Hiking the Torres del Paine O Trek in Patagonia

Torres del Paine | Chile
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Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to hike the Torres del Paine O Trek in Patagonia

  • Trip Highlight

    Witness the splendid array of flora and fauna on 80 miles of trails

  • Trip Highlight

    The park was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

  • Trip Highlight

    You’ll constantly be rewarded with views of Patagonia’s varied landscapes

As indicated by the name, the Torres del Paine O trek is a loop encircling the mighty Cordillera del Paine Mountains within Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. Although it does intertwine with the more popular W trek, the Full or O Circuit as it’s also known doesn’t receive as many tourists. As such, it offers hikers a chance to explore this heaven-on-earth type of setting without hordes of people. Opting for this trek allows you to discover the raw beauty of Chilean spell-binding landscapes. Here, you’ll find it all—winding rivers, glistening glaciers flowing into mirror-like lakes, various lush forests, abundant wildlife, and the highest summit of the Cordillera Paine, Cerro Paine Grande (2,884 m/9,462 ft). Although quite demanding, the iconic hike to Mirador Base Torres will reward you with surreal views of three majestic granite peaks looming over a turquoise glacial lake and serve as a perfect ending to a thrilling adventure.

Season

Year-round

Nearest city

Puerto Natales, Chile, is about an hour away

Duration

8 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Itineraries

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Hiking the Torres del Paine O Trek in Patagonia

8 days

Spend 8 unforgettable days hiking the Torres del Paine O trek in Patagonia and discover diverse Chilean landscapes. Admire the huge lenga and lichen forests, magnificent valleys, sky-piercing peaks, as well as glacier-fed lakes and glittering glaciers. Witness the highest summit of the Cordillera Paine, Cerro Paine Grande, and one of the most famous landmarks of the park, the Mirador Base Torres. Spend at least three nights in campsites and a maximum of four nights in rustic mountain refugios (depending on capacity), where you’ll get a chance to rest and regain energy for the adventure ahead of you!

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Days 0-1: Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine NP

Arrive in Puerto Natales the day before your adventure begins. You have to be at the Rodoviario de Puerto Natales (bus station) at 6.30 to take the bus leaving at 7:00 am to the Torres del Paine National Park. Enter the park through the Laguna Amarga Lodge, where you’ll show your ticket and take the approach bus to the Welcome Center of the Cerro Paine Reserve. Revel in the impressive silhouettes of the Torres del Paine and the Almirante Nieto Massif. There will be a pre-trek briefing held the evening before the departure at your hotel to go over the details of the trek.
Once there, you will start your trek. Walk through a huge forest of lichens called “old man’s beard”. Once you’ve crossed the forest, marvel at a valley covered with margaritas in the distance. The Paine River will be right beside you, accompanying you during the second half of your trek until you reach the Serón campsite. Here, you’ll have dinner and stay for the night.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Camping or refugio
Hiking distance: 9.6 miles (15.5 km)
Hiking time: 6.5 hours

Tents on the Torres del Paine O trek

Day 2: The Dickson Glacier

The first part of the trail surrounds the hillsides of Cerro Paine and will take you up and down. Here you will feel the strength of the wind and begin to descend to Lake Paine, which reflects the summits that surround it. If the weather is good, you will be able to see the northeast summit of the Paine Massif, including silhouettes and shapes such as Cabeza del Indio, Escudo, Cube and Dickson. Spend the night in the Dickson Sector, located next to the glacial lake at the edge of the Southern Ice Field.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Camping or refugio
Hiking distance: 8.1 miles (13 km)
Hiking time: 4 hrs

A lake seen while hiking the Torres del Paine O trek in Patagonia

Day 3: Los Perros

Today you will start moving towards the south-west. Along the way you’ll get to admire the Dickson glacier falling into Dickson Lake. After entering a beautiful lenga forest, you’ll see Magellanic woodpeckers beating the lengas. There is a clearing in the middle of the forest from which you can admire jaw-dropping glaciers. Further on, you’ll pass through the Los Perros glacier, with striking views towards its lake. 30 minutes after the walk, you will arrive at Camp Los Perros, located in an ancient forest.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Camping or refugio
Hiking distance: 11.2 miles (18 km)
Hiking time: 6 hrs

Scenery, Torres del Paine O trek in Patagonia

 

