- Why SYMG?
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Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.
These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.
These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.
Within the famously rugged landscape of the Southern Patagonian Andes lies one of the world’s most iconic national parks: Torres del Paine. The park’s vast wilderness is filled with spectacularly azure alpine lakes set amongst cascading glaciers, and soaring monolithic pinnacles standing above the undulating, golden hills of the Chilean steppe. Trekking through this pristine wilderness offers hikers unparalleled vistas of the granitic spires of Las Torres, the massive, ever-shifting Grey Glacier, and the dynamic hanging glaciers of French Valley. With luck, you will have the opportunity to witness these hanging glaciers calve, sending snow and ice crashing down the mountainside of the French Valley. These striking features are all situated along the established trails of the classic “W” route. SYMG’s Classic Torres del Paine unique itinerary provides the perfect balance of wilderness and luxury, traveling each day along the most scenic sections of the “W” route and sleeping each night at a comfortable lodge or refugio with hot showers and a warm beds. It is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Hike the famous “W” Route in its entirety in a small personalized group
Stand beneath the gigantic “Las Torres” formations in the Valley of Silence
Walk within the fantastical glacially carved French Valley
Get up close to the “bluest blue” Grey Glacier by boat
See Guanaco, Rhea, Chilean Flamingoes, Condor and a variety of other wildlife
Collectively the SYMG guides and staff have years of experience trekking and traveling throughout Patagonia. National Geographic has named us “Best Outfitter on Earth” and we’re renowned for our unique itineraries, exceptional guides, and attention to detail. We also work with local staff in an effort to support the local economy and to make sure that you get the most out of your trip from start to finish. With SYMG, every trip is the trip of a lifetime and this small-group departure to Torres del Paine is one of our finest! To learn more about our travel philosophy and style, click here.
Includes friendly bilingual guide, with a passion for native flora & fauna, and local history & culture. All SYMG guides are professionally trained, hold advanced medical certifications and carry VHF handheld radios in case of emergency. Gratuities are accepted and appreciated for a job well done.
3 nights at Hotel Las Torres, 1 night Refugio Los Cuernos, 1 night Refugio Paine Grande, 1 night Hotel Rio Serrano.
We supply all group gear (water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). Participants will supply and carry their own clothing and footwear. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.
All meals included, beginning with lunch on Day 1 to lunch on the last day. Meals will be provided by the respective lodges each day with breakfast & dinner served in the lodge dining area and boxed lunches on days while hiking.
YOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
Meals (as noted above), beverages while at Hotel Las Torres, group camping gear (as noted above), accommodations (as noted above), transportation to and from the Punta Arenas Airport, Transportation to and from trailheads including ferries, applicable permits, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.
Flights to and from Chile, flights within Chile, personal gear, gratuity for guides (10-15% of trip cost), and optional (highly recommended) trip cancellation insurance.
We recommend increasing your exercise routine in the month prior to the trip to increase your cardiovascular/aerobic ability. Hiking, with a backpack, preferably on hills and off pavement is excellent practice.
