The O Trek of Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia is one of the most sought after multi day treks in the world.
During these 8 beautiful days, you will have the chance to trek from campsite to campsite as you get to experience the best that Patagonia has to offer. Lakes, mountains, rivers, glaciers, & more make up the surrounding landscape.
This guide is here to give you a complete overview of what the O Trek is all about and how to prepare yourself for your time out on the trail.
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1) What is the O Trek
When it comes to multi day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park, there are two main options to choose from.
There is the W Trek, a 4-5 day one-way hike, and the O Trek, an 8 day loop trail around the entirety of the park.
These two treks are named after the shape of the trails. As you will see on the map in the following section, the routes of the O and W treks create the letters they represent.
It is helpful to note that the O Trek includes the entirety of the W Trek. So, if you head on the O Trek, you are also completing the W Trek (in addition to a few extra days on the trail). Be sure to read through this W Trek overview to learn more about that trail as well!
For the O Trek, you will have a few different options on how to go about your hiking accommodations. You can choose from ready-made campsites, comfortable refugios, or you can decide to bring your own camping gear. Note that not every overnight has all three of these options to choose from (more on that soon).
Depending on availability and what you are most interested in will dictate what your accommodation is on a nightly basis. Many people (including myself) mix and match these options to get a little bit of everything out on the trail.
What also makes Torres del Paine such a comfortable trekking experience is that you can also expect full meals at these refugios/campsites if you choose to. That means you don’t necessarily need to carry along so much additional food weight with you during the trek.
Overall, the O Trek of Torres del Paine has a vast array of options to align with trekkers’ desires.
On one hand, you can decide to go about it completely self-supported bringing along your own tent and food. While on the other hand, you can simply take advantage of the refugios/ready-made campsites & food offerings.
However you decide to go about it, you are sure to enjoy this once in a lifetime type of trek.
2) Hiking Map
To better grasp the layout of Torres del Paine, below is the O Trek map. Here you will find the route, campsites/refugios, and other points of interest.
Learn More: Check out this Patagonia Itinerary that can better help you put together a complete trip to the region, including the O Trek.
3) Patagonia O Trek Itinerary
In general, there is really only one main route to consider on the O Trek – a counterclockwise route starting & ending at the Torres del Paine Welcome Center.
This route will take 8 days and 7 nights to complete. While I can think of certain ways to make it shorter, it is not something I would recommend for hikers.
As mentioned, the route will encircle Torres del Paine National Park as you get to experience the best that the region has offer. Each night you will be sleeping at a campsite or refugio (these are also referred to as “sectors”) .
For the most part, you will just have one campsite/refugio to choose from for each night on the route. However, during the final two nights out on the trail, there will be more than one option (which I will talk through).
So, with that said, below is how you should plan a Patagonia O Trek itinerary:
- Day 1: Bus to Laguna Amarga | Van to Welcome Center | Hike to Seron
- Day 2: Hike from Seron to Dickson
- Day 3: Hike from Dickson to Los Perros
- Day 4: Hike from Los Perros to Grey
- Day 5: Hike from Grey to Paine Grande
- Day 6: Hike from Paine Grande to Frances (or Italiano or Cuernos) via Valle del Frances
- Day 7: Hike from Frances to Chileno (or Central or Las Torres Hotel)
- Day 8: Hike to Mirador Base Las Torres & hike back to welcome center | Bus to Puerto Natales
Hiking Resources & Checklist
Before heading out for the trails, be sure to read up on some of the hiking resources up on the site. These are here to better prepare you for all types of outdoor adventure.
4) How Long is the Trek
The O Trek comes in just around 72 miles / 116 km in total length over the course of 8 days. That means on average you should be comfortable with hiking 9 miles / 14.5 km per day.
Based on the itinerary mentioned above, here is a breakdown of the mileage to expect on a daily basis:
- Day 1: TDP Welcome Center to Seron: 8.1 miles / 13.0 km
- Day 2: Seron to Dickson: 11.2 miles / 18.0 km
- Day 3: Dickson to Los Perros: 7.0 miles / 11.3 km
- Day 4: Los Perros to Grey: 8.9 miles / 14.3 km
- Day 5: Grey to Paine Grande: 6.6 miles / 10.6 km
- Day 6: Paine Grande to Frances via Valle del Frances: 12.0 miles / 19.3 km
- Day 7: Frances to Chileno: 9.6 miles /15.4 km
- Day 8: Chileno to Mirador Base de La Torres to Welcome Center: 8.6 miles / 13.8 km
Note: the elevation profile below shows closer to 130 km altogether, but that does seem just a bit overstated
5) Is the Trek Difficult
While the O Trek comes in at 8 days, 72 miles, and over 17,000 feet of elevation gain (~5,200 meters), I would not consider this a difficult hike from a technical standpoint.
