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COMPLETE Guide to the Torres del Paine W-Trek in 2022/23

COMPLETE Guide to the Torres del Paine W-Trek in 2022/23

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The Torres del Paine W Trek in Patagonia is one of the most famous hikes in the world – and for good reason! It is absolutely breathtaking from beginning to end.

However, booking and planning your trip on the W Circut in Torres del Paine National Park isn’t easy. In fact, I’ve done it twice now, once in 2016 on the W Trek and then again in 2019 on the O Trek, and guess what? It didn’t get easier.

Luckily though, I’m now one of the most experienced people at booking the W Trek – mostly because people usually only do it once!

Regardless though, in this blog, I’m going to break down the booking process on the W Trek from start to finish and give you all the information I wish I’d had the first two times I went!

About Torres del Paine National Park

Las Torres viewpoint in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
The Las Torres Viewpoint at sunrise on our last day of the hike!

Torres del Paine National Park is located in the most southern region of Chile called Magallanes. The park was founded in 1959 and covers approximately 242,242 hectares. It’s one of the largest and most visited national parks in Chile, attracting around 220,000 hiking enthusiasts from all over the world each year.

Although a very large national park, most visitors only explore a small part of the park centered around the Las Torres Viewpoint (pictured above). This is by far the most beautiful part of Torres del Paine National Park and where the W Trek is.

The closest town to Torres del Paine National Park is Puerto Natales. The town of Puerto Natales, Chile is the number one place to stay before hiking in the park and completing the W Trek for a few reasons. For one, the town has everything hikers need to start their journey including rental gear, professional guides, information, transport, and shops that sell hiking food.

The next reason is that it’s only 110 km (68 mi) from Puerto Natales to the entrance gate of Torres del Paine National Park. This makes it the perfect place to begin your adventure hiking the Torres del Paine W Trek!

About the Torres del Paine W Trek

Torres del Paine W Trek
The red line is the Torres del Paine W Trek. You can see it forms a W on the map.
  • Length: 80 km (50 mi)
  • Elevation gain: 2,730 m (8,956 ft)
  • Route type: Point to point
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Torres del Paine W Trek is part of the complete circuit around the national park called the “O Circut” or “Big Circut”. However, instead of hiking around the park the trail only explores the front end of the national park. As you can see in the map above, the red line forms a “W” and that’s how the trail got its name.

There are many different ways you can hike the trail including in either direction, but you will need a minimum of 3 days (skipping the middle part of the W) and up to 5 days to complete the trail. The classic and recommended way to hike the trail is over 4 nights and 5 days. All up, there is 80 km (50 mi) of trail that can be hiked.

Along the W Trek trail, there is one free campsite and six paid campsites with basic mountain hotels – more commonly called refugios in Chile. You can choose between a range of these when planning your trip depending on your budget, equipment, and experience.

Booking the Torres del Paine Trek

Bailey hiking on the Torres del Paine W Trek near Camp Paine Grande
Bailey hiking on the Torres del Paine W Trek near Camp Paine Grande

All campsites and accommodation should be booked online as soon as possible to avoid disappointment! If you are planning on arriving in the peak season (November to February) then you must book the campsites as soon as bookings open.

In the past, you had to make bookings for each campsite across the different companies’ websites but thankfully new for the 2022/2023 season, you can now use BookingPatigonia. This website will show you all of the real-time availabilities from the different park providers in one place as you are creating your custom route. This definitely streamlines the booking process and it’s the best booking system for Torres del Paine that I am aware of!

You can also opt for pre-organized tour packages that include transportation, accommodations, and food while on the trek. Some even include experiences such as kayaking or ice hiking.

You can see a detailed breakdown of all the different refugios in the next section of this blog..

Note: Besides campsites and accommodation along the W Trek, you don’t need to book anything else in advance to do the W Trek. National Park passes are purchased at the entrance gate in cash, the same as the ferry. Buses to and from the park can be bought the day before in Puerto Natales at the bus station or from many hostels or hotels. Rental gear is also readily available in Puerto Natales.

Related Read: If you are interested to explore the National Park in sections while staying in luxurious hotels with incredible views check out my guide to the best hotels in Torres del Paine National Park!

The Campsites and Refugios on the Torres del Paine W Trek

diagram of the campsites on the Torres del Paione W Trek
A rough guide to show where the campsites are along on the W Trek trail

In order from far-left to right of the W Trek starting at Campamento Grey, here are the campsites and refugios you can stay in.

