Reasons to hike the Full Circuit

The Torres del Paine loop, known as the Full Circuit or the O Circuit runs right around the Paine range. Experienced hikers will enjoy the challenge of some of the tougher passes, and for beginners, this is definitely a hike to aspire to.

  • Complete a full circuit of the Paine range, visiting all the highlights as well as some hidden gems
  • Escape the crowds on the W Trek by continuing into the quieter northern areas of the park
  • Take on the challenging John Gardner pass to be rewarded by breathtaking views of the icecap stretching into the distance
  • Camp with a view at some of the national park's secluded campsites that hug the mountain range

What is the O Circuit Trek?

What is the O Circuit Trek?

O Circuit: the route

Starting at Refugio Torre or Paine Grande, you'll hike the full trek anticlockwise, visiting the three valleys of the W Trek as well as the quieter trails across the north. Stunning views and a sense of achievement await all who embark on this trail, and there is no shortage of highlights. The main areas to visit are:

  • Dickson Lake, a beautiful tranquil campsite with views of the Dickson Glacier
  • The hanging Perros Glacier which sits above the remote Perros campsite, one of your rest stops
  • The John Gardner Pass, during the most challenging day of hiking, where you will climb to 1200m for spectacular views of the icecap
  • Descend to Glacier Grey and follow the glacier as it meets Lake Grey
  • Hike through French Valley, with the vast hanging Glacier Frances dominates the landscape on your left as you climb
  • You will visit the magnificent mile-high granite towers that give Torres del Paine its name, either at the start or end of your trek. Climbing to this viewpoint is one of the more challenging days of the trek, with an 800m climb and 7-9 hours of hiking
The O Circuit

O Circuit: FAQs

  • Do I have to camp?

    Yes, some nights of camping are needed as there are no 'refugios' at certain points along the route. Almost all the group trips have camping throughout, with an option to upgrade on certain nights.

    Remember that if you join a guided tour then you'll be very well looked after at each of the campsites; tents will be set up for you and good hearty meals prepared for you.

  • Will I have to carry all my kit?

    Generally speaking, the guide and their assistant will carry all the group equipment (tents, food, fuel, radio, first aid kit, safety equipment) and you will only be expected to carry your personal clothing, sleeping bag and sleeping mat. Sometimes people choose to hire a porter to help with this (often between two people), but in Chile this is expensive.

  • Do I need a guide?

    Many young Chileans hike this route independently, but it is very remote and not without its risks. The weather conditions change, and heavy snow is known to come down on the higher passes, so navigation can become very difficult; sadly this route claims one or two lives each year. With this in mind, we strongly advise joining a guided group, but for very experienced hikers we have occasionally arranged self-guided treks.

  • How wild and remote is the O Circuit?

    This route used to offer hikers a true sense of Patagonia at its most wild and remote, however it has become world famous and there are more and more people on the route. If you're looking to really get off-the-beaten-track, then let us know and we can advise on alternative routes within Torres del Paine and in other parts of Patagonia.

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Sarah says

You always hike the circuit anti-clockwise, because the John Gardner pass is too steep in a clockwise direction. Besides, the view with the whole ice cap below you as come over the pass is THE reason to do the full circuit.

Sarah Schneider Patagonia Specialist

More hiking in Patagonia

For avid hikers, Torres del Paine is certainly one to tick off the bucket list, but this national park is not alone. The whole Patagonian region boasts some of the best hiking in the world, with glaciers, volcanoes, forests and pampa waiting to be explored. Visit our hiking page to find out more about the full options available. 

Our combination trips allow you to see Torres del Paine and also explore a little wider. Prepare for your Circuit Trek by climbing volcanoes in the Lake District, or balance out the busy national park with a few weeks in the wild, remote Dientes range.

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What Our Customers Think of The O Circuit

The O Circuit trips scored 4.3/5 from 62 reviews

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The circuit trek in Torre del Paine was by far the highlight. The remoteness and the untouched nature were amazing. Both of our guides on the hikes were amazing! The simple and quiet beauty is what we will remember forever.

Travelled: December 2017

Erin - USA

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One of the things I loved about the circuit was the variety. Hiking through the forests, the valleys, the beautiful plains, over the passes, alongside glacier fields were all highlights. I also loved seeing the mountains in different perspectives throughout the hike.

