Category Archives: Reviews

DSC00758

Karen’s eco camp based W Trek in Torres del Paine

Karen returned in November from an eco camp based W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners in Chile…

‘We LOVED it. Swoop was great, their partner in Chile was great, and the eco camp base was awesome’IMG_2531

What was the highlight of your trip?

That is hard – I think the W Trek, hiking Mt. Fitz Roy, the Perito Moreno Glacier and Mendoza were all highlights. 

DSC00764

What did Swoop do well?

I liked the website a lot – it made it pretty clear what the different options were. Initially I was overwhelmed with planning any type of W trek because there doesn’t seem to be a ton of info online, this made it much easier.

SONY DSC

What could Swoop have done differently?

Overall I was happy with everything.

IMG_2496

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

Yes

How did you enjoy your itinerary?

Yes, I liked the itinerary and the option to stay in a refugio one night and then at the eco camp for the others.

DSC00716

How were your guides?

Our guides were absolutely fabulous. Claudio (Chuma) and Joaquin really helped make our trip, they were absolutely fabulous.

What did you think of the eco camp as a base?

The eco camp was great, so unique and beautiful views.

DSC00682

Is there anything you would have changed about this part of your trip?

The only issue was the one night we stayed in a refugio – the eco camp told our guides (who passed along the information to us) that no one would be staying in their domes and we could leave our things as they were. While we were gone their staff came into the domes and packed our stuff for us and moved it out. We happened to be back in the same dome, but a couple we were traveling with had their stuff moved into a dome that had other people staying in it. Their sheets were dirty and the people at eco camp didn’t seem to care, and his iPAD wasn’t in his stuff when he got it all back but was in the administration office. Also, my friend who I was traveling with was missing her bag. Overall it was just very weird. It would not have been an issue at all if they had told us prior to leaving for the night to pack up our stuff because we might not be in the same dome, but this was not what they said. Our guides handled this very well helping everyone track down their belongings – and were very apologetic.

DSC00659

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

I think that Swoop and their partners made this very manageable by doing the planning for me. We were informed by our guides that typically people taking this trek are in their 50s-60s; our group happened to be in their 30s to early 40s, and I think this would have changed our dynamic and experience if we had been with all other people who were the age of our parents.

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

Buenos Aires, El Calafate, El Chalten, Santiago (one night), Mendoza.

IMG_2527

morais 3 rainbow

David’s W Trek in November

David returned in November 2014 from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners in Chile.

‘Thanks a lot for all your support. It was very helpful.’

How were Swoop Patagonia?  

I really appreciated your services. Despite the differences in our time zone, you guys never made me wait for an answer and that is a fundamental point for me. You guys did a great job.

It might be helpful to inform people about other services such as porters. I’ve met people that, like me, did not know the services of porters. I did not need one but few friends over there were willing to pay for one.

I would (and in fact did) recommend you for my friends. You guys delivered everything it was promised.

morais 1

How were our partners who ran the 5 day W Trek in Chile?

Swoop’s Chilean partners were also very nice, and very good at giving us the necessary info. We only had a little hiccup which was one email unanswered for a week. Later Gonzalo apologised and explained that he was out of town.

I definitely enjoyed the itinerary. The way the trip was split allowed us to get used to the trails and at the end we were walking at easy.

The guide was the highlight of our trip. He was very funny and knowledgeable. Each time we were approaching a Refugio he would go faster so that when we arrived there our ‘check in’ was taken care of. He always made sure that we were safe and comfortable without ever being patronising.

I guess if I was to change anything I would have liked to stay longer in each refugio, since there are so many beautiful things to see, especially around the ‘Cuernos’. But in terms of the itinerary itself I would not change anything.

morais 2 backpack

 

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

I only had time to visit Punta Arenas, but I was equally impressed by its history.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Hard to say… I guess having met so many amazing people and walked through that beautiful landscape made for incredible memories. It would be unfair to pick a single moment.

morais 3 rainbow

IMG_6561

Danny’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Danny returned in October from a W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners.

‘The trekking in Torres Del Paine was amazing, simply outstanding… It’s everything I’ve dreamt and hoped one day I would do.  And I fulfilled my dream 100%.’

 IMG_6329

What did you think of Patagonia?

Patagonia region is a unique place in this world. I never thought such beauty could exist on this planet.  Actually, the only way I could describe it to my family and friends, is for me to ask them to imagine a space ship dropping you on another planet in this universe, where no civilization has ever touched the ground.  Well this is Torres Del Paine!

IMG_6573

How were our partners in Chile who ran your W Trek?

