The O circuit in Torres del Paine is a real hiking adventure that offers incredible scenery and moderate physical challenge. You get an opportunity to explore one of the most remote and beautiful areas of South America. The trek is a great combination of wild experience and good infrastructure; the route is well-marked, there are several ranger stations on the way and designated campsites with basic facilities. The O trek is one of the best hikes in Patagonia.
The O circuit overview
- Distance – 120 km/74 miles.
- Required number of days – 6-8 days.
- Starting and finishing point – Hotel Las Torres (Laguna Amarga entrance).
- Highest point – John Gardner pass – 1220m/4000ft.
- Permits – no special permits needed, the park entrance fee is paid at the gate. Campsites booking is required for multi-day hikes.
- Accommodation – campsites, refugios (hostels), and hotels.
Practical information for the O trek
Park entrance fees can be paid only in Chilean pesos, no other currencies or credit cards are accepted.
The O circuit is closed from the 1st of April to the 30th of September.
The O trek can be walked only counterclockwise.
Hikers are allowed to camp only at designated campsites – wild camping is prohibited in the park.
Campsites on the route must be booked beforehand.
Take printed booking confirmation and passport with on the trek.
Open fires are not allowed in Torres del Paine.
Using a camping stove is allowed only at designated areas at the campsites.
Drinking water can be found throughout the park (rivers, creeks, streams), it’s claimed to be good quality. We didn’t use any filters or purification.
You can get more information on Torres del Paine before the trek attending a daily free talk at 3 pm at Erratic Rock hostel/gear shop.
Most of the trails have closing time if you arrive at the start of a trail after the indicated cut off time you won’t be allowed to continue walking any further.
|Trails (stretches)||Distance||Required time||Closing time|
|Paine Grande – Campsite Italiano||7.5km/4.6mi||2h30min||6.30pm|
|Campsite Italiano – Mirador Britanico||5.4km/3.3mi||3h||3pm|
|Campsite Italiano – Campsite Frances||2km/1.2mi||30min||7pm|
|Campsite Italiano – Los Cuernos||5km/3mi||2h30min||5pm|
|Los Cuernos – Hotel Las Torres||11.6km/7.2mi||4h30min||–|
|Hotel Las Torres – Refugio Chileno||5km/3.1mi||2h||–|
|Refugio Chileno – Campsite Torres||3km/1.8mi||1h30min||6pm|
|Campsite Torres – Mirador Las Torres||1.4km/0.8mi||1h||6pm|
|Hotel Las Torres – Campsite Serron||13km/8mi||4h||–|
|Campsite Serron – Campsite Dickson||18km/11mi||6h||3pm|
|Campsite Dickson – Campsite Perros||12km/7.4mi||4h30min||5pm|
|Campsite Los Perros – Campsite Paso||8km/5mi||6h||2pm|
|Campsite Paso – Refugio Grey||7km/4.3mi||5h||3pm|
|Refugio Grey – Paine Grande||11km/6.8mi||3h30min||4pm|
Don’t forget about travel insurance!
The O-circuit is a multi-day trek with some parts through remote and difficult to access areas of the National park – getting travel insurance for this route is a good idea. Any outdoor activity involves the risk of getting an injury, losing or breaking gear, and other unexpected situations that can spoil your trek. It’s always advisable to have travel insurance that can cover you in case if something goes wrong. Of course, my travel insurance didn’t help me to recover it but it did cover the cost of new gear and clothes.
Out of many insurance companies, we recommend World Nomads, they work all over the world and specialize in outdoor activities like hiking. Torres del Paine is one of the top destinations World Nomads cover which means they work with local companies quite a lot and will be able to resolve a case without any complications. Another great thing about World Nomads is that you can buy an insurance policy online while traveling (it takes a couple of minutes), their policy is very flexible it can cover the whole period of your trip or only the hiking part of it, even if it’s just one or two days. Get a quote right now!
Note! Always make sure you carefully read the Terms and Conditions part.
Joining a group vs hiking independently
- It’s much cheaper.
- It’s more adventurous.
- The route is well-marked and easy to follow; distances, names, altitude profiles, etc. you don’t need a guide to show you the way.
- In season there are many hikers on the trail even if you walk alone you won’t be lonely.
- You have to plan the hike, book campsites, buy food, etc.
- You’ll be carrying a heavy backpack for a week.
