Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Hiking in Torres del Paine: part 1

March 27, 2012
Us with the Torres del Paine in the background.
It’s now Day 9 of our trip and we’ve finally made it to Torres del Paine national park in Chile. The park is a world-famous hiking destination and one of the most popular in South America. We chose to do the “W” Trek, the shorter of the park’s two most-well known hikes at about 75 kilometers. We had five days and five nights to do the whole thing and were carrying all our gear and our food on our backs.

Day 1: Camping Las Torres to Campamento Las Torres (9km)

camping las torres torres del paine chile

Our route was essentially a “W” (duh). Up one arm of the “W” the first day. The second day included a side trek to the Torres del Paine, which give the park its name, then down to the middle arm of the “W.” Up the middle on Day 3, up the final arm on Day 4, then back out of the park on Day 5.

Map: How to hike the "W" in Torres del Paine

Unfortunately, we didn’t get off to the best start. It rained the first night (at least our tent was still holding up — we met two Israeli guys who were using rain jackets to keep water out of their tent, which was built for the Negev desert). And though we fortunately didn’t get soaked the first day of hiking, the clouds didn’t lift at all and there was almost nothing to see.

But the idea was mostly to get up to the campsite so we could rise early the next morning to see the light hit the towers at sunrise. We made it to the camp in plenty of time, unloaded, and started to make dinner when we discovered our stove had broken! (It's a liquid-fuel pump that relies on a pressurized fuel bottle to work, and the pump was busted.) Bad news. We managed to borrow one from the park ranger for the night, but weren’t sure what we would do about the rest of the hike.

Day 2: Campamento Las Torres to Mirador Las Torres to Camping Las Torres (13km)

At sunrise the next morning, we were not at the towers but asleep in our tent, which had begun to leak. Since it was still cloudy and raining and since we now didn’t have a stove, we re-evaluated our entire plan. Instead of rushing out that morning, we hung around camp hoping the clouds would eventually clear so we could get a view of the Torres.

They did, and we were glad we waited around, because getting up there was one of the best parts of the hike.

torres del paine patagonia chile

torres del paine lake patagonia chile

Then we headed halfway back down to one of the refugios (private lodges in the park that offer food and beds for a hefty price), hoping we could rent a stove there. They didn’t have any so we continued back to base. Long story short about the stove: We were carrying a liquid one, and after it broke, we bought a gas canister and mooched a stove from fellow hikers the rest of the way. And starting with Antonio (a nice Chilean who was hiking the “Circuit” on his own), everyone was thankfully supernice about sharing.
Valle Ascencio torres del paine national park

Day 3: Camping Las Torres to Refugio Cuernos (11km)

We were now back on track with the official hike, having solved the stove problem. The “W” trek is designed so that the highlights basically correspond with the tips of the “W.” Since we were traveling from one arm to the next arm today, there weren’t a lot of highlights, just a large turquoise blue lake, some tall mountains, and a gradual rolling trail.

hike to los cuernos torres del paine

Lago Nordenskjold Torres del Paine national park

 It was a nice pleasant day, not too tiring, and we reached our campsite in plenty of time to make a pasta, sausage, onion, and garlic stir-fry for dinner, with a pisco sour from the refugio. If you think that sounds good as a normal dinner, think how delicious we found it after on our third night of camping. Yummy.

- Steph

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  1. Did you have any problems with rodents getting in your food? What did you do with your food at night? Were there trees at all the campsites to hang food?

    1. I know that rodents are a problem there, but we were fortunate enough not to have issues. I think we were able to hang out food, but I'm not certain.


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