The Towers - Torres del Paine NP  


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Trekking W circuit Big circuit Trekking 1 day
5 days - Trekking the W circuit

Valle Francés

The W Circuit is named for the shape the trek makes, when you observe it on the map. It is one of the most famous treks in Patagonia. For five days, you walk along the well-marked trails of Torres del Paine National Park while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of Patagonia.

The route is 58 km. in total, and you can choose to sleep in tents or in simple mountain shelters, known as refugios. Each member of the group carries only a small backpack with daily meals and a sleeping bag. All other equipment is transported by horses and porters.

Start: Puerto Natales
End: Puerto Natales
Duration: 5 days
Distance: 58 km.
Difficult: Medium
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Day 1 • Puerto Natales – Refugio Grey.

We pick you up from your accommodation in Puerto Natales early in the morning, and we head to Torres del Paine National Park in private transfer. On the way to the Park, your guide will point out how the landscape changes from the ice field to the Patagonian steppe. You will also see some of the typical fauna of the region.

We arrive to the Grey Lake Sector to commence the first highlight of this program: “Navigation to Grey Glacier.” In a comfortable boat, which takes us from Hostería Grey to Glacier Grey, we reach the glacier’s massive wall of ice measuring about 40 meters high, boasting a variety of striking blue hues.

Throughout the tour, we will observe large icebergs rising up from the lake—within only a few meters distance from the boat—transforming the landscape into a world outside of reality. If we’re lucky, we will see blocks of ice calve and fall into the lake. This tour is, beyond a doubt, the best way to view the front of Grey Glacier.

We complete our navigation very near the glacier, where we will settle into the refugio for our first night. In the afternoon there is time to make some short hikes to observe and enjoy other amazing views of Grey Glacier.

Day 2 • Glacier Grey – Lake Pehoe

We start our first day of hiking, leaving the glacial sector while walking between the Paine Grande (3,050 m) and Grey Lake. Today’s hike will take about 3½ hours. This evening’s lodging is at Refugio Paine Grande, located on beautiful, turquoise Lake Pehoe, with a unique view of the Paine Horns (2,600 m).

Duration: 3½ hrs.
Distance: 11 km.

Day 3 • Lake Pehoe – French Valley – Refugio Cuernos.

Today we visit the famous French Valley. From Refugio Paine Grande, we walk about 2½ hours to Italian camp, the entry point to French Valley. From here the terrain becomes more rugged, because the valley entrance is made up of a glacial moraine consisting of huge boulders. This demanding part of the walk will last about 1½ hours, at which point we will reach stunning views of the valley’s interior. Here, we can appreciate its many walls and granite peaks, which resemble a giant natural amphitheater.

During today’s hike, we will also have wonderful views of Paine Grande (3,050 m), the highest mountain peak with the most hanging glaciers in Torres del Paine National Park. The most famous of these hanging glaciers is the French Glacier. It certainly is an impressive moment when a large block of ice calves and falls deep inside the valley, producing a mighty roar.

After spending some time enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds of French Valley, we head back down and continue along the Horns of Paine (2,600 m) toward our next refugio. After 7-8 hours, we reach our goal for the day, Refugio Los Cuernos, situated on the shore of Lake Nordenskjöld and at the foot of the Principal Horn, rising up into the sky.

Duration: 7-8 hrs.
Distance: 18 km.

Day 4 • Refugio Cuernos – Refugio Chileno

Today we continue walking along Lake Nordenskjöld, between the Horns and Mount Almirante Nieto. During this part of the hike, we start looking eastward, where the mountains become lower and where the wind sometimes produces a show, creating figures in the clouds. This is also an excellent area for viewing the king of the winds, the condor, which nests on vertical walls of the Paine Massif.

Finally, we enter Ascension Valley, the last imaginary line created by the valleys, completing the W on the map. Soon we arrive to Refugio Chileno, where we spend our final night.

Duration: 5 hrs.
Distance: 14 km.

Day 5 • Refugio Chileno – Base of the Torres – Puerto Natales.

Today is a day to take advantage of, by getting up very early to see the highlight of this circuit: “The Towers of Paine” at dawn. We leave the refugio to begin a 7-8 hour hike of medium difficulty, which leads us to the base of the three granite towers.
We continue up through Ascension Valley, for about 1 hour, traversing a relatively mild terrain of peaks and valleys, until we reach the Towers campsite. From here, the trail continues for another hour along a steep slope with stone steps. We then arrive to the foot of the three towers, which rise about 1,000 m vertically, in front of a small glacial lake. Here, we rest and contemplate the imposing Towers at sunrise while enjoying a hot drink.

Afterward, we return along the same path, which will take us to the Laguna Amarga Sector, where our vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Puerto Natales.

Duration: 5½ hrs.
Distance: 15 km.

More Options

Ice hiking and ice climbing: On the first day, it is possible to hike on the Grey Glacier with crampons for about 3 hours. Alternatively, you can choose to do some ice climbing on the glacier. (Both options carry an additional cost.)

Tent or Mountain Shelter (Refugio): During the tour you can choose, to change your accommodation from the refugios to camping in tents. Every night spent in a tent will reduce the price by $5.000 CLP per person/per day. If you chose to sleep in tents, we will provide all the equipment necessary for the climatic conditions of Patagonia.

It is possible to start and finish the trip in Punta Arenas. (Additional costs apply.)


The walks are technically easy. Only day 5 requires strong, stable walking up toward the Base of the Towers, as the trail becomes rocky and requires some big steps. Strong winds can also make some of the hikes more difficult.


The refugios have rooms with 4-8 beds to share with other hikers. They have hot showers and bathrooms are shared.

You will receive a dry bag to store your personal belongings not required during the day’s hike. Porters will transport your full dry bag, which should not exceed 5 kilograms.

Our water supply comes from the rivers and lakes of the areas we visit. In this area of Patagonia, the water is pure and drinkable, without problems.

Climate and Temprerature

Patagonia is known for its changeable weather and high winds. Even the summers can be very cool and rainy. Appropriately warm clothing and equipment are required.


Each participant must bring a backpack with a capacity of 40-50 liters, large enough to carry a sleeping bag, daily food, water and rain gear.

Strong and impervious footwear
Warm clothes
Rain jacket
Rain pants
Cap or wool hat
Clothes to change into
Walking poles
Sandals or something similar (Hiking boots are to be left outside the refugios.)
Sunglasses (optional)
Bilingual guide (Spanish / English), with WFR training, VHF radio and first aid kit.
Private Transfers from Puerto Natales to Lake Grey and from Hostería Las Torres back to Puerto Natales.
4 nights accommodation in the refugios.
Navigation across Grey Lake (one way).
Full board.
Sleeping bags.
Porters and horses for the group’s gear and personal equipment, up to 5 kg each.
Dry bags.

Not Included

Entrance fees for Torres del Paine National Park.
Drinks at dinner.

Groups have a maximum of 8 persons.
It is possible to exceed this maximum for tour operator or family groups.

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