Torres del Paine’s W Trek is celebrated by hikers as one of the most scenic trails in the world. An astonishing landscape of twisted volcanic peaks, tumbling glaciers and aquamarine lakes, it zigzags across the Cordillera del Paine like a giant W. Spend four walking days trekking through the stunning landscapes surrounding Grey Glacier, French Valley and, of course, the imposing three towers of Torres del Paine. This self guided tour is a wonderful option for those who want to hike the complete W trek, without having to join a group or hire a guide. This gives you maximum flexibility as you travel at your own pace with a full pack (you can, however, opt to book a personal porter).
On this self guided itinerary, you will spend four nights in dormitory rooms in mountain lodges (refugios) or camping. We also offer small group guided and partially guided programmes – check them here.
NB! Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Torres del Paine Park’s accommodations have decided to remain closed for the season 2020-2021. The city of Puerto Natales is under complete lockdown. Therefore all the dates for this season are cancelled. We are deeply sorry for this situation because we know what it means to plan a trip for this type of adventure and that it is not possible to do it.
Day 1: Las Torres Viewpoint/Chileno
Starting from Puerto Natales early this morning you will take a public bus (approx 3 hours) all the way to the entrance of Torres del Paine National Park at Laguna Amarga. After registering, you will begin to hike up Almirante Nieto, a mountain with incredible views of Lake Nordenskjold and the Asencio Valley. After two hours of hiking steadily upward, you will arrive at Refugio Chileno. This is where you will be spending the night. Here you can store your main pack before continuing onto the Las Torre lookout. You will hike about an hour through a dense Lenga forest. Once you leave the forest you will approach a moraine and climb to see the amazing granite peaks known as the Torres (the three towers). After admiring the view you will return to Refugio Chileno to have dinner and overnight.
Walking for the day: 16 km, 6 hours
Day 2: Lake Nordenskjold (Chileno – Cuernos)
You will leave Refugio Chileno and walk for four hours towards Refugio Cuernos, located on the shore of Lake Nordenskjold and at the foot of the Cuernos. Along the way, you will walk along the skirt of Almirante Nieto and pass by Lake Nordenskjold. There will be a few rivers you will pass over by hopping across rocks. As you hike you will catch glimpses of glaciers and the mountaintops hovering over you. Finally, you will see the monstrous peaks of the Cuernos. You will spend the night at the foot of them at Refugio Cuernos.
Walking for the day: 11 km, 4-5 hours
Day 3: Cuernos – French Valley Viewpoint – Paine Grande
Shortly after breakfast, you will begin hiking towards Campamento Italiano. This camp is 2.5 hours away. You will trek across a windy beach and finally escape into the valley where the wind is a little calmer. Once you arrive at Campamento Italiano you can leave your main pack and continue into the French Valley with just a small daypack. You will hike across a moraine and through a forest until you come to a clearing. Here you will be blown away by both the wind and the spectacular views of Lake Nordenskjold, Skottsberg and Pehoe behind you, the hanging French Glacier just ahead of you and by many other peaks. After leaving the lookout you will return to gather your main pack and continue onto Refugio Paine Grande on the shore of the beautiful Lake Pehoe.
Walking for the day: 17 km, 7 hours
Day 4: Paine Grande – Grey Glacier
In the morning you will begin a four-hour hike through a small forest and then along Lake Grey. Most days this section of the park is very windy, due to openness provided by Lake Grey, Glacier Grey and the Southern Ice Field. After about two hours of hiking, you will get your first glimpse of Glacier Grey. You will continue hiking for two more hours until arriving at Refugio Grey where you will spend the night. If you would like you can continue past the Refugio for a spectacular view of the glacier and a chance to cross one of the park’s famous suspension bridges. There are two optional excursions you can take today in the afternoon or tomorrow in the morning while at Refugio Grey – ice hiking on Glacier Grey or kayaking on Lake Grey.
Walking for the day: 11 km, 4 hours
Day 5: Refugio Grey – Refugio Paine Grande – Puerto Natales / Departure or Extra Night
This morning you’ll have a bit of free time in which you can hike up to the park’s suspension bridges, relax on the shores of Lake Grey or head out on a kayaking excursion. Then you will begin to hike again, doubling back on the same trail you hiked the day before. You’ll walk for about 4 hours to Paine Grande where you’ll head to the dock on Lake Pehoe. There you’ll board a catamaran that will take you to the opposite shore where you’ll catch your bus back to Puerto Natales.
Walking for the day: 11 km, 4 hours
You can alternatively book a boat cruise today (instead of hiking) to admire the glacier from the lake. In this case, the itinerary for this day will be as follows:
In the morning you will have time to relax after breakfast. In the afternoon you will board the Grey III, which will take you to admire the glacier up-close and take remarkable photographs of the surroundings. After arriving at the other side of Lake Grey you will wait at the café inside of Hotel Lago Grey before taking a transfer to catch the bus back to Puerto Natales.
You will spend 4 nights in mountain lodges (refugios) in dormitory rooms (or camping if refugios are booked out). Extra nights in Puerto Natales before and after the trek are bookable upon request.
All meals are included in the mountains (lunch and dinner on Day 1, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Days 2-4, breakfast and lunch on Day 5). We are also prepared to accommodate special meals, like vegetarian, celiac and other needs – please ask in advance.
The recommended arrival and departure point is Puerto Natales. Please note however the airport is small with limited flight connections. Most flights will be through Punta Arenas in Chile or El Calafate in Argentina, both of which would involve taking a public bus or private transfer (3-4h).
Up-to-date FCO travel advice on Chile is available here.
Difficulty Grade: Moderate
Although you will never be above 2000m, you should be in a good physical condition and have some experience of multi-day mountain trekking before undertaking this trip. The longest day walk is 7 hours. You will need to carry your luggage on all hiking days unless you book a private porter (read more about difficulty grades).
When to Go
The tour can start multiple days per week between early November and the end of April. Please click the See Dates and Prices link above to check availability. For groups of 6 people or more, we can arrange a private departure date if the listed ones do not fit your schedule.
What to Bring
A comprehensive gear list will be provided in the pre‐departure information pack.
- 4 nights in Refugios (shared, dormitory-style) in Torres del Paine National Park, bedding included (camping in tents if refugios are booked out)
- Road notes and pre-departure info
- Trip briefing in Puerto Natales on the day before the trip starts (6 pm)
- Bus to and from Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park
- Shuttle from Laguna Amarga to Las Torres
- Entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park
- One-way catamaran from Paine Grande to Pudeto
- Breakfast on days 2, 3, 4, 5
- Lunch on days 1, 2, 3,4, 5
- Dinner on days 1, 2, 3, 4
Options, Extras and Add-Ons
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; surcharges may apply
- Single supplement is NOT available
- Grey III glacier boat cruise + transfer on last day
- Ice hike on Glacier Grey
- Kayak excursion on Lago Grey
- Return bus transfer Punta Arenas/Puerto Natales
- Return bus transfer El Calafate/Puerto Natales
- Personal porter for your luggage, will carry up to 15 kg of weight
- Accommodation in Puerto Natales: Amerindia B&B or similar (basic), Aqua Terra Lodge or similar (comfortable), Hotel Indigo or similar (superior)
- Private transfers to and from the park, the Punta Arenas Airport and the Puerto Natales Airport are available on request
- International or local flights
- Airport transfers
- Visa fees
- Travel insurance
- Accommodation, meals and drinks not specified in the itinerary
- Personal expenses such as drinks, snacks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Tips and gratuities
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme