Tag Archives: Trekking

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Adam’s Trek, Kayak & Ice Hike in Torres del Paine

Adam returned in April 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?

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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John & Pene’s trip to Torres del Paine

John & Pene returned in February from a 5 week trip to Chile and Argentina, during which they spent 5 days exploring Torres del Paine National Park from an eco camp on the edge of the National Park. Here they tell us about their experiences on this trip, and in booking through Swoop and our partners…

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of our entire trip was definitely Torres del Paine and our time in the eco camp.

Summer arrived with us and we spent three days hiking in perfect weather. Paine is truly stunning, not just the rocks, but also the enormity of the space and the big, big skies.

How was your stay at the eco camp?

We felt sure we made the right choice in this eco camp, which was a lovely place: the yurts were perfect and the guides’ enthusiasm and passion for the park was infectious.

The food was good, though not exceptional, and it was a pleasure to have good wines and beers readily available. It was also a pleasure to meet and enjoy the company of other guests in small groups, and we felt that four nights/three days was probably the right length of time.

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

Your advice was spot on and your administration was responsive and efficient.

Thanks also by the way for the ‘buffs’ which were awaiting our return and which will I am sure come in useful when I walk the West Highland Way later in the year.

Is there anything you would have liked to happen differently?

The main downside, which I know you recognise, is the distance you have to travel both in getting there and once you are there. I did the base of the towers, the horns and the condor cliff and each day I spent a minimum of 4 hours in transit. The situation is made worse this year because they are repairing the road, which means it is closed for large parts of the day and we had to return on a more circuitous route. Being driven through the park is no great hardship but it is disappointing when you have spent so much time, money and effort getting down there not to be able to spend more time in outdoor activities. For anyone spending more than 4 nights there they probably need to think of some alternative activities closer to hand around the Camp itself or on the outskirts of the park.

Another area of some confusion and frustration was in the timing of pick-ups. We were told we would be picked up at Puerto Natales at 5.30pm, then at 5.00pm and in the event they arrived at 4.00pm when we were out. We were not alone in having such difficulties, others complained of worse. Given that time in the Camp is so precious this is one area where they need to make improvements in their arrangements.

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Patagonia Trekking: April Update

We have a number of people asking about treks in April and with fewer scheduled departures going on at this time in the ‘shoulder’ season we thought it might be helpful to share details of a few guaranteed trips, and a few provisional trips going on.

 April is in the Austral Autumn so you can expect shorter days, and cooler temperatures but also fantastic autumn colours and fewer people in the national parks.

Where dates are provisional please do let us know if they might be of interest and if it would be helpful to move the trip forward or backward by a couple of days.

In Torres del Paine…

Thomas cochrane Winter W The following W Trek trips are confirmed and guaranteed:

  1.  Original W Trek, 5 days, starting on 15th April from Puerto Natales
  2.  This ‘eco’ camp option, 7 days, starting on 7th, 14th and 21st April.

We also have some provisional dates where private groups might be open to others joining, or we have people interested but are yet to guarantee the group…

  1. W trek, with an off-the-beaten-track twist (12th-17th Apr) and a 2 day kayak trip (18-19th April)  - a pretty challenging expedition, only for experienced outdoors people.
  2. Original W Trek, 5 days, starting 29th March and 22nd April.

Please see our Map of Torres del Paine

In El Chalten/FitzRoy Massif…

Ali Habbtar Viedma Glacier from Paso Huemul

The following trip is confirmed and guaranteed…

  1. Los Glaciares experience with a visit to the Perito Moreno glacier, day hikes and ice hiking on the Viedma glacier, from 7th to 11th April.

We also have some provisional dates where private groups might be open to others joining, or we have people interested but are yet to guarantee the group…

  1.  A challenging 3-4 day trek along lines of http://www.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/huemul-circuit/ in the first/second week of April.
  2.  A longer but equally challenging 6-7 day trek along lines of http://www.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/complete-chalten-trek/from 12th – 18th April.

Please see our Map of El Chalten.

Polly’s Honeymoon Hiking the Full Circuit in Torres del Paine!

Polly and her husband spent part of their honeymoon in Patagonia in November 2013, where they joined a 9 day Full Circuit Trek based from an eco camp in Torres del Paine National Park. Here Polly tells us about her experiences…

What was the highlight of your trip to Patagonia?

Trekking the back section of the Torres del Paine Full Circuit trip, where we camped next to icebergs and saw no one other than our group, guides and porters for 3 days. It was such a beautiful place, and was such a shock when we hit the main W trek to find there were other people there!

