W Trek: Itinerary, Ultimate Packing List and Meal Plan
Now, the following information is what I WISH we had found before we began our trek! We did a lot of research and spoke to a lot of people so in the end we were thoroughly prepared in terms of our shopping list, packing list and itinerary.
At the end of the day, it’s just so much easier having all the important information in one central place, so here you go!
The Ultimate W Trek Packing List - available for download
Our W Trek Itinerary
We decided to trek the ‘W’ from west to east so we would finish with a bang at The Towers for sunrise. This is the most popular route and one of our biggest recommendations, although hiking from west to east can also be done if that fits better with your itinerary.
Day 1 – Travelling from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine:
We took the 2:30pm bus with Buses Gomez from Puerto Natales to Torres Del Paine, which took approximately 2 hours. These buses can be booked through your hostel or at the bus station. Be sure to reserve your seats at least 24-48 hours in advance as they can fill up quickly and it may jeopardise you getting to the park in time to start your trek!
When we arrived in the park we registered ourselves and showed our mandatory proof of reservations, watched the compulsory park regulation video and paid the park entrance fee. We jumped back on the bus and from there we got dropped off at the catamaran pick up point. The catamaran takes you on a scenic 30-minute cruise across to Paine Grande. We arrived at our campsite at around 7pm and settled in, cooked dinner and got ready for an early start the next day.
Day 2 – Paine Grande to Grey Glacier to Paine Grande
After having breakfast, we packed our day bags and set off on our first official day of the trek to hike to Grey Glacier! The hike was a beautiful way to kick off our time on the W. Incredible views over Grey Lake, snow-capped mountains in the distance and glimpses of Grey Glacier as we drew close to the viewpoint. The hike was relatively easy, with only a few rocky and muddy areas. Even so, we were definitely glad to have hired hiking poles, which helped us navigate our way down some of the steep, slippery sections of the path.
All up the hike took us 8.5 hours to hike the 22km return trek, this included stopping for lunch overlooking the enormous Grey Glacier.
Day 3 – Paine Grande to Brittanico Lookout to El Frances
We got up early to pack our belongings for the hike to our next campsite, Frances. Our first destination was straight to Camp Italiano to drop our big backpacks off so we could hike up to the Brittanico lookout. The hike from Paine Grande to Italiano was beautiful; overlooking the glorious Lago Skottsberg to our right and magnificent snow capped mountains to our left.
After dropping our bags off at Italiano we set off on the hike up to Brittanico. It was a steep and rocky climb pretty much the entire way, once again we were so glad to have our hiking poles with us. This section of the hike is approximately 2.5 hours each way and give yourself an extra 30 minutes at the lookout to take it all in.
The hike to Brittanico was probably our favourite hike of the whole W Trek. There were plenty of amazing views including a rushing waterfall, cracking ice glaciers and snowy mountains, so make sure you don’t skip this part of the trek even if you’re feeling worn out!
When we returned to Italiano to pick up our bags we were totally ruined and were so happy to have booked at Frances, this meant we only had another 2km to go until we reached our campsite, take off our boots and have a wine! This part of the hike was nice and easy going.
Day 4 – El Frances to Central
This was our most tiring day! It could be due to a number of factors, the trail being a consistently steep uphill-downhill combination, or because it was our first day of having to carry our backpacks the whole way, or purely down to our bodies starting to feel worn out! Either way, it was a hard slog! The views were absolutely incredible which definitely took our minds off the steep inclines and declines and heavy impact on our knees. We stopped at the Cuernos lookout (Mirador Cuernos), which was absolutely magnificent. We sat down on top of the mountain we just climbed and took it allllll in!
We continued on to Camping Central and stopped to pat all the horses at Hotel Torres and watched the gauchos round them up, which was incredible to see!
The hike from El Frances to Camping Central was our shortest day at 15km and took us 6.5 hours.
