Hike the famous W trek in Torres del Paine National Park on this guided Patagonia hiking adventure where each day’s hike ends at a cozy dome or refugio with hot showers and hearty meals.
Join us as we explore Southern Patagonia’s most iconic landscape in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. On this week-long Patagonia hiking adventure, we follow the world-famous and challenging W route carrying only daypacks, with accommodations including a comfortable base camp and two nights of camping. We’ll hike to the foot of the granite spires that give this park its name; explore the shorelines of Nordenskjold, Pehoe, and Grey Lakes; climb deep into French Valley; get to know the local flora and fauna and even get up close and personal with a calving glacier. Each night at our lodging accommodations we’ll share the day’s stories over hearty and delicious meals. It’s an unforgettable Patagonia hiking trip that should definitely be on your bucket list.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Patagonia hiking trip is different depending upon the group, other trips in the area, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Your Patagonian Adventure Begins!
You’ll be picked-up from your hotel or the airport in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales (depending on your preferred flight) and driven to the basecamp located in the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. For guests coming from Punta Arenas, we’ll stop in Puerto Natales, a small town on the shores of “Seno de Ultima Esperanza,” where we enjoy a hearty local lunch.
The journey is scenic and highly atmospheric, featuring many wild birds and wonderful Patagonian landscapes. The day ends with our arrival and overnight stay at our basecamp, nestled in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, with a prime view of the majestic Torres. Sunset is usually around 11 PM during the summer months, meaning that there will still be enough daylight for you to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanacos and snow-peaked, mountainous horizon once you arrive.
Los Cuernos – Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
We will begin our trek with a pleasant walk along the sinuous Cuernos Trail, which meanders beside the beautiful Lake Nordenskjold. During this warm-up walk, we will have the opportunity to admire the park’s exquisite flora and fauna as we enjoy the magnificent views of the park’s central lakes and the Paine’s Horns—majestic, black, horn-like peaks of slate atop gray granite, which crown the center of the Massif. The trek ends at Refugio Los Cuernos, a small mountain refuge located by the shores of Lake Nordenskjold. Alternatively, the trek ends at Domo el Francés, located between Cuernos and Italiano camping sites, with an amazing view of Lake Nordenskjöld. The evening will be free for relaxing and enjoying dinner.
Prior to departing for the trek, you will be asked to remove your luggage from your dome accommodations since you will not be returning to basecamp until day 4. Luggage will be stored inside the secure storage dome and will be placed inside a new dome upon your return.
Hiking miles: 7.5 / ~5 hours
Total elevation gain: 1,000 ft; Loss: 1,118 ft.
Highest point: 800 ft.
The Paine Massif’s Heart: Valle Frances
After breakfast at the refugio, we will begin the challenging trek to Valle Francés (French Valley), along a steep trail that leads to the very heart of the Paine Massif. How far we go depends on our group’s trekking rhythm. A swifter walk will lead us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the southeast face of the Massif, where we will be treated to fantastic views of the valley. We will then continue to ascend towards the upper section of the valley where we will marvel at the extensive mass of the valley’s geological formations: Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin), and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress).
After our upward trek, we will pause for a picnic and relax a while. This day’s trek will end as we descend through an undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest which will take us to Paine Grande Refugio.
Hiking Miles: 16 / ~10 hours
Total elevation gain: 2,778 ft; Loss: 2,893 ft.
Highest point: 2,250 ft.
Grey Glacier and Lake Pehoe
Today we’ll hike from Paine Grande Refugio, along the shores of Lake Pehoe, to the northern side of the beautiful, glacial Lake Grey. We will feast on a picnic lunch before boarding a boat that sails right to the huge, crystalline facade of Grey Glacier, where we will have plenty of time to marvel at the calving glacier. From the southern end of Grey Glacier, we will transfer back to basecamp.
Due to the temperamental weather of the region, boat trips across the lake may occasionally be restricted during Shoulder Season (October and April) or canceled if the required minimum of 10 passengers is not reached. If either is the case, we will trek up to the sightseeing point and enjoy panoramic views of the glacier instead. Then we will return on foot to Paine Grande and take a catamaran to Pudeto’s dock, where we will be picked up and driven back to the basecamp.
Hiking Miles: 7 / ~4 hours.
Total elevation gain: 1161 ft; Loss: 1,158 ft.
Highest point: 800 ft.
The Big Challenge: Torres del Paine
The goal of our fifth day of our 7-day Trek will be to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres del Paine National Park! We will walk from the basecamp towards Hostería Las Torres before ascending to Ascencio Valley on the Tower’s eastern face. Mountain ridges, beech forests, and small rivers line the scenic walk toward the valley. Our big challenge will come in the form of the steep moraine, a huge mass of boulders that will lead us to that iconic base-view of the Towers—three gigantic, granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After a tough uphill climb, the Towers will eventually come into full view, rising majestically before us, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and our picnic, we’ll backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to basecamp for a well-deserved dinner.
Hiking Miles: 14 / ~9 hours.
Total elevation gain: 3,608 ft.; Loss: 3,608 ft.
Highest point: 3,000 ft.
The Eastern Lakes
This day consists of a less strenuous trail in order to counter the exhausting efforts of the previous day. After breakfast, we will take a leisurely car journey towards Laguna Azul, passing Cañadón Macho—home to many wild guanacos and ñandúes. We will pause occasionally to admire the views of the Patagonian steppe and the towers from a different perspective. At Laguna Azul, we will hike to the lookout point, where we will be treated to a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and granite towers. (Depending on group interest, cycling to Laguna Azul may be an option.)
