Life is all about pushing yourself to the limit and knowing little details that makes the life so worth living in which appreciation manifest.
Wow, what an adventure and thrill we just experienced in one of world true last wilderness! A little over a month ago we were hiking among the great wilderness, the biggest glaciers, breathtaking mountain ranges and never-ending waterfalls. In this concise post, I would include all essential details that one needs to successfully complete W trek without any issue. We actually did track total miles, altitude gain and other statistic using a smart Garmin (model Fenix 5x) watch for the whole trek. We wished we had this info beforehand. Article also includes a pdf checklist at the end which you can download. This will definitely help you to prepare in advance for a successful adventure. We did W trek in 5 days including Gray glacier trekking, but no matter you choose either 4 days or 6 days, you can use the attached map to get estimated time and miles for each trek.
How To Get There?
Puerto Natales, Chile is the gateway and entrance to Torres del Paine park. Typical route is from Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile to Punta Arenas, Chile. Finally take bus ride to Puerto Natales. People in our group utilized both routes to get to Punta Arena.
Where To Stay Inside The Park?
In the park, Lodging or camping can only be in designated area or Refugio camps. Refugio and camps are strategically placed inside the park and highly recommended for whole W trek. We used ChileTour, Patagonia to reserve our lodging in camps and Refugios.
What Fitness Level and Training is needed?
If you already have experience in backpacking and hiking, no special training is needed. Here is my suggestion, and I wished I have followed it completely as toward the end I started getting some leg muscle cramps.
At-least two months before the trip, do a weekly hike preferably 3000 ft elevation change or equivalent stair master if hike is not possible. Also this is a good time to buy new shoes and start breaking them in.
One month before, continue weekly hike or equivalently stair master with bag pack of about 20 LBS or whatever your estimated weight you plan to carry. For overall fitness and health, I would recommend some running during the week and any other fitness program such as weight training in the mix. Use this time to get in the best shape than ever before, you will have the best experience ahead.
What Things To Take?
- Good water proof hiking shoes with toe protection. Shoes are very important part of this trip, so take them seriously and break them in during one to two months before you embark on the journey.
- Hiking backpack with rain cover. 40L size is a good compromise if staying in refugios. Rain cover is very important, so be sure to pack it.
- Rain and wind protection jacket as top layer. This is absolute essential as weather is unpredictable and almost guaranteed to have a high wind and rain. (see movie at the end). From more info check out REI website: How to Choose Rainwear?
- Down jacket as mid layer. Make sure it is light weight and you can even use it as pillow. From REI:Layering Basics
- Merino wool layer as a first layer for both upper and lower body. Synthetic probably will work too, but I like the feeling of Merino wool.
- Gloves. Make sure they are water proof and can keep you warm.
- Hiking Socks. A good pair of hiking socks can save you from blisters as well as keep you warm.
- Sun glasses. Beside protecting from sun, these are especially useful during high winds and glacier trekking if you plan to do it.
- Hat and sunblock. Even with clouds you can get sun burn if you stay outdoors all day. UV rays are always there.
- Beanie. This will keep your head warm; it does gets cold in Patagonia even during summer months.
- Water Pouch or Bottle. Patagonia is one of the place where we can fill the water from streams and it is highly recommended to do so.
- Camera and solar/battery charger. We used iPhone X to take pics, but definitely take a lots of photos with whatever camera you prefer.
- First Aid kit and Medicine.
- Hiking Poles. We had people who used hiking poles or others who did not. These are high recommended if you have any past knee issues. These can also be rented.
- For my complete list, download list in pdf or iPhone/Mac notes checkable list. Feel free to add or delete an item to suit your need.
What Are Distances, Elevation Gains For All Trails In W-Trek?
Below map show all the stats. A high resolution pdf can be downloaded along with actual data (courtesy of Umer Khan) from Garmin Fenix watch.
What Are Park Etiquettes & Regulation?
- Fires are STRICTLY prohibited.
- Camping is only allowed in designated areas.
- Cooking (with non-plant based fuel) is only allowed in the camping areas.
- Do NOT disturb wildlife.
- Pack out all trash you bring in.
- Use of drone is prohibited.
- Swimming is prohibited in all bodies of water within the park.
- Take nothing but pictures and, leave nothing but footprints.
- Follow the principal of Leave No Trace (LNT).
Most importantly, in the midst of battling through trails, make sure to enjoy all the breathtaking scenery around you. Following is a video and a picture tour of this beautiful place.
Download Compete Patagonia CheckList (pdf)