Being out there in the wild always fascinated me, but I only actually started hiking back in 1994 when I was 19 years old. My first hike was the famous Inka Trail, 45 km in 3 or 4 nights that take you through the Sacred Valley (in Peru) all the way to Machu Picchu. After this experience, of course, I wanted to go hiking again.
Here you will find some tips on hiking and backpacking!
Hiking the Big W Circuit Trek with my 12-year old son – Torres Del Paine National Park, December 2018
Torres Del Paine National Park is located in southern Chile, in a region that is known for its glaciers, lakes and mountains. This region attracts lots of tourists and backpackers who travel in search of contact with nature and stunning landscapes. There are many activities and places to explore in Torres Del Paine, but on this webpage I basically intend to share some of the..
Where to stay and cost
Once you have decided to go to Torres Del Paine National Park and to do one of the trails, you have to decide on the itinerary and make all the reservations. The starting point of your adventure is the town called Puerto Natales, which is located around 100 km south from the park entrances. The entrances are called ‘Porteria’. Check the table below to see the distance from Puerto Natales to each ‘Porteria’:
|Puerto Natales||Portería Serrano – CONAF||80 km|
|Puerto Natales||Portería Serrano – Lago Sarmiento||112 km|
|Puerto Natales||Portería Serrano – Laguna Amarga||116 km|
|Puerto Natales||Estancia Pudeto – Catamaran||129 km|
|Puerto Natales||Punta Arenas||254 km|
|Villa Cerro Castillo||Portería Serrano – Laguna Amarga||58 km|
I recommend staying in Puerto Natales for at least one night so that you can have an early start when you decide to start the trek.
There are basically 3 options:
The first and most expensive way of doing either the W Ciruit or the O Circuit is to pay for a complete package, which includes accommodation (refugios and/or campsites), food and refreshments, and a certified guide. This kind of package ranges between USD 800 – USD 1,600 depending on the circuit you choose to do and the number of days. There are many extras you can add to the packages, so I would even say you are more likely to spend between USD 1,500 and USD 2,000 only on the package itself. The advantage here is that you don’t have to worry about any camping gear and you will have a guide who will guide you along the trail.
The second alternative is to make the reservations at the Refúgios and/or hotel yourself. Besides that, you will need to plan how you are going to complete the hike. Also, you will have to decide about whether you will go from east to west or west to east if you are doing the W Circuit. . By doing this you can reduce expenses significantly. You may either cook and carry your own food or eat at the Refugios and …
The third option you have is to make the reservations yourself and stay only at campsites, some of which are run by CONAF, a government agency that regulates the National Parks in Chile, and are free (advance booking is required).
Torres Del Paine packages can be found at:
Here is the map..
Here is the plan..
Day 1 Wednesday 26/12 Camping Paine Grande (Vertice)
Daily plan: Take the early bus (7.30AM), go through park entrance at 10.00AM, take the catamaran at 11.00AM, set up camp and hike up to Mirador Pehoe to take some photos. Get ready for tomorrow’s hike – prepare the small backpack, the hiking gear and the food.
Transportation: Bus from Puerto Natales to Pudeto 129km (7.30AM or 2.30PM) via Laguna Amarga – 3 hours total to get to Pudeto.
Pudeto-Pehoe Catamaran (at 09.00AM, 11.00AM, 2.00PM, 4.15PM or 6.00PM)
Trek of the day: Mirador Pehoe 6.9 km (roundtrip)
Day 2 Thursday 27/12 Camping Paine Grande (Vertice)
Daily plan: Wake up early and start the hike along Lake Grey. Refugio Grey is 11 km (3.5 hours) from Paine Grande. Another approx 4 km (1.5 hours) to reach viewpoint after John Gardner bridge and Los Guardas campsite. If the weather is bad, come back after Refugio Grey. Best opportunity to see a glacier up close on the trek. It can get chilly as we approach the glacier. Get back to the campsite and prepare for tomorrow’s hike. Important to leave things ready as we’ll have to pack up the tent tomorrow morning before leaving for the hike.
Trek of the day: Glacier Grey 30.4 km (roundtrip)
Day 3 Friday 28/12 Camping Frances (FantasticoSur)
Daily plan: Wake up early, pack up the tent and start the hike up to Camping Frances (3 hours), set up camp and eat lunch and then hike to Mirador Britanico (3.5 hours) from Camping Frances. The hike to Camping Frances is an easy one; however, we will have to carry our backpacks. The hike to Mirador Britanico, on the other hand, is one of the toughest hikes in the W Circuit, but definitely worth the effort. If we leave our backpacks at Italiano, we can considerably reduce the hike (3.4 km – about 1 hour). After completing the hike up to Mirador Britanico, get back to the campsite and prepare for tomorrow. After completing the hikes, get back to the campsite and prepare for tomorrow. Again, it’s important to leave things ready as we’ll have to pack up the tent tomorrow morning before leaving for the hike.
Trek of the day: Paine Grande to Frances 9.3 km with the backpack
Frances to Mirador Britanico 13.6 km (roundtrip)
Day 4 Saturday 29/12 Camping Central (FantasticoSur)
Daily plan: The easiest hike, but the longest carrying our backpacks. Wake up early, pack up the tent and start the hike to get to Camping Central (5.5 hours). Get to Camping Central and set up camp. It might be a good idea to stop at Refugio Los Cuernos, which is approx 3 km from Camping Frances, to break up the hike in two legs. Once again, it’s important to leave things ready as we’ll have to pack up the tent tomorrow morning before leaving for the last hike.
Trek of the day: Frances to Camping Central 15.7 km with the backpack
Day 5 Sunday 30/12
Daily plan: Wake up early, pack up the tent and start the hike up to Mirador Las Torres (9 hours roundtrip). Refugio Chileno is about 2 hours from Camping Central (4 km). Then from Refugio Chileno another 2.5 hours until we reach Mirador Las Torres (4.3 km). This is probably the toughest hike in the W Circuit, but we’ll have to face it if we want to see the towers.
Trek of the day: Mirador Las Torres 18.7 km (roundtrip)
Transportation: Bus from Laguna Amarga to Puerto Natales 116 km (2.30 PM or 7.45 PM) – 2.5 hours total to get to Puerto Natales.
* Hotel Las Torres – Laguna Amarga – 7 km (1.5 hours)
One very helpful link that I suggest you check out is Wiki Explora’s Torres Del Paine webpage (link below). It has lots of information about the National Park. Find out more about the animals, the weather, the campsites and refugios, all about this amazing mountain range called Macizo Paine.