“Can you help me? My boyfriend went ahead of me and I lost sight of him. I’m exhausted and hungry. If you have some snacks that you can spare that will really help me.” I started to practice this statement in my head as I struggled with hunger and fatigue over the last 4 hours of trekking. Jon and I agreed we would meet at the end of Base de Las Torres but after a while I was a long way behind. After a lot of breaks, I pushed head on against the strong Patagonian winds and into the stony trail towards Mirador Base de las Torres. A few other trekkers had passed but I could never ask for the help that I needed. Then, by some miracle, I finally saw Jon waiting for me and behind him were the massive peaks of the Torres del Paine. I nearly cried. Reunited with Jon and our pack of snacks, I replenished my energy and admired the beauty of Patagonia. It was beautiful, enchanting and unbelievable. It was surreal. More than 4 hours of hiking to Mirador Base de las Torres finally paid off. The sky was clear and we were lucky to see this beautiful sight – the famous Torres del Paine.
The Torres del Paine W Trek is considered one of the best treks in Patagonia. It can be done in 3 – 5 days depending on your time and on how you want to tackle the trail. The W Trek is named after the route, which is shaped like a W, which you can do from east to west (Las Torres to the Grey Glacier) or west to east (Grey Glacier to Las Torres). We did our trek from Las Torres to the Grey Glacier in 4 days, which other people usually do in 5 days. We also did the Torres del Paine W Trek on our own, meaning we did’t book it with a tour company. Here is a detailed itinerary of our 4 Days in the Torres del Paine W Trek including details about camping gear, equipment rental, food supplies, park fees and transportation information.
Torres del Paine W Trek in 4 Days – Las Torres to Grey Glacier
Day 1 – Trekking from Las Torres to Mirador
We arrived in Las Torres Camp Site at about 11am, 3.5 hours after our departure from Puerto Natales. We took the 7:30am bus from Puerto Natales (CLP15,000 return) then took a shuttle from the Visitor Centre to Las Torres (CLP2,000). At the Visitor Centre, we paid the CLP18,000 entrance fee and we were informed of the rules and regulations in the Torres del Paine National Park. (A map will be provided at the National Park Entrance.)
Upon arrival at the Las Torres camp site, which is close to Hotel Las Torres, we set up our tent and left our big backpacks to start our hike. After we crossed the second bridge from the Las Torres Hotel, the trail started to become uphill. There were some flat and downhill bits but the trail has a lot of pebbles and sand. The wind is also quite strong in some parts, so be careful! After about 2 hours we reached Campo Chileno. After a quick lunch, we continued the trek into the woods. Most of the trail is easy and shaded in these parts until you reach Camp Torres. The views of the valley are amazing here but the Torres del Paine are still hiding. Then you realize there is still another 400 metres ascent to go. Jon and I agreed to meet at the top. The weather looked like it might turn bad and he wanted to make sure at least one of us saw the towers, and I wanted to go on my own pace. Huge rocks were made into uneven steps. From 600masl to 900masl, the trail was a steep uphill. I took a few more stops than usual but finally reached the area above the woods. The hills still covered the views ahead. Uneven stone and pebbles serve as tracks. I looked for a flat stone to rest. I was exhausted and hungry. I dropped my gloves somewhere along the way. My hands were cold. Good thing I had kept a bottle of water with me. I wish Jon was here,” I thought. I wanted to ask for help but I couldn’t get myself to say it. I finally stood up and kept going. Finally, I saw Jon and the magnificent peaks of Torres del Paine. All the hard work has finally paid off. The stunning landscape of the Las Torres peaks is truly one of the highlights of the W Trek and to see it on the first day was priceless.
The return trip took about 4 hours. The downhill wasn’t as easy as we thought because of the terrain.
Approximate trekking time: 4.5 – 5 hours one way
Camp Site: Las Torres – P 7,500 per person
Day 2 – Trekking from Las Torres to Camp Italiano
After breakfast, we packed our tents then started our trek to Camp Italiano. Some people opt to skip this part of the trek, probably because of the terrain. It takes a difficult 9 hours (with backpacks) across puddles of mud, over big hills and along rocky paths. Along the way, we stopped for lunch with an incredible view of Lake Nordernskjöld and some snowy mountains in the background. It reminded me of the day hike we did to the beautiful glacial lake, Laguna 69 in Peru. We also passed some beautiful lake beaches and caught sight of the Cuernos del Paine before we reached Camp Italiano.
