The W Trek in Torres del Paine is hands down one of the best trekking experiences you can have in Chilean Patagonia. Trekking in Torres del Paine is absolutely world class. Whilst you may consider the longer Torres del Paine O Trek (AKA Torres del Paine O Circuit), the W Trek is a phenomenal multi-day trail.
If you’re travelling on a budget or simply like the peace and quiet of hiking independently, skip the W Trek tours and follow this self-guided itinerary. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about trekking the Torres del Paine W Trek, independently, in 4 days. But, we’ll also cover information about a self-guided five-day itinerary, for those happy to spend the extra day trekking at Torres del Paine.
Heading to El Calafate afterwards? Read our Perito Moreno guide.
Table of Contents
The W Trek in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile
Torres del Paine, where the W Trek takes place, is one of the most famous national parks in South America. It was established as a national park in 1959 and is approx. 1814 square kilometres (181,400 hectares). Torres del Paine has sensational mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers to explore. During the W Trek, you’ll experience all of these natural wonders. Certainly, it’s no surprise that Torres del Paine is one of the most visited national parks in Chile and in the entire Patagonia region. The national park sees around 250,000 visitors a year. Many of them, are keen on doing Patagonia’s premier multi-day hike – the W Trek!
FYI – the Torres del Paine W Trek is also known as the W Trek trail, W Circuit, W Hike and Patagonia W Trail.
Torres del Paine W Trek Itinerary: Self-Guided 4 Days (West to East)
This guide on trekking the Torres del Paine W trek in Patagonia will cover how to organise and complete the trail independently in 4 days. The W Trek in the Torres del Paine National Park is often on top of a South America bucket list and rightly so. But advanced booking of accommodation along the W Trek is required. This ensures that the track is not overrun. However, with that, comes the need to be very well-organised and prepared.
The Torres del Paine W Trek would be the first multi-day hike that Beck and I did together. It was such a special experience to share with Beck. You don’t even have to be an experienced hiker to complete the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia. We met many couples on the trail who hadn’t done much hiking before. So we hope this guide can inspire you to consider trekking the Torres del Paine W Trek as part of your South America itinerary. This would ensure you see the very best natural wonders that the continent has to offer.
Before we look into all of the logistics for booking the Torres del Paine W Trek, let’s talk about the trekking itinerary. Below, we’ll briefly overview the 4 day self-guided Torres del Paine W trekking itinerary. By doing so, we’ll tell you about the major attractions you’ll see en route.
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Day 1 – Paine Grande to Grey Glacier Return
Let the trekking adventures begin! Today is a 22.4km return hike that will take around 6–8 hours. If trekking the Torres del Paine W Trek in a west-to-east direction, which is what we recommend, you’ll catch the ferry to Paine Grande (more details on that here). Once you arrive at Paine Grande, go straight to reception to check in, set up your tent and unload some gear. Only a daypack will be necessary for your hike to Grey Glacier. You’ll then return to camp at Paine Grande in the evening.
Today’s hike from Paine Grande to Grey Glacier and back isn’t too strenuous. You’ll begin trekking in Torres del Paine slightly upwards and away from the stunning turquoise Lago Pehoe. Then the path takes you alongside Lago Grey (Grey Lake) with some gorgeous viewpoints by your side. For the best views, you MUST veer to the left and scramble up some rocks for a higher viewpoint, before arriving at the information stand at Gray Glacier.
There is a 4pm cut-off for the Grey Glacier to Paine Grande route. So you won’t have time to see the glacier up close. Unless you’re up for an additional 8km (4km each way) hike and can make it back in time. Personally, from the photos we’ve seen, the first Mirador that you’ll get to really gives the best viewpoint of the glacier and its surroundings. So no FOMO for heading back to camp from this point! By the way, returning from Grey Glacier to Paine Grande takes around 3–4 hours.