Day 5 – Camping Central to Base Las Torres (return hike) to Puerto Natales
The big day, or should I say morning, had finally arrived! We were getting up in the dark to hike up to The Towers for sunrise! Our alarms went off at an early 1:30am and we were on track by 2am with full speed ahead navigating the rocky and steep pathway with our head torches and hiking poles. Something about hiking on the edge of the mountain in pitch black was really invigorating and got our adrenaline pumping! It was cold but we ended up hiking without our jackets because the climb was steep and difficult. In a way, we were glad we were in the dark because we couldn’t see the steepness of the climb we were about to partake in! One step after another and we finally made it! We were the first ones to arrive at 5am but we got there WAY too early. It was FREEZING!! Slowly other hikers were arriving one after the other and waiting for sunrise. Trent and I were frozen, as were our snickers bars. We were completely rugged up and having to run on the spot and do push-ups in order not to freeze. We were definitely jealous of the smart travellers that bought their sleeping bags up with them, not having our there that morning would be our biggest regret!
2 hours later, around 7am the sun started to peek over the mountain behind us illuminating the towers with an almighty orange glow. It was an absolutely stunning sight to see and at that moment we knew that we had completed the W Trek!!
After making our way down the mountain leaving at 8:30am we arrived back at Central in time to book the shuttle bus back to Puerto Natales at 1:30pm. This gave us enough time to go to the visitors centre and crack our first beers. THE BEST FEELING EVER! We knew we were tired, worn out and sore but I don’t think we realised how much, until we were on the bus back to town. It was a sight to see. Everyone on that bus was completely passed out within seconds of their heads hitting the seat and it was the best sleep we have ever had!!
No idea where to start with your packing list?
We got you. Listed below is everything we packed for our 5 days and 4 nights in Torres Del Paine. We were prepared for all weather conditions by packing clothing that can easily be layered. Keep this list on hand and refer back to it by downloading it in PDF format here.
2 pairs of merino thermal tops and pants
2 pairs of merino socks
Waterproof hiking pants
1x sports bra
1x flip flops
Toiletries and first aid
Bar of soap
Hairbrush/bobby pins/hair ties
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Steripen (didn’t need to use, there was fresh water everywhere from the glacier)
Equipment we hired
Hiking poles (these are a MUST, I’m so glad we had these!)
Tent (we paid extra to have a tent already set up for us at each site)
Cooking set (1 pot, 1 stove, plate, cutlery, mug)
Ski gloves (only had to use the morning of Base Las Torres)
1x large gas can, this was plenty as we only cooked dinner everyday
Garbage bags (good to put inside your bag for extra protection if it rains)
Small plastic bags for our sandwiches and snacks
Phone and camera charger
Canon 700D and GoPro
Neck pillow (used as a pillow every night)
Rain cover for backpack
Our meal plan for the w trek
Muesli with powdered milk and a cup of coffee
Salami and cheese rolls (tortillas are a more compact option)
Dinner night 1 & 3:
Chorizo and Powdered Mashed potato (cooked with chicken stock and powdered milk)
Dinner night 2 & 4:
Chorizo and rice (rice purchased in singular sachets with mixed veg)
Snacks & extras:
Mixed nuts, muesli bars, Snickers, Brie cheese, crackers, instant soup, coffee, powdered milk, chicken stock
So, what was our final cost and additional fees?
Rental equipment: $167 AUD (CLP $79.126) for the two of us
Groceries: $80 AUD (CLP $37.838) for the two of us
Campsites: $140 AUD (CLP $66.145) this cost is for the whole site, not per person
Tent Hire: $210 AUD (CLP $99.427) this cost is for the tent hire, not per person
Park entrance: $44 AUD (CLP $21.000) or $88 AUD (CLP $42.000) per person
Return shuttle bus from Puerto Natales: $66 AUD (CLP $32.000) or $33 AUD (CLP $16.000) per person
Catamaran one-way: $76 AUD (CLP $36.000) or $38 AUD (CLP $18.000) per person
Total: $827 AUD (CLP $390.879)
if you found this blog helpful
Please leave us some love in the comments below! Even better, pin the picture at the top of this post for us to help our fellow travellers understand the W Trek preparation nightmare! ;) A lot of hours has gone into this so we would appreciate any help spreading the word.