The trail is easily navigable, without many technical aspects to it (although you will find some). With that said though, there are certainly some tougher days out on the trail (in particular days 4, 6 & 8).
The biggest consideration when taking part of the O Trek is whether or not you are in the physical state to be on your feet hiking for 8 days straight (some of which may be in less than ideal conditions with less than ideal sleeping situations).
You will also need to consider how you are going about it. If you are carrying all your own gear and food, it will be much more difficult than if you are staying in refugios and have all meals taken care of for you.
In my opinion, if you are comfortable with being on your feet for over a week, then you will find the O Trek to be quite rewarding. While there are some tougher days spread throughout, I did find the O Trek to be just a moderate trekking experience altogether.
6) Refugios & Campsites
Now that you have a better idea of what the itinerary for the O Trek will look like, let’s talk a bit more about these Torres del Paine refugios and campsites that I keep on mentioning.
While all of these refugios and campsites are located within the Torres del Paine National Park, they are not all operated by the same company. Instead you will find 3 different companies operating within the National Park. These include Vertice, Las Torres (formerly Fantastico Sur), and CONAF:
Vertice runs 4 campsites – two of which are on just the O (Dickson & Los Perros), and the other two which also overlap with the W (Grey & Paine Grande).
- Dickson (night 2) -> campsites & refugio
- Los Perros (night 3) -> campsites only
- Grey (night 4) -> campsites & refugio
- Paine Grande (night 5) -> campsites & refugio
Las Torres (formerly Fantastico Sur)
Las Torres now runs the other 5 campsites in Torres Del Paine. For the O Trek, you will utilize them on night 1, and then the on the final two nights (choosing between a couple options for each).
- Seron (night 1) -> campsites only
- Frances (night 6) -> campsites & refugio
- Cuernos (night 6 alternative) -> campsites, refugio, & mountain cabin
- Chileno (night 7) -> campsites & refugio
- Central (night 7 alternative) -> campsites & refugio
CONAF runs two free campsites in TDP National Park, however these are closed for the time being and booking them has always been a bit of an issue. While the Paso camp is not really needed on the O, the Italiano camp can be used on night 6. For the purpose of this guide I will not be really mentioning these as options.
- Paso (not needed for O) -> campsites only
- Italiano (night 6 alternative) -> campsites only
With all that said, you are most likely looking at booking 4 nights with Vertice (2, 3, 4, 5) and 3 nights with Las Torres (1, 6, 7), when taking part of the O Trek.
7) Campsite & Refugio Pricing
Each one of the sectors offers various options for visitors, with some offering more or less than others. Below you can find accommodation & food options along with the relevant prices.
As you go through some of the options and prices below, do note a few important details:
Options: For those that opt for the campsites, you will essentially have two main options to consider:
- If hiking with all the appropriate gear (tent, sleeping bags, etc), you will just need to pay an individual camping site fee.
- However, if you are coming without any gear, then you will need to pay the camping site fee + the rental fee for the tent, mat and sleeping bag. Note, that you can rent these items individually if you happen to bring along one or more of them already.
Sheets Discount: Some refugios offer discounts if you don’t want sheets. Rather you would be bringing your own sleeping bag. This option may be best for those who may be camping on their own but want a night in a refugio here or there.
Buying Meals: If you want to eat at the refugios, I would recommend buying meals when you are booking. With that said, at some refugios (such as Grey), you will have the chance to buy meals a la carte. Snacks are also available at many campsites/refugios.
Meal Hours: Meals are only served during certain hours of the day. For example, don’t expect to show up at 4PM for lunch or 10PM or dinner. Each sector has their specific hours, which match up with standard hiking times.
Note that the prices below are for the 2023/2024 season in USD. I will be updating this yearly to reflect the latest.
Las Torres Pricing
Below are the accommodation and food options for Las Torres (Seron, Frances, Cuernos, Chileno, Central):
- Campsite (single/double): $56 / $70
- Campsite Equipment Rental: Tent $46 / Sleeping Bag $30 / Mat $10
- Premium Campsite (single/double): $190 / $220
- Mountain Hostel Bed (refugio): $144 (not available at Seron)
- Mountain Cabin (single/double): $430 / $460 (Cuernos Sector Only)
- Full Board: $100
- Breakfast: $28
- Lunch / Box Lunch: $50 / $30
- Dinner: $50
Seron Note: only camping options available
Below are the accommodation and food options for Vertice (Dickson, Los Perros, Grey, Paine Grande)
- Individual Camping Fee per Person: $11 ($13 at Paine Grande)
- Campsite Equipment Rental: Tent $40, Sleeping Bag $25, Mat $12
- Simple Bunk Bed in Shared Room: $100 (with bedding kit) | $43 without bedding ($65 at Paine Grande)
- Full Board: $80
- Breakfast: $25
- Lunch / Box Lunch: $25
- Dinner: $40
Los Perros Note: only camping & full board options available
8) Booking Process
Now that you have a better idea about the overall route and the refugios, campsites, & meals, let’s talk through how to book the O Trek.
