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Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike Chile’s W Trek, Self-Guided

Independently explore the wild Patagonian wilderness of Torres del Paine National Park.

I'M UP FOR
Wild Hikes
DURATION
4 Nights
DIFFICULTY
Active
COMFORT
Basic
LOCATION
Chile
SEASON
November—April
NEAREST AIRPORT

Experience one of the most famous hiking routes in South America, the W Trek, on this self-guided adventure. Trek to the base of the awe-inspiring sheer granite towers that give the park its name, visit ancient glaciers and hike through deep valleys dotted with grazing guanacos as you look for condors soaring on the thermals high above you. Getting space in the refugios is perhaps tougher than the trek itself however, unless you let us take care of all the logistics for you…

Want longer? Prefer to join a guided group? Check out this adventure instead.

Your hassle-free adventure includes

  • 4 nights dorm accommodation in Refugios inside Torres del Paine National Park
  • 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
  • Local transport to and from Puerto Natales
  • Entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park
  • Pre-trip briefing in Puerto Natales
  • Boat trip on Lago Grey

Perfect for

Travellers looking for a physical challenge in some of the wildest and most remote landscapes on Earth. While the trekking is not technically difficult, you are out in the wild for 5 days and covering good distances each day with some steep and/or uneven sections. As you are not with a guide, you should have previous trekking experience and understanding of the risks involved.

Need To Know

Absolutely, most accommodation offer storage services but, if not, you’re hosts are more than happy to store things for you in the office in Puerto Natales.

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

The Refugios serve a small choice of hearty meals, perfect at the end of a long day’s trekking. They usually have a shop selling soft and alcoholic drinks, as well as snacks such as chocolate. They can cater for most dietary requirements.

As a rough idea, you can expect;

Breakfast: Corn Tortilla, Granola, Tea, Coffee, Chocolate Milk, Bacon, Butter, Jam, Eggs, yogurt and bread.

Box Lunch: Chocolate, Dried Fruit and Nuts, Cereal Bar, Fruit, Sandwich.

Dinner: Chicken, vegetables and rice (or vegetarian alternative), salad, cake.

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 you should be prepared for hot sun as well as the cold. Layers are the best way to dress to ensure you’re comfortable while hiking.

The following are not included in the trip price:
- Flights
- Travel Insurance
- Tips for staff at the Refugios (optional)
- Accommodation before or after the trip in Puerto Natales
- Meals in Puerto Natales
- Personal hiking equipment
- Sleeping bag
- Drinks or snacks at the Refugios

This trip is self-guided, so whilst you’ll see other hikers on the trail and in the Refugios, you’ll be hiking just with your travelling companions or alone.

Sure can! Although the hike is self-guided so you won’t be travelling with a group of people, the refugios you’ll be staying in are sociable, and you will see other hikers on the trail.

You will be carrying your own kit, so keep that in mind. Your host recommends to pack:

Upper body: - Windproof and waterproof jacket, such as Gore Tex or similar
- Fleece or pile coat
- Quick-dry long sleeve t-shirt
- Quick-dry short sleeve t-shirt
- Winter hat
- Light gloves

Lower body: - Quick-dry hiking socks
- Quick-dry, light weight long underwear bottoms
- Quick-dry/breathable windproof pants
- Waterproof rain pants
- Quick-dry/breathable shorts
- Light trekking boots (broken in)

Other necessary items:
- Pyjamas/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
- Chapstick w/ sunscreen
- Sports watch
- Insect repellent
- Trekking poles
- Backpack (big enough for all your personal things, you will be carrying it)
- Shower shoes/flip flops
- Earplugs
- Head lamp and/or flashlight
- Camera

You can leave items you don’t need on the trek at your local guides office before you set off.

*Sleeping bags can be hired locally if needed.

The trek is suitable for children aged 13 or over. As it’s self-guided you should be confident that your children are going to be comfortable trekking for four days in a row and sleeping in dorm accommodation.

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Location

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Located in Southern Chile and covering 181,414 hectares, with an average of around 250,000 visitors a year, Torres del Paine National Park is the largest and most popular park in the country, encompassing mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, thick Lenga forest and the Patagonian Steppe. The most iconic sight in the park is the Torres, or towers, three granite peaks that tower above the surrounding landscape. The W Trek is the most famous trek in the park, and indeed one of the most famous multi-day hikes in South America. This four-day trek takes you to three of the park’s most famous sights, the base of the towers, the French Valley and Glacier Grey.

