Tag Archives: Torres_del_Paine

IMG_4334

Magan’s Extended Paine Circuit & Kayaking in Torres del Paine

Magan returned in January from a trekking and kayaking trip to Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘The experience was AMAZING – I absolutely loved our group and Swoop and their partners were wonderful!’

IMG_4368

What did you think of your itinerary?

The Extended Paine Circuit itinerary was great! The John Garner pass day was super long and super hard but glad that we chose to keep going and not stay at the El Paso campgrounds.

IMG_4636

The glacier hike was amazing – it was shocking to me that many people that we were hiking the Full Circuit with were unaware of that option and were very disappointed that they hadn’t put it in their itinerary.

4

How was your guide and accommodation on your trip?

Our guide (Eduardo) was PHENOMENAL: super knowledgeable and patient with us, and a huge enhancement to the trip! I would definitely recommend him to anyone!

1

My celiac disease was well tended to well and many of the refugios were great! I hated the Refugio Paine Grande where the boat was located – I felt like I was at Disney and it took away from the experience.

5

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

I continued to travel in Chile – but just to Santiago and to a yoga retreat.  I also hiked the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu – the entire trip was amazing!

2

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was the John Gardner pass and the Glacier hike – they are very hard to beat!

IMG_4614

IMG_20141225_144454076_HDR

Wallis’ trip to Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares

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.

IMG_1650

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.

IMG_1684

 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!IMG_1584

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.

IMG_1567

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.

IMG_1645

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!

IMG_1661

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.

IMG_20141225_144454076_HDR

 

Pippa’s Guided/ Self Guided Full Circuit

Pippa returned in November from a Full Circuit Trek in Torres del Paine, half guided and half self guided, supported by Swoop’s local partners throughout. Here she tells us about her experiences o the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop Patagonia were great. Luke was fab at the start helping plan the trip and your correspondence after that was helpful & smooth,

How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine?

Swoop’s partners were also very good. Their correspondence was very good, with consistently rapid and helpful responses. We had a small hiccup with buses at the airport and they sorted us out very quickly.

What did you think of the Half and Half Circuit Itinerary?

The Half and Half itinerary was great, we at first thought it was going to be slow with only a few hours a day but in the end we really enjoyed that we were not rushing the hike and felt like we got to know the mountains really well.

How was your guide?

Our guide Nico was really good, very patient, easy to chat too and helpful. The porters were also really nice guys.

What did you think of the accommodation on the Circuit route?

The facilities were more modern than expected, we were expecting huts and we got country houses for half the trip but we loved the more basic huts at the back of the Torres circuit.

We would recommend the hired tents in the W to be selected by the lengths, my husband is 1m80cm and lying in a tent that is 1.70-1.80 was quite uncomfortable for him and we had 3 nights like this in a row.

The tent brought in by Swoop’s partners for the remainder of the trek was good, the recommendation here would be for them to get additional ground sheets as the damp seeped through to our mats and belongings on the tent floor.

Did you visit anywhere else on your trip?

Afterwards we went onto visit Perito Moreno glacier, the Fitz Roy range and then onto Mendoza and Buenos Aires before returning back to Brazil.

What was the highlight of your trip?

The whole trip was a highlight. We had a really good time and we got on with all the group members very well. We were blessed with good weather for 9 out of 10 of the days, which made a huge difference to the trip! The winds stayed away after day 1 so we were all really happy.

IMG_3206

Claire’s trip to Torres del Paine, Tierra del Fuego & Bariloche

Claire returned in December from a Full Circuit in Torres del Paine, followed by a Montes Martial Circuit in Tierra del Fuego, and a Hut to Hut hike in Bariloche. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

How was your Full Circuit in Torres del Paine?

I did the Torres del Paine Full Circuit from the 9th to the 15th of November and it was a fantastic trek. The weather was sometimes a bit harsh but the park was so stunning it didn’t really matter – And I guess it is all part of the Torres del Paine experience. We were also very lucky on some days with a beautiful blue sky.

IMG_3125 IMG_3026

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole week was very well organised by Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine, and our guide (Armando) was really good: very professional, very knowledgeable about the fauna, flora, history of the park and mountaineering expeditions, caring and a very good cook! I did really have a great time there and would like to thank you for putting me in touch with them.

IMG_3010

IMG_3061

 

 

 

 

 

How was your Montes Martial Circuit in Tierra del Fuego?

Likewise, the Montes Martial trek in Tierra del Fuego with Swoop’s partners in Ushuaïa was great. It was just Cathy (another swoop customer!) who did the Torres del Paine trek with me, along with the guide and the porter.

