Hiking the Torres del Paine

Mike’s Adventure Trekking the Torres del Paine

hiking the torres del paine
Day 1 with my very heavy pack

It was always clear that we were going to have an epic Patagonian adventure while in Chile, but there are so many to choose from. From volcanoes, mountains, and glaciers, to lakes and stunning fjords, the area is a little spoiled for choice! Do an epic hike, but which one?

But Torres del Paine is one of the most stunning National Parks in Patagonia, and perhaps all of South America. So, how could we not go there to do a long-distance, challenging hike that very few undertake? 


The full Torres circuit (or O Trek) is 10 days long and you have to take everything with you, except water of course. So, your tent, sleeping bag and mat, cooking gear and food. Yes, three meals a day for 10 days. Give or take. Plus some spare food in case you get caught in bad weather. It’s a lot!

We had hiked before, and sometimes for 10 days, but never with all our own gear on our backs!. Could we really do it?

How Do You Pack For 10 Days Hiking?

What to pack when hiking Torres del Paine, Chile

One of the funniest parts looking back was packing for this hike. 

Yes, you have a large backpack to fill, but in reality, it’s barely enough when you go for ten days. Especially when you take food into consideration! So, we first went shopping in the limited supermarket in Puerto Natales, to see what we could find. 

Ramen Noodles. Check. A few cans of tuna? Sure, why not. Some salty crackers and dried fruit for lunch. Sounds tasty! Muesli and powdered milk for breakfast? No, you can’t take real milk, it weighs too much! Ok, all the meals covered. And now for treats! Chocolate and snack bars, but only in moderation!

The food soon piled up in the shopping cart and I wondered how we were going to get it all in the pack.

torres del paine o circuit
Peaks of the Cuernos

When we got back to the van we separated out everything we needed and laid it out on the grass at the campsite. It was quite the sight!

Tent and tent poles. Two sleeping mats. Two sleeping bags. A camping pillow (gotta be comfy).Rain gear (jacket and pants). Extra clothes including thermal underwear (it can get cold down there). Cooking pot. Fuel & the cooker. Head flashlight. First aid kit. Trekking poles. Sun cream and hat. Sunglasses. And the food. Oh, the food.

We first divided it into two piles and started to see if it would fit in our individual backpacks. At first, it all went in easily, but we had to repack it three times before we worked out a system. What went where, how to slot things in, and get them out again, of course. After all, we had to set up camp each night, which often meant unpacking…everything!

But after a few hours of this we were ready to go!

Why Did This Have To Happen Today?

torres del paine trek
Camper van problems

We were actually traveling around Chile and Argentina in a beat-up old van from a company called Wicked Campers. We had already had some fun with the van a few days before as we were driving back from Ushuaia. While driving on the highway the back door suddenly lifted up and opened fully. We were doing 100 km/h (60mph) at the time. And I wondered where all the fresh air was coming from! Not funny to say the least.

But that was all behind us. However, as we were driving to the car park in Torres del Paine…we got our first flat tire in nearly 7 weeks of driving. And we had been on some pretty horrible roads. 

So, before we even set out on our first day’s hike, I had to change a flat tire in the car park. Patience is a virtue they say.

And Now We Can Start Hiking…

patagonia hiking
Hiking up French Valley

You know how I mentioned we had a lot of stuff to carry for a 10-day hike. Well, there was a small problem.

It was insanely heavy! Around 20kg (44 lb) to be exact. I normally hike with less than half that, and at most maybe two-thirds. And now I know why.

If you are not a huge person, say 110 – 1130lb and you add on around one-quarter of your body weight, it’s hard to even stand up.

You have to put your backpack on something high. If possible. Slide yourself into the straps and then slowly stand up the rest of the way. 

If you have bad luck, you have to do it from ground level. It’s actually quite funny to watch.

But, the good news was that each day the packs got lighter. As we ate more food. And we also got stronger and more used to carrying heavy loads.

But as we pulled into camp on the first day, we were all exhausted, to say the least!

patagonia trekking

Only Nine More Days To Go

It’s funny what you can get used to and actually start to enjoy. For me, that is long-distance hiking. The first day is tough, the second gets a little easier. Then, about mid-way through, it starts to become easy. Well, easy enough anyway.

Sure, it can be painful, difficult, exhausting and a little insane. But, the places you get to see and experience are worth it. Add to that the daily accomplishment of reaching your campsite and just kicking back and relaxing and it makes for one heck of an experience.

Of course, it helps when the scenery is as stunning as it is in Torres del Paine. Sure, the best scenery is on the front-side of the hike where all the W Trekkers are. But in the first five days, we were with a lot fewer people and got to know quite a few of them very well. 

It also works up to a bit of a build-up as you go along too. The first few days are through forests, around lakes, with hints of glaciers in the distance. Then, as you hike day five and come over the John Garner pass, you see the huge and stunning Lago Grey Glacier below.

Sights on the torres del paine circuit
Lago Grey Glacier

From there, it is jaw-dropping blue lakes, impressive glaciers, and the craggy mountains Torres del Paine is famous for. Every step of the way.

And last but not least. At the very end, you hike up at 4 am to see the sunrise over Los Torres themselves, something that I will never forget. Hiking up in the dark, and then sitting in your sleeping bag watching the sun slowly rise and light up the peaks above.

Thanks to Mike for this guest post. This is definitely going on my bucket list!

Mike is addicted to both adventure and travel, so he decided to combine the two to form TheAdventourist. There he shares his journey from one adrenaline rush to another, always exploring new places as he goes. You can find him sharing his travels on Facebook.

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