The final thing we were looking forward to in Patagonia was the “W” trek in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. The views are famous world wide and we couldn’t wait to see the glaciers, lakes and granite spires the trek is known for in person. We began our hike on September 16th, starting on the west side of the park at the Paine Grande refugio, up to Glacier Gray and then heading east to the Frances mirador, Cuernos camp and the Torres themselves.
Day 1) Puerto Natales – Refugio Grey (11 KM)
We caught the 7:30 A.M. bus, having bought our tickets from the hostel. Once we got on the bus it took us to the ranger station at the entrance of the park to pay the entrance fee. Some people started trekking from here but since we were heading from West to East we stayed on the bus until the Pehoe bus stop so we could board the ferry to Paine Grande refugio. The ferry dropped us off and we immediately started hiking to Glacier Gray refugio. We checked in and took a quick 15 minute hike to see the glacier.
Day2) Refugio Grey – Paine Grande (19 KM)
The second day we left our bags at the refugio and made the trek further into the park to get up close and personal with the glacier. The best spot to view the glacier is from the suspension bridge, so make sure you walk out on it! Once we finished with the glacier we headed back the same direction to refugio Grey and grabbed our bags to make the rest of the trek to Paine Grande refugio.
Day 3) Paine Grande – Los Cuernos (26 KM)
The third day was another long day for us. We were hoping to get out on the trail early in the morning, but the breakfast ended up taking a while for me to eat. I literally tried to eat two giant pieces of bread without any water. I felt like someone had dared me to do the saltine cracker challenge but we had paid $15 for breakfast so I was going to eat it come hell or high water. After I got the concrete out of my mouth, 30 minutes later, I was able to start the trek. We walked to Campamento Italiano and put our bags under the ranger station and started walking up the French Valley. We made the decision not to walk to the second lookout because we had heard that the last part was closed, so we stopped at the first lookout. We were super lucky because as we were standing there a huge avalanche happened on the mountain and we were able to film it. We headed back down to the camp and grabbed our bags to make it to Los Cuernos refugio for the night.
Day 4) Los Cuernos – Torres Camp (20 Km)
By day 4 we were really feeling the longs days on our feet. We woke up today with expectations of this being one of the hardest days on the trail. Although we had a lot of distance to cover the terrain was not nearly as rocky as the days past so we were able to move quickly. However the last little push to the free Torres campground was very tough for us! Once we set up camp we were able to hike up to the Torres for the first time. They are amazing, and at the end of the day we were the only people up there. We even spotted a very tame fox that walked within 10 feet of us, with little concern for what we were doing.
Day 5) Torres Camp – Hotel Las Torres (16 Km)
This last day was a little disappointing for us, it was cold and rainy and we slept in a bit later than we should have. We only got to witness the sunrise for a short amount of time on the Torres. However, they are still a great site and definitely worth the hike, no matter what time of day you see them. Once we were done viewing the Torres we headed back down to our campsite and finished packing our tent and gear and made our way back to the end of the trek. We made it down to the hotel around 1:00 P.M. just in time to grab a snack and take in the views of the mountains for the last time. The bus came and picked us up right from the shop outside the hotel at 2:00 P.M. and brought us back to the Laguna Armaga ranger station. We were then able to catch the bus back to Puerto Natales.
Backpacker Steve’s website was a huge help for us when planning and finding details for the trek through the park. Here is a link to his site where you can find useful information about trekking Torres Del Paine National Park, and other areas in Patagonia.