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W vs O trek in Patagonia

Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park offers two iconic treks: the W Trek and the O Trek. Both of the treks showcase stunning views of Patagoni... Read more
W vs O trek in Patagonia

Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park offers two iconic treks: the W Trek and the O Trek. Both of the treks showcase stunning views of Patagonia's iconic rugged peaks and vivid blue glaciers. However, there are key differences between them that can help you decide which hiking tour in Patagonia is best for you.

The Routes

Both treks get their names from the shape of the routes. The W Trek takes on the southern edge of the Torres del Paine National Park and focuses on the highlights of the national park, going deep into the scenic valleys then coming back the same way. The O Trek encircles the entire Paine Massif. This means that the W trek is a lot shorter, while the longer O trek takes you into the more remote corners of the national park.

Difficulty Grade

Covering more miles and accessing remote valleys means the O trek is a tougher grade 7 route. As you would expect from one of the top 10 treks in the world, there are a couple of long walking days and you'll cover an amazing 130km on this adventure. The pace is steady and the views more than make up for tired legs!

While the W trek is shorter and slightly easier, it remains a grade 5 adventure as you venture into Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park too. Walking days range in duration from 3 to 9/10 hours with plenty of stops along the way for wildlife spotting and photographs. However, as with the O trek, you're rewarded with stunning towering mountains around you.

Find out more about our trip grades.

Accommodation

Both treks in Patagonia include accommodation in campsites and mountain refuges, all in the most incredible locations, immersing you in the Patagonian landscape. Each refuge has a small shop and a restaurant that are part of the fantastic trekking culture in Patagonia. On the W trek, you will stay at a wonderfully remote, rustic estancia for one night.

Which Route is Busiest?

The W trek is the most popular and in turn is the busiest hiking route in Patagonia. However, this has to be put in context of the incredible remote area; you won’t be the only people but it won’t feel like Piccadilly Circus.

In contrast the O circuit is a lot quieter on the Northern section of the route.

Highlights of each trek

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O Trek Highlights

John Gardner Pass: The highest point of the trek with breathtaking views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

Dickson Lake: A serene and remote area surrounded by mountains and glaciers.

Los Perros Glacier: An impressive glacier in a less-travelled part of the park.

Campsites: Offering solitude and a true wilderness experience.

Grey Glacier: Part of the O Trek but also accessible on the W Trek, providing stunning glacier views.

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W Trek Highlights

Las Torres: The iconic granite towers, a truly spectacular wonder of nature.

French Valley: A dramatic valley with towering peaks and hanging glaciers.

Grey Glacier: A major highlight with its massive icebergs and expansive glacier views.

Paine Grande: A scenic area with stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and lakes.

Cuernos del Paine: Unique jagged peaks that are a symbol of the park.

Both routes are incredible walking holidays in Patagonia. Around every corner will be another awe-inspiring view. The big differences are in the difficulty and the routes. The O Trek is a tougher longer walk, but the reward is a more remote experience in this wild land. While the W Trek is shorter, it focuses more on getting you the best views in the area.

Which ever one you choose, it'll be an amazing adventure in Patagonia.

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