The overall booking process is pretty simple as Vertice and Las Torres have online booking systems to utilize. The tougher part here is making sure there is availability between the two for the exact dates you are looking for.
I would not recommend making a booking for either until you have both websites open and have confirmed that the refugios/campsites are available for the appropriate nights.
However, there now seems to be a solution to that problem:
Recently a new site called Booking Patagonia now offers the opportunity to book both Vertice & Las Torres through a single site. Prices seem to be in line with the two companies, so that may be an easier option moving forward.
I gave it a try, and the site offers a very friendly interface, where you can build your route as you go. In addition to purchasing the food and accommodation, you can also purchase bus tickets and entrance tickets to the park (more on both of those soon).
So, instead of booking through 4 separate website (Vertice, Las Torres, bus tickets, entrance tickets), you can do it all through a single site. They also have a live customer support in case you have questions or changes to your booking.
If you do want to still book directly with the providers, below is how you would go about it.
Below are the steps to go about booking with Vertice on nights 2, 3, 4, & 5.
- Step 1: Go to the Vertice website
- Step 2: Choose the number of people, your nationality, & currency
- Step 3: Choose the W or O Circuit (Paine Massif)
- Step 4: Choose your starting point (Dickson or Los Perros)
- Step 5: Continue choosing your next nights
- Step 6: Once complete, click the red button “Yes, I want to choose my date”
- Step 7: Choose your starting date (the rest will fill out automatically)
- Step 8: Once you choose your accommodation and additional services (food, rental gear) for each night, click Continue. From there you will be shown your booking summary and you will have 25 minutes to then put in your personal details and pay for the reservation.
Las Torres Booking
Below are the steps to go about booking with Las Torres on nights 1, 6, & 7.
- Step 1: Go to the Las Torres website
- Step 2: You will be taken directly to the booking page where you will find the five campsites/refugios to choose from with check in / check out dates (change these initially before continuing to the next step).
- Step 3: By clicking the magnifying glass icon on the right hand side of each sector, you will be shown booking options for that sector.
- Step 4: Choose your accommodation and food options for each of the three nights needed
- Step 5: Click the “Book Here” button, and follow the instructions to fill in your personal details & pay for the reservation.
Additional Booking Notes
All Inclusive: On the Vertice & Las Torres sites, you can also choose “O Trek”, which puts together a total package for you. This seems to be an all inclusive type of deal, where you can’t pick and choose what you want each night. Because of this, the price will be on the higher end.
Third Party: You may also come across third party websites that offer O Trek packages. This companies usually buy allotments of spots at campsites/refugios and then upsell them as packages. I would say the main reason to book through a third party is if your dates are sold out through Vertice/Las Torres, but the company happens to have openings.
Last Minute Openings: Going off of that last note – don’t be surprised if you see any last minute openings for Torres del Paine. These third parties seem to give back any unused nights a couple weeks prior. I met several people, who were able to make reservations just days in advance due to these cancellations.
Torres Del Paine Entrance Fee
While you will need to pay for your accommodation, food, and transport to Torres Del Paine, you will also need to pay for entrance tickets.
I would recommend simply purchasing your tickets online through the official website. Scroll down to Torres Del Paine and complete the forms on the following pages to make your purchase.
Since you will be taking part of the O Trek, you will want to purchase the 3+ Day ticket at $49. Once you stay over three days, there is no additional cost per day.
Be sure to keep your tickets handy, as you will need to show them at the Torres del Paine Welcome Center before beginning the O Trek.
9) How to Get to Torres del Paine
Now that you have some info about the booking process, let’s get into how to get yourself to Torres del Paine National Park.
In general, there are three main logistical aspects to consider to get yourself to the O Trek starting point:
- To Puerto Natales
- Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga
- Laguna Amarga to Torres del Paine Welcome Center
The first section below will talk through getting to Puerto Natales, and the second section will dive into getting yourself to the starting point of the hike at the Torres del Paine Welcome Center.
Step #1: Getting to Puerto Natales
The closest major hub to Torres del Paine National Park is Puerto Natales, Chile. Here is where you should plan to base yourself before and after your time in TDP.
