“Winter is cold” , “Days in Winter are Short”, “There is snow in Winter”.
While these statements are pretty accurate in Torres del Paine National Park, they should be contrasted with the following information. Winter in Patagonia is better for wildlife spotting, better to get far from the crowds and usually better for a true authentic wild experience.
Winter in Torres del Paine is like traveling back in time, back at the time there was no Instagram, when just a small number of hikers would wander through the main trails of the park. Winter offers an enhanced spirit of adventure and while it is true it may snow, there is usually less snow on the trails than what most people would imagine (an unfortunate effect of climate change).
Still not convinced Winter might be your favorite time of the year in Patagonia? Keep reading to see what Winter is like in Torres del Paine National Park.
1. What are the benefits of coming to Torres del Paine in Winter?
Winter is one of the best kept secrets in Patagonia.The main benefit is that you’ll basically have the trails for yourself, as very few people wander in the park in Winter. Between May and early September, Torres del Paine is a very quiet place as most hotels close and most travelers travel in Spring and Summer. It is therefore easier to spot wildlife - including the elusive puma - as animals tend to get closer to the trails.
Winter is also very photogenic, with mountains capped with snow and epic sunrises. Actually, the sun rises pretty late in the heart of Winter (after 9am) so no need for early wake ups. As for the weather, temperatures can be low (maximum of 5ºC/ 41°F and minimum of -7ºC/ 19,4°F) but there’s no need to worry if you come with the right (waterproof) gear and some warm clothing. There is less wind than in Summer, so you may see some incredible reflections on the lakes of the park!
2. Is Torres del Paine open in Winter?
Torres del Paine National Park is open all year round. You can enter Torres del Paine any day of the week and the official opening hours are from 8am to 7pm. Some trails might be closed depending on the weather conditions, and you need to be with a certified guide if you want to hike on the trails of the W Trek. You can drive freely through the main road of the park even in Winter, but tire chains are highly recommended due to the high probability of encountering ice on the road.
3. How difficult is it to travel to and around Torres del Paine in Winter?
In order to get to Torres del Paine in Winter, you will have to fly from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas as the Puerto Natales airport only offers regular flights in the high season.
Torres del Paine is an accessible national park and the road between the nearest cities - namely Puerto Natales (about 2 hours) and Punta Arenas (about 5 hours) - and the park are in quite good condition. However, the low temperatures and possible snowfall can make the trip more hazardous. As a consequence, you will need a 4X4 car and tire chains if you drive to Torres del Paine in Winter. Inside the national park, you will have to drive slowly, both for wildlife and for the eventual ice on the road.
It is highly recommended to travel as part of a tour so you don’t have to worry about logistics. For instance, transportation from the airport to the park is included in Cascada’s Winter W Trek, and so is transportation inside the park.
4. Can I hike the W Trek in Winter?
You can hike the W Trek in Torres del Paine in Winter with a special program. We offer a 6-Day W Trek to explore the highlights of the national park with an experienced guide. It includes overnight stays in local campsites and at EcoCamp Patagonia, the world’s first geodesic dome hotel located near the towers.
5. Is there a lot of snow in Torres del Paine in Winter?
Rain and snow are possible at any time of the year. However, the frequency of precipitation is higher in Winter. From June to August, there is a high probability of snowfall above 1000 meters (3280ft). There is accumulation of snow in the highest parts of the French Valley and the towers’ base trail, so you may have to use crampons. Most of the trails of the W Trek are at low altitude, so hiking conditions are usually very good. Snowfall is becoming increasingly rare due to climate change and while snowy conditions are always possible, it usually does not have a negative impact on the W Trek experience. On the contrary, it makes it more epic!
6. How cold is Torres del Paine in Winter?
Winter in Torres del Paine National Park is rather a cold affair with an average high of 5°C (41°F) and an average low of −3°C (27°F). When it comes to weather conditions, Patagonia is full of surprises and both “high”(15°C) and very low (-15°C) temperatures have been reported in Winter. You will be fine whenever you come with the right equipment!
7. What should I pack for a Winter adventure in Torres del Paine?
Layers are sacred (at least three layers of clothing) and you definitely need good waterproof clothes, especially for the jacket and the hiking boots. Hiking poles are highly recommended and crampons are mandatory to reach some areas of the trail. Also, you definitely need sunglasses (especially with the mix of snow and sunshine), sun screen (at least 50SPF), gaiters, a cap and gloves. Check out our video that explains what to bring to Patagonia.
8. Can I hike in Winter in Torres del Paine without a guide?
While some short trails are open for travelers without a guide, you should always hike with a guide. If you hike the W Trek in Winter, a guide is mandatory. The safest way to hike the W Trek is to do a guided W Trek with Cascada Expediciones.
9. Do I need crampons to hike in Winter?
You need crampons in some areas of the W Trek, like the towers’ base viewpoint and the French valley. It is not unusual to have slippery conditions and a guide will help you use your crampons at the right time. The crampons we use at Cascada Expediciones are light and easy to carry, and putting them on your hiking boots just takes a few seconds!
10. What does a Winter W Trek look like?
A Winter W Trek is an unforgettable experience. You will escape the crowds while hiking through some of Patagonia’s most beautiful trails. Check out this short film to see what a Winter W Trek looks like :
11. How can I book a Winter W Trek in Torres del Paine?
You can book your Winter W Trek through the following page or by contacting us through firstname.lastname@example.org