Complete guide to the W trek in Torres del Paine, Chile

Mirador Las Torres, W trek
Las Torres at sunrise -highlight of the W trek in Torres del Paine National park

W trek in Torres del Paine National park is a good compromise between short day hikes and long O-circuit. It offers great hiking experience in Patagonia, stunning scenery, good facilities and moderate level of difficulty.

W trek facts

  • Total distance – 100 km/62 miles
  • Required number of days – 4-5 days
  • Starting points – Refugio Paine Grande (ferry from Pudeto)
  • Finishing points – Hotel Las Torres (bus to Laguna Amarga)
  • Highest point – Mirador Las Torres, 900m/2952ft
  • Permits – entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$32 in season, off season (May to September) – CLP 11 000/US$17. Confirmed campsites/hotels booking for an overnight stay.  
  • Accommodation – campsites, refugios (hostels), hotels. In high season (December – February) it’s highly recommended to book accommodation in advance.

Practical information

  • The W-trek is not a circuit, it starts and finishes at different points.
  • Book campsites beforehand and bring a printed booking confirmation and a passport with.
  • Hikers are allowed to camp only at designated campsites.
  • Open fires are not allowed in the park – in the past they caused terrible fires.
  • Hikers are allowed to use camping stoves only at designated areas (campsites).
  • Drinking water can be found all over the park, it says to be good quality. We didn’t use any filters or purification.
  • Puerto Natales is the best place to be based before or after the hike; the town has many hotels, several campsites, restaurants, shops and gear rental places.
  • You can get more information about Torres del Paine including different route options, campsite booking etc. at Erratic Rock  (hostel/gear rental shop) there is a free daily talk at 3pm.
  • Park entrance fee can be paid only in Chilean pesos (CLP), cards and other currencies are not accepted.
  • Most of the trails in Torres del Paine have cut off time after which you’re not allowed to start walking it. Check the times below.

Best time for trekking

Weather-wise November to March are the warmest months, day temperatures are between 12°C and 15°C, nights are between 8°C and 10°C. Wind in Patagonia can be quite hectic, summer months, except February, are quite windy – November and January are the windiest months. As for rain in January, March and April you’ll get the most rainfalls, February is again quite a favorable month with the least rainfalls. Out of weather point of view February would be an ideal month for trekking in Torres del Paine if it wasn’t the busiest months in the park with the most visitors coming here. For more weather and season details go here.

Scenery in Torres del Paine National park
Stunning mountains in Torres del Paine National park

Guided tour vs independent trek

Independent trek

Pros 

  • The W-trek has a lot of infrastructure; designated campsites with good facilities, hotels with restaurants and small shops – surviving is not a problem. 
  • The trail is well marked; many signs, maps and people – you won’t get lost here.
  • Independent trek is cheaper.

Cons

  • You have to plan the hike, book campsites etc.
  • Walking with a loaded backpack.
  • Setting a campsite; pitching tent, cooking, packing after a long walking day all by yourself. It’s not necessarily a disadvantage we love doing it but if you’re not a seasoned hiker it might be a pain.

Guided tour

Pros

  • Easy – no arrangements, bookings, gear rental etc. your tour company will do everything for you.
  • Walking with a day-pack.
  • No cooking, pitching and breaking down tent etc.

Cons

  • Takes away adventurous part of the hike.
  • More expensive.

W-trek cost

  • Transport – bus Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine  – CLP 15 000/US$23*, return. Catamaran Pudeto – Paine Grande – CLP 18 000/US$28, one way. Bus Hotel Las Torres – Laguna Amarga (optional) – CLP 3000/US$5. 
  • Entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$32 in season, off season (May to September) – CLP 11 000/US$17.
  • Accommodation – campsites between CLP 5000-13000/US$8-20; refugios (hostels) – between US$60 and US$80 per bed; hotels between US$130 and US$350 for a double room. Note! There is only one free campsites on the W-trek – Italiano campsite.
  • Food – cooking your own food – US$10 per day per person; eating at the park restaurants – between CLP 11 000/US$17 and CLP 16 000/US$25 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$20 and CLP 20 000/US$30 pp. per day, depending on what you rent. At most paid campsites you can rent a tent, mat, sleeping bag but it’s more expensive than in the town.
  • * You can check up-to-date currency conversion here.

Guided W trek tour prices start from US$1200 it includes accommodation (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 but it’s much more comfortable and easy – you don’t camp, sleep every day in bed, have ready meals, walk with a day-pack etc. Eco camps and hotels in the park are quite pricey that pushes tour prices up a lot.

