The "W" Trek is Patagonia's most famous hiking route. This is a hut-to-hut route, so no need to carry tents and food, just your personal clothing. The huts ('refugios') have shared rooms for up to 6 people, but see below for ways to hike the best trails using hotels.
It's a 4-5 day route (read our FAQ below) but can be shortened, and you can also check out longer tours and alternative trip options that include the trails of the W trek.
Read our guide to hiking the W or check out 5 different ways to hike the "W":
W Trek: The Route
The W Circuit follows a trail (normally from East to West), in a 'W' shape. It takes in the 3 main valleys, home to the three gems of Torres del Paine:
- up the Ascensio Valley to: the best vantage point of the mile-high granite Towers from which the park gets its name. This involves 800m of ascent is a demanding 6 to 8 hour day.
- up the French Valley, with the vast hanging glacier Frances dominating the landscape on your left as you climb. More challenging terrain and wonderful views of the glacier as you hike up the valley.
- along Lago Grey towards the magnficent Grey glacier on the edge of the Patagonian Ice Cap. An easier days hiking and the Grey Glacier, stretching out towards the Ice Cap, is beautiful.
W Trek - hut to hut
The Original Torres del Paine W Trek
Swoop's no.1 recommendation for Patagonia's top trek, Paine's 'W': small groups, highly rated guides, a great itinerary, excellent value for money, and full support before and after your trek. Ideal for solo travellers looking to join a group, and pairs…
Luxury Camp W Trek
From the moment you land to the moment you depart you’ll be looked after by a well established local operator. By transferring you directly to and from Torres del Paine National Park, you will be able to make the…
You’ll be met at the airport by your local English speaking guide, and stay overnight in Puerto Natales before 5 full and active days trekking the ‘W’ in Torres del…
W Trek from a hotel base
W Trek: Heart of Torres
Staying in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, you'll set off on your W Trek with all things taken care of - transfers to and from the hotel, full board and a choice of excursions each day. …
Experience Paine's Nature and Wildlife
A gentle-paced W-Trek for peace- and nature-lovers: based in a secluded, all-inclusive camp of luxury yurts, you'll wake up each morning in a forest over-looking Lago Toro before journeying through breath-taking scenery to complete the world famous W-Trek. Looked after…
W With Luxury
Day-time W-trekking and night-time pampering at a first-class hotel and spa means that this trip around the classic W of Torres del Paine takes care of you like no…
W Trek from Comfort
Don't just trek the W-Trek, do it from comfort. Stay at one of the best known all-inclusive lodges in Patagonia whilst each day completing each leg of the W Trek, plus extras like boat trips to the wall of…
Lodge to Lodge
Your guide will take you on a journey to the highlights of Torres del Paine National Park, where you will witness it's stunning landscape and varied flora and fauna, as well as some of its better kept secrets. All of…
Budget and self-guided W Trek
W Trek, 4 days camping
For those who prefer to camp, but still want the expertise and knowledge of a guide, this 4 day option offers a great value way to hike the 3 main trails of Torres del…
Self-guided W Trek (5D/4N)
Trek Paine's incredible W Trek, with all transport, refugio reservations and logistics organised for you, but with the freedom and economy of travelling without a guide or group. Ideal if you're an experienced hiker but don't speak…
Independent Trek in Paine & Chalten
Trek Paine's ""W"" and best trails around Mount FitzRoy without a guide/group, but with all transport, accommodation and logistics pre-arranged for you by trusted local operators. All travel arrangements across Chile/Argentina border included…
Independent W-Trek with Ice-Hike & Kayaking
A great multi-sport extension to the W-Trek including an Ice-Hike on Glacier Grey and Sea-Kayaking Lago Grey. All Logistics and Reservations are taken care of for you, but you can still enjoy the freedom of exploring independently. 4 Nights in…
3-4 day shorter W Trek options
3 day W Trek
If you want to see Torres del Paine's highlights in just 3 days (2 nights) then this is a great alternative to the W Trek. You’ll be hiking with an experienced local English-speaking guide, and sleeping in a warm bed…
View of Paine 2
