Day 1. Puerto Natales.
Arrive, meet for dinner and a briefing session about the upcoming days and what to expect. Night in Puerto Natales.
Day 2. Torres del Paine — The Trek Begins.
Following a van transfer to the park from Puerto Natales, we begin a 6-hour trek into the plunging Ascencio Valley through scented beech forest and undulating alpine terrain, until we reach a backcountry climber’s campsite, “Japones.” Here, we set up camp for the night.
Day 3. The Silent Valley.
Few visitors to Torres del Paine get the chance to visit this hidden wonderland of granite and ice, tucked deep inside a plunging valley of the Paine Massif on the back side of the Towers. This “cathedral” of imposing, sheer vertical rock rises high above a boulder-strewn glacier on the valley floor. We allow for a full day to explore this spectacular region in the heart of the Massif.
Day 4. Torres del Paine Lookout.
Today we visit the base of the Towers that gave the national park its name. After packing up, we head out the Ascencio Valley, drop our packs at a ranger outpost, and head up a boulder-laden moraine until arriving at the Las Torres Valley, where we are treated to a sweeping view of the Paine Towers, considered by many as the highlight of the park. Then we begin our slow descent until reaching the Torres Campground, a 7-hour total trek for this day.
Day 5. Patagonian Pampa.
We begin to trek along the base of the Paine Massif northward, through golden “pampa” or prairie, the beginning of “The Circuit.” Today’s hike is relatively easy, along mostly flat terrain.
Day 6. Refugio Dickson.
Following a river and lake system, we continue our trek deeper and deeper into the Patagonian backcountry, eventually reaching Lake Dickson at the foot of the impressive Dickson Glacier – where the integrated river and lake system of the park begins — familiarizing ourselves with Patagonian shrubs and the mountains that separate Chile from Argentina.
Day 7. Los Perros Valley.
A relatively short hiking day, today’s journey is no less fascinating, exploring dense, primeval beech forest and appreciating great views of the Dickson Glacier pouring into Lake Dickson from the massive ice field above. We’ll follow the roaring Los Perros River that leads us to the Los Perros Hanging Glacier and Lake, a picture-perfect junction of rivers, glaciers, forests, and mountains. A truly magical place.
Day 8. John Gardner Mountain Pass.
Leaving early, we begin the most adventurous day of our journey with a climb up the notorious John Gardner mountain pass. Once we reach the top, an utterly spectacular and mesmerizing view awaits of the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field and the 17-mile-long Grey Glacier resting 2,600 feet below. A more difficult downward descent follows, through deep gorges traversed by descending several hanging ladders and suspension bridges, until reaching the Glacier Grey campground.
Day 9. Day of Rest.
Following the previous day’s rough trek, today we can either relax around the campground, join a kayak trip paddling between huge chunks of rugged icebergs, or join an ice hike adventure on the Grey Glacier wearing crampons to explore the crevasses and interiors of the glacier.
Day 10. Grey & Pehoe Lakes.
Back on the W Trail, we leave Glacier Grey and head south for four hours, following the iceberg-strewn Lake Grey and enjoying views of the Paine Grande peak. After lunch on the shore Lake Pehoé, we’ll turn toward the French Valley, our campsite for the night.
Day 11. The French Valley Lookout.
With just a daypack, we’ll explore the craggy, forested French Valley, with views of the Paine Grande hanging glacier, passing through enchanted miniature beech forest to a stunning amphitheater of towering granite peaks.
Day 12. Puerto Natales.
We’ll hike along the milky turquoise waters of Lake Nordenskjöld that borders the Almirante Nieto Mountain, contemplating our adventure as it comes to an end. Return to Puerto Natales for the night, and a farewell dinner.
Day 13. End of Trip.