Hiking the W Route in Chile's Patagonia

Hiking the W Route in Chile's Patagonia bikehike
Hiking the W Route in Chile's Patagonia bikehike
Hiking the W Route in Chile's Patagonia bikehike
Hiking the W Route in Chile's Patagonia
Duration:
7
Days
Priced from:
2699.00
USD

Hiking the W Route in Chile's Patagonia

Trip Overview

On this Patagonian hiking tour of the famous W Route we venture across Torres del Paine National Park, one of the world's last great refuges of wild nature. Located in the southernmost region of Chile, its beauty is found in its mansion-sized icebergs, steep granite faces, aqua-blue glaciers, and abundant wildlife. After arriving in Santiago, we relocate to a wilderness eco-camp in Patagonia, complete with comfortable tented domes and rustic boardwalks. From here we head out on daily excursions along a series of intertwining trails. Surrounded by beauty, we are dwarfed at every turn by the power of nature, forgotten by time and unspoiled by human progress. We pair our long days of hiking with delicious hearty meals and comfortable living quarters at the eco-camp. It is truly an outdoor experience like no other.

WOW FACTORS

  • Hike across mixed grassland and light forest along the world famous W Route in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Witness the birth of gigantic blue and white icebergs as they calve away from the Grey Glacier
  • Encounter guanacos, pink flamingos, and condors in their natural habitat throughout Patagonia

    Watch a past Chile trip highlight video here.

Activities

Difficulty Level

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Itinerary & Map

Day 1

Punta Arenas - Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine
Arrival
All travellers must arrive into the Punta Arenas airport by 11am today for a 11:30am transfer to Torres del Paine. There is also a transfer at 3:30pm if you are not able to get in on an earlier flight.  We'll be there to greet you at the airport and transfer you to the famous Torres del Paine National Park, 345 km/216 miles away. In summer time (Dec-Mar), the sun sets around 11pm giving us plenty of light to admire the landscape en route and the craggy mountains while entering the park. The drive is a scenic one along the pampa and if we're lucky we'll see guanacos, rheas and huge rabbits grazing on the plains. We'll make a short stop in the township of Puerto Natales for lunch. There will be an extensive orientation meeting this evening over dinner where we will answer any questions that you may have about the adventure that lies ahead. Overnight at the EcoCamp.

Accommodation: EcoCamp
​​​​​​Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Day 2

Torres del Paine - Paso Los Cuernos
Hiking
We have a full day on foot today trekking along the Paso Los Cuernos, a trail that was named because it passes under the Cuernos del Paine - peaks with beautiful black "horns" of slate atop gray granite. The surrounding landscape is one of snow-peaked mountain ranges, fire bushes abundant with exotic red flowers and frequent wind funnels that develop on the emerald waters of Lago Nordenskjold. Hopefully, we'll have a sunny day with clear views of the famous Horns. The journey ends at the Los Cuernos Refuge, a beautiful refuge below the Los Cuernos peaks on the lake. If there is no space at this refuge, we'll finish at Domo el Francés, located between Cuernos and Italiano camping sites, with amazing views of Nordenskjöld Lake. The Domos el Francés are similar to the EcoCamp and a one-hour trek from Los Cuernos Refuge. The evening is free for relaxing and enjoying dinner.

Hiking Duration: 7 hours
Hiking Distance: 12km / 7.5mi
Ascent: +244 m (800ft)
Accommodation: Cabin
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Torres del Paine - French Valley
Hiking
After breakfast, we begin a challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley), a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. An active walk leads us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the southeast face of the Massif. From this point, we can enjoy our first truly wonderful view and then continue up the trail until reaching the upper prospects of the valley. The entire group of geological formations of the high valley can be admired here. It is time to have a picnic and recover from the walk. An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is available as well. Next, we descend through an undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located in the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. Finally, upon reaching the Refugio, the luggage is organized and there is time to talk about the day while enjoying a replenishing dinner.