Day 2 – Paine Grande to Los Cuernos via Mirador Británico
You’ll want an early start as today’s trekking in Torres del Paine is slightly longer. Also, you’ll have your big rucksack for large portions of the day, which might slow you down a little. Day 2 is a 28km hike that’ll take around 8–9.5 hours. The trail is muddy at times but more or less flat. You’ll initially pass by the tranquil Lago Skottsberg. Soon enough you will arrive at Campo Italiano (see specific distances/times in the table below). Campo Italiano is the trailhead for the return Mirador Británico hike during the Torres del Paine W Trek.
Leave your rucksack at Campo Italiano. This is because the hike to the mirador is very steep. It is a common and safe thing to do. Just take your day pack with valuables and essentials. On this portion of the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia, you’ll be trekking in the French Valley. Firstly, you’ll pass by Mirador Frances which provides epic views of the surrounding glacier. But, the amphitheatre of mountains bestowed upon you at Mirador Británico is truly breathtaking.
Beck and I enjoyed some speed hiking to and from Mirador Británico with the lighter backpack.
When you’re back at Campo Italiano, you’ll then pick up your rucksack before continuing. You’ll then head to Los Cuernos campsite passing the magnificent Lago Nordenskjöld. Once you’re walking on a pebble beach, you’ll know you’re close to the Los Cuernos campsite. Arriving at Los Cuernos signals the end of your trekking on Day 2 of the Torres del Paine W Trek.
Day 3 – Los Cuernos to Refugio Chileno Plus Las Torres Return
Today you’ll FINALLY be rewarded with seeing Las Torres (The Towers) along the Torres del Paine W Trek! This involves a 24km hike and will take around 8.5–9.5 hours. We recommend another early start to beat the crowds. There’s nothing we dislike more than a busy trail to ruin the ambience! From Los Cuernos, you’ll make your way to Refugio Chileno with Lago Nordenskjöld by your side.
Like the previous day, dump your rucksack at Chileno and check in and set up your tent. You can just take a daypack with you for the return hike to Las Torres. You’ll find the way there starts steep and ends even steeper. There is a really tough slog right before Mirador Las Torres, AKA Las Torres base. But oh my lucky stars it is worth it!
The unbelievable scenery of Las Torres we had been dying to see for years was amazing. Certainly, Las Torres is the pinnacle attraction along the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia. Hopefully, the sun is out to really accentuate the emerald lagoon. Also, hopefully, there are no clouds obstructing the visibility of the towers. Afterwards, you can make your triumphant return to camp! That’s a wrap of Day 3 on trekking the multi-day hike in Torres del Paine.
Day 4 – Refugio Chileno to Hotel Las Torres
From Chileno, it’s possible to head back up to Las Torres for sunrise. This is if you are willing to leave at 4am. Unfortunately for us, Chileno was booked out so we had to alternatively stay at Central Sitio on Day 3 (nearby Hotel Las Torres). We didn’t fancy the 2:30am wakeup to hike back up to Las Torres via Chileno for sunrise.
If you miss out on a spot at Chileno, Central Sitio is a great backup option. It does add another 5.5km to Day 3, totalling a massive 29.5km. But, the extra distance is all downhill. Another benefit is that you don’t need to do much trekking in Torres del Paine on the morning of Day 4 as you’ll already be near the bus station (more on that below!)
So, that’s a brief description of the itinerary you’ll enjoy during a self-guided 4 day Torres del Paine W trekking adventure. Below, we’ll look at a GPS-guided map of the Torres del Paine W Trek as well as some of the trail specs. This will include information about the distance, duration and elevation profile of the multi-day hike.
Torres del Paine W Trek Map
This is a GPS-guided map of the Torres del Paine W Trek. In terms of Torres del Paine W trekking maps, you’ll be given an official map given on Day 1 at the Torres del Paine entrance office. On this map, you’ll find it uses time instead of distance. This is rather strange for many reasons. But mainly because of varying walking paces. Other maps we did find online that had distances were inaccurate. This is why the Torres del Paine distance/duration table we have provided will be different from others online.
