Tag Archives: Trekking

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. One of the group said she’d never walked in deep, soft snow before….she kept sinking in…and we ended up carrying her backpack. Again, she persevered – all credit to her – but I can think of others who might have said “enough is enough”, and that would have ruined the trip for the whole group. 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.

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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.

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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’!

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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!!

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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. 

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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.

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What could Swoop have done differently?

Overall I was happy with everything.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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%.’

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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!

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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.

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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.

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‘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.’

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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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Marcel’s 3 day Winter Trek in Torres del Paine

Marcel returned in May from a 3 day Winter Trek in Torres del Paine National Park. Here he tells us a little about his trip, and his experiences in booking with Swoop and our partners…

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What was the highlight of the trip?

The highlight was our second day hike to the base of the Towers! This was supposed to be day one, but horizontal hail and gale force like winds made us change the itinerary and stay low the first day (good decision!).

How were your guides on the trip?

The guide (Carlos) was great, very good English, nice, knew great hikes, would want to have him as guide again in a heartbeat. All in all 3 great days.

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Is there anything you would have liked to happen differently?

If we had to choose something, it would probably be the accommodation. We experienced some troubles with hot water and heating, which was not ideal after returning from a day’s hiking in very cold temperatures! Compared to the very high level of everything else on the tour, this was the only area that fell a little short I think.

Overall…

Overall we had a very good time, beautiful park, nature absolutely great, transport there and back, all very well organized. We’d like to come back next year!

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Sam’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

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

What was the highlight of your trip?

The geography I witnessed on my 5 day W Trek in Torres del Paine was absolutely stunning. Trekking through the rolling hills and craggy mountains for hours a day was an incredible experience. I never tired because I was constantly struck and energised by the beauty of its nature.

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

Yes – Santiago, Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

How well did Swoop Patagonia do helping you plan your holiday, and finding the best trip or operator for you?

You guys were great! Thank you for everything!

How were our partners who ran the trek, and how were their guides on the trip?

They were great. Carlos was an excellent, informed and thoughtful guide. He made the experience unforgettable.

Was there anything that you wish had happened differently/or not happened at all?

Nope!

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

It’s no joke when they say you could experience four seasons in one day – pack layers!

Also, I stayed an extra couple nights to see penguins and Punta Arenas is a bit of a sleepy town. Could have done just one there.

Nada’s W Trek in Torres del Paine

Nada returned in February from a W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop were very quick to reply to emails and provided very helpful information!

Did you enjoy your 5 day W Trek itinerary?

On the first day of our 5 day W Trek I would have preferred if we walked a little more than two hours, for example it might have been nice to walk into the park (rather than travelling in by bus), or to start very early in the morning on one of the days so that we could have seen the sunset/ escape the crowds. I understand  however that such alterations would probably depend on the preferences of the other people in the group as well.

How were your guides on the trip?

Victor was a chilled & a nice guy. He was able to provide very good information about Flora & Fauna, you could tell he knows the area well. There were a few moments where I got the feeling he has been doing it for a very long time and is a little bit fed up with it…

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

Yes, I had another two weeks to travel in Chile.

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

You need to book bus ticket in advance – luckily Swoop and their partners in Torres del Paine told me that and booked everything for me! That was a great service!

Roy’s Self Guided W Trek in Torres del Paine

Roy returned in February from a Self Guided W Trek in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on his trip, and in booking through Swoop and our partners…

First of all everything went well and the whole trip was beyond expectations… and I have been lucky enough to have travelled a bit.

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How did Swoop and our partners do in helping you plan and arrange your trip?

The next day when I arrived at your partners’ offices in Puerto Natales, they had all the paper work done, I received my vouchers, and they then explained the itinerary to me very clearly using a map. After that I was on my own, which is what I wanted.

I left my big bag at the hostel and only took with me to Torres what I would require over the next few days, again from when I arrived in the National park until I left everything went so easy, no complications whatsoever.

The process of going through Swoop Patagonia and their partner in Puerto Natales was effortless and if I ever had any queries they were dealt with swiftly.roy scobie 3

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was the unique scenery and taking it all in, I was lucky to have met people from various countries and every one of them now I would call friends.

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

I went up to San Pedro de Atacama for a week and in hindsight I should not have bothered, it was good and I got a lot out of it, but apart from a couple of places if you want to go anywhere then you had to go by bus or four wheel drive and everywhere you went there were hundreds of people, you never had much control and sometimes like one of those tourist packages not my thing.

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

If I was to give anyone any advice I would say do the longer tour around Torres, go West to East I went East to West, if you go West to East you see the views and give yourself a couple of days more in case you have bad weather then you can go back and see what you have missed at your leisure.

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