Grey (Refugio & Campsite)

  • Owner: Vertice Patagonia
  • Facilities: Bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, a full restaurant and bar, an indoor cooking area with running water, a convenience store, computers available with internet, and equipment rentals.
  • Types of accommodation available: Camping sites, pre-setup tents, dorm beds.
  • Price: $9 USD per person for camping. Sextuple room (per night) $228.00 USD or a quadruple room (per night) $152.00 USD.

Paine Grande (Refugio & Campsite)

  • Owner: Vertice Patagonia
  • Facilities: Bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot showers, convenience store, restaurant and bar, indoor cooking area with running water, internet (paid), and equipment rentals.
  • Types of Accommodation available: Camping sites, pre-setup tents, dorm beds.
  • Price: $9 USD per person for camping. Sextuple room (per night) $330.00 USD, Quadruple room (per night) $220.00 USD, Double room (per night) $110.00 USD.

Italiano (Campsite only)

  • Owner: CONAF
  • Facilities: A couple of pit toilets (outhouses), an outdoor cooking shelter. ***There is no running water here and all water for cooking must be collected from the nearby river.
  • Types of accommodation available: Campsites only.
  • Prices: FREE

Note: As of Sept 2022, all CONAF (free) campsites in the Torres del Paine are closed for repairs. They are expected to remain closed for the 2022/2023 hiking season and reopen for the 2023/2024 season.

Frances (Refugio & Campsite)

  • Owner: Fantasticosur
  • Facilities: Bathrooms with flush toilets and hot water for showers, convenience store, tent platforms for tent campsites, restaurant, wifi (paid), equipment rental.
  • Types of accommodation available: Campsites, pre-setup tents, dorm beds.
  • Prices: $25 USD per person, an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. $70 USD for a pre-setup campsite per person and an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. $125 USD per person for a fully-made dorm bed.

Los Cuernos (Refugio and Campsite)

  • Owner: Fantasticosur
  • Facilities: Bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot showers, cafeteria with food and drinks for purchase, convenience store, indoor cooking shelter, tent platforms.
  • Types of accommodation available: Camping, pre-setup tent, dorm beds, and private huts for 2-3 people.
  • Prices: $25 USD per person, an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. $70 USD for a pre-setup campsite per person and an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. Single bed in a shared room: $125 USD, Mountain Cabins with fully made beds $200 USD per person. Single occupancy supplement: $175 USD.

Central (Refugio & Campsite)

  • Owner: Fantasticosur
  • Facilities: Bathrooms with flush toilets and hot water for showers, convenience store, wifi (paid), full restaurant and bar, equipment rental.
  • Types of accommodation available: Campsites, pre-setup tents, dorm beds.
  • Prices: $25 USD per person, an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. $70 USD for a pre-setup campsite per person and an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. Single bed in a shared room: $125 USD

Chileno (Refugio & Campsite)

  • Owner: Fantasticosur
  • Facilities: Bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot showers, full restaurant and bar, some grocery items (snacks only) available for purchase, tent platforms for camping, boiling water available for free, wifi for purchase. Note: There is no cooking shelter at Chileno. You can access boiling water for free during the restaurant opening hours but you are not allowed to cook your own food (just a ploy to have you spend money at the restaurant.)
  • Types of accommodation available: Campsites, pre-setup tent, dorm beds.
  • Prices: $25 USD per person, an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. $70 USD for a pre-setup campsite per person and an additional $12 USD for single occupancy. Single bed in a shared room: $125 USD

New for the 2022/2023 trekking season you can choose to book together from BookingPatigonia or individually from each company: the CONAFVertice Patagonia, and Fantastico Sur.

If you’d like more information, you can also read more information about camping in Torres del Paine National Park here.

Planning Your Torres del Paine W Trek Route

map of distances on w trek and o circuit for torres del paine hike
The red trail is the “w trek”, while the yellow trail is the “O” which connects with the red at Refugio Grey. Entrance/exit points at at Hotel Las Torres on the right side, or Refugio Paine Grande on the left.

One of the most confusing things about the Torres del Paine W Trek is choosing the perfect route to hike, or making a new route because campsites are fully booked.

So below I’ll leave three suggestions of different routes to take and remember, you can reverse these to complete the trail in the opposite direction too.

1. The Classic W Trek (4 Nights with the French Valley)

glacier grey lookout
Me, looking out of Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine National Park!

