Arrive at any time. If arriving into Punta Arenas in Chile, it is recommended to arrive prior to 14:00 to allow enough time to transfer to Puerto Natales for the welcome meeting. If arriving to El Calafate in Argentina, you will need to get there a day before and then take the bus to Puerto Natales today.
Embark on a 9-day excursion within Torres del Paine NP, hiking the full Torres del Paine circuit known as the O circuit. Start the 130km (80.7 mi) route by trekking to the base of Las Torres to see the dramatic three towers and turquoise lagoon below. The group will enter the park through the main entrance of Amarga Lagoon. The trail begins with a slope and a side view of the imposing Ascencio Valley and the river with the same name, passing through the famous "Windy Pass" to get to the first official stop at Refugio El Chileno.
From there the group will continue towards a forest of native Lenga trees before arriving to the glacial moraine. Here the last, and hardest, part of the trail starts as we will be gaining 300m of altitude in the last kilometer. Please note this last kilometer is steep and rocky, carrying hiking poles (available for rent in Puerto Natales) will really help make this section of trail more manageable. The last km takes around 1 hour, but it is SO worth it! The spectacular view of the three granite towers will be waiting at the top, where we will have lunch with a view! Return along the same trail and meet our driver who is going to take everyone to the first campsite, Laguna Azul.
Transfer by van to the Las Torres area. Today we start our trek around the Paine Massif. Head out across ancient glacial moraines on the way to camp Seron. The trail goes through Lenga forests where we can spot some wildlife. The hike today will be around 5 hours. Arrive to Camping Seron where the group will have dinner and rest up for tomorrow.
Eat an early breakfast before the hike to Lago Dickson, a glacial lake on the edge of the Southern Patagonia Ice Cap. Hike past bright blooming Notro bushes and cross a stream along the lake. A beautiful, leisurely hike that will take around 6 hours today. Arrive at Camping Dickson and opt for a hot shower and a beer as a reward.
Continue along the north side of the park to an incredible lookout point of Lake Dickson and the surrounding valley. Follow the trail through the tall forest to reach another lookout for Perros Glacier, well worth the climb. Pack up and head out through pristine, old growth beech forest. Look and listen for the red-headed Magellanic woodpecker. Just before we arrive to camp, trek past the Perros glacier and enjoy fantastic close-up views of the ice and the lake. Spend the night camping at the base of Paso John Garner at Los Perros.
Today is the toughest day of the O trek, start with an uphill climb for 2-3 hours, passing over the highest point. The beginning of the trail is through forest, but once you reach 800m of altitude, the path starts to get rocky and may become a little slippery. Take in the first view of Grey Glacier and gaze into the distance to take in its 270km² (104 mi²) spread. Climb vertical ladders and pass a suspension bridge en route to Grey Camp. This is the biggest day yet as we climb over Paso John Garner and hike down through thick forest directly above the massive Grey Glacier. Once on the pass, look out over rugged, glaciated peaks, and the Southern Patagonia Ice Cap – a view not to be missed! The glacier stretches out below like a giant white highway. To get to the Grey Glacier Camp, there is a big descent of approximately 1700m through the forest.
Enjoy the day exploring Grey Lake and Grey Glacier. The spectacular scenery is a highlight of the trek with the back drop of snow-capped mountains and floating pieces of piercing blue glacier. The afternoon is free for resting and exploring the area. Opt for a short trek along the west side of the Grey Glacier.
Head out on an optional morning kayak on the coast of Lake Grey with amazing views of Grey Glacier and its icebergs. Later, hike along Lake Grey to appreciate different viewpoints of the glacier. Hike to join the famous W Trek and end at Lake Pehoe. Relax at Paine Grande Camp and share trekking stories with the other hikers. Cross a high plateau overlooking Grey Lake and see icebergs and views across Grey Glacier on the way to Lake Pehoe. Pehoe means "hidden lake" in the Tehuelche language. The afternoon is free to relax at Lodge Paine Grande and enjoy the area. At night, enjoy a pisco sour cocktail in the bar overlooking Paine Grande & Los Cuernos mountains.
Hike to the French Valley lookout to see the mountain range spread across the national park, take in the contrasting greens and greys of the landscape. Continue the trek to the French Valley. Surrounded by hanging glaciers and an amphitheater of granite walls and spires, this is the most beautiful valley in the park and one of the most unique in the world. After, trek out of the valley to the extraordinary turquoise Lake Nordenskjold. After six to eight hours, end the day at Cuernos Camp for dinner and sleep.
The concluding day of the O circuit continues along Lake Nordenskjoeld. Take in the final views of Torres del Paine, reflect on the last nine days and relish in the sense of accomplishment before heading back to Puerto Natales. Trek along Lake Nordenskjoeld and below the hanging glaciers of Mount Almirante Nieto, to the reach Hosteria Las Torres, where our van awaits us. Transfer to Puerto Natales.