To be fully prepared, consider downloading a GPS-guided map (like the one below) before you set out. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
Torres del Paine W Trek Distance and Duration
This table will give you an idea of the trekking distance and times during the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia when completed in 4 days. Below, you’ll see the distance and time for the main sections along the route.
|Route – Day||Kilometres (km)/Miles (mi.)||Hours (hrs)|
|Paine Grande to Gray Glacier – Day 1||11.2km/7mi.||3–4hrs|
|Gray Glacier to Paine Grande – Day 1||11.2km/7mi.||3–4hrs|
|Paine Grande to Campo Italiano – Day 2||7.5km/4.65mi.||2–2.5hrs|
|Campo Italiano to Mirador Británico – Day 2||7.5km/4.65mi.||2.5–3hrs|
|Mirador Británico to Campo Italiano – Day 2||7.5km/4.65mi.||2–2.5hrs|
|Campo Italiano to Los Cuernos – Day 2||5.5km/3.4mi.||1.5hrs|
|Los Cuernos to Chileno Refugio – Day 3||12.8km/8mi.||4.5–5hrs|
|Chileno Refugio to Mirador Las Torres – Day 3||5.6km/3.5mi.||2–2.5hrs|
|Mirador Las Torres to Chileno Refugio – Day 3||5.6km/3.5mi.||2hrs|
|Chileno Refugio to Hotel Las Torres – Day 4||4.8km/3mi.||2hrs|
Torres del Paine W Trek Elevation Gain
- Day 1: approximately 185m
- Day 2: approximately 710m
- Day 3: approximately 740m
- Day 4: minimal to none
Please keep in mind that this is not accumulated elevation gain. Given the continuous ascent and descent of the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia, the accumulated elevation gain would be much higher on each day. The numbers above represent true elevation gain – the difference between the lowest and highest point on each day of the hike.
Torres del Paine W Trek Self-Guided 4 Day Itinerary Recap
Hiking the W Trek in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia is a phenomenal experience, whichever way you choose to do it. But, if you are not afraid of long distance hiking and want to save money doing so, we can testify to hiking the W Trek independently in 4 days. Beck and I had a wonderful experience and highly recommend you hike the W Trek this way. However, booking and organising the W Trek in Patagonia is notoriously difficult. Please follow on to help you understand how to book the Torres del Paine W Trek!
Difficulties With Booking Torres del Paine W Trek Reservations
Booking the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia takes time and effort. Personally, in September 2019 we tried booking the relevant campsites for the W Trek around 4–5 months in advance of the 2020 season. Unfortunately, one of the integral campsites (Refugio Chileno) was already booked out. So if you’re doing the W Trek independently in the recommended time of Patagonian summer (December to March), booking early is essential. For instance, booking six months in advance may be necessary. This is possible as the campsite booking systems usually open around August. But, this changes every year so you’ll have to keep an eye out!
This guide is not intended to comprehensively explain all of the different booking options and itineraries. But, if you are short on time and want a quick instructive guide on how to practically book the Torres del Paine W Trek independently, then this is the guide for you.
Below, we’ll look at the main logistics concerning the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia.
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Independent vs. Tour Group
Independent! Firstly, forget about doing the Torres del Paine W Trek with a tour group or trekking guide. Not only is this expensive but it’s unnecessary as the path is well-signposted and very straightforward.
Also, if you want to squeeze as much as possible into your South America itinerary and are reasonably fit, we highly recommend completing the W Trek in 4 days. This is instead of the traditional 5 days. We guarantee that you won’t be rushed or miss out on anything by doing the trek in one less day! As mentioned previously, essentially, the only difference is doing extra walking on Day 1. But more on this later.
Camping vs. Refugio
Camping! In regards to the style of accommodation during the multi-day hike, the Torres del Paine W Trek refugios are very nice but expensive. Not only do the campsites save you money; but, they in fact have exceptional facilities. Just to be clear, most of the refugios on the W Trek will offer a refugio/cabin style accommodation as well as a site for camping.
