Before leaving Paris, I tried to book the W Trek in Torres del Paine through a local agency. The price that they proposed me was so expensive that I had to desist.
Once in Chile, after having renounced to PN Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, I found myself with some extra days so I decided to go directly to Puerto Natales without reservation and try my chance.
On Christmas Day I took the launch which crossed Pehoé Lake up to the mountain lodge Paine Grande. The water was so turquoise and the surrounding mountains so beautiful that only for this it was worth the trip.
From there I joined other independent travelers and together we walked to Glaciar Grey, in the south end of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field (4 hours hike one way). That was the first time that I saw a glacier and I was very impressed!
While the group went on to the refugio I had to leave back to the starting point and from there I took a shuttle to the other side of the “W”, to Hostería Las Torres. I was very lucky to find a spot to sleep so I could stay one day more. I suppose that being Christmas all the locals were at home celebrating it that’s why I had my chance!
On the following day I woke up very early to hike up to Las Tres Torres. This is a 9 km hike with 750 m of hill walking (4 hours hike one way). It was a stressing hike because I had to be back to el refugio at 2 pm to take the last shuttle available and then a bus to Puerto Natales. I had to climb so fast that I did not enjoy much the landscape in between. However, I was one of the first people to get to the Mirador Las Tres Torres that day so I could take many pictures without all the crowds around.
At the end I was at the shuttle stop just on time and after a long bus trip I could sleep in Punta Arenas that night.
Unfortunately, I was one of the last hikers to enjoy Torres del Paine for a while: on Tuesday 27th there was a big fire (actually it is considered one of the biggest fires in Chile) and the National Park had to close. What happened? A little Israeli decided to do a mini BBQ in the park and lighted a fire using some toilet paper. Result: 17.600 Ha burnt during the following days and more than 400 tourists evacuated.
Full W Trek takes from 4 to 5 day to complete it. You can do it in both senses;
You can sleep in the refugios or bring your own tent. If you have your own tent no reservation is needed. If you prefer to sleep in a refugio reservations are recommended, especially in high season (from December to February);
A guide is not necessary because trails are well marked and there are so many people hiking that you will never be alone;
Prices on site were 4 times more expensive than from Paris;
Please respect the security indications and don’t do stupid things!