I would recommend spending one day/night there prior to the trek, and then one night after finishing up with the trek (depending on your overall itinerary).
Puerto Natales has its own airport (PNT), located just 10 minutes outside of the city center. Currently, the only direct flights to Puerto Natales are through Santiago and Puerto Montt.
While flying in and out of Puerto Natales is one option, you can also take a bus to PN from other places in Patagonia. The main two closest hub cities would be El Calafate, Argentina (3.5 hours) and Punta Arenas, Chile (3 hours).
Once in Puerto Natales, it is time to then make the 2 hour journey to the Torres del Paine National Park.
O Trek Starting & Ending Point
The starting & ending point of the O Trek will be at the Torres del Paine Welcome Center, which is a 10-minute drive from the Laguna Amarga TDP entrance.
You may also see people mention the starting point is at Hotel Las Torres (a 15 minute walk from the Welcome Center).
Let’s talk a little about logistics though and how to get yourself to the Torres del Paine Welcome Center.
Step #2: Puerto Natales to Laguna Amarga
The first step in the process will be getting yourself from Puerto Natales to the Laguna Amarga park entrance.
Unless you are going for an expensive two hour taxi, most people opt for an early 7:00AM morning bus ride with Bus-Sur (check the site for the latest schedules). One way tickets are very affordable, around $10-$12 USD.
The bus will make 5 stops, however, the first stop is Laguna Amarga. So, for those doing the O Trek, you can simply get off here and be on your way.
Step #3: Laguna Amarga to Torres del Paine Welcome Center
Now, since the bus does not go to the welcome center, you will have one more logistical aspect of the day. Once off at Laguna Amarga, you have two main options:
1) Begin your hike from here, which is about 7 km / 4.3 miles of additional hiking for the day. The walk should take just about 1.5 hours.
2) The more popular and easier option is to hop into a waiting van that will take you the rest of the distance. These vans are run by Hotel Las Torres (as well as some independent third parties), and charge ~$5 per person. You will find yourself squeezed in with a bunch of random people, but the ride takes less than 10 minutes altogether.
After checking in at the welcome center, you can then begin the counter clockwise hike to the first campsite of Seron.
On the way back at the end of the hike, you will just do the opposite. Hop in a van from the welcome center to Amarga. And from there, grab a bus back to Puerto Natales. I would recommend booking a bus later in the afternoon (most likely the 3:00PM bus).
10) Best Time to Hike
You never know what 8 days in Patagonia will offer in terms of weather. When they say you will get all 4 seasons in one day, that is not an exaggeration. I fondly remember one day out on the trail, when the sun was shining in one direction and snow was blowing in from another direction.
With that said though, the best time to hike the O Circuit in general will be during the summer months of the region between December and February. During this time, you have the best chance for the most stable of weather with less rain and overcast skies.
A trip during the shoulder months of November and March are also potential options for you. During this time you will have a quieter park altogether, and may be just as lucky with the weather.
When it comes to the O Trek, you will only be able to complete it during the times that the refugios and campsites are open.
To simplify things, that means the O Trek is only possible between November 1 2023 and March 30 2024 (I will update this each year).
While some of the sectors are open before or after these dates, the sectors that are only part of the O Trek are not. Below you can find the latest (note that the Las Torres sectors only had opening dates):
- Central Sector: September 1 – April 30
- Chileno Sector: September 15 – April 30
- Frances Sector: September 1 – April 30
- Grey Sector: September 1 – April 30
- Paine Grande Sector: September 1 – April 30
- Seron Sector: November 1 – March 30
- Dickson Sector: November 1 – March 30
- Los Perros Sector: November 2 – March 31
- Cuernos Sector: November 1 – March 30
11) Packing List
Perhaps the most important aspect of the O Trek will be the gear that you bring along with you. Since this is 8 days out in Patagonia, you simply will need to be prepared for it all.
If you would like more detail, check out the Torres del Paine packing list I put together that deep dives into all of the below.
Below is my recommended packing list for all hikers that you put into your hiking backpack (Hyperlite Southwest recommended)
From a clothing perspective, you will want to bring along what is needed for eight days on the trail. I am usually a bit more lightweight here as I use the same layers on a day to day basis.
Note that the weather can change quickly, so you will want to be prepared with the appropriate layers (all outlined below). Also, be sure to have moisture wicking materials for your clothing items.