After lunch, we will drive to the northern shore of Sarmiento Lake where the Fauna Trail begins. As we hike northbound, we will spot an impressive range of Patagonian fauna on the vast plains, including guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús, and maybe the occasional puma print! We will pass the charming Goic lagoon and, after approximately 3 miles of relaxed walking, we will reach the Laguna Amarga Ranger Station, where we will be picked up and driven back to basecamp to celebrate over our farewell dinner.
Hiking Miles: 4 / ~3 hours.
Highest point: 590 ft.
Adiós Torres del Paine!
After another hearty breakfast, we’ll take a scenic ride back to Puerto Natales and on to Punta Arenas. The included transfer arrives at the Punta Arenas Airport at approximately 1:30 PM, in time to catch flights departing later in the afternoon.
Meeting Time & Place
Chile: Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales (airport or hotel)
Punta Arenas: 9 -11 AM or 3 PM
Puerto Natales: 2:30 PM or 6:30 PM
Punta Arenas: 1:30-2 PM (to hotel or for flights after 3 PM)
Puerto Natales: 10:30 AM (to hotel or for flights after 12 PM)
Dates & Prices
|December 4, 11||$2,970|
|December 18, 25||$3,425|
|January 1, 8, 15||$3,425|
|January 22, 29||$2,970|
|February 5, 12, 19, 26||$2,970|
|March 4, 11, 18, 25||$2,970|
|April 1, 8, 15||$1,755|
Per person based on double occupancy in a Standard dome and shared camp tent. Please call for pricing and availability for Superior and Suite domes.
$500, $800, or $1200 per person based on trip price
• Mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
• 2023-2024: $729 (Low Season); $919 (Shoulder Season); $1351 (High Season); $1494 (Peak Season)
*based on standard dome
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Round-trip international and domestic (in Chile) flights
- Pre- and post-trip accommodation and meals
- Single supplement fee (for single occupancy of a dome at the basecamp)
- Ground transport service outside of scheduled times (day 7 early transfer from the basecamp is available), private transfers, or transportation between the El Calafate bus station and the airport (additional fee)
- Any beverages not included with each meal at basecamp or from the bar at basecamp. Non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase from the bar at the basecamp. Beverages are not included while camping adjacent to the refugios (nights 2 & 3).
- Trekking poles (wooden walking sticks are available at camp upon request)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
Our basecamp is the perfect mix of adventure, environmental sustainability, and comfort in the wilderness offering delicious food and wine in a friendly hospitable atmosphere. It is an award-winning geodesic dome hotel that uses only green energy and a sophisticated waste recycling system.
The domes come in four options:
- Standard Dome – 108 sq.ft.; no heat source; queen or two twin beds; shared bathroom (no power source, available in community dome)
- Superior Dome – 250 sq.ft.; propane heat; queen or two twin beds; private bathroom
- Suite Dome – 300 sq.ft.; wood & propane heat; king and/or twin beds; private bathroom
- Suite Loft Dome – 389 sq.ft.; wood & propane heat; king and twin beds; private bathroom
After a day’s trek guests head back to camp to dine and relax in Community Domes and later sleep in their cozy Standard, Superior, or Suite Dome. All domes are immersed in nature, resistant to the Patagonian elements, and have ceiling windows to look up at the starry night sky. (Note that upon return to camp on day 4, you may be accommodated in a different dome than your first night.)
For the two nights spent out on the trail, you’ll be accommodated at a campground adjacent to a refugio with access to the refugio’s shared bathrooms (with hot showers) and dining facilities. Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents are included.
The basecamp provides tasty, innovative high-quality meals using locally-sourced ingredients, fusing Chilean, Altiplanic, Patagonian and international food. Groups eat together in Community domes and meals are a very social affair. Meals at the refugios along the trekking route are simple but plentiful.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to the saturated winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. Also, the influence of the strong marine currents and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field make the weather hard to predict.
In Torres del Paine in spring or early summer, fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rain and possibly snow. Even in summer (December to March), you should come prepared for cold, strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfall. The summer’s average temperature is 52ºF (11ºC) (max: 75ºF/24ºC, min: 35ºF/2ºC).
Rest assured, however, that just as quickly as the weather turns nasty, it can become pleasantly warm! Night-time temperatures will most likely range from 20ºF to 30ºF to (–5°C to -1°C), depending on the weather.
|High °F||Low °F|
|October – December||64°||36°|
|January – March||68°||41°|
|April – June||50°||32°|
|July – September||43°||28°|
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposits
A non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation based on the following:
|Trip Price||Deposit Amount|
|Less than $2000/person||$500/person|
|$2000 – $3999/person||$800/person|
|$4000 or more/person||$1200/person|
Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|90 or more days before your trip||Deposit/person|
|89 to 45 days before your trip||50% of the trip price/person|
|44 to 0 days before your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
A one-time request to change your departure date is possible if 60 days or more prior to the departure and is subject to any rate change if moving to another season or accommodation type.
OARS International and the outfitter Cascada Expediciones reserve the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
Our Patagonia Hiking: Torres del Paine W Trek is run by an affiliate company and arranged through O.A.R.S. International, Inc.
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