Patagonia: Trekking the Paine Circuit

Punta Arenas, Chile

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With its near-vertical spires soaring high above the plains, Chile's Torres del Paine massif is a scenic marvel. On this famous circuit, you'll hike deep into the remote wilderness of southern Chile. Here, glaciers of millennia past have receded from granite rock, leaving a cluster of craggy peaks rising more than 8,000 feet above surrounding grasslands. The jaw-dropping vistas of monolithic rock spires and snow-capped mountains — not to mention the huge expanse of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field — make this one of the most unforgettable treks you'll ever take.


Duration: 11 Days
Starts in: Punta Arenas, Chile
Ends in: Punta Arenas, Chile
Group Size: 6-14

Operated by:

MT Sobek

MT Sobek, the originators, innovators and leaders in adventure travel for more than five decades, crafts journeys to the world's most memorable places.


Arrive in Punta Arenas

Arrive at the airport in Punta Arenas, Chile, and meet your group leader to transfer to the hotel. In the early evening, gather with the group for a briefing on the adventure ahead.

Scenic Drive to Torres del Paine National Park

After breakfast, travel across the Patagonian plains to the quiet fishing town of Puerto Natales on the shore of Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). Stretch your legs a bit and have lunch before continuing on to Torres del Paine National Park and taking in your first spectacular views of the Paine Massif (weather permitting). There is also a very good chance of seeing guanacos — small cousins to the camel and llama — on the way to the park.

Explore Majestic Torres del Paine

Get an early start for an all-day hike to the Torres del Paine lookout. Follow the Asencio River over a low pass into the Ascencio Valley, passing through beautiful beech forests, talus-covered slopes, and boulders. Arrive at a spectacular viewpoint that is one of the most scenic spots in the world, where the towers rise majestically before you and a glacial lake is visible below. Enjoy a packed lunch en route before hiking back to the hotel.

Hike to Campamento Seron

Enjoy a leisurely day hiking to our next camp. Take in the impressive views of the Towers of Paine and the peaks of Almirante Nieto hovering above the terraces and delta of the Asencio River. Pass through a tall deciduous beech forest, home of the Magellanic Woodpecker, and then walk through the foothills of Cerro Paine. Arrive at Campamento Serón, an old outpost, and settle in for your first of six nights tent camping.

Hike to Lago Dickson

Continue hiking west over the Patagonian plains, skirting the Paine River and Lago Paine. Along the way, take in incredible views of the northeast peaks of the Paine massif, including Cabeza del Indio and Escudo, as well as the glaciers Dickson and Cubo, weather permitting. Get a panoramic view of Lago Dickson before descending towards camp.

Hike to Los Perros Glacier

Hike through primeval beech forest and witness Dickson Glacier pouring into the Lago Dickson from the ice field above. We'll follow the roaring Los Perros River that leads us to Los Perros' hanging glacier and lake, beautifully set in an impressive moraine landscape. Our campsite is located in a peaceful old-growth forest.

Cross the John Gardner Mountain Pass

Start out early and ascend steadily toward the John Gardner Mountain Pass (4,000'). At the top, take in mind-blowing views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and the 17-mile long Grey Glacier resting 2,600 feet below (weather permitting). Descend scree slopes to the tree line and enter the forest along the Grey Glacier. After a steep, muddy, and strenuous downhill trek, the path levels. Listen to the silence of the forest while walking along the cracking glacier. After crossing a few high-hanging bridges, arrive at camp.

See Spectacular Grey Glacier

Visit the front side of Grey Glacier, a 10-minute walk from the refugio, and watch for icebergs calving into Grey Lake — a truly spectacular experience! Take a leisurely hike with fantastic views of the glacier behind us, with the Ice Field to the west, and the Paine Massif rearing up above us to the east.

Hike through French Valley

Hike roundtrip into the French Valley, one of the most spectacular cirques in the Paine Massif. We´ll walk below the glaciers that descend from the massif's highest summit, Paine Grande, and marvel at the gray granite peaks of the Cuernos del Paine, topped with fantastical black slate "horns." Two different hiking options are available today: the strenuous option to the Granite Peak Amphitheater of the interior valley or the more leisurely option to the Lookout of the Frenchman's Glacier and Paine Grande.

Drive to Puerto Natales

Catch your last glimpse of the Cuernos and Paine Grande as you cross Lago Pehoé aboard a catamaran. Transfer by van to Puerto Natales and enjoy some free time and a farewell celebration dinner.

Depart from Punta Arenas

After breakfast, depart Puerto Natales for a three-hour drive to Punta Arenas. Board your flight to Santiago, where you'll connect with your international flight home. If you can't bring yourself to depart South America just yet, consider joining one of our extensions, such as Easter Island and the Atacama Desert.


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