- Hiking Boxers (3-4)
- Hiking Socks (3-4)
- Hiking Pants (1-2)
- Hiking Shorts (1)
- Long Sleeve Sun Hoodie (1)
- Short Sleeve Hiking Shirt (2)
- Puff Jacket (1)
- Hard Shell Jacket (1)
- Baseball Hat
- Quick Dry Towel
- Packing Cubes & Laundry Bag
A hike like the O Circuit must be done with the appropriate footwear. Be sure to invest in quality hiking shoes for your time on the trail. Some of my recommended shoes include:
Most of my electronics were used for photography and navigation purposes, so each person may be a bit different here (note you can recharge your electronics at campsites).
Satellite Communicator | Garmin inReach 2 Mini
While there are many people along the trails of the O Circuit, having a satellite device like the Garmin inReach is always going to be a good idea. This small device gives you the chance to communicate with family, track your route, and call for SOS in case of emergency.
Food & Drink
Remember, you will also need to bring all food for eight days out on the trail if you do not want to purchase food along the way. There are supermarkets in Puerto Natales where you can stock up on certain items.
If you want to come prepared with food that you prefer, then check out my usual food purchases below (high calorie / low weight).
- Variety of Bars including PROBAR Bars, Honey Stinger Bars, Clif Builder Protein Bars
- Fruit & Nut Mixes
Note that you will easily be able to fill up your water bottle consistently throughout the trek. Along most of the hike you will find rivers and streams, where you can get some fresh Patagonian water.
During my time on the circuit, I just filled up directly from these without any filtration. However, if you do want to play it safe, you can get a filtered water bottle like the Katadyn BeFree water bottle.
I also brought along some Liquid IV hydration packets to keep hydrated at the beginning of the day.
This last section of the packing list will be toiletries. Each person will also be different here, but below are the main items I brought along with me.
- Deodorizing Body Wipes | Alcala Bamboo Deodorizing Body Wipes
- Body Deodorant
- Toothbrush / Toothpaste
- Contact Lenses / Solution
- Travel Shampoo & Soap
- Personal Creams & Medications
- Lip Balm
- Nail Clipper
- Small Mirror
- Toilet Paper
Now if you plan to bring your own sleeping gear on the trek, you will need to account for those items as well. Below is a list of the hiking & camping gear essentials for your time on the trail. Note that much of these can be rented or bought in Puerto Natales if you do not have everything already.
- 3-Season Tent | Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL
- Sleeping Bag (20 F – 40 F) | Thermarest Questar 20 ; Thermarest Hyperion 32
- Sleeping Bag Liner | Sea to Summit Liner
- Sleeping Pad | Thermarest NeoAir Xlite
- Camping Pillow | Thermarest Camping Pillow
- Hiking Poles | Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles
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13) Torres del Paine Tips & Things to Know
I did want to layout a few helpful tips and things to know as you go about your time in Torres del Paine.
WiFi: You will find WiFi throughout the trek at most sectors that you have to pay for on an hourly basis. Dickson and Los Perros were the two sectors, where WiFi still does not seem to be offered.
Closing Times: Be very aware of closing times around the National Park for certain trails. For example, during my time there, the Britanico Mirador closed at 1:00PM and the Mirador Base Torres closed at 4:30PM. These times seem to change, so be sure to keep an eye out at the campsites and ranger stations for the latest.
Reservations: Remember, there is no open camping or entering the park for overnights without accommodations reserved. Be sure to come prepared with your bookings prior to your arrival.
Cooking: For those cooking your own food, camping stoves are allowed in authorized areas at campsites. There are no open fires allowed whatsoever.
Forecasts: If checking weather prior to and along your hike (using the WiFi), I would recommend using Windguru or Meteoblue. This can give you a better idea if certain parts of the day may be better or worse than others (although you can never really trust the weather in Patagonia).
Showers: Hot showers can be found at all campsites besides Los Perros. As I mentioned in the packing list section, be sure to bring a small quick dry towel with you.
Food: If you are bringing your own food, you do have the option to purchase some in Puerto Natales. There are supermarkets there, so that should not cause too much trouble. You will also find gear shops if you need to rent or purchase any last minute essentials for the hike.
GPS: Lastly, I would highly recommend downloading the O Trek route onto you phone for navigation purposes. Apps like AllTrails or Maps.me would work here. While the route is easy to follow, the apps also give you a heads up when you are approaching viewpoints and other highlights.
14) Torres del Paine O Trek of Patagonia
Now that you have all the background you will need to take part of the O, let’s talk through the day by day of the hike itself.
O Trek Day 1
Starting Point: TDP Welcome Center
Ending Point: Seron Sector
Distance: 8.1 miles / 13.0 km
Elevation Gain: 1,110 feet / 338 meters
Duration: 4 hours
If you take the 7:00AM bus from Puerto Natales, you should expect to arrive at Laguna Amarga by 9:00AM. After hopping into a shared van, you should then arrive at the welcome center by 9:15AM, and be ready to hike by ~9:30AM.