W trek distances

  • Paine Grande – Campsite Grey – 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

Packing for Torres del Paine

All the details and tips on packing for hiking and camping in Torres del Paine you’ll find in this post. ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Campsites on the W

The campsites on the W-trek belong to three different companies; CONAF (the National Forest Corporation) – free campsites – campsites Italiano and Torres (closed for 2018/19 season); Vertice Patagonia – paid campsites – Grey and Paine Grande; Fantástico Sur – paid campsites – Las Torres, Los Cuernos, Frances and Chileno.

Paid campsites have better facilities and are easier to book as there are more camping spots than at free campsites.

Free campsites, CONAF

Italiano, Valle Frances, opened from October to April.

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – no
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – no
  • Tables, benches – no
  • Shop – no
  • Restaurant – no

Torres, closest to Las Torres, CLOSED FOR 2018/2019 season!!!

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – no
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – no
  • Tables, benches – no
  • Shop – no
  • Restaurant – no

Paid campsites, Vertice Patagonia

Grey, Grey glacier, max 60 people, opened all year, CLP 5000/US$8 pp.

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – yes
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – yes
  • Tables, benches – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Restaurant – yes

Paine Grande, Pehoé lake, max 200 people, opened all year, CLP 6000/US$ 9.30 pp.

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – yes
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – yes
  • Tables, benches – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Restaurant – yes

Paid campsites, Fantastico Sur

Las Torres, Hotel Las Torres, 150 camping spots, opened September – April, CLP 13 000/US$20 pp.

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – yes
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – yes
  • Tables, benches – no
  • Shop – yes
  • Restaurant – yes

Los Cuernos, Nordenskjold lake, 50 camping spots, opened September – April, CLP 13 000/US$20 pp.  

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – yes
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – yes
  • Tables, benches – no
  • Shop – no
  • Restaurant – yes

Francés, Nordenskjold lake, 1 hour walk from Los Cuernos, 50 camping spots, opened October – April, CLP 13 000/US$20 pp.

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – yes
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – no
  • Tables, benches – no
  • Shop – no
  • Restaurant – no

Chileno, for 2018/19 season the closest campsite to Las Torres, 50 camping spots, opened October – April, CLP 13 000/US$20 pp.

  • Toilet – yes
  • Shower – yes
  • Running water – yes
  • Electricity – yes
  • Tables, benches – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Restaurant – yes
W trek campsites, Torres del Paine
Campsites on W trek, Torres del Paine, Patagonia

Booking campsites on the W trek

All the campsites can be booked online; book CONAF (they are still implementing new booking system as for August 2018 it doesn’t work yet); book Vertice Patagonia; book Fantastico Sur. Print your booking confirmation and take it with.

If CONAF online booking system doesn’t work you can book free campsite Italiano at their office in Puerto Natales, Manuel Baquedano st. 847. 

How to get to Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales

The W trek starts at refugio/campsite Paine Grande to get there from Puerto Natales;

  1. Take a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine. The journey to Pudeto with one stop at Laguna Amarga takes 3 hours. Price CLP 15 000/US$30 return pp.                
  2. Get off at Laguna Amarga entrance (first stop) to pay the park entrance feeCLP 21 000/US$32.
  3. Get back on the bus.
  4. Get off at Pudeto (second stop). Buy catamaran ticket (one way ticket the trek finishes at different place). 
  5. Take the catamaran (ferry) from Pudeto to Paine Grande. The ride takes about 30 minutes. Price CLP 18 000/US$28 one way. Note! In high season January – February the catamaran might go more often.                                                 
W trek map, Torres del Paine, Chile
W trek route map + ferry route from Pudeto to Paine Grande + bus route from Hotel Las Torres to Laguna Amarga

Download W-trek-map.

W trek – 5-day itinerary

Day 1. Puerto Natales – Grey campsite, 11km

Puerto Natales – bus – Pudeto – ferry – Paine Grande – Grey glacier, 11km/6,8 miles

Cost; bus – CLP 15 000/US$30 (return), entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$32, ferry – CLP 18 000/US$28 (one way), camping at Grey campsite – CLP 5000/US$8.

Highlights

  • Pehoe lake
  • Grey lake
  • Grey glacier

Challenges

  • Several ascends and descends on the way between Paine Grande and Grey campsite.

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 to pay park entrance fee. Tip! Try to be among the first people at the office not to wait for too long you still have to get back on the bus. After paying the fee, getting tickets and maps get back on the bus that goes to Pudeto.

10.30 – get off the bus at Pudeto, go to the ferry ticket office to buy a ticket to Paine Grande and find out about the departure time. Buy one way ticket you’ll finish the trek at a different entrance. Tip! If you have time before the departure. about go to waterfall

11.00 – get on the ferry to Paine Grande.

