Join this small guided group tour and explore Southern Patagonia’s most iconic landscape in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.
Chilean Patagonia is home to some of the most impressive sights in the Southern Hemisphere and to some of the world’s iconic trekking routes. The W Trek is no exception, as it encompasses ancient forests, glaciers, lakes, rivers, fjords, and fauna, including guanacos, flamingos, condors, foxes and pumas. On this 7-day hiking adventure, follow the world-famous and challenging W route, traveling from a comfortable base camp to two unique refugios carrying only daypacks. Hike to the foot of the granite spires that give this park its name; explore the shorelines of Nordenskjold, Pehoe and Grey Lakes; climb deep into French Valley; even get up close and personal with a calving glacier.
Day 1: Welcome to Chile. Arrive at Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales airport. You will be picked-up from the hotel or airport and driven to basecamp located in Torres del Paine National Park. The journey is scenic, featuring many wild birds and wonderful Patagonian landscapes. Along the way stop and enjoy a hearty local lunch in Puerto Natales while getting to know your fellow travelers in your small guided group.
Nestled in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, with a prime view of the majestic Torres is basecamp.
Day 2: After breakfast, the trek begins with a pleasant walk along the sinuous Cuernos Trail, which meanders beside the beautiful Lake Nordenskjold. During this warm-up walk, you will have the opportunity to admire the park’s exquisite flora and fauna amongst the magnificent views of the lakes and the majestic, black, horn-like peaks of slate. The trek ends at a small mountain refuge with an amazing view of the lake. The evening will be free for relaxing and enjoying dinner.
(Miles: 7.5 / approx 5 hours. Total elevation gain: 1000 ft; loss: 1118 ft. Highest point: 800 ft)
Day 3: After breakfast at the Refugio, begin the challenging trek to Valle Francés (French Valley), along a steep trail which leads to the very heart of the Paine Massif.
After the upward trek, pause for a picnic and relax a while. This day’s trek will end as you descend through the terrain of mixed grassland and light forest which leads to the next refugio.
(Miles: 16 / approx 10 hours. Total elevation gain: 2778 ft; loss: 2893 ft. Highest point: 2250 ft)
Day 4: Today hike along the shores of Lake Pehoe, to the northern side of the beautiful, glacial Lake Grey. Feast on a picnic lunch before boarding the boat which sails right to the huge, crystalline facade of Grey Glacier, and marvel at the calving glacier. Tonight, return to the basecamp domes for dinner and rest.
(Miles: 7 / approx 4 hours. Total elevation gain: 1161 ft; loss: 1158 ft. Highest point: 800 ft)
Day 5: The goal for today is to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres del Paine National Park! Walk from the basecamp before ascending to Ascencio Valley on the Tower’s eastern face. Mountain ridges, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. The big challenge will come in the form of a steep moraine, a huge mass of boulders which will lead to the 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 will eventually come into full view, rising majestically, with the glacial lake visible below. After feasting on a picnic lunch, backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to basecamp for a well-deserved dinner.
(Miles: 14 / approx 9 hours. Total elevation gain: 3608 ft; loss: 3608 ft. Highest point: 3000 ft)
Day 6: After breakfast, take a leisurely car journey towards Laguna Azul, passing Cañadón Macho – home to many wild guanacos and ñandúes. Admire the views of the Patagonian steppe and the towers from a different perspective. At Laguna Azul, hike to the lookout point for a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and granite towers. (Depending on group interest, cycling to Laguna Azul may be an option.)
After lunch, drive to the northern shore of Sarmiento Lake where the Fauna Trail begins. As you hike northbound, spot an impressive range of Patagonian fauna on the vast plains, including guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús, and maybe the occasional puma print! After 4 miles of relaxed walking, arrive at the ranger station, where you will be picked up and driven back to basecamp to celebrate over a farewell dinner.
(Miles of hiking: 4 / approx 3 hours. Highest point: 590 ft)
Day 7: After another hearty breakfast, your transfer departs for the scenic ride back to Punta Arenas or to El Calafate for the return flight home.