Hiking in Torres del Paine has its charms, but the experience begins much before the arrival to Punta Arenas. Here all the details of the perfect itinerary doing the W circuit!
I had never backpacked before, and I had to watch many videos and investigate before the trip to be able to fit a maximum of 8 kilos into my backpack in an intelligent way for my 7 days in Patagonia. The first thing I had to eliminate was the hairdryer. The truth is that I didn’t have an option, the hairdryer is not permitted in refugios nor in the campings that forms part of the W circuit. Watching some youtube videos about what to pack in your backpack, generally made for men, I felt like I would never be able to fit everything necessary. I thought, “of course, they are men!” The truth is that each time I thought of putting something extra, even if it was a pair of socks, I didn’t do it because I knew that my pack would weigh more. Finally, I decided to pack everything exactly how the man in the video demonstrated.
After the trip I came to the conclusion that the perfect backpack for women who want to trek the W is the following:
This is very serious! Do not even think for a second to bring more than what I am going to tell you now. Are you ready?
For the W Circuit you will need to pack:
Backpack 50 to 60 liters max.
Base layer (leggings and undershirt dry-fit, long or short sleeves fast drying)
Second layer (hiking pants)
Hiking socks (anti-sweat) one pair for every 2 days
Hat to protect from the sun
Water bottle, reusable
Quick dry towel
Sandals or slip on shoes
Hiking boots (comfortable and broken in)
Personal hygiene items (deodorant, razor, toothpaste and toothbrush, pads/tampons, soap, toilet paper)
First aid kit with medicine for headaches, stomach pain, cold/flu, band aids
Ziploc bags to carry out trash
With your backpack ready, not exceeding a maximum of 8 kilos, you will be ready to begin to dream of this long-awaited trip...at least I was.
To arrive at Torres del Paine National Park, you must arrive at the airport in Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. The most ideal option is to sleep in Puerto Natales the night before beginning the trek and the final night after finishing the circuit.
The trekking can be done solo, reserving lodging and food with anticipation, or it is also possible to do it accompanied by a guide, a recommended option for those that want to learn more about the plants and animals of the zone. I used a guide and I do not regret the decision. Steven gave us a lot of important information about the park and useful tips for trekking; from how to use hiking poles to what to do in difficult moments in the case of injuries or blisters. Additionally, the guide had a super positive energy that motivated us each day to arrive to the final hike with high spirits.
The day before beginning the trek everyone that would make the trip was obligated to attend a presentation that occurs in the center of Puerto Natales where they give you tips, maps and explain about the park and other useful information.
The big day, beginning the W trail
Before beginning to hike, each person adjusted his/her backpack so as not to hurt their back. To do this you must adjust the waist belt, this way the weight of the pack is sustained by this part of the body and not in the shoulders. Following this, we placed all of the equipment that would be necessary during the hike in accessible spots. Personally, I wanted to have access to my sunglasses, sunblock, and lunchbox that they gave us before starting the trek. Once we were ready, we took our hiking poles and began to calmly walk with firm footing, observing the marvelous landscape of the trail.
The W circuit lasts 5 days of between 6 and 8 hours of walking each day approx. It can be extended 6 days in the case that you are interested in walking on the ice field or kayaking in Glacier Grey.
Each day we observed a different landscape. The first day we saw the spectacular Torres del Paine; the second, we walked the shore of lake Nordenskjöld; the third day the majestic French Valley and in the final days we were amazed by the profound colors of Glacier Grey.
The W Torres del Paine is a hike that sincerely connects you with nature. You hear birds singing, observe different textures of leaves, feel the wind on your face and feel the calmness of the sound of the rivers. This is an experience of deep self-connection and more than anything, connection with the people that you meet along the way. People from different cultures, nationalities, and languages create a special environment of cooperation and consideration for one another.
It is important to notest that this route is recommended for people in good physical condition, it is an intermediate hike and can be considered an excellent challenge for those who have the energy and willpower.
Once finished the W and waiting for the boat, I felt a sensation that words cannot describe. I would love to summarize it to you, but I believe that this is something that explains itself on the trail.
And you? Would you like to know what it feels like?
Live the experience
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