Travelled: December 2017

Tim - USA

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The highlight of the trek was going over the John Gardner pass and then seeing the enormous ice fields and Grey Glacier. I did not realize how big they were, now I do. The Full Circuit met our expectations and so glad we did this and not the W because that is so crowded.

Travelled: November 2017

Trina - USA

Most memorable was walking over the John Gardner pass in 100km an hour winds on the O Circuit and seeing Grey Glacier. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Melanie Ford - UK

It was honestly so amazing to be out there without any distractions, doing something I never thought I’d be able to do. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Amy Hoffmann - USA

All I can say is O.M.G! If you ever thought hiking was redundant, do this trek! Every day brought something completely different from hiking up to peaks, through the forest, following the valley, along watersides, you name it - it was on this circuit. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Amy Hoffmann - USA

I always thought hiking could be a bit redundant. This trek changed my mind completely. Every day brought something special and really kept my mind at peace and my heart full. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Amy Hoffmann - USA

Guide and porters were super. O trek is an incredible journey; scenery can’t be beat. Trip of a lifetime. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Barbara McCleary - USA

Difficult to put into words but it's was almost like the French Valley and Towers were the 'dessert courses' of this trek whereas the main course was in the previous days... with the more challenging terrain, weather and a glimpse of the vast expanse of ice which contributes to the uniqueness of this part of the world. So for me I came away feeling thoroughly sated... like this trek had given me a taste of the full menu! Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Nick Partridge - UK

The first viewpoint on day 2 really blew me away. I saw a glacier calve at Perros Camp which was unreal. Obviously Lago Grey, French Valley, and the towers all made me so grateful to be in the park on this trip. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Michael Pellegrino - USA

I would suggest training a bit and being active before the trip to get the most out of it. Make sure you have boots you are comfortable with and a good windbreaker. Also, bring snacks. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Michael Pellegrino - USA

Tape your feet to prevent the blisters. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2021

Kendra Barnett - USA

Every turn in the trail, every hill you climb is a memorable one. However, coming down the Gardner Pass and seeing the majestic Grey Glacier is impossible to describe. Read the full review

Travelled: March 2020

Conceição Farias - United States Of America

We loved your assistance in planning our trip through Patagonia. I am capable to driving in foreign countries, but your assistance in transportation meant I could take more photos, watch more scenery, skip through long lines, avoid the hassle and worry of renting a car. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2020

Steven Ray - USA

Really enjoyed the full circuit although it was pretty busy in the more mainstream areas. I prefer the wilderness camping element so my favourite part was days 2 to 6, especially the John Gardner pass day. The guide was really knowledgeable and the camps were excellent. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Amil Patel - United Kingdom

The varying landscapes of the O circuit was breathtaking - mountains, rivers, forests, glacier lakes, valleys, and meadows. We didn't realize how different every hike would be. Highlights were John Gardner Pass, absolutely beautiful campsite Dickson, wonderful dinners (especially at Seron) and company, kayaking to Grey Glacier, and the unexpected detour trek to Los Cuernos and back to Perros to complete the O loop.

Travelled: January 2017

Julie Koo - United States Of America

The varying landscapes of the O circuit was breathtaking - mountains, rivers, forests, glacier lakes, valleys, and meadows. We didn't realise how different every hike would be.

Travelled: January 2017

Julie -

We were so happy to complete the full circuit. Our guide was knowledgable and helpful and let us keep a comfortable pace. Logistics at the campsites worked out great.

Travelled: January 2017

Urszula - USA

The Full Circuit was even better than I expected, especially the trekking outside of W: less people, smaller campgrounds with better food and nice people. Our guide was amazing.

Travelled: December 2016

Aude -

Within Torres del Paine, there was so much more flora than we were anticipating, the orchids stunning. We were really thankful for having a guide through the backcountry as he helped us to see so much, often pointing out flowers and birds that were naturally camouflaged.

Travelled: November 2016

Emma Price - United Kingdom

Our Patagonia trip was amazing – thank you so much for your help with booking it! Our guide was THE best! Could not recommend her more highly. There was so much beauty everywhere.

Travelled: February 2016

Cali -

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