W Circuit Torres del Paine: What you need to know

Trekking en la base de las Torres del Paine

Here you will find answers to the most common questions about the W Circuit!

Torres del Paine National Park is located in the province of Última Esperanza in the extreme south of Chile in the Magallanes region, it has one of the most famous trails in the world. The W Circuit, named after the shape of the circuit when going through the 3 valleys!! Ascencio Valley, French Valley and Grey Valley (you can see it on the map), allow you to enjoy the most amazing trails in the park. You can visit the three granite towers that gave the park its name, or the hanging glacier of Paine Grande, the incredible Grey glacier, the beautiful waters of Lake Nordenskjöld. This is just a part of what you can see during this tour. In our search for beauty and adventure, this place is considered one of the most visited in the world.

mapa-torres-del-paine

How to get to Torres del Paine National Park?

This is the first question that needs to be solved! As we already told you, the Park is located in the Magallanes region, the southernmost region of Chile, so the distance you must travel is quite long, although it is true today that connectivity has greatly improved, the most common way and direct to arrive is from the Santiago airport by flight to Punta Arenas where you will find more flight frequencies. You can also find flights to the city of Puerto Natales less frequently and only at certain times of the year.

If you decide to arrive from Punta Arenas, you have to travel by car, bus or van for 5 hours to get to the Park, if you get to Puerto Natales the distance is reduced to 2 hours. If, on the other hand, you come from El Calafate, Argentina, you must cross the border crossings of Cerro Castillo or Paso Dorotea, on a road trip of approximately 5 hours.

From the Punta Arenas airport, with prior reservation, buses leave for Puerto Natales (3 hours). Once you arrive at the Puerto Natales bus terminal, you can find buses to Torres del Paine National Park. During the season there are two daily departures (always remember to be 15 minutes before the bus leaves). Upon arrival at the park, the bus will stop at the Amarga Lagoon sector, the official entrance to the Park. Where you will have to show your previously purchased access ticket. It is important that you are clear about where your W Circuit begins because it will depend on that if you follow the same Bus towards the Pudeto sector or if you go towards the Central Refugio Sector.

We always recommend you to prefer the programs that bring all the transportation and logistics issues resolved. They will make your trip a much more pleasant and worry-free experience.

What is the best time to do the W?

There are no guarantees that can assure you a 100% optimal experience, since the climatic conditions are very varied in a single day it can rain, snow and shine, however as everywhere there are months that usually have certain advantages over others.

The Peak season It is between the months of December and February, it is where the days last up to 17 hours of light, which is optimal for your tour, but it is also the time when there are usually the strongest gusts of wind in the season, reaching even to reach 150 km/h.

It is also the date for the most expensive hotels and services and there are usually more visitors walking the trails, which may hinder your experience a bit, however it is true that it is the time when more people can meet and share the experience of discover the beauties that this route offers.

The months of November and March are considered high season, although it is true that they are a little less crowded but it does not mean that you will be alone in the park, regarding prices they usually drop a little compared to the Peak season but not significantly. Regarding the weather, the gusts of wind are a little more moderate.

The low season includes the months of September, October and April, May. Not all hotels are open and you will find less flow of tourists on the trails. Regarding the climate, it stabilizes more, due to the absence of wind, which allows calmer, colder and shorter days, which implies in some houses the use of more technical mountain equipment such as gaiters and ice crampons.

torres-del-paine-hector-marquez
Photo by Hector Marquez on Unsplash.

Does it include accommodation and how to book?

The W Circuit is impossible to do if you have not previously reserved the places where you will spend each night, since in the park they will not let you spend the night without a reservation. Each stage of the circuit has defined accommodations where there is a refuge and camps.

All the camps that involve the W Circuit are paid. These give you the option to choose between camping or sleeping shelter. They will also provide you with services such as showers, mini-market, meals, indoor cooking spaces, (limited) use of electricity, and rental of equipment such as a tent, waterproof mattress, and sleeping bag. The values vary depending on the services you want to hire and the weight you are willing to carry.

The Torres del Paine mountain lodges are rustic but offer some comfort with warm beds and pleasant common areas, where you can relax near the wood stove. There are five refuges and their respective camps on the W: Grey, Paine Grande, Frances, Cuernos and Central.

To make a reservation, you need to do it well in advance as it is a highly requested circuit and you do not always find availability. The most advisable thing is to book with a company that can manage the entire circuit as such, since you have to make a different reservation for every night in the respective shelter or campsite where you have to stay to complete the circuit.

You can book with REBEL VIAJES through our website and select the dates and circuit you want to do or you can contact our open channel to receive the advice of a professional.

How many days do I need to do the W?

There are two modalities to carry out the W circuit, the classic version of 5 days and the express version of 4 days, the complete route is 72 km, it is important to be physically prepared, since it has very demanding sections and you walk 18 km a day on average . The difference to choose between one and the other is your own physical condition, you can do it in 5 days to enjoy the landscapes offered by the park more calmly or if you feel prepared you can do it in 4 days.

