W Trek: The Route
The W Circuit follows a trail (normally from East to West), in a 'W' shape. It takes in the 3 main valleys, home to the three gems of Torres del Paine:
- up the Ascensio Valley to the best vantage point of the mile-high granite Towers from which the park gets its name. This involves 800m of ascent is a demanding 6 to 8 hour day.
- up the French Valley, with the vast hanging glacier Frances dominating the landscape on your left as you climb. More challenging terrain and wonderful views of the glacier as you hike up the valley.
- along Lago Grey towards the magnificent Grey glacier on the edge of the Patagonian Ice Cap. This is an easier day's hiking and the Grey Glacier, stretching out towards the Ice Cap, is beautiful.
The last section on the slippery scree and loose rocks is a bit of a slog, but that first time, when the towers came into view... I just wasn't ready for the scale of them.
Harriet Pike Swoop Expert
W Trek - hut to hut
Swoop's no.1 recommendation for Patagonia's top trek, Paine's 'W': small groups, highly rated guides, a great itinerary, excellent value for money, and full support before and after your trek. Ideal for solo travellers looking to join a group, and pairs…
From the moment you land to the moment you depart you’ll be looked after by a well established local operator. By transferring you directly to and from Torres del Paine National Park, you will be able to make the…
You’ll be met at the airport by your local English speaking guide, and stay overnight in Puerto Natales before 5 full and active days trekking the ‘W’ in Torres del Paine. Kayaking on Lago Grey and Ice Hiking on Glacier…
W Trek from a hotel base
Day-time W-trekking and night-time pampering at a first-class hotel and spa means that this trip around the classic W of Torres del Paine takes care of you like no…
Don't just trek the W-Trek, do it from comfort. Stay at one of the best known all-inclusive lodges in Patagonia whilst each day completing each leg of the W Trek, plus extras like boat trips to the wall of…
Your guide will take you on a journey to the highlights of Torres del Paine National Park, where you will witness it's stunning landscape and varied flora and fauna, as well as some of its better kept secrets. All of…
Staying in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, you'll set off on your W Trek with all things taken care of - transfers to and from the hotel, full board and a choice of excursions each day. …
A gentle-paced W-Trek for peace- and nature-lovers: based in a secluded, all-inclusive camp of luxury yurts, you'll wake up each morning in a forest over-looking Lago Toro before journeying through breath-taking scenery to complete the world famous W-Trek. Looked after…
Budget and self-guided W Trek
For those who prefer to camp, but still want the expertise and knowledge of a guide, this 4-day option offers a great value way to hike the 3 main trails of incredible Torres del…
Trek Paine's incredible W Trek, with all transport, refugio reservations and logistics organised for you, but with the freedom and economy of travelling without a guide or group. Ideal if you're an experienced hiker but don't speak…
Trek Paine's "W" and best trails around Mount FitzRoy without a guide/group, but with all transport, accommodation and logistics pre-arranged for you by trusted local operators. All travel arrangements across Chile/Argentina border included + a friendly local face on arrival…
A great multi-sport extension to the W-Trek including an Ice-Hike on Glacier Grey and Kayaking Lago Grey. All logistics and reservations are taken care of for you, but you can still enjoy the freedom of exploring independently. 4 Nights in…
Staying in the best accommodation on each leg of the trek, you can experience the iconic W-trek at the highest level of comfort, giving you the opportunity to really relax your legs after each trek. Guiding yourself you can enjoy…
3-4 day shorter W Trek options
Hike to the three most iconic views of Torres del Paine, and get up close to Glacier Grey, with an outstanding local guide. Escape the busy refugios and sleep under the stars in a very comfortable and fully serviced riverside…
If you're in Patagonia and have a few days spare, this is a good way to trek the two main valleys of Torres del Paine and see the Grey Glacier up close. You'll stay in comfortable refugios and enjoy a…
An excellent way to trek Torres del Paine’s W in a short space of time, starting and ending at the airport. You'll hike the Paine's top spots (the Towers, French Valley and Grey Glacier) and stay at a luxury yurt…
Family W Trek options
Designed for family groups to enjoy the iconic Torres del Paine national park together but with unique experiences catering to different comfort levels, ability and fitness. The trip splits the family group into "active" and "relaxed" branches and offers something…
Longer W Trek Options
Become one of the lucky few to explore the remoteness of the spectacular Silencio, Bader and Pingo valleys. Rangers limit the number of trekkers here in order to preserve the natural wilderness of Patagonia, so the experience feels much more…
This itinerary will allow you to explore Torres del Paine with a Guide, enjoying the main highlights, as well as an ice hike on Glacier Grey and remote hiking around the Cuernos. You will be camping under the stars every…
Be unique: start your adventure on zodiac boats and pass glaciers on your way up the Rio Serrano into the National Park before hiking the famed ‘W’ Trek. You’ll be camping, fully supported by your guide and their…
Hiking to the Mirador del Condor provides a unique vantage point on the National Park in addition to the classic ‘W’ Trek; after which you will visit the Seno Otway Penguin…
Ideal for couples: trek the ‘W’ Circuit by day and enjoy the comfort of private rooms in hotels and an authentic ‘estancia’ by night. This is the only trip offering you private rooms every night of your adventure. (This…
Combine the W-Trek with trekking FitzRoy & Calafate
What Our Customers Think
SUPER! Thank you so much for helping us put this trip together.