Approximate trekking time: 8 – 9 hours in total
Camp Site: Camp Italiano – Free (Note: Toilets available but No Shower Facilities)
Day 3 – Trekking from French Valley, Camp Italiano to Paine Grande
Still recovering from the last 2 long days of trekking, we started late in the morning for the French Valley. Without backpacks (we left them at Camp Italiano), it was definitely a lot easier. Until the first view point, the trail is not much better than the day before. We had to walk over a lot of huge rocks on parts of the trail but it’s mostly flat so it wasn’t that difficult. The full trail goes all the way to the mirador (view point) but it was closed when we were there and it is only possible to go to Britannica, a small hill overlooking the French Valley. We stopped at the open field just before the climb to Britannica, from there we already saw an amazing panoramic view of the French Valley and thought there was no point in doing the next bit to Britannica. Let us know if you made it to Britannica or the Mirador. What was it like?
We returned to Camp Italiano, packed our backpacks then made our way to Paine Grande. We could still see parts of Cuernos del Paine behind our backs, ahead of us the trail was mostly flat among burnt trees which probably died from a forest fire years ago. We trekked over a few small hills and around a big one as we finally lost sight of the lakes. The forest scenery changed into fields where we spotted rabbits every now and then. It was longer than we thought but after a few more minutes we finally saw the blue coloured lake, Lago Pehoé and the Refugio Paine Grande from afar. We went down the final hill and reached our final camp site. The view of Cuernos del Paine and Cerro Paine Grande were amazing!
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Approximate trekking time: 5 hours return for French Valley; 2.5 – 3 hours from Camp Italiano to Paine Grande
Camp Site: Paine Grande – P 7,000 per person
Day 4 Paine Grande to Grey Glacier, Grey Glacier to Paine Grande
Our last day was the clearest day we had in Torres del Paine National Park. We woke up to the amazing views of Cuernos del Paine and Cerro Paine Grande before us. Another day without backpacks. This is the easiest trail in the whole W trek with lots of flat bits and shaded trails. The only difficult part is the huge set of rocks that we had to climb on the way back. From Refugio Grey, it was only a few minutes to reach the view point for the Grey Glacier and the Grey Lake. The bluish ice of the glacier seemed to shine under the sun. The grey colour of the lake perfectly contrasts the broken ice from the glacier. It was amazing, like a smaller version of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina (which we visited after this trek, read the post below for the details). We were lucky we had a good day. We met some people who had a cloudy day at the glacier and didn’t see the best view.
Approximate trekking time: 7 hours return for Grey Glacier
We returned at the Paine Grande camp site just in time to pack our tent and take the 6:30 pm boat across Lake Pehoe to the administration building. The 30 minute boat trip offered impressive panoramic views of the different peaks. We took a few more photos then finally bid goodbye to the Torres del Paine National Park. We left the last boat and boarded the last bus to Puerto Natales. It was a great few days.
Details: Torres del Paine W Trek in 4 Days
There are different ways to do the Torres del Paine W Trek. You can either book with a tour company like Fantastico Sur, Vertice Patagonia or EcoCamp Patagonia if you wish to stay in refugios or lodges during your trek (full board meals may also be included) or if you are after the challenge, you can do on the W Trek on own, like what we had done. Of course, the second option is way cheaper but you have to carry more stuff along the trek.
Transportation to and from Torres del Paine National Park
Puerto Natales is the best town to base yourself before the Torres del Paine W Trek. We booked a return bus ticket to Torres del Paine National Park the day before our trek through an equipment rental company for CLP15,000. Another option is to buy the bus tickets at the bus station (Bus Gomez was the name of the bus company).
On the first day of the W trek, the bus from Puerto Natales will be drop you off a the Visitor Centre (Porteria y Guarderia Lago Sarmiento). After payment of Torres del Paine National Park Entrance Fee (CLP18,000 for Foreigners) and explanation of the rules and regulations at the Torres del Paine National Park, you have to take a shuttle bus to Las Torres which costs CLP3,000.