When staying at these W Trek campsites, we actually considered ourselves to be practically glamping! Additionally, the refugios do offer camping equipment. But, it’s much cheaper to bring your own gear. Or, what is usually more logistically realistic – renting camping gear in Puerto Natales before you go (click on the links to find out more about your gear renting options).
But, if you would prefer to stay in the refugios, this would certainly be a more comfortable night’s sleep. We will run through the booking process below. You can use the same links we provide but instead of choosing the camping option, you will choose the refugio option.
Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek in the West vs. East Direction
West to east: the Torres del Paine W Trek can be walked in different directions. But to keep things simple, our itinerary is going west to east. This is the traditional direction to walk the W Trek.
Torres del Paine W Trek Booking Details Overview
So, you’ve been convinced to book and hike the Torres del Paine W Trek independently, in 4 days, going west to east and camping along the way with your own or rented camping gear. Let’s briefly go through the booking process for the campsites first. Campsite availability will provide you with concrete dates which form the basis of your trip. Then, you can book everything else. Luckily for Beck, I took care of booking the W Trek, whilst she planned and booked the Easter Island part of our trip. Great teamwork!
Booking the W Trek Campsites (Camping in Torres del Paine)
Booking the Torres del Paine W Trek campsites in Patagonia can get awfully complicated so stay with me. You’re hiking the W Trek in Patagonia in 4 days/3 nights. So, you’ll book three different campsites in advance strategically along the W Trek. This will be booked in a way to evenly distribute walking distances each day. Basically, you need to book your campsites through the two main companies running them. These are Las Torres (formerly Fantástico Sur) and Vertice Patagonia.
Reservations With Las Torres and Vertice Patagonia
- Day 1 Campsite: book Paine Grande campsite through Vertice Patagonia. Price: $11,000CLP/person ($11USD).
- Day 2 Campsite: book Los Cuernos campsite through Las Torres. Price: $23,000CLP/person ($21USD).
- Day 3 Campsite: book Refugio Chileno campsite through Las Torres. Price: $23,000CLP/person ($21USD).
You can book campsites for Days 2 and 3 in the same transaction. Be aware that Chileno is a relatively small campsite on the Torres del Paine W Trek. So it is the first campsite to book out. Alternatively, we booked Central Sitio (Las Torres) campsite for Day 3, also through Las Torres. This just means you will need to walk further on Day 3. Plus, although still possible, you will be further away if you wanted to do the sunrise hike to Las Torres.
Day 4: you’ve finished and will catch the bus from Torres del Paine back to Puerto Natales to spend the night. Read here for accommodation options in Puerto Natales.
Reservations with CONAF
Not to complicate matters; but, it used to be possible to book some of the other campsites along the Torres del Paine W Trek through the CONAF website. The benefit of booking CONAF-managed campsites was that they were cheaper and sometimes free such as Campo Italiano. But, for the current season and for the foreseeable future, all of the CONAF campsites remain closed.
Getting to Puerto Natales
Your journey begins in Puerto Natales; the gateway town for hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia! To get here, you must either fly or bus to Punta Arenas. Afterwards, you get a three hour bus north to Puerto Natales. We booked this bus through Busbud for $10.50USD per person. Although booking in advance seemed unnecessary as plenty of bus companies offer this route.
Busbud is one of the best online bus booking platforms. Wherever you’re travelling, you can easily compare bus tickets from different companies and book the best option for your trip. We highly recommend using Busbud to find the cheapest bus fares.
Getting the Bus From Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine and the Ferry (Laguna Amarga -> Pudeto -> Administración)
Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia takes place in the beautiful Torres del Paine National Park. So, you’ll need to get a bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine. Using Busbud in 2020, we booked the earliest bus (6:30am) for $11USD per person from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (Terminal Pudeto). Sometimes, the earliest bus will be at 7am. You’ll have to check the latest timetable. We recommend booking this in advance.
