Logistics of Hiking in Torres del Paine: O-Circuit and W-Trek

This is part of a three entry series, click here to see the entire collection on Torres Del Paine

Hiking in Torres del Paine is a surreal experience, filled with glacial ice fields, rolling green and gold hills, and Andean Condors flying over head. When we were planning our trip and comparing options, we were completely overwhelmed with information and how to see the park. So I've put together a super-easy guide for all the planning logistics for hiking the O-circuit in Torres del Paine. This can also be applied to the W-trek, which is the last four days of the O-circuit.

The walk into Dickson campsite on day 2 of the O-circuit.

The walk into Dickson campsite on day 2 of the O-circuit.

decide when you want to go and what you want to do

Summer, shoulder season – when are those? And which hike do you want to do? For a full run down on those, check out my post which compares ways to see Torres del Paine.

how to reserve your campsites

If you've decided to do the W-trek or the O-circuit, you'll need to get your campsite reservations. This should be done at least six months in advance if you want to get the best campsites and optimal route. This is kind of a pain in the butt, as there are three companies who run the campsites – and none of them are linked. When you book, you’ll need to do it quickly to ensure you get the reservations you need on the right dates. If you fail to do this, you'll end up hiking longer, harder days. The three companies are:

CONAF (government national parks agency)

Fantastico Sur (private agency)

Vertice (private agency)

Campsites and their booking agency

O-circuit campsites and their corresponding booking agency.

O-circuit campsites and their corresponding booking agency.

The above map shows the route of the O-circuit, which is hiked in an anti-clockwise direction. It starts and finishes at Torre Central. The booking agency responsible for each campsite is noted in the call-outs (i.e. "Reservas en Fantastico Sur/Vertice/CONAF").

For more details on the O-circuit and our experiences on the trail, refer to my post detailing the O-circuit and logistics.

The W-trek is made up of the second-half of the O-circuit. It involves hiking between Grey and Torre Central campsites (including up to Chileno campsite).

book your flights

The main airport to fly into is Punta Arenas. SKY AirlinesJetsmart, and LATAM service this airport (the first two usually have flights from Santiago for $50-80 USD).

From Punta Arenas, book a bus from the airport to Puerto Natales on Bus-Sur.

camping gear checklist

I'm brand loyal to a lot of my camping gear, so I've included my trusty favorites where applicable!

planning your camp menu

This is the menu we used for eight days on the O-circuit. It's a lot of food to carry in your backpack, so we opted for energy-dense, light-weight foods. 

For the W-trek, you can use a shortened version of the below.

Day (Campsite)BreakfastLunchDinner
Day 1 (Seron)Eat before departureLunch Type A: Cheese Wrap
Dinner Type A: Couscous Bowl (serves two)
Couscous (190g, about 3/4 of 250g bag)
1 soup packet (make couscous in this liquid)
Sauteed Vegtables:
1/2 Onion
1/4 Zucchini
1/2 Carrot
Day 2 (Dickson)Breakfast Type A: Cereal
Milk (milk powder + water)
Lunch Type B: PB&J Wrap
Peanut Butter
Dinner Type B: Ramen (serves 1)
1 Ramen Packet
1 egg, whisked into hot ramen at the very end (think egg drop soup)
Day 3 (Los Perros)Trail mix: eat on-the-go
Because you have to start early over the pass)
Lunch Type ADinner Type A
Day 4 (Paso)Breakfast Type ALunch Type BDinner Type B
Day 5 (Paine Grande)Breakfast Type ALunch Type ADinner Type A
Day 6 (Italiano)Breakfast Type ADinner Type BDinner Type B
Day 7 (Torre Central)Breakfast Type ALunch Type ASPECIAL TREAT:
Dehydrated Meal brought from home
Pizza at Mesita Grande in Puerto Natales
All our food for eight days of hiking!

All our food for eight days of hiking!

In addition to the above meals, snacks are equally important in providing energy.

Snacks per person for the O-circuit:

  • 2.5kg (5.5 lbs or about 1.5 gallon ziplock bags) of trail mix

    • Suggested ingredients: salted peanuts, walnuts, raisins, dried apricots, banana chips, granola, white chocolate, dark chocolate

  • 3 apples

  • 3 Snickers

  • Milo (for those not in the know, it's a "healthier" hot chocolate that I grew up on in Australia!)

  • Cookies - Roblon are a Chilean cookie that is pretty darn tasty.

For the W-trek, I advise splitting the above in half as the hike is half the duration of the O-circuit.

last minute preperations in puerto natales

There is a decent supermarket in Puerto Natales called Unimarc where you can buy all your camping food. For dried fruit and nuts, head to Super Fruit which has the best range and ridiculously cheap prices for the area (1kg of walnuts for $10 USD!).  If you plan on using freeze-dried meals (e.g. Backpackers Pantry), purchase them before you leave home as options are scant in Chile.

Gas canisters for camping stoves can be purchased at various outdoor stores in Puerto Natales. Alcohol for alcohol burning stoves can be purchased at any pharmacy in Chile – ask for “alcohol puro”.

You can rent camping equipment from outdoor stores in Puerto Natales.

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Explore the complete Torres del Paine series:

Post updated on August 9, 2018.