- Setting a campsite by yourself; pitching tent, cooking, packing/unpacking after a long walking day. We love doing it but for some people, it’s more pain than fun.
- Easy – no arrangements, bookings, gear rental etc. your tour company will do everything for you.
- Walking with a day-pack, your luggage will be transferred from campsite to campsite.
- No cooking, pitching tent, packing etc.
- Quite a bit more expensive.
- Takes away the adventurous part of the hike.
Suggested tours and activities in Patagonia
- Torres del Paine Full Circuit trek (G-Adventures)
- Hike Patagonia in-depth (G-Adventures)
- National Geographic journey. Explore Chile & Argentina (G-Adventures)
If you like hiking and wilderness you might enjoy exploring walking routes in El Chalten, Argentina. There are several day-hikes and multi-day routes that can be done independently.
Cost of the O Circuit, Torres del Paine
Transport – bus Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine – CLP 20 000/US$25, return. Bus Hotel Las Torres – Laguna Amarga (optional), return – CLP 6000/US$10 (each way paid separately).
Entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$26 in season, CLP 11 000/US$14 – offseason (May to September).
Accommodation – campsites – between CLP 5000-13000/US$6-16. Note! There are only two free campsites on the O-trek; Italiano and Paso. Refugios (hostels) cost between US$60 and US$80 per bed. Hotels between US$130 and US$350 for a double room.
Food – cooking your own food – US$8-10 per day per person; eating at the park restaurants – between CLP 11 000/US$14 and CLP 16 000/US$20 per meal.
Gear rental (optional) – to rent camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, cooking stove etc.) in Puerto Natales will cost you between CLP 13 000/US$16 and CLP 20 000/US$25 pp. per day, depending on what you rent.
Gear rental prices in Puerto Natales
|Gear item||Rental price, per day in USD|
You can rent camping gear (tent, mat, sleeping bag) at the paid campsites in the park but it’s more expensive than in Puerto Natales. To rent camping gear at Vertice Patagonia campsites will cost you per day; tent (2 people) – CLP 20 000/US$25; sleeping bag – CLP 14 000/US$18; sleeping mat – CLP 5000/US$6. A good thing about renting at campsites is that you don’t carry camping gear from place to place which makes your backpack significantly lighter.
Guided O circuit tours start at US$2000 per person it includes accommodation (usually more comfortable option e.g. Eco camps or hotels), transportation, guide, park entrance fee, ferry ticket, luggage transfer, all meals, gear (sleeping bag) if needed. It’s quite a bit more expensive than an independent trek but it’s much more comfortable and easy.
Check here the current conversion.
Where to stay before and after the trek
Puerto Natales is probably the best place to be based before and after the trek. It’s the closest town to the park, tourist infrastructure here is quite good – many hotels and hostels, a couple of gear shops, rental places, restaurants, tour companies, and one or two supermarkets. You can get there by bus or hitchhiking from different places in Patagonia.
In Puerto Natales, you can find hotels, hostels, campsites, restaurants, supermarkets, gear rental places, pharmacies, ATMs and an information office.
Places to stay in Puerto Natales
- Budget | Hostal Backpacker Cortes | Yellow Plum Tent House | Refugio Hoshken | Forte Patagonia |
- Middle price | Hostal Treehouse Patagonia | Wild Hostel | Puma House | Pire Mapu Cottage |
- Luxury | Toore Patagonia | Weskar Lodge |
Campsites on the O circuit
The campsites on the O-trek belong to three companies; CONAF (the National Forest Corporation) – free campsites – campsites Paso, Italiano, and Torres (closed for 2019/2020 season); Vertice Patagonia – paid campsites – Dickson, Los Perros, Grey, and Paine Grande; Fantástico Sur – paid campsites – Serron, Las Torres, Los Cuernos, Frances and Chileno.
Paid campsites have better facilities and are easier to book, there are more camping spots than at the free campsites.
How to book campsites on the O circuit
CONAF (free) campsites on the O trek
It looks like 2019/2020 season online booking of CONAF campsites finally works. Though as for November 2019 there are very few open spots available for the months of December – January. If you’re planning to do the circuit in the peaks season I strongly recommend booking free campsites a long time beforehand.
They might keep some spots for booking through the office in Puerto Natales, Manuel Baquedano st. 847. If you’re desperate and can’t find anything available online I’d recommend checking out at the office you might be lucky.
