In Torres del Paine, there’s nothing more classically authentic than the W Trek. This ever-popular hike, which weaves around the Paine Massif in a “W” shape, is the most popular route for the majority of backpackers and adventurers hitting the trails. Stopping at all the park’s hot spots, like Grey Glacier, French Valley, and the base of the Towers, the W Trek is quintessential Torres del Paine, perfect for the experienced trekker who loves raw nature, incredible views, and to get their heart pumping!
Arrival, Cueva del Mylodon, and Intro to EcoCamp
After being picked up, the drive to EcoCamp Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park begins, a relaxing introduction to the area’s diverse and unique topography and wildlife. Pass through the waving fields of the Patagonian steppe, dotted with guanacos, sheep, and flamingos. Maybe a massive condor rides a thermal just within eyeshot. After lunch in Puerto Natales, the nearest large town to EcoCamp, we’ll get our first taste of the region’s history at the Cueva del Milodon (Mylodon Cave), a rocky, stalactite-strewn incision cutting back into the depths of a mountain. It was here that the remains of a giant, prehistoric sloth were discovered in the 1890s, and lovers of classic travel literature will no doubt recognize this place from its mentions in Bruce Chatwin’s famous travelogue “In Patagonia”. Now, a life-size replica gives visitors a glimpse at the beasts who once roamed this ancient terrain.
The scenic drive ends at EcoCamp, a cluster of geodesic domes huddled in the shadow of two of the granite spires of the iconic Torres. After a filling and delicious dinner, it’s time to rest in our cozy domes. The trail starts tomorrow.
Los Cuernos Hike
The first day of the W Trek is a warm-up, stretching legs, eyes, and minds as we get ready for what lies ahead. We set out from EcoCamp along the Cuernos trail, walking past the Condor’s Nest alongside the front of the Paine Massif. The goal today: that iconic view of Los Cuernos. The “Horns” are the crown jewel of the Massif, indomitable peaks of sleet grey and white, capped with black rock. Along the way, the aquamarine waters of Nordenskjold Lake flank our left-hand side throughout the day, until we reach our destination for the night, the Refugio Los Cuernos at the base of the Horns.
Let’s kick it up a notch. Now we face the French Valley - the hardest part of the trek yet. We delve into the heart of the Massif to a hidden, bowl-shaped valley filled with trees and trickling streams of melting snow, all the while surrounded by the backside of the Massif’s famous spires: the Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), and Fortaleza (Fortress). A swift pace will take us all the way to the end of the valley, to the hanging bridge over the French River. After lunch, we reverse course back through the valley and down to our overnight at Refugio Paine Grande.
Now things are really cooking! We strike out, walking alongside the far end of the Massif, heading toward a tongue of ice that extends outward from one of the biggest icefields on Earth: the Grey Glacier. We take a boat up Grey Lake, past icebergs cast in extraordinary shapes. We come right up to the front-wall of the glacier, where we marvel at the gradients of blue, and listen to the creaking of ice and snow shifting and shaping the future landscapes of Torres del Paine. Maybe - if we’re lucky - we’ll see a small cave-in. In the event that the boat ride is unavailable (due to weather or number of passengers does not reach the required number of 10), we’ll hike to a look-out for an unbeatable panoramic view. We return to the dock to be driven back to EcoCamp for a night of well-deserved glamping luxury.
*Ask us about an optional kayak experience of a lifetime on this day exploring around huge floating icebergs and Grey Glacier.
Base of the Tower Trek
This is it! The piece de resistance of the W Trek, the Holy Grail, the promised land for intrepid backpackers, and challenge-hungry adventurers. Today, we make the roughly 9 hour trek to the base of the Towers themselves. Starting from Hosteria Las Torres just down the road from EcoCamp, we ascend upwards through the Ascencio Valley, putting our bodies to the test as we trek ever-upward through tranquil beech forests, past rivers, and through a rocky moraine of jumbled boulders to reach that ultimate prize: the view of the Torres jutting upward with the pristine lake rippling in the wind below. With weary muscles but full of elation and contentment, we return the way we came to EcoCamp for the night.
Our final day begins with a car ride to Laguna Azul, with chances to stop for photo opps of wildlife and the Torres. Once we reach the lake, we’ll take a leisurely hike to a lookout point of the lake, with the epic spires of the towers in the background. Next stop are the gorgeous shores of Lake Sarmiento for a nature and wildlife walk, where we’ll see guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús, and hopefully even the occasional puma print! The hike winds down to a relaxed walk past the Goic lagoon before ending at the ranger station at Laguna Amarga. Now, back to EcoCamp for a final dinner in the Community domes with the EcoCamp family.
You’ve conquered one of the most famous treks on the planet. Now, we’ll transfer you to your point of departure for you to go home and relive the memories.
Dates & Rates
Departures: Every Monday, October to April
Rates: from $2,500
• All activities as indicated on your itinerary
• All meals as indicated on your itinerary
• 2 glasses of wine or a soft drink per meal
• Tea and coffee served at the bar all day long
• Transfer from Punta Arenas Airport to EcoCamp upon arrival
• All accommodations as indicated on your itinerary
• Services of professional guides
• All necessary kayaking and camping equipment
• Airfare to and from Chile
• Gratuities for guides
• Items of a personal nature
• Drinks (anything beyond the 2 provided each meal) and souvenirs
• Tour Extensions
Your booking is based on Chilean pesos (CLP), but you pay in US$ (USD), using the exchange rate valid on the day of payment which will be shown on your invoice. This exchange rate may vary between the date you pay your deposit and the date you pay your outstanding balance, but rest assured this is the best way to keep our prices competitive and ensure the best rate for you!
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FAQ & More
We consider quality cuisine to be an integral part to a successful trip! At EcoCamp we put great effort into developing and offering a menu of fresh healthy meals using locally sourced ingredients. The menu has been designed fusing Chilean, Altiplanic, Patagonian, and international foods. Typical meals might include: Chilean pot roast, lamb stew with provencal potatoes, seafood lasagna with prawns, spider crab and octopus, pumpkin ravioli, beef tenderloin or Gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce.
We will start each day with a hearty breakfast buffet, providing you with plenty of fuel for our busy outings! Following breakfast you will be directed to a different buffet table to select the contents for your boxed lunch. Lunch ingredients are changed each day to offer a fresh variety throughout the trip. Each evening will start with cocktails and appetizers, followed by a 3 course meal.
All of the meals are served in the Community Domes family style, allowing you to meet and interact with other guests visiting EcoCamp.
We would describe this itinerary as being moderate to high physically demanding. As such, we would highly suggest having performed the featured activities previously to build a base level of endurance for both hiking and kayaking. You should be in good physical condition, with adequate muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, to enjoy this trip. Please refer to the itinerary for activity descriptions and distances. If you are unsure if this itinerary if right for you, please call one of our Adventure Consultants, we would be happy to discuss this with you in further detail.
Your guides will be Patagonian locals with an intimate knowledge of and experience in this pristine region. Many of our guides are recent graduates of Ecotourism programs and have extensive experience hiking and wildlife watching throughout Chile. They love to share their local culture and landscape with our guests.
For general travel questions for Patagonia, please visit our travel essentials section.