Torres Del Paine Circuit Trek
The region is busy and permits need to applied for 6+ months in advance. The circuit only allow permits to 40 people in groups, plus 80 individuals per day, so book early. Our Torres Del Paine Patagonia trek will not disappoint, mountains towering almost vertically more than 2,000m/ 6,561 feet above where you are standing, the granite pillars of Torres Del Paine dominate the landscape but the park holds such immense beauty on all days of the trek.
Most people visit the park for its one greatest hit but, once here, realize that there are other attractions with equal wow power. We’re talking about azure lakes, trails that meander through emerald forests, roaring rivers you’ll cross on rickety bridges and one big, radiant blue glacier as you come over the John Gardner pass. Variety spans from the vast openness to rugged mountain terrain topped by looming peaks 3 kilometers above your head.
Today you will arrive into Punta Arenas airport in Chile. Upon arrival you can either have a private bus or take a bus from the airport to our team hotel. This can be planned out prior to the trip. The night will be spent in Puerto Natales you can go out and visit this unique setting at the bottom of the world. There will be a team meeting in Puerto Natales at 6pm
After breakfast your private transportation will arrive and transfer you to Torres del Paine National Park. On the way we stop at the spectacular Milodon Cave. This spectacular location is the site of 7 caves which is where the remains of the very large Patagonian land sloth was found. The museum on location shows how the caves were formed and much more. We then then transfer to the south end of the Park, near the Administration Center. This is where the adventure begins. The park stretches in front of you like a dream. This part of the trek is not quite as impressive if you do it on the way out, because the views lay behind you. We enjoy every step of this hike. We camp this first night at camping Las Carretas, near Rio Grey. Our first camp dinner offers amazing view if the Paine Massif.
Today we push on another two hours to Campamento Italiano. Italiano is a magnificent camp area and sits at the mouth of spectacular Valle Frances. We camp next to a beautiful river, protected nicely by a forest of old Lenga trees. We have some free time on this day, so weather permitting, we head up into the valley for a sneak-peek.
This morning, we leave everything behind and we only pack up our backpacks with some food, rain gear, camera, and just a few basics, and head up into Valle Frances light. It’s a steep hike, so going light is nice. The valley offers natural lookouts; ice falls, avalanches, condors… impressive. A true highlight of Torres del Paine National Park. And after a day exploring Valle Frances, we head down again and pack up our camp and progress another 1.5 hours to Camping Frances. A great camp site, located directly under the Cuernos and a stone’s throw from the beach. We retire to our tents that night for a well deserved night’s sleep.
Today, after a big breakfast we take on our longest day yet. Our trek takes us around the base of Mount Almirante Nieto (2500m), up into Valle Asencio, to our camp at Campamento Las Torres. This is a long day and we take many breaks for viewpoints and photo stops. Here again we make camp in a thick Lenga forest which protects us from harsh winds.
On this morning we get up and ready before dawn. This is our big chance to see the three famous Towers of Paine (2800m) get hit by the first morning rays of sun, which can turn the towers bright red. We again leave our camp behind and only bring our packs loaded with our warm layers. We head up the steep trail for 1 hour to the Towers viewpoint, and some of the moast amazing photos ever. We get warm, have some hot drinks at the base of the Towers and do this morning right! We pack up and head downhill to our next campsite next to Refugio Las Torres. It’s been a long day. We close the book on the first half of our trek, and take a long afternoon to repack and call it a day.
Today, we start the backside of the circuit, early and refreshed. And it’s a good thing because we have an 5 hour trek to Camping Seron. The terrain is milder then the ‘W’ and you cover a lot of ground fast. This is a much different experience than the front side of the W trek.
This is the day we trek to Refugio Dickson. The view and wind on Paso del Viento is unforgettable and literally breathtaking. From this high mountain pass we descend into the wetlands, passing near Rio Paine until we arrive at Refugio Dickson, which is one of the most remote refugios in Torres del Paine National Park. We camp this night at camping Dickson, next to the beautiful Lago Dickson.
Today we have a shorter 4 hour trek to camping Los Perros. This is a beautiful trek and a very remote area of the National park. Here we have good meal and plan out nexts days trek over The John Garner Pass.
This is the day of the famous John Garner Pass. The hardest thing about the Paso John Gardner is the wind. The terrain is manageable, and the view from the top of the pass is breathtaking. The view below of Glacier Grey (and the Patagonian Ice Field on a clear day) is one of the most amazing moments you’ll experience in Patagonia, hands down. We push on and make camp at the Campamento Paso campsite.
After a good breakfast we trek 4 hours to Refugio Grey. A beautiful stretch of trail with views of Lago Grey and the icebergs that break from the glacier and float slowly to the southern beach where they come to the end of their journey. In the afternoon we board our ship, the Grey III, which takes us across Glacier Grey, alongside the massive cliffs of Glacier Grey for an up close and personal look at the ice. This is a great climax to your long trek. On the Southern end of the lake we disembark and catch our private transfer back to Puerto Natales. This is the official end of the program. Groups return to Puerto Natales at 9pm on the final day of the program.
Today is either a day of rest or you will be making your way back to the airport for your flight home. You will either be flying out of Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. There are lots of other day excursions you could do in the region so consider staying on for more adventures in this majestic part of the world.
Part of Unesco’s Biosphere Reserve
Part of Unesco’s Biosphere Reserve system since 1978, the park is home to flocks of ostrich-like rhea (known locally as the ñandú), Andean condor, flamingo and many other bird species. Its star success in conservation is undoubtedly the guanaco, which grazes the open steppes where pumas cannot approach undetected. After more than a decade of effective protection from poachers, these large, growing herds don’t even flinch when humans or vehicles approach. The puma population is also growing, and huemul (an endangered Andean deer) have been spotted in Frances valley.
When the weather is clear, panoramas are everywhere
However, unpredictable weather systems can sheath the peaks in clouds for hours or days. Some say you get four seasons in a day here, with sudden rainstorms and knock-down gusts of wind are part of the experience. Bring high-quality foul-weather gear, a synthetic sleeping bag. Watch our packing video. We will provide good tents for you. It is always wise to plan a few extra days to make sure that your trip isn’t torpedoed by bad weather. We highly recommend our 10 day trekking itinerary.
Infrastructure is the park is not great. Crowded rooms with no space and poor food in the Refugio’s. So sleeping in tents is the only way to go. Our guides will prepare hot evening meals, taking showers is an option on the front side minimal access to showers on the backside. It’s essential to make reservations ahead of time. Prices start from $4,100
This trek starts on the southernmost tip of Torres del Paine and travels north, bypassing the ‘W’ trek. It incorporates the ‘W’, but lets you trek in from the south, as well as adding five extra days to circumnavigate the northern side of the park. It is there you will experience the true beauty of peace and serenity in the park. With far fewer trekkers and no day-hikers around, you can have a genuine wilderness experience. Camping is a must at the more isolated stopovers. We head out as a self-sustained team, or with porters to help us complete this ten day adventure. Weather is always a factor. We cross water, tip-toe high cliffs, and ascend the steep John Gardner Pass. All this makes for a challenging and rewarding trek.
At the end of 2011, a raging fire burned over 40,000 acres. The fire took weeks to contain, destroyed old forest, killed animals and burned several park structures. An international visitor was charged with accidentally setting the fire while trying to start an illegal campfire. The hiker denied setting the fire but paid a US$10,000 fine and agreed to help with reforestation efforts. Be conscientious and tread lightly and leave no trace.
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