Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most pristine and remote wilderness areas the world. The “W-Trek” is the one of the most iconic hiking routes in Patagonia’s famed park.
For five days, you will trek along a stunning pocket of the planet that house glacial lakes with icebergs, glaciers and towers or dramatic spires of granite rock that along a route that loosely resembles a W on the southern Patagonia ice cap. And— you will also kayak and explore the area by paddle! Here’s what all that looks like:
DAY 1: Arrive at the airport in either Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales, Chile.
DAY 2: Drive to Torres Del Paine National Park. Before your trek begins, your guides will give you an overview of the region you’ll be exploring, as well as pointers on good trekking techniques for the expedition. You then begin your tour by trekking up the Ascencio Valley. You arrive at Refugio Chileno, for a short break. You continue trekking through a forest of lenga (beech) trees; head to a spectacular glacial moraine; continue for another hour to reach a spectacular view of the Torres del Paine rock towers. The day ends at dinner and overnighting at a refugio. You trek about 12 miles (about 19 km) at an elevation gain-loss of 2,430 feet, for approx. 7 hours.
DAY 3: Trek along Lake Nordenskjold (named after a Swedish geologist who contributed to the study of glaciology), with views of Mount Almirante Nieto. Stop for lunch, then trek to the next refugio, for dinner and overnighting. You trek about 8.1 miles, at an elevation gain-loss of 750-900 feet, for approx. 5-6 hours.
DAY 4: Trek to the French Valley, “one of most picturesque valleys in Torres del Paine National Park …[with] hanging glaciers and granite walls, spires and glacial lakes.” After exploring the region, you continue on to Lodge Paine Grande, and overall trek about 13-15 miles (about 7-9 miles), at an elevation gain-loss of 2,200-2,350 feet, for approx. 8 hours.
DAY 5: Trek along and kayaking on Grey Lake. You trek to the northeast coast of Lake Grey, where you can then explore and experience the place via kayak. You can paddle on Grey Lake skirting icebergs (guides will help you) and checking out the view of Grey Glacier. You then trek to Grey Lodge. (Please note, operator states: “This day’s activities are good-weather dependent.”) You trek about 7 miles (about 11 km), at an elevation gain-loss of 670 feet, for approx. 4 hours.
DAY 6: Explore the west side of Grey Glacier. Today you do some serious ice-trekking on the Grey Glacier, all with the help of guides, who’ll go over proper ice-trekking techniques, safety aspects, use of equipment, among other things. After a few hours, a zodiac takes you back to a meeting point for lunch. And for your last afternoon in the Patagonian wilds, you will explore the environs of Grey Lake. Later, you overnight in a lodge, and enjoy a final dinner with your group.
DAY 7: Drive to airport. OR, you can choose to remain in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales where Wildland Trekking can help arrange other excursions in Patagonia.
Patagonia: The Torres del Paine W Trek | WILDLAND TREKKING
Phone: 800.715.4453 | 928-223-4453 | More contact info here.
Length: 7 days; 72 kilometres/45-mile trek.
Departs: Contact operator directly for current depart dates.
Accommodations: hotels; mostly a refugio-to-refugio trek. From operator: “Refugios are inviting backcountry huts/lodges with beds, kitchens, chefs and staff, dining rooms, bathrooms/showers, dorm-style with communal, coed bedrooms that contain 6-8 beds. Bathrooms are gender-separated with hot water, showers and flush toilets,” though operator adds “these exact accommodations not guaranteed.”
Price: approx. $4,150 USD (includes in-country expenses, gear, meals, lodgings, transportation; but not international flights)
Difficulty: Operator defines this as “Level 3.” Ask for specifics on this designation.
Note: Itinerary may be subject to change depending on circumstances that can range from bad weather to availability of refugios to political or social circumstances.