Patz Family December 2015
I am 100% confident that our experience was flawless and exhilarating because of our guide’s leadership. We will definitely be sending our friends to Swoop when they ask for recommendations.
Clara December 2015
The 'W' is the original and most iconic trek in Patagonia. Enjoy awe inspiring views of the granite towers, blue lakes and calving glaciers. However this is a very popular route, and very busy at times. If you want to escape people then visit in the winter, or head to lesser known parts of Patagonia.
W Trek: Questions and Answers
The W Circuit takes around 4-5 days to complete and the trail itself stretches approximately 46 miles in distance. It's a moderately difficult trek, with easier days on undulating terrain interspersed with more challenging days ascending 600-800 metres. You need to be in good shape, have some experience of multi-day hiking and be prepared for some rough terrain and weather conditions that are best described as "four seasons in one day". The longest days are 6-8 hours at a gentle pace with plenty of time to take it all it in, stop for photos and properly soak up the incredible landscapes.
If you'd like to talk about the route and see how it compares to hikes you've done before then let us know.
Yes, absolutely. Some parts of the national park are best seen on foot, but there are areas that are well suited to mountain biking and horse riding, and a 2 day kayak out down the Rio Serrano is an incredible way to finish the W Trek. For more info see our guide to multi-activity trips in Torres del Paine.
Every year we help dozens of solo travellers to find a hiking group to join in Torres del Paine. Either joining the regular trips organised by our local operators, or putting like-minded hikers together to create a new departure date.
Please get in touch with your dates and we'll check with all of our partners and records to let you know what options are available to you.
Yes, the trails are well-marked and if you are an experienced hiker and are on a tight budget then you probably can trek it in pairs/couples. Some of our customers do a self-guided hike with all transport and logistics arranged in advance, others combine some independent trekking with guided days in more remote parts of the national park.
However, after years of experience, we know that safety and navigation are just a tiny fraction of what guides offer. The local guides that we work with in Torres del Paine speak excellent English and are deeply knowledgeable about the region's wildlife, history, culture and geography. We speak to almost all of our customers on their return and the thing they always talk about is their guides - the very best guides are also great travel companions in the mountains.
The refugios (mountain huts and hostels) are very well located for hiking the "W" allowing you hike from hut to hut. The are friendly and convivial places, even if the service can be disappointing on some occasions. Food is good, the bar normally open, and showers are hot nine times out of ten. You sleep in shared rooms of up to 6 people.
If you crave either more privacy, or more exposure to the Patagonian elements then a 4 day trek with camping might work for you, and it is, of course, possible to take your own tent, or rent one from each camp site (situated alongside the main refugios). The wind can be pretty extreme here - expect one or two noisy nights as the canvas is buffeted by 80km/h winds. We always take our earplugs.
With one exception (the cabins at Cuernos) the refugios do not have private rooms. So if you are going to follow the exact route of the "W" then you'll need to spend at least one night in a dorm. However there is a hotel at the trailhead for two of the days, and on some trips, transport is arranged to a comfortable hotel at the end of the other days.
The period at the end of December and beginning of January does get busy. Places in the refugios normally do get booked up by the end of September when there are more people out on the trails. Flights can also be more expensive if you leave it too late.
The park is a very different place in Patagonian winter (Apr/May through to August/September), with far fewer visitors, fewer hours of daylight and the high chance of trekking through snow.
Transport and accommodation options are limited in the winter months, and conditions can be quite extreme, so joining a guided group is critical, as is planning in advance.
We've worked with our local partners to design special itineraries that get you to the highlights of the "W Trek" in spite of the limited accommodation options and likely snow conditions. We are planning to run a W Trek group each month this winter. See more about visiting Torres del Paine in winter.
Trekking poles are recommended for the W Trek.
Splurge for the refugios (sleep is important), bring gaiters for the snow, bring cash for drinks at refugios, have quality boots, quality outer-jacket, bring blister care materials.
Swoop's Google Map of Torres del Paine
Our Torres del Paine Map shows the glaciers, lakes, mountains and other spectacles you'll see when hiking the W Trek, as well as other landmarks of the National Park. You can also see a selection of airports and accommodation options on the map:
Patagonia is a vast and varied region, with a wealth of things to see and do, a range of places to stay and a limited transport network.
Why not let us do the hard work for you? Our team of experts will work with you to design a 2-3 week adventure to your exact requirements, from hiking and horse-riding trips to wine-tasting tours and undiscovered lodges.
We’ll work around your budget and arrange flights, transfers and buses, to create your perfect trip.
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