WHY THIS TRIP
The Torres del Paine “W” Trek is one of the World’s classic trekking routes and it takes in the most scenic portions of Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. A combination of challenging and moderate hikes take you into Torres’ famous French Valley, face-to-face with massive Glacier Grey, and right up to the base of the Torres (the iconic granite Towers perched atop the entire range). You’ll overnight at the comfortable and remote EcoCamp and in classic mountain refugios.
The “W” trek explores three of the most spectacular valleys penetrating the front side of the granite Paine Massif in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, and the trek map forms a “W.” Along the way trekkers will be rewarded with spectacular views of steep granite walls, glaciers, forests, turquoise lakes, and exotic wildlife.
Day one is a travel day from either Punta Arenas, Chile, or El Calafate, Argentina, ending at the comfortable EcoCamp Patagonia at the base of the Torres in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park. The EcoCamp is a group of comfortable geodesic dome hotel rooms and it is the region’s first sustainable accommodations option.
The trek begins on day two with a walk along the Cuernos trail with great views of Los Cuernos (The Horns) and Lago Nordenskold, and ends at the rustic but cozy Refugio Los Cuernos.
On day three the trek continues up into the Valle Frances (French Valley), which is the middle leg of the “W” and a spectacular hike into the heart of the Paine Massif. That night the group will overnight on the shores of Lago Pehoe at Refugio Paine Grande.
The trek then heads along the shores of Lago Pehoe to Lago Grey, the left leg of the “W.” This glacial lake is full of icebergs and the view is of the massive Grey Glacier creeping down into the lake. The return is by boat across the lake, allowing for views of ice calving off the face of the Glacier, before driving back to our starting point at the EcoCamp.
Finally, on the fourth day of hiking we challenge the climb to the base of the Torres del Paine, one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. Following this difficult hike we have a final mellow day in the park where we drive to short hikes for views and to see wildlife such as guanacos and ostrich-like nandus.
On the seventh day we depart for either Punta Arenas or El Calafate, arriving in time to fly on to your next destination.
LOCAL OPERATOR: CASCADA EXPEDICIONES
Since 1991 Cascada Expediciones has been offering eco-friendly opportunities for travelers to let go of normal life and refresh with energizing connections to nature. With a strong focus on providing innovative, high-quality experiences — trips in which each traveler enjoys every moment of a trip — Cascada has refreshed nearly 30,000 people. Headquartered in Santiago, a trip of a lifetime with Cascada can include activities ranging from trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, biking, rafting, fly fishing, kayaking, skiing, wildlife safari and photography, multisport itineraries to winery tours. In engaging the outdoors Cascada-style, every traveler is made to feel relaxed and energized by each activity; nourished rather than weary.
More good feeling comes in knowing the money spent on a Cascada trip stays in the Chilean economy. Moreover, the money stays with a company and people who have a deep respect for the environment. The staff and guides live an eco-friendly life, sharing the environmentally sustainable philosophy put into practice over the life of the company. So firm in its understanding of nature’s importance, Cascada became a carbon neutral company in 2008 and, between June 2009 and 2010, offset more than 183 tons of CO2 emissions. With a goal of becoming entirely CO2-free, Cascada encourages its travelers, suppliers and shareholders to help by standing by its philosophy.