Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most popular national parks in not just Chile but the entire Andes region, and for good reason. The peaks rise up in ragged glory, the fauna is incredibly varied and the glaciers are (still) of an astonishing length.
The Torres del Paine O-Circuit and the W-Trek are the two most famous, multi-day hiking routes within Torres del Paine National Park. Over four or five days of hiking, the W-Trek offers spectacular views of the
• Valle Frances
• Torres del Paine Towers and the
• impressive Glacier Grey.
WHY SHOULD I TREK IN TORRES DEL PAINE ONCE IN A LIFETIME?
- Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Chile and the entire Andes region, and for good reason: The peaks rise up in ragged glory, the fauna is incredibly various and the glaciers are (still) of an astonishing length.
- A trekking tour takes you through different landscapes and even several climate zones in a day. Even though the highest peaks are not even 3,000 meters high, you can find conditions as if you were in high alpine altitudes, especially when crossing the John Gardner mountain pass. In the French, Bader or Ascencio valleys, it can be very warm and tropically humid.
Which Are the Best Multi-Day Hikes in Torres Del Paine?
The W-Hike and the O-Trek both are classical trekking routes through Torres del Paine National Park. The trails can be combined to create a longer trek. The "O" Circuit starts at the Guarderia Laguna Amarga and leads counterclockwise through the entire park (usually taking seven days). You experience Andean desert landscapes as well as primeval forests, swamplands, high mountain passes, vast glacier tongues and pointed rock needles in front of ever-changing cloud formations.
The "W" only crosses the southern part of the national park. It leads you into the most beautiful valleys, the Valle del Francés and the Valle Ascencio. The northern part of O-Circuit is the less populated of the two treks as the number of hikers per day is limited to 100, while the number of hikers per day on the "W" is limited to approx. 300 a day.
Are There Off-the-Beaten-Path Day Hikes in Torres del Paine?
For those hoping for peace and quiet, surrounded by Torres del Paine’s majestic landscapes, there are several hidden gems.
- Opt for the gentle Laguna Verde (Mirador del Toro) tundra trek, to the south of the W Trek’s main trails. The views of the Paine Massif are stunning, and wildlife abounds.
- Consider the Pingo Valley trek for jaw-dropping vistas of Paine Grande, the Olguin mountains and Zapata mountain. Not many hikers make their way to this off-the-beaten-path hiking region in Torres del Paine National Park, to the west of Lago Grey. In fact, you’ll likely see more Huemul deer than other people. Impressive waterfalls punctuate your hike through vast valley and lenga forest. Explore (with a guide) the Pingo and Zapata glaciers.
- A third less popular, but still abundantly beautiful, hike is the Mirador Ferrier trek, to the west of Torres del Paine National Park. You won’t find many other hikers on the trail and the payoff after a steep, two-hour climb is huge – a rarely seen perspective on the park, including the Paine Massif, Grey Glacier and just about all of the park’s shimmering blue lakes.
Why should I book with a local Agency?
A local Torres del Paine tour operator, like MOSER Active, can provide peace of mind, thanks to their experience and expertise in the region, as well as guides who have spent hours on the same trails you will hike. In addition, a local agency can provide porter service to assist on your trek and, should the need arise, are able to provide emergency assistance and first aid. Every year inexperienced hikers get lost or even lose their lives. Choosing a local travel company also supports the community you are visiting and promotes mindful travel practices.
DO I HAVE TO RESERVE CAMPSITES?
If you book a guided MOSER Active tour, you don't have to worry about camping reservations. MOSER Active takes care of the entire organization of the multi-day trek.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Torres del Paine?
The most ideal months to visit Torres del Paine National Park are November through February. However, to avoid crowds and ensure a bit more solitude on your hikes, consider visiting Torres del Paine in the shoulder seasons of October, March and April. If you don’t mind the cold, give some thought to a winter trek in June, July or August.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN TORRES DEL PAINE?
In Patagonia, the weather can change several times a day or even in an hour. You can experience summer heat and snowstorms in a very short period of time. A constant is the wind, which can be quite strong. You will notice that especially on the days you will cross mountain passes. Thunderstorms, however, are very rare.
What Wildlife Will I See in Torres del Paine?
In between mesmerizing views of the towers and the blue lagoons, hikers in Torres del Paine will see an array of wildlife, including 26 species of mammal and more than 100 species of bird. Look for the guanaco, the puma, the South Andean Deer, the huge Andean Condor, grey fox, armadillo and more.
Do I need a vaccine when hiking in Paine Park?
To enter Chile you have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.