Spectacular views await you at every turn on this first day of the Torres del Paine trek.
We are following what is called the 'O' circuit, referring to the circular shape of the walk around the massif and takes about 8 - 10 days. You will also see also a 'W' walk referred to in other guides but the 'O' circuit walk includes this.
This route should be taken seriously, as you will find fewer comforts as in the W circuit. Since February 2016, the access to this circuit is restricted to 80 people per day in high season, so you need to be organized well ahead.
So today is the beginning as you leave the comfort of La Estancia and head towards Seron.
The first day will be smooth, on a nice wide path, and gently undulating for most of the route.
it is about 13.6 km, and you should estimate around four to five hours for the walk.
There are several options to begin the trail, but there is not any route marking. (See the map below) We recommend the road behind the Refugio Torre Norte, which goes up to the Ecocamp (signposted). Walk up a small hill, until you reach a fence where you find the first wooden stakes painted in orange that will guide you all the way.
Once at the top of the hill, the walking will be on easy terrain with frequent ups and downs.
Continue through a clear valley, enjoying the view across to the beautiful blue waters of Laguna Amarga. After one hour of walking, you will come across another fence which you need to cross. This will take you into a Lengas forest. (Lengas are also known as Southern Beech trees.)
Heading North in the Lengas forest, you will find several streams where you can fill your water bottle. After one hour of walking in the woods, you will arrive at the high point (390 meters) from where you can see Laguna Azul and Río Paine. You will also see the consequences of one of the terrible fires that affected the park in 2005 and 2011. Sadly there will be more areas of devastation along the way.
It is up to all of us who love to walk in these places, to go with care and avoid this ever happening again.
The rest of the day will be a soft descent through the Paine Valley, dotted with daisies in the spring.
Keep bordering Río Paine, until you reach a junction with the track coming from Laguna Amarga. At this point, there are four kilometers left to walk alongside the Río Paine river. The terrain is flat and grassy with a few scattered Ñirres trees until you get to to CAMPAMENTO Serón, where there is a camp site operated by Fantástico Sur.
There is a small shop, a restaurant, equipment rental, toilets and shower with hot water.
This is a fairly easy day, just enough to get your legs walking again after your journey. Tomorrow will be a bit longer so........ an early night tonight.