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Active Chile: Trek in Torres Del Paine

Day 1

Arrive in Santiago. Transfer to your hotel in the Providencia district.

Transfer from the airport to your hotel in Santiago, in the pleasant residential and commercial quarter of Providencia.  Santiago is set in a broad valley between ranges of the Andes, with lofty snow-capped peaks, and a smaller coastal range with a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Santiago is a huge metropolis, a mix of the old and the contemporary, with quarters of tree-lined avenues and affluent tranquillity and others full of commercial bustle. Poorer districts sprawl on the outskirts.  The historic core, although small, has some notable buildings of cultural significance.

Day 2

Fly to Puerto Montt, transfer to Puerto Varas.
Puerto Varas
Fly to Puerto Montt in the southern end of the lake district. This is a picturesque region of ancient forests straddling hills lorded over by snow-capped volcanoes, with hot springs and crystalline streams, interspersed by flowery meadows and cattle pasture.  It’s just a 30min drive to Puerto Varas.

The attractive town is set amid verdant pasture and meadows on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. It was colonised by Germans at the turn of the 20th century and its architecture and sedate style reflects this, but it is now a fast-growing tourist resort. The town's main attraction is a jade alpine lake framed by tree-clad hills and beyond, one of the most perfectly shaped snow-capped volcanoes in the world - Osorno.

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Puerto Varas

Day 3

Transfer to Refugio Teski.
Osorno volcano
Set within the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park and on the shores of Lago Llanquihue Osorno volcano  (2,656m) offers a spectacular climb along its volcanic rock and year-round glaciers. The hike to the summit is challenging and although previous mountaineering experience is not required, you have up to 10 rs of physical activity. All technical equipment needed to undertake the climb will be provided 

The minimum age to take part is 12. Participants are subject to a local fitness assessment by the guides. The hike is not recommended for those who are pregnant or have a serious medical condition.

The adventure begins with an afternoon drive (approx. 1.5 hours) from Puerto Varas to the 'El Refugio Teski' mountain shelter situated at the foot of the volcano at 1,200m. Here you prepare your equipment, register with the mountain's CONAF ranger and enjoy a hearty dinner and early night before the climb the following day.

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Osorno volcano

Day 4

Climb Volcán Osorno.
Cimbing Osorno volcano

Begin the ascent towards the 2,656m summit. Dependent on the time of year, the hike will begin over a floor of volcanic rock and sand before the route continues over snow and ice, when you will need to wear crampons. 

The 4-6hrs ascent reveals increasingly spectacular views of the surroundings the higher you climb. You will observe Reloncavi estuary and Puerto Montt and the mountains of Cochamo and Puelo to the south. 

The final stretch is steep and requires the help of crampons and ropes, but with the assistance and guidance of the experienced (English-speaking) professional guides accompanying you, you will be in safe hands.

At the summit are stunning panoramic vistas of the picture-book-perfect lakes region including views of Lago Todos los Santos, the Petrohue river valley, Lago Llanquihue, Lago Rupanco and a whole range of snow-tipped volcanoes. On a day of good visibility you can even see the Llaima volcano in the distant Araucania region.

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Cimbing Osorno volcano

Day 5

At leisure in Puerto Varas.

At leisure in Puerto Varas. The town is a centre for outdoor activities and you can choose from locally available excursions including kayaking, rafting, hiking and cycling along the lake shore.

Day 6

Fly to Punta Arenas, transfer to Eco Camp in Torres del Paine National Park.
Road to Torres del Paine
Fly to Punta Arenas in southern Patagonia (2hrs).  On a clear day you have other-worldly views of the swirling meringue of the southern icecap, its fjords, volcanoes and glaciers. Approaching Punta Arenas you see the rust-brown stain of the Patagonian steppes, pitted with small lagoons stretching out towards the Straits of Magellan.

The region’s fortunes were only briefly revived during a gold rush, and the sheep-rearing business has never really recovered from the collapse of the price of meat and wool.  Drive on into Torres del Paine National Park.

This superb wilderness is dominated by a monumental granite massif of smooth rock towers and icy pinnacles. Milky blue and gem-sharp emerald lakes, sinuous rivers, glaciers and wind-scoured steppes have created a remarkable and unique environment.  The area is a natural habitat of over 150 species of birds (flamingos, condors, eagles and ostriches) and 25 species of mammal (including guanacos, armadillos, silver foxes and pumas). Guanacos (cameloids) graze peacefully while ostriches scamper across the plains and condors soar above.

You’ll be staying at the Eco Camp, which makes the most of the magnificent Patagonian setting.

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Road to Torres del Paine

Day 7

Hike the Los Cuernos Trail – part of the W Trek.
Cuernos del Paine
Head off on your guided hiking adventure, the complete “W” trek, so named after the shape of the route.  Start off with a pleasant walk through the sinuous Cuernos trail running alongside Lake Nordenskjold. 

During this introduction walk you’ll see some of the park’s exquisite flora and fauna, experience its capricious, blustery wind and other aspects of the rapidly-changing weather which will accompany you on the upcoming days.

As you walk along the trail you enjoy magnificent views of the park’s central lakes and the Paine’s cuernos majestic black horn-like peaks of slate atop the battleship grey granite which crown the centre of the Massif. The trek ends at Refugio Los Cuernos, a small and cosy mountain refuge on the shores of icy Lake Nordenskjold. The evening is free for relaxing and enjoying dinner.

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Cuernos del Paine

Day 8

Trek along the Valle del Francés – part of W Trek.
Torres del Paine

You’ll set off on a beautiful trek to Valle Francés (French Valley) along a steep trail which infiltrates the very heart of the Paine Massif. How deep you go depends on the groups’ rhythm. An active walk leads you to the hanging bridge over the Rio Francés at the foot of the south-eastern face of the massif, where there is a truly stupendous view. Then you continue up the trail until reaching the upper section of the valley Here you’ll picnic and rest for a while.

An optional trek to the remote, bleaker Mirador Britanico is possible if members of the group don’t want to rest. After lunch you descend through a rippling terrain of mixed grassland and light forest until reaching Refugio Paine Grande on the peaceful shores of turquoise Lake Pehoe.

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Torres del Paine

Day 9

Hike towards the Grey Glacier – part of W Trek.
Glacier Grey
Today you hike from the refuge along the shores of Lake Pehoe to the northern end of glacial Lago Grey. The lake’s chilly waters are dotted with icebergs which have broken off from the wall of Glacier Grey which plugs the lake.

Enjoy a picnic lunch before boarding the boat that sails to the forbidding blue face of the glacier. There's plenty of time to marvel at this calving ice monster during the boat ride across the lake. From Lago Grey’s southern end you transfer to Eco Camp.

In poor weather, you’ll trek up to the sightseeing point offering a spectacular view of the glacier. Then you’ll return on foot to Paine Grande and take a catamaran to Pudeto’s dock, from where you’re driven back to Eco Camp.

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Glacier Grey

Day 10

Hike to the foot of the towers, the “Torres” del Paine.
Towers of Paine
Today you walk from the camp site towards Hostería Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio valley on the towers’ eastern face. Emerald green southern beech forests and rustling streams border the trail towards the valley.

The big challenge comes as you climb the steep moraine, a mass of boulders leading towards one of the world's most famous views overlooking the towers, gigantic vertical slabs of rocks rising like an open hand towards the sky.

These are the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before you, with the glacial lake visible below. After feasting on the view and your picnic, you backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio valley and return to Eco Camp.

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Towers of Paine

Day 11

Trek to the eastern lakes.

Drive to Laguna Azul passing by Cañadón Macho, home to a rich fauna including guanacos and ñandús. Stop en route to enjoy sight of the Patagonian steppe and the towers from a different angle. At Laguna Azul you’ll hike to the viewpoint where you have a gorgeous view of both the lagoon and granite towers. After lunch drive to the northern shore of Lago Sarmiento where the Fauna Trail begins.

As you walk northwards along the path you’ll see wildlife on the Patagonian plain: guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús and maybe a puma footprint! You pass by Goic lagoon and after an approximate 5 km relaxed walk you reach Laguna Amarga ranger station where you’re collected and driven back to Eco Camp for a farewell dinner in the park.

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Day 12

Transfer to Punta Arenas, fly to Santiago.

Day 13

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

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Active Chile: Trek in Torres Del Paine

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Active Chile: Trek in Torres Del Paine

13 days from £4,074pp

Price excludes international flights at the beginning and end of the trip


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