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itinerary for 5 day W trek leaving from El Calafate

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itinerary for 5 day W trek leaving from El Calafate


We travelled to Torres del Paine this February and I spent hours trying to research a good route for the trek, how many nights to spend at each hostel and whether you can get straight to the park from El Calafate as I didn't have enough days to spend a night in Chile before starting the trek. I have been meaning to write this post for ages as hopefully it might help people in the same situation as I was.

Firstly, yes you can get from El Calafate to the start of the trek in the same day. Always Glaciers runs a day trip to the park from El Calafate, and will take you with the other people on the trip and drop you off at guarderia laguna amarga after lunch. You make a few other stops on the way where, if its clear, you get a great view of the peaks from afar. After they drop you off you will have enough time to walk to the las torres hostel, or you can catch one of the mini buses, there were lots when we got off the bus waiting to take people.

When you book the tour you arrange which day you want to be collected and they pick you up from the same point and take you back to El Calafate. The trip is quite expensive and its a long way but if, like us, you don't have a lot of time its a pretty efficient way to get there. Just to note you can't take any fresh food with you over the border and there is only one shop after the border crossing that sells food and is quite expensive. We didn't take anything because we went fully catered at the hostels.

To book this you have to contact Always Glaciers directly as I don't think its something they normally offer.

Once in the park my recommended itinerary for a 5 night trip would be:

Spend the first night at Las Torres

First day climb to the Torres and return to the hostel for a second night - this way you don't need to carry all your kit.

Second day walk to Los Cuernos and spend the night there - this walk doesn't take all day so you don't have to rush.

Third day, walk to camp italiano and leave you big bags there (this campsite was revolting when we were there so I recommend taking a bin bag or simialr to wrap your rucksack in as there was open sewerage and rats when we were there.

From the camp walk up the valley to the top, then walk back down, collect you bag from the campsite and walk on to refuge paine grande. This is a long day but you can do it, the end section is really flat and the hostel at the end is the nicest one with a bar and lovely outside seating so a good reward at the end of a long day.

The next day I would walk from here up to Glacier Grey, turn around and return to Grande Paine for a second night.

This isn't what we did but in hindsight it would have been a much better plan, partly because the hostel at Refugio Grey isn't anything like as nice as the one at Paine Grande and also because I thought we would have time to catch the ferry back across Lago Grey the next day but we didn't and had to rush back to Paine Grande in the morning.

By staying the night at Paine Grande you would be able to relax in the morning, catch the boat across to Guareria Pudeto and from there you can get a bus back to the park entrance in plenty of time for the Always Glacier bus to collect you and take you back to El Calafate. You don't need to book this bus as there are several waiting to meet the boat when it gets in.

The hostels were warm and welcoming and the lunches provided were plenty of fuel for the long days of walking, we certinaly didn't need any extra food,

In El Calafate I can highly recommend the Miziyato Inn as they were just lovely and also helped us book car hire and the Big Ice trip in advance.

We also spent 2 nights in El Chalten, we hired a car in El Calafate and drove across. The weather when we were there was pretty awful and in the end we spent a lot of time in the microbrewery playing scrabble and eating waffles! What small bit of the mountain we did see looked very impressive, but in comparison to Torres Del Paine the park didn't have as much variety, nor the sense of achivement of having to work hard to get to see the great views, so if I could only have done one I would go for TDP every time, but like I said we didn't exactly have the best weather in El Chalten. Puerto Merino was also unmissable.

Hope someone finds this helpful and have a great trip!

Vancouver, Canada
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11. Re: itinerary for 5 day W trek leaving from El Calafate


I don't think the park office (Guaderia) at Laguna Armarga has luggage service but you can check with them. I don't recall other public buildings at Laguna Armarga. I suspect that perhaps you may be able to leave your luggage at Refugio Torres Central or the hotel there but, again, check with them. And in any case Refugio Torres Central is not too near Laguna Armarga.

You may have to leave your luggage at your hotel at Puerto Natales but this would mean that you cannot take the direct bus from Torres del Paine to El Calafate.

I believe you need to pass through Cerro Castillo whether you come from Puerto Natales or go to El Calafate. You may want to research the possibility of leaving your luggage at a hotel there.

Sydney, Australia
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12. Re: itinerary for 5 day W trek leaving from El Calafate

Is that $150 each way per person from El Calefante to Laguna Amarga? Also, how did you get back to Laguna Amarga from Refugio Grey?

Edited: 2:02 am, October 28, 2013
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13. Re: itinerary for 5 day W trek leaving from El Calafate


First of all thanks for your detailed report. We are planning to do something very similar this upcoming November, starting too from El Calafate. I would prefer to start from Paine Grande, so we could go west to east and get very close to our return pick-up point at Laguna Amarga in the last day.

at this point I am not sure if same bus still can drop us at Pudeto in time to get the ferry going to Paine Grande, or we better of with another bus?

If that is not possible, at what time do you have to be crossing Lago Pehoe from Paine Grande, in order to catch a bus to Laguna Amarga still in time to AlwaysGlaciars pick-up time?

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14. Re: itinerary for 5 day W trek leaving from El Calafate


we are going in November 2014

Seems that will be $150 USD/PP round trip - ouch!! we don't want to fly thru Chile to Punta Arenas and then loose another day reaching Puerto Natales before we can go in to TDP. Yes, still cheaper that way, but it will cost us a vacation day, and that's priceless.

So far from my research, and a quite a few replies, seems that you have to catch the 1230 ferry in Refugio Grey, to Refugio Pudeto (30 minutes) and then you can catch the 1330 bus to Laguna Amarga. Kind of cutting short, but others have done it.Once at LA, you have to wait till 1715 for EC charter

That's doing from East to West, from Laguna Amarga - arrival time from EC seems to around 1230pm, which gives you plenty of time to start going towards R. Chileno

Other solution would be go all the way from El Calafate to R. Pudeto (13:30pm arrival) , ONLY if travelling after Nov 15th, there is a ferry at 630pm. You will get to R. Grey by 7 pm or so, just in time to set tent and go for dinner.

Doing it West to East, seems that one will get better views,backwind, and then finish by Laguna Amarga - boarding spot to EC return anyway

15. Re: itinerary for 5 day W trek leaving from El Calafate

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