The W Walk - National Park Torres Del Paine
We’ve just completed an incredible four day hike in Chile called the ‘W Walk’ (because the route is shaped like a ‘W’). One of my most Googled questions prior to this trip was ‘can you do the W Walk with bad knees?’ Well the answer is yes! As long as you do it reeeeeally slowly. But with this view on the last day, it’s well worth it...
Wild camping is illegal in Torres Del Paine but there are campsites along the way. There was a bit of a mess up at the start of the walk as the catamaran we were meant to be catching in the morning wasn’t running because it was New Year’s Day, so we did an extra walk before catching a later catamaran. It was a nice little warm-up though!
We arrived later to Paine Grande and headed to the Grey glacier lookout. Thankfully we could leave our big backpacks at the campsite this day.
The following day we hiked with our backpacks into the French Valley and stayed at Camp Cuernos. Sam and I went in two different walking groups, Sam walked the whole way to Britanico lookout but I only went as far as Frances lookout (below).
We saw the devistation that a fire in 2011 had caused (which was started by someone who had set their toilet roll on fire but not put it out properly afterwards). Unlike the many of the wooded areas that we saw in Europe that are more used to fires and so regrow fairly quickly, the trees here can’t cope so well.
The geology of the area fascinating. You can see in the photo below the different colours in the rocks. The lighter rock is granite and the darker rock is sedimentary rock. The darker rock was exposed because of glacial erosion wearing away the sedimentary rock.
We stayed at a great campsite that night, although we were rudely awoken by a mouse in our tent. Unfortunately when Sam opened the tent to let the mouse out, a bird promptly flew in! I later had a mouse in my hair as I was sleeping... still, a lovely view!
Day three involved hiking along Lake Nordenskjold, finishing at Camp Torres.
Luckily we had two nights at Camp Torres so we were able leave our big backpacks there for the hike. There is no vehicle access along the W Walk, so horses have to do the legwork when it comes to delivering gas/food/drinks and collecting rubbish from the campsites/refugios.
We felt the full force of the ‘Patagonian winds’.
Some of the waterfalls were being blown so hard by the wind that a lot of the water was going up instead of down!
The windiest place was at the towers themselves. People were being blown over whilst posing for their selfies! But what a beautiful place.
As with most places that look this good, there are a lot of tourists, and with the track being pretty narrow in places, it can create a large snake of people at times!
We were lucky enough to see wild deer on our descent.
The geology continued to amaze us, with the jagged rock below being magma that had filled the cracks in the rock and cooled to create this crazy formation that looks like a dragon’s back.
We’ve been exceedingly lucky with the weather and only got a bit of rain. Despite being ridiculously windy, it helped to keep us cool and for the majority of the time the wind was behind us. We completely recommend doing the W Walk this way round (finishing with the towers). Not only is it a spectacular day to finish on, but we definitely didn’t feel like going on a hike the following day!