If you're in Patagonia and have a few days spare, this is a good way to trek the two main valleys of Torres del Paine and see the Grey Glacier up close. You'll stay in comfortable refugios and enjoy a…
W highlights from luxury camp
An excellent way to trek Torres del Paine’s W in a short space of time, starting and ending at the airport. You'll hike the Paine's top spots (the Towers, French Valley and Grey Glacier) and stay at a luxury yurt…
4-day W Lodging
The W Trek for those that want to minimise their time in the shared accommodation of the refugios. You’ll spend the 3rd night in a beautiful Hosteria inside the National Park, and the final night in one of Puerto Natales…
Longer W Trek Options
The Wilderness Explorer
Be unique: start your adventure on zodiac boats and pass glaciers on your way up the Rio Serrano into the National Park before hiking the famed ‘W’ Trek. You’ll be camping, fully supported by your guide and their…
Hiking to the Mirador del Condor provides a unique vantage point on the National Park in addition to the classic ‘W’ Trek; after which you will visit the Seno Otway Penguin…
Discovering Torres del Paine in 7 days
Ideal for couples: trek the ‘W’ Circuit by day and enjoy the comfort of private rooms in hotels and an authentic ‘estancia’ by night. This is the only trip offering you private rooms every night of your adventure. (This…
W Trek: Questions and answers
How hard is it?
The W Circuit takes around 4-5 days to complete and the trail itself stretches approximately 46 miles in distance. It's a moderately difficult trek, with easier days on undulating terrain interspersed with more challenging days ascending 600-800 metres. You need to be in good shape, have some experience of multi-day hiking and be prepared for some rough terrain and weather conditions that are best described as "four seasons in one day". The longest days are 6-8 hours at a gentle pace with plenty of time to take it all it in, stop for photos and properly soak up the incredible landscapes.
If you'd like to talk about the route and see how it compares to hikes you've done before then let us know.
Can I combine the trek with some kayaking, mountain biking or horse-riding?
Yes, absolutely. Some parts of the national park are best seen on foot, but there are areas that are well suited to mountain biking and horse riding, and a 2 day kayak out down the Rio Serrano is an increidble way to finish the W Trek. For more info see our guide to multi-activity trips in Torres del Paine.
I’m travelling alone – how can I find a group?
Every year we help dozens of solo travellers to find a hiking group to join in Torres del Paine. Either joining the regular trips organised by our local operators, or putting likeminded hikers together to create a new departure date.
Please get in touch with your dates and we'll check with all of our partners and records to let you know what options are available to you.
We’ve heard the trails are well marked. Can we do it on our own?
Yes, the trails are well-marked and if you are an experienced hiker and are on a tight budget then you probably can trek it in pairs/couples. Some of our customers do a self-guided hike with all transport and logistics arranged in advance, others combine some independent trekking with guided days in more remote parts of the national park.
However, after years of experience we know that safety and navigation are just a tiny fraction of what guides offer. The local guides that we work with in Torres del Paine speak excellent English and are deeply knowledgeable about the region's wildlife, history, culture and geography. We speak to almost all of our customers on their return and the thing they always talk about is their guides - the very best guides are also great travel companions in the mountains.
Refugios or Camping?
The refugios (mountain huts and hostels) are very well located for hiking the "W" allowing you hike from hut to hut. The are friendly and convivial places, even if the service can be disappointing on some occasions. Food is good, the bar normally open, and showers are hot nine times out of ten. You sleep in shared rooms of up to 6 people.
If you crave either more privacy, or more exposure to the Patagonian elements then a 4 day trek with camping might work for you, and it is of course possible to take your own tent, or rent one from each camp site (situated alongside the main refugios). The wind can be pretty extreme here - expect one or two noisy nights as the canvas is buffeted by 80km/h winds. We always take our earplugs.
I need private accommodation each night. What are my options?