Night 1 – Refugio Grey – get the bus to the park and then ferry (read more about the ferry below) to the start of the trail. Hike 11.5 km (7.1 mi) to Grey.

Night 2 – Camping Italiano – hike 19 km (12 mi) from Grey to Italiano

Night 3 – Camping Frances – Leave your large back at Italiano then hike the French Valley from Italiano (12 km/7.5 mi return) then continue from Italiano to Frances (2 km/1.2 mi from Italiano)

Night 4 – Camping Chileno – Hike 17 km (10.6 mi) from Frances to Chileno. The next day, hike to Mirador Las Torres (for sunrise is the best) and back down out of the National Park to get the bus back to Puerto Natales.

Shortened version: If you have less time, you can shorten this hike by staying at either Italiano or Frances (not both) and skipping the French Valley. In my opinion, it’s not a must-do and something I skipped the second time I hiked in the park.

Related Read: If you are still curious of what this national park is really like you can read our blog on what to know before visiting Torres del Paine National Park

2. Easy W Trek (4 Nights, skipping the French Valley)

cooking shelter in torres del paine campsite
Bailey, hanging out in a cooking shelter at Italiano (it is the roughest campsite, all of the others have indoor kitchen areas for cooking!)

This next version of the hike is great for those unsure about the longer distances on the trail and who want to take it easy. This does skip the French Valley, but it’s perfect for beginners!

Night 1 – Refugio Grey – As above, get the ferry to the trailhead at Paine Grande and hike to Grey (11.5 km/7.1 mi).

Night 2 – Paine Grande – Hike back the way you came to Paine Grande (11.5 km/7.1 mi)

Night 3 – Frances or Los Cuernos – today hike onto Frances (9.6 km/6 mi) or Los Cuernos (12 km/7.5 mi). These campsites are close together but hiking all the way to Los Cuernos will shorten your next day.

Night 4 – Chileno – The next day hike all the way to Chileno. From Los Cuernos it’s about 14.5 km (9 mi), and from Frances 17 km (10.6 mi).

3. My Favorite W Trek Itinerary (Night at Camp Paso)

Glacier Grey on the Torres del Paine W Trek
I never get sick of looking at the Grey Glacier!

This itinerary is the ideal route I think the W should be hiked. I have not done this, but after completing the O Circuit I realized this is what any fit, experienced hiker should do for the best experience.

It involves your first night at one of the O Circuit campsites called Camp Paso. This is a free CONAF campsite and one of the most beautiful in the park. However, this involves a long first day so only those who are experienced should attempt this route.

Night 1 – Camp Paso – Get the bus and ferry into the park and walk towards Grey, however instead of stopping at Grey for the night, continue on another 10 km to Camp Paso (21.5 km total)

Night 2 – Paine Grande – Hike from Camp Paso past Refugio Grey and onto Camping Paine Grande. For reference, this is where the ferry would have dropped you on the first day. So, you’re just hiking back the way you came.

Night 3 – Camping Italiano – Today, hike from Paine Grande to Camping Italiano. This is only 7.6 km (4.7 mi) so once you arrive, set up camp and hike as much of the French Valley as you want.

Night 4 – Camping Chileno – Hike from Italiano to Camping Chileno (19 km/12 mi). Then wake up the next day and hike to the Las Torres viewpoint before exiting the park.

Add an extra day: If you have more time you could add an extra day by staying at Grey on your second night. This would be a really good option and would follow the first itinerary except you would stay at Paso the first night. So your itinerary would be Paso, Grey, Italiano, Frances, and Chileno. 5 nights 6 days!

Alternative to Chileno – Chileno always books up fast, so if it is fully booked, you can instead stay at Camping/Refugio Central. However, this makes the sunrise hike to the Las Torres Viewpoint impossible and also makes for a long last day to the viewpoint and back! This works as an alternative for all of the itineraries above.

Torres del Paine W Trek Tours

Huemel in Torres del Paine NP
We got to see this rare Huemel while on the W Trek!

For most reading this, you’re probably planning on hiking the trail and booking it for yourself, and that’s great, you’ll save a lot of money.

However, if this entire process sounds too hard, then you can book a self-guided or fully guided walk through the park. This is a great option if organizing everything just seems too confusing (or if all campsites and accommodation seem to be already fully booked.)