Once you have made your way from Puerto Natales to the Torres del Paine Welcome Center (via Laguna Amarga), you will need to check in at the front desk with your park tickets & reservation details.
After checking in, it is then time to begin the first day of trekking as you head to the Seron Sector. You should see some hiking signs pointing you in various directions – one of which will say “Sector Seron”. Follow the signs and be on your way!
The first day of hiking will cover 8 miles on a relatively flat trail (gaining just 1,000 feet over the course of the day).
Throughout this day, you will get to experience the eastern side of the park with views of rolling hills, winding rivers, and more Patagonian scenery surrounding you every step of the way.
You will find yourself hiking through fields (potentially with some friendly horses along the way), and get some glimpses of those unique Torres del Paine shaped mountains as you continue along.
Soon enough, you will be pointed along towards the Seron Campsite, where you will check in and be shown your tent for the night.
O Trek Day 2
Starting Point: Seron Sector
Ending Point: Sector Dickson
Distance: 11.2 miles / 18.0 km
Elevation Gain: 1,790 feet / 545 meters
Duration: 6 hours
Day 2 of the O Trek will take you all along the northern “backside” of Torres del Paine. This was one of my favorite days on the trail as the views are just beautiful all the way through.
Throughout the hike you will find layers of scenic landscape out in front of you. Whether that is the golden fields, rolling green hills, pristine rivers, or larger mountains out in the distance.
As you make your way along, you are sure to get some great elevated views of the surrounding lakes and rivers that wind their way through. Snowcapped peaks will dominate the skyline further out in the distance, making this a great overall day.
After a couple hours of hiking you will arrive at a Torres del Paine ranger station. Here you simply just need to check in and then continue along the trail.
While I had some clouds obstructing some of those glacier and mountain views, you are sure to come across plenty more from the ranger station to the campsite.
Be on the lookout to your left hand side, where you will get views of the famous Torres del Paine towers from the backside.
Soon enough, the Dickson campsite will come into view, and you will follow the path downwards to check in and get settled for the night.
O Trek Day 3
Starting Point: Sector Dickson
Ending Point: Sector Los Perros
Distance: 7.0 miles / 11.3 km
Elevation Gain: 1,670 feet / 509 meters
Duration: 4 hours
After a long couple of days out on the trail, day 3 will be a bit easier of hike at just 7 miles. Total hiking time for the day will be between 3-4 hours, so feel free to spend some time enjoying a morning at Dickson before heading off to Los Perros.
You will find a good portion of the day will be walking through forests and across some rivers as mountains come in and out of view.
Out in the distance you are sure to see the Los Perros glacier, which you will continue to walk towards. As you get closer and closer, the glacial lake will then come into view, with the overhanging glacier up above.
During my time here, I ended up just spending an hour by the lakeside, enjoying the view and the surrounding landscape.
Just a bit further down the trail, you will come across another ranger station, where you will check in and continue to the Los Perros campsite.
Be sure to get some rest tonight, as the next day is going to be a big one!
O Trek Day 4
Starting Point: Sector Los Perros
Ending Point: Sector Grey
Distance: 8.9 miles / 14.3 km
Elevation Gain: 3,330 feet / 1,015 meters
Duration: 8 hours
When it comes to the O Trek, the trail from Los Perros to Grey is certainly going to be the toughest day of the circuit. Over the course of 9 miles, you will gain over 3,300 feet of elevation and reach the highest point of the trek at the John Gardner Pass.
While this is certainly a tough day, it is also going to be a very rewarding one. Getting to enjoy the views of the Grey Glacier from the top of the pass, in addition to the glacier views from the suspension bridges, is going to be well worth it.
I would recommend starting this day very early on (in the 6AM – 7AM range) to give yourself enough time altogether.
Expect the first portion of the day from the campsite to the John Gardner Pass to be filled with elevation gain as you slowly rise above the treeline.
You will come across some more technical terrain during this section too, so be sure to watch your step all the way through.
While most of the hiking until this point as been on an easy to follow, well maintained path, the trail up to the pass is on a much rockier terrain. As you continue the climb up, you will come by waterfalls, glaciers, and mountains all around you.
Continue the push up until you reach the top of the pass with the Grey Glacier now in view. Take some time to enjoy the view, and have a rest break, before beginning the descent.
The first part of the descent will continue to give you more and more views of the glacier, before heading into the forest for the remainder of the downhill.