In any of the two options that you decide to carry out, we recommend that you have an accommodation already reserved in Puerto Natales for the day before starting the W, since the activity begins with the transfer to the park first thing in the morning, and you will also need to stay for another night later. to carry out the circuit, since it is finished too late to reach an airport.

torres-del-paine-yannes-kiefer
Photo by Yannes Kiefer on Unsplash.

Is there an entrance fee?

If all the people who enter the Torres del Paine National Park must pay an entrance, except for children under 11 years of age who accompanied by their parents enter for free.

The prices for the 2022-2023 season are:

Chileans: Adults $7,200, Youth (12 to 17) $3,700. Children under 11 years enter free.

Foreigners: Adults $47 dollars, Youth (12-17) $25 dollars. Children under 11 years enter free.

Tickets must be purchased in advance on the Conaf page for ticket sales in the following link 👉 ASPTicket.cl.

How hard is W Circuit?

The W Circuit is not a really difficult trek or that you need to have extreme physical preparation or technical knowledge to be able to do it, but it is recommended that you have some experience in hiking since you will have to walk an average of approximately 18 km per day, something like 8 hours of walking per day.

The Torres del Paine National Park is not at a high altitude, its highest point is at the end of the path that leads to the base of the Torres, at about 850 meters above sea level, however you must be physically prepared, since which has very demanding sections (+900 m of gain) and with a cumulative height difference of +2,830 m and -2,900 meters.

The two most complicated trails within the W are the base of the towers and the French Valley since they are the days with the longest walks and with a lot of ascent, for which it is convenient that you drink a lot of water and that you have some habit of walking all day. Endurance means a lot, although this course is easier than the “O” course, designed for more experienced adventurers.

Keep in mind that the weather plays a very important role in the W Circuit, so you must be prepared with the corresponding equipment, see the section what to bring in this blog.

torres-del-paine-tilo-mitra
Photo by Tilo Mitra on Unsplash.

What will I see in Torres del Paine National Park?

Prepare to marvel at the incredible postcards that Torres del Paine National Park offers, throughout the trip your senses will be enjoying and not only because of the scenic beauty, but rather because of the strong presence of its elements that have led it to be named the eighth wonder of the world in 2013 by Virtual Tourist in a contest in which it received more than five million votes and declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.

The word paradise takes on its full meaning in the Torres del Paine National Park, an exceptional geography made up of the imposing massif, horns, virgin forests and turquoise lakes. All this with a sky that takes on movie colors and invites you to discover the reason for the countless recognitions it has as one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

According to studies carried out in the area, Paleoindian tools found around the park indicate that it was inhabited about 12,000 years ago by the Aonikenk. The Tehuelche Indians, descendants of the paleoindians, later gave the massif the name Paine, which means “blue” in their language. Since the 15th century the area has also been home to the Kaweskar who lived with wild pumas, condors and guanacos.

The most famous points are the Towers Base Viewpoint and the Grey Glacier at the ends of the park, the French Valley, in the middle zone, captivates everyone who visits it with its incredible Lenga forests, its hanging glaciers and the impressive view of The Horns. It is a scene of overwhelming beauty. The rest of the trail offers you other great panoramic views of the mountains, lakes, rivers and forests in the area.

Is a guide needed?

Between the months of May to August it is not possible to do the W Circuit without the company of a certified local guide, since the expedition through the mountains requires certain care. However, between the other months of the year there is the possibility of choosing to do the guided or self-guided circuit.

Although the W circuit is not a difficult trek, a guide considerably enhances the experience by showing the hidden places of Torres del Paine. Although the W Circuit is not a difficult trek, a guide considerably enhances the experience by showing the hidden places of Torres del Paine.

In addition, a guided W Circuit is more comfortable, you will not have to worry about logistics and you will be able to enjoy the landscapes with the support and security of an experienced guide who will contribute to making your experience significantly richer and deeper.

What should I bring?

This is one of the most common questions from people who are going to live the experience for the first time, there is a very common rule that is the 3 layers, no matter what time of year you do it, this will help you change clothes as fast as the weather in Patagonia does, remember that a single day can rain, snow and the sun rise in a matter of minutes, a real madness.

The first layer is recommended in a more technical fabric that allows you to stay covered but allows perspiration to move away from your body. The second layer should retain the body heat that you generate. A fleece jacket or medium weight sweater would be the ideal thing to wear. And finally the third layer should protect you from the elements, especially wind and rain. A light waterproof layer is always recommended.

Consider traveling as light as possible, do not carry too many things, many people end up abandoning some belongings in the shelters so as not to continue carrying excessive weight, remember that you walk for 4 or 5 days with the backpack on your back. Carrying poles is essential to alleviate the impact on your knees, as well as sunscreen, since when the sun comes out it is powerfully dangerous.

Below we detail a list of the necessary equipment for someone who wants to make the circuit with an all-inclusive program, either in a refuge or camping.

If you have already done w Circuit and want to face a new challenge. O Circuit, Paine Massif, is the next level. This trip revolves around the entire Paine mountain (including the W). An approximate of 100 km of pure trekking in a world-class circuit. A big adventure!

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