All of the tours include your transport to and from the park, accommodation (tents or dorm beds), food for the hike, and entrance fees. Some select tours even include guides, insurance, accommodation in Puerto Natales and Santiago (when you fly in), and all meals while you’re there.

So, it’s entirely up to you how much you want to spend vs how much you want to book yourself.

You can browse all of the Torres del Paine W Trek Tours here or read my breakdown of all the best multi-day tours and day tours below that I hope will make it easier to compare your options.

Full-length W Trek Tours

Epic Patagonia W Trek (Departs Santiago):

  • Tour Duration: 10 days
  • Cost: $3,950 USD
  • Departs from: Santiago

This tour will begin from Santiago where you will stay the first night at the tour’s partner B&B before flying out of the Santiago airport the next day (airfare is included) to Torres del Paine National Park. Over the next 6 days, you will hike the W trek exploring all the beauty it has to offer.

This tour is great if you prefer a more relaxed pace and the ability to bond with your fellow hikers and soak up the scenery from each campsite. It includes all transport, round-trip flights (not international flights), accommodations (refugios on hike), your guide, meals, and entrance fees. Emergency medical and evacuation insurance is required but you will need to purchase it separately.

You can book this Epic Patagonia W Trek tour online here.

Chilean Patagonia Tour (Departs Punta Arenas):

  • Tour Duration: 4 days
  • Cost: $1,100 USD
  • Departs from: Punta Arenas

This tour meets and departs from the Punta Arenas Airport with an overnight in a 4-star hotel. The next morning you will leave for Milodon Cave and then head to Torres del Paine National Park for a full day of trekking and a drive and quick hike to Grey Lake to see glaciers, the night ends with another 4-star hotel. On day 3 you will sail to the Balmaceda Glacier and Serrano Glacier and watch the cattle roaming on a ranch and try to spot cormorants, sea lions, and condors. Your final night ends in a 4-star hotel and the next morning you will fly back to Punta Arenas.

Flights and travel insurance are not included and only some meals are provided. You can check availability, details, and book this Chilean Patagonia Tour online here.

Torres del Paine W Trek (Most Affordable):

  • Tour Duration: 5 days
  • Cost: $730 USD
  • Departs from: Puerto Natales

This tour is one of the most affordable 5-day tours out there!

13-mile day one begins from Torres, day two is a more moderate eight-mile hike to Los Cuernos campsite, a 12-mile day three hiking the French Sector, a recovery eight-mile hike of the French Valley on day 4, and finishing day 5 with afternoon kayaking or ice hiking or a short hike to the hanging bridges.

Included are your national park entrance ticket, transportation, accommodations camping or inside a hostel, and meals . You can book this affordable W Trek tour online here.

Day Hike Tours on the W Trek

Bailey with the Torres in the background
Such an amazing place!

Full Day Torres del Paine Private Tour:

  • Tour Duration: 12-16 hrs
  • Cost: $350 USD
  • Departs from: Punta Arenas

This day tour is the most highly rated on Viator that will visit key spots within the national park including Milodon Cave, Lake Pehoe, and Grey Glacier. Most of the points are reached very easily without much hiking needed. Since this is a private tour you will be sure to have full access to your guide who will be very informative about the area. This tour departs from Punta Arenas.

You will need to purchase lunch and your ticket to the national park separately.

Hiking To Base Las Torres:

  • Tour Duration: 12 hrs
  • Cost: $110 USD
  • Departs from: Puerto Natales

This tour option is for the more ambitious hiker with experience hiking long distances with minimal breaks. You will cover 14.7 miles on this tour and trekking sticks, raincoats, and gaiters are available for use if you’d like. Lunch and transport from Puerto Natales are included. However, the entrance fee to the park will be charged to you separately.

Highlights of Torres del Paine:

  • Tour Duration: 8-10 hrs
  • Cost: $86 USD
  • Departs from: Puerto Natales

This tour begins from where you will drive to your first stop, Milodón’s Cave, and after exploring inside of it you’ll walk through the Serrano entrance of the park where you will need to buy your tickets (separate from tour price). Over the next hour, you will hike through a forest to Grey Lake which is where you will eat lunch if you choose to add this on when booking. Next, you’ll spend the next 2 hours at Lago Pehoe, Salto Grande Waterfall, Nordenskjold Lake, Laguna Amarga, and Lago Sarmiento before being driven back to your hotel.

