by its setting; its is flanked by the impressive granite walls of the Cuernos del Paine (the Horns). This mountain lodge facility has 32 bunks, a restaurant, shared bathrooms (separate facilities for gents and ladies) and a camping site.
Refugio Paine Grande, Torres del Paine
This mountain lodge can hold up to 100 people, distributed into 23 bedrooms with 2-3 bunks each. The rooms have fantastic views over Pehoe Lake, Paine Grande Mount, the French Valley and the eastern side of the Paine Horns.
Each bedroom has comfortable bunk beds and drawers for storing gear. The toilets, located on the first and second floor, are equipped with sinks, toilets and hot showers, and there are separate facilities for men and women.
Refugio Grey, Torres del Paine
This lodge is located just a few minutes walk from Grey Glacier, at the end of the W circuit. The refugio has a restaurant, and 30 beds, arranged in comfortable bedrooms; all bunk beds are located on the second floor. The shared bathrooms are on the first floor, and there are separate facilities for men and women and all equipped with toilets and hot showers.