Ferry: getting the earliest bus possible is important in order to reach Terminal Pudeto for the earliest ferry to Paine Grande, which is where the Torres del Paine W Trek begins! In the past, it was possible to reach Pudeto for the 9am ferry. But, sometimes the earliest bus will only get you to Pudeto for the 11am ferry. Either way, you’ll be able to follow the same itinerary (doing the Paine Grande to Grey Glacier return hike that day).
Don’t worry if your bus is running late. The ferry will not leave until everyone on the associated bus has arrived and boarded. Additionally, you pay for the ferry ticket on board for $25,000CLP/person ($30USD). Make sure you have cash.
Where Do You Buy the Torres del Paine Entrance Ticket?
Prior to 2022, you’d pay for your Torres del Paine National Park entrance fees during the bus ride from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine (Terminal Pudeto), where you’d be dropped off at the administration building. To that end, in the past, if doing the W Trek from east to west, you’d have paid at the Laguna Amarga Entrance. Either way, you’d pay the entrance fee of $35,000CLP ($40USD) in cash.
As of 2022 and for the foreseeable future, you must book your Torres del Paine entrance ticket online before you go. The national park is no longer accepting payment at the park entrance. You can book your ticket online here.
As of 2023, the Torres del Paine National Park entrance ticket is $44,000CLP/adult ($49 USD). This grants you access to Torres del Paine for however many days you require to do the W Trek.
Do You Need to Book Your Park Entrance Ticket In Advance?
You must buy your Torres del Paine entrance ticket in advance here. You’ll need to download the QR code and show this on your phone before you enter the park. You won’t have any signal out there, so make sure it’s downloaded and ready to go once you arrive at Torres del Paine. Make sure to also bring your passport.
Just to reiterate, it’s no longer possible to buy your Torres del Paine entrance ticket at the Laguna Amarga or Administración entrance.
Getting the Bus From Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales
After completing the Torres del Paine W Trek, it’s time to head back to civilisation! For those who did manage to book Refugio Chileno, today is a fairly easy 4.8km walk downhill to Hotel Las Torres. It takes around 2 hours. Once you have arrived, the Torres del Paine National Park entrance office is close by. It’s here that you can buy tickets for the shuttle bus for $5,000CLP ($7USD). These cannot be booked in advance.
The shuttle bus takes 10 minutes to get to Terminal Laguna Amarga. Additionally, this shuttle bus is coordinated with buses departing from Laguna Amarga to Puerto Natales. So the shuttle bus leaves half an hour before the Laguna Amarga bus departs for Puerto Natales. The Amarga to Puerto Natales can be booked in advance on Busbud for $10USD per person.
Torres del Paine W Trek Packing List
Here’s a general list of everything you’d wear/pack for the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia.
- Hiking Backpack
- Quick dry T-Shirt
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof/windproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers, or water-resistance trousers and packable waterproof over-trousers
- Warm clothes: down jacket, long-sleeve top, thermal top
- Beanie (hat)
- Hat (cap)
- Neck gaiter: it’s a fairly dusty track
- Spare pair of underwear and quick-dry hiking socks: c’mon guys, hygiene!
- Trekking poles
- Toothbrush/biodegradable toothpaste
- Baby wipes/toilet paper
- Ear plugs
- Any necessary medications
- Action Camera
- Phone (alarm clock/watch)
- Bag for rubbish to take back down with you
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping mat
- Stove and cooking set
Five Trekking Essentials For the Torres del Paine W Trek
These are some trekking essentials for the Torres del Paine W Trek.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Five Camping Essentials For the Torres del Paine W Trek
Although we rented gear for the Torres del Paine W Trek, this list may help anyone taking their own gear. Otherwise, this list will also give you an idea of the gear you might need to rent.
Renting Camping Gear In Puerto Natales
Booking camping rental gear is easy to do in Peurto Natales. Most hotels/hostels will offer camping gear for rent and luggage storage. So use Booking.com to find a place to stay that offers both services. We stayed at Niko’s II Adventure. It was actually the most expensive accommodation of our entire Patagonia trip at $50USD for one night for two people. Be aware that most, if not all, rental places for camping gear, even those within a hostel/hotel that may have a 24 hour front desk, close between 10–11pm and reopen between 8–9am.