IMG_3393

We didn’t see anyone during 3 days and we had great fun hiking and camping in the snow. The views were stunning, almost like black and white pictures. Once again, they took great care of us.

IMG_3467

IMG_3413

How was your Hut to Hut Hike in Bariloche?

My last trek in Bariloche, was very good as well. As far as I understood, the other people from the group cancelled, but your partners in Bariloche still ran the trip for me. So it was just the guide and myself up in the mountains.

IMG_4430

There was still snow at the time we were there and before the trip they were not sure we would be able to go through the pass. They planned a plan B in case we couldn’t cross. Once again the organization was very good, with good food, a very knowledgeable and responsible guide. I was very lucky too with perfect weather for 4 days.

IMG_4384

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

I am very grateful to the Swoop team. From the very first e-mail I sent to you asking for some tips for traveling in Patagonia, right up to the end of my trip, you were full of resources and able to offer me very good trekking options. Your suggestion of the Navimag ferry was also a very good option for me to get from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. I had been traveling for 2 months already at that time (one month in Peru and one month from North Chile down to Puerto Montt) and it was a nice change from the bus. I would definitely recommend swoop Patagonia to friends and family.

IMG_3252

What was the highlight of your trip?

Overall my trip was amazing. I don’t know which part was the highlight. I still have my head full of incredible landscape and it’s a bit hard to come back to reality… The 3 treks were great – well “great” is weak. “Stunning” is more appropriate. They were very different from each other but all incredible. I think Hut-to–Hut was the most technical and the hardest of the 3 (the 3rd and 4th days were quite intense with some very steep climbs and descents). The full circuit was generally moderate, with the day of the John Gardner pass quite difficult (especially the first 2 hours down after the pass). The hardest thing in Torres del Paine is the weather that keeps changing. Montes Martial was very wild and very enjoyable. We didn’t see anyone else for 3 days!

IMG_3210

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Patagonia?

I managed to go to El Calafate and El Chalten where I did some stunning day hikes. I also visited Puerto Madryn and Piramides as well as Esquel (el parque de los Alerces is beautiful). I finished my trip with a week in the Salta region and a few days in Buenos Aires. I am planning to go back to Patagonia in the next few years to explore more the central part I haven’t been able to see and to the Bariloche area to climb a few peaks :) I wish I could have stayed longer in this region… Thank you very much for all the support, help and tips!

IMG_3206

 

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.

nui steve 3

Nui & Steve’s Hikes in Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares

Nui & Steve returned in November from a trip to Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our local partners…

‘Chloe, Luke & Sally were really helpful. We would recommend Swoop to our friends looking to have such a great experience like us’

nui steve 1

How were Swoop’s local partners in Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares?

Both of your partners were great. We really impressed with one of the Torres del Paine team who picked us up at the bus station in Puerto Natales with Justin (our guide) and also dropped us off at the bus station afterwards. After arriving, we had a meeting with Justin at the restaurant across from our hostel, and straight away knew we were going to be in good hands.

How did you enjoy your itineraries? 

Our itinerary was awesome! I’m glad that we started the first leg in Torres Del Paine. The part that we loved the most was our second day hiking Oggioni Pass. Swoop’s Torres del Paine partner provided an additional guide for us- it was the hardest day but it turned out to be the most memorable of our entire trip.

nui steve 3

How were your guides?

Our guides for our first few days in Chile were Justin and Niko- they were the best ever. They were extremely safe and knowledgeable, and assisted me with some scary river crossings by helping me with my pack, and reassuring me. For the remainder of our trip, we had a guide called Justin who was also very accommodating. My boyfriend has dietary restrictions, so he ended up cooking food in two batches every time we stayed at the campsite, which was very helpful.

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

Yes, we would love to change one thing; take four days off the beaten path and skip walking on Viedma Glacier. The boat ride was fun, but it was too touristy which is not our cup of tea.

nui steve 4

What was the highlight of your trip? 

I can’t really pick one highlight because they were so many :-)  Everything was so memorable; stunning views, drinking refreshing glacier water, seeing Glacier Grey after reaching the summit of Paso John Gardner, seeing Viedma Glacier after Paso Del Viento, a gorgeous day at the French Valley…

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

Be prepared to hike in very strong wind conditions, and accept not being able to predict the weather. Make yourself physically fit for what you have signed up for, ensure you bring the proper gear.

nui steve 6

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

Yes, we spent 3 days in Buenos Aires before flying back to the States, there are tons of good restaurants there! 

Thanks a million to Chloe, Luke, Sally & the rest of the Swoop staff for helping us organise such a memorable trip. We can’t wait to go back to do more trip like hiking across the glacier!

nui steve 2

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