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Doing the W loop with kids

Bengaluru, India
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101 posts
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Doing the W loop with kids

Hi,

We are planning this Dec a trip to TDP. We are family of 4. 2 boys ages 14 and 9years. I wanted to understand if its possible at all to do the loop with kids?

We have done multiple hikes in and around India. What concerns me is the high winds and gradients. Are there any alternatives to the W loop.

Please advise.

Thank you

23 replies to this topic
Los Angeles...
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1. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

I will be in TDP in a week. Going to Chile tomorrow with my three kids. We are staying in a hotel and doing hikes. Will find out and get back to you next week. Mine are 13 and 8.

Austin, Texas
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2. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

Do you have experience with camping or are you only going to do refugios? Depending on your date, it could be hard to book certain hotels/refugios and maybe even camping in December - x'mas to new year is the hardest.

There are alternatives to the W. With kids, we are renting a car and planning to visit both towers and french valley on W, opt out for Glacier Grey (will have a day trip to Perito Moreno Glacier). We will only stay one night in refugio on W route and stay in hotels in/near the park for other days. Outside of W, we are planing to visit Mirador de Cuernos; Salto Grande waterfall trail; Mirador Condor; Mirado Lagoona Toro; Camp Laguna Azul/ Sierra Masle hike; Cascada Rio Paine; Salto Chico Falls. All within 5 days or so.

Bengaluru, India
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3. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

Thanks a lot for replies folks. Am I already very late for booking refugios? We are looking to be there from Dec 22-26th :( Peak time.

The reason i had not booked them was coz i was unsure if kids can handle the trek. We have done enough camping. But, I was hoping to rent the camping equipment there (in case hostels are booked).

Thank you.

California
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4. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

Hello. You will be going to TdP during a very busy week. I know that it’s more expensive to go on the W trek through a tour group, but the advantage is that tour groups may already have booked places along the W route for this busy week. Here are two offerings by Swoop Patagonia that start December 22 (both are listed as provisional dates):

swoop-patagonia.com/chile/…original

swoop-patagonia.com/chile/…camping

This Swoop trip has a provisional date of December 21:

swoop-patagonia.com/chile/…5-day-self

Some people use a rental car (you can book a manual or automatic transmission rental car in Puerto Natales through Newen) and do their own exploration in TdP, hiking the Towers trail by themselves and hiking shorter trails not on the W trail like the very pretty Salto Grande waterfall/ Mirador de Cuernos trail in the middle of the park (great views of the Cuernos peaks). I see no availability at Hotel (Hosteria) Las Torres from December 22-26 (the Towers trail starts from the hotel parking lot), but I do see availability at Refugio Torre Central very close to Hotel Las Torres (dormitory-style lodging) for December 22. For the nights starting December 23, I see availability for Hotel Lago Tyndall (just south of the southern Serrano TdP entrance station and about 2 hours by car from Hotel Las Torres and Refugio Torre Central). You could use Hotel Lago Tyndall as a base for the Lago Grey boat trip (Hotel Lago Grey is about 1 hour from Hotel Lago Tyndall). I will include links to Refugio Torre Central, Hotel Lago Tyndall, Newen car rental, the Lago Grey boat trip (you need to check in at the hotel at least 1 hour before the boat trip since the boat does not leave right from the hotel) and 2 maps of the TdP area (look for Hotel Lago Tyndall near Guarderia Serrano in the second map below).

www.rentacarnatales.cl/index.php/es-es/flotas

fantasticosur.com/en/…

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g67…

lagogrey.com/en/navigation-to-grey-glacier/d…

fantasticosur.com/en/torres-del-paine/map/

https:/…mapa-torres-del-paine-chile

Good luck with your planning.

Bengaluru, India
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101 posts
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5. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

Thank you SOOO very much for the details!! Truly awesome of you to take time and check availability. Will get on to booking soon.

Bengaluru, India
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101 posts
61 reviews
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6. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

Hi,

I needed to know if this itenerary would work. I took it from TA where another family is travelling with kids and they seemed to have followed this. Wanted to know if this would work.

I have an option of coming to TDL either on Dec 17 or Dec 23. Depending on availability of camps/refugio, I can modify.

Dec 23 - Arrive to PUQ from Santiago. Drive to hotel Hotel Lago Tyndall.

Dec 24: Ferry to Refugio Grey

◦Hike 11km to Refugio Paine Grande (11km - 3.5 hours)

Dec 25: Refugio Paine Grande - Refugio Los Cuernos (12.5 km - 5 hours)

TA advises not to miss French Valley trail. So, should planning to take a detour to Campamento Italiano at Domo Frances and then do a stay at Refugio Los Cuernos.

Dec 26: Refugio Los Cuernos to Refugio Chileno and exit there

Questions:

I have already requested refugio/campsite availability for Dec 24, 25 & 26th. In case, I dont get them, can you please advise where I can stay so that I can cover this trail? I want to book as soon as possible considering how fast they are getting sold out :(

Thank you.

California
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7. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

Hi again. Since Vertice Patagonia still has not opened their reservations online, it’s impossible to see if there will be availability at Refugio Paine Grande for the nights of December 24 or December 18. As of right now, I see no availability online through Fantastico Sur for December 26 for either Refugio El Chileno or Camping El Chileno, so that makes your plan above really difficult for December 24-26. I do see availability at Refugio El Chileno and Camping El Chileno for the night of December 20. That means that right now your TdP itinerary starting December 17 looks better than a TdP itinerary starting December 23. For the night of December 19, I also see availability at Domo Frances and Camping Frances (you can book either of these places through Fantastico Sur). Since you want to hike the French Valley trail starting at Refugio Paine Grande, these are good places to stay since they are closer to the start of the French Valley trail (which leaves from Campamento Italiano). Domo/Camping Frances is about 30-45 minutes from the start of the French Valley trail, while Refugio/Camping Cuernos is about 2 ½ hours from the start of the French Valley trail. After hiking the French Valley trail, you might want to hike just to Frances and not all the way to Cuernos.