Important Things to know about the W Trek

Walking the suspension bridges on the Torres del Paine trek just past Campamento Grey
Walking the suspension bridges on the Torres del Paine trek just past Campamento Grey

1. The Ferry

On the W Trek, you must take one ferry either at the start or end of your hike. This is because, on the Refugio Grey and Paine Grande side of the park, there is no road access. This area is accessed via a ferry from across Lago Pehoe. I have more info on that below.

2. Logistics

DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE FERRY OR BUS TO THE PARK. This can all be sorted after you book the campsites and once you arrive in Puerto Natales. There are so many buses that go to the park, and the ferry can’t be booked in advance so don’t stress about that!

3. The Campsites and Refugios

The campsites and refugios are owned by three different companies and as I mentioned above you can thankfully book all in one place with BookingPatigonia which is new for the 2022/2023 season! Make sure to check what the cancelation policy is like for your custom trip or pre-planned package before you confirm your booking.

4. Most popular campsites

Grey and Chileno are the two most popular campsites and they book up first. This is because overnight hikers use these campsites for one-night hikes only. They are also the most important to the W Trek so that is why it is so important to book your desired route and accommodations very far in advance.

5. Water on the trail

All the water on the trails can be consumed without treatment. Just be sure to collect water upstream from any trail, horses, or campsites. You can also find drinking water at the campsites generally straight from the tap.

6. Cooking and buying food

You can cook at every campsite except Chileno. Here, you’ll only be provided with boiling water. At all of the campsites and refugios (except Italiano), there are shops and restaurants. Here, you can buy supplies and even have a hot meal and an alcoholic drink if you choose (and your budget allows!)

7. Rental gear

Rental gear can be hired in Puerto Natales at pretty reasonable rates, or secured online when booking your trek accommodations on BookingPatigonia’s website. Below we dive into this more and recommend a company we have used twice now. We’ll also tell you what hiking and camping gear you absolutely must-have.

8. Hiking outside of the summer season

You can only hike in Torres del Paine National Park without a guide from October to April. Outside of this season, you are required to have a registered guide in the park. This is purely for safety reasons as every year the national park does claim lives.

9. Money in the park

Only cash is excepted in the national park with Chilean Pesos being the safest option. Bring plenty, you never know when you might need to buy or rent something.

Related Read: If visitng the area, here are some things you need to know about renting a car in Patagonia

*New* Torres del Paine Entrance Fee

The entrance fees to the park change over the years. The current (2022) fee for an international adult visitor to enter the park for more than 3 days is $49 USD.

For adults entering for less than 3 days, the fee is $35, however, this won’t apply to you if you’re hiking the W Trek.

You can check the full list of entrance fee prices on CONAF’s official website.

Getting to and from Torres del Paine National Park

The Stunning landscapes on the W Trek looking out at Glacier Grey
Just spectacular!

Important note: The first time I booked the Torres del Paine Trek, I was stressed about getting to and from the park. However, what I learned is that you really don’t have to at all. In fact, you can book it all when you arrive in Puerto Natales. Both times this is what I did without hassle.

However, for your own peace of mind here is exactly how to get to the Torres del Paine National Park.

1. Get to the park by bus or self-drive

Everybody who goes to Torres del Paine National Park to hike the W Trek will need to take the bus from Puerto Natales. This is because you can’t leave your car in the national park for 5 days unattended and you also don’t finish where you started.

By rental car

If you want to rent a car and drive yourself to the national park it can be done, although, the information I have on parking inside overnight is quite limited so take this for what you will.

Many of these spots are well suited for parking points for day hikes but if you are trying to park for the full W or O trek you will likely need to take another bus and/or ferry to the precise starting point of the trek.

Where to park overnight inside Torres del Paine National Park:

  • Amarga Entrance and Ranger Station – park at the Hotel Las Torres parking lot near this entrance
  • Lago Sarmiento Entrance and Ranger Station
  • Grey Ranger Station
  • Administrative Headquarters and Visitor Center
  • Refugio Torre Central – at the Hotel Lago Grey and the nearby parking lot and it will be a 20-30 minute walk to the Lago Grey shoreline entrance to Mirador de Cuernos/Salto Grande waterfall trail or to the Cascada Paine waterfall on the road to Laguna Azul.
  • Cafetería Pudeto – parking at this cafe overnight is allowed for both cars and motorhomes. It is right next to a bus stop.