11.30 – get off the ferry at Paine Grande. Here you have to options; to camp and Paine Grande and walk to Grey glacier with a day pack or to walk to the glacier and camp at Grey campsite. If you camp at Paine Grande you’ll walk to the glacier with a day-pack but you’ll have less time to walk around and to go to the distant glacier view-points. If you camp at Grey campsite you’ll have more time to explore the area but you’ll have to walk with your backpack to and back to Paine Grande.

11.30 – start walking toward Grey glacier, 11km, it’ll take you between 3 and 4 hours.

15.30-16.00 – arrive at Grey campsite, pitch your tent, have lunch.

17.00 – walk around the campsite, go to the lake.  You can leave your stuff in the tent but we’d suggest to take valuables e.g. camera, money with. 

18.00-19.00 – get back to the campsite, have dinner, rest.

Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Pudeto – catamaran pier, Torres del Paine

Day 2. Grey campsite – Paine Grande, 20km, 7 hours

Grey campsite – glacier Grey view-point – Grey campsite – Paine Grande,  20km/12,4 miles

Cost; camping at Paine Grande – CLP 6000/US$9.

Highlights

  • Grey glacier
  • Grey lake
  • Pehoe lake

Challenges

  • Steep ascend to Grey glacier view-point
  • Steep descend back to Grey campsite
  • Several ascends and descends on the way from Grey to Paine Grande campsite

7.00 – get up, have breakfast.

8.00 – start walking towards Paso campsite, to the view-points. Leave your stuff in the tent at the campsite, take a day-pack with valuable stuff, water and snacks.

9.30-10.00 – you’ll arrive at a look-out, there are several points from where you can see the glacier. From here we’d suggest to start walking back you still have to pack your tent and walk to Paine Grande.

11.00-11.30 – arrive back at Grey campsite, pack your tent, have lunch.

12.30 – start walking to Paine Grande.

16.30-17.00 – arrive at Paine Grande, pitch your tent, walk around.

19.00 – make dinner, rest.

Grey glacier, Torres del Paine
Grey glacier from the view point, W trek

Day 3. Paine Grande – Italiano/Frances campsite, 20km, 8 hours

Paine Grande – Italiano campsite – Mirador Frances – Mirador Britanico (in good weather) – Italiano campsite/Frances campsite, 20 km/12,4 miles

Cost; camping at Italiano – free, camping at Frances – CLP 13 000/US$20

Highlights

  • Skotsberg lake
  • French Valley
  • Mirador Frances
  • Mirador Britanico

Challenges

  • Steep ascend to Mirador Britanico from Italiano campsite
  • Steep descend back from the Mirador to the campsite

6.00-7.00 – get up, make breakfast, pack.

8.00 – start walking towards Italiano campsite – 7,6 km, 2,5 hours.

10.30 – arrive at Italiano campsite, leave your big backpack at the office and walk to Mirador Frances – 2km, 1 hour.

11.30 – arrive at Mirador Frances, rest, have lunch/snacks. If the weather is good and you feel strong continue walking towards Mirador Britanico – 3,5 km, 2 hours.

13.30 – arrive at Mirador Britanico, rest, enjoy the view.

14.00 – start heading back to Italiano campsite – 5,5 km, 2-3 hours.

16.30 – arrive at Italiano. If you camp here start pitching your tent, have lunch. The rest of the day you can relax, read etc. If you camp at Frances you still have 2 km, 30 min. to go.

Skotsberg lake, Torres del Paine
Skotsberg lake, Torres del Paine

Day 4. Italiano/Frances – Chileno campsite, 21km, 8 hours

Italiano/Frances campsite – Los Cuernos – Chileno campsite, 21km/13 miles

Cost; camping at Chileno – CLP 13 000/US$20.

Staying at Chileno is currently the only option if you want to see the sunrise at Mirador Las Torres. Free campsite Torres that is just 800m away is closed in 2018/19 season for maintenance. From Chileno to the Mirador is 2,5-3 hours walk which means you have to start at 3.00-4.00 am in summer as the sunrise is between 5.30 (December) and 7.00 (February).

Highlights

  • Nordenskjold lake

Challenges

  • Several ascends and descends on the way to Chileno campsite

7.00 – get up, breakfast, packing.

8.00 – start walking towards Los Cuernos – 5km, 2 hours.

10.00 – arrive at Los Cuernos, stop for rest and snacks. Continue walking towards Chileno campsite – 15km, 5,5 hours.

15.30 – arrive at Chileno, pitch tent, walk around, rest.

18.00 – make dinner, rest.

W trek, Torres del Paine, Patagonia
Scenery on the W trek, Torres del Paine, Patagonia

Day 5. Chileno  – Mirador Las Torres – Puerto Natales, 14km, 5h30min.

Chileno campsite – Mirador Las Torres – Hotel Las Torres – bus/walk – Laguna Amarga – bus – Puerto Natales, 14km/8,6 miles

Cost; bus Hotel Las Torres – Laguna Amarga – CLP 3000/US$5, bus Laguna Amarga – Puerto Natales – paid (if you bough return ticket in Natales).

