You’ve probably heard of the Torres del Paine W trek, whether from the gushing stories and improbably beautiful photographs of those who’ve hiked it or from your own research into Patagonian highlights.
If so, you probably don’t need any more convincing that this is the trek you must do on a visit to Patagonia. And to help you with your planning, we’ve compiled all the information you need for organizing your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Torres del Paine National Park.
Where is the Torres del Paine W trek?
The Torres del Paine W trek is a ‘w’ shaped hiking trail that covers a distance of around 50-miles (80 km) through Torres del Paine National Park.
Over a period of four to five days, this trek passes through the most spectacular parts of Torres del Paine National Park, including Glacier Grey, Valle Frances and the emblematic spire-like towers after which the park is named.
Torres del Paine and the W trek are accessible by car and bus from the small town of Puerto Natales in the far south of Chile.
When should you hike the W trek in Torres del Paine National Park?
Although the park is open year round, most visitors to the park trek the W during the high season: October through April. At this time of the year, expect higher temperatures and lower rainfall, although be prepared for Torres del Paine National Park’s famously strong winds.
Whenever you choose to visit the park, our recommendation is to bring a range of layers including a wind and waterproof jacket as the weather conditions in Torres del Paine are notoriously changeable.
How can you trek the W?
Those looking to hike the Torres del Paine W trek have two options: to take a guide or organize to walk the trail alone.
Hiking with a guide
Guided tours of the W trek can be booked with agencies in Santiago or Puerto Natales. By going with a planned tour, all of your food, accommodations and entrance costs will be covered and pre-arranged. All you need to do is turn up with a 35-40l rucksack to carry your lunch during the day and any other equipment, such as cameras or extra clothing, that you wish to bring.
Trekking the W alone
A lot of hikers choose to visit Torres del Paine National Park without a tour. The W trail is well-marked and generally very busy, particularly during high season, so there is no chance that you will get lost.
However, the logistics of organizing your trek can be complicated. During the high season, for example, pre-booking of the main campgrounds and refugios along the W route is mandatory and can be arranged online or via the office in Puerto Natales.
In terms of food, it is possible to pay upfront for breakfast, lunch and dinner from the refugios and campgrounds in which you stay. You can also buy all of your food in Puerto Natales and carry it for the entire hike – a far cheaper, but much heavier option.
Essential guidance for the W hike
The W trek is easily a top highlight for all visitors to Patagonia and doesn’t have to be a headache to organize. To help you through the process, check out our other resources on the subject:
- Our checklist for planning your visit to Torres del Paine National Park
- A guide to the equipment you need for trekking the W
- Overviews of the other hikes in the park, including information about the different routes in the park such as the W, the Circuit and the least known of all hikes in Torres del Paine, the Q.