In this article, we provide all the necessary information on how to prepare for the W trek in Torres del Paine. We provide costs, rental costs, food, amenities, where to go to rent all trekking equipment if you do not have your own and how much you can expect to spend during your trek to Torres Del Paine. We did the “W” trek from West to East in December 2015.
Note: We are not avid trekkers. We have some experience with our trek in the Himalayas but we are definitely not professionals: I have a pretty bad fear of heights and we like to carry a light load.
TREK ITINERARY – from West to East – the goal is to end the trek with the sunrise looking at the Torres on the 4th day.
Find a map of the trek here.
How to prepare for W trek in Torres del Paine? You will need warm clothes and layers, pack your own camping gear and food if you intend to camp (much cheaper and fun), and have enough cash to pay for each camping site. Oh and extra batteries for the camera, because you will be taking a LOT of pictures. Read on to find out the breakdown.
Before the National Park
Equipment to Rent/Buy/Bring:
We rented all of our equipment in Puerto Natales from Anita Rentals (double check that all gear is functional) – unless otherwise specified. You can also rent all equipment in Punta Arenas, the prices are the same. However, if you are coming from Argentina, it is much cheaper to shop in Chile than it is in Argentina.
Another alternative is to rent everything on site at the refugios – though it is much pricier.
Here, I provide rental costs per day in Chilean pesos:
Tent for 2 4,500 per day (from Wild Guesthouse)
3,800 per day (from Anita Rentals)
Mats 800 per day – essential as it gets very cold at night
Sleeping Bags 2,500 per day
Cooking Set 2,000 per day
(metal pan, 2 spoons and gaz wires)
Gaz 3,000 per can (purchased)
Rental Totals for 4 days of trekking:
Tent from Wild Guesthouse: 18,000
Rental from Anita Tourism: 31,500
Gaz Can purchase 3,000
Food: 1,500 ( we purchased 3 bags of pasta+ tomato sauce + powdered soups– at Refugio Chileno, people leave their leftovers and we were able to get two meals since we didn’t plan enough – refer to note at top about not being experts- snacks are also essential: nuts, fruits, sweets). You can purchase food in all refugios – expect to pay 3x the regular prices. Example: tomato sauce is CHP 500 in Puerto Natales and CHP 1,500 in Torres Del Paine. There is no food at all at the free camps ( Camp Italiano and Camp Torres).
Water: You can refill your water bottles in all rivers of the National Park.
TOTAL in RENTAL EQUIPMENT + Gaz Can+ Food: CHP 54,000 (USD $77) for 2 people
If you do not have winter clothes, as we did – again, refer to Argentina post/note about not being prepared- this is a list of prices for items needed. All costs are in Chilean Pesos.
We both had Uniqlo tops, leggings and fleeces. Layers are key in during the trek.
Winter coat: 20,000
Shoes I actually trekked in my Nikes (regular running shoes) and J trekked in actual trekking shoes he had
Headlight 5,200 Not entirely essential since the days are long and sun rises around 4:30am but this is the price we saw
Poncho 3,000 We were lucky it did not rain during our trek – except on the last day.
The “W” trek in Torres Del Paine – details per day
The bus departs from Puerto Natales at 7:30am or 14:30. There are none in between. It will take 2.5hrs to get to the park. Bus ticket with return to Puerto Natales is about CHP 15,000 (USD $21) per person. At the park entrance, you will check in, pay your entrance fee of CHP 18,000 (USD $26) and switch buses depending on where you want to start the trek. We went to the catamaran on Pehoe Lake to start on the West side of the trek.
The catamaran cost CHP 15,000 (USD $21) per person to be paid on the boat and lasts 30mins.
Upon arrival at Refugio Paine Grande (in my opinion, it was the best refugio for camping of the entire trek), you can check in either at the camping site and pay your fee for CHP 7,000 (USD $10) per person per night or check in at the refugio if you have made reservations.
There are bathrooms, hot water showers, a cooking area and spacious camping ground at Refugio Paine Grande.
Depending on whether you’ve arrived in the morning or late afternoon, you can start your hike up to see the Glacier Grey, which takes 3.5hrs one way. We arrived in the late afternoon, camped at Refugio Paine Grande, trekked up and down to the glacier the next day and hiked over to Camp Italiano on Day 1. If you have time, you can even stay a night at Refugio Grey, by the Glacier and can arrange to trek on the Glacier.
Woke up at Camp Italiano – a free camp which now requires reservation since space is limited ( reservation is to be made at the entrance of the park). We did not have one but since we arrived late in the evening, they nicely agreed to let us camp – after we begged.
Hiked up Frances Valley and up to the Britanico lookout, 2.5hrs per way. Trekked to Refugio Los Cuernos to spend the night, 2.5hrs away, CHP 7,500 (USD $11) per night per person for camping site.
Woke up at Refugio Los Cuernos. Trekked through the forest and park to get to Refugio Los Chilenos (4.5hrs) where you could use their kitchen facilities and eat.
Then trekked up to Camp Torres (1hr from Los Chilenos) if you want to get closer to the Mirador Las Torres. From Refugio Los Chilenos, the Mirador is 2hrs away. In December, sunrise is around 5am so you need to decide whether you want to wake up at 3 or 4am the following morning.
Reminder: You need a reservation to stay at Camp Torres which can be made at the entrance of the park or at Camp Italiano. Again, we were unprepared and since it was not fully high season yet, there was still room for our tent.
Woke up at 4am, hiked up to the Mirador Las Torres and hoped for the sky to be clear to see the towers. Unfortunately for us, it was cloudy, snowy and windy so we were unable to enjoy the beautiful sight of the sun shining on the towers.
You can also decide to stay an extra day but you are only allowed to sleep one day at each camp, so you’ll have to switch camps.
To get back to Puerto Natales, hike down to Hotel Las Torres (2.5hrs from Los Chilenos), there will be a shuttle at 2pm for CHP 2,800 (USD $4) per person which will take you to the entrance of the park where you can catch your bus back to Puerto Natales.
How was your experience at Torres Del Paine? Did you do other treks while there? Share you experience with us, we love to hear from you!