Tag Archives: Hiking

Duane’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Duane returned in March from a trekking holiday in Torres del Paine National Park. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How was your experience of booking with Swoop and our partners?

Great thank you, I enjoyed every day of my trip!

I would certainly recommend you and your partners to others, as the information provided to me ahead of time was very helpful. I am also thankful for the accommodations being taken care of, as my Spanish was lacking.

Thanks for the memories.

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Is there anything you would change about your trip?

I can’t think of any negatives – the lowest points, if any, were the refugios, but I enjoyed my stays there as well.

Seeing the many campers nearby, however, and the fact that most if not all of the facilities in the refugios were available to them, I thought that next time it would probably be better to do a self-guided camping trip (tent and sleeping bag already prepared, so I’m carrying only clothes, food, etc.).

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was at the base of Las Torres, as it was also my 40th birthday, and the sky was unusually clear. I also loved the view of Glacier Grey.

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

I highly recommend that others spend more time in Puerto Natales, as it is a very charming town. On second thought, don’t - too many people might alter the charm. :)

 

Helen’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Helen returned in December from a trekking holiday to Torres del Paine. Here she tells her about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘I had an amazing trip…I loved Chile, it is such a wonderful place. I could not have asked for more. In fact I loved it so much I have now arranged to take a 12-month sabbatical and am going back to South America in October!’

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

I spoke to Luke on the phone 2-3 times whilst I was researching my trip to Chile. He had such fantastic knowledge and really took time to help me think through lots of ideas and options. I was really impressed by this as I felt it was going above and beyond what Luke needed to do as he would get no finical benefit from doing so. In the end this helped me lock down my itinerary and resulted in a fantastic trip.

What could we have done differently?

Nothing really. Everything you did during the booking, the little ‘gift’ prior to me going and the follow up work really well.

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

Yes, absolutely.

What did you think of your itinerary?

The part of my trip that I booked with Swoop was the 7 day Full Circuit, and I can safely say this was the highlight of my trip! The trek was amazing and the beauty of the scenery was second to none.

It was fantastic: really well thought out, with a good mix of long days and short days which meant people could recover. We had some days that were fairly easy and then the odd day where you were pushed and hardened. I know the guide was concerned that I had not done any trekking before – and Luke had asked me how fit I was. I managed the trek well but I was glad that I do go running and go to the gym, as the trip would not be good for people without a certain level of fitness.

The food we had was great considering the conditions we were all in. The refugios were rustic, but as I would expect, and to be honest – hope for!

How was your guide?

Our guide was called Mauricio and he was just fantastic. He is so knowledgeable, so energetic, so witty, and judged the group and everyone’s personality very well. He has been doing this job a while so has lots of contacts all around the tour, which he uses very well. Nothing was too much trouble and he ensured all his guests had everything they needed. He also looked after the Porters very well and you can see how he worked to make sure the whole team were happy and content. I can’t rate him highly enough… a seasoned professional at all times.

The group was great and worked really well with everyone just clicking.

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

Nothing at all :)

‘So the whole crew and all the people working on the trek where fab and really made my trip as good as it could have possibly been. Thank you.’

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Hiking Off the Beaten Track in Torres del Paine

Ben returned in January from a trip to Torres del Paine, during which he did some hiking ‘off the beaten track’, followed by a kayaking trip. Here he tells us a little about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘The trip was simply amazing. Thanks for organizing and taking care of us. Your help was outstanding and I could not have asked for more.’

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

IMG_4295Your service was great, very personal, quick and wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to talk us through several options and for convincing us to adjust our initial plan.

Your help was outstanding and I could not have asked for more. I would definitely recommend you.

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How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine?

Swoop’s partners were always great, everything was arranged for and the whole trip was an experience. The whole trip was well planned, exciting but also allowed for flexibility, and the guides were a lot of fun. Overall they are great guys over there.

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was definitely hiking off the beaten path, spending nights in the middle of nowhere.

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Mariana’s trip to Los Glaciares National Park

Mariana returned in February from a trip to Los Glaciares National Park. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How was your experience of planning and arranging your trip with Swoop?

