Tag Archives: Hiking

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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Froilan’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

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

‘I would, without hesitation, recommend Swoop to everyone wanting to take a trip to Patagonia’

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How was your experience of Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop was very responsive, I was very well accommodated and advised even with my “last minute” plans, and the wind-stopping snood sent to me before my departure was a really nice surprise.

I would, without hesitation, recommend Swoop to everyone wanting to take a trip to Patagonia.  In fact, since my return, people have been asking how I organized my trip and I have simply told them to Google Swoop Patagonia and that they would not be disappointed.

How was your W Trek and Swoop’s partners who ran it?

My W Trek was absolutely incredible. Our guides, Carlos and Omar were very knowledgeable, nice and really understanding of the needs of each member of the group. They even added avocados to spice up our daily lunch sandwiches (which, as we understood, were fairly plain as they were initially provided by the refugios).

Swoop’s partners had everything planned for us ahead of time, lodgings were more than adequate and the guides were top-notch.  They knew more or less when the weather would be changing (an incredible skill in a place like Patagonia) and we had ample time to reconfigure our clothing to be comfortable long before the change happened. I’m sure my travel companions definitely appreciated it as well. The group itself was a very fun one, and we had a great time chatting away and snapping pictures from the beginning till the end of the trek.

I honestly don’t think there’s really anything to change about Swoop or their partners who ran the trek.

What were the highlights of your trip?

The highlights of my trip definitely had to be the Torres and Grey Glacier, but overall I was very happy with the itinerary that Swoop and their partners set up for us.

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Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?.Is there anything you would have changed about your trip?

If there was anything I would have changed about my trip, it would have been to extend it to include Argentina (El Chalten and the surrounding area, but also Buenos Aires)

My biggest tip for people planning to travel to Patagonia: go with Swoop!  And If they plan to do the W as part of a bigger itinerary and definitely need to have bigger luggage, I would suggest they leave the rest of their luggage in Puerto Natales and take a light backpack, 25-30 litres max (3-4 days worth of clothing, and do laundry in the refugios when possible).  They will have a more enjoyable time being lighter and more mobile.  Oh, and don’t forget your camera.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Patagonia?

Unfortunately, being short on time, I did not manage to visit any other places while in Patagonia.  The up side is that it gives me a very good excuse to come back.

‘Thank you very much for the incredible service and the great experience.’

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Nicole’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Nicole returned in December from a Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trek and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Tiptop! We did not stop raving about you during the hike and how bloody helpful you all are and integral to getting my head around Patagonia from home.

I wish I could provide some constructive criticism here, but not only do I have no recommendations for improvement, I actually feel that you went out of your way on all aspects.

I certainly have and will continue to recommend you to family and friends without a doubt.

How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine who arranged your W Trek?

Fabulous! Our guide Viktor on the W Trek was 10/10. The remoteness and lack of overt tourism at the Torres del Paine National Park was a real treat, especially after travelling North from there.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

Yes, we travelled to El Chalten, Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Salta and JuJu and now find ourselves in Tupiza about to do a 4 day Uyuni tour then to La Paz and Lake Titicaca, Then back to Chile for a 3 day yoga retreat and then home.

Rick’s Gorra Blanca Ascent & Avid Hikers Circuit

Rich returned in December from an ascent of Gorra Blanca in Los Glaciares, followed by our Avid Hikers Circuit in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip, and in booking with Swoop Patagonia and our partners…

How was your experience of booking with Swoop Patagonia?

I have visited and guided in Patagonia on 13 or more occasions over the last 20 plus years… I love it!

Having already asked a good friend of mine (from one of the biggest and most expensive trekking companies) about the possibility of doing hiking in El Chalten with no reply, I accidentally stumbled across Swoop Patagonia during a Google search. They immediately resonated with me, particularly given the feedback from previous customers on their blog, and the fact that they specialise in, and seemed extremely knowledgeable about all things Patagonia.

My experience post trip does indeed confirm that Swoop Patagonia is now my one-stop-shop for locating and linking me to suitable outfitters in Patagonia, so much so that I have already recommended them to my older brother over and above the expensive (non-responsive) opposition that thought it had the lion’s share of the market…!

Correspondence with Swoop was and is very fast and accurate, and saved me a lot of worry about things like connections, transfers, and what would be the best ‘tailored’ experience for me.

How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Chalten for the Gorra Blanca Ascent?

After a delayed arrival in Chalten due to some problems getting baggage (nothing to do with Swoop) I met up with Swoop’s partners in Chalten who were a breath of fresh air…

These ‘new’ small outfitters seemed very knowledgeable about the Fitzroy area and the appropriateness of difficulty grades and things to do. The team, probably had no idea that I had a long association with and knowledge about the area, already knowing what I wanted and where I wanted to go.  Their suggestion of attempting Gorra Blanca (a mountain that I had passed many times before, but never considered) was novel, and in the time I had available, pretty spot on.

I feel that these outfitters have a great and expanding client base. I will, and have already, crowed about their services – again over and above the other trekking company I had previous connections with.

The guide also had no idea of my background and capabilities, but we soon sorted that out and bonded extremely well. I have to say I was impressed (and I’m not easily impressed) with his professionalism and decision-making.  I was not the ‘normal’ client, and with potentially intimidating credentials he made safe and responsible decisions – looking after both our wellbeing. We did in the small amount of time available the most humanly possible…  and they even turned on the ‘good’ weather and stopped the winds and rain.  I will be writing separately and sending a good show award type letter separately.

How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine for the Avid Hikers Circuit?

Laura and her team in Torres del Paine were likewise very responsive to e-mails and the organising of bus connections and all my detailed niggling.  I reckon that I’m a pain in the arse as a client and I wanted (demanded) that things had to be spot on because of my tight itinerary revolving around my Antarctic climbing trip.

They suggested a modified, more interesting, and not so often undertaken variation on the famous W Circuit. This proved to be a winner and again the weather Gods shone on the team and trip.

The guide and guide and porter provided were likewise very capable and professional. The small team of 4 (2 clients and 2 staff members) quickly bonded.

The itinerary, food, and mixture of tent versus Refugio was also an up-market and relaxing way to go. Of course I will be recommending this organisation and the guides here also.

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Cathy’s Full Circuit, Montes Martial Circuit and Chalten Mountain Escape

Cathy returned in November from a Full Circuit in Torres del Paine, a Montes Martial Circuit in Tierra del Fuego, and a Chalten Mountain Escape in Los Glaciares. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trips, and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

cathy 1How were Swoop Patagonia?

I wouldn’t have managed such a great trip without your help & expertise. I met several other people who used Swoop and they all felt the same. I am already recommending you to other people.

I think the only thing I would say is your idea of sending a pre travel gift felt very last minute – I wouldn’t have noticed had you not offered a gift, but since you did having it before I left would have given a better view of your efficiency!

How were our partners who ran your trips in Chile and Argentina?

All were very good, those who organised the Full Circuit especially. The itineraries were all as expected. The guides were excellent, again especially Armando on the Full Circuit.

They all dealt well with my requirement for a gluten free diet in the end, although one company were less proactive about this. I didn’t help by not being crystal clear on their form but instead of querying it as the Full Circuit partners did, they decided to ignore it. The guide, Luis, was very helpful about trying to remedy this and luckily I’m not coeliac, just gluten intolerant so I could cope with eating the fillings out of sandwiches for instance. The other two companies were brilliant with this, again especially on the Full Circuit.

I was delighted with the 3 treks I did – it was a great combination and worked really well, even with the weather!

What was the highlight of your trip?

Difficult to choose a highlight! It was all fantastic. I think possibly waking up 2 mornings in a row to the view below from Lake Caminante is well up there.

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

I visited Buenos Aires briefly which was very enjoyable. Especially the cemetery at Recoleta which I visited on Halloween, appropriately!

I also did a Patagonian cooking workshop in Puerto Natales – it was brilliant and you should recommend it to anyone who has time to do it! http://encuentrogourmet.com

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Isabel’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Isabel returned in November from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she shares with us her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘We had an amazing time in Patagonia and the W Trek was a great experience!’

How were Swoop Patagonia?

I thought that the service you provided was very good – you were helpful with the information you provided and responded quickly to any queries.  I thought that the handover to your partners in Chile was done very well and smoothly and that you were flexible in how you communicate with your clients. I would recommend you to any friends looking to visit Patagonia.

How were our Partners who ran the trek in Chile?

Our W Trek was well-organised and professional.  In addition to organising the trek itself, the company was helpful in booking us bus tickets to/from Puerto Natales.  I thought that the itinerary on the W Trek was great – a good mixture of longer and shorter days and comfortable refuges to stay in. Our guide (Carlos) was excellent – he spoke good English and was friendly and responsible. The only minor comment I have is that we passed by their office in Puerto Natales the day before our trek started as we had not been told where and what time to meet the next day. An email confirming this would have been helpful.

What was the highlight of your trip?

I’m not sure I’m able to pick out a single highlight – we really enjoyed the whole trip.  We were in a group with three others who we got on very well with – we thought that five was a good number for a group.

Did you visit anywhere else on your trip?

We also visited Buenos Aires, an estancia outside Junin (near BA), El Calafate, the Bariloche area and San Martin de los Andes.

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

I would recommend that people planning a trip make sure that they bring all the recommended equipment as it all came in handy!  Also do not carry more that you absolutely need to in your backpacks.

[For some tips on what to pack, see Swoop’s Trekking Kit List]

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Patagonia on the Web – 8th August

Swoop’s roundup of all things Patagonian across the web this week.

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 16.25.10Mt FitzRoy – Greg Boratyn
‏@GregBoratyn takes wonderfully colourful shots of Patagonia that look at how the changing light effects the landscape. You can take a look at the rest of his work at his website.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 16.34.28@dbustosp posted this fantastic photo of Lago grey on his instagram account along with some awesome shots of Torres del Paine. 
Find out more about Largo Grey .

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Glacier lake by night ~Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
The light on this  shot by  PanTwentySix on Flicker is amazing. Follow on twitter @Aquafloater

Swoop’s blog of the week:
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Climber Alex Honnold on the Fitz Traverse; Photograph by Tommy Caldwell
National Geographic Beyond the Edge blog.
Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell talk about their  “Extreme Backpacking” on Patagonia’s Fitz Traverse.

Follow in their footsteps and plan your own Fitz Traverse adventure.