Tag Archives: Torres_del_Paine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jon & Deb’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Jon and Deb returned in November from a Half & Half Full Circuit (half guided and half self guided) in Torres del Paine. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking through Swoop and our partners…

‘Thanks for your help with our trip to Patagonia. It was amazing!’

IMG_0858IMG_0834

We were extremely blessed with the weather, as we only experienced rain once throughout the entire trek, and that was during the evening, whilst we were asleep.

The group of people that we hiked with were great – we spent10 days together and there were no real niggles. Our equipment worked really well, the guide your partners arranged was an amazing individual with a high level of professionalism, and the porters were rock solid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We ate amazing meals for the two days in Puerto Natales after the trip, on recommendation of your partners who ran the trip: Aldea and the Red Crab. Great food next time you are in town.

[See Sally’s Restaurant Guide for more recommendations on great places to eat throughout Patagonia]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a down note – and beyond your control – we had everything that could go wrong with the flights go wrong…Luckily we had such a great trip that this is only a minor distraction!

I’d like to extend a big thank you to Swoop for the great work you did for us and for making our time work so well. We had an amazing experience and feel lucky that we came across your company online. You and your partner in Torres del Paine helped make the ground part of this trip run extremely well. Thank you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nicole & Dustin’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Nicole and Dustin returned in November from a Camping W Trek in Torres del Paine, here they tell us about their experiences on their trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘We had an amazing time in Patagonia! We loved it! Swoop and their partners organized an amazing trek for us!! We loved Torres del Paine!!’ 

How were Swoop Patagonia?

We really appreciate you putting us in contact with your partners in Torres del Paine directly. That was super-helpful, in particular given the short timeframe we had to organize this. Just based on this, you clearly differentiated yourself from others.

What did you think of your W Trek itinerary?

Your partners organised an amazing trek for us! We never went up to Japones, as the Torres campsite was open and perfectly secluded in the woods. Next time, we would probably keep our guide another day, go to Campamento Italiano and skip Los Cuernos – it was just too crowded there. Once we arrived at Paine Grande, it felt like a 4-star hotel ;-). It was a great, great trip!! We saw sooo much, and were incredibly lucky with the weather – our rain gear never had to come out once.

The transfers in and out also worked very well – even though the bus ride is very long. We would always cut out the loop via Puerto Natales again though.

How was your guide?

Carlos, our guide, did a truly amazing job!! He is very knowledgeable about flora and fauna, but also knew many anecdotes about how the names of the lagoons and peaks came about and changed over time… We really enjoyed that!!

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

Once back in El Calafate, we had independently planned to do the kayaking at the Upsala glacier, but even though we had paid for this (almost AR$ 6,000 (!!) for the two of us), the travel agent we used (Not Swoop) lost our reservation and never came to pick us up on Saturday morning. That was very disappointing that we missed that trip.

We have since investigated this ourselves and been informed by various hotels and other agents that they all avoid working with the company we used, even though they are  the only ones that offer this trip from Calafate and are also the ones doing Estancia Cristina – this company is apparently known for making this kind of mistakes and mishaps.

Else, all was perfect!!

‘Again, thanks so much for all your help in arranging this trip for us!! We really, really appreciate it!!’

anja dave 5

Anja & Dave’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Anja and Dave returned in November 2014 from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here they tell us about their experiences on their trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

anja dave 3What did you think of Swoop and our partners?

We had an amazing time and I would recommend you all any time to friends and family. In fact, I am getting together with a friend this afternoon who is heading down to Patagonia and will make sure that she contacts you for the planning and tour.

The overall experience with Swoop and your partners in Chile was seamless and very positive. You were responsive, helpful and very pro-active. Communication remained fluid and up-to-date and the follow through on everything promised was on point. So, overall, the experience was excellent!

Your partners in Chile did an excellent job communicating with us right until our departure for the trek – they were great on email and coordinated the different players wonderfully.

anja dave 2

What did you think of the W Trek itinerary?

The ‘Original W-Trek’ itinerary was excellent – we had a great guide who was really wonderful and very concerned with our well-being and safety. I would have appreciated a tad bit more education and history, but it was an excellent experience.

Is there anything you would have changed about the trip?

Regarding the itinerary, if we could have gotten to the starting point of the Trek with a tad less “waiting around” that would have been even greater. With just a bit of more efficient travel planning, we might have been able to shave off a day by spending less time in Punta Arenas…this would be my only suggestion for optimizing the trip.

anja dave 1

How was your accommodation on the trip?

The lodging was great. We stayed at the KAU Lodge in Puerto Natales and the staff was great but I wish they had been a bit more forthcoming with suggestions about where to go and where to eat in that city…in addition, we almost missed our bus to Calafate…on the day we left after the trek was over, a cab was supposed to pick us up at 6:40 to catch the 7:00am bus to Calafate. The cab never showed up so at the last minute, the only present manager at the lodge, who was scheduled to serve breakfast and spoke NO English, abandoned his task at the breakfast bar and hopped in his private car to drive us to the bus station. That was truly outstanding service and I hope you can thank him for us.

[Read more about our most recommended hotels in Patagonia]

anja dave 4

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

In addition to the W Trek, we also spent time in Los Glaciares National park ( at El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier, which was amazing). We heard about it during the trek and ended up taking a taxi there but not having much time to see it or to walk the glacier. One suggestion I have is to integrate the return from the W Trek with the bus ride to Calafate and the tour of the Moreno glacier a bit more.

That’s it – thanks again and well done!!!

anja dave 5

Amina’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

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

‘This trip was amazing and beyond my expectations. Patagonia is so beautiful.’

What did you think of Swoop Patagonia?

