Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike Chile’s W Trek, Self-Guided

Explore the wild Patagonian wilderness of Torres del Paine National Park at your own speed

This trip is no longer on sale

Trip Ref #9875

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike Chile’s W Trek, Self-Guided

Explore the wild Patagonian wilderness of Torres del Paine National Park at your own speed

DURATION

4 nights

LOCATION

Chile

ANNUAL LEAVE

4 days off work

SEASON

Nov-Apr

GROUP SIZE

Up to 8 people

MEETING POINT

Presidente Carlos Ibáñez Airport, Punta Arenas

ACCOMMODATION

Mountain hut

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

You'll be out in the wild for 5 days so previous trekking experience and an understanding of the risks involved are required.

Experience one of the most famous hiking routes in South America - the legendary W Trek, on this self-guided adventure

Trek to the base of the awe-inspiring granite towers that give the Torres del Paine National Park its name

Visit ancient glaciers and hike through deep valleys dotted with grazing guanacos as condors soar on the thermals high above you

All our reviews are verified

We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

Sara, December 2019

There were a few bumps. Pay attention to the instructions on buses -- it's not obvious where to go and they are somewhat unreliable. Otherwise, the hike, scenery, refugios and overall experience were incredible. If you're thinking of going -- DO IT! Such an epic adventure.

Maria, December 2019

The itinerary was perfect. The refugios were a great way to end a hike, especially if it was raining. Lunches offered plentiful amounts of food.

Jemima, November 2019

Hosts were very responsive and helpful in the run-up to the trip. All perfectly organised!

Included

Accommodation

4 nights dorm accommodation in Refugios within the National Park

Meals

4 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners

Transfers

Local transport to and from Puerto Natales and a boat trip on Lago Grey

Permits

Entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Some meals as described

Some equipment

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Puerto Natales

18:00

Ends

Puerto Natales

Flexible

Transfers

You'll need to stay in Puerto Natales the night before the start (not included in the trip cost) where there is a wide range of accommodation options, from hostels to 5* hotels. On day one, you'll head to the local host's office in the centre of town for a pre-trip briefing and to collect your reservations (you will be sent the address as part of your pre-trip info pack). On day 5 you'll be returned to Puerto Natales and should again plan to stay in the town as you may not get back in time to catch a flight or bus that day.

Travel options

The best way to get Puerto Natales (depending on your other plans) is by plane from Santiago to Punta Arenas (buses run regularly from the airport to the town and take around 3hrs) or from Buenos Aires to El Calafate (where two buses a day run to Puerto Natales and take 5-6hrs with border crossing). Your host can arrange transport as an optional extra, please enquire when booking.

What is the food like?

Refugios serve a small selection of hearty meals that are perfect for the end of a long day's trekking and usually have a shop selling soft and alcoholic drinks and snacks. They can usually cater for most dietary requirements. As a rough idea, you can expect for breakfast corn tortilla, granola, tea, coffee, chocolate milk, bacon, eggs, yoghurt, jam and bread. A packed lunch can be purchased containing some combination of chocolate, dried fruit and nuts, a cereal bar, fruit and a sandwich. Dinner meanwhile will be something along the lines of chicken, vegetables and rice (or a vegetarian alternative), salad and cake.

What is the accommodation like?

Torres del Paine National Park

You'll stay in Refugios – traditional hiking hostels in spectacular, back-to-nature locations, perfect for getting an authentic experience of the Patagonian wilderness. Accommodation is simple, clean, warm and cosy, with dorm rooms and shared bathrooms.

Day 1

The famous Towers

Hiking

6.5hrs · 15.5km

Wake up early and board the bus to Torres del Paine National Park, where you'll check in with the park authorities and set off on foot into the wilderness. Hike up Almirante Nieto to get your first taste of Patagonia, including views of Lake Nordenskjold and the Asencio Valley. Continue to Refugio Chileno, your home for tonight, where you can leave your backpack and take a short hike through the dense Lenga forest. Emerge back into the open at a glacial moraine with the granite peaks known as the Torres, or Towers, ahead of you. Stop at the turquoise lagoon at the base of the towers for a rest before returning to Refugio Chileno for a hot meal and a good night’s sleep.

