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Guide to Patagonia: Torres del Paine W Walk

Written by Thomas Power | 9th January 2014 |


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By following the famous ‘W’ route across Torres del Paine from glacier to grassland you can enjoy the full impact of this variety.

Torres del Paine: the 'W' walk

Torres del Paine is unique because within a relatively small area, you find every aspect of Patagonian scenery: mountains, lakes, glaciers, forests and grasslands.

There is really no other place you can see such variety in such a compact area.

By following the famous 'W' route across Torres del Paine from glacier to grassland you can enjoy the full impact of this variety.

It is this walk which is featured in our Atacama Patagonia Chilean walking holiday.

In order to get close to the spectacular mountains and glaciers you have to leave behind the hotels and lodges which are in the south of the park.

You have to sacrifice some creature comforts, but the guides, porters and refugios make it comfortable and civilised.

Walks are generally between four and five hours and are quite accessible for anyone who enjoys hill walking in the UK.

You stay in refuges or mountain huts during the walk.

They are not luxurious but they do allow you to shower each day and to enjoy a hot meal and glass of wine at night.

You have a team of porters carrying your overnight things from refuge to refuge so that you can walk with just a daypack.

Your guides are experts in this area, and the Park in particular. They therefore know how to pace the walk, when to sit tight and wait for weather to clear and when to head out.

Rather than crossing over high passes, you are walking between the mountains and the lakes so the path is basically undulating without hard ascents and descents.

Most of Torres del Paine is just above sea level. The park is at roughly the same relative latitude as Manchester. Summer daytime temperatures are usually comfortably in the mid-teens celsius. There's an average of 16 hours daylight in the summer months so the pace can be relaxed.

'I think the walks were correctly graded as moderate. It certainly helps their enjoyment not having to carry a full pack and I appreciated the opportunity to stop for photographs, look at the wildlife and so on.'

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