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The Ultimate Guide to Hiking the W Trek in Patagonia: Full Itinerary, How to Self Book, Cost Breakdown & More!

March 28, 2023

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Hiking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park is an incredible experience that will reward you with endless views and memories that will last a lifetime. You will see jagged mountain peaks, aqua blue lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and more as you take the journey. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see giant condor birds and make new friends as you stay at the inns along the way.

I found the W Trek to be incredibly rewarding and definitely worth the effort, planning and costs. The trek is also perfect for those who are newer to backpacking but are experienced day hikers. Trekking during the day with inns to stay overnight is the perfect combination!

This blog includes a W Trek itinerary and covers everything you need to know to book the W Trek self guided, pack for the W Trek and be prepared. This is based on my experience visiting over New Year’s in December 2022 and January 2023.



Overview of the W Trek

  • Located in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile
  • 50 miles/80 km
  • Typically done in 4 Nights, 5 Days
  • The highest elevation is at the Base of Towers, 2,788 feet above sea level

The W Trek refers to a multi-day hike that is shaped like the letter W. This area is unique because there are several inns along the trek where you can spend the night. You can choose between hostel-style lodging, have them provide you a tent at the campgrounds or bring your own tent. Each inn serves food, has restrooms and showers and even offers wifi for an additional fee.

The W Trek is about 50 miles and is typically done in 5 days and 4 nights. There are very few technically challenging sections of the trail, but there are long days with steep climbs. If you have experience hiking 10+ miles in a day in mountainous areas and feel that you can do that for a few days in a row, then you will be set up for success.

Because of the amenities offered, this is a great trip to do if you’re new to backpacking or if you just prefer to stay in a bed instead of a tent. If you stay in the refugios and purchase their full room and board package, you will not have to carry all of your food, water and sleeping equipment. The lighter you can pack for the trek, the more comfortable you’ll be.

While the hike itself is not overly difficult, dealing with the unpredictable weather is the toughest part. I experienced really high winds during my trek. Bad wind is common and it’s not uncommon to experience heavy rain, fog or even snow. You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with the good layers and keep your expectations low in case it’s too foggy to see some of the best views along the trail.

Looking across an aqua blue colored lake at the three towers inside of Torres Del Paine National Park. A few people are enjoying the view in the bottom right corner.
Mirador las Torres

For a shorter version of this blog, check out my top 30 tips for hiking the W trek!

When to Hike the W Trek

You will most likely hike the W Trek in the summertime for the Southern Hemisphere (winter in the Northern Hemisphere). The W Trek is typically open to hiking self-guided from October to the end of April, and you’ll likely have the best weather from November to March. I hiked the trek over New Years (December and January), which was really special!

If you would like to hike in the park during the winter months, you can do so with a guide.


Hiking the W Trek Self Guided vs With a Guide

There are several companies that offer guides if you’re not comfortable hiking the W Trek on your own. This can be a great option for some!

However, I think a guide is unnecessary, as the trail is well marked and easy to follow. It all depends on your comfort level, abilities and budget.

If you are looking for a guide, some companies that offer services include Swoop Patagonia, Tangol Tours, Chile Nativo and many more.


How to Self Book the W Trek

Many people assume you have to go through a third party company to book the W Trek. A third party would certainly be a little bit easier, but if you prefer to do it all yourself, I’m going to tell you exactly how!

How to Book the Lodging for the W Trek

Two separate companies own the various lodges in Torres Del Paine National Park: Vertice Travel and Las Torres Patagonia (previously called Fantastico Sur).

For this itinerary, you will book with Las Torres Patagonia for the first two nights at Los Cuernos and El Chileno, and Vertice Travel for the second two nights at Paine Grande and Refugio Grey.

You can book directly with each company on their websites.

A couple of light blue buildings with a boardwalk trail connecting them. There is a porch on each buildings and a satellite dish outside.
Refugio Grey

To book El Chileno and Los Cuernos, start on the Las Torres website. Choose to book the ‘shelters’ and then make reservations at the Central Refuge and the Chilean Refuge. Upon booking, you can select to add on full room and board (breakfast, packed lunch and dinner) or any combination of only dinners, only breakfast, etc.