If you are starting your trek from the Grey or Paine Grande side you can also choose to park close to the entrance at the Pudeto catamaran stop parking lot and take the catamaran from here to Paine Grande Shelter.

Note: There are no gas stations inside the park so make sure to fuel up before entering. It is around 1.5 hours from Puerto Natales to the Amarga entrance.

By bus

The bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine costs $25 USD (return) and can be booked through your hostel or directly at the bus station. There are many different bus companies and all are more or less the same and leave at 7 am, 7:30 am, and 2:30 pm to the park from Puerto Natales.

Hot tip: If you want to leave earlier then Bus Sur has a bus that leaves at 6:40 am and goes straight to Pudeto (ferry terminal). This bus only works for those starting on the Paine Grande/Grey side of the park but it means you can take the first 9 am ferry of the day.

On your return ticket, there will be 2 or 3 return times that you can choose from (each company varies by an hour or so, so it’s no big deal who you go with.) You don’t have to choose a time when you book a ticket either and can get on any one of those buses. These times are usually between 1:30 pm and 7:45 pm. The return ticket is also not date-specific. It is just an open return ticket.

The main bus companies are:

JB Buses Patagonia (tel. 61/2410 242)

Transport Maria José (tel. 61/2410 951)

Bus Sur (tel. 61/2410 784) – you can book these online in advance

Buses Juan Ojeda (tel. 9/8943 7808)

Buses Gómez (tel. 61/2415700)

It is not necessary to book your tickets in advance but if you want peace of mine you can book your route from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine here.

2. Pay your entrance ticket and take your next bus (read carefully)

Four people standing at the start of the Torres del Paine trek
I never took a photo of the entrance gate so here’s a photo of me, Bailey, my dad, and my brother before we started the O Circuit in December 2019.

After the 1.5 to 2-hour bus ride, you’ll arrive at the front gate called Laguna Amarga. Here you will be required to get off the bus to watch a short video on the park and either buy your entrance ticket or show your already bought entrance ticket.

You can buy them at the Puerto Natales bus terminal with a credit card and if you want to buy your ticket at the gate this can only be done with cash. I would recommend only bringing Chilean Pesos to be on the safe side.

Once your ticket is sorted you will then need to do 1 of 2 things depending on your W trek Itinerary:

Option 1

If you’re starting the trail on the Grey or Paine Grande side of the park you’ll need to get back on the same bus that brought you to the park. This bus will then take you to the Pudeto. Pudeto is the ferry terminal and where you’ll catch the ferry to Paine Grande. This is where this side of the trail starts from. The ticket for the ferry is paid at the terminal and costs $40 USD each way and for a return ticket, it will be slightly less than two singles.

Hot tip: Be sure to line up for the ferry right away too so you make the first one.

Option 2

If you’re starting your hike from the Central or Chileno side of the park you’ll need to collect your bag (after you got your ticket) and line up at the black bus. This bus will drive you 7 km (4.3 mi) to the start of the W trek on this side of the park. This bus costs around $4 USD.

Whatever option you choose, you’ll do the opposite on the way back. And don’t worry about it all too much, as long as you know where you are starting your hike someone will be able to help you get there! The rangers are all very friendly!

3. Take the Ferry

The ferry to start the Torres del Paine camping
On the ferry to Paine Grande to start our first day to Refugio Grey!

As mentioned above, on the way into the park you’ll need to take the ferry if you’re choosing option 1. The ferry you’ll be taking is the 11 am as the bus drops you at Pudeto (ferry terminal) at 10:20 am. However, if you are hiking the park the other way (option 2) you’ll need to get the ferry back at the end.

So, the ferry times on the way back from Paine Grande to Pudeto to get your bus to back to Puerto Natales are: 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and 6 pm.

You will need to make sure your bus company has a bus leaving Pudeto at 7 pm and no earlier if you are going to take the last ferry.

You can check yearly updated ferry and bus times on this website.

Related Read: If you want to visit one of the most incredibe glaciers in Argentina find out here on how to get to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate.

Basic Packing Guide for the Torres del Paine W Trek

Don’t forget your rain gear!

If you’re coming on a holiday specifically for hiking or to complete this trek then I would suggest you bring as much of your own camping/hiking gear as possible. Camping gear for hire in Puerto Natales isn’t necessarily cheap, but it is easily available and good quality.

