Tag Archives: adventure

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Become a Patagonian Gaucho with these horse riding trips.

A unique way to experience Patagonia is on horseback , you’ll see the sights of Patagonia from the viewpoint of a gaucho and have a truly one of a kind experience.
We have a number of great horse riding trips throughout February,March and April.
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Firstly take a look at the Estancia ride: A 10 day trip that allows you to experience gaucho life, spending each night at different Patagonian Estancias. It’s great for people who prefer not to camp and are up for spending long hours in the saddle and is best suited for experienced riders that are up for some fast and technical riding throughout the Patagonian mountains and pampas.

We have availability for trips starting on 19th February, 4th March and 19th March 2014.

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For something a bit more challenging there’s Riding to Glaciers with Gauchos.
This trip is run by incredibly experienced horse riding specialists from the area. It is a trip for experienced riders that are up for a real adventure in the Patagonian wilderness. You’ll get to see some of the very best of Torres del Paine National Park and camp underneath the stars like true Gauchos.As well as horse riding you will take a fabulous boat trip that travels up the Last Hope Sound and you will get a chance to see some of the other wildlife Patagonia has to offer as well as the Balmaceda Glacier before docking at the Serrano Glacier.

We have availability for this incredible trip from on the 2nd February and 2nd March.

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We also have a spectacular horse moving ride that includes 3 days riding alongside free-running horses, where you’ll get the chance to see parts of Patagonia that not many people get to see. The route takes you across Torres del Paine , through the lush greens of the south to the dry pampas of the north, all on horse-back. You’ll be staying overnight at estancias adding to the authenticity of the trip.
We have availability for this once in a lifetime trip for the 2nd April 2014.

If you are interested in any of these trips get in touch with us and start your gaucho adventure.

Swoop Patagonia News 4th December 2013

The festive month of December is upon us and here at Swoop we have some fantastic trips and deals available that you can treat yourself to in the new year.

Last Minute trips:

Looking for an adventure in January?

We have spaces available for an Original W Trek trip in Torres del Paine starting January 10th 2014.
This is a really popular trek that is ideal for solo travelers looking to join a group.
You’ll hike the complete W trek and stay in comfortable mountain huts each night.
Within this trip you will visit  the three main valleys of the park: the lookout point of the towers at the Ascencio valley, hanging glaciers at the French Valley and the Grey Valley and sail in front of the impressive glacier at the end of your journey.

For more information contact Luke

We also have spaces on the Fast track W circuit that starts on the 18th January this is a great alternative to the ‘W’ trek for those with less time. You start your trek and end it in Puerto Natales and it’s a faster and cheaper way to see Torres del Paine. You’ll be hiking with an experienced local English-speaking guide, and sleeping in a warm bed in the Refugio each night.

For more information contact Luke.

Swoop Deals:

Book your 2014 / 2015 Patagonia cruise now to receive a 10% discount on the price.

Contact Luke for more details

Swoop News:

We are gearing up for our second Google Hangout. We had a great time on the first one chatting about all the things you can expect from a Patagonia trip. This time round were talking all things Torres del Paine , talk to Luke and our TDP expert Kerry about anything you want to know about the beautiful national park.

Our Torres del Paine on air hangout will be on :
Thursday 12th December
7PM GMT

Add yourself to our google+ community here

 

Life after the W Circuit

A few of the people who contact Swoop have visited Patagonia before and are looking to go back and explore it further. After all, a region that spans 1,000 miles North to South and 1 million square kilometres, with landscapes ranging from glacial to volcanic, to rainforest and desert, probably deserves more than a fortnight of our attention!

So, we thought we’d share some ideas for things to do if the W Circuit has whetted your appetite for Patagonia and now you’re looking for more. First of all, within Torres del Paine National Park what are your options after the W Circuit?

1. Surprisingly just 5% of visitors to Torres del Paine trek the Full Circuit of the park. Yes, it takes around 8 days and the hikes between the Refugios are significant, and, yes, Paso John Garner is very windy and yes it’s a steep descent down to the Grey Glacier. But the rewards are so great. 8 days of spectacular hiking in such varied terrain; nights of camping in sites that are so much quieter and less developed than those of Grey, Campamento Italiano or the Paine Grande Lodge; the incredible views out to the South Patagonian IceCap from Paso John Garner, and experiencing the unbelievable force of the Patagonian wind; the wonderful descent down to and along the Grey Glacier. If you have the time and the stamina don’t miss the Full Circuit.