Start point

Pre trip briefing in Puerto Natales, 18:00 the day before

You’ll need to stay in Puerto Natales the night before (not included in the cost of the trip). There is a wide range of accommodation options in the town, from hostels to 5* hotels. Meet at the local hosts office in central Puerto Natales at 18:00 for a pre-trip briefing and to collect your reservations. You will be sent the address of the guides office as part of your pre-trip info pack.

The best options to get Puerto Natales depending on your other plans are either flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas, from where there are convenient buses running regularly from the airport (3hrs), or flights from Buenos Aires to El Calafate from where two buses a day run to Puerto Natales (5-6hrs with border crossing). Your host can arrange transport as an optional extra, enquire when booking.

Finish point

Your trip ends on day 5 when you’ll be transferred back to Puerto Natales. You should plan to stay in the town tonight as you may not return in time to catch a flight or bus the same day.

What to Expect

Day 1: Hike to the Famous Towers

Wake up early and board the bus to Torres del Paine National Park, a two-hour drive away, check in with the park authorities and then set off on foot into the wilderness.

Hike up Almirante Nieto, a mountain with panoramic views of Lake Nordenskjold and the Asencio Valley, and get your first taste of Patagonia.

Continue on to Refugio Chileno, your home for tonight, where you can leave your backpack before taking a short hike through the dense Lenga forest, keeping a look out for wildlife and birds.

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.

Total distance hiked: 15.5km / 6.5 hours

Day 2: Hike along Lake Nordenskjold

Eat breakfast in your Refugio and then 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 down through the mountains, surrounded by herds of grazing guanacos keeping a wary eye out for predators.

Arrive at Refugio Cuernos, tonight’s destination, set before a dramatic backdrop of rocky peaks.

Total distance hiked – 11km / 4.5 hours

Day 3: Explore the French Valley

After breakfast, hike across a lakeside beach and into a deep and sheltered valley.

Leave your rucksack at Campamento Italiano, and then continue into the wild landscape of the French Valley with its epic views of Lake Nordenskjold, Lake Skottsberg and Lake Pehoe and the hanging French Glacier ahead of you.

After you’ve got your fill of the gorgeous views, retrace your steps, collect your rucksack and then hike on to Refugio Paine Grande, set on the shores of Lake Pehoe, where you can settle in for the night and enjoy a hot meal.

Total distance hiked – 17.3km / 7 hours

Day 4: Views of Glacier Grey

Wake up and enjoy a hearty breakfast in the Refugio and then set off into the forest that borders Lake Grey. This section is quite exposed so be sure to wrap up warm against the wind coming off the Southern Ice Field.

After around two hours hiking, get your first look at the 6km-wide Glacier Grey, one of the most iconic sights in Torres del Paine.

Continue for another two hours with plenty of breaks to catch your breath, to tonight’s destination, Refugio and Camping Grey, where a hot drink will be waiting for you.

If you’re still 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.

Total distance hiked – 11km / 4 hours

Optional excursions available from Refugio Grey – 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: Return to Puerto Natales

Enjoy your final views of Torres del Paine, or add on one of the optional excursions, and then head to the lake shore 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 end.

Accommodation

Throughout Torres del Paine National Park you’ll be sleeping in Refugios – traditional hiking hostels in spectacular, back-to-nature locations that are perfect for getting an authentic experience of the Patagonian wilderness. Accommodation is simple but clean, with dorm rooms and shared bathrooms, and all the Refugios are warm and cosy with restaurants serving hearty food, perfect for fuelling up after a long day’s hiking, while most have shops selling snacks and drinks.

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Dates & Prices

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Your host will confirm your booking subject to availability. There may be a minimum number of guests required to guarantee that a trip will go ahead.

Prices include

Accommodation · Local Transport · Meals As Described · Routes & Maps · Happiness Guaranteed · 100% Financial Protection · No Single Supplements

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

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Guide Prices

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Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

Extra adventures Payable Before Departure
Kayak trip on Lago Grey $112.00 Per Person
Ice hike on Glacier Grey $165.00 Per Person
Bus travel Payable Before Departure
El Calafate to/from Puerto Natales one way $33.00 Per Person
Punta Arenas to/from Puerto Natales one way $15.00 Per Person

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