The main attraction to Patagonia for trekking is the “W” located in the Torres del Paine National Park. The “W” is named for the physical shape of a hiking route through the park. The landscape of the park is dominated by the Paine massif, which is an eastern spur of the Andes located on the east side of the Grey Glacier.
The Torres del Paine national park has over 140,000 visitors per year. It is a popular Trekking destination in Chile. There are clearly marked paths and many refugios which provide shelter and hospitality services. Trekkers can go for a day trip to see the towers, walk the popular “W” route in about five days, or trek the full circle in 8 to 9 days.
Trekkers are not allowed to stray from the paths in the national park. A certified guide is required to access some parts of the park. These arrangements need to be made before entering the park.
Guanacos are one of the most common animals found in the park. Others include foxes and pumas. It is also home to the endangered Chilean Huemul. The puma’s predation on guanacos in the park has been studied and is a site that every visitor hopes to see in person and chat on camera.
Visiting the park is recommended between late December and late February, during the southern summer. Not only the weather conditions are the best, but daylight hours are very long given the extreme southern latitude.
If you’re an experienced trekker, the “W” isn’t too difficult but is well worth the trip.