They were an excellent operator; I applaud you on the selection.  The guide was amazing, knowledgeable, professional, and at the same friendly and amusing.  He was a great companion, very understanding of our physical limitations at certain times, yet challenged us to complete the entire tour with delight.  Everything went perfect, the trekking itself, the lodging was excellent, food was good, and transportation was timely and comfortable.  Can’t complain at all.

IMG_6593

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was trekking the French Valley and reaching the top, wow!  I can still close my eyes and remember the 360′ view… I would recommend this trip for every person in this world; it’s a must-see must-do before leaving this earth!  That’s exactly what I’ve been telling everyone.  I’ve even promised my kids (who are 11 and 9) that I will take them there one day once they’re old enough to appreciate the beauty and charm of this magical place.

IMG_6572

‘I want to take this opportunity to thank you for fulfilling my dream.  You made it happen… Take care, and you can count on me knocking your doors when the time is right for me to venture once again.’

IMG_6517

Chris’ eco camp W Trek in Torres del Paine

Chris returned in late October from a W Trek based from an eco friendly camp in Torres del Paine National Park. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners in Chile.

‘We would definitely recommend the holiday to friends looking for a luxury holiday’

How were Swoop Patagonia and our partners in Chile?

The communication from Swoop and their partners was great, we had a good deal of info on the different options and you answered our questions very quickly. We found payment through Swoop’s partner’s website was easy to use.

How was your 5 day W Trek from the eco camp?

The tour itself was fantastic, the guides were really wonderful and clearly had a huge amount of knowledge about the area and the wildlife; they looked after us throughout our stay and made sure we were comfortable.

What did you think of the eco camp you stayed at?

The camp was great, especially the luxury domes which we would highly recommend. The food was also good with a good selection of options. I even tried yoga out for the first time as our whole hiking group went along!

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

One area that might be considered to improve was that my partner was unable to go hiking one day because she had an old knee injury and the hike up Torres Del Paine was very stressful to the knees. It would have been great to have offered her a place on an alternative tour for this day. As it was though, she did have a day of rest in our dome, which was quite good.

Did you visit anywhere else as part of your trip?

We visited friends in Santiago after the trip, but we didn’t fit in any other places in Chile or Argentina.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Our highlight of the trip was the trek to see the Grey Glacier, we were impressed with how close the boat took us.

zuck 4

Adam’s Trek, Kayak & Ice Hike in Torres del Paine

Adam returned in March from a Trek in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop Patagonia…

zuck 8

What did Swoop do well?

Swoop Patagonia was fantastic to work with. Prior to the trip, Chloe and Luke responded to my questions quickly and with detailed responses. They helped us pick the right trip based on our travel schedule. I’d recommend using their services for anyone traveling to Patagonia.

What could we have done differently?

This was probably due to the info I provided about our experience and questions I asked, but I wish they had pushed me more toward the Self-Guided W Trek. During and after the trip, we realized that we could have done it all on our own. Our concern was always what we’d do if the weather changed abruptly, how safe the paths were and how easy it was to remain on the correct path without getting lost. The latter definitely isn’t an issue. We also thought we would encounter fewer people than we actually did. We had great weather, but I realize it could always be worse. Maybe providing more info about the number of other travellers/guides out there to help you, the safety of the paths and how well marked the paths are would help travellers choose the right trip for them.

zuck 1

How did you enjoy the itinerary our partners in Torres del Paine provided?

We thoroughly enjoyed our Trek, Kayak & Ice Hike trip. It was great that everything was taken care of for us. We really only had to worry about taking pictures and enjoying the views. Each day was exciting and offered amazing experiences and views. The kayaking and glacier trekking were truly amazing experiences that aren’t to be missed.

zuck 3

How were your guides?

Our guide, Sandra, and the driver were both fantastic. Sandra spoke great English and was full of information about the areas we were trekking. She always had a big smile on her face and laughed at our jokes, even if she often didn’t understand our American sense of humour. She really made the trip very easy for us. I’d recommend Sandra to anyone looking for an amazing guide who will make your trip easier and more enjoyable.

zuck2

Is there anything you would have changed about your trip?

After completing the treks and meeting other non-guided travelers, I realized that we could have done all of it on our own. But, it was nice to have that added security of a knowledgeable and experienced guide just in case something happened. We also wouldn’t have met Sandra if we did it that way.

zuck 6

What was the highlight of your trip?

All of the amazing scenery and the ice trekking.

zuck 5

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

Ask as many questions as possible prior to booking your trip. We saw plenty of solo travellers and groups without a guide, so think hard about going that route. I could have done the trekking part without a guide and I only hike occasionally and am terrible with navigating. Unless you want to do a lot of research, I’d s

till suggest the self-guided option since everything is taken care of for you minus the guide.