2. If you want to get off the beaten track, the Pingo Valley provides some wonderful hiking in a quiet part of the park. The valley is certainly not on the same scale as Frances or Ascensio and is probably more appropriate as a warm-up or preface to your main hike, but it’s stunning nevertheless: up the valley through steep canyon walls, dense forest, and past the immense power of Cascada Pingo, and up to a wonderful campsite on the shores of the river, where there are no facilities and minimal signs that anyone has been there before. This acts as a base for two hikes: one to the Pingo Glacier itself (subject to you being able to cross the river), and up to the Zapata viewpoint (sadly the Zapata Glacier has receded significantly, but the viewpoint remains very impressive). If you are lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of the rare Huemul.

 

3. Hike from Lago del Toro to Paine Grande Lodge (Lago Pehoe). This is gentle hike in the southern part of the park with no major ascents but walking predominantly north you walk with the Cuernos and the Towers ahead of you for most of the way. Starting out from the Administration Centre we saw Condor on the early part of our hike, and the final kilometres along the shores of Lago Pehoe are beautiful. You can also cover most of this route on horseback.

4. The Rio Serrano makes for a wonderful exit from Torres del Paine National Park. Starting out from Camping or Pueblito Serrano you can either kayak or go via zodiac boat, following the river all the way down to Puerto Toro, which sits at the junction of the Serrano River and the Last Hope Sound (Ultima Esperanza Fjord), and alongside the Serrano glacier with its steep descent into a lagoon. If you kayak downstream, you can camp on the shores of the river, and possibly do a day’s extension to the Geike glacier.

5. On the W Circuit you will have walked along the northern shore of Lago Nordenskjold at the foot of the Cuernos and the Towers. However, you can also hike on the southern shore, where your perspective of the peak is enhanced and you are more likely to come across some of Patagonia’s fauna – guanaco, condor, huemul.

If you have further ideas or questions for us then please let us know.

Matty’s trip to the Atacama Desert – ‘Arid, beauty, unearthly’

First Name: Matty

Age: 37

Occupation: Academic researcher

Which operator did you go with or did you organise it yourself?

 I organized my trip from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama myself.

If you had a local guide, what was he like?

 I took three tours from San Pedro de Atacama with the same company (of which I do not remember the name). Their prices were reasonable and I was satisfied with their services.

Did the logistics of getting to San Pedro de Atacama run smoothly? (Flights, Buses etc)

 Yes, they did. Sky Airline flies to Calama from Santiago (with a stop-over in Antofagasta), and from the airport in Calama you can take a bus to San Pedro de Atacama for 10,000 pesos.

At what time of year did you travel to San Pedro de Atacama?

 I was there from 8 to 11 September.

How long did you travel around the Atacama desert for?

 I stayed in San Pedro de Atacama for 3 nights.

How many people did you travel with?

 I was alone.

What was your favourite place?

 I was really impressed by the altiplanic lagoons. These are lagoons that are at 4300 meters and are surrounded by volcanic peaks that soar up to 6000 meters. It is really as if you’re on another planet in those places.

What was the weather like?

The Atacama desert is the driest desert in the world, so rain was not expected and we did not get any. Temperatures during the day were very pleasant, around 25 degrees. During the nights, it cools down quite a lot, lows in San Pedro were just above the freezing point. The tour to the El Tatio geysers was early in the morning in order to catch the sunrise at the geysers. The geysers are at 4300 meters, so it was cold there, -10.

Did the weather impact negatively on your trip?

 No.

Laguna Miniques

What activities did you do whilst you were there? (trekking, horseriding, kayaking etc)

I took three tours that all started in San Pedro de Atacama. The first one was an afternoon/early-evening visit of Valle de la Luna, not far from the village. Then, on the second day I did a tour that included visits to Toconao, the Laguna de Chaxa in the Salar de Atacama, and the Lagunas Miscanti and Miniques. On the last day of my stay, I took the tour to the El Tatio geysers.

If you were to go back, what would you recommend packing that you couldn’t live without whilst travelling round the Atacama desert?

Sunscreen, hat, camera, different layers of clothing.

What was the most challenging part of the trip?

Some of the places I visited were above 4000 meters (the El Tatio geysers and the altiplanic lagoons). I was able to deal with it, but nevertheless I had to take it easy.

El Tatio Geysers

Is there anything that could have made your trip better?

San Pedro de Atacama is very touristy and all the sights around are heavily visited, especially the El Tatio geysers and the Valle de la Luna. Although they are very nice places to visit, it would have been even better if it had been less crowded.

Sum up Atacama in 3 words:

 Arid, beauty, unearthly.

Would you recommend the Atacama desert as an adventure travel destination to your friends?

 For sure!

 

Isla de Chiloé, Chile

When Darwin visited Chiloé in 1835, he described the island as “the border of Christianity”, both in the geographical and spiritual sense. The brilliant researcher was marveled by the co-habitation achieved between Mapuche Indians and the Spanish conquerors over three centuries. This relationship has helped bring about a culture which can be appreciated today in the small wooden chapels and the fascinating domestic mythology. 

