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Self-guided W Trek (5D/4N)

Hike the original W Trek independently and experience the highlights of this unique region at your own pace. Trek to the best lookout points for stunning views of the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park, camping along the way, without the worry of having to plan the whole thing. Explore beautiful valleys and immense glaciers, with an opportunity to ice-hike and kayak.

Are you hoping to travel before April 2023?

Patagonia's a big trip and we know how crucial it is to get it right. As you’re considering travelling this season, we want to be upfront with you…

Finding available accommodation is proving almost impossible for the self guided W trek trip. While not uncommon, the pandemic has exacerbated the situation this year.

Alongside this, Swoop are also currently focused on ensuring that all of the logistics are in place for our booked travellers who are due to head south shortly.

Swoop has therefore decided to no longer accept any new bookings departing before the beginning of April 2023 for this trip.

As alternative options, here’s what we suggest:

Option A:

Push your trip back and choose to travel instead in the 2023/24 season April onwards has more accommodation options available. The Patagonian autumnal colours are stunning and trails less crowded.

Option B:

Defer your Patagonia adventure by 12 months, benefitting by getting exactly the trip you want without compromise, and lock in plans now while there’s still good availability.

If you are able to be flexible on your travel dates, the next step would then be for us to arrange a time to talk through the options.

  • I want to travel before April 2023

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  • I’m flexible and could travel later

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Trip type


Trip length

5 Days




Torres del Paine

Self-guided W Trek (5D/4N) - 5 - $1,478

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Day 1: Trek to Las Torres (The Towers) lookout; Refugio Torres Central

Day 2: Trek to Los Cuernos (The Horns); Refugio Los Cuernos 

Day 3: Trek to the French Valley; Refugio Paine Grande 

Day 4: Trek to Glacier Grey; Refugio Grey

Day 5: Optional ice hike, kayak, hike or boat trip; Puerto Natales

Start from Puerto Natales and end at Puerto Natales

Landmarks visited on Self-guided W Trek (5D/4N)

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Trek to Las Torres (The Towers) lookout; Refugio Torres Central

At 6am a private transfer will take you from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park. The route passes grand estancias and flat pampas, where you'll spot ñandus (Patagonian ostrich), guanacos, and a variety of bird species.

After entering the national park at the Laguna Amarga area, you'll reach Torres Central. Here, you’ll leave your backpack and take your packed lunch (provided during your trek briefing in Puerto Natales held the day prior). Now you're ready to begin the W Trek’s first highlight: the trek to the Towers lookout.

An initial ascent follows the Ascencio River into the Ascencio Valley. At a lookout point, about an hour into the trek, pause to take in the beauty of the valley's rich beech forests, glaciers and waterfalls.

After this point the path continues climbing through lush beech forests before ascending a gigantic terminal moraine (the ridge formed at a glacier’s end point). It's here, at an altitude of 900m, where you’ll be rewarded by the stunning sight of Las Torres. Stay a while to soak up the amazing views, take photos and have lunch.

You'll then retrace your steps back to Torres Central where you’ll have dinner and rest for the night.

Private transfer: 2½hrs

Shuttle transfer: 30mins

Length of hike: 8-9hrs, 20km

Eelvation gain: 1,042m

Difficulty: Medium/demanding

Meals: Picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Camping or room at Refugio Torres Central (meals in the refugio)

Day 2: Hike to Los Cuernos (The Horns); Refugio Los Cuernos

Enjoy breakfast at the refugio and request your packed lunch before setting out for the day.

You'll leave behind the crowds who are entering the park just to see Las Torres and will follow a route via Inge Lagoon – condors and other birds of prey may be circling the skies above you. The well-marked trail climbs 200m from the base of Mt Almirante Nieto (2,750m) and crosses the Bader River with the magnificent turquiose-hued lake a constant to your left until you reach your finishing point and accommodation for the night at Refugio Los Cuernos, or Domos Frances, depending on availability.

Settle in, enjoy a good meal among fellow travellers, and rest beneath the immense moraine.