Hiking Duration: 8 hours
Hiking Distance: 26km / 16mi
Ascent: +686m (2250ft)
Accommodation: Cabin
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Torres del Paine - Grey Glacier
Hiking
After a typical southern Chilean breakfast, we set off on foot from the shores of Lake Pehoe to the northern end of Lago Grey. Once we reach the glacier, we break for a picnic lunch sitting on a craggy peak adjacent to the massive structure and watch pieces of ice calving thunderously into the deep grey lake below. Afterwards, we'll board a boat and travel across Lago Grey to the face of the Grey Glacier, a massive wall of ancient ice sculpted by the time and the elements. The lake is littered with gigantic blue and white icebergs that were once part of the glacier. From the southern end of Lake Grey, we'll transfer to the eco-camp. If the weather conditions do not allow us to navigate the Grey Lake, we'll instead hike a sightseeing point offering a view of the Glacier. Then we'll return on foot to Paine Grande and take a catamaran to Pudeto's dock, from where we'll drive back to the EcoCamp. 

Hiking Duration: 4 hours
Hiking Distance: 11km / 7mi
Ascent: +244m (800ft)
Accommodation: EcoCamp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Torres del Paine - Valle Ascencio
Hiking
After a hearty breakfast, our goal is to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres del Paine National Park. If we have a clear day, we will set off on foot to the famous Towers of Paine, a triad of sculpted granite peaks and a part of massif of El Paine. We'll follow the same path, along dirt trails in a vast and varied landscape of rugged wilderness. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers are passed along the scenic walk into the valley. It's not a difficult walk, but energy should nevertheless be saved for the final challenge: the moraine. The last two miles is a scramble on foot along steep and rugged terrain to the base of this magnificent granite sculpture. After a considerable effort, the Towers come into full view rising majestically before us with the glacial lake visible below. This is one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. Sitting beneath the spires, enjoying lunch, you will feel the intense power of the natural world, for this place is truly magnificent. Once everyone is ready, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to the EcoCamp. 

Hiking Duration: 10 hours
Hiking Distance: 22km / 14mi
Ascent: +914m (3,000ft)
Accommodation: EcoCamp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Torres del Paine - Eastern Lakes
Hiking
Today's hike is easier than the past few days, giving our bodies a chance to recover from the last few days of hiking.  After breakfast, we drive towards Laguna Azul,  passing Cañadón Macho, home to many wild guanacos and ñandúes.  We'll get incredible views here of the Patagonian steppe and the Torres del Paine. At Laguna Azul, we'll hike to a lookout point where our reward is an incredible viewpoint of both the lagoon and the imposing granite towers. After lunch, we drive to the northern shore of Sarmiento Lake where the Fauna Trail begins. Hiking northbound, we'll have opportunities to see the impressive range of Patagonian fauna grazing on the plains, including: guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús and maybe the occasional puma print! We pass the charming Goic Lagoon and after approximately 5km of easy walking, we will reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station where we meet our driver and vehicle and drive back to our cozy EcoCamp to celebrate a final farewell dinner. 

Hiking Distance: 6km / 4mi
Ascent: +300m (984ft)
Accommodation: EcoCamp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7

Torres del Paine - Punta Arenas
Departure
Early in the morning board the vehicle back to Punta Arenas in time to catch the flight back to Santiago or onwards to join an extension program. Please make sure you book a flight that leaves Punta Arenas after 3:00pm. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

NOTE about Ascent/Descent numbers: 

The ascent/descent numbers are usually generated using Ride with GPS. The numbers are TOTAL ascent/descent for the day and these numbers do not suggest altitude. There are usually multiple small ascents and descents added up throughout the day to reach this total ascent/descent for the day. (While our numbers are generally consistent with Ride with GPS, depending on the mapping technology used, numbers may vary).

 

What's Included

TRIP INCLUSIONS:
All accommodation in mountain huts (dormitory) and twin shared in the EcoCamp, meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), internal transportation (excluding flights), park entrance fees, airport transfers and English-speaking guides.