Without going into too much detail, we chose to book Niko’s because, on their website, they were the ONLY accommodation we came across that offered reserving camping gear to rent in advance. This also included the ability to pick up upon arrival, even after 11pm.
Long story short, upon arrival at 11:30pm, we were told we could not pick up the reserved gear. It was a really stressful situation as we were starting the Torres del Paine W Trek the next day and catching the bus to the national park at 6:30am the following morning. This would be before any other rental places would have reopened! Thankfully, after pleading with the manager, she came to the hotel around midnight to rightfully rent us the gear they had agreed to.
Rental Camping Gear Prices
Here’s a rundown of the usual rental camping gear costs for the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia. In total, by renting gear for three nights, costs should be around $60,000CLP ($70USD) for two people. Usually, a $30,000CLP ($35USD) deposit is also required. Be aware, that you must pay in cash for both the gear and also for a deposit which depends on the rental company’s policy. We had to leave an additional $30,000CLP (50% of the value of gear rented). Certainly, it’s much cheaper to pay in the local currency.
|Equipment||$CLP per day||$USD per day|
|Three person tent||6,000||10|
|Two person tent||4,500||8|
|Trekking pole x 2||3,000||5|
|Stove & Cooking Set||4,500||8|
Buy Equipment in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales
Renting gear is easier and logistically more sensible for someone travelling South America who may not camp otherwise. In hindsight though, you could save more by buying cheap camping gear in either Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. Punta Arenas will have cheaper gear than Puerto Natales. Keep in mind though, you’d only save by buying cheap gear. You’ll pay a premium for buying good quality equipment, which certainly means paying way more.
After buying and using cheap camping gear, you could then possibly discard or pass it on to someone else after doing the W Trek. Otherwise, you might take your own gear.
Rent Equipment From Each Campsite During the Torres del Paine W Trek
Another option is to rent camping gear at each of the main Torres del Paine campsites. But, this is by far the most expensive option.
For instance, at Refugio Grey, you can hire a two-person tent for approx. $29,000CLP ($32USD), a sleeping bag for $21,000CLP ($23USD) and a sleeping mat for $8,000CLP ($9USD). In total, that’s $53,000CLP ($58 USD) per person per night (based on two people sharing). Keep in mind, you can’t hire cooking equipment at these campsites. So, you’ll need to pay for meals at each – an additional cost of around $60,000CLP ($65USD) per evening.
As you can see, the costs quickly add up by renting gear and eating meals at each campsite. If you’re camping for three nights, total costs could amount to around $159,000CLP ($174USD) for gear. On top of that, meals for three nights would cost around $180,000CLP ($195USD). Certainly, we don’t recommend renting camp gear or eating meals at each campsite.
Buying Supplies for the Torres del Paine W Trek
Unimarc: thankfully, at each campsite, you’ll have access to clean water. For food, the refugios do provide nice meals but are quite expensive. Additionally, to save, you should stock up on food in Puerto Natales. Unimarc will have everything you need. Although for the life of us, we couldn’t find apples! So let us know in the comments if you could find apples in Puerto Natales! Anyway, groceries for the four days between two people was around $35USD total.
Camping, Transport and Food: Total Costs Breakdown
- W Trek campsite bookings: $41,000CLP/person ($53USD).
- Bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales: $8,000CLP/person ($10.50USD).
- Bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park: $8,500CLP/person ($11USD).
- Ferry: $20,000CLP/person in cash ($25USD).
- Torres del Paine National Park entrance fees: $35,000CLP/person in cash ($40USD).
- Bus from Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales: $8,000CLP/person ($10.50USD).
- Puerto Natales accommodation before (hostel) & after (Airbnb): $58,000CLP ($76USD) for 2 people.