[Take a look at our Before You Go page for some pre-trip planning tips]

zuck 7

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

We visited Buenos Aires and loved it. The food, wine, culture and scenery were all amazing.

zuck 4

_1070551

Julin’s Winter W Trek in August

Julin returned in September from a Winter Trek in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on his trip, and in booking with Swoop Patagonia…

‘We had a fabulous trip!’

IMG_0126

What did Swoop do well?

Swoop were responsive and gave informative answers during initial contact and set-up.  They were very helpful in figuring out flights and other logistics.  The travel partner they recommended in Torres del Paine was first-rate

Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle

What could we have done differently?

One of my early queries went unanswered, but otherwise everything was good.

Laguna Los Patos

How were our partners in Torres del Paine?

Top notch:  highly organised and very professional.  Everyone we dealt with was absolutely first rate.  Also we had to change our dates by one day because of a strike in Argentina that cancelled our flight to El Calafate.  They rearranged everything for us and figured out bus schedules etc (non-trivial because there was not a direct bus from Calafate to Natales on the day that we needed one under the new schedule)

Mirador Las Torres

How did you enjoy the itinerary?

The 5 day Winter W Trek itinerary was perfect.  We wanted good long hikes and beautiful Patagonian scenery, and that is exactly what we got.

How were the guides on the trek?

Fantastic.  While in retrospect could have easily done the W trek unguided I found a lot of value in having Mauricio as a guide.  1) He was very knowledgeable about the area.  2) He knew how to time our hikes so that we were sure to get to our destinations (and got us all the way to the British Lookout in French Valley–substantially further than the plan in the itinerary).  3) Choosing hikes based on the weather to maximize views, etc.  4) Excellent knowledge of flora and fauna.  5) Great sense of humor.  6) Not having to cook was quite a luxury.

Cuernos del Paine

Is there anything you would have changed about this part of your trip?

None.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Brittish lookout, French Valley.  But honestly hard to pick.  I thought all three valleys were stunning.

_1070574

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

Do it!  Train before with some long distance hikes.  Work up to 20-25km.  We were glad that we did.

[Take a look at our Before You Go page for some pre-trip planning tips]

Avalanche, Cerro Paine Grande

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

1. Buenos Aires.  Great city for eating and an incredible bargain if you exchange on the blue market.  I highly recommend the graffitimundo tour. http://graffitimundo.com/

2. Perito Moreno Glacier.  We did the “mini-trek” which allow walking on the glacier for a couple of hours.  Touristy but worth it. Best to do this after the “W” otherwise Glacier Gray might seem small (although I think Glacier Gray is more scenic).

_1070551

IMG_1605

Amanda’s Winter W Trek in May

Amanda returned in May from a Winter Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and n booking with Swoop Patagonia…

IMG_1601

What did Swoop do Well?

The organisation and the arrangement was done really well, and finding other people to go on the trek was really helpful and glad it worked out.

What could we have done differently?

Maybe including extra information such as how to get to Puerto Natales and about Puerto Natales it self etc. by personal email. I was already planning my trip so I already knew how to get there but extra information about it for others will help showing that they care about the participants to get there for the trek.

*Following Amanda’s feedback we are trying to share more tips with people for places to stay and things to do. Please see our Guide to Travelling in Chile & Argentina.

IMG_1605

How did you enjoy the itinerary provided by our partners in Torres del Paine?

The 5 day Winter W Trek is good and it gives a room to do changes in case of weather conditions etc.

How were the guides on your trek?

I had Armando and he was an excellent guide and cook. He seems to know the area very well and his walking pace helps me practice for the Inca Trail (a good thing!)

IMG_1606

Is there anything you would have changed about this part of your trip?

No, I had a great time overall and truly memorable experience. Especially the last day at Las Torres, glad to see the towers which was one of the reasons I took the trip and Armando was supportive in making sure I was able to make it.

What was the highlight of your trip overall?

Las Torres, but the whole Patagonian landscape is amazing.

IMG_1607

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

Don’t suffer yourself to camp during the winter, because I heard more stories from people camping it during the winter having a miserable time and end up not seeing much of the park.

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

I visit San Pedro Atacama and in Argentina el Calafate.

IMG_1608

IMG_1595

Lauren’s Winter W Trek in August

Lauren returned in August from a Winter Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners in Chile…

IMG_1982

How did Swoop do in helping you plan and arrange your trip? 

