Along the W Trek, there is a limited number of accommodations available. With the short open season and the number of hikers flocking to do this amazing trek, it makes booking the accommodations one of the most daunting tasks of this adventure.
This guide is to help anyone interested in completing W Trek, or just some stages of it, better understand how to book campsites, refugios (hostels/mountain huts), mountain cabins, or a hotel in Torres del Paine National Park. There is limited availability of such accommodation at each stage.
W Trek is a 5-day trek in Torres del Paine National Park. It is a popular hike named after the shape the hike takes. Learn more about the trek and get an overview of each day in our 5-Day W Trek Itinerary. And if you are looking for more detailed information about accommodation amenities and a cost breakdown on the W Trek check out our post W Trek Accommodations.
When can you hike the W Trek?
Torres del Paine National Park is open year-round. However, the hiking season is considered from September to April. This is when refugios are open and ferry services are running.
Hiking during winter is possible, but you risk hiking on snow-covered trails and no services are available at the refugios. Water pipes will most likely be frozen so cooking and drinking will require melting snow.
We hiked the W Trek from December 24 to December 28, which is probably the busiest time on the trail.
Factors Limiting Accommodation Availability
The narrow window of time, when you can hike the W Trek, is one of the factors that limit accommodation availability.
Also, there is a limited number of campsites, refugios, and hotels in the Torres del Paine National Park. People booking those accommodations are not just W Trek hikers but also, O Trek hikers and day hikers.
To ensure you can book your W Trek accommodations in proper order, it is important to know how to check availability, stay organized, and make your reservations as early as possible.
When to Book Your W Trek Accommodations
The earlier the better, right?
It helps to plan early and have flexibility in your hiking days. The accommodations are limited and book up fast. Not just by hikers but also by tour operators that always have a certain number of annual reservations in place. The booking websites make upcoming season dates available in mid-May.
Being flexible when it comes to accommodation style helps too. If you are willing to sleep in a tent or just need a campsite and plan to carry your camping gear, you do not need to plan as early as if you are strictly interested in sleeping in refugios.
We started looking at booking in July 2022 for December 2022 and it was too late. The reason it was late for us is we did not want to sleep at the campsite and our hiking dates were preset. The lack of this flexibility forced us to go to a tour operator to get what we wanted.
There is nothing wrong with using a tour operator however, it can be much cheaper if you do it yourself. If you are interested in how to do all the booking on your own this post will walk you through it step by step.
Sectors and Accommodation Options
This is a sector that is either the beginning or the end of the W Trek. The trail to the base of the towers is the busiest section of the W Trek and luckily has a few different accommodation options. Here you can find Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Central, and Refugio Chileno.
Hotel Las Torres is the most luxurious and expensive accommodation on the trail. It is located at the trailhead of the towers. Refugio Central is a little over 0.5 miles east of Hotel Las Torres and has both refugio and camping-type of accommodations. Refugio Chileno is on the trail to the towers, a half point on the trail, and has both refugio and camping options.
Cuernos (the horns) sector also has multiple accommodation options, Refugio Cuernos and Refugio Frances.
Refugio Cuernos has both refugio and camping options but in addition, also has tiny mountain cabins that fit 2-3 people. Refugio Frances has dome-style refugios and campsites. Frances Domos was our favorite accommodation on the W trek.
Both Torre and Curenos Sector accommodations are managed by the Las Torres management company and all the accommodations can be booked here.
Paine Grande Sector
The only accommodation in the Paine Grande Sector is the Paine Grande refugio and campsite. Paine Grande refugio is a very busy location because a lot of people start the W Trek or day treks from here coming on the ferry over Lago Pehoe. Paine Grande Refugio is the biggest of all the refugios on the W Trek.
The home of the Glacier Grey and either beginning or the end of the W Trek. The only accommodation here is Refugio Grey with a refugio and campsite option.
Both Paine Grande and Grey Sector accommodations are managed by Vertice Travel management company and all the accommodations can be booked here.
TIP: I could not get Vertice Travel bookings to work through Chrome and had to use Microsoft Edge.
Booking the Accommodations
This is our step-by-step approach to booking accommodations for the W Trek. It can be applied to any other hike as well.
A couple of things to note about the information in the spreadsheet:
We were not able to find all the refugio accommodations and ended up booking through a tour operator, but this is the approach we used.
Highlighted options in the spreadsheet are just an example.
The full board cost at Central is higher than other Las Torres accommodations because it was Christmas Eve.
Step 1 For Booking W Trek Accommodations – Set the Dates
The first step in booking the accommodations on the W Trek is deciding on the general time frame you would like to do the hike in. If you can be flexible with your dates, you will have a higher chance of finding availability.
Step 2 For Booking W Trek Accommodations – Develop a Spreadsheet
Yes, we are engineers and love spreadsheets, but one really helps in this case. Layout your desired dates, all available accommodations, and accommodation options (refugio vs campsite). Also, place them in order of how you would like to do W Trek, east to west or west to east. It’s a good idea to be flexible with this option too, gives you a better chance of finding desired accommodation.
Step 3 For Booking W Trek Accommodations – Populate the Spreadsheet
Once we developed the spreadsheet, we populated it with the cost for every option we were interested in. The cost of every option is preset and the same throughout the season. Once we found the match, we would highlight that cell and add up the costs right away.
Step 4 For Booking W Trek Accommodations – Book your Accommodation
When you have your dates, the trail, and accommodations figured out book them as soon as possible. Once you have them all booked, follow up with each of the accommodation management companies (Las Torres and Vertice) to make sure they have your booking. You are done!
This was a very stressful process for us. Kris spent a lot of time looking at the different options but being inflexible with the dates and the type of accommodations did not work in our favor. If that is the case for you as well, make sure you book much earlier than we did. Mid-May is when the booking opens for the upcoming season.
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