On the last day of the W trek, the return boat from Refugio Paine Grande to the bus pick – up point costs $28 or CLP15,000.
Where to Get a Map of the Torres del Paine National Park
You don’t need to buy a map of the W Trek. Make sure to get a copy of the Torres del Paine National Park Map from the Visitor Centre when you pay the park fee. It is comprehensive enough to guide you throughout the whole trek. Google Maps at the Torres del Paine National Park isn’t very detailed so there isn’t much point in checking your phone for GPS. Here is the official map from Torres del Paine National Park for your reference in planning your route.
The W trek (in dark red, from Las Torres to Lago Grey) can easily be seen in the map. You can also use it to plan where you should camp, considering how long you want to trek and what you want to see each day. For an ideal 4 Day Trek, you can follow the route we did.
Camping grounds are located along the trail of the W trek. Depending on your pace, you can choose which camp site is best to use. If you plan to do the same route we did from Las Torres to Grey Glacier, here are the camp sites we stayed at:
- Camp Site: Las Torres – P 7,500 per person
- Camp Site: Camp Italiano – Free (Note: Toilets available but No Shower Facilities)
- Camp Site: Paine Grande – P 7,000 per person
If you’re doing the trek on your own, make sure you have complete equipment that you need throughout the trek. It is possible to rent tents and sleeping bags in some camp sites but it is more expensive than renting it in Puerto Natales.
We rented our stuff the day before from Hello Patagonia Equipment Rental in Puerto Natales. They were the only equipment rental shop we found open at 10pm (We arrived very late because of the delay in the ferry’s docking).
Here are the items we rented out for Torres del Paine W trek (4 days):
- 1 Tent – CLP 5,000 per day (Make sure you know how to set it up beforehand. Also check the pegs are complete, bring extra ones as the winds are really strong in Torres del Paine.)
- 2 Sleeping Bags (Make sure you get a good quality one, we had a -7 degrees Celsius and -8 degrees Celsius that kept us warm throughout the trek.) – 2,500 per day each
- 2 Sleeping Pads (These really helped with the cold camping ground.) – 2,000 per day each
- 1 FootPrint/ Tent Liner (Again, for keeping the tent warm. We rented this for free.)
- 1 Cooking Set (Includes bowls, utensils and cooking pots) – 1,500 per day
- 1 Stove – 1,500 per day (You need to buy gas as well, we got it for free. You need about a full can for the 4 Day trek.)
Here are the food items we brought with us which lasted us for the 4 day W trek (three meals each day, including some small snacks):
- 3 Packs 500g Pasta
- 4 Packs Pasta Sauce
- 6 Cans of Tuna
- 1 Bottle of Olives
- 6 Pcs Bread
- 1 Pack Peanuts
- 2 L Water
- 3 Boxes of Cereal
Water can be refilled at the streams and it is safe to drink without any water purifier. Just carry a refillable bottle of water with you.
We also needed some more stuff along the way so we bought some additional supplies at the refugios close to the camping grounds. Here are some items we brought:
- 2 Pcs Bread P 1,000 each
- 1 Trencito Chocolate (Big) P3,000
- 2 Trencito Chocolate (Small) P1,000
- 3 Triton Chocolate Biscuits P 2,000 each (only P350 in the Supermarket)
- 1 SahneNuss Chocolate (Small) P1,000
So in summary, food prices are 2 – 3 times more expensive than the prices in the Supermarket so make sure to bring enough snacks and meals for your whole trek. Also bring enough Chilean Pesos since the refugios don’t accept US dollars. It is possible to pay by card.
What to Pack for the Trek
Prepare for different types of weather. The winds get pretty strong and it can rain so bring enough warm clothes which you can wear in layers. A windbreaker is a definite must-have. Hiking boots are also needed for the uneven and stony trails. Also bring a pair of jandals (flip flops) to rest your feet when you’re at the camp site.
Do you want to do the Torres del Paine W Trek? Did you do the Torres del Paine W Trek in 4 Days too? Have you done any trek in Patagonia? Let us know.