To book Paine Grande and Refuio Gray, start on the Vertice Travel website. Under accommodations, make reservations at ‘Refuge & Camping Paine Grande’ and ‘Shelter & Camping Gray.’ When you book, you will select that you’re doing the W Circuit and be able to book both lodges at once, along with the full room and board.

If you have any dietary restrictions, be sure to request that when booking. If you don’t see the option, send an email to their customer service to confirm. I am a vegetarian and all of the inns were very accommodating!

I booked my trip for December/January in May and June. In 2022, the reservations for Las Torres went on sale well before the reservations for Vertice Travel. So, I booked half of the trek and then waited until the Vertice released their openings. Keep an eye on their social media platforms and/or send an email to their customer service to stay up to date.

Booking an Entry Ticket to Torres Del Paine National Park

After your lodging and transportation is squared away, it is very important to book an entry ticket into the national park. I did this a week or two ahead of time.

To buy your ticket, go to aspticket.cl and select ‘buy or reserve.’ You will then select the correct park, which is listed as ‘Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Venta)’ in Spanish. From there, you will input your entry and exit dates in and out of the park.

You will then need to fill out a variety of information, such as your birthdate and passport number, where you are staying each night of the trek, if you are traveling with a guide and more.

When you complete the form, you will pay the fee ($49 USD per person at this writing) and receive an email with a QR code. Make sure you have this QR code saved offline (and/or printed) for when you arrive at the park! The rangers will scan it upon arrival and there is not reliable cell reception.

Booking Transportation Between Puerto Natales and Torres Del Paine National Park

The cheapest and easiest way to get between Puerto Natales and Torres Del Paine National Park is by bus! There are a few different bus companies that run multiple daily trips between the city and the park.

I booked my tickets a week or two in advance with Bus-Sur, and I used busbud.com for easy booking. For the beginning of the trek, I recommend leaving Puerto Natales as early as you can (mine left at 6:45AM).

Keep in mind that you will be starting and ending at different places inside the national park.

For the beginning of the W Trek, book a ticket from Puerto Natales (Rodoviario) to Terminal Laguna Amarga. For the ending of the W Trek, book a ticket from Pudeto (Catamaran Paine Grande) to Puerto Natales (Rodoviario). I recommend an afternoon or evening time for the end of the trek, my bus left Pudeto at 2PM.

The bus rides will take about two hours and there are some great views along the way. Be sure to print out your bus tickets ahead of time and arrive a little early.

W Trek Planning Checklist (For Self Booking)

If you’re booking everything yourself, here is a quick checklist to make sure you have everything you need before setting out!

  • Lodging and food in each of the refugios along the way
    • El Chileno
    • Los Cuernos
    • Paine Grande
    • Refugio Grey
  • National Park Entrance Ticket
  • Bus tickets to and from the park
    • A morning ride from Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga to start the trek
    • An afternoon or evening ride from Pudeto to Puerto Natales to end the trek
  • (Optional) A glacier trek or glacier kayaking from Refugio Grey (book with Bigfoot Patagonia)
  • (Optional) The catamaran ride on Grey Lake
A large glacier-fed lake is in the distance. In the foreground, there are some reddish rocks. There are green mountains in the distance behind the lake.
Views on Day Two

Tips and Important Things to Know Before Hiking the W Trek

  • Expect all kinds of weather, especially high winds. Wind is very common in the area and can be really intense. Also know that it’s possible fog will sock in some of the most epic views. Keep your expectations low just in case.
  • You can drop off your heaviest gear at parts of the trail! Bring a day pack and drop your packs at El Chileno and Camp Italiano before ascending up the most difficult parts of the trail.
  • The towers will be crowded but the rest of the trails won't be. But overall, the W trek is not the best for solitude and you will often see other people around. It’s a good social hike because you can meet people every night at the inns.
  • The elevation of this region is relatively low (2,788 feet is the highest point on the W Trek), so you shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the altitude.
  • Each inn on the trek has drinking water, food and alcohol for sale, plus wifi for purchase and more. You will not exactly be roughing it on this journey! That being said, you should bring a water filter just in case you’re sensitive to the water or want to make sure you can fill up at streams on the way.
  • Download the map of the trail on All Trails to follow along with your progress throughout the trail.

For a full list of tips for hiking the W Trek, check out my top 30 W Trek tips!