Length of hike: 3½-4hrs, 13km

Elevation gain: 312m

Difficulty: Low/medium

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Camping or room at Refugio Los Cuernos (meals in the refugio)

Day 3: Trek to the French Valley; Refugio Paine Grande

A challenging trek to the heart of the Paine massif awaits you today. After breakfast, request your packed lunch at the refugio and take the meandering path that leads you to the French River, a 1-2hr hike, depending on whether you stayed at Refugio Los Cuernos or Domos Frances the night before. On entering the French Valley – a glacial moraine surrounded by peaks and hanging glaciers – we’ll scramble over huge boulders and catch our first sight of the hanging glacier atop the valley.

From here you ascend for an hour through a dreamlike Japanese garden landscape before arriving at the French Valley viewpoint (the 'Plateau'). Your reward is a stunning bird’s eye view of granite peaks and hanging glaciers. On one side is the French Glacier and Paine Grande (3050m); while on the other, La Espada, La Hoja, La Máscara and the main and north 'horns' of Los Cuernos arch upwards. In the upper section of the valley, Mt Catedral and Mt Fortaleza loom like turrets above the landscape. You'll have plenty of time to rest and have lunch at the viewpoint, surrounded by these imposing peaks and open skies.

Your descent is via the same path until you reach the valley’s entrance, from where you’ll continue around the south-west side of Torres del Paine’s highest peak, Paine Grande. This final stretch passes through native firebush and evergreen beech forests to Refugio Paine Grande, by the shores of Lake Pehoe. You'll have dinner and rest here for the night.

Length of hike: 9-10hrs, 18.8km

Difficulty: Medium/demanding

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Camping or room at Refugio Paine Grande (meals in the refugio)

Day 4: Trek to Glacier Grey; Refugio Grey

Start early after breakfast, ascending 200m on the winding trail to Laguna Los Patos. It's here where we’ll see sections of the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field, a geological phenomenon that still guards many unexplored peaks.

Continuing on to Glacier Grey’s lookout point, you pass forests and rivers, with possible sightings of the spectacled and flightless steamer ducks. Have lunch at the lookout point with the monumental Glacier Grey at your feet. You might catch sight of ice calving from its huge walls into the freezing waters below.

If you'd like to do a longer trek today, you can visit the old 'Los Guardas' campsite which has a fantastic view of Glacier Grey from higher ground.

Accommodation for the night is at Refugio Grey, on the shore of Lake Grey.

Length of hike: 3½-4hrs, 11km

Difficulty: Medium

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Camping or room at Refugio Grey (meals in the refugio)

Day 5: Optional ice hike, kayak, hike or boat trip; Puerto Natales

This morning is yours to enjoy at leisure! Options include a 5-hr ice hike on Grey Glacier, a 2½-hr kayak excursion in front of Glacier Grey or an additional hike (8km, about 3hrs return) to the hanging bridges for a magnificent view of Grey Glacier. Note that independent hikers without guides are only permitted to go to the second hanging bridge. You must book your optional excursion in advance so do get in touch to reserve.

You’ll later hike back along the same path from Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande to catch the last catamaran across Lake Pehoé at 5pm. Please check catamaran and walking times with refugio staff in the morning to ensure you arrive in time.

While walking, take in views of Paine Grande and the granite walls of Cordon Olguín. On the other side of Lake Pehoé, a private transfer will be waiting to drive you to Puerto Natales. Since you will be arriving in town at around 10pm we recommend spending the night there.

Instead of hiking from Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande, there is an option to take a catamaran from Refugio Grey to the southern end of the lake, from where a private transfer will take you to Puerto Natales. You must book this option in advance and it incurs an extra cost.

Length of hike: 3½-4hrs, 11km

Difficulty: Medium

Catamaran: 35min

Private transfer: 2½hrs

Meals: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Customer review background image

What our customers think of Self-guided W Trek (5D/4N)

Self-guided W Trek (5D/4N) trips scored 4.4/5 from 41 reviews

On our third day we had around five rainbows between waking up in Cuernos and arriving in Camp Frances. I will never forget those rainbows, with the colors of Nordensjkold lake.

Travelled: February 2022

Jorge Leon De la Barra - Mexico

Swoop were incredibly responsive, with thoughtful and generous advice, honest feedback...we were thoroughly impressed and happy with the service provided.

Travelled: January 2016

Ariel -

After walking to the campamento Británico in the snowstorm with no visibility at all, we decided to wait a while and have our lunch. At that moment the view opened up and we could see the whole cirque, Paine grande and los Cuernos. Stunning!

