Global Adventure - Backpack Patagonia's Torres del Paine Circuit


Global Adventure - Backpack Patagonia's Torres del Paine Circuit

Spend 9 days trekking the 77+ mile “O” Circuit loop in Torres del Paine National Park – one of Patagonia’s most famous treks and one of the world’s top trails. This is an all-inclusive “hut to hut” trek, with meals, shelter, and bedding provided daily, so we'll only need to carry daypacks. Participants must demonstrate experience and confidence with strenuous trekking on rugged terrain including steep scree slopes and low-hazard snowfield crossings, as well as the ability to do up to 12+ miles and 3300’+ gain in a single day with a loaded daypack. NOTE: THE MEMBER FEE SHOWN IS FOR THE 50% DEPOSIT ONLY; REMAINING 50% IS DUE IN LATE FALL 2023.

  • Mon, Feb 5, 2024 — Fri, Feb 16, 2024
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Global Adventures, Backpacking
  • Adults
  • Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 77.6 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 16,892 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 3,900 ft
  • Pace: 2-2.5 mph

Arrive at the Puerto Natales, Chile airport (PNT) on Monday February 5, 2024 and catch a private shuttle that afternoon to our nearby hostel.  Trip leader will attempt to schedule the private shuttle to accommodate all participants’ arrival times; participants who miss the private shuttle departure will need to pay for their own shuttle.  We’ll spend two nights in Puerto Natales, resting, exploring, or obtaining any last-minute provisions such as snacks or toiletries.  We’ll take a private shuttle to the Torres del Paine National Park Welcome Center the morning of Wednesday February 7 to begin our 9-day, 77+ mile trek.  After finishing our trek on Thursday February 15 and spending a final celebratory night at nearby Refugio Central, we’ll catch private shuttles on Friday February 16 to the Puerto Natales airport (if returning home; this shuttle is included in the trip price), or consider crossing the border to El Calafate, Argentina (at your own expense) to join the Fitzroy-Huemul Circuit backpacking adventure immediately after!

Key Dates:

  • February 5, 2024: Arrive at Puerto Natales, Chile airport (PNT)
  • February 7, 2024: Start trek!
  • February 15, 2024: Finish trek, spend final celebratory night at Refugio Central
  • February 16, 2024: Shuttle to Puerto Natales airport (if returning home) or El Calafate (if joining FitzRoy adventure)

Getting There: Participants are responsible for their own transportation between home and Puerto Natales, Chile, both before and after the adventure.  LATAM Airlines offers service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Puerto Natales (PNT).

Itinerary Highlights: In this Global Adventure, we’ll complete the 77+ mile “O” Circuit loop in Torres del Paine National Park – one of Patagonia’s most famous treks and one of the world’s top trails.  Over the course of 9 days, we’ll make our way through the heart of the stunning Cordillera del Paine, taking in the famed rock formations of the Torres del Paine and Cuernos del Paine.  The trip will start at the airport in Puerto Natales, Chile, where we’ll catch a private shuttle to our hostel in Puerto Natales.  After a 2-night hostel stay – including a free day to rest, explore, or purchase any necessary provisions – we’ll travel via private shuttle to the Torres del Paine National Park Welcome Center.  Upon arrival in the park, we’ll first have a short walk to Refugio Central – where we’ll be staying on the last night of our trek – to quickly drop off any luggage we’re not carrying on the “O” Circuit trek.  We’ll then get started on our 9-day “O” Circuit loop.  Our itinerary is an all-inclusive “hut to hut” trek, where we’ll stay at refugios (huts) with bunk rooms / bunk beds / bedding and at supported camps with pre-erected tents / sleeping bags / sleeping pads.  Breakfasts, box lunches, and dinners will be provided during our 9-day trek, and all refugios and camps will have restrooms and showers.  Participants will finish the adventure back at the beginning of the “O” Circuit loop (near the Welcome Center) and then enjoy a final celebratory night at Refugio Central before taking private shuttles to either the Puerto Natales airport (to return home) or across the Argentina border to El Calafate to join the separate Fitzroy-Huemul adventure (need to apply for that trip separately - see THIS LINK).

The highest point of our adventure is 3900’.  Our daily elevation gain will range from 1100’ to 3300’ (with an average of 1900’ per day), and mileage will vary between 4 and 13 miles per day (with an average of 9 miles per day).  A map of our full itinerary is available at:

Time of Year: We’ll be visiting during Patagonia’s high summer, when the likelihood of clear skies and warm temperatures are highest (though high winds and foul weather can arise even in mid summer).

Lodging:  2 nights in a hostel in Puerto Natales, followed by 9 nights on trail at refugios (huts) with bunk rooms / bunk beds / bedding and at supported camps with pre-erected tents and provided sleeping bags / sleeping pads.  All refugios and camps will have restrooms and showers.

