A view from the French Valley looking back at Nordenskjöld Lake in Torres del Paine National Park.

This article is the second in a series of five detailing each day of the W-Circuit trek in Torres del Paine National Park. The trek was completed starting with the Glacier Grey leg and going west-to-east, though it can be completed in the opposite direction as well.

The second day of the W-Circuit is a fairly short one, you'll backtrack along Lago Grey to Paine Grande and stay there for the night. You may encounter very high winds in the pass between Lago Grey and Lago Pehoé as there is a bit of a wind tunnel effect.

Torres del Paine N.P. Glacier Grey


The Paine Grande refugio and campground can be seen below.

Torres del Paine N.P. Torres del Paine N.P.


There is a trail nearby Paine Grande overlooking Lago Pehoé. You'll probably have some time to kill in the afternoon so this is a good option.

Torres del Paine N.P.


Other articles in this series:
Day I: Park Entry & Glacier Gray
Day III: Valle Frances (French Valley)
Day IV: Cuernos to Torres Central
Day V: Base Las Torres Ascent

This article is the first in a series of five detailing each day of the W-Circuit trek in Torres del Paine National Park. The trek was completed starting with the Glacier Grey leg and going west-to-east, though it can be completed in the opposite direction as well.

The first step in your Torres del Paine trek is actually getting to the park. There are several bus companies that run from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine, all of them will leave in two waves at 7:00 AM and 11:30 AM. The bus ride takes 2 hours so you should catch the 7:00 AM bus to give yourself enough time to hike on your first day. Bus tickets should be bought at least the day before. You can purchase tickets at the bus station in Puerto Natales or at Erratic Rock's equipment rental store (I would highly recommend their daily talk on Torres del Paine treks at 3PM).

The park entry fee is $21,000 Chilean Pesos and must be paid in cash. You're officially required to have already made reservations for your stay in the park at campgrounds or refugios to gain access to the park, in practice they were not actually checking people's reservations. This could change at any time and it is up to you if you want to risk it but it seemed unlikely they would turn anyone away. Even at the peak of high season they were plenty of vacancies available at refugios along the way, and given the fiasco that online reservations turned out to be with Fantastico Sur you might be better off turning up in person. As of 2017, credit cards are accepted at all of the refugios along the W-Circuit. There are no ATMs so you should carry some cash with you as a backup in case the network cannot connect or if you have to make a payment at a campground. You'll also have to pay for your catamaran ticket in cash.

Some of the buses will continue to Pudeto. If you're starting your trek with Glacier Grey you'll want to head there. Once at Pudeto, you will board a catamaran ($18,000 one-way) across Lake Pehoé to Paine Grande. You'll be treated to spectacular views of the Cordillera Paine range as you cross the lake. The view from the outside deck is worth dealing with the cold wind on a clear day.

Torres del Paine N.P. Torres del Paine N.P.


Refugio Grey is approximately a 4.5 hour hike from Paine Grande. Patagonian weather patterns can be chaotic. You may encounter sunny 70-degree weather shifting to sleet blowing in your face within a 10-minute window. You should have warm gloves a rain poncho ready at all times. Hiking poles are also a necessity to brace yourself against the wind. The trail will take you along a ridge above Lago Grey.

Lago Grey Lago Grey


The refugio and campgrounds are sheltered and not directly on the lake but are only a brief walk to lookout points where you can see the ice sheet.

Glacier Grey Glacier Grey


There are spots where you can climb down to the glacial water itself. The water can be safely drank without filtration.

Glacier Grey Glacier Grey


Other articles in this series:
Day II: Return to Paine Grande
Day III: Valle Frances (French Valley)
Day IV: Cuernos to Torres Central
Day V: Base Las Torres Ascent

The catamaran trip across Lake Pehoé will give you spectacular views of the Cordillera del Paine range. The Lake's blue color comes from rock flour, finely ground mineral powder caused by the grinding of the glaciers against the rockbed, dispersed in the water.

Puerto Natales

Lupine seem to be the favored flower grown in Puerto Natales. The seeds were grown for food in the Andes for millenia. Today, they are mainly decorative and one of the rare species of flowers that can withstand the chaotic Patagonian climate.

The 3PM daily talk on Torres del Paine treks at Erratic Rock in Puerto Natales is an invaluable source of information. Make sure to drop by and also check out their excellent rates on equipment rentals.

Santiago

Rows of hot dog stands serving Chilean specialties "Italianos" and "Completos" line Santiago's Plaza de Armas. If the prospect of a hot dog smothered in mayonnaise and guacamole appeals to you, you're in luck. I can't say that I was a fan.

Kek Lapis is a layered cake popular throughout Sarawak. You'll find it for sale everywhere you go in major cities, from coffee shops to street-side vendors. It has a rich buttery taste and comes in a dazzling array of flavors. Many flavors are run-of-the-mill (chocolate, strawberry) but I would recommend seeking out ones more unique to Malaysia (pandan is especially popular). Kek Lapis is generally not available with preservatives and has a shelf life of around three days, so if you are planning on bringing it home you should purchase it just before your flight.

The Mira Cake House in Kuching is dedicated entirely to Kek Lapis. If you're in downtown Kuching, you can hop across the Sarawak River in one of the ubiquitous water taxis (only 1RM) and find it in Kampong Boyan. After grabbing your cake, there are several food centers along the river nearby where you can grab a meal or iced coffee to go along with it.