TRIP DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International and domestic airfare, airport departure taxes, gratuities, meals not indicated and items of a personal nature.

MEALS:
6 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 6 Dinners

ACCOMMODATION:
Eco-Camp: 4 Nights
Mountain Hut: 2 Nights

Trip Facts

Weather in Chile & Patagonia

Santiago
October to March:
 Summer. Dry. Average temperature is 29°C (85°F).
April to September: Winter. Average temperature is 15 to 20°C (59 to 69°F). Evenings are cool.

Patagonia
The weather in Patagonia, though extremely variable, can often be wet, cold and windy. Throughout the country, the proximity of the Pacific and the Andes creates numerous pockets of localized weather patterns known as microclimates. The Patagonian Andes is very exposed to winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. In addition, the strong marine influence and the effect of the Southern Patagonia Icefield make the weather hard to predict.The average temperature during the day is 11°C (51°F). At night, the temperature drops to 3°C (38°F). Winter’s temperature range is between -2ºC/28ºF and 6ºC/43ºF. June, July, and August are the wettest months in Torres del Paine and sub-zero temperatures are common.

October to April: Cool, cloudy and dry.
May to September: Cold. Although there are no snowfalls, the influence of the ocean reduces the severity of winter.

ADDITIONAL WINTER WEATHER NOTES: 
The Patagonian Andes is very exposed to winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. In addition, the strong marine influence and the effect of the Southern Patagonia Icefield make the weather hard to predict. Nevertheless, the winds are relatively mild in winter. 
We reserve the right to change the order of the days in any itinerary at the discretion of the trip guide and based on operational considerations. The trip guide can modify, change or eliminate part of the itinerary based on safety/weather considerations.

Travel Documents

A valid passport is required for Canadian and American citizens to travel into Chile. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your date of arrival into Chile. Citizens of other nations should contact the embassy or consulate for entry requirements. Upon arrival into Chile, citizens of Canada must pay an entrance fee of $132 USD and Americans citizens a fee of $140 USD. This fee must be paid in US cash before clearing customs.

Food and Water

Some of the must tries in Chile are empanadas de pino (pastry-style turnovers stuffed with olives, meat, raisins and onions), parilla (a mixed grill of assorted meats cooked over charcoal) and pastal de choclo (traditional dish of beef, vegetables and chicken baked in a casserole). Exercise caution when eating food from street stalls. Tap water is treated in Buenos Aires & Santiago, although to be on the safe side it is advisable to drink only bottled water, which is available widely. Fruit drinks, soft drinks, coffee and tea are all widely available and safe to drink.

FAQ

How big are BikeHike's groups?

Our adventures are built for small groups, with a maximum of 12 travellers on each guided tour. Each group is diverse, comprised of men and women of many different nationalities and ages. By travelling in small groups we leave minimal ecological impact, cause less disruption to the native life and are able to gain a better appreciation for our surroundings. 

How fit do I need to be to join this trip?

We understand that people come in many fitness levels, so we've graded our trips accordingly. There are four difficulty levels on our trips: Easy, Moderate, Challenging, and Strenuous. 

This is a “challenging” trip.

Although the hikes themselves are not particularly strenuous, their length and challenging terrain will be more taxing than expected. Days are full, average 6-9 hours per day. The terrain is along trails of rolling hills, through forests, along coastlines and partly scrambling over rocks and boulders (sometimes in the snow). The winds can be extremely strong and the temperatures change from one moment to the next. For the most part, you are only expected to carry your daypack on the trail while hiking. The rest of your gear will be carried by the included porter service. Your daypack should be large enough to include your lunch, water, camera, sunscreen and any layer clothing you may need to adapt to the changing weather on the trail.

We strongly recommend that you begin a regular fitness program - that is if you are not already doing so. Four times a week, 60 minutes per session should be a minimum to prepare you for this adventure. The optimal workout would include weight training and cardiovascular activities such as walking, cycling and aerobics.

 

Has this trip been run before?

BikeHike Adventures has been operating since 1994. 

