Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek – Getting There
My Hiking adventure on the Torres del Paine W Circuit was arranged by G Adventures. The bus ride from El Calafate to Puerto Natales took a full day and was a major part of Getting There. We stayed the first night at the Hotel Capitán Eberhard in Puerto Natales. In the morning, we stored our suit cases with the hotel and packed the G Adventures sleeping bags in a small bus. It took a couple of hours to reach the park. The cloud built up as we approached the park. to the Towers. We left the van behind at the parking lot of the Hotel Las Torres Patagonia. Check out more info here to Plan Your Visit to Torres del Paine. Click here to see my Torres del Paine W Circuit Map.
Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek – Las Torres
The first section we hiked was the Las Torres trail on the Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek. The trail was barren and quite steep as we climbed the base of Almirante Nieto mountain. Then the trail leveled out along a glacial valley. The weather was cloudy with some drizzle at this point. You need to be careful in this section that the wind doesn’t cause you to tumble down toward the river below. One member of our group fell off the trail, which caused a few scratches. Next the W Circuit trail turns steeply upward and switches back and forth over a glacial moraine. We then reached the lake at Mirador Las Torres. The sun came out here as the winds made open patches of blue sky over the lake. That day I was glad to have three layers of clothing, because it’s easy to adjust your body temperature to the changing weather conditions along the route.
After we returned to the parking lot, our bus took us to the new G Adventures Camp Site. Tents were already set up for us. Dinner was being prepared in a small combination kitchen and dining room. The meal was fabulous. I had Chilean salmon and wine. The windows looked out on the Towers as the light faded. I think the dinner experience at the foot of the Towers was even better than the hike that day. That night it was hard to sleep because the wind kept whipping the tent around. In the morning, everything was still intact though.
Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek – French Valley
For the French Valley W Circuit Trek, we used our G Adventures bus to take us to the Lake Pehoe Ferry. The ferry crosses the lake to Lodge Paine Grande. This saves a full day of hiking along the lake, which was great. The weather was extremely cold and we huddled together on the deck of the Lake Pehoe ferry to keep warm. The Cuernos (Horns) Range was barely visible in the clouds. As soon as we started hiking on the W Circuit Trek again, the light rain started. Thank goodness for gortex. I stayed dry inside the whole day.
When we got near the Frances Glacier, our local guide said it wasn’t worth going farther due to the poor visibility. We snuck off the trail to the glacier, but even close up it wasn’t a great view in the cloudy, rainy weather. That day I learned just how super convenient it is to own rain pants that can be put on without taking off your hiking shoes.
Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek – Flowers and Sleet
To entertain ourselves that day on the W Circuit Trek, many of us took pictures of wild flowers. Flowers were found in patches along the trail. Each patch was usually one species and one color. There were beautiful sections of red, then blue, then yellow. It made for an interesting day. Our guide struggled to keep us all together though, because flower photography doesn’t mix well will long distance trekking.
That evening G Adventures had a different set of tents set up for us beside the lodge. The hot meal in the lodge tasted fantastic after hiking all day in the drizzle and cold. From there most of our group spent the evening in the pub. That night was very cold in the tent. Inside my sleeping bag I wore long johns, pants, a heavy T-shirt and a down jacket. During the night I could hear sleet bouncing off the tent, but I was quite comfortable in my self made cocoon.
Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek – Grey Glacier
The next morning after breakfast in the lodge, we set off on our Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek toward Grey Glacier. This was a level hike. The weather was cloudy and dark, but we were spared from the rain. After less than 2 hours we reached the viewpoint for the Grey Glacier. Cloud covered most of the glacier, but the front edge was showing. There were also a few small icebergs floating about on the lake. We turned back at the viewpoint and then caught the Lake Pehoe ferry to complete our Torres del Paine W Circuit Trek. That night we slept at the Hotel Capitán Eberhard in Puerto Natales. Our next stop would be Punta Arenas for my first view of penguins in the wild.