Heading to Patagonia? Or already in South America? You've no doubt been advised more times than you can remember to explore the famed W trek of Torres del Paine National Park. But what exactly is the W trek? Where is it? Why should you explore it? What is there to see? Let's answer all these questions and more as we explore just what this trek is, and your options for experiencing it.
Where is the W Trek?
First off, let's establish the location. We're way down south in the Arctic regions of Chilean Patagonia, in the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. Famed for its stunning vertical mountain peaks, crisp blue ice sheets, pristine lakes, and elusive yet awe-inspiring wildlife.
What is the W Trek?
Phenomenal trekking opportunities ring the park's massif, creating the seven- to ten-day Torres del Paine' O' Circuit. However, the shorter and more manageable portion of this ring is known as the W trek – so-called as your route through the park will resemble a squiggly W-shape, as you can see in the map below.
Why Explore the W Trek?
Now that we've hammered out the what and where, let's dive into the most important question; why you should explore the W trek! Trust us, this hike packs the very best that Torres Del Paine has to offer into one adventure-filled day after another.
The primary sights will include the three iconic granite towers (torres), for which the park is named. The day-hike up to the main viewpoint is steep but well worth the sweeping views of steep mountain valleys and snowcapped mountains.
Your adventure will also take you deep into the park's inner realm via Frances Valley, where you'll see the magical indomitability of the massif's sheer granite walls, near-endless mountain top ice sheets, and raging rivers.
Continue following your distinctive 'W' path, and you'll find yourself overlooking the gargantuan Southern Patagonian Ice Field – which covers over 4,500 square miles! The sheer vertical ice wall that forms the northern end of Lake Grey (Lago Grey) is truly a sight to behold.
Length and Where to Stay
From start to finish, the Torres del Paine W Trek can last anywhere from four to seven days, depending on your time constraints and preferred travel style. An express four-day adventure is perfect for those quickly swinging through the region. However, a more relaxed seven-day eco dome trip is ideal for a slower and more relaxed experience with incredibly comfortable and modern digs.
Speaking of digs, let's spend a moment talking about lodging. Apart from the plush eco dome option, there are several campsites located along the W trek, offering ample opportunity for you to relax and take in the sights on a self-guided tour. If the tent life isn't for you, consider a Refugio hiking tour that utilizes several rustic, dorm-style huts that offer ample protection from the elements.
Torres del Paine is truly the gem of Patagonia. Every single day in the park with yield unforgettable experiences and views and the W Trek is your best option to bask in everything the park has to offer. Whether you elect to hike with a professional guide or manage your own adventure, you won't be disappointed!