The logistics of organizing tours to remote corners of the world can be very complex. Our trip development department spends long hours researching destinations, routes, ground operations and equipment. All itineraries are screened without clients before they are added to our growing repertoire of adventures. Nothing is untested. 

Can you tell me about your typical BikeHike travellers on this trip?

Our travellers share a common love for outdoor adventure. Most are looking for a physical adventure in an unfamiliar destination. This trip attracts one of our most diverse groups. A typical trip is comprised of men and women in good physical condition, who exercise regularly and are invigorated by a personal challenge. The age range on this trip is typically from 30-55, although we occasionally get younger and older travellers as well. 

What should I pack for this hiking trip?

We have prepared a packing list that you can download by clicking the link to the right on this page. 

Which airport do we fly in and out of for this trip?

Punta Arenas, Chile. You need to arrive into Punta Arenas no later than 11:00am on day 1 of the trip. On day 7 of the trip, please make sure you book a  flight from Punta Arenas that departs after 3:00pm.

Can I take this trip if...

I am a solo traveller? How does solo accommodation and costing work?

This trip is quite popular with singles. Unlike many adventure travel companies, we don't charge single supplement fees to solo travellers. Instead, we pair you with another traveller of the same gender. If we can't find you a roommate, you get your own room at no additional charge.  A single private room supplement fee is only required if you specifically request a confirmed private room for the duration of the trip. Learn more about solo travel with BikeHike

I have special dietary requirements?

We will do our best to accommodate special dietary requests (e.g. vegetarian, gluten free, etc.), but ask that you please discuss your request with us when signing up for a trip.

I am travelling with children? Is this trip children friendly?

This trip is generally not a family focused trip for young children. However, this trip could be suitable for strong and active older teenagers. 

We do offer many other Family Focused trips, some of which are able to accommodate children as young as six.

Accommodation

Most of our trips include comfortable mid-range accommodations. This includes accommodation that provides a clean and comfortable experience in characterful surroundings that reflect the destination. To build stronger connections with the communities and support the local economies, we avoid using large international chain brands on BikeHike trips. 

This trip includes the following types of accommodation:

ECOCAMP  

At the ecocamp, you will be staying in a permanent dome style structure that has proper beds. There is no heat but cozy fleece blankets and duvets are provided. You'll have access to a dining room and kitchen (cooks prepare all the meals), as well as shared washrooms with flush toilets, hot showers and sinks. 

MOUNTAIN CABINS

In places such as Chile our cabin stays (or "mountain refuges") are very comfortable. The mountain refuges are dormitory style lodging (4-6 people per room) and shared bathroom. In every case, your night's stay will showcase the natural character of the location. 

Click HERE for more information about accommodation styles.

Adventure Dates

  • Oct 14 - Oct 20, 2019
  • Oct 21 - Oct 27, 2019
  • Oct 28 - Nov 03, 2019
  • Nov 04 - Nov 10, 2019
  • Nov 11 - Nov 17, 2019
  • Nov 18 - Nov 24, 2019
  • Nov 25 - Dec 01, 2019
  • Dec 02 - Dec 08, 2019
  • Dec 09 - Dec 15, 2019
  • Dec 16 - Dec 22, 2019
  • Dec 23 - Dec 29, 2019
  • Dec 30 - Jan 05, 2020
  • Jan 06 - Jan 12, 2020
  • Jan 13 - Jan 19, 2020
  • Jan 20 - Jan 26, 2020
  • Jan 27 - Feb 02, 2020
  • Feb 03 - Feb 09, 2020
  • Feb 10 - Feb 16, 2020
  • Feb 17 - Feb 23, 2020
  • Feb 24 - Mar 01, 2020
  • Mar 02 - Mar 08, 2020
  • Mar 09 - Mar 15, 2020
  • Mar 16 - Mar 22, 2020
  • Mar 23 - Mar 29, 2020
  • Mar 30 - Apr 05, 2020
  • Apr 06 - Apr 12, 2020
  • Apr 13 - Apr 19, 2020
  • Apr 20 - Apr 26, 2020
  • Apr 27 - May 03, 2020
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Price

(Land only, based on twin/shared room)
2699.00
USD
per person
2899.00
USD
per person, for trips between December 15-January 20

No single supplement fees
** Upgraded accommodation available
*** Winter departures may be modified as stated below. 