Day 4: Sector Grey

Even though you won’t be trekking as much as you will on some other days, today will probably be the most exhausting, but also the most spectacular day of your trip. This is because today’s hike contains slippery roads, swampy terrain, as well as steep climbs and descents. The departure from Los Perros is very early. The first part of the way is through swampy land and a steep and long climb to Paso John Garner. You’ll get to witness one of the huge tongues of the Southern Ice Field. Start the long descent between rocks, to continue skirting the Grey Glacier, which will be your silent companion all the way to Lake Grey. After arriving at the site “El Paso”, cross two suspension bridges that pass over huge gorges and admire the fantastic views of the Grey glacier. You’ll spend the night in Sector Grey.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Camping or refugio
Hiking distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking time: 4.5 hrs

Scenery en route to Grey Glacier

 

Day 5: Sector Francés

Cross forests of ñirres, cohigues and notros, and with the Cerro Paine Grande (the highest summit of the Massif, 2,884 m / 9,462 ft) and its hanging glaciers on your left, you will get to the Paine Grande Refuge. Here you can have lunch and revel in the scenic views. Keep going towards the French Sector with Lake Pehoé on your right and another face of Cerro Paine Grande on your left. After a long walk, you’ll reach the French Sector where you’ll have dinner and spend the night.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Camping or refugio
Hiking distance: 13.7 miles (22 km)
Hiking time: 11 hrs

Mountains and a lake, Torres del Paine

 

Day 6: Valle del Francés

On this day you’ll visit the impressive Valle del Francés. Begin the trekking portion with a gentle walk towards the Italian camp. Start to climb the valley and reach the French Lookout. Here you can observe one of the hanging glaciers of Cerro Paine Grande very closely and possibly an avalanche. Continue advancing through a forest of lengas, up to the British sector. Marvel at the magnificent Valley of the French, the gigantic mountains, granite walls, and their unique shapes and colors. Return by walking across the same path, passing through the Italian Camp, until you reach the French Sector.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Camping or refugio
Hiking distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Hiking time: 3.5-4 hrs

Valle del Frances in Torres del Paine

Day 7: Sector Central

Begin the day by walking towards the Central Sector. The Cuernos del Paine will be on your left, and Lake Nordenskjöld on your right. There will be no big slopes and the journey will be shorter and faster than the previous days. Leave behind the Cuernos to skirt Mount Almirante Nieto (2,670 m / 8,760 ft). Experience the relaxed atmosphere in the Central Sector in the evenings. Share your anecdotes with other hikers over a beer and you can stop by the Hotel Las Torres Spa to get a massage, or try a roast lamb on the stick (these activities are not included in the program).
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Camping or refugio
Hiking distance: 10.7 miles (17.3 km)
Hiking time: 7 hrs

A lake in Torres del Paine

Day 8: Base Torres

To cap off this adventure, you’ll wake up early and visit one of the most famous landmarks of the park, the Mirador Base Torres. Walk through the pampas, crossing the Ascencio River and climb about 3 km to reach the ‘paso del vientos‘. Take in the vistas of the surrounding valley, lakes and glaciers. Keep hiking to reach the Chilean Refuge and then enter a forest of lengas and reach La Morrena. This is where the most difficult part of the trekking begins. After 45 minutes of ascending along a rocky path, you’ll get to the spectacular Mirador Base Torres. Here you can witness the beautiful South (2,850 m / 9,350 ft), Central (2,800 m / 9,185 ft), and North (2,600 m / 8,530 ft) Towers. Return to the Central Sector and take a bus at 7:00 pm that will take you back to Puerto Natales.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch
Hiking distance: 7.5 miles (12 km)
Hiking time: 4.5 hrs

Mirador Base Torres covered in snow
Reviews

Reviews (1)

Brett Schlesinger about Unu Raymi Expeditions on Unu Raymi Expeditions’ website

This was a trip that I’ll never forget! James @ Unu Raymi was incredibly helpful in getting me prepared, answering my questions, and organizing the travel. In fact, he went out of his way to schedule the trek in between two other organized expeditions to accommodate my desire to travel. My guide, Eduardo, was extremely knowledgeable, technically proficient, and extremely helpful in teaching me all of the skills necessary, such that I could have been able to do the whole trek myself! The service and equipment were all top notch – especially traveling solo, I never once felt unsafe, and if anything felt completely welcome and at home. I am excited to travel with them again in the future and you should be too!

