Patagonia Is filled with breathtaking scenery reminiscent of Alaska, only with a Latin American flair. One of the most spectacular areas is Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile, with its chiselled mountains, thundering glaciers, turquoise lakes and mighty rivers. And the best way to see it is by hiking the iconic W Trek.
The W trek is world-famous for both its outstanding scenery and remoteness. Fly into Punta Arenas, the world’s southernmost major city, then continue on to Puerto Natales and the park. Using an eco-camp at Los Torres as your base, you will discover the diverse landscape on your very first trek, while horses or porters carry your gear to the next resting spot.
You trek above the rocky northern shore of Lake Nordenskjold on the slopes of the 2,670-metre Mount Almirante Nieto, one of the area’s most iconic peaks. And keep eyes open for condors soaring in the thermals or nesting in rugged cliff faces. You skirt the shoreline of the lake and climb into the hills, before entering a forest of southern beech. The trail winds directly beneath the Cuernos, or horns of Torres del Paine. Next, head up to a lookout surrounded by high peaks and sheer granite walls, before overnighting it in a refugio.
Climb to a lookout over the Grey Glacier for a picnic lunch, and head by motor launch to the face of the glacier. You’ll embark on a challenging trek up the Ascencio River to a spot that provides spectacular views of the three granite monoliths that form the Towers of El Paine.
For the final day in the park, keep an eye out for guanacos and migratory birds and investigate cave paintings, before indulging in a classic Patagonian lamb barbecue.
Return to Punta Arenas ready for the trip home, or perhaps more Patagonian explorations.
- Phone: 800.683.8148
- Length/Departs: 7 days/Oct. to Apr., with weekly departures
- Accommodation: Dome tents, refugios
- Starting Price: Between $1,821 to $3,103, depending on depart
- Difficulty: Challenging
- By Simon Vaughan, Senior Editor/Special Travel Advisor for Outpost Travel Media