Swoop were great, we certainly would appreciate using your services again.

How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Los Glaciares?

These partners were an excellent suggestion from Swoop. Zoe was very nice and professional, and our guide Mauro was an excellent person and professional. We loved the experience!!

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What did you think of your itinerary?

The trekking in Los Glaciares was excellent; guide 100% and also the stricture of Pedra Del Fraile and Poincenot camping were better than expected. So everything very good, especially taking into account that we stayed in Refugio accommodation!

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight for us was Pedras Blancas. A difficult trail but worth the effort for the magic landscape!

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

We also visit Lago Del Desierto, and stayed at Aguas Arriba Lodge for 3 days, which was suberb lodge.

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Vicky’s 7 day Luxury Camp W Trek

Vicky returned in February from a Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, based from an eco friendly camp. Here she tells us about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘All of us thoroughly enjoyed the trip! Torres del Paine was breath taking – I really hope we have the opportunity to go back again in the future’

How was your experience of booking with Swoop Patagonia?

Everyone at Swoop was very responsive and prompt – we really appreciated this as we didn’t know much about the logistics of traveling in Patagonia and had never been.  Everyone was very patient with all of our many, many questions. This was very, very much appreciated.  We would definitely recommend Swoop Patagonia to anyone traveling to Patagonia!!

How was your experience with swoop’s partners who ran the W Trek?

We felt that the services from Swoop and Swoop’s partners were fantastic.  The pick up times and locations were clear, and everyone did everything they could to make it easier on us (ie. picking us up at our hostel for transfers, etc.).

How was your W Trek in Torres del Paine?

We really enjoyed the W Trek itinerary! Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the park, wildlife and geography – we were all very impressed.  The guides were very patient with us and managed the group well.  We were worried about pace of the group if it was going to be a large group.  The guides ended up dividing our group of 14 into 2 groups: our group with 6 people (mostly our age) and then the other group with 8 people, who were mostly older guests.  But they would still bring both groups together at the end of the day so we can chat and socialise which was nice.

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

The major thing that we would have liked to change is the responsiveness of Swoop’s partners in finalising the booking. It took them a long time to respond to emails, and we did not receive information on our pick up until after we had arrived in Calafate despite sending multiple emails. We had originally asked them about the Isla Magdalena tours, but they never responded until Harriet from Swoop emailed them for us. By then it was about 3 weeks out and we had already booked our own tours through another operator. Towards the end, I kind of gave up trying to contact them and just directed most of our questions to Harriet at Swoop – so I really appreciate her and Swoop’s patience with us.

Another minor thing that I would have liked to change is a little bit more flexibility on the day that we visited Grey Glacier.  The 2nd half of that day – we drove back from Pudeto to the camp and stopped at 2 lookouts along the way that gave a great view of Los Cuernos. There were a few other amazing lookout points along the way that we didn’t get to stop at due to the guides wanting to keep the group on schedule for dinner – it would have been great to have some more time for pictures and sight-seeing, as this was the only day that we could view the massif from this angle.

What were the highlights of your trip?

We wanted to go to Patagonia for the trekking, and I would say that was the main highlight.  It’s hard to pick a favourite hike – we saw amazing scenery everywhere.  I don’t think we missed too much by minimizing time spent in the cities due to our limited travel days.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

Prior to arriving in Torres del Paine, we spent 3 days hiking on the Argentina side. We hiked Laguna de Los Tres one day and Laguna Torre on the 2nd day. The third day prior to our transfer day to the camp, we visited Perito Moreno Glacier and did the mini-trekking activity there.

After we left Torres del Paine, we transferred to Punta Arenas.  We were hoping to do the Isla Magdalena Penguin Tour but the tour was cancelled for that day due to windy conditions. We did do the Seno Otway Penguin tour instead.

From there we spent 1 extra day in Santiago and did a little bit of sight-seeing in the city before coming home.

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

Ask a lot of questions and, if there’s time, do background reading on the region.  This was something I had wanted to do prior to leaving but ran out of time.

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.