- Rental gear: $60,000CLP ($70USD) for 2 people, plus $30,000CLP in cash ($35USD) deposit.
- Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate (Argentina): $15,5000CLP ($20USD).
- Food: $23,000CLP ($30USD) for 2 people.
= $212,000CLP/person ($275USD) over 6 days/5 nights (plus $30,000CLP [$35USD] deposit).
We calculated the costs for trekking the Torres del Paine W Trek in 2020, including transportation costs from Punta Arenas. That’s because most people will start at Punta Arenas for this adventure. Overall, the costs are pretty good considering what you’d pay for a group tour (easily +$1,000USD)! Also, remember to take extra Chilean Peso’s ($CLP) for the camping gear rental deposit.
Upgrade Options For the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia (Refugios)
If you wanted the most comfortable experience doing the Torres del Paine W Trek, then consider booking refugios instead of campsites. Basically, if you still wanted to complete the multi-day hike over 4 days, you’d book Refugio Paine Grande, Refugio Los Cuernos and Refugio Chileno.
If Refugio Chileno is booked out, you could book Hotel Las Torres. Of course, booking refugios is much more expensive than camping. Staying at a refugio roughly costs between $50–150USD per night. So, we don’t recommend this option. But at least, you won’t have to rent or take camping gear, which would make for a much lighter rucksack. Of course, staying at Hotel Las Torres would be a great way to treat yourself after doing the arduous trek!
If you’re doing the Torres del Paine W Trek over 5 days and didn’t want to camp at Grey Glacier, then you could book the outstanding Hotel Lago Grey.
Accommodation in Puerto Natales
With Niko’s II Adventure not delivering on their word, we can’t recommend staying there without this service. You’d be better off booking a cheaper hostel elsewhere that also offers camping gear rental. In reality, Erratic Rock Hostel is the most popular accommodation choice in Puerto Natales. Essentially, staying at Erratic Rock Hostel is part of the classic backpacker experience of doing the W Trek! Erratic Rock Hostel runs an information session at 3pm daily to further explain Torres del Paine W Trek logistics.
Otherwise, we recommend searching for accommodation in Puerto Natales on Booking.com.
Leaving Puerto Natales
Regardless of your next destination, it’s likely that you’ll need to get back to Punta Arenas. To do so, you can catch the three hour bus there, which we booked on Busbud for $11USD/person. If you’re heading north, you’ll likely catch a bus the next day to El Calafate in Argentina, which costs around $20USD/person. This involves crossing the border which makes the journey around 7–8 hours. You should book these buses in advance.
Other Torres del Paine W Trek Itineraries
Of course, this guide has talked about doing the self-guided Torres del Pain W Trek in Patagonia independently over 4 days. In terms of the most popular alternative itinerary option, that’d be the five day self-guided itinerary.
Torres del Paine W Trek, Patagonia: Self-Guided 5 Day Itinerary (West to East)
If anything, the self-guided five day W Trek itinerary is even more popular than the four day itinerary. Most people choose to do the W Trek in five days, which just means less hiking on the first day. Indeed, this is the major difference between a four and five day self-guided itinerary. On a five day W Trek, you’ll stay at Grey Glacier on the first night and then return to Paine Grande on the second evening. The rest of the Torres del Paine W trekking itinerary then remains the same. Overall, this is what the five day self-guided W Trek itinerary looks like.
- Day One: Puerto Natales to Grey Glacier
- Day Two: Grey Glacier to Paine Grande
- Day Three: Paine Grande to Los Cuernos
- Day Four: Los Cuernos to Refugio Chileno
- Day Five: Refugio Chileno to Hotel Las Torres to Puerto Natales
FAQs About the Torres del Paine W Trek
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about the Torres del Paine W Trek in Chilean Patagonia.
Where Is the W Trek?
The W Trek is a multi-day hike that takes place in the Torres del Paine National Park in the Magallanes Region of Chilean Patagonia.
How Long Is the Torres del Paine W Trek?
