With its near-vertical spires soaring high above the plains, Chile's Torres del Paine massif is a scenic marvel. On this famous circuit, you'll hike deep into the remote wilderness of southern Chile. Here, glaciers of millennia past have receded from granite rock, leaving a cluster of craggy peaks rising more than 8,000 feet above surrounding grasslands. The jaw-dropping vistas of monolithic rock spires and snow-capped mountains - not to mention the huge expanse of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field - make this one of the most unforgettable treks you'll ever take.
Make a complete circuit of the Paine Massif, including the famous "W" route
Hike along the enormous Grey Glacier, over five miles across and 17 miles long
See icebergs calve into Lago Grey - a truly spectacular experience
Arrive at the airport in Punta Arenas, Chile, and meet your group leader to transfer to the hotel. In the early evening, gather with the group for a briefing on the adventure ahead.
After breakfast, travel across the Patagonian plains to the quiet fishing town of Puerto Natales on the shore of Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). Stretch your legs a bit and have lunch before continuing on to Torres del Paine National Park and taking in your first spectacular views of the Paine Massif (weather permitting). There is also a very good chance of seeing guanacos - small cousins to the camel and llama - on the way to the park.
Get an early start for an all-day hike to the Torres del Paine lookout. Follow the Asencio River over a low pass into the Ascencio Valley, passing through beautiful beech forests, talus-covered slopes, and boulders. Arrive at a spectacular viewpoint that is one of the most scenic spots in the world, where the towers rise majestically before you and a glacial lake is visible below. Enjoy a packed lunch en route before hiking back to the hotel.
Enjoy a leisurely day hiking to our next camp. Take in the impressive views of the Towers of Paine and the peaks of Almirante Nieto hovering above the terraces and delta of the Asencio River. Pass through a tall deciduous beech forest, home of the Magellanic Woodpecker, and then walk through the foothills of Cerro Paine. Arrive at Campamento Serón, an old outpost, and settle in for your first of six nights tent camping.
Continue hiking west over the Patagonian plains, skirting the Paine River and Lago Paine. Along the way, take in incredible views of the northeast peaks of the Paine massif, including Cabeza del Indio and Escudo, as well as the glaciers Dickson and Cubo, weather permitting. Get a panoramic view of Lago Dickson before descending towards camp.
Hike through primeval beech forest and witness Dickson Glacier pouring into the Lago Dickson from the ice field above. We'll follow the roaring Los Perros River that leads us to Los Perros' hanging glacier and lake, beautifully set in an impressive moraine landscape. Our campsite is located in a peaceful old-growth forest.
Start out early and ascend steadily toward the John Gardner Mountain Pass (4,000'). At the top, take in mind-blowing views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and the 17-mile long Grey Glacier resting 2,600 feet below (weather permitting). Descend scree slopes to the tree line and enter the forest along the Grey Glacier. After a steep, muddy, and strenuous downhill trek, the path levels. Listen to the silence of the forest while walking along the cracking glacier. After crossing a few high-hanging bridges, arrive at camp.
Visit the front side of Grey Glacier, a 10-minute walk from the refugio, and watch for icebergs calving into Grey Lake — a truly spectacular experience! Take a leisurely hike with fantastic views of the glacier behind us, with the Ice Field to the west, and the Paine Massif rearing up above us to the east.
Hike roundtrip into the French Valley, one of the most spectacular cirques in the Paine Massif. We´ll walk below the glaciers that descend from the massif's highest summit, Paine Grande, and marvel at the gray granite peaks of the Cuernos del Paine, topped with fantastical black slate "horns." Two different hiking options are available today: the strenuous option to the Granite Peak Amphitheater of the interior valley or the more leisurely option to the Lookout of the Frenchman's Glacier and Paine Grande.
Catch your last glimpse of the Cuernos and Paine Grande as you cross Lago Pehoé aboard a catamaran. Transfer by van to Puerto Natales and enjoy some free time and a farewell celebration dinner.
After breakfast, depart Puerto Natales for a three-hour drive to Punta Arenas. Board your flight to Santiago, where you'll connect with your international flight home. If you can't bring yourself to depart South America just yet, consider joining one of our extensions, such as Easter Island and the Atacama Desert.
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Few companies operate the full circuit, but we've been doing it since we pioneered the route in the 1980s.
Although it's a challenging trek, you'll have full support throughout, including porters to carry your gear.
Our leaders are Patagonia experts who will take you on a truly exhilarating wilderness adventure where other hikers seldom venture.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Moderate to strenuous hiking covering up to 15 miles a day in mountainous terrain.
Six nights of tent camping, including remote camps, bookended with regular hotel stays.
Expect extreme weather conditions that can change from one moment to the other. Be prepared for everything, especially strong winds and sun.
Your trip leader or another MT Sobek representative will wait for you in the airport arrival area then take you to your hotel.
It is not recommend to hike in low-ankle shoes. The terrain is varied and combined with some long trekking days. You will appreciate your hiking boots with ankle support.
Just the very essentials. They will not carry any electronic devices (consider not bringing these while camping), glass, books, personal documents or money.
You will have access to Wi-Fi and telephones except between cities and while trekking in Torres del Paine where a signal is non-existent.
Yes, but please consider that while in Torres del Paine provisions can be scarce. It will be difficult to accommodate changes to diet restrictions stated in your registration form.
As the weather changes so fast it's advisable to dress in layers. Evenings can be chilly and a good wind/waterproof jacket is a must.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"The beauty of the mountains, lakes, and glaciers of Torres del Paine is beyond description. This was for me another life-time experience and our guide's extensive knowledge of all subjects, and willingness to educate us was amazing."
MT Sobek Guest, Paine Circuit