The first thing I noticed about Swoop Patagonia is how fast you reply. Untypical for me I started planning/booking this trip very late, and your great service helped a lot to make this trip possible for me. You provided me with all the information I needed and connected me to your partners in Chile very quickly.

I am talking about this trip non-stop and recommending everybody to do it. And telling them how great it is, that you offer different trips, and also options for people traveling alone. So, yes I am recommending Swoop Patagonia to friends and family :)

What did you think of our partner in Chile who ran the W Trek?

Your partner who ran the W Trek was great too. There were a few bits of information that I would have preferred to receive earlier (for example that I needed to book a hotel first to buy a bus ticket, or where to meet the group when I arrive in Puerto Natales). But mistakes happen… So, it’s more important to me how do you deal with it. And they were always very polite and very eager and quick to fix these things.

And more important is the hiking trip… Our guides were amazing!!! Soo much knowledge, so funny, always looking out for us, making sure we hydrate and asking how we are feeling an if we need a break, taping my toes to avoid blisters… It was just great!

Just two things that they should mention to travellers before they arrive… There is no cell phone service during this trip and no wifi/internet service. It felt good to be disconnected for a few days. I just wished to know it before, so I would have send my parents and friends a message letting them know to not be concerned if they can’t reach me.

The other thing is that our whole group share one room- boys & girls together. I was surprised, but didn’t mind. I just think some people could feel uncomfortable and should have a chance to know about it before.

What was the highlight of your trip?

I can’t choose one highlight. The whole trip is amazing. The nature is breath-taking. I was lucky to have a great group and we bonded right away and were laughing a lot, and having nice conversations.

All my concerns about going hiking for the first time were unnecessary (I had never been hiking before. Not in Germany. Not in the US). I definitely want to do more hikes and am looking to book a hiking trip abroad next year.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else during your trip?

I visited a friend in Buenos Aires for the first week, did a day-trip to Colonia, Uruguay and another day-trip to Tigre, during that time. Before the trekking-trip, I took a flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, where I stayed one night (visited Perito Moreno Glacier), and took the bus to Puerto Natales to start the Patagonia trekking-tour. After the tour I returned back to Buenos Aires and caught a flight back to Boston the following day.

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

The only tips I would give people is, pack light, and bring waterproof clothes and shoes.

cathy b

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.

cathy b

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

cathy 2

Milton’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Milton returned in November from a Full Circuit in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking through Swoop and our partners, and provides some useful tips for future travellers…

It was a great trip and the Full Circuit hike was excellent. I’d have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Swoop or your partners to family & friends for a trip to Patagonia. In fact, I’ve already recommended you to a friend who is thinking about it for next year.

I would recommend ensuring you have the right ’3 Season’ footwear, particularly if you are going in the Spring as we did. One person in the group had fabric ‘boots’ without a Goretex lining and, after walking through the marshes/mud/snow, her feet were soaking and she developed a blister on her heel. She was just about OK but it could have been a problem. I know a lot of women don’t like leather boots (too heavy/don’t look cool) but you can’t beat them…or at the very least good quality fabric with waterproof lining!

Because of when we went, there was snow on the John Gardner Pass. The day of our climb, the weather was unfortunately warm, so the snow was very soft. I know you don’t want to have to put people off, but I guess it’s being frank about the type of conditions that might be faced, particularly early in the season. Gaiters could also be needed in the event of soft snow (e.g. on JG pass).

[For tips on what to pack, check out Swoop’s Trekking Kit List]

It is customary in Chile to tip the guide and porters for good service. Armando, our guide was excellent, he really went out of his way to be supportive, he gave a lot of help to those who needed it, and made the trek even more interesting by his wide knowledge of wildlife and nature which he shared with us. Some advice on the subject prior to departing could be helpful.

I want to thank Swoop for their advice on the itinerary, and working out what was possible with the time I had available (from getting off the boat in Ushuaia to flight back from Santiago). It all fitted together perfectly, I’m glad I did more than just the ‘W Trek’. Also your advice on accommodation in El Calafate (La Estepa) and Puerto Natales (Amerindia), both were excellent.

P1060753

James’ W Trek in Torres del Paine

James returned in November 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…

We had a great time in Chile! We spent just over two weeks in Chile in total travelling up to the North and then the South. The highlight for me was definitely Torres de Paine.

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop Patagonia were excellent from start to finish; always very prompt in replying and very informative. I asked a lot of questions before the trip (!) but always got useful answers. You and your colleagues were very helpful thank you. I would certainly recommend you to others.

P1060886

How were Swoop’s partners in Chile?

Again, excellent. Always very helpful before the trip and the itinerary was very good. I certainly came away wishing I could do more. I preferred the longer days (7-8 hrs walking) but I appreciate its very difficult to cater for everyone.

Our guide, Victor was brilliant. It wasn’t easy for him because our group was very varied in walking speeds etc but I think he handled the group very well. We all got on so well, and this was partly because of Victor as he is very good at engaging everyone as a group. He always looked after us all (and provided plenty of ginger tea!). It was lovely he came out and had a meal with us all after the trek as in the picture.

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

Chile is a country where you really have to plan ahead before you travel there – especially if on a tight schedule like we were. But with the help of companies such as Swoop Patagonia it makes it easier. And of course ‘The lonely Planet’!

P1060800

Is there anything you would have changed about your trip?

One thing I would have done differently is we spent our last day in Punta Arenas. We didn’t really like this town, however we really liked Puerto Natales – its got a lot of character and all the people are very friendly – so I would suggest to people if had time spend a day in Puerto Natales rather than Punta Arenas.

So thanks to you all for helping make our trip a great one. We love walking and trekking so Patagonia is perfect for us. Just got to decide where to travel to next!!

P1060753

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