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Torres del Paine
Today, your ultimate adventure in Patagonia begins; the W Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park. This protected area, declared a Natural Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, is visited by thousands of travelers each year. But not all of them venture to complete the 5-day W Circuit, named after the shape the circuit depicts on the map.
The journey starts with a pick-up from your hotel and a transfer to the bus station of Puerto Natales.
In the bus station, take a 3-hour regular bus towards the main entrance of Laguna Amarga, where a shuttle will take you to Las Torres Campsite to spend your first night inside Torres del Paine National Park. You’ll have the rest of the day to explore the surroundings.
Our recommendation: You can enjoy a 1hr 30min easy walk to reach the Nordenskjöld Lake shore (watch out for the wind!), or visit the first organic vegetable garden in the area (at Hotel Las Torres), and learn about the specific techniques used to grow vegetables under the challenging Patagonian weather conditions.
As in any Patagonian spot, weather can change from hot sunny mornings to cold freezing nights, all in one day. The best way to fight the Patagonian weather fluctuations is to “dress as an onion” (wear layers; thermal and waterproof underwear are always a good choice), bring a really good rucksack cover and dry bags (really useful to keep your bag and clothes dry) and, much smaller but not less important, a buff! (which can be used as sweat-band and scarf).
Wake up and breathe in; the smell of adventure is in the air. Today you’ll take the most famous hiking trail of the park to reach “the fabulous 3”: the Torres del Paine granite walls, Torre Norte, Torre Sur and the kingly Torre Central. You’ll depart from Las Torres Refuge and return to the same spot, so we recommend that you start at around 8 am, so you don’t waste any daylight and avoid crowds. This is a 10-hour, high difficulty hike.
First, you’ll cross the Ascencio Valley on a 2-hour walk through green steps, uneven pathways and beech forests until reaching El Chileno Refuge. From here, take a 1hr 30min fairytale-path crossing a forest of unbelievably tall and thick lenga trees and reach the base of the moraine, a steep mass of boulders.
Behind them you’ll find the iconic towers, reflecting their stunning image in a blue-water lagoon. Enjoy your boxed lunch in this hiker’s heaven (you may see a red fox or two…), and then backtrack along the same way.
The highlights of this hiking trail are:
A small rucksack, a reusable water bottle (you can fill it up in any river) and your hiking poles. When you’re walking, look up to the sky! These are the lands of the majestic condor, the biggest flying land-birds on Earth.
Today you’ll take all your hiking gear and move to the next stop: Los Cuernos Campsite. This is a 5-hour, moderate difficulty hike, that starts with a relaxing walk through a non-challenging trail called Paso de Los Cuernos. Move along the enchanting Nordenskjöld Lake with its beautiful views of Mount Almirante Nieto as an amazing backdrop.
Cross the bridge over Arrero and Bader River to reach the campsite, lying at the base of the second rocky highlight of the park: The Paine Horns. Enjoy the views of these three outstanding black and white mountains which stand over the valley like two massive orca whales, spot hanging glaciers, and discover the great variety of native vegetation.
Enjoy a late breakfast, and sleep in to recover your strength from the Base Torre Hike, and prepare for the hike to the French Valley tomorrow. Today, you won’t waste much energy! Enjoy the tranquility and amazing backdrop of Los Cuernos Campsite on an easy and beautiful trail. Keep in mind that it can get really muddy after the rain, so if you’re departing on a cloudy day, you have to be prepared!
After breakfast, start this 10-hour, high difficulty walk heading to Italiano Campsite at the entrance of French Valley. Warm up with the first 2hr 30min of easy trail until the bridge over the French River. Leave your heavy luggage at the Italiano Campsite, outside the rangers office (with the rucksack cover on top in case of rain), take your small backpack and head to the French viewpoint (1hr 30min) through a woody-trail, and discover hanging glaciers.
The last part of this hike will lead you even deeper into the valley, to the Británico Campsite and it’s amazing viewpoint. Continue hiking for 3 hours to the upper side of the valley and reach Británico viewpoint; you have reached the core of Paine Massif! Relax and enjoy the views, and discover the imposing Mount Fortaleza. Return by taking the same trail back to Italiano Campsite and continue walking for 3 more hours to reach Paine Grande Campsite. Walk along the north face of Skottsberg Lake, while admiring a couple of old friends, the Paine Horns.
This is the longest hike of the journey, so we recommend that you start a little bit earlier this morning, at around 8 am. When you reach the French Viewpoint, be ready to witness an incredible spectacle; you may even see avalanches! Also enjoy the views of the French River along the way, where you’ll have the chance to see huemules (the southern Andean deer).
This is the last day of your tour in Torres del Paine and the W Circuit. You will take a 10-hour, moderate difficulty hike. Hit the trail, passing by Mount Paine Grande, Lake Pehoé, and Los Patos (The Ducks) Lagoon, where you’ll find the first viewpoint and the highest spot in the trail. Watch out for your beanie! This is a very windy area.
On the way, you’ll also discover the diverse native vegetation and wildlife, walk among Coigües woods and enjoy the whistling of more than 115 Patagonian species of birds. Reach the second Glacier Grey Viewpoint (the second highlight of the day) and catch your breath; a lake full of floating icebergs is waiting for you. Backtrack to Pehoé Lake and embark on a 30min trip to cross the lake and reach Pudeto area, where you’ll board your bus back to Puerto Natales.
Hiking recommendations for your last day in Torres del Paine:
FLIGHTS NEEDEDFOR THIS ITINERARY
No flights needed for this trip. However, the trip may start and end in either El Calafate, Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales- depending on your travel plans.
Flights in South America cost approximately $100 to $250 USD per segment (destination).
We offer special rates on flights for this tailor-made itinerary.
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