Explore the Torres del Paine national park with a Cicerone guidebook
Torres del Paine
Trekking in Chile's Premier National Park by Rudolf Abraham
This handy pocket-sized guidebook contains route descriptions for the 140km Torres del Paine Circuit and the W Circuit. The routes take 11 to 5 days respectively and are not technically difficult but can become dangerous in bad weather. Also described are 2 multi-day treks and 4 day walks in the surrounding areas including Argentina's Los Glaciares More...
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The Torres del Paine Circuit is one of the world’s truly great treks – an epic 10 to 11 day journey through magnificent mountain scenery at the southern tip of the Andes. With its iconic granite spires, vast glaciers, unspoilt forests and rich wildlife, Chile’s premier national park is unforgettable. This guidebook contains seven walks in the Torres del Paine national park (three of these are multi-day treks, and four of them are shorter day walks) as well as one multi-day trek in Argentina’s Los Glaciares national park, and several excursions from Puerto Natales and El Calafate.
It takes about 10 to 11 days to complete the 140km Torres del Paine Circuit – but bad weather can delay your crossing of the highest point of the route, the 1180m Paso John Gardner. The shorter version of the route, the W Circuit, requires 5 days. None of the walking is particularly difficult, and elevation gain is minimal for most stages on the route – the exceptions being the hike over the pass, and up the Valle Ascencio and Valle Francés (but be warned, rain and wind can turn either of these treks into a considerably more demanding undertaking). The northern part of the Circuit is also fairly remote, with no convenient exit point should you want or need to cut short your walk.
The Torres del Paine Circuit includes side trips to the towers and the Valley Francés, passing beneath the ‘horns’ and crossing Paso John Gardner, with the awe-inspiring expanse of the Glaciar Grey sprawled below. The shorter W Circuit follows the southern section of the main Circuit. Both routes can be walked in either direction. Both the Circuits have very clear trails and only moderate ascent and descent, the exceptions being the hike up to Mirador Las Torres and crossing Paso John Gardner, each of which involves several hundred metres of ascent/descent.
The walks are described in stages that are usually, though not always, a full day’s walking, and always finish at a hut/campsite. Some of the shorter stages can be combined into a single day. A reasonable level of fitness is assumed for the longer treks – though they are all technically without difficulty, wind and weather can make them fairly demanding. Timings refer to walking time only, and do not include time for breaks or stopping at viewpoints and so on. Stages may or may not represent a full day’s walking – in some cases it will be possible to combine two into a single day.