Category Archives: Reviews

Rob & Amy Trek in Torres del Paine & Ushuaia

Rob and Amy returned in January 2015 from a Trek in Torres del Paine followed by some excursions in Ushuaia. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

You guys put together a fabulous trip for us in Patagonia and your recommendations for Ushuaia in particular were spot on.

I don’t think you could or should do anything differently – your communication is perfectly clear and timely and both of your partners receive our highest marks.  By all means I would recommend you to friends and family.

How was your W Trek in Torres del Paine

The W Trek was exactly as promised.  The self-guided version was great for us and was well explained by your partners at the start when they met us at their office in Puerto Natales.  Moreover, they were able to secure dinner reservations for us the night before our trek – New Years Eve – at a fantastic restaurant in Puerto Natales – that’s service!

[Read Sally’s top picks for dining out in Patagonia]

How was the Accommodation during your W Trek?

Our accommodations in Puerto Natales (Amerindia) were perfect, and the refugios on the trek exceeded our expectations.  How did we get a double room for our last night?  So awesome!  The cabin upgrade was so worthwhile. In comparing the price of our trip with other travellers – we got the better deal!

What was the highlight of your W Trek?

Well, crystal clear weather at the Torres – 2 hours of brilliant blue sky while we lounged by the lake!  Wow!

Do you have any tips for other travellers planning a trip?

Use Swoop and their partners in Chile! The W-trek is not a wilderness experience as there are lots of people but the scenery is breath-taking.

How was your day trip in Ushuaia?

Swoop’s partners in Ushuaia did a great job on our day trip. The guide was very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, geology and history. It was a little expensive for a day hike but this company has it dialled in!

Did you visit anywhere else during your trip?

We visited El Calafate and did the Big Ice trek on Perito Merino. We also spent 8 days on the Valvilov in Antarctica and finished off with 2 days in Buenos Aires.

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

We wish we had made time for FitzRoy – next trip – and, we will contact you guys before we go.

We might have added an extra day onto the W-Trek but it was totally doable in the 4-night time frame you arranged.

Everything else – perfect – thanks you guys! And, thanks for the buffs!  We are wearing them daily back here in Durango, CO  USA!

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Martin & Julia’s 28 day Patagonia Adventure

Martin and Julia returned in November from a 28 day trip to Chile and Argentina, planned and arranged through Swoop Patagonia. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop Patagonia.

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Martin & Julia’s Feedback

‘There are two things that you need from a travel company: real ‘hands on’ in-depth experience of the country being visited and an ability to understand the needs and desires of the customer travellers.  Sally, Luke and the team at SWOOP Patagonia had both.

Having recently retired, we were looking for a once in a lifetime, 28-day visit to Patagonia – with the emphasis on landscapes and wildlife.  Sally quickly worked out what we wanted and what we were each capable of doing, and proposed a great schedule, with several unexpected suggestions that stretched our brief, and activities that suited our different physical capabilities.  Now back home, we can say the trip was wonderful.  The schedules and pick-ups all worked, and Sally’s recommendations of Chiloe and Aguas Aribas were outstanding, El Chalten was great and our Cape Horn Cruise super.  The Patagonian wind blew every day – but the weather was kind – the trip really delivered.

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I felt that Sally and the team really took the time to get to know us and our wants, and used their in-depth knowledge to deliver a great schedule and a wonderful string of places to stay, eat & drink, things to do, wonders to see and experiences.   

Whilst one destination is off our bucket list, we’ve added another – El Chalten and Aguas Aribas in the Autumn with the Southern Beech forests turning red!!  

Thank you Sally, thank you SWOOP.’

Martin & Julia’s Itinerary

Martin and Julia began their trip with 3 nights to relax and unwind on the tranquil and untouched island of Chiloe. They spent their days hiking along the rugged pacific coast, bird watching on the many tidal beaches and slept in a cabin on the beach.

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The adventure continued by crossing into Argentina through a series of lakes and then hiring a car for few days to explore the stunning ‘Route of the 7 Lakes’ in the heart of the Argentinian Lake District.

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Taking a flight south they then spent 5 days exploring the Los Glaciares National Park, hiking to the Base of Mount Fitzroy, taking time to stand and stare at the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier and were wowed by the setting, service and seclusion of the Aguas Arribas Lodge.

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Torres del Paine was the next stop with 5 days spent hiking the trails of the famous W trek based in the comfortable Patagonia Camp.

They then boarded a cruise to explore the channels and glaciers of the Chilean Fjords and were lucky enough with the weather that they were able to land at Cape Horn.

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They ended their trip with a few days to explore the vibrant, gastronomic and diverse Buenos Aires based in a boutique hotel in Palermo.