Travelled: February 2022

Erwin Vroenhoven - Netherlands

It was wonderful. I think we were a little unfit for it to be honest - but the sense of achievement when we got back to Puerto Natales was amazing. We both really enjoyed it.

Travelled: December 2015

Bryony -

The landscapes of Patagonia are literally other-worldly. When we left the park, my nephew said it was like leaving Jurassic Park- it was so unreal. We saw grey foxes, condors, guanacos, and hawks (not to mention many other birds). The weather is as INTENSE as the beauty...every minute, it changed. The trail, though well-traveled, is not for the faint of heart. As times it was difficult. But never once did we regret the strain or aches. The people we met along the way were diverse and friendly. If we said "hola" one time a day, we said it fifty. it was truly a spirit-lifting trip!

Travelled: January 2017

Julie Emery - United States Of America

Everything was perfectly organised and we were constantly impressed with how easy everything was, from transport to food. It meant all we had to think about was the hike (and the wine afterwards!)

Travelled: January 2019

Rory Dormer - United Kingdom

My favourite part was Las Torres. It was really fun to meet people from all over the world at the Refugios. The food was delicious.

Travelled: February 2017

Mary -

The natural beauty of Torres Del Paine was amazing and the accommodations and food exceeded our expectations. Everyone we met, from the other trekkers to the hotel and refugio staff were very friendly and helpful.

Travelled: January 2022

Robert Gallagher - USA

After trekking Torres del Paine, I feel like most of the time you won't need a guide, as everything is well-prepared and scheduled for the self-guided tour. You will also meet other people on the way that are doing the same trek, so you won't be alone.

Travelled: December 2019

Ivo Correia - United States Of America

Highlight was the Valle de Frances in the snow and the suspension bridges with the view of Glacier Grey. We met amazing people from all over.

Travelled: April 2019

Michael Grant - Mexico

Plan through Swoop. It’s worth it!

Travelled: December 2021

Benjamin Hayon - USA


Self-Guided W Trek

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

2023/24 season prices, based on two people sharing are.

Camping - USD $1,478 per person


Refugios - USD $1,728 per person


Please contact us to discuss your preferred dates.

Additional Notes

Pre-trip briefing – You'll receive a briefing at our partner's local office in Puerto Natales the day before your trip.

Camping – Camping will be fully supported (including a two-person tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag) and all meals will be included along the way. You'll need to carry your daypack with lunch (provided) and personal items for each night stop.

Refugios – Refugio accommodation is in dormitory rooms. Some refugios provide sleeping bags and pillows and others provide sheets, blankets and pillows.

Luggage storage – You may leave your luggage safely in storage with our local partners in Puerto Natales.

Optional excursionsAll of these excursions are subject to availability and must be booked and paid for in advance as they are not included in the trip price. Please contact us for more information.

  • Pre-trip guided-hike in the National Park. This adds one day to the start of your trip. Enjoy a warm-up trek with an English-speaking guide to learn more about a part of the park not on the W Trek. A packed lunch in included, along with full-board accommodation at Torres Central Refugio or campsite. Refugio - USD $390 per person; Camping - USD $290 per person.
  • Boat trip on Glacier Grey on Day 5. Take a catamaran from Refugio Grey to the southern end of the lake from where a private transfer will take you to Puerto Natales. This means you will not hike from Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande, but there is an opportunity to hike to the Ferrier lookout (3hrs, 5.6km, 651m elevation gain) after the boat trip. USD $130 per person.
  • Kayak in front of Glacier Grey on Day 4 or 5 - USD $120 per person.
  • Ice hike on Glacier Grey on Day 4 or 5 - USD $190 per person.

Single supplement – There is a single supplement of USD $360 for solo travellers.


  • Meals: 4 breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches, 4 dinners
  • Accommodation: Four nights supported camping, or in refugios
  • Private transfer from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park
  • Private transfer from Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales
  • Shuttle between Laguna Amarga & Refugio Las Torres
  • Entrance fee to Torres del Paine National Park
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping liner, mat and pre-pitched tent for camping
  • Catamaran ticket to cross Lake Pehoé


  • Any additional nights
  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Dinner on Day 5 in Puerto Natales
  • Drinks at refugios not included in the menu
  • Any of the optional excursions described in the 'Additional Notes' section above
  • Guide or porters
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal equipment (see our recommended kit list)
  • Gratuities/tips
  • International and domestic/in-country flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?