Note, the following are winter trips:
May 21 & 28, June 11 & 25, July 9 & 23, August 6 & 20

During winter months, dinner is not included on Day 1 & 6. The navigation of Grey Glacier is subject to minimum number of passengers and weather conditions. Ask us for further details or if you have any questions about these winter/safety modifications. 

Are You Organizing a Group Trip?
Discover our private group discounts

Add-Ons

  • It's easy to add days before and after your tour.  Just ask! 
Day Destination Activity Distance Ascent / Descent Lodging Meals
1
Punta Arenas - Puerto Natales - Torres del Paine
Arrival
— / —
EcoCamp
l,
d
2
Torres del Paine - Paso Los Cuernos
Hiking
12 km
7.5 mi
+ 244 m (800 ft)
Cabin
b,
l,
d
3
Torres del Paine - French Valley
Hiking
26 km
16 mi
+ 686 m (2250 ft)
Cabin
b,
l,
d
4
Torres del Paine - Grey Glacier
Hiking
11 km
7 mi
+ 244 m (800 ft)
EcoCamp
b,
l,
d
5
Torres del Paine - Valle Ascencio
Hiking
22 km
14 mi 
+ 914 m (3000 ft)
EcoCamp
b,
l,
d
6
Torres del Paine - Eastern Lakes
Hiking
6 km
4 mi
+ 300 m (984 ft)
EcoCamp
b,
l,
d
7
Torres del Paine - Punta Arenas
Departure
— / —
b,
l

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JM
Julie M
December 1, 2018

I highly recommend BikeHike and had an amazing trek in Patagonia with them a few years ago.

Stanley, ID, USA
DS
Doug S
November 5, 2018

My family and I have used BikeHike twice, both times to travel to South America. Both trips were very well vetted and organized. The most recent was a trip to Chile in January of 2018. We wanted a fun adventurous trip for our family of four (my wife and I as well as our twenty-something year old kids). BikeHike did a great job of crafting an itinerary to suit our time constraints and our interests. BikeHike does a great job of selecting and partnering with local guides. They do quite a bit of interviewing of the guides before selecting them and it shows. They were knowledgeable and capable, but more important, they were fun loving and genuinely enjoyed hanging with us and showing us their world. We were most impressed with BikeHike and would use them again in a heartbeat!

New York, USA
PH
Paulla H
March 19, 2017

Trip was amazing! Every detail was so well organized and there were no problems . Everything from transfers to food was exceptional

Kincardine, ON, Canada
RE
Robert E
March 1, 2017

My wife and I have traveled extensively and have been on several of the adventures offered by BikeHike over the last 10 years. They are an excellent company to partner with. Every tour is vetted by Trish, the founder and owner, who is as much passionate about travel herself as she is with making your experience unforgettable. There is a large variety destinations and options available so as to suit the interests and energy levels of everyone. And don't forget about the new friends that you will surely meet along the way - priceless! We recommend BikeHike Adventures highly and without hesitation!

Oro-Medonte, ON, Canada
VV
Vibeke V
December 1, 2011

Everything turned out well! The five days hiking was fantastic. The mountains, glaciers, trails, accommodation, food, people and all the animals we saw made it a special trip. I will recommend to all my friends! The guides Carola and Juan Luis were very professional and had lots of knowledge about the area, flora and fauna etc. They were very nice people.

Sandnes, Norway
RB
Ryan B
February 25, 2011

The trip was amazing. I had a wonderful time. The staff and amenities provided by the ecocamp were top notch. All of the logistics were handled flawlessly, and the whole trip went off without a hitch.

Charlotte, NC
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