You mention driving to Hotel Lago Tyndall and then taking a ferry to Refugio Grey. If you use a rental car and take the boat from Hotel Lago Grey to Refugio Grey, you will not have a way to get back to your car at the end of your W trek since the buses don’t go to Hotel Lago Grey. However, you can drive your rental car from Hotel Lago Tyndall to the Pudeto catamaran parking lot and then hike the W trail from west to east. You would hike at least part of the way to Refugio Grey that first day and spend that night at Refugio Paine Grande. Since you will be spending 3 nights in refugios or campgrounds along the W trail while your rental car just sits in the Pudeto catamaran parking lot, it seems like a possible waste of money even though you can use shuttles and the park bus to get back to your rental car after you finish the W trek. It would be better for you to spend the first night in Puerto Natales and then take morning park buses to the Pudeto catamaran so that you can then start your W trek from Paine Grande.

This link about the French Valley trail may help you decide if you want to hike the full trail (about 5-6 hours roundtrip, including time to stop and admire the views) or just walk to the first viewpoint (about 1 ½ to 2 hours up the trail):

travelinghindsights.com/hiking-w-french-vall…

As you can tell, this is all pretty complicated. Please don’t confirm any reservations until you are sure that the schedule will work for you. If you have already heard from Vertice Patagonia and Fantastico Sur and they have places for you for the nights of December 24, 25 and 26, please write back here to see what is the best way to get to these places starting December 23.

Does this mean that you don’t already have airplane reservations? It would be best to arrive in Punta Arenas in the morning or afternoon so that you have time to take a bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales (about 3 hours from the airport). You would then spend the first night in Puerto Natales.

Since you will be competing with tour groups during this very busy time in TdP, you might consider using a group like Swoop Patagonia if it fits into your budget. I see that their W trek with refugios is guaranteed for the dates of December 18 and 24:

swoop-patagonia.com/chile/…original

Your other option is to stay at Hotel Lago Tyndall part of the time (you can access the Lago Grey boat trip and the Salto Grande waterfall trail from there, as well as the Mirador Condor trail that has views of the Cuernos peaks and turquoise Lago Pehoe similar to the Salto Grande trail but from a higher elevation with an elevation gain of about 250 meters). For the Towers hike, you can try to stay at Refugio Torre Central or Camping Central (book both through Fantastico Sur). From this area, you could also drive about 1 ¼ hours to the Pudeto catamaran stop and hike part-way up the French Valley trail, going on the catamaran from Pudeto to Paine Grande at 09:00 and returning to Paine Grande in time to catch the last catamaran of the day at 18:35 from Paine Grande to Pudeto. See the catamaran schedule below (I don’t know if there will be time changes for the upcoming season). Having a rental car allows you to visit the Cascada Paine waterfall in the northeast part of TdP, which is not on the bus route.

http://www.verticepatagonia.com/es/node/622

I know that this is all pretty confusing and complicated. If Vertice Patagonia finally opens up their reservations online, things will be easier to book along the W trail. Good luck.

Bengaluru, India
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101 posts
61 reviews
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8. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

I cant thank you enough for such detailed notes. I am at conflict since I have kids ages 9 and 14 and I feel we cant do the entire W trail. I have read so many blogs where they say that wind speed is so high that adults find it hard to resist the draft. My 9 year old is athletic, but he weighs just 25Kg. And they mention river crossing which may be difficult for him. I wrote to escorted hikes companies and they refused to accommodate anyone below 14 years.

Now, given this, am not sure where this will leave me :(

I truly need your advise, since I am caught in a limbo.

- We are avid hikers. We are travelling 48 hours from India to experience patagonia. We really want to soak in the mountains and hence we are really looking forward to several hikes. Given this, what would be the most economical way to do this, since we are family of 4(2 kids)

- Can you please advise how to book camping, since refugios with FB(in some only this option is available) are very expensive. Can I rent the camping equipment at the camp site itself? if so, will it be as expensive as refugios? fantasticsur doesnt give me option to book campsites. Please advise.

- Is it possible that I stay in hotels and drive up to these awesome trail heads?

- The car rates are not mentioned in the website given, What would be average cost of renting car? I have already written to them and requested information.

The hikes I have previously mentioned, are there better options than that? I am just reading and drafting these and throughly overwhelmed :)

Please advise and many thanks for your time and effort in helping me with these questions.

Bengaluru, India
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101 posts
61 reviews
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9. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

One more question. How can i split up the hike to French valley so that its easy for the kids.

Day 1

- Take catamaran ride to paine grande

- Arrive at Paine Grande. Trek for 1 1/2 hours to a lookout point to see the glacier and hike past Paine Grande to Campamento Italiano (2 hour - 7.5km) for the night.

Day 2:

French valley trek. I hear there are many points where you can stop and turn back. Is this true? Please advise

Catch the catamaran and come back.

Please advise if this is ok?

Also, the trip to the towers. Is it possible to make that easy as well by splitting it somehow? Please advise.

Many thanks.

Bengaluru, India
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101 posts
61 reviews
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10. Re: Doing the W loop with kids

Also, in case camping will be very cold for kids, can I book in Los Cuernos for the night? Please advise. Thanks a ton.

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