Cecile’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Cecile returned in January from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

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How was your experience of booking with Swoop?

I was very happy that I planned my trip through Swoop Patagonia and their partners. It was very useful to go through Swoop, as it can be complex booking refugios yourself, particularly when you need certain refugios on certain dates, and in theory there is no availability for 3 consecutive nights (at least I didn’t find any through other companies). Booking with Swoop is also particularly useful for people who have  limited time, it is helpful to have the trip planned by someone else.

How were Swoop’s partners in Chile?

Swoop’s partners who organised my W Trek were very patient leading up to the trip. They answered all of my questions in no time, which was amazing. It was also great that although my plane only landed in Punta Arenas on the 23rd at 5pm, they found a way for me to start the Trek on the 24th at 7am. I didn’t have a guide for this trip, but Johanna waited for me until late in the night to give me my vouchers.

What was the highlight of the trip?

Seeing the sunrise from Chileno on the 25th of December  was my absolute highlight (see picture) although I should have brought my sleeping bag, it was freezing!

Do you have any tips for people planning a trip?

I found it very useful to have an external battery for my camera, a rope to hang my wet clothes on, and waterproof pants and walking sticks. The headband Swoop sent me is also a great item to take with you! Also, the offer of cheap hostels in Puerto Natales is quite wide, so it is fairly easy to go ahead and book these for yourself.

Hiking & Kayaking Torres del Paine & El Chalten

Jiamin returned in January from a hiking and kayaking trip to Torres del Paine and El Chalten. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

We enjoyed working with swoop Patagonia because of your good planning, level of detail, patience and quick response time. Your recommendations of activities were also helpful.

If I was to make a recommendation it would to indicate on the itinerary which days we need to source our own accommodation when transiting between trips.

Would you recommend us to friends, family or colleagues for a trip to Patagonia? 

Yes.

How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine and Chalten?

Trekking in Torres del Paine: While generally professional, your partners who supported our W Trek in Torres del Paine were not very responsive in the lead up to the trip. We enjoyed the itinerary though,  the guide was overall above average and his experience enabled us to see the Torres del Paine. However, on the last day for the hike to the grey glacier boat trip he had stayed up late the night before (New Years Eve) and woke up late. We thus had to walk really fast to catch the boat ride to the grey glacier, doing 12 km in 3 hours which meant that we could not enjoy the hike or take photos.

Kayaking in Torres del Paine: It was with Swoop’s Kayaking partners on our Kayaking trip that we had the best experience. The guide was very knowledgeable and experienced and they made an effort to provide good food on the kayaking trip. I would strongly recommend working with them.

Trekking in El Chalten: Swoop’s partners in El Chalten were also not very responsive in the lead up to the trip. The guide Marianna was nice and generally good. She gave us flexibility to take our time during the hike and explained the flora and fauna of Patagonia well. Overall, they were above average.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Chile or Argentina?

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We also had fun in Buenos Aires and Santiago.

What was the highlight of your trip? 

The highlights of our trip were the Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine, French Valley, and the Kayaking trip. Weather was bad and we could not see the Fitz Roy. That was the toughest part of the trip but no less rewarding.

Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip?  

Possible tips would be definitely to bring hiking poles and waterproofs. Fit hikers could consider ice hiking on the Perito Moreno glacier, which would probably be very beautiful. Also, might be good to manage expectations of people staying at Refugio’s which generally serve bad food and box lunches.

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Fiona’s Trip to Torres del Paine

Fiona & Stephen returned in January 2014 from a 4 night stay at a luxury lodge in Torres del Paine, from where they took various excursions into the National Park. Here they tell us about their experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

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What was the highlight of your trip?

This is such a difficult question to answer. The whole experience was incredible from start to finish. Of our whole 5 week trip from Buenos Aires down to Patagonia, the Patagonian experience certainly takes the crown.

The obvious things that come to mind are the first glimpse of Lago Gray, hearing the thunderous roar of a glacier calving overhead in the French Valley, standing in front of the Towers of Paine and seeing the elusive Puma on our evening drive home after our final hike in the national park.

There were so many more beautiful moments that are less spectacular but equally inspiring. The milky green colours of the lakes, the fiercely invigorating Patagonian winds in your face, the delicate flowers. The landscape delights with an ever-changing presence as your walk, like moving from Mordor to Narnia to the land before time. We are so grateful that we have been lucky enough to make the trip and experience this wondrous place.

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Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Chile or Argentina on your trip?

We spent time in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Bariloche and el Calafate before we ventured across the border and into Chile. We loved Bariloche, and spent 5 days hiking, biking, kayaking and eating chocolate of course!