Early this afternoon you arrive at the Punta Arenas Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (PUQ). Upon arrival you will be met by our local staff and transferred to Torres del Paine National Park (approximately a 5 hour drive). Along the way we’ll pass lagoons of Chilean Flamingoes, see Rhea and Guanaco running across the plains, and we’ll visit Estancia Cerro Negro, a working sheep ranch where we’ll have lunch and learn about ranching culture in Patagonia. Upon arrival to the park, we’ll check in to the charming Hotel Las Torres where you will have a welcome dinner with your guide and group and relax for the evening. The lodge is situated in the park with wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. (L, D)
Day 2: Las Torres
After an early breakfast we’ll lace up our boots and hit the trail for a full day hike to the base of Las Torres, the spectacular rock pinnacles crowning the Valley of Silence. This is the first section of the famous “W” Route, which begins by winding uphill through the beautiful Lenga forests of the Ascencion Valley. A short but steep finish to the hike moves over a giant glacial moraine and brings us to an incredible viewpoint overlooking an unfathomably blue glacial lake and the great granite monoliths beyond. We’ll take time here to immerse ourselves in the power of the landscape, and to contemplate what it must have been like for Sir Chris Bonnington and company to first scale the imposing sheer face of Torre Central in 1963. We’ll then retrace our steps back to Hotel Las Torres where we can clean up and relax for the remainder of the day. ( 22km/13.5 miles) (B,L,D)
Day 3: Lago Nordenskjold
This morning we’ll pack our packs and continue along the “W”. We’ll hike beneath the glaciated peaks of Mt Almirante Nieto with expansive views over Lago Nordenskjold and the southern reaches of the park. Along the way we’ll keep our eyes out for the massive Andean Condors riding thermal air currents high above us. We’ll arrive mid-afternoon to Refugio Los Cuernos where we’ll check in and relax. Depending on interests of the group, we could explore the area surrounding the refugio together, or perhaps take a swim in the turquoise waters of Nordenskjold. In the evening we can relax on the expansive porch of the refugio enjoying cold beverages, delectable Chilean wines, and of course the mountain scenery. (11km/7 miles ) (B,L,D)
Day 4: French Valley
We’ll wake early today for what will be a big, and very rewarding, day of hiking. We’ll leave Los Cuernos and continue along the shores of Nordenskjold. By late morning, we’ll arrive at the entrance to the famed Valle Francais. We’ll head uphill from here, to the spectacular vista below the French Glacier, which dominates Cerro Paine Grande. The glacier is typically very active and there is a good chance we will have the opportunity to watch great, thundering blocks of ice calve off and crash down the mountainside, a very safe distance from our trail. We’ll also get our first glimpses of Los Cuernos, the otherworldly “horned” peaks that make up the central part of the Paine Massif. We’ll retrace our steps back down the 1.5km valley, and continue southwest along the “W” past several smaller lakes, not forgetting to look behind us as Los Cuernos come into full view. In the late afternoon we’ll arrive to Refugio Paine Grande where our comfy beds and amenities await. (16km/ 10 miles)(B,L,D)
Day 5: Glacier Grey
After breakfast we’ll hit the trail for the final section of the “W”. A quick 11km sees us traversing beneath the formidable peaks of Paine Grande, and to the shores of Lago Grey. Often you can view great, house-sized blocks of blue ice, which have calved from the glacier floating around the grey waters of the lake. We’ll have lunch near the charming refugio before boarding a ferry to whisk us back to the front-country. If that wasn’t enough of a highlight itself, along the way we’ll tour the leading edge of Glacier Grey for spectacular up-close views of the ever-shifting blue ice. Grey Glacier is an arm of the expansive Southern Patagonian Ice Field that covers more than 4,500 square miles of Patagonia, and its surrounding jagged granite peaks. After time spent at the glacier, we’ll boat across Lago Grey enjoying pisco sours and magnificent views of the mountains. Upon arrival to the beach, we’ll board our shuttle to the wonderfully scenic Hotel Rio Serrano to enjoy another hearty dinner and restful night. (11km/7 miles) (B,L,D)
Day 6: Final sunrise & transfer day to Punta Arenas
Mapuche Legend says that Los Cuernos are two feuding warriors who were turned to stone by the gods as a grand reminder that Torres del Paine is a sacred place. Indeed it is a powerful place, and this morning we’ll awake to one of the most spectacular sunrise spots in the world, in full view of Los Cuernos and Paine Grande from across the high plains. Reflecting on a week well spent, we’ll finish our matte, pack our bags one last time, and drive back across the Patagonian Steppe to the Punta Arenas Airport where you’ll begin your journey home. Plan on flights no earlier than 1:30pm. (B,L)
**Note that SYMG offers an extension to the Lakes District of Northern Patagonia that pairs with this trip, arriving to Punta Arenas (PUQ) on Day 1. These two itineraries combined let you enjoy everything Patagonia has to offer, including temperate rainforests, Ancient Alerce Groves, and a cultural experience like none other. For more details, see our "Hidden Patagonia" Trip***
Spent a fantastic five days in Torres del Paine with SYMG who seamlessly handled the myriad details including the complex scheduling of overland and ferry transfers required to hike the classic "W" route. All we had to do was show up, hike and marvel at this Chilean wonder of a National Park! Loved our guides Colby and Ian who are also great sources of knowledge regarding geography, history and plant and animal life. It was one of the greatest adventures we have ever had! "Morale was high!"
-Heather & Dave W, 2015