W Trek Itinerary: East to West

I hiked the W Trek from East to West. You can also hike it in the opposite direction, but hiking it east to west tends to be more common. I liked hiking it from east to west because I got the most difficult portions out of the way early. It was also fun to end the trek with a gorgeous catamaran ride across Lake Pehoe!

Below is my full itinerary for hiking the W Circuit! I hiked 50 miles over 4 nights and 5 days total.

Day One of the W Trek

  • Take the bus from Puerto Natales, hike to the Base of the Towers, stay at El Chileno
  • 9.9 miles, 3,000 feet of elevation gain

The best way to get to Torres Del Paine National Park is by taking a bus from Puerto Natales. The bus ride will take about 2 hours to reach the main entrance of the park (Laguna Amarga), which is where you’ll be exiting the bus for this itinerary.

When you arrive, you will need to exit the bus and have a ranger scan your entry ticket. You should have your ticket saved offline ahead of time and ready to show from your phone.

There was a bit of a language barrier for us here, as none of the instructions were given in English. How it worked was that everyone got off to get their ticket scanned here, whether you were getting off here or not. After they scanned our tickets, we went back to the bus to collect our backpacks.

From there, you will take a smaller shuttle bus to get to the start of the W Trek. This bus costs an extra fee of 4000 Chilean pesos per person in cash. It was a quick, 10 minute bus ride to reach the Torres Del Paine Welcome Center, where you will officially begin your trek! The welcome center has packed lunches, hiking poles and other items if you have forgotten something.

I calculated the day one milage to be 9.9 miles with just over 3000 feet of elevation gain. In terms of steepness, it was definitely the hardest day of the trek for me.

A flat trail next to a curving river with a mountain in the background.
Near the start of the W Trek
A few picnic tables in a valley with a mountain in the distance.
The Welcome Center

As you begin the trail, you’ll start with a short and flat walk back to Hotel Las Torres Patagonia. This is where most people stay to do a day hike up the Towers, and some people stay here for the first night of the W trek. It’s an option, but I definitely recommend staying in El Chileno instead if possible!

The trail is flat at first but you will quickly begin to gain elevation. A little under 2 miles from Hotel Las Torres, you’ll come to the first fork in the trail. Stay to the right as you continue up into the Windy Pass.

This portion of the trail gets a bit steep and there is a chance you’ll experience high winds. Luckily, there are some amazing views whenever you stop to take a break. Two miles from the hotel, you’ll reach a high point and then need to descend to reach El Chileno. El Chileno is located right next to the river and the perfect place to stop for lunch.

You can use the cubbies inside of El Chileno to drop off your heaviest gear before continuing up to the Towers. Depending on the time of day, I don’t recommend spending too long on a break at El Chileno. At some point in the afternoon, the park rangers will stop letting anyone hike up to the Towers, so be sure to stay on schedule.

A view of Mirador las Torres, a lake with green water and the three towers across the water.
Mirador las Torres

Since you will be staying at El Chileno tonight, go ahead and check in when you pass through. Your room will probably not be ready, but you can let them know you're there and be assigned a time for dinner.

The hike to the Towers gets quite steep for the last 0.7 miles. There is a bit of rock scrambling and a lot of dusty areas if conditions are dry. Be sure to watch your step and take your time. This is also a popular day hike so you’ll likely encounter crowds and need to spend a lot of time stepping aside for other hikers.

But the crowds and steep scrambling are worth it. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view face to face with Lago Torres and the three Towers. The towers; Torres d'Agostini, Torres Central and Torres Monzino, are the most iconic sight in Torres Del Paine National Park, and certainly could be considered among the best views in the world. On a clear day, the towers stand tall as a backdrop to the bright turquoise lake below.

A beer and a glass with a purple drink outside on a picnic table at El Chileno. Several people sit at other tables in the background.
Outside of El Chileno
A room with 3 bunkbeds and a large backpack on the floor. Sleeping bags lay across the mattresses.
Our room inside El Chileno

After enjoying the towers, make your way down to El Chileno for your first dinner of the trek. While El Chileno had my least favorite food of the W trek inns, I loved the atmosphere. Before or after dinner, you can hang out outside where there are picnic tables overlooking the river. Dinner at El Chileno is served at long tables and offers a great chance to get to know fellow hikers.

The rooms inside El Chileno were pretty basic. My room slept 6 people over 3 bunk beds (but there were only 4 of us for this night). There were shared bathrooms divided by gender down the hall. Overall, El Chileno is nothing fancy but I had no complaints.

