From Guardería Laguna Amarga, a narrow undulating road crosses the Río Paine on a narrow bridge to Estancia Cerro Paine, beneath the 2,640-meter summit of Monte Almirante Nieto. The estancia operates a hotel, refugios, and campgrounds, and also shuttles hikers back and forth from Laguna Amarga for US$4 per person.
From Estancia Cerro Paine, a northbound trail parallels the route from Guardería Laguna Amarga, eventually meeting it just south of Campamento Serón. The estancia is more notable, though, as the beginning of the scenic “W” route to Lago Pehoé, a popular option for hikers with limited time.
On the western edge of the estancia grounds, the trail crosses the Río Ascencio on a footbridge to a junction where a northbound lateral climbs the river canyon to Campamento Torres. Here a short but steeper trail ascends to a nameless tarn at the foot of the Torres del Paine  proper. This is an easy day hike from the estancia, though many people prefer to camp or bunk at the refugio.
From the junction, the main trail follows Lago Nordenskjöld’s north shore, past another refugio and campground, to the free Campamento Italiano in the Río del Francés valley. While the main trail continues west toward Lago Pehoé, another northbound lateral ascends the steep valley, between the striking metamorphic Cuernos del Paine  to the east and Paine Grande’s 3,050-meter granite summit to the west, to the free Campamento Británico.
Hikers seeking peace and quiet can make a strenuous detour up the Valle Bader, a rugged river valley that’s home to a climber’s camp at the base of the Cuernos . This involves a stiff climb on a mostly unmarked route, but experienced cross-country walkers should be able to handle it.
Technically beyond park boundaries, most of the “W” route is under the private control of Fantástico Sur (Magallanes 960, Punta Arenas, tel./fax 061/710050, www.lastorres.com ), which runs the 96-bunk Refugio Las Torres in three separate but proximate buildings on the main grounds of the estancia; the 36-bunk Refugio Chileno in the upper Río Ascencio valley; and the 28-bunk Refugio Los Cuernos. All of these also have campgrounds. Fantástico Sur’s refugios are more spacious, diverse, and better designed than the Conaf refugios, and they have better food.
Bunks at Fantástico Sur refugios cost US$35 per person (US$67 pp with full board), while camping costs US$6.50 per person with hot showers. Separately, breakfast costs US$8, lunch US$13, or dinner US$15; full board costs US$35. Rental tents, sleeping bags, mats, and stoves are available.