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Torres del Paine W Trek: guide and tours

Torres del Paine W TrekThe "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":

Hut-to-Hut guided   |   From a Hotel Base   |   Budget & Self-Guided   |   Shorter Options   |   Longer Options


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.

See these places on a map of the W Trek with key landmarks, and read our guide to hiking the W.

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 ...

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5 days

$1,594

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 ...

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7 days

$1,310

Amazing Paine

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 ...

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7 days

$1,930

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 - ...

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5 days

$1,941

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 ...

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6 days

$2,161

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 ...

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5 days

$2,601

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 ...

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5 days

$2,780

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 ...

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5 days

$2,167

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 ...

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4 days

$802

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 ...

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5 days

$995

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 ...

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11 days

$1,995

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 ...

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3 days

$995

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 ...

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4 days

$1,588

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 ...

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5 days

$956

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 ...

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4 days

$1,750

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 ...

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7 days

$1,884

Blue Paine

Hiking to the Mirador del Condor provides a unique vantage point on the National Park in addition to the classic ‘W’ Trek; after which ...

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7 days

$2,585

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. ...

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7 days

$3,395

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.

Experienced trekkers looking for more might want to tackle the longer ‘Full Circuit’ or get off-the-beaten-track in to Paine’s hidden valleys and mountain passes.

Gentler ways to see Torres del Paine include this eco option and this stay at a fully-inclusive lodge.

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 alwasy 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 hostals) 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.

Hotel-based W Treks >>

 

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 to get booked up by end of September and there are many more people out on the trails. Flights can also be more expenisve if you leave it too late.

Our advice is to book well in advance, and to take the opportunity to combine the main trails with a few days of trekking off-the-beaten-track.

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:

Torres del Paine 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.

Find out more >>

 

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.

Find out more >>

 

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.

Find out more >>

 

W Trek, Torres del Paine: Some other trips to consider

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. For example...

Paine: Trek, Kayak, Ice Hike (6 days)

Trek the highlights of the famous "W' and add a spectacular finish: kayaking up to the face of the Grey Glacier amongst the icebergs, then don your crampons and ice hike across it.

 

Multi-Activity trips in Torres del Paine

 

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. For example...


Paine & FitzRoy Trek (15 days)

See the highlights of both Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. The trek in Paine is special because you'll arrive by boat, and trek to Valle Bader, a part of the park that few other people visit. You'll even have time to see the famous Perito Moreno Glacier.

 

Patagonia Tours with Torres del Paine

 

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. For example...

The Classic Full Circuit (7 days)

Excellent local guides, small groups and an itinerary that allows you to trek the Full Circuit of Torres del Paine in just 7 days (start/end Puerto Natales). You'll be camping under the stars most nights but can upgrade to a bed in the mountain refugios on some nights. Private transfer into the national park and support can be provided for you travel to/from Puerto Natales.

 

Full Circuit treks of Torres del Paine

 

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. For example...

The Forgotten Valleys (9 days)

This trek, with a local Chilean operator, takes you to all the highlights of the 'W' but you also explore two of Torres del Paine's hidden valleys that a rare few get to see: Valle de Silencio and Valle Bader. A great way to see Patagonia's top spots, and experience some of its remoteness.

 

Off the Beaten Track, Torres del Paine

 

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. For example...

Patagonia Puma & Wildlife Tracking (6 days)

Track and photograph Patagonia's most elusive animals, getting up close to the enigmatic Andean Puma and the endangered South Andean Deer. Discover Torres del Paine's geology, witness spectacular sunrises & sunsets, and learn about the native flora & fauna, led by photographer Diego Araya. Spend each night at a fantastic eco-lodge.

 

Puma Tracking in Torres del Paine

 

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Info - Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine is one of the world's great trekking destinations

 

Read our guides to:

 

Also find out about:

When are you
thinking of going?

January

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

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

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!

April

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 >>

May

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 >>

June

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 >>

July

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 >>

August

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 >>

September

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 >>

October

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

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!

December

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.

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Guide to Patagonia

Patagonia spans over 1,000 miles north to south and landscapes ranging from forests, to glaciers, to volcanoes and deserts. Read our Patagonia Guide to find out: how to get there, when to go, what to see and how to find the best trip. Or find out about:

 

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About Swoop

We've spent 15 years exploring Patagonia, and arranged holidays for over a thousand customers. We have a network of trusted guides, lodges, and local operators across the region and delight in helping people plan and arrange a great holiday.

You can book directly with our local partners in Chile and Argentina, or with our ATOL certified company here in the UK.

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