One of the very best hikes Patagonia has to offer is the W-trek, 5 days through Torres del Paine National Park. There’s also to extended O-trek that takes around 8 days, but I would say The W hits the most beautiful spots. The stretch of land all the way South covering part of Chile and Argentina offers some of the most mind blowing scenery on earth.
There’s several different ways to do the W-Trek and it’s completely up to you to choose the experience you want. You can choose to go with a guide or do the trail self guided (only in the summer months). You can choose to carry your own food and camping equipment or get a tent already set up and have your meals prepared. I’d say the guide is very unnecessary as the trails are clear and you’ll encounter plenty of others doing the same trek. You’ll also save tons of money by going solo like I did.
Self guided treks can only be done between October and the end of April. If you’d like to do the W-trek, between May and September, which is wintertime, you’ll need a guide.
Do I need to make reservations in advance of hiking the W?
Yes! For all the campsites and dormitories you need to book in advance. I recommend hiking the trail from west to east. This way you’ll be able to see the famous towers at sunrise. If you do it the other way around you hike to the towers on the first day and will need to continue to the next campsite.
Do I need to bring food?
You can either bring your own food and cook, or you can reserve full board at the campsites. This will give you a meal in the evening, breakfast the next day and a packed lunch. You reserve this when booking the campsites.
Do you need to book your park entrance ticket in advance?
You have to book an entrance ticket online as they currently do not accept payments at the park entrance. Book your ticket online here. Make sure to download the QR code in Puerto Natales while you still have internet. There is no signal in the park.
What does it cost to Hike the W-trek in Torres del Paine?
Hiking the W-trek without a guide costs $219,000 CLP per person/$240 USD / €243 + plus the cost of food. You can either carry your own food or book full board.
Camping and Transport cost:
- Return bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park: $13.323 CLP /$15 USD
- Adult entrance fee into the park: $44,000 CLP /$49 USD
- One-way ferry from Pudeto de Paine Grande Ranger Station: $30,000 CLP /$40 USD
- Grey Campsite: $11,000 CLP per person/$12 USD
- Paine Grande Campsite: $11,000 CLP per person/$12 USD
- Francés Campsite: $62,000 CLP per person/$70USD
- El Chileno Campsite: $62,000 CLP per person/$70 USD
How to book the campsites on the W trek?
There are different companies that have campsites in Torres del Paine National Park. This is why you need to book the campsites separately. This can feel a little overwhelming so I recommend using a website that lets you book everything in one go: Torres Hike. They do charge you a small fee, but its worth avoiding the hassle.
I tried to book my trek quite last minute. Most campsites were already full and I couldn’t find dates that worked. Then I found a woman named Oriane. She helped me book the entire trek. I ended up paying around €600 for the full trek, including full board and buses. If you’d like her help, her WhatsApp number is +56986999178 and her email is email@example.com.
Torres del Paine W Trek Itinerary
As I’ve mentioned before the best way to hike the W-trek is from west to east.
Day 1: Puerto Natales to Grey/4 hours of hiking: You take the bus from Puerto Natales to the pudeto dock. Here you’ll take the ferry to Paine grande and start hiking from there. You’ll make it to campsite grey and from there you can do some additional hiking to see Glaciar Grey which I absolutely recommend doing
Day 2: Grey to Paine Grande/ 4 hours of hiking (more if you walk to the second bridge of the glacier): This morning you can start the day with either a walk on the Glacier or a kayaking tour to the glacier. You can also walk a bit further to the second bridge to get an incredible view of the glacier. This will take around 2 hours. In the afternoon you walk back to Paine Grande.
Day 3: Paine Grande – Valle Frances -Los cuernos/8 hours: You’ll start the day with a hike to the Italiano Campsite. You can leave your backpack in the Italiano Campsite, and continue only with the necessary water, food etc. From there you’ll hike to the Britanico viewpoint. This is only up! On the way down you pick up your backpack if you left it at Italiano. Then you continue to Los Cuernos. It’s also a possibility to stay at Refugio Frances, but Los Cuernos is known to be the better campsite.
Day 4: Los Cuernos -Chileno/6 hours: A pretty easygoing day to get to Chileno. If you leave early, you can make it to Chileno in time to hike up the towers in the afternoon. I however recommend the sunrise the next day
Day 5: Base Torres/towers of Torres del Paine/6 hours: Start early in the morning to make it up for the sunrise. The hike up takes about 2 hours. Then you have to make your way down to the welcome center. From here you can take the bus back to Puerto Natales or to Lago Pehoe if you decide to add an extra night there.
Add and extra day to stay at Lago Pehoe
I saw incredible photos of the mountains lit up by the sunrise and I knew I had to see it for myself. So I booked one more night at Camping Pehoe. After seeing the sunset and sunrise there I took the bus back to Puerto Natales.
What gear do I need for the W-Trek?
This is what I brought on my trek. It might sounds a bit gross, but since I was also carrying a lot of camera gear and wanted to keep things light I brought as little clothes as possible. If you decide to bring your own camping gear, this list would obviously be much longer.
- Underwear x 5
- Hiking socks
- Short sleeve x2
- Thermal long sleeve x2
- Fleece x1
- Insulated down jacket
- Rain jacket
- Water/wind proof trousers
- Buf or scarf
- Hiking boots
- Trekking Poles
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper
- Body wipes
- Microfiber towel