Differences between the W and O Trek in Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine signpost

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Everyone knows that Chilean Patagonia offers many of the best trekking routes in South America. If you are a lover of adventure in nature and you are thinking of visiting the most wonderful places in Chilean Patagonia we recommend that you don’t forget to tour Puerto Natales. For you to choose the best option, we bring you the differences between the W and O Trek in Torres del Paine. You decide!

Distance and duration of W Trek and O Trek

The name of each circuit is due to its route: the W Trek in Torres del Paine is W-shaped and the O Trek draws an O. That said, you can imagine that the O Trek Torres del Paine covers more extension, and if you didn’t imagine it, we’ll tell you. Its total distance is 130 kilometers, while the W Trek covers 80 kilometers.

Map O and W Trek

The 130 kilometers of the O Trek, the most complete of the Torres del Paine National Park, translate into 8 days of trekking. The 80 kilometers of the W Circuit take 5 days. As this is a more easily accessible route, it is much busier than the O Trek, which I’m sure you can also imagine.

Places you will see in Torres del Paine

Continuing with the imagination, imagine that your eyes can admire nature in its purest state. We’re talking about beautiful landscapes, spectacular glaciers, mirror-like lakes that reflect the intensity of the celestial blue and forests that look like something out of a fairy tale.

Both the O Trek and the W Trek will take you to these places worthy of the best experience in Torres del Paine. However, the O Trek includes several more places to visit than the W Trek, which are Dickson Lake, Los Perros Glacier and John Garner Pass.

Don’t panic because in both options you can stare at Glacier Grey, see Lake Nordernskjold, admire Pehoe Lake, tour the French Valley, enjoy the views at the British Lookout and Bases Torre, and reach Paine Grande.

Pehoe Lake landscape

Difficulty level of the O and W Trek

As we have been saying, the O Trek covers the entire area of the Torres del Paine. The route passes through routes and trails of difficult access and it is for this reason that if you plan to complete the O Circuit you need more physical and mental preparation than in the W Trek.

Moreover, the elevation gain is also greater, reaching 1.241 meters above sea level, while the W Circuit does not exceed 870 meters above sea level. In none of the cases we think you can suffer from the so-called altitude sickness, but it is always to go with caution.

Beyond physical condition, the level of difficulty of the trekking routes in Torres del Paine is marked by the ability to carry equipment and accessories. It is not the same to be willing to travel 130 or 80 kilometers than to do it with several kilos of load. This aspect must be taken into account in both trekking routes equally, since the weight variation is minimal.

Summary table

O Trek

W Trek

Days 8 5
Distance 130 Km 80 Km
Highest altitude 1.241 masl 870 masl
Difficulty medium-high medium

Both the O Circuit and the W Circuit in Torres del Paine you will have to take into account the weather conditions because they are variants. You should, therefore, make sure to carry in your backpack to Torres del Paine everything you need. You wouldn’t think of taking an umbrella, would you?

In conclusion, whatever your choice is, you will get it right and we are sure of it. Torres del Paine does not disappoint, whether for 5 days and 80 kilometers or for these two routes have something in common. The O and W Circuits are both an experience that you will never forget and that you will enjoy to the fullest. Which is your winning option?


Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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