Following our time in Torres del Paine we crossed back into Argentina and headed to El Chalten. We were so blessed with the weather and spent two amazing days hiking here. The spectacular hike to Laguna de los Tres was a really a major highlight for us. I couldn’t recommend making El Chalten a must visit place if your down south.

How well did Swoop Patagonia do helping you plan your holiday, and finding the best trip for you?

 We have to give our whole hearted thanks to Luke and Chloe and the team at Swoop for their expertise, time, and advise both in the planning stages of our trip, and while we were travelling. We are so grateful for their enthusiasm and love of Patagonia and their practical advice. I don’t think we could have planned such a successful trip without their expertise.

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How was your stay at the Luxury Lodge in Torres del Paine?

The hotel was a real treat for us, and totally worth it. The accommodation, staff, food, guides and location could not be topped. We met some amazing people from all walks of life staying in the hotel and really enjoyed sharing their company on the hikes. The staff including everyone from the drivers to the guides were so fantastic – fun friendly and really knowledgeable, and all were totally in love with Patagonia, and so enthusiastic and proud of their homeland. They made superb hiking partners and we loved being in their company. We were also blessed with the most beautiful weather during our whole trip and of course this was a major plus. The groups were small, and the food on our hikes was as tasty as the meals at dinner. I hope that some day we find ourselves back in Tierra Patagonia.

Do you have any tips for other people who are planning a trip?

Tip number one – Talk frequently with the team at Swoop! They guided us in our every move when planning the trip and the advice was spot on.

Tip number two – Just do it – go there! And enjoy.

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Raphael’s Full Circuit from an eco camp in Torres del Paine

Raphael returned in January from a Full Circuit trek in Torres del Paine National Park, based from an eco friendly camp. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking through Swoop and our partners…

‘It was a magnificent trek. We were lucky with the weather and it was great! The deep beauty of the Park cannot be denied. I will keep an excellent memory of this adventure!

How was your experience of planning your trip with Swoop Patagonia?

I have particularly appreciated all the details sent in your e-mails and the time you spent to answer me carefully. I would recommend Swoop Patagonia to other people.

How was the eco camp?

This was where the one negative point of the trip occurred. On Christmas eve, the couples in our group had the dinner in the eco camp and the single trekkers (3 persons) had their dinner in the refugio. For both the cohesion of the group and for the meal itself, I think this point should be corrected in the future. I don’t know if the couples have paid more. On new years eve, we asked if we could to eat in the eco camp, and we had to pay an extra charge.

How did you enjoy their itinerary?

The 9 Day Circuit from eco camp was an excellent itinerary: the Full Circuit is of course the best trek possible. I did find the alternation between more difficult and easier walks was a bit surprising.

How was your group?

For me, as I am French, it was the first experience with a English-speaking group. It was very nice and interesting to be with Anglo-Saxon people. Speaking English was not so difficult, understanding the guides was not problematic but the Australian and Californian accents were a bit hard to understand (Before year 2000, I used to have meetings in English for my job but since 2000, this is no longer the case). I have decided to watch more English or American channels on TV!

How were their guides?

We has two passionate guides, with a very good knowledge of the park. I remember that one day the weather was very bad in the morning (for the French valley). Nevertheless we tried to climb in the valley till the “Mirador Britanico”. Suddenly, for one hour, the weather was beautiful : the view was amazing und unforgettable. Thanks to the guide Chuma for taking us there !

 

4 days of Excursions from an eco camp in Torres del Paine

Jeffrey returned in January from a 5 night stay at an eco camp in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

You guys were great. When I had an issue with paying the balance for my reservation with your partners, you jumped in quickly and solved the problem.

How were Swoop’s partners at the eco camp you stayed at?

The staff at the camp were very attentive and our guide, Jorge, was the best.

What did you think of the camp and accommodation?

The yurt accommodation itself was great.

The camp as a whole was also great but with one exception: the plumbing was problematic. Showers ran hot and cold every few seconds and the toilet kept plugging up.

What did you think of the excursions available from the camp?

The excursions were well planned and we appreciated being able to choose which ones we wanted.

Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip?

Best advice is to plan a long enough stay to make it more probable that they will have at least some good weather.

Peter’s Multi Activity W Trek

Peter returned in January from a Multi Activity Trip in Torres del Paine where he hiked, biked and kayaked the W Trek. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘We had a great trip and everything worked really well’

How did you find Swoop and our partners?

I would recommend both Swoop and your partners. I thought your partners in Torres del Paine were great and definitely went beyond the extra mile to help! Their staff were excellent, especially in Chile- super enthusiastic and helpful.