Castro, Isla Chiloé, Chile

The wooden chapels of Chiloé are considered as UNESCO world heritage sites for their cultural significance, blending native and Spanish beliefs into the churches. Each chapel has southern-facing front doors to protect them from the rain. The weather in Chiloé according to Charles Darwin is, “in winter the climate is detestable, and in summer it is only a little better. I should think there are few parts of the world, within the temperate regions, where so much rain falls. The winds are very boisterous, and the sky almost always clouded: to have a week of fine weather is something wonderful.”

Iglesia San Carlos de Borroneo, Chonchi – Chiloé © Nick Leonard 

Many of the buildings and houses on Chiloé also take advantage of the wooden architecture, and are often covered with wooden shingles called tejuelas cut from the native Alerce tree, to create roofs that can withstand the frequent rain showers in the region. You can find many houses of this type in the area of Llanguihue and Puerto Montt.

 Typical wooden houses in Castro © Nick Leonard

The Chiloé archipelago is considered part of the Northern Patagonia area of Chiloé as well as the southernmost reaches of the Lake District. The beautiful Chiloé Island is located south of Puerto Montt. It is linked to the mainland by ferries which cross the Chacao channel.

The eastern side of the island, facing the mainland of Chile across the Golfo de Ancud in the north and Golfo de Corcovado in the south, is broken up into a myriad of coves and inlets.

Chiloé’s three main towns, the new capital Ancud is in the north, Castro, the former capital, on the east, and Quellón on the southern tip, offer most of the island’s tourism amenities.

 

Castro

 Ancud Port at Sunset


Quellón port, Chiloé

Must Sees and Dos in Chiloé: 

The famous palafitos, or houses on stilts, along the waterfronts and mud flats at San Juan, Chiloé.

The Feria Artesanal Market, along the waterfront, offers local handicrafts, particularly woolens (scarves and sweaters) and basketry.

Chiloé people survive on farming and fishing, so dine on their traditional meal; curanto, prepared traditionally in a hole in the ground over hot rocks. The dish includes mussels, clams, beef, pork, chicken, sausage, and potatoes topped off with chewy pancakes called milcaos. You can order a variation in a restaurant where it is cooked in a pot and called pulmay.


Preparing the Curanto

Puñihuil, the only place in the world where Humboldt and Magellan penguins nest side by side. Unfortunately you are not allowed to leave the boat, because the breeding grounds are protected. The area is very rich and supports many other species, including three species of nesting cormorants (Red-legged, Rock & Imperial), Kelp Geese, three gull species, skuas, Blackish and Magellanic Oyster Catchers, sometimes sea otters and flightless steamer duck.

The Pingüinera Puñihuil Penguin Reserve on Chiloé Island
 

Visit the Chiloe archipelago and kayak from £561.

“Kayak from island to island with specialists in this beautiful lake district, visiting fishing villages on the way. You’ll have the opportunity to relax in the evenings back at the picturesque stilt house hostel and enjoy dinner in a nice sea front restaurants where you can try the delicious Curanto dish”.

 

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Bear Grylls in Patagonia

Grylls parachutes into Patagonia, the southernmost tip of South America, where he first encounters a vast ice field, then forages in a beech forest, wades through a frozen bog and swims through icy water. Next Grylls skins a hare, scales a cliff, tracks a puma, drinks dirty water, and crosses the Perito Moreno glacier, a vast frozen labyrinth of ice caves and crevasses that’s “advancing at a rate of 6ft a day. It’s one of the few glaciars in the world that is getting longer”.

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Part 1: Grylls parachutes into Patagonia where he first encounters the vast Patagonian ice field (870sq miles) with a frozen labyrinth of ice caves and crevasses:

Part 2: after surviving the vast Patagonian Ice Cap, Bear Grylls parachutes into the barren wilderness of the Patagonian steppe in the eastern rainshadow of of the Andes Mountain range. The steppe (slightly bigger than California) gets less rainfall than New Mexico and it has practically no protection from the relentless Patagonian winds.

Part 3: Bear Grylls goes on the hunt for fresh water in the bone dry steppe. Next he goes tracking on a criollo with a Patagonian gaucho (Argentinian cowboy) on the hunt for the most feared predator on the steppe, the puma.

Part 4: Bear finds shelter behind the biggest boulder he can find on the Patagonian steppe so that he’s protected from the relentless winds. The boulder is covered in ‘old man’s beard’ (moss), perfect for making a fire. Next Bear makes snares to catch hares, rubbing his hands in cowpat to mask his human scent and increase his chance of catching some food.. to ensure his survival.

Part 5: Bear reveals how Patagonia has left a deep impression, due to the nature of this unchanged land.

 

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