Trekking Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine is one of the world's most famous trekking destinations - you can see snow covered mountains, trek on glaciers, walk through beautiful valleys, and have lunch by crystal-blue lakes all in one day.
Find best guided trips for the route you want to take, or read our guide to trekking in Torres del Paine. For broader info on things to do and how to get there see our guide to Torres del Paine National Park.
Torres del Paine Trekking Options
The 'W Circuit' of Torres del Paine is a 4 day hike that takes you up the two main valleys of the park to witness the Towers themselves and two ...
The Full Circuit is an 8 day hike all around Torres del Paine National Park. You'll witness the great sites of the shorter circuit but also take in the northern ...
Torres del Paine is one of the world's top trekking destinations so obviously the main routes and landmarks are popular. If you want to get to the peaks, views and ...
For people looking to spend most of their holiday in the mountains, trekking tours allow you to trek in two national parks in Patagonia, usually Torres del Paine and Los ...
What are the main trekking routes?
‘The W circuit’
This takes you to the two main valleys of the National Park, and to the Grey glacier via Lago Grey; each of these representing the three vertical bits in a ‘w’. This is the most famous route in Torres del Paine national park (and arguably one of the most famous treks in South America).
Typically, on day 1, you might climb Valle Ascensio to reach a look-out point over the main towers. Then you’d make your way along the banks of Lake Nordenskjold to see Los Cuernos, and then hike up Valle Frances. At the top of Valle Frances you are presented with wonderful views of the Fortaleza and many other peaks in the park. The third leg takes you to Glacier Grey, hiking along the banks of Lago Grey.
Typically this route covers around 45 miles, and is tackled over the course of 5 days. There are some shortcuts to the W-circuit if you really need to taking it down to 3 days.
You can stay in Refugios (well serviced mountain huts) each night, or opt for camping, and in one or two cases there are private cabins and hotels available.
‘The Full circuit’
Taking 7-9 days this route takes you into both valle Ascensio and valle Frances, but you also get to see the northern part of the park. Typically it’s tackled anti-clockwise so that you can hike east to west through Paso John Garner and see the awe inspiring view of the Grey Glacier and Southern Patagonian Ice Field reaching out to the horizon. The northern part of the park is only seen by around 5% of visitors and you’ll take in Lago Dickson, Laguna Los Perros, Glaciers Dickson, Perros & Grey.
This route covers at least 80 miles, and is normally tackled over the course of 7 to 9 days. You won´t be able to stop in Refugios every night, so you’ll need to pack your tent and camping stove (or go with a company that provides porters and camp meals).
But I want to get off the beaten track…
For those with an appetite for really getting out there are two valleys typically only visited by climbers (en route to the main climbing spots): Valle Bader and Valle Silencio. Most people will need a guide to head up there and we’ve only come across a handful of operators that run these routes. There are other off-the-beaten-track routes that definitely require a guide (for example the Paine Chico Traverse and the Cerro Paine Mountain Pass).
In the more accessible parts of the park the less visited spots are Lago Pingo in the West, Laguna Azul in the East, and Laguna Verde in the South. Few companies take their groups there, but trekkers with some experience and the right map can probably manage these on their own.
What about camping?
The camp sites in Torres del Paine are beautifully (and conveniently) located, and have running water. In December and January the main campsites on the W Circuit can be quite busy, but their locations and friendly atmosphere compensate for that. [NB We have heard reports that over the Christmas period they can be a bit more rowdy as the young folk of Chile and Argentina come to Patagonia to celebrate]
You might also want to think about spending some or all of your nights in the Refugios (mountain huts/lodges). We all love camping, but on a long trek (and the full circuit typically takes 7 to 9 days) you might want to have a break, and if you can save carrying the weight of a tent and cooking equipment then you’ll have more energy for those hills. There are several Refugios around the national park that are well equipped, comfortable and have a good convivial atmosphere. You’ll obviously be sharing dorms. They typically cost around $80 per night. Note: in peak season the Refugios can get booked up a long time in advance; either book ahead or travel with an operator who can arrange that all for you.
There are also a few hotels situated around the park (some more expensive than others), and the EcoCamp is often a popular option.
>> For more info on Torres del Paine, getting there and other activities see our Torres del Paine National Park guide
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When are you
thinking of going?
See Patagonia at the height of the season, when you'll have 18 hours of daylight and feel Patagonia's infamous wind at its strongest. There are just so many options open to you in addition to hiking, why not try glacier trekking, mountain biking and white water rafting on the rapids of the Futaleufu River?
If you want to visit last minute, the key is moving quickly and booking your flights. Availability in Chalten shouldn't be too difficult but in Torres del Paine it's likely that refugios will be fully booked. Don't worry though, it's warm enough to camp under the stars. If you're still in the planning stages of your trip but hope to go this season, it's a good idea to get flights booked as early as possible and make the most of Patagonia's summer before autumn sets in April.