What did you think of your itinerary, is there anything you would change about it?

The Mountain Biking was harder than we expected, and actually, for the non-mountain biker, was probably more of a day trip.

The walking part of the trip was brilliant – fantastic advice –  we could not fault this part of the trip. I only wish that day 2 could have been longer so that we could have made the whole of the French Valley on day 3.

The boat trip at the end of day 3 was a tight squeeze – it might be worth warning people to arrive early – we nearly didn’t get on and it would have been another hour’s wait until the next one!

How was the accommodation on your trip?

We managed on two nights out of three in the refugios once we were there. Lago Grey hotel was a bit chaotic – they kept trying to charge us for pre-booked meals and refused to provide lunch boxes as we had not booked excursions – so bit of a shambles! The hotel itself was lovely, and the staff were very friendly, just rather confused!

What was the highlight of your trip?

Our highlight was the hike on day 1 up to Torres Del Paine – this was on my bucket list!!

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Tineke’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Tineke returned in January from a Full Circuit trek in Torres del Paine. Her she tells us about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

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I was really happy with the prompt and personable way in which Swoop responded to all my questions. I also really liked the fact that Luke was able to secure a private trip with one of their partners in Torres del Paine for a competitive price, despite the fact that we only had three people in our party. We loved the fact that Swoop and their partners found other people to join us so that we could eventually do this trip as a group of what turned out to be five very compatible people. I have no suggestions and I will most certainly recommend you to anyone considering going to Patagonia.

How were our partners in Torres del Paine?

Also great! Laura did a wonderful job taking care of the logistics, and we also liked the company she chose for our penguin excursion. We felt very spoiled that all the thinking and organising had already been done for us.

How were your guides on the trip?

Justin, our guide, was fantastic: knowledgeable, professional and a great guy to get to know better. We all enjoyed each other’s company.

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How did you enjoy the itinerary?

The itinerary was well thought-out, in retrospect, and we got lucky with the weather relative to that itinerary. For instance, the kayaking trip happened to work out during the morning that it was planned for, but would not have been possible the day before or the afternoon after. The 5th day involved crossing the John Garner pass and – rather than continuing on to Grey – we stayed at Paso. That seemed at first to be a needless stop, since we got to the (cold and rainy and very basic) camp early in the afternoon. However, we appreciated the extra day when we realised that the next part – though not terribly long – did involve a lot of steep downhill. We could have continued on, but would have enjoyed that section less if we had crammed it in the previous day.  Moreover, it gave us another day in the backcountry, which was the best part of the trip!

How were your meals on the trip?

I don’t think anyone has much control over the food. It’s a wonderbread-country ;-) and the lack of competition among suppliers did not seem to encourage them to provide any great lunches. Some were REALLY awful and pretty minimal for a full day of hiking. A particularly cynical inclusion was a bottle of water in our lunch bag from ‘Fantastico Sur’. Really? However, I can’t blame Swoop’s partners, Justin (our guide) or Swoop of course for any of that. We survived.

What was the highlight of your trip? 

It’s hard to point at one highlight. What made the trip so special was that we truly enjoyed every day. Having a guide (and porters for part of the time) was a really great idea. It took all the worrying and second-guessing out of it, for one thing.

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Eva’s 10 day Horse Riding Trip in Torres del Paine

Eva returned in January from a Horse Riding trip in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How was your experience with Swoop Patagonia?

I really liked the service of Swoop Patagonia, because Luke gave me all the information, without being too pushy. I found exactly the holidays I wanted to do. I think Swoop was great, I would definitely recommend you to anyone who is going to Patagonia.

What did you think of our horse riding partners in Torres del Paine?

The 10 day Glacier Ride was great. The horses were very safe and the guides always matched rider and horse very well. I have taken many horse riding holidays before and I never felt so safe on a horse as I did on this trip. They were very relaxed, and very careful with people. Perfect horses for such a trip.IMG_0900

Did you visit anywhere else on your trip?

I did not manage to visit other places, as I had no more time left. But I will definitely come back to do some trial running in a year or two.

Do you have any other tips for people planning a trip?

My tip for anyone going to Patagonia who tends to freeze, take your warm clothes with you (maybe skiing clothes, as least a jacket, warm socks and waterproofs). As I did the camping trip, I would have preferred to have a warmer sleeping bag. One which keeps warm until -10 Celsius, would have been the right one for me. I had one until -5 Celsius and it was too cold, I had to borrow additional blankets.

[Read more about the weather in Patagonia]

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What was the highlight of your trip?

The whole trip was great, because every place in the Torres del Paine National Park is different and very beautiful.