Day 1: Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales. Greeting in Punta Arenas Airport by our tour host. Then we will begin by driving along the Magellan Strait. We enter the Patagonian Pampa, where huge, iconic sheep ranches drove the development of the region at the end of the 19th Century. In this unique landscape we can witness the local wildlife, filled with birds, guanacos and lesser rheas. The trip will take roughly 3 hours until we reach our first destination of the day, the town of Puerto Natales situated on the Sound of Last Hope, with the Southern Ice field visible from across the water. You will have the remainder of the afternoon free to stroll through this small town, where you can witness numerous black-necked swans close to the shore.
Day 2: Refugio Paine Grande - Mirador Grey (8 hrs, 22 km or 13.7 miles). After breakfast we will depart for Torres del Paine National Park, where we will take a catamaran on Lake Pehoe to the western shore of the lake, where we will check into our shared lodging at Lodge Paine Grande before our first trek. Today’s hike will be 22 kilometers (round trip), taking around 8 hours. We begin by bordering Cerro Paine Grande, the tallest peak in the park, passing by the Laguna de los Patos, or Duck Lagoon, to reach Lago Grey.
We will have the opportunity to observe large, blue icebergs floating in the lake, carved into fascinating shapes by the forces of nature. We continue until we reach the Grey Glacier Lookout, where we can see the huge glacier, originating in the Southern Ice Field, with a face of nearly 5 kilometers wide, and one of the most important glaciers inside the national park. We return by the same trail back to Refugio Paine Grande for dinner and a good night’s sleep before continuing the “W” in the morning.
Day 3: Refugio Paine Grande – Refugio Los Cuernos (10 hrs, 18.6 km or 11.6 miles). Today’s hike will be nearly 19 kilometers, taking around 10 hours. After a good breakfast, we head east, along Lake Pehoe, around the southern foot of Paine Grande, and passing by Lake Skottsberg. After nearly 8 kilometers we arrive at the entrance to the Frenchman’s Valley, which for many people is one of the most beautiful treks in the park. We will hike through a forest and get to see the horns from a different angle, as we pass between the Horns and Paine Grande.
After a little more than 5 kilometers we will reach the British Base Camp, where we will have our box lunch. After lunch there is an option to continue hiking another 1.2 kilometers to a lookout which offers better views of the Shark’s Fin, Carolina Point, the Cathedral and others hills. Then we head back down the valley to continue the trail eastward, along the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld to our destination of the day of Refugio Los Cuernos, in the shadow of the Horns, where we will have our dinner. Once again, we will have shared lodging tonight.
Day 4: Refugio Los Cuernos – Refugio Chileno (7 hrs approx, 16 km or 10.0 miles). This morning after breakfast we continue our hike, which will be 16 kilometers, taking an estimated 7 hours. We continue east along Lake Nordenskjöld and at the foot of Cerro Paine Chico, which separates the Horns and the Towers. Then we begin the eastern section of the "W" by heading north at the Inge Lagoon and up through the “Paso de Los Vientos” (aptly named because of the high winds!) toward the Ascencio Valley, reaching the Refugio Chileno for our dinner and a hot shower.
Day 5: Refugio Chileno – Refugio Torre Norte (6 hrs, 13.5 km or 8.4 miles). This morning we head out early and continue northwest to one of the most spectacular views of the Torres, or Towers, at the Las Torres Basecamp lookout. After contemplating the magnitude and silence of our surroundings, we return along the same trail as we finish our hike of the “W” by heading south for nearly 6 kilometers, taking roughly 2 hours, to reach our final destination in Torres del Paine, the Refugio Torre Norte, where we can share our stories with other trekkers from around the world.
Day 6: Punta Arenas. After breakfast we will have a transfer of roughly 5 hours back through Puerto Natales and down to Punta Arenas. Around 3:00 pm we will take an afternoon boat trip to visit the Magdalena Island Penguin Colony, a natural habitat of more than 120,000 Magellan penguins and one of the largest southern penguins colonies in Chile. We will have two hours of sailing through the “Estrecho de Magallanes” where it is possible to have astonishing panoramic views of Punta Arenas, Tierra del Fuego plains and the oilfields of Cabo Negro or Laredo Bay. Once on the island, remember to stay on the foot paths and give the penguins the right of way, as they are constantly going down to the ocean to fish and returning to their nests. Late in the afternoon we return to Punta Arenas to our hotel for the night.
Day 7: Santiago – Departure. Transfer to the airport outside of Punta Arenas for your flight back to Santiago in time for your international connection.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Chile Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking National Parks