Food: While staying at our hostel in Puerto Natales, breakfasts are included and participants are responsible for their own lunches and dinners.  While on trail, breakfasts, box lunches, and dinners are included (and will be supplied daily by the refugios and camps we’re staying at) and participants are responsible for their own snacks.  Vegetarian diets can be accommodated, but other special dietary preferences or requirements may be difficult to satisfy without the participant providing at least some of their own food at their own expense.

Provisions: Participants must supply and carry all snacks and toiletries required for the trek.  Participants will have the ability to purchase provisions in Puerto Natales before our trek, and some refugios and camps include minimarkets or bars where extra snacks and refreshments can be purchased.

Leader’s experience: Colin Chapman ( is an active backpacking instructor and trip leader with the Mountaineers.  Colin has led many Mountaineers backpacking trips and winter overnight snowshoe trips in the Western US, including trips into areas – such as Ginkgo Petrified Forest, Banks Lake, the Enchantments, and the Wind River Range – with extensive off-trail travel or challenging terrain.  Colin has completed the Wonderland Trail and John Muir Trail, and has Wilderness First Responder certification.

Participant requirements:  Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file.  This outing includes strenuous hiking on rugged terrain (including steep scree slopes and, depending on snowpack levels, low-risk snowfield crossings) for multiple successive days.  Participants must therefore be in excellent aerobic condition with confidence traveling on such terrain with a fully loaded daypack.  Participants must also have the endurance, experience, willingness, and flexibility to deal with extended periods of significant mileage, substantial elevation gain/loss, and inclement weather (cold, rain, hail, snow, wind, lightning).  Participants must understand that route adjustments could be required in the event of unanticipated weather or trail conditions.  Recent experience with multi-day strenuous trekking, plus a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups under demanding conditions, will be very important.

NOTE: As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe.  You are responsible for your own safety and that of your fellow travelers.  At any time, if the route, weather, or other conditions become dangerous, we will exit early or find a safer, alternate route.  See daily trip profile, attached.

NOTE:  Participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID to participate in the trip.  Participants will be expected to practice conservative COVID behavior before and during transit to the trip, including masking and avoiding crowded indoor spaces whenever possible.  Participants will be expected to carry COVID self-tests on the trip and use them if they experience any symptoms commonly related to COVID.  Participants testing positive for COVID will need to leave the group and quarantine at their own expense for at least 5 days (or longer if not symptom free) before rejoining the group.

NOTE: International medical insurance and emergency evacuation insurance are required, and must be obtained by each participant at their own expense.  Guidance will be provided by trip leader.

Trip Price Detail: $3600.  Includes breakfasts and lodging before the trek.  Includes breakfasts, box lunches, dinners, and lodging (a combination of huts and tents) while on the trek.  Includes private shuttle service from Puerto Natales airport to hostel, from hostel to Torres del Paine National Park, and from Torres del Paine National Park to Puerto Natales airport.  Private shuttle service from Torres del Paine National Park to El Calafate is not included.  Travel between your home and Puerto Natales, Chile is not included.  Your airfare (~$2000), travel insurance ($75-350) and any snacks, toiletries, or other incidentals are not included.  

Registration instructions: Leader approval is required so before registering please submit the application form below, which will automatically be sent to the leader.  The leader will collect applications for a couple of weeks before finalizing the roster based on experience and fit with the trip; approval will not be based on the date of application.  After the leader’s approval, go to the trip listing and click the REGISTER button to pay the 50% deposit and hold your space on the roster. As soon as possible after paying your deposit to get on the roster, please complete the Trip Agreement and Release forms, also shown below. Registration will close on September 1, 2023 or whenever the roster fills. The balance of the trip payment will be due in the late fall of 2023.

Application     Trip Agreement     Release

Supplemental Information

Cancellation Policy:  If you have to cancel more than 60 days before the departure date, you may receive a refund less a $600 cancellation fee and any other non-refundable expenses incurred up to that time. If you cancel between 59 and 30 days before the departure date, the cancellation fee increases to $1000 plus any other non-refundable expenses. If you cancel less than 30 days before the departure date, no refund is available.  NOTE:  the cancellation fees above may be waived other than a minimum $100 admin fee if someone can be found to take your place on the trip.

Backcountry Permit: The trip leader will obtain all permits needed for backcountry travel in Torres del Paine National park, and all permit costs and park entrance fees are included in the trip price.

Recommended Books:  Lonely Planet 'Trekking in the Patagonian Andes'

Total Capacity: 12 (If fewer than 12 people register for the trip, there may need to be a modest increase in the second payment from what is listed here.)


Backpack Patagonia's Torres del Paine Circuit

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Prior to the start of this adventure, the trip leader will send participants a series of emails with information detailing arrival/departure logistics, recommended gear, and GPS routes.  Participants must bring gear suitable for an extended backcountry hut-to-hut trek with potentially inclement weather (cold, rain, hail, snow, wind, lightning).

Trip Reports