Fantastico Sur (paid) campsites on the O Circuit
Vertice Patagonia (paid) campsites on the O route
Getting to Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales
The O circuit starts at Hotel Las Torres (Laguna Amarga entrance), to get there from Puerto Natales;
Step 1. Take a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (Laguna Amarga). It takes about 2h30min. Price CLP 10 000/US$12 one way pp. Keep your bus ticket for the way back.
|Bus Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine||Bus 1||Bus 2|
|Leaves Puerto Natales||7.30am||2.30pm|
|Arrives at Laguna Amarga||9.45am||4.45pm|
Step 2. Get off at Laguna Amarga entrance, go to the park office to pay the entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$32 and get a map.
Step 3. Take another bus from Laguna Amarga to Hotel Las Torres (the starting point of the O), the departure time is linked to buses from Puerto Natales. Price CLP 3000/US$4, takes 10 min. As an option, you can walk this stretch, 7km, 2 hours.
Getting back from Torres del Paine (Hotel Las Torres) to Puerto Natales
Step 1. Take a shuttle bus from Hotel Las Torres to Laguna Amarga – CLP 3000/US$5 or walk this stretch. Check for departure time at the hotel reception.
Step 2. Take a bus from Laguna Amarga to Puerto Natales.
|Bus Torres del Paine – Puerto Natales||Bus 1||Bus 2|
|Leaves Laguna Amarga||2.30pm||7.45pm|
|Arrives in Puerto Natales||5pm||10pm|
Distances and times on the O Circuit
- Laguna Amarga – Hotel Las Torres (the starting point) – 7km/4,3 miles, walking – 2 hours or by bus – 15min.
- Hotel Las Torres – Serón campsite – 13km/8 miles, 3 hours
- Campsite Serón – Campsite Dickson – 18km/11 miles, 6 hours
- Campsite Dickson – Campsite Los Perros – 11,8km/7,3 miles, 4,5 hours
- Campsite Los Perros – Campsite Paso – 8km/5 miles, 6 hours, John Gardner pass, steep ascend.
- Campsite Paso – Campsite Grey – 7km/4,3 miles, 5 hours, steep descent
- Campsite Grey – Paine Grande – 11km/6,8 miles, 3,5 hours
- Paine Grande – Campsite Italiano – 7,6km/4,7 miles, 2.5 hours
- Campsite Italiano – Mirador Britanico – 5,5km/3,4 miles, 3 hours
- Campsite Italiano – Campsite Frances – 2km/1,2 miles, 30 min.
- Campsite Italiano – Refugio Los Cuernos – 5,5km/3,4 miles, 2.5 hours
- Los Cuernos – Hotel Las Torres, 11km/6,8 miles, 4.5 hours
- Los Cuernos – Campsite Chileno – 15km/9,3 miles, 5,5 hours
- Hotel Las Torres – Campsite Chileno – 5,5km/3,4 miles, 2 hours
- Campsite Chileno – Campsite Torres – 3,2km/2 miles, 1.5 hours
- Campsite Torres – Mirador Las Torres – 0,8km/0,4 miles, 45 minutes
- Mirador Las Torres – Hotel Las Torres (descend) – 9,5km/6 miles, 3 hours
Torres del Paine, the O circuit – 7-day itinerary
Day 1. Puerto Natales – Serón campsite, 13km
Puerto Natales – bus – Laguna Amarga – bus – Hotel Las Torres – Serón campsite, 13km/8 miles, 3 hours bus + 3 hours walk
Cost: bus Puerto Natales – Laguna Amarga – CLP 10 000/US$12, entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$27, bus Laguna Amarga – Hotel Las Torres – CLP 3000/US$4 (one way), camping at Serón – CLP 16 000/US$21.
- Beautiful scenery; mountains, forest, Paine river, guanacos, and many birds.
- It would be an easy walk if it wasn’t for heavy backpacks loaded with gear and food for 7 days.
7.00-7.30 – catch a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National park.
9.30-9.45 – get off at the first stop Laguna Amarga; register, pay the entrance fee, get a map. Tip! Try to be among the first people at the office otherwise you’ll wait in a queue for a while.
10.00 – catch a bus to Hotel Las Torres. Confirm departure time at the office.
10.15 – get off the bus at Hotel Las Torres, the starting point of the O trek and begin the walk towards Serón campsite. Stop for lunch/snack at Las Torres or on the way.
13.30-14.00 – arrive at Serón campsite, pitch your tent, walk around, chill.