Some things you’re going to need to pack for the W Trek are:

1. A tent – make sure you have plenty of pegs as the high winds mean you’ll 100% need them!

2. Sleeping bag – -5 Celcius (23 Fahrenheit) is what I used and it will get you by ok in the summer, but something a little warmer would be better.

3. Cooking set – this should include a small gas cooker, pot, utensils, bowls, and cups. You will need to BUY fuel for the cooker and you can do this in Puerto Natales.

4. Hiking boots – you will need waterproof hiking shoes. If you don’t already have good hiking shoes then you can hire them along with practically any other clothing or even a backpack.

5. Hiking poles – these really help with the high winds and for your knees on the trail which is very poorly maintained.

6. Waterproof jacket – super important if it’s raining and it also acts as a windbreaker.

7. Layers – having lots of different light layers is great for the unpredictable weather in Torres del Paine National Park.

8. Torch – surprisingly you won’t use it much as it’s light from 4 am to 10 pm in the summer. However, it’s needed for the sunrise hike to Las Torres.

9. Backpack – For the 5 days, a 60 liter and above is needed and should suffice.

10. Garbage bags – It does get wet and these are great for separating wet clothes and having an extra waterproof layer over your sleeping bag. You’ll also need them for your rubbish, however, there are garbage bins at some campsites.

11. Backpack cover – a waterproof backpack cover is a great idea, but if it’s windy these become dangerous and act like parachutes so have your stuff in bin bags in case your bag gets wet.

12. Passport, migrant form, and receipts of accommodation booking – These few documents are some of THE MOST important to bring with you because it is likely you’ll be asked to show proof that you are a visitor from outside of Chile (to reflect the US price rate you will be charged for entry) and also to verify your reservations at check-in for each campsite or refugio. They are not afraid to turn hikers away.

Renting Equipment in Puerto Natales

rental gear costs on the torres del paine w trek
Rental gear costs

Some rental equipment is also available in the new booking system with BookingPatigonia where you can add it on as an extra but it may cost more for this convenience as you will not have to lug sleeping supplies around with you. You can pick to add a full bedding kit or a mat or sleeping bag individually.

In Puerto Natales, there are lots of places you can rent hiking and camping equipment. However, after hiking the trail twice and using the same company I highly recommend renting your equipment from Rental Natales. This would be the place to get things like a backpack, hiking boots, or even a large water bottle.

Guillermo, the owner is a super friendly guy and the equipment he rents is updated around every 6 months. He’s also very helpful and can clear up any questions you may have about the trek.

On his website, you can book your rental gear in advance but it is a little more expensive than in person. The benefit is that he will not only guarantee it but it’ll all ready waiting for you at his office.

The price list above was from 2016 and funny enough, the prices never changed when we went back in 2019. One thing that did change was the amount of gear he rents and in fact, you can get a lot more stuff!

Rental Gear in Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine camping spot 1
The trail near Paine Grande

At the paid campsites, you can pay extra for a pre-setup tent which will be set up and waiting for you when you arrive (tent, mattress, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner.) This is selected when you book online, which you can do for all of the different sites in one place with BookingPatigonia. As I mentioned earlier, this is new for the 2022/2023 season making it way more convenient than having to search for availabilities across separate company’s websites.

You can actually also book all of your food too, so you don’t have to carry anything but your personal items. Of course, this is a lot more expensive but it’s an option for those who need it!

Related Read: Visiting Chile for the first time? Here are the best things to do in Puerto Natalaes, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park.

Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!

If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4-weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

World Nomads is a good option for anybody looking for fully comprehensive travel insurance including things like trip cancellation and adventure activities. They included coverage for over 250 different adventure activities, everything from snowboarding to whitewater rafting! You can also buy the insurance in advance in case your travel plans are interrupted, or, while you’re already on the road. 

We’ve personally used both SafetyWing and World Nomads for different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive.)

It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo in Torres del Paine NP
Thanks for reading!

The Torres del Paine W Trek is still without a doubt one of my favorite hikes I have done in the world. The scenery and ever-changing landscape will blow your mind!

I really hope this article has helped you plan your trek and I have tried my best to make sense of this confusing hike! If there is something you don’t understand or you have questions then please leave a comment below and we will get back to you!

Enjoy your trek and take lots of pictures!

If you liked this article then be sure to check out all of our Patagonia blogs. Below are a few of our favorites we think you might like!

Things to do in El Calafate

Best things to do in Patagonia

One day in Santiago Itinerary

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