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Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Torres del Paine

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Torres del Paine, please refer to the Chile Reports and Official Chilean Government (Spanish only) websites.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get on this adventure:

  • A professional bilingual guide
  • All camping equipment (including sleeping bags)
  • Reservations for refugios or campsites
  • Full meal service at refugios (meals purchased separately)

Depending on capacity and availability, the accommodations for this trek route will be a combination of mountain refugios and camping:
Refugios – max. 4 nights
Camping – min. 3 nights

What’s not included:

  • Hiking poles
  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • Meals and snacks
  • Bus transportation to and from Puerto Natales (approx. $24 per person for the round trip)
  • Catamaran transportation to Pudeto on the final day ($34 per person)
  • Hotel accommodations before and after the tour
  • International and domestic flight costs
  • Park entrance fees (to be paid in cash at the park entrance)

Other than dinner on day 8, all meals for the duration of the trip can either be individually purchased in the refugios, or be included as part of your reservation on request.
If you wish to include meals, private transport, or upgrade your accommodation, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

How fit do I need to be?

In order to participate in this guided hiking tour of the Torres del Paine O trek, you need to be a trekker with hiking experience or a physically-fit adventurer willing to practice hiking on trails with occasionally demanding conditions. You’ll be hiking for 8 days, 3.5-11 hours per day, covering 6.8 miles-13.7 miles (11-22 km). You’ll hike across slippery roads and swampy terrain, and there will be steep climbs and descents, as well as some arduous ascending on rocky paths. Keep in mind that you’ll be packing a daypack filled with water and other things you’ll need throughout the day.

What do I need to bring?

Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

    • Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 25-40L bag)
    • Hiking poles — optional
    • Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
    • Spare clothes for layering
    • Waterproof rain jacket with hood
    • Warm jacket
    • Rain poncho
    • Rain pants
    • Waterproof trekking boots
    • Sandals
    • Synthetic t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
    • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear, and socks
    • Fleeces
    • Scarf, beanie/toque, and gloves
    • Thermal clothing (especially for sleeping)
    • Hat or cap
    • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, toilet paper, etc.)
    • Snacks (biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, fruit, muesli, etc.)
    • Medical kit
    • Small towel or sarong
    • Headlamp or flashlight with spare batteries
    • Sunglasses
    • Binoculars — optional
    • Camera — optional (but recommended)

Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

    • This trip can be arranged for up to 15 people. A minimum of 2 participants is required for the tour to run.
    • Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.
    • If joining alone, you’ll be placed with peers that share a similar level of experience.

Hiking the Torres del Paine O trek in Patagonia can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
    • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

If your group has hikers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Deposits and cancellation policy

A 50% deposit to secure your place upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 2 months (60 days) prior to departure or once your guide confirms the trip. For bookings within 5 weeks of the departure, full payment is required. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies. 

Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies:

    • Trip Cancellation Fee: $50 (plus any trip resource costs already paid & any bank charges that are incurred for a refund) and then:
    • 69 – 50 days prior to arrival: 70% refund of total trip price (if paid in full, or else prorated for a deposit payment)
    • 49 – 31 days prior to arrival: 50% refund of total trip price
    • 30 – 8 days prior to arrival: 40% refund of total trip price
    • 7 – 0 days prior to arrival: 0% refund of total trip price

NOTE: Refund percentages are based on 100% of the trip price. Please note that flight purchases are not included in the above table and the refund of any flights is subject to the cancellation/refunds policy of the individual airline, nor are any other non-refundable resources purchased as part of the trip. If circumstances beyond the control of the traveler prevents the traveler from participating in the tour, the tour’s normal cancellation terms shall still apply.

You can get credit for future travel as a means of replanning your trip in the event of unforeseen circumstances (travel that is impacted by pandemias, travel bans etc.) that delays your arrival, requires postponement for a short period or will require entirely changing the dates of your trip for another year.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to the Torres del Paine O trek, most people fly into Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago and then catch a flight to Puerto Natales, 1 hour away from Torres del Paine. The day before your adventure begins, you’ll arrive in Puerto Natales. You have to be at the Rodoviario de Puerto Natales (bus station) at 6.30 to take the bus leaving at 7:00 am to the Torres del Paine National Park.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, you will meet your guide at a predetermined location. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

At the end of your adventure, you’ll return to the Central Sector where you’ll take a bus at 7:00 pm that will take you back to Puerto Natales.

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