Day Two of the W Trek

  • Hike from El Chileno to Los Cuernos
  • 8.2 miles, 1,174 feet of elevation gain

On day two of the W trek, you’ll hike from El Chileno to Los Cuernos. In this itinerary, this day is tied for the easiest. The day will begin uphill as you hike out of the valley where El Chileno sits, but then it will be mostly downhill the rest of the day.

This trail includes many fantastic views of Nordenskjöld Lake. The lake is a brilliant aqua green color and there are some beautiful viewpoints.

Lydia standing on a curved rockface with her arms in the air. In the background, there is a lake with a brilliant blue color.
Views on day two
Lydia walking towards the entrance of Los Cuernos, an inn on the W Trek. The building has a tilted roof with 100's of stickers on the windows.
Los Cuernos

This is the day where I saw a large hoard of condor birds flying up above and sitting on nearby cliffs. Condor birds are the largest flying birds in the world and they’re fascinating to watch!

Los Cuernos is owned by the same company as El Chileno and has a similar vibe. I actually was here on New Year’s Eve, so we were served a special meal. They also threw a NYE party for the staff (that we were invited to as well). I’m not sure what it’s like on other nights, but the atmosphere was lively and celebratory. This meant it was loud and hard to sleep, so you may want to bring along ear plugs.

Los Cuernos also offers private cabins that sleep 2 people, so try to book one of these if you prefer things a bit quieter.

Day Three of the W Trek

  • Hike from Los Cuernos to Paine Grande and into the French Valley on the way
  • 16.4 miles, 3,102 feet of elevation gain

Day three is the longest day of the W Trek. You will hike up into the French Valley, the center of the ‘W,’ to reach Mirador Britannica. Then you will continue onto the third inn of the trip, Paine Grande.

If you do the entire trail, it will be about 16.4 miles and 3,102 feet of elevation gain. I turned back early due to high winds and fog on this day, so I only went about 13 miles.

The trail starts out relatively flat and easy until you reach Camp Italiano. If you have a very windy day like I did, watch out for the beach areas. The beaches are very exposed and the wind almost knocked us over at one point.

A blue building with a shelf up against the exterior. The shelf is full of several large hiking backpacks.
Bag storage for the French Valley hike

When you reach Camp Italiano, there are some outdoor shelves where you can drop off your heaviest gear. There was also a whiteboard here that had information on what time the viewpoints would close for the day and a warning about the high winds.

The hike up into the French Valley is steep at times, but felt more gradual than the hike to the Towers. You will go in and out of forest areas and viewpoints. Even if you just go part of the way, there are some fantastic views where you can admire the surrounding mountains and look for waterfalls, avalanches and glaciers in the distance.

There are four main viewpoints along the way. When I reached the second one, Mirador Valle de Frances, the wind was extremely strong, so many people turned around here. We went a little bit further, but decided to turn around before making it to the third.

A river with light blue water flowing. There are mountains across the water with glaciers.A rocky trail with a view of mountains full of glaciers in the distance.
Views in the French Valley

After returning to Camp Italiano to pick up your gear, it will be about 5 more miles to reach your inn for the night. It’s mostly downhill and relatively easy. However, the wind was very intense for me and made the miles feel quite long.

There was one suspension bridge crossing that felt particularly daunting, as the wind was shaking the bridge all over the place while we crossed over a river canyon.

You will also pass an area of wildfire damage. Unfortunately, there have been multiple cases of fires started from the mistake of tourists in the park, so please make sure to follow the rules. Open fires are strictly prohibited and camp stoves are only allowed to be used in designated areas.

After this long day, it’s a great feeling to reach Paine Grande. This inn feels nicer than the first two inns, as it’s newer and larger. However, what you gain in newness means that there is less of the great community feeling you get from the smaller inns.

The rooms here are equipped with two bunk beds and more comfortable bedding than Los Cuernos and El Chileno. They also have real lockers if you want to lock up any valuables. Dinner is served buffet style and there is a bar upstairs as well.

Day Four of the W Trek

  • Hike from Paine Grande to Refugio Grey. Optionally, hike up to the suspension bridges and a view of Grey Glacier.
  • 6.9 miles, 1,319 feet of elevation gain
  • Second hike is 5 miles with 1,014 feet of elevation gain

On day four, you’ll hike to the final inn of the trip, Refugio Grey. You also have the option to hike an additional few miles to see some suspension bridges and close up views of the Grey Glacier, which I highly recommend doing.

The first trail between the two inns is 6.9 miles with 1,319 feet of elevation gain. While it isn’t difficult, this was the windiest area of my trek. The wind made it difficult to move forward at times and definitely slowed us down.

A blue lake surrounded by mountains and hills of various sizes. There is a small rainbow coming up from one of the hills.
Views on day four

However, the trail has some fantastic views of Grey Lake and about halfway through you’ll start to see the Grey Glacier in the distance. The trail has multiple ups and downs, so you’ll have a nice variety.

At one point about 2 miles from the inn, there is a short portion of the trail where you’ll have to climb down a rock scramble that can be slick. It’s very doable if you have some hiking experience, but I found this to be one of the most technical portions of the entire W Trek.

A rocky trail with several rocks to climb up.
The rock scramble area
A small iceberg floating on a Lake Grey.
Lago Grey

When you reach the Refugio Grey, there are a few excursions and additional trails you can choose from if you’re up to it. First, you have the option to kayak next to the glacier or go on a guided glacier trek. These activities cost extra and you should reserve them in advance if possible. We reserved the kayaking excursion, but unfortunately it was too windy for us to go out. It had been too windy to kayak for a couple weeks, so keep in mind that this cancellation is very common.

Additionally, you can take a hike up to see some incredible suspension bridges and a view of the Gray Glacier. This trail is about 5 miles with a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. It is part of the O Circuit, so you’ll likely see hikers on the O coming the other way.

Lydia standing in the middle of a long suspension bridge. In the background, you can see the Grey Glacier.A view looking straight across a suspension bridge.
Suspension Bridges

There are three suspension bridges you can hike to, but I only went to the first two.

The second bridge is especially magnificent. It is quite long and dangles 100’s of feet in the air over a large valley. On one side, you get a fantastic view of the glacier. On the opposite side, you can see a tall waterfall coming down from the mountains. I don’t recommend this if you’re afraid of heights, but it’s a really neat experience if heights don’t bother you.

If you aren’t up for the longer trail, there is also a viewpoint very close to the Grey Inn (a half mile) where you can get a nice view of the glacier.

After an additional hike, an excursion or some rest, enjoy your final dinner of the W Trek. I thought that Refugio Gray had some of the best food for dinner on the trip!

Day Five of the W Trek

  • Hike from Refugio Grey to Paine Grande, take the catamaran across Pehoe Lake, take a bus back to Puerto Natales.
  • 6.9 miles, 1,208 feet of elevation gain

On your final day on the W Circuit, hike back to Paine Grande to catch the Grande Catamaran. This is the same trail that you did on day four in the opposite direction, but you’ll have about 100 less feet of elevation gain. When you reach Paine Grande, line up to take the catamaran to Peduto.

There are actually catamarans from both Refugio Grey and Paine Grande, and they go different places. I was confused about this, so I’m going to explain the difference and the pros and cons of each.

A white ferry boat on the bright blue waters of Lake Pehoe.
The Lake Pehoe Catamaran
A view of Lake Pehoe and jagged mountain peaks in the distance.
Views from the catamaran

How should you end the W Trek?

For the least amount of hiking, you can end your trek from Refugio Gray and take the catamaran across Lago Grey. This journey will take about an hour and costs $75 one way. It will take you to Hotel Lago Grey.

Pros of the Lago Grey Catamaran

  • Less hiking! You get to leave from your final lodge via a beautiful boat ride.

Cons of the Lago Grey Catamaran

  • It’s about 3 times the cost of the Lake Pehoe Catamaran.
  • We were told that this boat is much more susceptible to delays and cancellations due to wind.
  • It will bring you to the Lago Grey Hotel, which has fewer transportation options to get you back to Puerto Natales. You may need to stay at the hotel and arrange private transportation.
  • This boat is not first come first serve like the Lake Pehoe Catamaran. You should make a reservation before your trek because it is likely to sell out.

For the reasons listed above, most hikers return from the trek via the Lake Pehoe Catamaran. The boat ride takes about 25 minutes and runs a few times a day. Check for the most up to date schedule at Paine Grande.