From the beginning, Swoop was easy to work with and always quick to respond to any questions that we had about planning our Patagonia trip. It was especially helpful to get their insight into the pros and cons of setting up a trek during Chilean winter, and we didn’t feel pressured one way or another. In the end, doing the 5 Day Winter W Trek was amazing and worth a little bit of cold weather!

[Here’s a little more about Weather in Patagonia throughout the season]

Is there anythign we could have done differently?

Nothing! You guys had just the right amount of communication with us as we went through the trip-planning process.

IMG_1595

How did you enjoy the itinerary provided by our partners in Chile?

Although we were initially in a bit of sticker-shock from general Patagonia organised trek costs, we were very happy with the value that our trek ended up having. Everything from the itinerary to the food to the transportation was well organised and comfortable, and we were able to have a nice balance of a rugged trekking experience with certain little luxuries that made the trip more relaxing and enjoyable.

One of the nice things about the itinerary during our trek was its flexibility- obviously a lot of what we did depended on the weather and other external factors, but our guide made sure to check in with us about what we wanted to do and what we were feeling up to as the trek continued.

How were your guides on the trek?

Our guide, Mauricio, was amazing. Not only was he very knowledgable, experienced and attentive as a guide, but he was also just lots of fun to hang out with and easy to spend 5 days with. Because our trek was only 3 people including the guide, we were curious how that dynamic would go…but it was always comfortable, fun and easy-going. Mauricio also did a great job of showing us the sights, critters, and unseen spots in the winter, and he always challenged us to go a bit further. It was always worth it!

Is there anything you would have changed about your trip?

Nothing that I can think of.

IMG_1742

What was the highlight of your trip?

Our very first day of full trekking was a clear, cold, and sunny day, and we decided to head up the French Valley. Thanks to Mauricio’s knowledge and experience, we were able to put in a full day of hiking and make it all the way up to the Britanico viewpoint. The snow seemed pretty untouched and it seemed like we were the only ones who had made it up there this winter, and without any other people around, it was very surreal and beautiful. An exhausting but amazing day that was very, very worth the hard work!

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

Go in the winter if you are okay with some cold temperatures and being a little bit flexible…Not only is it beautiful to see the snow, ice and winter landscape, but it was amazing to feel like we were the only ones there. A great way to do the W-trek.

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

We spent time in Santiago, Valparaiso, and Mendoza…but that was just warm up for the beautiful sights and great experience of being in Chilean Patagonia!

IMG_1698

Jeanette 2

Jeanette’s Backcountry Ski Trip in Bariloche

Jeanette and her family returned in July 2014 from a Winter Backcountry Ski trip in Bariloche. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

Jeanette7

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of our trip was the Backcountry skiing at Baguales Lodge.  The accommodations were a rustic dream, getting there was an adventure, the food was gourmet, and the skiing spectacular.

Jeanette 1

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

Buenos Aires: we ate at two great restaurants in Sal Telmo (La Brigada) and Palermo. We went to the San Telmo market on Sunday and the Teatro Colon.

Jeanette 6

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

Swoop helped us find the best trip operator in the area, choose our outdoor adventure activities, and referred us to the best guide company.

[Here’s some more information on How Swoop Work.]

Jeanette 2

Were you well looked after by our partners in Patagonia & their guides on the trip? 

Yes, definitely.  Mike and Juan did a great job planning our itinerary, managing all our backcountry and avalanche gear, guiding us while we were in Patagonia.  They are knowledgeable, experience, professional, entertaining, and attended to our every need. We couldn’t have been happier.

Jeanette 3

Was there anything that you wish had happened differently/or not happened at all? 

We wish there had been more snow at Cerro Cathedral and Frey, but even under those circumstances (which no one has any control over) our guide provided us with alternatives that were excellent.

[Here’s some more information on Weather in Patagonia]

Jeanette 5

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

Contact Swoop Patagonia and their recommended partners.

Jeanette 4

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leo’s Winter Adventure in Torres del Paine

Leo returned in May from a Winter Trek in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us a little about his experiences on the trek, shares some wonderful photos, and provides some helpful tips for other people travelling to Patagonia in Winter…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I completed the 3-day Winter Highlights trek with Swoop’s local host – Victor. It was a really memorable trek. Torres del Paine has both peaceful environment and stunning views in the winter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We tried to arrange trips to Calafate afterwards but we didn’t have enough time sadly. We travelled to Easter Island afterwards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The temperature is already below zero on the mountain but you are still warm if you keep walking. A walking stick is very helpful when walking on frozen land with slippery ice surface.

Thank you for helping me to plan this awesome trip!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA