Beautiful scenery in Torres del Paine, Chile
Chile HIKING hiking Patagonia

The complete guide to hiking in Torres del Paine, Chile

Torres del Paine is a very famous and popular national park in southern Patagonia, Chile. Thousands of people come here for trekking every year, as a result, it gets quite crowded during the season. The park has a good infrastructure; well-marked trails, designated campsites, picnic areas, restaurants and shops, ranger posts, etc.

You can come to the park as a day visitor and do short day-hikes or venture to one of the longer routes; the W-trek or the O-circuit and spend trekking here between 5 to 8 days. The highlights of Torres del Paine; Las Torres (three sharp granite peaks), Grey glacier, Pehoe Lake, Salto Grande, Nordenskjold lake – it’s a great place for outdoor, hiking and nature enthusiasts. 

Torres del Paine National park facts

  • The National park was established in 1959.
  • It is located in Southern Patagonia, Chile.
  • The total area of the park – 181 400 ha.
  • It got its name after three granite peaks of the Paine mountain range that look like towers (Torres from Spanish is “tower”).
  • 289 745 people visited Torres del Paine in 2018, 60% of them were foreigners.

Hiking routes in Torres del Paine

The park is huge, with several one-day and multi-day hikes, all trails are well marked and easy to follow. The W-trek and O-circuit start at Hotel Las Torres, 7km from Laguna Amarga (the entrance) to get here from the gate you can take a bus (US$4,4) or walk. 

A diagram with hiking routes in Torres del Paine
Hiking routes in Torres del Paine; day hikes, the W-trek, the O-circuit, and the Q-trek
  • Day hikes – there are many day-hiking trails in Torres del Paine, distances between 5 and 20 km.
  • W-trek – 100km trail, 3 to 5 days to complete. 
  • O-circuit – 134km, a loop that goes around the park, in the Southern part of the park it joins with the W-trek, 7-9 days. Opened – November to March.
  • Q-route – 154km, it’s basically the same as the O-circuit plus 20km extension; from Paine Grande to Administration exit, 8-10 days. Opened – November to March.

If you’d like to visit the park and see most of its attractions but don’t have enough time for trekking you can visit Torres del Paine as a day trip from Puerto Natales. There are several day tours from Puerto Natales including hiking to Mirador Las Torres, Mirador Grey, Valle Frances, and Lago Sarmiento as well as a full day Torres del Paine tour and glacier Grey boat tour.

A map of the hiking trails in Torres del Paine
A map of the hiking routes in Torres del Paine; the W-trek, the O-circuit, the Q-trek.

Download Torres del Paine map.

Which hiking route in to choose?

Depending on how much time you have and what kind of experience you’re seeking for you can choose any of the suggested hiking routes.

Day hikes

Advantages

  • You can walk with a day pack, no need to carry a heavy backpack.
  • Staying in a hotel instead of camping (for camping lovers it might be a disadvantage).
  • You can choose when and what you want to see according to the weather conditions.
  • You can spend more time trying to get a perfect shot or footage.

Disadvantages

  • It’s more expensive, there are no budget hotels inside the park but you still can camp.
  • It takes away a big adventurous part of the hike.
  • You won’t be able to see some remotes parts of Torres del Paine. 

W-trek 

Advantages

  • It’s a good compromise between a day hike and a week circuit, takes between 3 to 4 days to complete, plus the route goes through the more developed part of the park with hotels, restaurants etc.
  • You still have to carry food and gear but only for 3-4 days.
  • If you don’t mind paying more you can even stay in hotels and eat in restaurants. 
  • W-trek can be done as a 5-day fully guided tour from Puerto Natales.

Disadvantages

  • This part of the park is very busy and gets quite crowded in the season you don’t get a chance to get off the beaten trail.
  • There are no free campsites on this route only more private or hotels.

O-circuit

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • You have to carry a heavy backpack with gear, food, and clothes for 7-8 days.
  • If you’re unlucky with the weather it’ll be a very long walk in the pouring rain and strong wind (it can happen anywhere in Patagonia not only in Torres).

Q-trek

Advantages

  • The same as for the O-circuit.
  • You see even more places in the park.

Disadvantages

  • It’s a long hike, you’ll need 8-9 days to complete it – a lot to carry in a backpack.
  • The extension part of the trail is not a circular route, it’s a return trek. The best way to complete this route is to take a catamaran to Paine Grande from Pudeto, CLP 18000/US$28 from there walk the O-circuit and finish with Paine Grande – Administration stretch.
Sunrise at the Mirador Las Torres, Chile
Sunrise at the Mirador Las Torres one of the highlights of hiking in Torres del Paine park

Practical information for hiking in Torres del Paine

There is a CONAF office in Puerto Natales where you can book free campsites and get confirmation or you can book online through the site. The office opened Mon – Thu from 8.30am till midday and from 2.30pm to 5pm; Fri from 8.30am till midday and from 2.30pm to 4pm; Sat., Sun. closed. The office’s located at the corner of Baquedano and Yungay streets, near Erratic rock hostel.

To get more information on Torres del Paine and some practical tips visit daily free talk meeting at 3pm at Erratic Rock hostel, near the CONAF office.

All hiking routes in the park are well-marked and have indications, distances, maps etc.

The O-circuit and Q-trek can be walked only counterclockwise.

The O-circuit (the Q) is opened only from 1st November to 30th March for the 18/19 season.

The W-trek can be walked in any direction.

Most of the trails have a closing time, you won’t be allowed to start walking a stretch after the specified closing time. 

Trails (stretches)DistanceRequired timeClosing time
Paine Grande – Campsite Italiano7.5km/4.6mi2h30min6.30pm
Campsite Italiano – Mirador Britanico5.5km/3.3mi3h3pm
Campsite Italiano – Campsite Frances2km/1.2mi30min7pm
Campsite Italiano – Los Cuernos5km/3mi2h30min5pm
Los Cuernos – Hotel Las Torres11.6km/7.2mi4h30min
Hotel Las Torres – Refugio Chileno5km/3mi2h
Refugio Chileno – Campsite Torres3km/1.8mi1h30min6pm
Campsite Torres – Mirador Las Torres1.4km/0.8mi1h6pm
Hotel Las Torres – Campsite Seron13km/8mi4h
Campsite Seron – Campsite Dickson18km/11mi6h3pm
Campsite Dickson – Campsite Perros12km/7.4mi4h30min5pm
Campsite Perros – Campsite Paso8km/5mi6h2pm
Campsite Paso – Refugio Grey7km/4.3mi5h3pm
Refugio Grey – Paine Grande11km/6.8mi3h30min4pm

If you’re planning to stay for a night inside the park you must book your accommodation (campsite, hotel) beforehand.

Take printed campsites booking confirmation with.

Bring your passport to the park. You’ll need your bookings are made on your passport details. To keep your documents and phone dry on the trek use a waterproof pouch.

There is no/very limited cell phone reception in the park.

Hikers in all the time inside the park must stay on established trails.

Camping is only allowed at designated campsites, wild camping is strictly prohibited.

No open fires are allowed inside the park.

Using a camping stove is allowed only at designated areas, campsites.

Water in the park is drinkable, SteriPen or LifeStraw are optional.

All waste must be carried with you outside the park (some private campsites have rubbish bins).

Travel insurance for hiking in Torres del Paine

Hiking like any outdoor activity involves a risky part with the possibility of getting an injury (even on a day hike) it’s always advisable to have travel insurance that can cover you in case something goes wrong. We’ve done many hikes all over the world and never had any accidents (except one time when I lost my backpack hitchhiking in Patagonia) but it’s always great to know that if something happens you’re covered. 

Out of many insurance companies, we recommend World Nomads, they work all over the world and specialize in outdoor activities like hiking. Torres de 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 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 one or two days. Get a quote right now!

Note! Always make sure you carefully read the Terms and Conditions part.

Torres del Paine entrances and nearest hiking trails

In season (October to April) entrance is from 7am to 10pm; off-season (May to September) – from 8.30am to 5.30pm. There are three entrances to the park (which one to choose depends on your route.

Laguna Amarga. The O-circuit, the W-trek and day hikes (if it’s the closest entrance to your accommodation).  You can start hiking from the entrance or catch another bus that will get you to Las Torres – the official start, 7km. The bus costs CLP 3000/US$4,50 pp.

Pudeto (catamaran). The W-trek (it can be walked either way), the Q-trek, day hikes (if it’s the closest entrance to your accommodation), to get to the park you need to catch a catamaran, CLP 20 000/US$25 one way.

The Administration entrance (near Guardería Serrano). In high season it can be used only for exiting the park. The stretch Paine Grande – Administración can’t be walked the other way around.

Grey Glacier and Grey Lake, Torres del Paine
View of the Grey Glacier from John Gardner Pass on the O circuit in Torres del Paine

Where to stay before and after hiking

If you’re planning to do day hikes in the park the best option is to stay inside the park or in one of the nearby places, it’ll save you a lot of time compared to staying in Puerto Natales and spending 4-5 hours every day driving to and back. For more details and suggestions on day hiking trails in Torres del Paine and the nearest hotels go to THIS POST.

Accommodation inside Torres del Paine

All the hotels inside the park are quite luxurious; rooms with nice views, private bathroom, heating, TV, towels, comfortable beds, breakfast. Some have the option of full board with 3 meals included.

Staying in refugios might be a little bit cheaper but if you add up 3 meals per day it works out almost as expensive as staying at one of the fancy hotels just with less comfort. You can rent a tent or camp with your own gear inside the park check Camping in Torres del Paine section for more details on the option.

  • Refugios Torre, Chileno, and Los Cuernos can be booked through Fantastico Sur. Price US$116 per dorm bed (no meal included).
  • Refugios Paine Grande, Grey, and Dickson can be booked through Vertice Patagonia. Price from CLP 34 000/US$42* per person in a dormitory, no meal included. On their site price in USD is US$57 but if you convert the price in Chilean pesos according to the current exchange rate it’s US$42. I guess it’s better if you choose to pay in Chilean pesos.

Places to stay just outside the park

There are some places that are located just outside Torres del Paine which makes it easy to access different hiking trails in the park. Like hotels inside Torres del Paine, these places are quite pricey and luxury but a bit less expensive.

Luxury | Estancia Dos Elianas | Hotel Estancia El Ovejero Patagónico | Vista al Paine – Refugio de Aventura | Río Serrano Hotel + Spa | Konkashken Lodge | Patagonia Camp |

Places to stay in Puerto Natales

If you’re planning to do one of the multi-day hikes in Torres del Paine then staying in Puerto Natales is probably the best option. There are many places for different budgets from campsites and backpackers to fancy guesthouses and hotels. Puerto Natales is a town where you can find all you need to prepare for hiking; ATMs, shops, gear rental places etc.

Campsites in Torres del Paine

Inside the park there are three different companies running the campsites; CONAF (the National Forest Corporation) – runs free campsites; Italiano, Paso, and Torres (closed for 18/19); Vertice Patagoniapaid campsites; Grey, Paine Grande, Dickson, Los Perros, and Fantastico Surpaid campsites; Torre, Los Cuernos, Frances, Seron and Chileno.

Campsites in Torres del Paine that belong to CONAF, Vertice Patagonia and Fantastico Sur
Campsites in Torres del Paine National park according to the companies that run them

All the campsites can be booked online; book CONAF (as for November 2019 there are very few spots left for December and January); book Vertice Patagonia; book Fantastico Sur. Don’t forget to print it and take your booking confirmation and passport with you.

Paid campsites have much better facilities but in the peak season, they get overcrowded to use any of the facilities e.g. shower or toilet you have to wait for a while. There are 9 paid campsites in Torres del Paine National park they are run by two companies; Vertice Patagonia and Fantastico Sur. 

Map of the campsites in Torres del Paine, Patagonia
A map of the campsites in Torres del Paine National park, Chile

CONAF (free campsites)

There are two free campsites that belong to CONAF, they have very basic facilities and are located next to the rangers stations. To get a spot in one of them in the peak season (December, January, February) you must book long in advance.

Free campsites Paso and Italiano in Torres del Paine
CONAF campsites (Paso and Italiano) in Torres del Paine) and their facilities

Vertice Patagonia (paid) campsites

These campsites have better facilities than the free ones and the price is moderate compared to the other campsites in the park. The price for camping with your own gear is between rice – between CLP 5500/US$7 and CLP 6500/US$8.

Vertice Patagonia campsites in Torres del Paine
Vertice Patagonia campsites sin Torres del Paine and their facilities

Fantastico Sur (paid) campsites

These are the most expensive campsites in Torres del Paine. The current price is CLP 16 000/US$21 per person (if you’re two people) for camping with your own gear. If you’re one person there is an extra charge of US$11, in total you pay US$33 for one person to camp at Fantastico Sur campsites with your own gear.

Fantastico Sur campsites and their facilities, Torres del Paine Chile
Fantastico Sur campsites in Torres del Paine and their facilities

Campsites outside the park

Campsite Pehoe is a good stop for visitors with their own vehicle who are planning to do day hikes in Torres del Paine. The campsite is located at Pehoe lake.

Pehoe campsite and its facilities
Pehoe Campsite and its facilities. Located just outside of Torres del Paine

Getting to Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales and back

You have several options for getting to Torres del Paine from Puerto Natales; taking a bus, renting a car or hitchhiking. If you’re planning to do day hikes in Torres del Paine and want to visit several locations inside the park renting a car will be the best option. Public buses stop only at three park entrances, some trails are accessible only by private vehicles which means you’ll have to do a tour or drive there yourself. If you’re a couple of people renting a car it will work out cheaper than joining a tour. Get an instant rental quote.

If you’re planning to do some multi-day hikes then taking a public bus is the best option. Buses leave every day at 7.30am (we’d suggest being there earlier to get a spot on the first buses) and 2.30pm from Puerto Natales, most hostels and hotels sell bus tickets. It takes between 2-3 hours to get to Torres del Paine (depending on where you’re going to). Price CLP 10 000/US$12 one way pp. The bus makes 3 stops in Torres del Paine; Laguna Amarga, Pudeto and Administration.

Bus Puerto Natales – Torres del PaineBus 1Bus 2
Leaves Puerto Natales7.30am2.30pm
Arrives at Laguna Amarga9.45am4.45pm
Arrives at Pudeto (catamaran)10.30am5.15pm
Arrives at Administration11.45am6pm

To get to Torres del Paine from Punta Arenas you must first get to Puerto Natales and then take a bus to the park, same from other towns in the area. 

Hitchhiking might be difficult in the peak season there are many people on the road all depends on your luck, it’s better to start early. We hitched in March and were quite lucky to get to the park in two rides, it took us 3 hours in total just 1 hour longer than by bus. 

To get to Hotel Las Torres (the starting point of the O-circuit and the Q-trek and some day hikes), from Laguna Amarga take a bus to Hotel Las Torres. Its departure time is linked with the arrival time of the bus from Puerto Natales. It takes 10min., price CLP 3000/US$4. It’s possible to walk this stretch, it’s about 7km.

To get to Paine Grande (the starting point of the W-trek and some day hikes), first, take a bus from Puerto Natales and get off at Pudeto. Second, take a catamaran (ferry) from Pudeto to Paine Grande. The trip takes 30min., price CLP 20 000/US$26 one way.

CatamaranPudeto – Paine GrandePaine Grande – Pudeto
Departure 19am9.35am
Departure 211am11.35am
Departure 32pm2.35pm
Departure 44.15pm5pm
Departure 56pm6.35pm

To get back to Puerto Natales from Torres del Paine take a bus, there are two daily buses from the park. They stop at three different entrances. The price is CLP 10 000/US$12. Travel time 2-3 hours.

Bus Torres del Paine – Puerto NatalesBus 1Bus 2
Leaves Administration1pm6.00pm
Leaves Pudeto1.30pm7pm
Leaves Laguna Amarga2.30pm7.45pm
Arrives in Puerto Natales5pm10pm

Cost of hiking in Torres del Paine

Transport – bus Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine (one way) – CLP 10 000/US$12. Bus Hotel Las Torres – Laguna Amarga (for the O, Q, and W-trek) – CLP 3000/US$4, optional. Catamaran Pudeto – Paine Grande (W trek) – CLP 20 000/US$25 one way. 

Entrance fee – CLP 21 000/US$26 in season, off-season (May to September) – CLP 11 000/US$14; the price is fixed and doesn’t depend on the duration of your visit; no matter if you stay for a couple of hours or a week.

Accommodation – hotels between US$130 and US$350 for a double room, depending on the location and facilities. Hostels – between US$60 and US$80 per bed. Private campsites – between CLP 5000-13000/US$6-16. Currently, there are only two free campsites in Torres del Paine.

Food – cooking your own food – US$10 per day per person; eating out – 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. At most paid campsites you can rent a tent, mat, sleeping bag but it’s more expensive than in the town. 

Tours in Torres del Paine (optional) – boat trip to Grey Glacier – US$120 pp.; hike on Grey glacier – US$154 pp.; kayaking to Grey glacier – US$100 pp.

Tour operators charge; for a day tour from Puerto Natales from US$60 per person, for a 5-day W-trek –  around US$1000 (including transport, accommodation, food, gear, park entrance fee), for a 7-day O-circuitUS$2000 (including transport, accommodation, food, gear, park entrance fee). 

Mountain scenery in Torres del Paine park
The beautiful scenery in Torres del Paine National park

Guided tour in Torres del Paine vs independent visit

Hiking independently

Pros

  • It’s much cheaper, especially for longer treks.
  • It’s more adventurous.
  • You’re more flexible.

Cons

  • You carry a heavy backpack with gear and food for the whole trek.
  • You pitch and break down a tent, make food, pack etc.

Guided tour

Pros

  • The preparation stage is easy; no need to book campsites, find buses, rent gear or pack – all you have to do is to find a good company and pay. 
  • The trekking part is easier as well; no carrying a heavy backpack, pitching a tent, cooking, packing, etc. You walk with a day-pack and your guides do the rest.
  • Usually, it’s more fun to join a group if you travel alone but in Torres del Paine there are many people chances of you hiking and camping on your own are basically non-existent.  

Cons

  • It’s more expensive.
  • It takes away the adventurous part.
  • All the trails in the park are well-marked and easy to follow, you don’t really need a guide to show you the way or to find the campsites.

Suggested tours and activities in Patagonia

What to pack for hiking in Torres del Paine

Regardless if you’re planning to do day-hikes or a multi-day trek you’ll need good hiking shoes (men’s model). It’s always advisable to wear your shoes before you go on a long-distance hike to minimize the chances of getting blisters. As for choosing between hiking boots and hiking shoes, it’s a matter of personal preferences, e.g. I don’t like wearing high boots, my last two pairs of hiking shoes were Merrell. It’s better to have waterproof shoes especially if you’re planning to do one of the multi-day routes rains are quite frequent in Torres del Paine even in summer.

Socks might look like not a very important item but since we started using merino wool socks we don’t want to go back to wear normal cotton socks when hiking. Merino wool socks don’t absorb odors which is great on multi-day hikes often you don’t have a chance to wash your socks every day. They protect your feet and help to prevent blisters which is another great thing. And they last forever, not like cheap cotton socks we used to wear that were totally done after of hike.

A wind- and rainproof jacket (men’s model) is another important item to have for hiking in Torres del Paine. If you’re going out of the summer season packing a rain poncho might be a good idea.

For long-distance routes, I usually pack two sets of hiking outfits; two pairs of hiking pants (men’s model), two shirts (men’s model), two pairs of socks, etc.

For more details on hiking clothes for Patagonia for different seasons for men and women check our Patagonia packing list post. There we elaborate a lot on every item.

If you’re planning to do the O-circuit or the W-trek you’ll need camping gear you can bring your own gear (which I’d recommend doing if you’re planning to do more hikes in the region), rent gear in Puerto Natales or if you don’t feel like carrying camping gear with you can rent it at every paid campsite in the park.

If you’re planning to travel with your own gear invest in buying a good lightweight tent and sleeping bag these will serve you for many years to come. Currently, we use MSR Hubba Hubba camping tent and out of several tents we’ve had this one is the best; very light, packs super small, waterproof and easy to pitch.

As for a sleeping bag, we had quite a few as well and after trying synthetic and down bag decided that down sleeping bags work better for camping in cold weather. They are very warm, light and pack really small.

Having a proper backpack for hiking is very important it should be comfortable, easy to adjust, lightweight and have a rain cover.

More details on camping gear for Patagonia you can find in THIS POST.

Bringing your own camping gear vs renting it in Puerto Natales/Torres del Paine

Let’s’ compare prices of camping gear on Amazon.com and renting camping gear in Puerto Natales and at the paid campsites in Torres del Paine. If Torres del Paine is the only place you’re going to hike renting camping gear is the easiest option if you’re planning to do more hikes it’s worth bringing your own gear.

The easiest option for multi-day hikes in Tores del Paine is to rent camping gear at every campsite you stay in this case you don’t have to carry heave gear with but it’ll work out more expensive than renting it in Puerto Natales.

As for small stuff like a camping stove, pots, hiking poles, etc. if you don’t bring it with you from home it’s better to buy them in Puerto Natales renting small items for 5-7 days will cost you as much as buying them. After the hike, you can try to sell that stuff for less to other hikers.

Item nameBuying on Amazon*Renting in Puerto Natales, per day**Renting in Torres del Paine (paid campsites), per day***
2-men tentfrom US$100US$8US$30
Sleeping bagfrom US$84 (down bag)US$6.5US$22
Sleeping padfrom US$10 (inflatable)US$3US$8
Camping stovefrom US$9US$3
Cooking setfrom US$18 (10 pcs)US$5
Hiking polesUS$20US$5
Down jacketfrom US$30US$3
Waterproof jacketfrom US$29US$4
  • *Prices are for Amazon US.
  • **Rental prices at Rental Natales and Erratic Rock in Puerto Natales
  • ***Gear rental prices at Vertice Patagonia campsites

Best time for hiking in Torres del Paine 

If you wonder when it is the best time to visit Torres del Paine here is some weather-related data to help you planning. To characterize Patagonian weather in one word I’d say “unpredictable” – it can change in a blink for an eye from nice and sunny to stormy and rainy.

Patagonia has four well-defined seasons; Spring – September to November; Summer – December to February; Fall – March to May; Winter – June to August. Summer and the beginning of fall is the best time for hiking in Patagonia. Temperature; December, January, and February are the warmest months when even night temperatures are quite comfortable. April and November – are shoulder season; warmish days and not cold nights. 

A diagram with yearly low and high temperatures in Torres del Paine, Patagonia
Average high and low temperatures in °C in Torres del Paine, Chile
A table with average temperatures in Torres del Paine in °F
Average monthly temperatures in Torres del Paine in °F

In this part of Patagonia wind, not rain is the main problem, it gets very windy which turns to pitch a tent or cooking to a complicated task. The beginning of summer November – January are the windiest months in Torres del Paine. February is the most comfortable in sense of wind and temperature. April to September is the least windy period but it’s too cold for hiking, plus long treks are closed for offseason.

Number of windy days in Torres del Paine a months
A graph that shows chances of a windy day every month throughout the year

As you can see chances of rain are pretty even throughout the year, summer and fall months get quite a lot of rain, February again is the best month for hiking in Torres with the least rainfalls. In winter the chances of rain are quite small though it can snow.

Number of rainy days in Torres del Paine a month
A graph that shows chances of a rainy day in Torres del Paine throughout the year

Day duration in summer in Patagonia is quite long, up to 18 hours of daylight! You have long hiking days even if you start later you’ll have enough time to complete a stretch with the sun still high up. November – February it basically gets dark around 11pm, the sun rises between 4am and 5am. In winter daylight hours are half as long as in summer.

Monthly daylight hours in Torres del Paine
A graph with daylight hours in Torres del Paine for every month of the year

From all the above you can make a conclusion that February is the best month for trekking in Torres del Paine; warm, little wind and rain, long days but it’s the busiest month for the park with the most visitors coming here. November, December, and March might be a better option if you want to skip the crowds, plus all hiking trails are already or still opened, but these months get quite a bit more rain and are windier. We hiked in March and were lucky with the weather, out of 7 days in the park we had only 1 rainy day and it wasn’t pouring rain, the wind didn’t bother us too much.

The number of visitor hiking in Torres del Paine every month
A pie chart that shows the number of visitors in Torres del Paine according to the month

Wildlife in Torres del Paine

In high season chances to see wild animals in the busy part of the park (W-trek, day hikes) are quite small but you still can be lucky. We saw most animals on the O-circuit, in more remote parts of the reserve. If you’re lucky you can see a puma and our friends did see one walking near camping Serron one morning. Grey and red fox – you have good chances of spotting them on the longer routes. Huemul – local deer, we saw a couple of them but from far. Guanaco – a bigger and wilder version of a llama. There many smallish mammals; Patagonian skunk, dwarf armadillo, condor, rabbits, and mice.

Recommended books and guidebooks

In the last years, rules in Torres del Paine have changed quite a lot make sure to buy an updated guide book.

If you prefer reading e-books, join Amazon Kindle Unlimited to get access to thousands of e-books and audiobooks. You can use it on any device (phone or tablet) not only a Kindle all you have to do is just to install a free app. You can try it right now, the first 30 days of using Kindle Unlimited are free.

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26 Comments

  1. Brian McKellar

    Such an awesome and descriptive blog, thank you!

    I had a question about my planned itinerary. I am planning to visit and do the w-trek in January but found limited availability for accommodations. I was going to do it in 3 days and 2 nights but wasn’t sure about the rules for treking. I was only able to reserve Refugio Paine Grande and Refugio Torre Norte. This leaves my one day as a very long hike:
    Day 1: Arrive at the park and ferry to Refugio Paine Grande, hike up Mirador Grey, return to Refugio Paine Grande to sleep.
    Day 2: Hike from Refugio Paine Grande over to Italiano, hike up and down Mirador Britanico, then hike over to Refugio Torre Norte to sleep.
    Day 3: Hike from Refugio Torre Norte up Mirador Torres, then head down to Hotel Torres to exit and bus back to Puerto Natales.

    That second day will be 20-24 miles of hiking in 10-13 hours. I’m a 25 year old athlete, not camping so I will have a light back, so not too worried about the physical demand, but I want to be sure it’s allowed before I book my flights.
    I saw the rules for mandated route starting times, but can I start that day early and be sure to make it before all the route closing times? I found some websites mention park restrictions on skipping legs of the hike, but I was struggling to find much information, so any help is appreciated.

    Thank you!

  2. Victoria Stephen

    I am going to be travelling solo and am thinking I would like to do either the O route or the W route. I have time, and am flexible on my start date, however I would like to do it with a guide, and possibly as part of a group. Are you able to recommend the best english speaking tour groups to sign up with. I would like my accomodation, transport and route sorted for me so I dont have to think about it…
    Also, I would like to do the kayaking if at all possible. I have done my research but there are so many tour operators, it is all a bit bamboozling.
    Finally, whats the best time of the year to go. I dont mind the cold, but dont want to be freezing my behind off.
    Thank you so much!

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Victoria! We didn’t use any guide or tour packages for Torres del Paine. In this post https://stingynomads.com/the-w-trekking-torres-del-paine/, we suggest a couple of tours most of them with G-Adventures a big and reliable company I’m sure you can book a tour with them. As for kayaking, it’s not a part of the O trek I’m not sure if it can be included in the tour, you can stay an extra day in the park and do kayaking as a separate tour I guess.
      Cheers!

  3. Thanks for the great article. You love of travelling is absolutely addictive.
    I plan to hike with my wife some of the W circuit in November.
    Is it possible to do your own thing, ie staying at CampGrey for 2 nights (do the ice hike and paddling) and then go to CampFrances for the mirror Brittanica before leaving.
    This gives us 3 nights in the park and a lot of stuff to do?

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Johan! Thank you for the comment! By “doing your own thing” do you mean exploring the park without a tour? If so yes, you can take a public bus and a ferry to Paine Grande from there walk to Grey campsite but to do ice hike and kayaking you’ll have to join a tour, you can’t do it on your own. It’ll be very difficult/impossible to walk from Grey campsite to Frances and to Mirador Britanico in one day, it takes the whole day (7-8 hours) just to walk from Campamento Frances to Mirador Britanico and back and 5-6hour to walk from Grey to Frances. There is no transport from Frances the next day you’ll have to walk back to Paine Grande to catch a ferry. I hope it helps!
      Safe travels!

  4. jonathan weiss

    If I am looking to book with a guide for February 2020 is there a rule of thumb of how quickly it books up as the cancelation policieis are onerous. WOuld you say 3 months out? 6 months?

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Jonathan! We haven’t done any tour in Torres but I believe booking 3 months beforehand should be enough. February is the busiest months in Torres but I think if you’re only one person you might even have a chance to get a spot just a couple of days before if you ask around in Puerto Natales but to make sure I’d suggest booking in advance.
      Cheers!

  5. Hello!
    Thank you so much for this great article! It is by far the most complete and structured information I could find about Torres del Paine.
    I was planning on doing the W-trek with 3 friends(mid 20’s, 4 people in total) during the beginning of August(somewhere between 5/8 and 12/8). While searching around to do this trek we have stumbled on alot of contradictory information. We have read on some forums that during this month it is obliged to use a guide if you want to enter the park and that the busses and catamaran do not operate either. Since we do not have too great of a budget, those things are crucial for us whether to go trough with the hike or not. Do you have any information about this, or do you know who we could contact to acquire more information about this?
    Any other tips about trekking within August are very welcome aswell!
    Thank you in advance!

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Louis! Thank you for the comment! From what I can see on the official site of Torres del Paine National park for most of the stretches on the W trek you need a certified guide to walk in the winter. On the catamaran website is doesn’t say that they don’t operate in August, it just says they changed the timetable a little bit for the winter. To make sure I’d suggest contacting one of the companies that run the campsites inside the park, Fantastico Sur or Vertice to confirm if they’re open in August and if you need a guide to trek the W or not. We haven’t been to Patagonia in winter time I guess it’ll be quite cold and not many people. Sorry, we can’t give you more tips.
      Safe travels!

      • Thank you very much for the information! It indeed seems to be obliged to have a certified guide with you within winter months. Sadly that does not fit into our budget, but luckily there are many other places to hike within Chile! We plan to do the Cerro Castillo hike as an alternative, which seems to be a great experience aswell! Thank you for all the guides you make, they are sublime!

  6. Great post and loads of useful tips there! Thank so much!
    My friend and I planning to go mid March and our plan is to do the W-trek! It’s been few weeks now that we are trying to book campsites and everything says it’s full? We have sent emails but we had no reply back

    Do you think we can actually book something when we actually arrive there?
    Thanks!!!

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Dora! Thank you for the comment! Are yo trying to book paid campsites? It’s very strange that they are full as March is the end of the season and there aren’t usually that many people. Fantastico Sur has a life chat on their site they usually reply quite quick, you can try to ask there about available campsites for your dates. When we were there it looked like paid campsites always have place for people the main problem was the free campsites. If you’re trying to book Italiano the only free CONAF campsite on the W you can try to do it in Puerto Natales at CONAF office, that campsites is very big there might be spots left for March. We walked the O in the beginning of March and booked all our campsites in Puerto Natales just 2 days before the hike but we had several extra day on the O before joining the W route.
      Good luck!

  7. Peter Henley

    Love your article, very useful. I am considering running either the O or Q circuit.
    With this in mind I only want to travel light.
    Can you recommend any companies that do baggage transfers from campsite to campsite?

  8. Rafael Gonzalez

    Superb article. I am in the midst of the bookings for our trip in march – pretty hard stuff getting this done.
    Right now I got Seron through fantastico.

    I got bookings at Dickson, los perros and Paine, but vertice site told me that the paypal transaction did not go through (but I received a email from paypal that tells me it did!?). Did not receive any confirmation letters from Vertice.

    When I tried to book Paso CONAF (since Grey was full) it as well is full. So maybe we have to walk all the way done to Paine from Los Perros?

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Rafael! Thank you for your comments! Regarding your booking through Vertice we’d recommend to contact them and ask about your booking and payment (if it went through or not). CONAF online booking system doesn’t work proper it might show that Paso is full just because it’s too early to book or maybe it just doesn’t work at all. We did the O in March and got all the campsites booked just a day before we started. We camped mostly at free campsites and only at two paid campsites; Seron and Dickson. CONAF campsites we booked directly at the office in Puerto Natales, paid campsites we didn’t book at all just showed up and there always was enough space, in fact they were half empty, March is the end of the season and there are not that many people. The most difficult part was to book free campsite in the southern part (on the W trek) but even there paid campsites always had space.
      Good luck with you planning and booking!

  9. Hi Campbell and Alya
    Incredibly informative article. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
    I have a question for you: in the article you talk about the O route closing 31 March in the 2018/2019 season. I am just wondering if you know if that means you must be out of the park by this date? Or does it mean you can’t start after this date?
    I’ve struggled to find any accurate information on this.
    If you don’t happen to know, but you have any park information details, I’d be most appreciative if you could share. Thus far I’ve been going around in circles a little 🙂
    Thanks in advance, Clare

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Clare! Thank you for your comment! We finished the O before the closing time I can’t tell you for sure if you have to finish the hike by 31st or not but you can definitely be in the park after that date as the park stays opened all year (the south part of the park). I’d suggest to contact one of the companies that runs campsites on the O circuit; Fantastico Sur (you can leave a message on the site, they reply quick) or Vertice Patagonia they will know when the route closes.
      Safe travels!

  10. Hi wanting to do this soon. How do park fees, permits work? Do we do this online or once we get to the park? Any other fees?

    • Hello! You pay the park fee at the entrance, cash only. If you’re planning to camp or stay in hotels inside the park you pay it separate. You have to book campsites or hotels beforehand, online. No other fees. For more details, please, read this post, it has all the information.
      Cheers!

  11. Great post! My wife and I did the W circuit in 2010 and had a great time. Such beautiful views and amazing water colors down there. The hike out was brutal but in the end, it was a great trip!

  12. Really interesting article! I will be doing this probably as part of a round the world trip, therefore it will be hard to bring camping gear myself. Would you recommend renting or buying used stuff? I think the tent, sleeping bag and the mattress are the most important ones. Thanks in advance for your response!

    • stingynomads@gmail.com

      Hello, Jonas! Thank you for your comment!
      We had our own gear but we know it’s possible to rent or to buy camping gear in Puerto Natales just remember everything is quite expensive there. We bought all our stuff in Cusco, Peru it was so much cheaper than in Chile or Argentina. Especially if you want to rent a proper sleeping bag, tent, mat etc. We calculated that to rent these things in Puerto Natales for 7 days would cost us more than we paid for them in Peru. So our advice if you go to Peru or Bolivia first buy camping gear there. Good luck with your round the world trip!
      Cheers!

  13. Great post! Thanks for all the detail. We have flights booked to visit Patagonia next month but now freaking out about how expensive it will be. (We’re currently in Central America where things are much cheaper.)
    What do you think is a realistic daily budget for 2 if we have a tent and and camp wherever possible? Thanks!
    Anna

    • stingynomads@gmail.com

      Hello, Anna! Thank you for the comment!
      If you have your own gear and don’t mind cooking your own food and maybe hitchhiking from time to time Patagonia can be pretty cheap. There are campsites everywhere especially in Chilean Patagonia you pay 7$ average per person. We spent 2 months in Patagonia mostly Chilean and our budget was 25$ for both including everything but we didn’t take one bus we hitchhiked and camped all the way. If you prefer buses than you can add 5$/person per day. HItch in Patagonia is great unlike Central America it’s very safe you can camp next to the road without being worried about your safety. Our article on Hitchhiking in Patagonia https://stingynomads.com/hitchhiking-carretera-austral/. For more details and prices check our entry South America Travel Budget https://stingynomads.com/south-america-travel-budget/
      If you have more questions don’t hesitate asking!
      Good luck!

  14. Glad to see the wine was also going with! Will definatively need to buy some in Mendoza for the hike

    • stingynomads@gmail.com

      You can buy wine in Puerto Natales for not much more than in Mendoza, wine is probably the only one thing that is not expensive even in Patagonia! But in Mendoza for the same price you can buy a better one.

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