EXPIERENCE A TRUE ADVENTURE: THE W CIRCUIT
Torres del Paine National Park is a dream for hiking enthusiasts from all over the world. Located in Chilean Patagonia, it is a place where you can enjoy the sound of birds, the wonders of nature and a challenge rooted with adventure.
One of the most well-known routes in the park is the “W” circuit, including the famous Torres del Paine Towers, French Valley and Glacier Grey, all with indescribable beauty that surpasses all imagination. A unique experience of mountains, lagoons, rivers, forests and glaciers, it will be forever engraved in the hearts of those who experience it!
To maximize your experience, it is necessary to consider the following recommendations when planning your trip:
- Organize your travel date: During your trip, it is possible to experience all four seasons in one day: wind, rain, sun, snow, etc. It is recommended to have layers and good trekking shoes to be prepared for any event. It is important to plan your reservations ahead of time, especially from November to February, which is considered high-season in the park. We also recommend visiting during the months of September, October, March and April, months where there are less visitors and still good weather!
- Prepare yourself physically: In the face of surprising climate and challenging trails, it is ideal that you do some previous walks with weight on your back, evaluating your resistance and physical condition.
- Find the right backpack: Your backpack will be your companion throughout the entire trip and it must be able to withstand rain and wind. In addition, it must have space for your clothing and personal items. Take it out on a test run and evaluate what you really need to bring. Your backpack’s weight will be a differentiating factor while on the trails.
Beginning your adventure:
In order to arrive to Torres del Paine National Park, you must first reach the picturesque town of Puerto Natales, a place filled with friendly people, southern cuisine and lots of history. From here, you’ll need to find transportation to the Entrance at Laguna Amarga to register with CONAF (park rangers).
If your first stop is the Base of the Towers, you’ll continue on to the Visitor’s Center inside the Las Torres sector. After registering with the Cerro Paine Reserve, you’ll have a short walk to the official trailhead taking you to the iconic viewpoint.
As you begin the hike, you’ll first ascend through the Ascensio Valley before entering a thick forest of Southern Beech Trees, the trail twisting and turning as you go. As you continue to climb, you’ll cross through a massive boulder field all before arriving to the three granite peaks known as the North, Central and South Towers. To the right of the towers, you’ll also have magnificent views of the Peineta and Nido de Condor peaks. As you descend on the same trail, you’ll reflect on the unique and pristine beauty at the end of the world, Chilean Patagonia.
After a well-deserved rest, a new adventure begins on day two. Today, you’ll border the turquoise, blue Nordenskjold Lake to the Los Cuernos, “The Horns,” sector of the park. Enjoy the sparkling blues of the lake contrasting with the diverse shades of green and multicolored wild flowers. As you approach your destination, you’ll start to spot views of Paine Grande and its hanging glacier, and if lucky, glimpses of the majestic condor soaring above!
Enjoy another night’s rest to replenish your energy, because tomorrow will be a long day. The goal for day number three… explore the French Valley!
On your way to the French Valley, you’ll continue to enjoy spectacular views of the Nordenskjold Lake and Los Cuernos. As you arrive to CONAF’s Italian Camp, nestled deep in the forest, you’ll know you have made it to the mouth of the French Valley. From here, you’ll begin your ascent through a rocky field and after only a few minutes, you’ll be left speechless as you look out at the east face of the tallest mountain in the park, Paine Grande. Take in the awe-astonishing views of French Glacier cascading down the rocky mountain face and listen carefully, as it is common to hear the natural detachment of ice from the glacier, making powerful sounds as it echoes throughout the valley. After approximately 1 hr. of climbing, you’ll arrive to the French Lookout, a great place for a snack and a good rest.
If you’re feeling up to a challenge and time allows, you can continue your way up through the valley in a canopy of lush green trees that will take you to the well-known British Viewpoint. Here, depending on the weather, you’ll have views of Cerro Castillo, Cerro Catedral, Punta Negra, Cerro Los Gemelos, Cerro Trono Blanco, Cerro Atleta de Tiburón and Punta Catalina. Enjoy a rest and when you’re ready, you’ll descend on the same trail and continue on to the Paine Grande sector.
Rest up at the lodge and get ready for a new day of trekking that will take you to the impressive Glacier Grey. Along the way, the wind will become present and surprise you with its intensity as you enjoy the different viewpoints. In the afternoon, you have the option to visit the famous suspension bridges that reward you with panoramic views of Glacier Grey.
Celebrate your last night on the trail and enjoy a good rest inside the lodge. Your last day is quite relaxing as you head out on the chilling waters of Grey Lake. Have your camera ready and enjoy a navigation that gets you up close and personal to the glacier. Close your eyes, feel the wind and the fresh Patagonia air and feel inspired as you finish one of the best experiences you’ll ever live!