Antarctica & Arctic
One of the World's classic trekking routes, taking in the most scenic portions of Patagonia's spectacular Torres del Paine National Park. This short version of the W trek, named for the shape of the route, will take you on trails reaching amazing glaciers, grasslands, secluded lakes, forests and the mighty Torres del Paine.
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Four nights at EcoCamp, one night at Refugio Paine Grande and one night at Refugio Los Cuernos, meals as indicated, park fees, boat crossing over Lake Grey, English speaking guide, luggage transportation within the park and scheduled transfers to/from Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales or El Calafate.
Mondays, 01 Nov 2016 - 10 May 2017
EcoCamp is located in the heart of Torres del Paine, consists of tented igloo-type domes bulit to minimise the environmental impact while providing a comfortable setting and maximum exposure to nature.
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Latin America's finest national park, with towering granite massifs, translucent bluegreen lakes, forests and abundant wildlife.
EcoCamp's Suite Domes, tented igloo-type domes built the same way as the ancient native Kaweskar's dwellings have minimal environmental impact.
The unique beauty of the massive natural ice construction of Grey Glacier.
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The trip starts in Punta Arenas city during the morning either at your hotel or at the airport. From Punta Arenas we drive to Cascada EcoCamp located in world famous Torres Del Paine National Park. During summer the sun sets around 11 pm, so as you drive in you’ll have plenty of light to admire the Patagonian steppe with its guanaco and snow-peaked mountain horizon. Before arriving though, there are a couple stops. One is at Puerto Natales, a small but lively town on the shores of Seno Ultima Esperanza - Last Hope Sound. You are invited to check out the town, leave any luggage you will not need for the trek in our office, and finally enjoy a hearty lunch with delicious local food. The other stop is at Cueva de Milodon, a massive prehistoric cave where the remains of a giant ground sloth were discovered in the 1890s. The surrounding area is very scenic with plenty of wild birds to be seen. (L)(D)
We start our adventure in the Park with a pleasant walk through the curly Cuernos trail located beside beautiful Lake Nordenskjold. During this appetizer walk we take in the parks charming flora and fauna, its strong wind and the curious 4-seasons weather that will accompany us for the next days. As we advance through the trail we enjoy magnificent views of the parks central lakes and the Paines Horns which are majestic black horn-like peaks of slate atop grey granite which crown the centre of the Massif. We will of course stop to get some great first shots of the park and also enjoy a delicious box lunch to energize us for the rest of the walk. The trek ends at Refugio Los Cuernos, a small and cosy mountain refuge located by the shores of Lake Nordenskjold. The evening is left free to enjoy dinner and share experiences. (B)(L)(D)
After breakfast, we begin a challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley), a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. How deep we go depends on our groups’ rhythm. An active walk leads us to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south east face of the Massif. From this point, we can enjoy our first truly wonderful view and then continue up the trail until reaching the upper prospects of the valley.
The entire group of geological formations of the high valley can be admired here: Hoja (Blade), Mascara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburn (Sharks Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza! (Fortress). It is time to have a picnic and recover from the walk.
An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is available as well. Next, we descend through an undulating terrain of mixed grassland and light forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located in the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. Finally, upon reaching the Refugio, the luggage is organized and there is time to talk about the day while enjoying a replenishing dinner. (B)(L)(D)
Hike from Paine Grande Lodge along the shores of Lake Pehoe to the northern end of Lake Grey. Enjoy a picnic lunch before boarding the boat that sails to the blue face of Glacier Grey. Marvel at this calving glacier before the boat ride across Lake Grey. From Lake Grey’s southern end, transfer to the EcoCamp. (B)(L)(D)
Time for a great breakfast and lots of enthusiasm! Our goal is to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres Del Paine NP. We walk from the camp site towards Hostera Las Torres and connect with the winding uphill path to Ascencio Valley the valley which supports the eastern face of the Towers base. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers are passed along the scenic walk into the valley. t’s not a difficult walk, but energy should nevertheless be saved for the final challenge: the moraine.
This mass of boulders is the last guardian before our face to face meeting with the uplifting Torres Del Paine. The moraine is sufficiently steep to consider doing it slowly and with an adequate amount of precaution. After a considerable effort, the Towers come into full view, rising majestically before us with the glacial lake visible below. This is one of the most breathtaking sights of the world! The famous Torres Del Paine (2,900m/9,400 ft) consists of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. Is there any better place on this planet to have lunch? Of course!
But since we are in Patagonia, at the feet of the mighty Torres Del Paine, we will enjoy life, the view, and a bite to eat! Once everyone is ready, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley, and return to the EcoCamp. (B)(L)
We hike to the Laguna Azul lookout where we have a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and granite towers. We continue along the eastern side of Lago Sarmiento to the calcium formations on the lakes shores where guanacos are often seen. Later we trek to Paso Las Corneas with spectacular views of Rio Paine, Lake Pehoe and the massif of Paine.
Depending on the group, we can also hike to the Toro lookout point that offers more soul-candy scenery - Lago Toro and the pampa, or steppe! Upon returning to the EcoCamp, a farewell dinner is celebrated. This is sadly our last night in Torres del Paine, we take notes and talk with our friends, relax, feel the strong Patagonic wind while watching the heavens above, all these days in the Park will be profound memories when we return home. (B)(L)(D)
Return to Punta Arenas Airport. (B)
NOTE A five day trek operating every Sunday on a regular basis is also available.
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