Emma visited Patagonia in November 2012 over 13 days as part of the South America Southern Explorer tour of El Chalten, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego. In Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego and boarded the Antarctic vessel, the Polar Pioneer as part of a 12-day cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula. Emma shares her thoughts on the tours, staff and her favourite experiences whilst she was there.
On Swoop’s service: I realised I failed to thank you properly for all the work you did too – less glamorous and exciting than my tours but they couldn’t have happened without you! I immensely appreciated your efficiency and friendliness, especially since it was hard to get in touch with me, and I took my time to think about what I wanted to do, and asked lots of awkward questions, when time was short. You were great about getting me the discount, researching my questions, and just sorting everything out. Genuinely couldn’t fault anything, and I’m as enthusiastic about your company as the others I wrote to you about! I also appreciated you and Luke giving me tips about other things to do in Patagonia. It would have been good to know there was a first half to the Viva tour – I hadn’t realised it started before Chaltén – but that knowledge might have complicated things, so maybe better off without!
Top highlights on the Patagonia Tour: Fitzroy hike and Torres del Paine and on the Antarctic cruise: Antarctica! That place is beyond anything. But if I had to choose one thing, I’d say the climbing, especially the day when we climbed a mountain in the morning, cruised the Lemaire in the afternoon and scaled an iceberg at 11 o’clock at night. Beyond belief. I know a lot of people on that trip feel really changed by Antarctica, and the climbing experience. -Also worth noting that Aurora seems a lot better than a lot of companies I’ve heard about from other Antarctica travellers, both in terms of the opportunities it offers, the experience on the boat itself (small boat = more opportunities and better group bonding), and the company’s ethics in respecting the IAATO.
Things the operators could have done differently: there was general discontent on the Patagonia tour with the $750 cash local payment (which was the same whether you stayed for the whole 24 day tour or did as I did and picked it up half way through). There is actually no problem accessing cash in any of the places we went, so we concluded it was probably a tax thing, and it’s really inconvenient.
Things I’d wished were different: none.