The multi-day W Trek is around 80 kilometres (50 miles).
What Is the Altitude of the Torres del Paine W Trek?
The highest altitude of the W Trek is at the base of Las Torres, which is around 900 metres above sea level. The second highest altitude is at Mirador Británico, which is around 765 metres above sea level. Most of the W Trek takes place around 150–350 metres above sea level. Indeed, the W Trek is a low-altitude multi-day hike.
How Fit Do You Need to Be to Hike the W Trek?
Only a reasonable level of fitness is required to do the W Trek. Sure, the trek up to Mirador Británico and also up to Las Torres is very physically demanding. But, if you have a reasonable level of fitness, you’ll be fine. Of course, trekking with a heavy rucksack means the W Trek isn’t easy. We’d say the W Trek is of moderate difficulty. There are no technical sections and navigation is easy, so trekking experience isn’t exactly required. But, you’ll want a reasonable level of fitness to complete the W Trek. If in doubt, choose to do the multi-day hike over five days instead of four days. Hiking over five days will be a bit easier.
When Can You Hike the W Trek?
Torres del Pain National Park is open all year-round. But, it’s only possible to do self-guided trekking in Torres del Pain between October and April. If you want to hike in the winter months (May to September), you’ll need to arrange a guide.
How Do You Make Campsite and Refugio Bookings For Torres del Paine?
Please read this section of our guide, where we explain exactly how and what campsites/refugios to book for the W Trek.
What Equipment Do You Need to Hike the W Trek Without a Tour?
Please read our W Trek packing list to find out what equipment you’ll need to take. Otherwise, read our Renting Camping Gear In Puerto Natales section, to find out everything you need to know about renting gear for the W Trek.
What Are the Buying Options For Equipment For the Torres del Paine W Trek?
Read this section.
How Do You Get From Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales?
In the Getting the Bus From Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales section, we talk about how to get from the national park to Puerto Natales after finishing the W Trek.
Is it Useful to Have a Trekking Guide to Do the Torres del Paine W Trek?
A guide isn’t necessary for the Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia. That’s because the trail is well signposted, easy to navigate and you’re able to book accommodation en route independently in advance. Although, a guide is compulsory if you decide to hike in the national park in winter (May–September).
Can You Do Day Hikes in Torres del Paine?
Yes, it’s possible to do day hikes in the Torres del Paine National Park. It’s possible to organise day trekking on Torres del Paine trails independently or through tour companies. Get Your Guide offers awesome full-day Torres del Paine hike tours, from Puerto Natales. The Torres del Paine Park Full Day Tour is a popular day hike tour option.
Planning Your Trip to Patagonia
Personally, Beck and I spent well over a month in Patagonia. We started in Ushuaia and ended in Bariloche, making many stops along the way. If you need help planning your trip or need some travel inspiration, check out our Patagonia guides.
Extra Tips For Hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek Self-Guided
- Go to Las Torres early: arriving at Las Torres around midday is the worst time of day to get there in peak season. This is because the Chileno to Las Torres stretch of the trek has tough upward narrow sections which lead to frustratingly long queues. So starting your hike as early as possible on Day 3 can help you avoid this! What about delaying your arrival to Las Torres until mid-afternoon? Although a good idea in theory, there are cut-off times for starting the hike. So it may not be possible. The sunrise hike may be your best bet to avoid crowds. A friend of ours arrived at Las Torres mid-morning and commented that it was really quiet.
- ATMs: there are ATMs in Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales. But similar to Argentina, you will be hit with a $5-7USD conversion fee. So bring $USD cash to exchange in Santiago if possible. You’ll have a better rate in Santiago than in Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales.
- Pack wet weather gear: even though it’s ‘summer’, it’s still Patagonia! We encountered rain at some point in each day when hiking the W Trek in February. Although sometimes not lasting too long, you will definitely need at the very least – waterproof hiking boots, trousers, a jacket and a bag cover to see off those damp spells. So make sure you don’t leave home without these!
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