Highlights

  • Las Torres – three sharp mountain peaks and the lagoon.

Challenges

  • Long and steep ascend to Mirador Las Torres
  • Long and steep descend to Hotel Las Torres

4.00-5.00 (depending on sunrise time) – get up, start going up to the Mirador – 4km, 2h15min.

6.15-7.15 – arrive at the Mirador. Enjoy sunrise, spend some time resting, taking photos, exploring the area.

8.00 – start going down to Chileno – 4km, 1h30min.

9.30 – arrive at Chileno, get your stuff, start descending towards Hotel Las Torres – 5,5km, 1h30min.

11.00 – arrive at Hotel Las Torres, from here you can catch a shuttle bus to Laguna Amarga (confirm departure time at the hotel) or walk – 7km, 2 hours.

14.00-14.30 – catch a bus from Laguna Amarga to Puerto Natales. We’d recommend to check bus timetable at the park office at the beginning of the trek.

16.30 – arrive at Puerto Natales.

Sunrise at Las Torres
Sunrise at Las Torres, last day of the W trek

W trek – 4-day itinerary

If for some reason your time in Torres del Paine is limited you can walk the W in 4 days.

Day 1. Puerto Natales – Grey glacier – Paine Grande, 22km, 6 hours

Puerto Natales – bus – Pudeto – ferry – Paine Grande – Grey glacier – Paine Grande, 22km/13,6 miles

Cost; bus – CLP 15 000/US$30 (return), entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$32, ferry – CLP 18 000/US$28 (one way), camping at Paine Grande – CLP 6000/US$9.

Highlights

  • Pehoe lake
  • Grey lake
  • Grey glacier

Challenges

  • Several ascends and descends on the way between Paine Grande and Grey campsite.

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 to pay park entrance fee.

10.30 – get off the bus at Pudeto, go to the ferry ticket office to buy a ticket to Paine Grande.

11.00 – get on the ferry to Paine Grande.

11.30 – get off the ferry at Paine Grande.

11.30-12.00 – pitch your. Leave your stuff in the tent, take only valuables, water and snacks.

12.00 – start walking to the glacier – 11km, 2h30min.

14.30 – arrive at refugio Grey, spend some time walking around.  If you have time go to one of the nearest view points. Remember the stretch between Grey campsite and Paine Grande closes at 4pm after that time you’re not allowed to start walking so make sure you start heading back before.

Before 16.00 – start walking back to Paine Grande. In summer it gets dark after 9pm in Patagonia, on the way back you’ll have enough time to enjoy the view and take some photos don’t wast time on that on the way to the glacier.

18.00 – 19.00 – arrive at Paine Grande, have dinner, rest.

From the second day follow the 5-day itinerary from Day 3.

Puerto Natales accommodation

Puerto Natales is not a big place but it’s quite geared for tourists, here you can find;

  • Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Campsites
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Supermarkets
  • Shops
  • Farmacies
  • Gear rental places
  • ATMs

There are many accommodation options in the town on different budget from campsites to fancy guest houses and apartments, here are our suggestions

Looking for a budget accommodation – Refugio Hoshken might be a good option for you! They have dormitories and double rooms with shared bathroom. Nice, clean and very social place, great for solo travelers. The hostel features wi-fi, hot shower, shared kitchen, heating, garden. laundry service etc. Breakfast included.

Hostal Treehouse Patagonia  – super nice and cozy place in middle price range, they have double rooms and dorm beds. Dormitory has only 4 beds if you’re a family or a group of friends you can have the whole room for yourself. Very comfortable, neat and clean with good facilities; hot shower, heater, wi-fi, fully quipped kitchen, located in the center. The kitchen here is awesome; wood stove, wooden furniture and all you need for cooking – a great place to chill especially on a rainy day. Good continental breakfast is included in the room price.

What can be better than checking into a cozy room after a week of hiking and camping in the wild!? If you’re not on a very tight budget Toore Patagonia is a great place to consider their bungalows look very inviting and have good facilities; private bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, wi-fi, big bed, heating etc. The outside garden with BBQ is a great place to relax and celebrate the end of the trek with wine.

Hostal Treehouse Patagonia, Puerto Natales, Chile
Hostal Treehouse Patagonia, Puerto Natales, Chile. Photo; booking.com

Gear rental prices in Puerto Natales

Recommended books and guidebooks

In the last two years rules and regulations in Torres del Paine changed quite a lot if you buy a trekking guide book make sure it’s 2017/2018 edition.

Related posts

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Complete guide to the W trek in Torres del Paine National park, Patagonia, Chile. #wtrek #torresdelpaine #hiking

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