Day 2. Serón campsite – Dickson campsite, 18km
Serón – Guarderia Coiron – Dickson campsite, 18km/11 miles, 6 hours
Cost: camping at Dickson – CLP 5500/US$7.
- Our friends saw a puma in the morning just a few hundred meters from the campsite.
- Paine Lake
- Dickson Lake
- Walking through an opened windy area between Serón and Coirón.
7.00 – get up, make breakfast, pack.
8.00 – start walking towards Dickson.
10.30 – arrive at Guardería Coirón – 8,5km. Here you show your permit (booking) and register in the park book. You can have lunch here – there are tables and benches.
11.00 – continue the walk to Dickson – 9,5km.
14.00 – arrive at Dickson campsite.
Day 3. Dickson campsite – Paso campsite, 20km
Dickson campsite – Los Perros campsite – John Gardner pass – Paso campsite, 20km/12,3 miles, 10 hours.*
*You can split this day into two; stay at Los Perros campsite one night and next day continue over the pass to Paso.
Cost: camping at Paso – free.
- Los Perros lake and glacier
- View over Grey glacier from Gardner pass
- John Gardner pass – a steep and very long ascent, about 900m.
7.00 – get up, quick breakfast, packing. It’s important to start the day early first because it’s a very long walking day and second because the trail between Los Perros and Paso campsites closes at 14.00 if you arrive after that time you’ll have to stay at Los Perros.
8.00 – start walking towards Los Perros campsite – 12km/7,5 miles, 4,5 hours, the ascend starts from Dickson and continues all the way till the top of the pass.
12.00-12.30 – arrive at Los Perros campsite. If you’re fine with the time you can stop for lunch here and continue after, if you arrived after 13.00 we’d suggest walk past the rangers’ office first and then stop somewhere for lunch to make sure you’ll be allowed to continue. From Los Perros the ascend is getting steeper, you start climbing John Gardner pass – 900m up.
14.30-15.00 – arrive at the top of John Gardner pass, spend some time enjoying the view over Grey glacier – it’s fantastic. Prepare warm clothes; gloves and beany – it’s very windy on the top.
15.30 – start descend to Paso campsite.
17.00-17.30 – arrive at Paso campsite. It was a tough walking day with amazing scenery!
Day 4. Paso campsite – Paine Grande, 18km
Paso campsite – Refugio/campsite Grey – Paine Grande, 18km/11 miles, 8 hours
Cost: camping at Paine Grande – CLP 6500/US$8.
- Grey glacier
- Grey lake
- Two suspension bridges
- Pehoe lake
- A steep descent to Grey campsite
- Several ascents and descents on the way from Grey to Paine Grande campsite
7.00 – get up, have breakfast, pack.
8.00 – start walking towards Grey campsite – 7km/4,3 miles, 4,5 hours, steep descend.
12.30 – arrive at Grey campsite, have lunch, rest.
13.30 – continue walking to Paine Grande – 11km/6,8 miles, 3,5 hours.
17.00 – arrive at Paine Grande, pitch your tent, rest.
Day 5. Paine Grande – Italiano or Frances campsite, 20km
Paine Grande – Italiano campsite – Mirador Frances – Mirador Britanico (in good weather) – Italiano campsite or Frances campsite, 20 km/12,4 miles, 8 hours
Cost; camping at Italiano – free, camping at Frances – CLP 16 000/US$21.
- Skotsberg lake
- French Valley
- Mirador Frances
- Mirador Britanico
- Steep ascent to Mirador Britanico from Italiano campsite
- Steep descent back from the Mirador to the campsite
7.00 – get up, make breakfast, pack.
8.00 – start walking to Italiano campsite – 7,6 km, 2,5 hours.
10.30 – arrive at Italiano campsite, leave your backpack at the office, take the valuable stuff, walk to Mirador Frances – 2km, 1 hour, ascend.
11.30 – arrive at Mirador Frances, rest, have lunch. If the weather is good to continue walking to Mirador Britanico (great views) – 3,5 km, 2 hours, steep ascend.
13.30 – arrive at Mirador Britanico, rest, enjoy the view.
14.00 – start going down to Italiano campsite – 5,5 km, 2-3 hours, descend all the way back.
16.30 – arrive at Italiano. If you stay at Frances it’s about 2 km more – a 30-minutes walk.
