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When it comes to nature, Chile’s got it all. With over 4,000 kilometers of coastline to the West, the Andes to the East, and the Atacama Desert to the North, you’re never far from a beautiful landscape. But what about the South? If you want to experience some of the most picturesque and undisturbed nature in Chile, you’ll have to head south to Patagonia. Whether you’re an avid trekker or prefer day hikes, there’s something for everyone in Patagonia. Here’s what you can expect to see on the popular W trek in Torres del Paine National Park in the southern region of Chilean Patagonia.
1. The Towers
The towers (or torres) are the park’s namesake, referring to three summits in the Cordillera Paine.
While you won’t actually summit these peaks, the hike to the bases of the towers is a highlight of any trip to Chilean Patagonia. Be prepared for some rock scrambling to make it to the top.
2. Lake Nordenskjöld
Now that we know what the “torres” in Torres del Paine refers to, what does “paine” mean? “Paine” translates to “blue” in the native Tehuelche language. With the most brilliant shade of blue, it was hard to imagine that the waters of Lake Nordenskjöld are from frigid, glacial runoff rather than a warm Caribbean bath water.
On the W trek, you’ll see Lake Nordenskjöld from many vistas. You’ll even have a chance to walk along its rocky beach.
3. French Valley
The hike along the French Valley really has it all. You’ll see rivers, waterfalls, forest, peaks, and glaciers. While this hike is a bit hard on the knees, it’s worth it for the view from Mirador Britanico.
Torres del Paine has no shortage of stunning rock formations, but this one feels particularly vast and colossal.
4. Grey Glacier
Located in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Grey Glacier spans over 100 square miles. On the hike to the glacier, you’ll see views of the Grey Lake, which is fed by the glacier. If you’re lucky, you might experience a rainbow or two.
Grey Glacier is another reason why Paine is the perfect name for this national park. The glacier is made up of blue ice which is formed when snow is compressed. Over the course of centuries, intense pressure creates the blue glacial ice we see today.
5. Lake Pehoe
For the bluest waters of all, you’ll have to visit Lake Pehoe. Located at the end of the W trek, Lake Pehoe’s turquoise waters are unforgettable.
To exit the park, you can take a catamaran across Lake Pehoe to the park’s gate. This 30-minute ride offers some of the most spectacular views of the park. Looking back at Torres del Paine from the water is the perfect culmination of the trip.
The W trek in Torres del Paine takes you through some of the park’s best offerings. If you like hiking and want to see something truly spectacular, I can’t recommend Torres del Paine National Park enough.
Check out these articles for more information:
- What to Pack for the W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park
- How to Get to Torres del Paine from Santiago
- Hiking the W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park