Torres del Paine W Trek

One of the world's best treks, the W links the three main valley of Torres del Paine National Park, among massive glaciers and giant granite towers.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
60 km
Ascent
2.7 km
Descent
2.7 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
39 m
High Point
877 m
Gradient
19˚
VIEW ON MAP
Torres del Paine W Trek Map

Description

The Southern Andes of Patagonia, on the border of Chile and Argentina, make a truly adventurous place. It’s a land rippled by mountains, potholed with lakes, and ground by glaciers. Torres del Paine National Park is an especially wild and remote corner that feels very much to travelers today as it did to explorers long ago—like the edge of the world.

One trek in particular is the reason most hikers come to this extreme destination: the W Trek, a 5-day tour of all the best scenery the park has to offer. Called "W" because the route is shaped roughly like the letter of the alphabet, this trek follows three parallel valleys that cut to the heart of the range, among its most impressive towering peaks. Trekkers are guaranteed the challenges of wet, wind, and cold, but the rewards of flowers and forests between glacier and granite, sightings of wild guanacos and condors, and the company of intrepid travelers from all over the world.

The standard route runs from west to east. This puts the prevailing winds at your back, and saves the ultimate destination, the Torres peaks themselves, for the end of the trip. Begin by taking a boat either to Paine Grande or to Grey Glacier. The trail between the two is the first arm of the W. If starting at Paine Grande, you can day hike to see the glacier and backtrack to camp. If you start at the glacier you will have all your gear to begin the W from there.

The middle arm of the W is up Frances Valley, beneath the famous Cuernos del Paine (the horns). These are sheer granite walls flanked by alpine glaciers and snowfields. After crossing multiple rivers and marshes and wrapping around lakes, the trail brings you to the final arm of the W, up the Ascencio Valley to the park’s namesake feature—the Torres del Paine. These giant teeth of solid granite form a skyline unforgettable to all who see it.

Because the W is such a popular trek, reservations are required for every night on the trail. Different types of accommodations are available, from primitive camping to relatively luxurious refugios and lodges. Plan your itinerary based on where you want to stay and how much you want to spend. Refugios provide meals but cost more than campsites. Some campsites with few amenities are free, but are in high demand. Get your reservations early. Another option is to hire a company to hike the trek as part of a guided tour.

Sources: https://www.back-packer.org/trekking-guide-how-to-hike-the-w-in-torres-del-paine-patagonia/#prep http://www.torres-del-paine.org/map-tdp.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TorresdelPaineNationalPark

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, November, December

Features

  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area