Tag Archives: Torres del Paine

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What was the highlight of your trip?

All of the amazing scenery and the ice trekking.

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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]

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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.

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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!’

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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

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What could we have done differently?

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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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…

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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…

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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.

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

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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!

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Patagonia on the web 27th June

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

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:

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Some great photographs that celebrate Torres del Paine in winter.
Ice Monsters by loris van Breugel
Gigantic icebergs drift on Lago Grey on a calm morning in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, with a view of Paine Grande in the distance.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 17.28.05Great black and white mood shot from @AdamBarkerPhoto on Twitter taken while fly fishing in Torres del Paine .
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This great floral shot is from @UnevenSidewalks blog post Torres del Paine: 5 Days of Incredible Trekking

Swoop’s blog of the week:

This week’s blog of the week is jimmyeatsworld’s Fifteen images that will make you go to Patagonia.
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“If somebody mentions landscape photography, my immediate thoughts shoot back to October/November 2013 when I made my first visit to the Patagonia region. It was to be the pinnacle of my adventures in Latin America and it sure didn’t disappoint. From the moment we arrived to Colombia and the start of the Andes mountain range, the landscapes just got better and better the further south I went.”

If they inspire you to start planning a Patagonia trip where you can take just as stunning photographs, talk to Swoop about our photography cruises. 

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Patagonia on the Web – 20th June

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

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 12.05.58Great photo from @ChileFoto at the start of a Carretera Austral adventures.
BqRH56qIYAAc0Aq@1lovemountains posted this picture up on their Twitter this week, adding that Patagonia is at it’s most dramatic in the winter months.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 12.20.51 Blogger John Paul Whelan, posted these beautiful images on his twitter this week showing the autumnal colours in Patagonia.
He also wrote a  blog all about his experiences  trekking in El Chalten.

Swoop’s blog of the week:

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Torres del Paine made the Huffington posts list of 35 Most Amazing National Parks on Earth.
Saying : “While the hiking and views are beautiful in their own right, seeing the immense glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field extend towards the horizon is an experience that hasn’t its equal.”
We couldn’t agree more!

If you’re interested in visiting  in one of the most amazing National Parks on Earth we can help you find the right kind of trip for you. 

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Patagonia on the Web

Patagonia on the Web – 6th June

A roundup of all things Patagonia we found on the web this week.

Patagonia in the news:
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50 entire ichthyosaur fossils have been found in southern Chile, one of the best finds of its kind to date. The fossils were found in Torres del Paine and lived between the Triassic and Cretaceous periods, which extended from 250 million to 66 million years ago.
Find out more about the discoveries here.

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:
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@thisisChile retweeted @barbarakvh  who took this lovely shot of Cucao, Chiloé.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 14.12.17The lighting is so dramatic in @Gabriele_Corno  shot ”Out of Darkness” – Torres del Paine National Park, in southern Chilean Patagonia, Chile.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 14.18.40 Snapped with a point and shoot @ClareBevis gives a different view of Torres del Paine.

Blog of the week:

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 14.43.09Globetrottergirls.com have done a number of posts about their Patagonia trip, this one about Chiloe is fantastic and describes why it’s must see island. . “…we left the island feeling utterly romanced and wishing we could have seen more of its empty beaches and bays, explored more the national park and the tiny fishing villages.”

When travelling to Chiloe it can be difficult to get off the beaten track  when you go independently or using public transport.  Talk to us about a guided excursion that allows you to delve deeper into the island’s cultural history and wildlife.

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Patagonia on the Web

Patagonia on the Web – 30th May

A roundup of all things Patagonia we found on the web this week

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:

 

Incredibly atmospheric shot showing a unique perspective of Torres Del Paine.
@earthshots tweeted this great picture by Dale Mitchell from five years ago today.
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@thegentsjournal posted this usual property, the Awasi Patagonia, Chile on their twitter page.
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Fantastic shot of Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires from Slightly Astray’s latest blogpost.
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Blog of the week:

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We12travel  have done a number of brilliant blog posts all about their experiences in Patagonia and Chile.  Their Park Post 6: Torres Del Paine gives some great advice to those who are thinking about visiting the park.

If you’re interested in finding out about all the different things you can do in Torres del Paine take a look at Swoop’s Torres del Paine page.