The essence of the French Valley hike
Valle del Francés or French Valley, is what many people consider the best section of Chile’s Patagonia “W” circuit. The “W” circuit references the formation of the letter “W” when you join the trails that access three iconic stops: the Base of the Towers, the French Valley, and the Grey Glaciers.
Hiking enthusiasts will revel in this 5-day trek, which explores most of the Torres del Paine National Park, including the Valle del Francés, situated in a natural amphitheatre.
You will climb steep moraines and may witness ice breaking off the Francés Glacier. A little further up, imposing peaks and immense granite rock faces come into view, while providing a 360-degree view of the heart of the Paine massif.
This is a lengthy adventure, and requires that you to take a catamaran ride across Lake Pehoé. Rumbling in the distance is the sound of small avalanches and ice calving from the glaciers. Your sojourn to the valley to reach the hanging Francés Glacier is enchanting.
It is important to note that the weather plays a big role while trekking the Valle del Frances, as mist can make it difficult to see the glacier and may hide the Cerro Paine Grande, making a hike further into the Valley to Campamento Britanico uneventful.
The beauty of the area is ever-present along this hike and you will be able stop off at the Salto Grande Waterfall. The fairy-tale setting of the waterfall is spell-binding as the water drops 50 feet through a narrow chute from the blue waters of Lake Nordenskjöld into what eventually turns into Lago Pehoé.