After finishing up with the more grueling downhill, the trail will begin to flatten out as you then make your way southbound towards the Grey Sector.
Be on the lookout for a great little wooden bridge that offers some great photo ops with the glacier!
Just past the bridge you will come by the free Paso campsite, and from there begins the last portion of the hike towards Grey.
During this portion of the trail, you will just be overwhelmed by the vast amount of glacier views. It is truly a beautiful section of trail to enjoy as you get more and more Grey Glacier views off to the side.
As you continue along, you will make your way across a couple suspension bridges, viewpoints, and waterfalls, before passing the tongue of the glacier and onto the campsite.
O Trek Day 5
Starting Point: Sector Grey
Ending Point: Sector Paine Grande
Distance: 6.6 miles / 10.6 km
Elevation Gain: 1,315 feet / 400 meters
Duration: 4 hours
After a long previous day, the fourth day on the O Trek will be quite easier as you head along to Paine Grande.
Before you head to Paine Grande though, I would recommend heading on the short trail to the Grey Glacier lookout point near the campsite. Here you will get up close and personal to some icebergs with the glacier further out in the distance.
It is then off to Paine Grande, as you follow the path along the Lago Grey to your right and some Torres del Paine peaks to your left.
There will be some truly dramatic landscapes on either side of you as you make your way along the trail. Some of the lookout points will even have you turning backwards as you get to see Grey Glacier from a distance.
Soon enough those views will disappear though, as you now will be heading towards the blue waters of Lago Toro. Follow the path down and you will soon arrive at the Paine Grande sector.
Don’t think your day is done just yet though. Before or after checking into your campsite, I would recommend heading on the path that heads south along the lake. This path actually heads out on the park, but you can just walk along it for 20-30 minutes to get some awesome views.
The blue waters of Lago Toro, surrounding green landscape, and the famous Los Cuernos mountains out behind make for just the perfect overall view.
O Trek Day 6
Starting Point: Sector Paine Grande
Ending Point: Sector Frances or Cuernos
Distance: 12.0 miles / 19.3 km
Elevation Gain: 2,995 feet / 913 meters
Duration: 8 hours
Up next on the O Trek of Torres del Paine is heading from Paine Grande to Frances with a hike up the Valle del Frances. During this day you will be completing that “middle line of the W”.
Feel free to learn more about the Valle del Frances hike.
Remember, this is also one of those days where you have more than one overnight to choose from – either Sector Frances or Sector Cuernos (another 2 miles further).
Most of this first portion of the day will entail hiking through the surrounding greenery with Los Cuernos out in the distance. Your aim is to hike to the base of the mountainside before exploring the Valle del Frances.
After reaching the turnoff point for the Valle del Frances, you will begin the uphill hike towards the first of two viewpoints – Mirador Frances. Be sure to also look up in the opposite direction during the hike up with Los Cuernos hovering up above.
It is then further up the valley until you reach the final viewpoint – Mirador Britanico . Here you will get a fantastic panorama of the various mountains that make up Torres del Paine.
Once you have enjoyed both viewpoints, it is then back down the same way you came, until you reach the Valle del Frances turnoff.
It is then another 20 minutes walk until you reach the Frances sector (or another hour or so I you opt for the Cuernos sector).
O Trek Day 7
Starting Point: Sector Frances or Cuernos
Ending Point: Sector Chileno
Distance: 9.6 miles / 15.4 km
Elevation Gain: 2,810 feet / 856 meters
Duration: 5 hours
On the second to last day of the O Trek, the circuit takes you from Frances to Sector Chileno. This will be a beautiful day as you get to walk right alongside the Nordenskjöld Lake for much of the day.
I ended up waking up early and I opted to just get started hiking around sunrise. This in turn led me to experience some beautiful colors lighting up Torres del Paine. If you have it in you for one (or more) days of the trek, I would recommend a sunrise at some point.
After walking along and above the lake, there is an intersection. To the right is back to the starting point of the trail, and to the left is Sector Chileno.
From here you will begin the hike up the valley along the pathway etched into the hillside. Down below will be a winding river and further in the distance will be more peaks.
After hiking above the river, the trail descends towards Chileno, where you can check in and get ready for the final day of the hike.
This is another day in which you can choose to opt for alternate accommodation. However, I would highly recommend going with Chileno for your first choice. If it is sold out, then you could end up going with Sector Central or even the Hotel Las Torres.
O Trek Day 8
Starting Point: Sector Chileno
Ending Point: TDP Welcome Center
Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.8 km
Elevation Gain: 2,665 feet / 812 meters
Duration: 5 hours
The final day of the O Trek takes you from Sector Chileno to the famous Mirador Base Torres, where you will see the three towering peaks of Torre Sur, Torre Central, and Torre Norte above a lake.
