a mountain range with trees and rocks

Valle del Francés


Magnificent steep mountains, glaciers, turquoise lakes, and gorgeous valleys are all in abundance on the W-Trek in Torres del Paine, the most beautiful trek I’ve ever experienced.  Don’t let the long distances discourage a trip to this captivating place.  All the time, effort, and sweat involved in traveling to this part of Chile is worth seeing this unreal place in person.

The below itinerary is for the average 30 year old in moderate shape.  If I had more time, I would have preferred to add an additional day to the itinerary, as I would have felt less rushed.

a map of the north pole

W-Trek spit up in 4 days


  • Day 0: Arrival to Refugios Torre
  • Day 1: Refugios Torre – Las Torres – Refugios Torre (20km / 12mi)
  • Day 2: Refugios Torre – Camp El Frances (13km / 8mi)
  • Day 3: Camp El Frances – Mirador Britanico – Camp El Frances (17km /10.5mi)
  • Day 4: Camp El Frances – Grey Glacier – Camp Paine Grande (32km / 20mi)
  • Day 5: Departure
a tree in front of a rocky mountain

Valle del Francés

Day 1:  Hike to Mirador Las Torres

The first day starts with a hike to Base Las Torres, which is an out and back 20km trek.  The beginning of the hike started and ended at Refugios Torre, where breakfast and dinner was served.  Renting tents and purchasing a meal plan made trekking that much easier since equipment and food did not have to be carried.

After breakfast, lunch bags were picked up to bring on the hike. The lunch bags were relatively the same everyday, but they tasted amazing due to being utterly beat and famished from all the hiking.  Lunch bag always included:  a bottle of water, gigantic sandwich, granola bar, trail mix (peanuts, cashews, raisins, etc), an apple, and a piece of chocolate.  The plan was to hike up to Las Torres, eat lunch at the top, and then come back down to the site.

a valley with a river running through it

Beautiful Valley on the way to Las Torres

The hike to Las Torres was pretty amazing. It’s not extremely difficult, especially because we left the majority of our belongings at the campsite.

a person walking on a rocky mountain

Hike to Las Torres

When you get to the top, you’ll see a huge body of turquoise colored water.   When you look up, you’ll see three massive granite towers.  It took us about 10 hours to do the whole trip because we spent a good amount of time at the top.  Plus you want to take pictures of everything along the way since everything is so beautiful.

a body of water in a mountain

The Beautiful Las Torres

a collage of a man walking on a trail

Day 1: Hike to Las Torres

Day 2:  Hike Along Lake Nordenskjold

Day two started at Refugios Torre and ended at Domos & Camp El Frances, for a distance of about 13km.  This was the first day hiking with backpacks since we were moving to a different camp site.  The first 5km was super windy but started to settle down as time went on.  Eventually, the trail gets very close to Lake Nordenskjold on the left with huge steep mountains on the right.

a group of horses by a body of water

Food is supplied to the campsites along the trail using horses

The views of Lake Nordenskjold were unbelievable on the way to Camp El Frances.  When the sun hits the water, the turquoise color radiates throughout the entire landscape.

a person standing on a path near a body of water

Lake Nordenskjold

Be careful crossing some of the rivers, otherwise your foot will slip off a dry rock and into the river.  This happened to me and hiking 5km with one wet foot is not fun.

a river flowing through a forest

River Crossing

The beach along Lake Nordenskjold is a great place to stop for lunch.

a body of water with a mountain in the background

Looks like a Maldives beach with Swiss mountains combined. Unbelievable.

We were pretty sore from the previous day’s hike, so we relaxed and ate dinner upon arriving to Camp El Frances.  The Domos at this camp site was the “glamping” (glamorous camping) portion of our trip. The facilities seemed relatively new when we arrived.

These domes reminded me of a hostel because there were 4 bunk beds in one giant room (8 people total), but the perk is that there is a bathroom/shower in each dome. Also, you don’t have to unzip your tent and walk outside with a flashlight to go pee!

a green dome with a lake in the background

Not a bad view from Domos & Camp El Frances

I was really impressed that they had such good quality food at this site because it’s not an easily accessible location. It must be crazy difficult to deliver food to Camp El Frances because you can’t drive a truck or take any sort of motor transportation through the trails.

a wooden structure with a green dome

Domos & Camp El Frances

Day 3: Hike in Valle del Francés

Day 3 consisted of hiking from Camp El Frances up through Valle del Francés and back for a total of 17km.  Since we were staying in the same campsite for two nights, we did not have to carry our bags during this hike.

Valle del Francés is without a doubt is the most beautiful valley I have ever seen!

a person walking on a rocky path in a valley with mountains in the background

Entering Valle del Francés

Experiencing all four seasons in one day is a common experience in this part of the world.  The beginning of this trek started very cold and rainy with hats, gloves, and rain jackets being worn.   However, toward the end of the hike it was perfectly sunny and warm.