February is a great time to trek Patagonia's national parks, in particular Torres del Paine quietens down as Chilean visitors head back to their cities. In Feb you can expect temperatures of between 5 and 19 degrees in Torres del Paine, and this could be a good time to trek the W Circuit independently if you want to save some money to go kayaking for example.
If you want to go in February but you've left it last minute, you may be able to find a late deal on our Exclusive Deals page. Your best bet is finding a Patagonia Tours which tend to have lots of departure dates to join during February.
If you're considering visiting next season, (starting in October), why not getting your flights booked good and early? If you're lucky you may be able to get flights from London to Punta Arenas for £850.
March is the tail end of the season for adventure in Patagonia so the infamous Patagonian wind will be on its way out, there'll be fewer people in the national parks so generally quieter on the trails. This is great as you may find prices come down slightly as the locals and tourists leave, but it's more difficult to get a group together, so could be harder if you're travelling alone (although we'll strive to pair you up with someone). However, most longer, multi-location trips run by our global operator partners still run in March and they tend to have bigger groups, but prepare for rain if your trip visits the lake district!
In April the season is coming to an end, so try to get there in the first half of the month for more availability and better weather conditions. If you're hoping to stay in the Eco Camp in Torres del Paine or do an adventure cruise round Cape Horn, they finish for the season in early April, so get going! Luckily it's about this time that skiing in Bariloche becomes available in the Argentinian Lake District. Remember that many mountain lodges and estancias close around this time making it hard to do the W or Full Circuit for example. Plus certain services become unavailable such as the catamaran across Lago Pehoe in Torres del Paine and glacier hiking, so it may be a good idea to go earlier in the season if these are on your list of things to do.
Find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
Winter is getting into full swing now so you may want to try out volcano skiing in the Patagonian Lake District or tailor made tours that take into account the potentially difficult weather conditions. As many operators and lodges wind down for the winter, fewer travellers visit the trails and parks so private departures on most trips are likely. The weather will be a bit like trekking in wales in Dec, are you up for that challenge?
Find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
At this time of year, the snow is starting to settle in Torres del Paine National Park and the trees are brown and orange, a very beautiful time to see the highlights. June is also when operators launch their Winter W Circuit and Fitz Roy trips, which vary from the usual itineraries as many refugios are closed and van transfers are required because the catamaran across Lago Pehoe stops. Although days are short and weather temperamental, if you can see Patagonia in winter, it will be serene and picturesque.
Find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
Mid winter, July is equivalent to our January in terms of weather. This is a great time to take advantage of the skiing Patagonia has to offer, particularly in the Chilean and Argentinian Lake Districts. Araucania offers off piste skiing, whereas Bariloche is home to the popular Cerro Catedral Resort but also caters for off piste skiing. For adrenaline junkies, you can ski down the slopes of several volcanoes on certain trips. If you're planning a trip for next season, start looking at flights as the sooner you book them, the cheaper they are.
If you hope to visit Torres del Paine this month, find out more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter >>
This is a great time for snow shoeing in Bariloche, or skiing in the Patagonian Lake District. There are also some winter trips in the Torres del Paine & Fitz Roy areas. Come prepared - cold temperatures, snow and short days means that your trip may not go 100% according to plan, Chalten is known for snow blocking the roads for a day or 2. Alternatively, August is a great time to plan and book trips for the early part of the season ahead, at this time operators will be starting to release availability and rates to help with that.
August is the last month to take advantage of specially designed winter trips in Torres del Paine. If you're keen to see the park covered in snow, find out more about hiking in Torres del Paine in winter >>
In September, it's still pretty chilly in Patagonia, with snow and temperatures of 5 degrees in El Calafate for example. If you're hoping to trek the main national parks, you may find that operators don't have any groups heading out, so you may have to go on a private trip with just your guide. The season really kicks off at the end of September/beginning of October with W Circuit and Full Circuit trips as well as estancias and lodges opening their doors to clients.
However, winter trips are still running in Torres del Paine. Find out more here >>
Get in before the crowds - you won't see many people on the W Circuit and you'll have the northern part of the park pretty much to yourself on the Full Circuit (you may even come face to face with the endangered Huemul deer). It's still a bit too early for horse riding and rafting trips, you're best off doing these from November onwards. So if you're thinking about visiting Patagonia this season, get your flights and trips booked, as availability really starts to tighten up over October/November.
November is a good time to visit: late spring/early summer. Not too busy but a full range of trips and itineraries to choose from. If you want to visit this month, you need to move fast. Refugios are getting booked up until January, but the operator will work hard to fit you in. Don't forget it takes at least a week to organise a tour, so don't leave it too late!
Mid summer, 18 hours of daylight and there will probably be days when you're hiking in shorts and t-shirt. Many Chileans and Argentinians will come down to Patagonia for their Christmas break so availability may be tight and you should expect the National Parks to be busier.
It's essential that you get your flights and tours booked asap, as flight prices are also increasing.
Torres del Paine info
Find out how to get there, where to stay, when to go and more
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