This is going to be one of the more technical days out on the trail, as there is a good portion of the hike that is on uneven, rocky, and steep terrain.
You will first make your way through the forest portion as you continue to gain elevation. Once out of the forest, the tougher section begins as you head up the rocky and steep hillside to get to the lake itself.
Most people opt for a sunrise at the lake. This means you will need to wake up in the middle of the night and hike in the dark. During my times in the park, it was pouring rain when I woke up. While some people did opt to hike in the wet darkness, most people waited it out a couple of hours.
I am sure glad that I did because, the weather ending up clearing and the remainder of the morning was a memorable one.
Remember though, you will need to catch a bus out later in the afternoon. Be sure to always check the latest schedules, but currently there are 3:00PM and 7:45PM options.
Odds are you will want to make the first one, meaning you should plan to be back at the welcome center by 2:00PM.
Below are a bunch of photos from the Mirador Base Torres to give you a better idea of what to expect.
After enjoying your time at the viewpoint, make the hike back down to Chileno, grab your stuff, and follow the pathway out of the valley towards the welcome center.
That will end a successful 8 day O Trek of Torres del Paine, Patagonia!
15) O Trek Cost
From a cost perspective, the O Trek of Torres del Paine covers an entire spectrum of budgets.
On one side of the spectrum you have the chance to bring all your own gear and food, and simply pay for campsites. On the other end of the spectrum you have refugio rooms and full board to choose from.
Obviously, the budgets for these two trips can be vastly different. And while those are the two ends of the spectrum, many people fall right in between (mix between campsites/refugios & bringing some food but not all).
From a high level perspective, below is what you should expect the Torres del Paine O Circuit to cost from a few different standpoints (note all currency in USD).
Low Cost Option
- Accommodation: bring all of you own gear = ~$220 (campsite fees)
- Food: bring all of you own food = ~$150 (can vary greatly based on food choice)
High Cost Option
- Accommodation: refugios only (except Seron and Los Perros) = ~$750
- Food: full board = ~$620
Mid Cost Option
During my time out on the trail, I brought most of my food with me, and ending up buying a couple meals along the way (not guaranteed everywhere). For accommodations, I split up my time between refugios and ready made campsites.
My total cost came out to be around $500 for accommodation and $150 for food.
In addition to the food and accommodation, your other cost considerations should be:
• Puerto Natales Hotel (before/after): varies
• Round Trip Bus Tickets: ~$25
• Round Trip Laguna Amarga Van: $10
• Torres Del Paine Entrance Tickets: $49
16) Self Guided vs Guided
Many people ask can you do the O Trek without a guide? The answer to that question is certainly yes. In general, I would imagine most people who hike the O Trek do so unguided.
For the vast majority of the hike, the trail is obvious with trail markers sprinkled throughout. Getting from campsite to campsite should not be an issue given the trail (and having a navigation app just in case).
I would say a guided O Trek can be valuable for those with less hiking experience.
If you are someone who has just not completed multi day hikes and are not comfortable doing something like this on your own, then a guide can be very valuable to help lead the way (and help you out with some tips).
In general, if you are not one of those people, then a self guided hike is going to be more than doable. This also gives you the chance to be on your own schedule, and not worry as much about the larger group.
17) W vs O Trek Patagonia
Lastly, you may be asking yourself whether to take part of the W Trek or the O Trek during your time in Torres del Paine. That will all depend on your preferences and the amount of time you have to spare.
Remember, the W is part of the O. So if you complete the O, you are completing the W. The main difference is that you get to hike the backside of Torres del Paine during your extra three days in the park. This section is much quieter than the W side of the park.
From a duration perspective, you will need just 4-5 days to complete the W but 8 days to complete the O.
You need to ask yourself whether you even want to hike for 8 days in a row. That can be a lot of hiking for most people. Given the W can be completed in as little as 4 days, some people may be more than happy with that amount of hiking days.
Fitness will also come into play. While the O Trek is 70+ miles, the W Trek is just about 45 miles. So, that is another 25+ miles your body will need to make its way through (including the toughest part of Torres del Paine up the John Gardner Pass).
A final consideration will also be your budget. By doing the W, you are sure to save on accommodation and food within the park. While on the O, you are certainly going to spend more based on the longer duration.
I want to say if you can answer these questions, you should be able to choose which circuit is right for you.
I hope this guide to the O Trek of Torres del Paine, Patagonia has better helped you understand what this circuit is all about.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them down below. Also be sure to check out the other Patagonia itineraries and guides up on the site.
Have fun out there and safe travels!