Day 2

Lake Nordenskjold

Hiking

4.5hrs · 11km

Follow the edge of the Paine Massif, with the milky waters of Lake Nordenskjold to your left and the jagged peaks of Los Cuernos to your right. Cross several rivers on foot, hopping from rock to rock as you wind your way down through the mountains, surrounded by herds of grazing guanacos as they keep a wary eye out for predators. Arrive at Refugio Cuernos, tonight’s destination, set before a dramatic backdrop of rocky peaks.

Day 3

Explore the French Valley

Hiking

7hrs · 17.3km

Hike across a lakeside beach and into a deep and sheltered valley. Leave your rucksack at Campamento Italiano and continue into the wild landscape of the French Valley for some epic views of Lake Nordenskjold, Lake Skottsberg, Lake Pehoe and the hanging French Glacier itself. After you’ve had your fill, retrace your steps, collect your rucksack and hike to Refugio Paine Grande, set on the shores of Lake Pehoe where you'll stay tonight.

Day 4

Glacier Grey

Hiking

4hrs · 11km

Set off into the forest that borders Lake Grey - this section is quite exposed so be sure to wrap up warm against the wind that comes off the Southern Ice Field. After around two hours of hiking, get your first look at the 6km-wide Glacier Grey, one of the most iconic sights in Torres del Paine. Continue on to tonight’s destination, Refugio and Camping Grey, where a hot drink will be waiting. If you’re feeling energetic, hike out for a closer look at the glacier and cross one of the park’s famous suspension bridges, returning in time for dinner. Optional excursions are available from Refugio Grey including kayaking on Lake Grey, or ice hiking on the glacier. Please contact your host in advance if you’d like to include one of these on your trip at an additional cost.

Day 5

The face of the glacier and home

Enjoy your final views of Torres del Paine, or add an optional excursion, and then head to the lakeshore and board the Grey III, for a trip right up to the face of the glacier. Dock at the far side of the lake and relax with a hot drink in the café at Hotel Lago Grey, before driving back to Puerto Natales, where your Patagonian adventure will come to an end.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's available to hire?

  • Sleeping bag

What do I need to bring?

  • Windproof and waterproof jacket - Gore Tex or similar
  • Fleece or pile coat
  • Quick-dry long sleeve t-shirt
  • Quick-dry short sleeve t-shirt
  • Winter hat
  • Light gloves
  • Quick-dry hiking socks
  • Quick-dry, lightweight long underwear bottoms
  • Quick-dry/breathable windproof pants
  • Waterproof rain pants
  • Quick-dry/breathable shorts
  • Light trekking boots (broken in)
  • Pyjamas or something to sleep in
  • Sleeping bag (-5°C for November – March trips; -15°C for April – October trips)
  • Toiletries
  • Water bottle (1.000cc)
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and chapstick with sunscreen
  • Sports watch
  • Insect repellent
  • Trekking poles
  • Backpack (big enough for all your personal things, remember you will be carrying it all)
  • Shower shoes/flip flops
  • Earplugs
  • Head lamp/flashlight
  • Camera

Ice hike on Glacier Grey

Payable Before Departure

Ice hike on Glacier Grey

Per Person

Kayak trip on Lago Grey

Payable Before Departure

Kayak trip on Lago Grey

Per Person

Sleeping Bag Hire

Payable Before Departure

Sleeping Bag Hire

Per Person

El Calafate to/from Puerto Natales one way

Payable Before Departure

El Calafate to/from Puerto Natales one way

Per Person

Punta Arenas to/from Puerto Natales one way

Payable Before Departure

Punta Arenas to/from Puerto Natales one way

Per Person

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 96kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

While the trekking is not technically difficult, you are out in the wild for 5 days covering good distances each day with some steep sections. As you are not with a guide, you should also have previous trekking experience and an understanding of the risks involved.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Patagonian weather is notoriously changeable and you can often experience all four seasons in one day. Even in summer the wind can be cold and rain is not unexpected, so be prepared for hot sun as well as the cold. Layers are the best way to ensure that you're comfortable while hiking.

You can leave any items that you don't need at your local guides office before you set off.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling in Chile, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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