Tag Archives: Trekking

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Chantal’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Chantal returned in January from a Full Circuit in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

I had the most fantastic adventure in Torres del Paine! THANK YOU!

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How was your experience of booking with Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop Patagonia was great in informing and accommodating me with a local operator and finding a suitable group for my level of hiking. The website also had abundant information about travel to and around Chile. They also send you a very thoughtful pre-adventure gift :) I would recommend anyone to go through them!

How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine?

Their itinerary was great! The half guided, half self guided circuit I took was planned to be completed in 7 days. The days were ver

y long but it was definitely achievable and worked with my short travel schedule.

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How was your guide on the W portion of the Trek?

The guide (Dorthe) was wonderful providing lots of info about the park (natural history, geology and political history). We got snowed out on our second last day and could not make it through the pass. Dorthe was very good about accommodating the group so we could keep going to finish the circuit instead of turning back. It added an extra day to the trip and we had to improvise for food (and pay a little more $) but it was all worth it! I am also very grateful that Dorthe gave me some second skin for my blisters.The porters were just as awesome!

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

If I were to change anything I would do it in 8 or 9 days instead of 7. Eight days is good middle ground for full challenging trekking days without feeling rushed to have to keep going. I would definitely suggest taking more time to enjoy the park and rest :) The scenery is breath-taking!

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlights were the John Gardner pass and the Patagonian winds! Despite the bad weather I am very fortunate and happy that I was able to complete the circuit.

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

I would highly recommend second skin as a necessary first aid item for blisters on the feet. This trek was my first of this length and second skin saved my feet! Also a leash/strap for sunglasses. The wind blew them right off my face and carried them a while. Luckily someone found them and brought them to camp!

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

After Torres del Paine, I took a day tour to Tierra del Fuego to see the King Penguins. My vacation finished with a 5 day stop in Santiago and Valparaiso. Although completely different than the Patagonia region it was good to learn about Chilean history.

It was an amazing trip! THANK YOU!

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Kathy’s Trekking Adventure in 3 Patagonian National Parks

Kathy returned in January 2015 from a trekking adventure in Patagonia during which she hiked in Torres del Paine, Los Glaciares and Tierra del Fuego National Parks. Here she tells us about her experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘I enjoyed all my adventures in Patagonia, it really is a beautiful area and I loved the attitude of the people - the importance of family, food and wine! Thanks so much Chloe for all your efforts in providing me with such a great adventure. It took me 20 years to get there since I first began making plans to visit the region and it was everything and more than I thought it would be.’

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop have excellent contacts in the region and all my travels went smoothly. I am already recommending you to friends! The gift that Swoop sent me for my trip was very useful and I even slept in mine on the Tierra del Fuego trek as it was so much colder there than Torres del Paine.

 How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine?

The Extended Torres del Paine Circuit itinerary I took in Torres del Paine was comprehensive and well organised. I think most of us put on weight on this trek! Eduardo, our guide, was excellent. He knew a lot about the region and felt very strongly about preserving it.  He looked after us really well, knew his first aid (!), and had a great personality and sense of humour.

How were Swoop’s partners in Tierra del Fuego?

We had a few communication difficulties with these partners initially as I was already trekking so was unable to receive emails from them re the next stage of the trip and then I had troubles connecting to emails which further delayed the process. It would have been helpful if information about pick up times was sent out at an earlier date. Otherwise everything on the Crossing Tierra del Fuego trek went well. Matias and Nico were also very good guides and looked after us through rain, snow, bogs, clambering over a million fallen trees, and so on. We LOVED the Hosteria we stayed at on the lake and the family running it were extremely welcoming.

How were Swoop’s partners in Los Glaciares?

Everything for my day hikes in Los Glaciares was well organised once I started and the hotels used were both good, clean ones. The only problem I had was that I had to ask for the details several times before departure. More details on my self guided hike to Fitz Roy would have been useful but then, I didn’t ask the questions either!

What were the highlights of your trip?

Highlights were the people I met all along the way; the first view of Grey Glacier from the pass; the glacier trek on Glacier Grey was absolutely amazing and more so than the one in the Los Glaciares National park; El Calafate and El Chalten with so many restaurant choices. There really were so many amazing sights and I’m really glad I had the time to do the extended circuit of Torres del Paine.

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

I would suggest bringing pesos with you for Torres del Paine treks as they charge a lot more if you use U$ to pay for your wine!

[Read Swoop’s tips on Currency]

Bring a small, easily packable day pack for the two days when you trek up the valleys and aren’t carrying your main backpack.

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.

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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!’

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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!!’

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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!!!

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Jimmy’s Winter W Trek in Torres del Paine

Jimmy returned in early September from a Winter Trek in Torres del Paine National Park. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking through Swoop and our Chilean partners…

What did you think of Swoop Patagonia? 

I found Swoop very helpful and informative in giving me all of the options available, taking into account my preferences and finding the most appropriate tour company and itinerary.

What did you think of Swoop’s partners who ran the W Trek?

Our guide for the trip was excellent, very friendly and knowledgeable, however I was a little disappointed with some of the 3 day Winter W Trek itinerary. This was partly because of the time of year and restrictions on where we could stay in the park (with the refugios not open at the time). I felt that for the price we paid, we didn’t get to see as much of the park as we would have liked to. If I could have done the itinerary myself, I would have chosen to do a lot more hiking or tried to plan the trip a little later, so that we could have done the full W circuit.

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of Torres Del Paine was the first day as we got to do a full day of hiking and got right up to the towers.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

We travelled throughout South America on our trip but nearby we also visited Los Glaciares (El Chalten, El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier), the Lake District in Chile and Argentina (Bariloche, Pucon etc.), which were all fantastic. I very much enjoyed the hiking and scenery in El Chalten.

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

Advice to other travellers would be to try and plan the trip so that you are in the park at the start of the peak season so that you can do the Full Circuit and stay at the refugios.

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.

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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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