Jagged mountain peaks in the background and a green hill in the foreground.
Views from the Catamaran

You cannot make a reservation for the Lake Pehoe boat. You’ll need to wait in line by the dock and board first come, first served. You also need to make sure you have cash - the boat requires $30 USD or $25 Chilean pesos per person, each way. During peak season, they take cash in US dollars or Euros as an alternative to Chilean Pesos.

The boat is quite large so you shouldn’t worry if there is a long line to board. Also note that even though there is a schedule, the boats do not always run on time.

The boat also has stunning views! If it’s a clear day, you’ll get a new perspective of the park and see incredible mountain peaks as you ride through turquoise colored water.

When you reach Pudeto, take a bus ride back to Puerto Natales to end your time in Torres Del Paine National park. There is a small cafe to wait in before your bus ride. You should make sure that you have reserved a bus ticket ahead of time.

I took the second ferry of the day back from Paine Grande (it was scheduled for 11 but ended up being closer to 12) and then waited about 2 hours in the cafe for my 2 PM bus ride. The cafe sold lunch items, coffee, beer and more. There is also a one mile waterfall trail you can enjoy if you have the energy!

When you reach Puerto Natales, celebrate your hard work with a delicious meal, a pisco sour and a nice hotel stay. I loved eating at Cafe Artimana, Cafe Kaiken and La Guanaca Pizza.


How Much Does it Cost to Hike the W Trek?

In December/January 2022/2023, we paid $872 per person to hike the W Trek. This included 4 nights of lodging, full room and board, the bus tickets to and from the park, the ferry at the end and the entry ticket into the national park. We had to pay about $37 extra for a special New Year’s Eve Dinner, so you can subtract that if you’re not going over Christmas or New Years!

Here is the cost breakdown:

Night 1: El Chileno - $125 per person for the bed with sheets, $88 per person for the food

Night 2: Los Cuernos - $125 per person for the bed with sheets, $124 per person for the food (This was New Years Eve so the food cost extra - they did something special!)

Night 3: Paine Grande - $92 per person for the bed with sheets, $61 per person for the food

Night 4: Gray - $92 per person for the bed with sheets, $61 per person for the food

Ferry to return from Paine Grande and end the trek: $30 per person (cash only)

Bus Tickets on Bus Sur between Puerto Natales and the national park: $10 per person each way. There is also a shuttle between the entry to the park to the actual start of the trek that cost $5 per person (chilean pesos only)

Entry ticket into Torres Del Paine National Park: $49 per person

You also have the option to pay extra for wifi, alcohol or extra food at all of the inns. They all take credit cards.

Prices are subject to change, these were the prices for the 2022 - 2023 season.

This does not include flights into Puerto Natales to start and end your trip. This can vary a lot based on where you’re flying from! Note that it is very likely to need to connect through Santiago first.

Ways to Save Money on the W Trek

There are definitely ways to cut out some of the costs!

  • You can camp instead of staying inside the inns. The inns all offer options to rent out tents so you don’t have to carry your own. Or you will pay the least if you carry your own.
  • You can bring your own food instead of paying for full room and board. I would recommend bringing your own breakfast and lunch items and only paying for dinner if this is something you’re considering. I did not love the breakfast service because on some days, I wanted to leave earlier than breakfast was being offered.

Lydia leading forward against the wind. She wears a green jacket and has her hood up. She is also holding trekking poles in one hand.Lydia standing on a hiking trail with a view of the Grey Glacier in the distance.
A windy day on the W Trek

What To Pack for the W Trek

  • A backpack that will fit your needs for carrying your things for 5 days and 4 nights. I carried a 40L backpack and thought it was the perfect size.
  • A small day pack to carry the essentials for the times you can leave your bigger pack behind.
  • A water bladder or water bottle.
  • A water filter (We only filled up on water from the inns, which have drinkable water. But it’s good to have a water filter just in case. It depends on your comfort level and sensitivity.)
  • Snacks! I did not need any extra food than what was provided from the full room and board, but it’s always good to have some options if there are items in the packed lunches that you don’t like.
  • Hiking essentials including a first aid kit, knife, emergency shelter, headlamp and sun protection.
  • A map.
  • Your passport, printed out tickets and confirmations, cash and credit card.
  • Rain gear. Rain is common on the trek, make sure you have a good rain coat and a rain cover for your backpack.
  • Layers. It might get cold, so I recommend bringing a warm hat and gloves.
  • Sturdy hiking boots.
  • Hiking socks and the clothing you’ll need for 5 days and 4 nights. Avoid cotton and bring items that are moisture wicking.
  • Small towel for showering.
  • Toiletries such as soap, moisturizer, toothbrush and whatever else you need.
  • A second, lightweight pair of shoes to wear around the inns.
  • A phone charger and portable battery.
  • A buff to help protect against the dust on windy days.
  • Insect repellent. I did not encounter mosquitoes, but I’ve heard during certain times of year they can be bad.
  • A kula cloth to use instead of toilet paper.
  • Trekking poles.
  • Ear plugs if noise would bother you in the inns.

