Trekking in South America: One of the good ways to tour the Torres del Paine National Park is to get into its heart through its trails, for this, there are two alternatives of different difficulty, the circuit W 60 km and the circuit 0 120 km, 5 and 10 days respectively.
The most popular is the W circuit , people travel from all corners of the world to live a unique experience with nature; with thousand-year-old glaciers, beautiful mountains that change color according to the time of day, lakes of all shades of blue that you can imagine a varied flora and fauna and a blue sky like no other.
Number One Trekking in South America
No matter how experienced you are in outdoor activities or trekking, it is not impossible to do this circuit, what if you must come prepared depending on how you plan to do it and have the will to achieve it. In addition to being in contact with such a beautiful landscape, somehow you fill with energy and strength.
Technically the circuit W is half of the circuit O , then we explain the first circuit, if you are interested in doing the circuit O at the end of this article you can continue on this link and if you need information on transport, schedules and park prices, visit the article in Torres del Paine Park .
Day 1 – Section Hotel Las Torres – Viewpoint Base of the Towers (Ascencio Valley)
In this stage, you will make the trekking to the Base Torres viewpoint, that walk that will take you to the place of the famous photos with the Torres del Paine in the background. This trek takes 3.5 hours from the Las Torres hotel,o the viewpoint. You go up the mountain, on a path of stones which makes the route somewhat strenuous.
At this point you can make your base in the following shelters:
Hotel Las Torres
An excellent 4-star hotel is offering beautiful views of the mountains and the pampas. As it is at the beginning of the trekking, it will take you 3.5 hours to reach the Torres Base, it is not ideal if you want to see the sunrise, but it is good if you do not want to trek with the weight of your things.
Refugios Torre Norte, Central and camping Las Torres
Located about 1.5 km before the start of the circuit, the shelters have bedrooms and offer meals. The campsite has hot showers and bathrooms and you can also hire food at the shelter. It has equipment rental.
Refugio Y camping El Chileno
It is an hour ‘s walk from the Hotel Las Torres, near the Torres Base viewpoint. You have the option of staying in the shelter or camping. It is a good alternative if you want to leave your things and do the trekking in two rounds.
It is a free camp, without great facilities but it is the one that is closer to the Mirador Base Torres. You’ll have to carry your stuff to the end, but it’s ideal if you want to see the sunrise.
Day 2 – Las Torres Hotel – Los Cuernos Refuge
This trek is the longest stretch of the W circuit, 12 km that will take 5 hours since it is sometimes hard when you come up and down, but the beautiful landscape will encourage you to move forward. At this point you will reach the foot of Cuernos del Paine, where you can make your base in the sector in the following points:
Refugio, camping, and domes Los Cuernos
You have the option of the comforts of refuge, the adventure of the camping and the amplitude of the domes or cabins. Whatever your choice, this place at the foot of the Cuernos del Paine will give you beautiful views of the mountains and Lake Nordenskjold, for a well-deserved rest. It has food service, and the campsite has a bathroom and showers with hot water, as well as a barbecue for cooking and a small shop where it is possible to rent equipment.
Domes and French Camping
An hour’s walk from the campsite Los Cuernos, this new site allows you for camping or stay in a dome, where you are provided with a bed with a sleeping bag, as well as breakfast and packed meals.
Day 3 – Refugio Los Cuernos – Italian Camp
Surrounding the massif Paine next trek 4.5 km will not present major difficulties and will take about two hours to reach the Italian camp, start trekking towards the French Valley. Some energetic adventurers do not even stop in the Los Cuernos sector, passing directly from the Torres Base to the Valle del Francés. Everything will depend on your time and desire to continue the march.
The alternatives to rest in this sector are:
Camp free, only has bathrooms, a sector to cook and the sectors to put your tent. It is a good place to base and climb towards the viewpoints of the French Valley without your backpack, an attractive alternative considering that the next section of the French Valley is uphill.
You have another alternative, you can continue on your way and make a base in British Camp, although we do not recommend this and you will see why in the next point.
Day 4 – Italian Camp – British Camp (French Valley)
From the Italian camp begins trekking of 5.5 km of great difficulty because you will have to climb approximately 400 meters on a mountainous slope, with mostly rocks, which will take you 2.5 hours. You will go up a mountain, bordering the French river of great energy and in front of the French glacier on the top of the mountain. The landscape is simply moving, and even more so when you reach the top of the viewpoint. It is the minute when everything stops, and there is only space to admire nature.
You can make a base in the British camping: Its location is privileged, it is a prize for those who are encouraged to get up with their backpacks in tow. However, it is not the option that we recommend because the walk to get to this point is not easy and if you also add the weight of the backpacks, it makes it even more difficult. It is free camping, and there are no facilities, but the good thing is that it allows you to rise in a privileged environment.
Day 5 – Italian Camp – Refuge Paine Grande
You will undertake your trekking approaching the Gray glacier, and this stretch of 7.6 km will take you 2.5 hours to the sector of Paine Grande bordering the Paine massif, walking literally on their skirts and skirting the pristine waters of Lake Pehoe. It is a walk without major difficulties, ideal to enjoy the landscape. When you get to the sector of Paine Grande you will find Lake Pehoé and a strip of flat land at the foot of the Paine that will allow you to lie down for several minutes face up, just to watch as the sun changes the tonalities of the Towers.
In this sector you can make your base in Paine Grande Shelter and Camping: The views of Lake Pehoe and Paine are wonderful, regardless of whether you stay in the comfort of the shelter or closer to nature at the campsite. The campsite has bathrooms, showers with hot water and a comfortable area to prepare your food. Equipment rental is offered.
If you are doing the W you can do your base in Paine Grande or you have the alternative to continue advancing and make a base in Refugio Gray. If you are doing the O, you will have to make your base in the next Refuge.
Day 6 – Refuge Paine Grande – Glacier Gray Viewpoint (Gray Glacier Valley)
From the Paine Grande base, continue towards the Gray Glacier. After about 1 hour, you arrive at the first viewpoint of Gray Lake, and if you have energy, and we recommend it, you should continue for about 3 hours, to complete the 14 km until you reach the second viewpoint of the Gray Lake and Glacier.
The scenery is spectacular. The proximity to the glacier will allow you to hear it creak constantly and if you are lucky, see some detachment; listening to the glacier crunch is something magical.
The Refugio y Camping Gray has located just 3 km from the viewpoint of the Gray Glacier. If you are doing the O, you will pass through this sector, and it will be the place to do your base. If you are doing the W, if you have the energy to get to this point with your things, we recommend that you spend the night in this sector, so you can live the experience of waking up next to a glacier.
The Gray shelter offers the comforts of shelter, with beds, sleeping bags and meals; the campsite has a barbecue area, bathrooms and showers with hot water at certain times. It has a small warehouse and offers the alternative of leasing equipment.
If you are doing the W, this is the last point of the circuit. What remains is to go down to Paine Grande to take the ferry back. On the contrary, if you plan to make the circuit OR continue reading here.