The Torres del Paine National Park is famous for its awe-inspiring landcapes. It’s a great place to do a multi-day hike and try some outdoor adventures. We did the famous W trail so in this post, we’re going to refer to this trail, although there are plenty of other things you can do when visiting the park.
When planning the trip you can choose the trail according to how much time you have and your physical condition. The W Trail is a 5 days/4 nights trek that includes the main sights in the park. The O Trail or Paine Trail leads you through the entire reserve. Another decision you have to make is your accommodation. You can book a lodge with included meals or rent tents. This decreases the weight of your backpack and saves you time setting up your tent upon arrival at a campsite.
Since we were not sure of our physical level we decided to reserve the tents provided by the campsites. When thinking about going to Torres del Paine it is really important to plan ahead because the number of allowed visitors is now limited to 200.000 (since 2016/2017) and you must reserve every night at your different stops, they won’t let you stay there without a reservation. The best advice we could give you is to start early, you’ll be ahead of the large groups creating traffic on the paths and of the shower line-ups when arriving at your destination. Generally, we got up before 7 o´clock, had a quick breakfast and were off.
On the first day, we made our way early from Puerto Natales to the park where you have to do the check-in and pay the entrance fee. The first stop for us was the campsite “Camping Las Torres”, from there we started the hike to the “Mirador Base Las Torres” right away. You could also stay at other campsites further up but with fewer amenities. The hike was quite a good start to the Torres del Paine adventure because we could walk with only daypacks and it is a 4.5 hours hike up, another 3 down. A good start to get us pumped for the next days!
The second day, we went on towards the Refugio Los Cuernos, which is probably one of the shortest and relatively easy hikes on the W trail. It has a duration of approximately 5 hours and the terrain is fairly even. There are no dramatic changes in landscapes but the trail is following along the Lago Nordenskjold which is absolutely beautiful. The campsite here was really nice and we were able to chill by a little beach and enjoy the evening.
On the third day, we had to cover the most distance (about a 12-hour hike) so we decided to get up at 4 in the morning. There’s something special about hiking in the dark with headlamps, especially when you can enjoy an amazing breakfast by a lake and watch the sunrise. We followed the trail from Refugio Los Cuernos to the Camping Italiano where we arrived at 8 am, which was perfect timing for our second breakfast. After finishing our food we changed the big backpacks to our daypacks and hiked up to Valle del Francés which is an absolute highlight of the park. We then walked back to Camping Italiano, grabbed our backpacks and went on to the Camping Paine Grande which is another 3 to 3.5 hours. This day was extremely exhausting, it’s definitely do-able but if you have a spare day I would recommend making one stop in between.
After this long, tough day the next one is a bit more “relaxing” with a 5 hours hike up to the Grey Glacier. It is way colder up there, especially at night so make sure you have warm clothes with you. Optionally you can book boat tours that go near the glacier or do a glacier walk. We just enjoyed the nature walks around that area, the sun setting over the water and the traditional whiskey with ice from the glacier.
The final day takes you back the same way you came towards the Paine Grande camping. From here you can take a ferry to Pudeto, where you take the bus back to Puerto Natales.
Tips for Torres del Paine:
- Book early
- Get up early to avoid crowds
- Book tents from the campsite (great quality tents, and makes your backpack lighter)
- 3-minute noddles for breakfast was a great way to start the day, warm and energetic food!
- Stretch before and after every walk, your legs will be thankful
- Take pictures during your hike, the view won’t be the same when you arrive at your campsite.
- Mirador Base Las Torres (Pretty obvious, isn’t it?)
- Valle del Francés
- Grey Glacier
- The lansdcape on every walk
- The whole experience is amazing, and after walking 79kms if 5 days, you feel great!
For more information visit http://www.parquetorresdelpaine.cl/en/