For a more detailed packing list for the W Trek, check out my W Trek packing guide!


A bright blue lake surrounded by mountains. There is a mix of greenery and rocky areas across the mountainous landscape.
Views on day two

Other Ways to See Torres Del Paine National Park

There are certainly many other things to do in Torres Del Paine National Park besides the W Trek!

If you’re up for a more challenging adventure, consider the O-Trek, which is approximately 68 miles and takes 6-10 days.

If hiking for 5 or more days isn’t your thing (or you have less time) but you want to see some of the park, consider some day hikes.

Day Hike Options Include:

  • Mirador Las Torres, the most iconic view in the park, is often done as a day hike. Stay at the Hotel Las Torres and the trail will be about 12.5 miles.
  • Take the catamaran from Hotel Grey and hike up to the suspension bridges for a view of Glacier Gray. The hike from Refugio Grey is about 5 miles.
  • Hike to the Salto Grande from Pudeto, the trail is 0.9 miles.
  • Hike to the Rio Pingo waterfall from Hotel Grey, the trail is 5.3 miles.

There are many more day hike options, these are just a few! You can also go horseback riding, fly fishing or biking or a variety of other activities.


Lydia standing on a large rock and holding out her trekking poles. In the background is a blue river with mountains in the distance.
French Valley
Lydia sitting on a rock and looking out at the Towers, 3 mountain peaks in Torres Del Paine National Park.
Mirador las Torres

FAQs about the W Trek

How difficult is the W Trek?

The trail itself is not difficult on the W Trek. It is well marked and there are just a couple areas of rock scrambling. However, the difficult part is hiking a long distance every day and carrying heavy packs. You should be used to hiking 10+ miles on a day hike and carrying a heavy bag.

Can you hike the W Trek solo?

While I did not hike the W Trek solo, I would be very comfortable doing so. I thought that the trail was well marked and felt very safe. With the shared dorms and communal dinners, it’s really easy to meet other hikers and make friends along the way.

Would you recommend the W Trek or doing day hikes?

My experience on the W Trek was one I will never forget and I think it is very much worth doing! If you have the time, I highly recommend doing the entire W trek instead of just day hikes.

Is the water safe to drink in Torres Del Paine National Park?

The water tends to be safe to drink from the water sources at the inns. Some hikers also drink water directly from streams, but I’ve heard mixed reviews and that is not something I would recommend. I recommend bringing a water filter just in case, but it all depends on your comfort level and sensitivity.

Are there mosquitoes on the W Trek?

I did not encounter mosquitoes on the W trek, but I’ve heard that others have during certain months when it is rainy and warm. Bring insect repellent just in case.

What is the hardest part of the W Trek?

I thought the hike to the Base of the Towers was the hardest part of the trek. It’s a long day with a steep climb.

What kind of wildlife will you see on the W Trek?

I saw very little wildlife on the trek, but I did see several condor birds! There are gauchos (llamas) in Torres Del Paine National Park, but it’s rare to see them on this trail. You will likely see them along the roads driving in and out of the parks instead.

Other animals that live in the park but are rare to see are pumas, huemul deer and foxes. There are no bears in Torres Del Paine, so there is no need to carry bear spray.

Final Thoughts

If you have dreamed about a trip to Patagonia, I hope this guide will help you make it a reality! The W trek and a visit to Torres Del Paine National Park a bucket list experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

If you’re flying all the way to Patagonia, I recommend more adventures than just the W Trek. After the trek, I drove into Argentina to continue my trip. Check out my 2 week Patagonia itinerary and my guide to renting a car in Patagonia to continue planning!

For more Patagonia guides, check out these blogs:

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