Day 6. Italiano/Frances campsite – Chileno campsite, 21km
Italiano/Frances campsite – Los Cuernos – Chileno campsite, 21km/13 miles, 8 hours
Cost: camping at Chileno – CLP 16 000/US$21.
- Nordenskjold lake
- Several ascents and descents on the way to Chileno campsite
7.00 – get up, breakfast, packing.
8.00 – start walking to Los Cuernos – 5km, 2 hours.
10.00 – arrive at Los Cuernos, there is a shop and restaurant here, you can stop for snacks and rest.
10.30 – start walking to Chileno campsite – 15km, 5,5 hours.
15.30 – arrive at Chileno, pitch tent, walk around, rest. If you want to see the sunrise at Mirador Las Torres better go to bed very early you’ll have to get up at 4.00-5.00 to walk all the way up in time.
Day 7. Chileno campsite – Mirador Las Torres – Puerto Natales, 14km
Chileno campsite – Mirador Las Torres – Hotel Las Torres – bus or walk – Laguna Amarga – bus – Puerto Natales, 14km/8,6 miles, 5h30min.
Cost: bus Hotel Las Torres – Laguna Amarga – CLP 3000/US$4, bus Laguna Amarga – Puerto Natales – CLP 10000/US$12.
- Sunrise at Las Torres – definitely one of the main highlights of the trek.
- Very early get up
- A long and steep ascent to Mirador Las Torres
- A long and steep descent to Hotel Las Torres
4.00-5.00 (depending on sunrise time) – get up, start going up to the Mirador – 4km, 2h15min. Leave your stuff at the campsite, take only valuables and a camera.
6.15-7.15 – arrive at the Mirador. Enjoy the sunrise, walk around, take photos, snack.
8.00 – start descending back to Chileno – 4km, 1h30min.
9.30 – arrive at Chileno, pack your stuff, start going down to Hotel Las Torres – 5,5km, 1h30min.
11.00 – arrive at Hotel Las Torres, catch a bus to Laguna Amarga (confirm the departure time at the hotel) or walk – 7km, 2 hours.
14.00-14.30 – get on a bus from Laguna Amarga to Puerto Natales. Check the bus timetable at the park office.
16.30 – arrive in Puerto Natales.
Best time for hiking the Circuit
Patagonian summer from December to February is the warmest time with day temperatures between 12°C and 15°C when the night temperature is between 9°C and 12°C. November – January, and March get quite a lot of wind – the biggest problem for hiking and camping in Patagonia. February is the least windy summer month. It’s the same with rain out of all summer months February gets the least rainfall.
Out of the weather point of view, February is definitely the best month for trekking in Torres del Paine. The main drawback of hiking in February – the parks are crowded, it’s the busiest month for the park with most visitors coming here. It means you must book campsites long in advance to make sure you get a spot on planned dates. If the campsites on the route are fully-booked you can do one of the alternative multi-day treks in Patagonia e.g. Cerro Castillo Circuit or hike to O’Higgins Glacier if you want to explore a more off the beaten path route.
Items we love taking with on a hike
- Merino Wool Darn Tough Hiker Socks
- Good Rain Poncho
- PETZL – TACTIKKA Headlamp
- Kindle E-book
- Neck Pouch/Passport holder
- Go Pro Hero 7
We have a detailed post on hiking and camping gear for Patagonia where you can find more information.
Recommended books and guidebooks
In the last couple of years regulations in Torres del Paine changed a lot if you buy a trekking guide make sure it’s an updated edition.
If you prefer reading e-books don’t hesitate to join Amazon Kindle Unlimited to get access to thousands of e-books and audiobooks. Even if you don’t have a Kindle device you can read or listen to books on your phone or tablet using a free app. The first 30 days are free.
- Lonely Planet Chile & Easter Island (Travel Guide). Kindle and paperback.
- Classic Hikes of the World; 23 Breathtaking treks by Peter Potterfield. To get some inspiration for future adventures. Hardcover.
- Patagonia on a budget by Matthew Morgante. How to travel Patagonia on US$30 a day. Kindle.
- Chile: Carretera Austral: A guide to one of the world’s most scenic road trips (Bradt Travel Guides). Paperback & Kindle.
- Walking Patagonia by Caspian Ray. Don’t expect a hiking guide, it’s a fiction story about a young guy who went to Patagonia in search of adventure and love.
- To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret by Jedidiah Jenkins. Paperback, Kindle & Audiobook.
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