With one exception (the cabins at Cuernos) the refugios do not have private rooms. So if you are going to follow the exact route of the "W" then you'll need to spend at least one night in a dorm. However there is a hotel at the trail-head for two of the days, and on some trips transport is arrange to a comfortable hotel at the end of the other days.
I’m going at Christmas. Will there be too many people?
The period at end of December and beginning of January does get busy. Places in the refugios normally do get booked up by the end of September, and there are many more people out on the trails. Flights can also be more expensive if you leave it too late.
Is it possible in the winter?
The park is a very different place in Patagonian winter (Apr/May through to August/September), with far fewer visitors, fewer hours of daylight and the high chance of trekking through snow.
Transport and accommodation options are limited in the winter months, and conditions can be quite extreme, so joining a guided group is critical, as is planning in advance.
We've worked with our local partners to design special itineraries that get you to the highlights of the "W Trek" in spite of the limited accommodation options and likely snow conditions. We are planning to run a W Trek group each month this winter. See more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter.
Swoop's Google Map of Torres del Paine
Our Torres del Paine Map shows the glaciers, lakes, mountains and other spectacles you'll see when hiking the W Trek, as well as other landmarks of the National Park. You can also see a selection of airports and accommodation options on the map:
Example Itineraries including the W Trek
Here are some of our suggestions for visiting several regions of Patagonia, including the W Trek trails of Torres del Paine. These can be fully tailored to suit your timeframe, budget and interests. You can also see our other inspirational itineraries for exploring Patagonia.
Day Hike Patagonia
14 nights, from USD $5,300 to $7,200
Hike the glaciers, mountains and coastlines of Patagonia, experiencing the famous national parks of Torres del paine, Mount Fitz Roy and Tierra del Fuego and get off the beaten track on the island of Chiloe. This trip is ideal for those who love to hike dramatic trails, but with only a daypack and good quality accommodation each night.
The Best of Chile & Argentina
14 nights, from USD $7,000 to $9,300
Combine cityscapes with wilderness. Explore a colourful, bohemian port city, hike breathtaking trails to granite peaks, cruise to Cape Horn and dance the tango in Buenos Aires. This trip is ideal for those looking to explore the best that southern Chile and Argentina have to offer without compromising on comfort.
Chile: Deep into Patagonia
21 nights, from USD $8,000 to $9,800
Combine the highlights of Chilean Patagonia with areas unvisited by many. See volcanoes, glaciers, lakes and the mighty towers of Torres del Paine, laze in hot springs, hike forgotten trails, ride with gauchos, cruise amongst icebergs and fly over Cape Horn. Ideal for first time visitors and those wanting to experience more.
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Multi activity Trips in Torres del Paine
You can combine your hike of the 'W' with a number of additional activities in the National Park. From kayaking to mountain biking and horse-riding. These are generally itineraries that are tailored to people's needs and dates but needn't cost the earth if you book with a local Chilean company.
Patagonia Tours that include the W Trek
If you are planning a longer trip through Patagonia and the 'W' is just part of that then you could consider a Tour where the itinerary includes Torres del Paine. Tours through Patagonia range in length and price, groups vs private, but nearly all will include a few days in Torres del Paine National Park.
The 'Full Circuit'
For experienced hikers, who are prepared for a couple of nights of camping (fully supported of course), the Full Circuit offers the chance to see all the trails of the 'W' but also explore the northern part of the National Park as well. If you have the time and the experience then this is a very rewarding trek indeed, over 7-10 days.
Off the beaten track in Torres del Paine
The main trails of Torres del Paine are beautiful, dramatic and very photogenic, but if you want a more remote and wild experience then why not hike the W and then take a few days Off the Beaten Track.
Puma Tracking in Torres del Paine
The elusive Puma is the largest and most dangerous predator in Patagonia. You have the most chance of spotting a puma in the northern part of Torres del Paine National Park, although it's unlikely you'll see one unless you are on a specific Puma Tracking Trip. Our Puma trips are run by knowledgeable local guides teamed up with experienced trackers, who together will provide you with the best chance of spotting one of these stunning creatures.