Wallis returned in December from a W Trek in Torres del Paine and some hiking in Los Glaciares. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners. As a 75 year old woman who found aspects of this trip challenging but still hugely rewarding, Walli would like to encourage other people of similar ages to consider a trip to Patagonia.
I have wanted to go to Patagonia to hike for about 20 years and just never could find a way to go until now. When first thinking about it and knowing that I just had 3 weeks it just seemed overwhelming! I did some internet research and wrote some emails to organisations that I found. I said that I wanted to go to Ushuaia, some places to hike in Argentina and then go to Chile to hike and end up in Buenos Aires before coming back to Caracas. I just didn’t know where to start or how to plan… and then I found Swoop Patagonia!
How was your experience of planning your trip with Swoop Patagonia?
I really enjoyed working with your company and all of you. I felt well taken care of and my questions were answered promptly and there was a lot of good advice on the website.
Harriet sent me a very detailed plan of what I could do, mapping out the whole three weeks for me. We adjusted the plan a number of times as she answered lots of questions. She gave me some suggestions for Ushuaia but told me you did not have an operation in that area so I figured that out quite easily and also loved that area.
I Wish that you did trips to more places, but narrowing your regions is probably what makes you so good at planning and arranging people’s trips, and makes you real experts at what you do.
How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in El Chalten?
Harriet put me in touch with Swop’s partners Barbara and Zoe in El Chalten, and they did a wonderful plan for me for Los Glaciares. I liked very much the places in which I stayed, very much enjoyed the hikes I took in the area, and all the logistics went smoothly, I wish I’d had time for more!
How was your Ice Hike?
I am so glad that I was encouraged to do the ice climb and not just the trek and am so glad we found a company that did not have an age limit!
I ended up doing the hike with two guides, a Canadian couple and a Polish couple. The guides really helped me out whenever I was uncomfortable on the glacier (Juan and Carlos) and everyone encouraged me when I was on the walls. I didn’t do great, but well enough to really have had fun.
Is there anything you would change about your trip?
The only day that I wish I had spent otherwise was the day I went to Lago del Desierto. For me there was too much time spent travelling there and back, and also sitting on the boat (on which I was the only passenger). It was beautiful, but I missed having a more active day. Zoe showed me where to go for a short hike when I got back though, so it all turned out just fine.
How was the weather during your trip?
My only rain to speak of was a for a few hours one morning in Chalten. I could therefore not do Fritz Roy justice as I saw the bottom but never did see the top out of the clouds. Oh well something I’ll have to come back for…
[More about weather in Patagonia]
How was your experience with Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine on the W Trek?
Everything thing went well for the W Trek (including the wonderful vegetarian cafe the Living in Puerto Natales). I loved our group, and our guide Izzy was amazing; she could not be a better guide. Everyone got along with and supported each other well, and the rest of the group really encouraged me. I particularly loved the first day where we were able to get so close to the animals. The terrain reminded me a lot of Mongolia.
The refugios were comfortable with good food, and Christmas Eve dinner was perfect!
The Torres were magnificent!!! We had windy days but basically all clear days…I don’t think that the weather could have been better.
By the end of the French Valley I did get a little tired from carrying my pack all day. Everyone went at his or her own rate here, and although I was a little slower, Izzy kindly walked with me.
The last day, which included a hike and boat trip, was also beautiful and Izzy carried some of my things for me so it felt like I had just a day pack. I just could not have gone fast enough. The others in the group were cute about my pace…I felt sort of bad about it and they would say…you are NOT slow, you are just slower then we are! It was great at the end to get dropped off at the hostel!
Do you have any tips for other people planning a trip?
Firstly, bring ear plugs when you sleep in refugio dorms! Secondly, know your limits – I am just not able to go very far very fast if I am carrying much more than a day pack over a number of days. When I do day hiking I usually take the minimum…so a regular daypack even seems a little heavy to me.
I felt so fortunate to have small groups and great weather. It was just a perfect trip…thank you all for your part in making a dream of mine come true.