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

If you’re up for a walk make sure you choose the Full Circuit of the Torres del Paine rather than the W trek. If you have porters carrying the majority of your gear, like we did, then it’s not a difficult walk at all.

Be prepared for rain – but know that if it rains solidly for 3 days it’s not possible to stay dry, no matter how much you spent on your Gortex outer wear! And invest in a down jacket – it gets seriously cold at night!

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

With the combination of Chloe and Luke really well! They were helpful, responsive and knowledgeable.

How did you find the operator on the ground?

Excellent – I’m always paranoid about transfers and missing connections but really didn’t have to worry as they had everything organised!

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

The food at the refugio’s was terrible – I mean really terrible (and I eat anything!). And tiny, we’re talking 23 cornflakes for breakfast (yes, I did count them!) – so better food would have been nice…and a little less rain!

Stephen’s Independent W Trek & Visit to Ushuaia & Los Glaciares

Stephen returned in early January from a trip to Patagonia that included a visit to Ushuaia, a Self Guided W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, and a trip to see Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. Here he tells us about his experiences…

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was visiting Perito Merino Glacier. It was one of the most awe inspiring things I have seen.

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

My itinerary included, in this order, Ushusia, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and El Calafate

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

Swoop Patagonia was extremely helpful. I would highly recommend Swoop Patagonia to anyone considering a trip to Patagonia. Swoop helped make the best use of my time and also helped me identify the must things to do.

How were the operators we put you in contact with in Torres del Paine and Ushuaia?

The operator in Torres del Paine was excellent. Their service was spot on. They were very organized and kept me well informed. The accommodations they arranged for me were perfect. Everything went as planned.

The Ushuaia Operator was also very good. Great guides – very knowledgeable, enjoy their jobs, lots of fun and great food. You cannot go wrong recommending them to future clients.

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

This is not your fault; it’s totally on me but I wish I knew I needed the Reciprocity Form completed and paid for before I left home. I was not allowed to board the plane to Buenos Aries without. I Lost a day of my trip because of it. I thought I could pay for it when I arrived. I now see this is mentioned on your website but with so much coming at me I did not see it.

Thank you so much for your help. My trip was an excellent experience. You saved me much time and the trip flowed beautifully. After I arrived I could relax and just go with the flow as a result of your help.

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Doris’ Family Trekking and Kayaking Adventure in Torres del Paine

Doris and her family recently returned from a Full Circuit Trek in Torres del Paine, from which they kayaked out of Torres del Paine National Park back to Puerto Natales. On their travels they also did some independent trekking around Los Glaciares National Park and spent a few days in Buenos Aires. Here Doris tells us about their experiences and shares some fantastic photos from their trip…

Doris Glacier

How was your trip?

Excellent. It was an unforgettable experience.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Patagonia on your trip? 

We spent 3 days in El Chalten exploring Fitzroy before heading down to Torres del Paine. We previously spent 3 days in Buenos Aries which were also brilliant.

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

Your advice was spot on in terms of highlighting the attractions of two exceptional areas and the walking and kayaking were outstanding experience. 

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How were the local operators Swoop referred you to?

In the end we decided to arrange our activities around Fitzroy independently, but did call in to one of your partners’ office to say hello and try and arrange a climbing guide and they were very helpful. Given our extensive previous trekking experience, we probably wouldn’t have benefitted very much additionally from the involvement of a guide from a basic trekking perspective and would imagine they would possibly be more helpful for inexperienced travellers or those wishing to arrange more specific activities such as climbing or glacier treks or possibly mountain biking or horse riding. 

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Your partners in Torres del Paine provided excellent guides and service (Lucas for the Classic Full Circuit Trek, and Chappa for the kayaking). I would say that the enjoyment of the activities is certainly dependent on previous experience and weather and is not straightforward if the former is limited and the latter is bad. Mike and I managed to capsize our kayak in front of the Serrano Glacier in a gust of wind and, whilst all ended well and we considered it an exhilarating experience, that might not have been the case if our children had both been as inexperienced as us and also capsized!

Doris kAYAKING buffs

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

Not really, other than wishing to have more time (and money) to explore Tierra del Fuego as well.

Another small detail was that pick-ups at the beginning and end of our time in Torres del Paine didn’t work and we had to find our own way to the operator’s offices, and to the airport afterwards. This was probably the fault of their taxi agent but is still something they need to improve on.

Doris Man Glacier

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

The activities are not entirely straightforward and some additional pre-screening and/or preparation might be advisable – in our case a few hours familiarisation with kayaking might have helped avoid some slightly worrying moments. However all’s well that ends well and it was an unforgettable experience.

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