Wearing layers is an absolute must!  You will constantly be adding and subtracting layers throughout the day while on the W-Trek.

a river flowing through a mountain

Steep mountains where we saw avalanches

As we walked through the valley, we heard something that sounded like loud thunder or explosions.  Turns out it was a steep mountain was experiencing several avalanches nearby.  Luckily, the avalanches were a safe distance away.

a view of a valley with trees and a lake

About half way through Valle del Francés, looking back at Lake Nordenskjold and Camp El Frances

The hike into Valle del Francés is on an incline, however its not too steep compared to the day one hike to Las Torres.  Plus, the area is so insanely beautiful you’ll forget your even hiking. 

a rocky mountain with a rocky mountain in the background

Amazing geological structures carved by glaciers

The trail was a bit rocky and towards the top, so you definitely need to do a bit of climbing. The scenery was quite breathtaking with the rivers and the glaciers interrupting the hike.  When you get to the top, you have a 360 degree view of the mountain “skyline.”  We were happy that the sun made an appearance to showcase these magnificent views.

a mountain range with trees and clouds

We made it to the top of Mirador Britanico in Valle del Francés

The walk down was a lot easier than walking up. It was quite a relief that it stopped raining because the rain can make the rocks pretty slippery.

a collage of a man walking in a mountain

Day 3: Valle del Francés

Day 4: Hike to Grey Glacier

The longest hike of the trip came on day 4, with a distance of 32km.  Ideally, this should have been broken up into two separate days, but I didn’t have enough time stay in Patagonia for an additional day.  Even though this hike was the longest distance, it was pretty easy because it was relatively flat most of the way.

This hike starts at Camp El Frances, stops at Camp Paine Grande, heads to Grey Glacier, and then ends back at Camp Paine Grande.  Once we reached Camp Paine Grande, we checked-in and dropped off our bags.  That way we could hike to Grey Glacier without carrying anything.

a river running through a mountain

Leaving the area of Valle del Francés

a mountain with trees and snow on the top

Mountains on the way to Camp Paine Grande

The first half of the hike had towering mountains on one side and insanely colored azure lakes on the other.  The flat trails and beautiful scenery made this one of the easiest parts of the W-Trek.

a blue water and trees

Lake Pehoe – the brightest and colorful lake I ever saw

Along the way you’ll see a few lakes, but when you get closer to the campground, Lake Pehoe has a more vibrant shade of turquoise compared to what was seen at the top of Los Torres.

a woman hiking in a field

Almost at the campsite

We wanted to hike to Grey Glacier that same day, so we immediately dropped off our heavy bags in our assigned tent after checking in.

a group of tents in a field

Camp Paine Grande

After dropping off our bags, we proceeded to Grey Glacier, which was about 11km away.  This part of the hike was a bit more steep, windy, and cloudy.

a green hill with red flowers

Unique Vegetation

a body of water with mountains in the background

On the way to Grey Glacier

Several large lakes surround the W-Trek, each with their own distinctive color.  On the way to Grey Glacier, the trail hugs Grey Lake, named after its color and for being fed by Grey Glacier.

a blue lake with islands in the middle

Grey Lake

Grey Glacier was huge, but the weather wasn’t super cooperative.  By the time we got there, it was really foggy.  A bit disappointing, but can’t really complain since we had pretty phenomenal weather for most of the day.

a view of a mountain range from a mountain

Grey Glacier

After seeing Grey Glacier, we turned around and headed back to Paine Grand Campsite for dinner. There is a restaurant located at this campsite and it was absolutely packed.

The campsite itself was a lot louder than the other sites, but I think the campsite serves as a hub for many travelers.   Many people start the W-Trek here, while others end here, like we did.   It’s a big noisy campsite and you’ll here people chatting throughout the night.

a collage of a man walking on a trail

Day 4: So many different lakes

Day 5: Heading Home

Being right next to the Catamaran pier, Camp Paine Grande is was a good campsite to end the trek.  After a night of howling wind, we woke up early, had breakfast, packed up our belongings, and headed to the dock for the Catamaran.  The Catamaran crosses Lake Pehoe and goes from Campsite Paine Grande to Pudeto, where buses are waiting to take us to Puerto Natales.

a group of people on a shore with a boat

Hikers Boarding Catamaran

From Pudeto, we bought bus tickets to ride back to Puerto Natales. There were a ton of buses (we took a bus called, Bus-Sur) and I think they all run in sync with the Catamaran schedule. The buses seemed to be waiting for the crowd of people to get off the boat.  We bought tickets directly from the bus driver with the ride taking about 5 hours.

After we arrived at Puerto Natales, we took another bus to Punta Areanas.  Finally, once we arrived to Punta Areanas, we flew back to Santiago.

a collage of a lake and mountains

Day 5: Heading Home


In conclusion, the W-Trek in Patagonia is a challenging epic hike in one of the most remote places in the world.   With unparalleled beauty and awe inspiring sights, all the planning and time involved to get to this location is well worth the effort.

a body of water with mountains in the background

Lake Nordenskjold