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Tony’s Patagonia experience

Tony came back from spending almost a month in Patagonia traveling through some extraordinary landscape on the way, here he gives us his thoughts on his time in the region.

Tony’s Feedback

Overall the trip went perfectly. Everything happened as it was supposed to. The route work really well with hardly any travelling back over the same ground, and the amount of time in each part was just right. Although I think you could have done better with the weather it was actually a lot better than I had been expecting from the forecasts just beforehand. It was a great trip and I really wouldn’t have changed anything. Thank you so much.

Tony’s Itinerary

Tony flew into Buenos Aires Airport and headed straight to Los Glaciares National Park, where he took a mixture and guided and self guided day hikes from the mountain town of El Chalten.

He then headed to El Calafate to visit the stunning Perito Moreno glacier before getting ready to embark on the Full Circuit trek in Torres del Paine National Park.

While trekking through the park Tony stayed in supported camping at different points on the full circuit trail, taking him through the Ascencio Valley , around Lake Paine , following the Los Perros river before hiking alongside the Grey Glacier and ending up back in the French Valley and spending a night in the Hotel Rio Serrano. After all that hiking it was time to hit the water and paddle to the serrano waterfall and to the Serrano Glacier for a BBQ lunch.

Next up was a desert adventure in the Salar Atacama, the driest desert in the world, which is surrounded by imposing volcanoes and is home to unexpected wildlife like flamingos and other birds. While in the Salar Atacama he visited the geothermal fields that are flanked by soaring peaks, as well as visiting several towns and villages.

After the harshness of the desert it was back to Buenos Aires to  for a city tour before heading back home.

Below, Tony tells us some more about his trip…

How did you find travelling during your trip?

All BA flights were great. Comfortable, excellent staff/service, reasonably good food, great choice of films. I do think you should advise travellers to check in online beforehand as I didn’t know to do this and therefore had no choice of seat. All Internal flights were fine and on time.

My Bus journey to Salta wa s great. Thanks so much for getting me the good seats – so comfortable – could have stayed on for another 10 hours, watching the stunning scenery pass by. The buses always provided good views and a nice drive but they did feel rather slow. A top tip is to stop at the info centres that help you get orientated by taking short walks.

How did you find your hiking expeditions? 

I really enjoyed the 3 day walks – Day one in Tumbado, day 2 at Fitzroy (which was guided) and day 2 Torres del Paine.

Swoop’s partners in Los Glaciares were amazing – lovely staff and the guide was excellent on my walk.

My Torres del Paine trek was most excellent despite some poor weather. We were lucky to have great views of the towers as we approached them and great views in and from the French Valley on our last day.

The trip to the Lagoons and Geyser in the Atacama were okay but I think it would be better to try and do all of this type of stuff in one day and with an English speaking group. The bus was late picking us up for the geyser trip, and then broke down en route so we almost missed the geyser activity.

What were the other excursions on your trip like?

I went on quite a few different activities while in Patagonia.

In the Atacama, we went Mountain Biking to Death Valley one afternoon and Moon Valley the next morning, which was a lot of fun and we missed all of the crowds. Horse riding was amazing and I absolutely loved it. We rode 5 hours along and up to and over Death Valley then over the cliff and down the sand dunes. I had only been on a horse for 2 hours walking on the flat before but I was really pleased to be doing something so exciting and there were some incredible views. Some people may have wanted prior warning that the path up is narrow, strewn with boulders with vertical drop down one side… but for me it was better that I didn’t know!

My time in Torres del Paine was full of highs and lows. On the Full Circuit, it was just the guide (Jose) and myself- Jose was great and really got me through the trip. The conditions in exposed areas felt somewhat hairy, so it could be worth warning travellers might have been concerned about this. Again, it was best for me that I didn’t know beforehand, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. It was tranquil, traumatic, challenging, and exciting all in one!

At night,  Jose did me proud with his food preparation and we had a lovely evening even though it rained. The boat trip back to Natales was fine but weather was poor so not quite what it could have been otherwise.

My time in the city of Buenos Aires was lovely. I thought on the way through that it really would not be my sort of place, but on my way back at the end of the trip I loved walking around there. I particularly enjoyed the marina area, waterfront parks  and the Eco Park and it was all helped by the lovely weather.

Dave’s Chalten to Ushuaia Adventure

Dave’s Chalten to Ushuaia Adventure

Dave returned in March 2015 from a trip to Patagonia that included a 13 day road trip from El Chalten to Ushuaia via Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners, along with some incredible photos!

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Cerro Fotzroy and Cerro Torre in the distance

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop Patagonia have an excellent website, full of ideas for places to visit and activities to do.

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King Penguins, Tierra del Fuego

I found it slightly odd that, unlike some other adventure holiday operators I’ve used, Swoop acted purely as agents for the ground agents in Patagonia, providing advice and information, before introducing me directly to the ground agents for my chosen trip. Nonetheless, it was great working with them and lovely to receive their pre-trip gift!

[NB. Swoop works in two different ways depending on the needs of our clients and the complexities of their trips. Sometimes we introduce people directly to our ground partners in Patagonia (as was the case for Dave), and on other occasions we take people’s bookings all the way through from start to finish. Here’s some more information on How We Work.]

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Viedma Glacier

Would you recommend us to family/ friends planning a trip to Patagonia?

Yes, I would definitely point anyone considering visiting Patagonia to your website.

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How were Swoop’s partners in Argentina?

Generally they were very good. We had one or two panics over dates and hotels when it came to arranging extra days before and after the tour, but they got things sorted out pretty

quickly. The extras were worthwhile time-wise and accommodation very comfortable.

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Glacier Viedma

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Glacier Viedma

How were your itinerary and guides?

The itinerary was brilliant and the guides very professional.

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

I would have liked the chance to see the Magellanic Penguins near Punta Arenas, maybe with 1 night in Puerto Natales.

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Guanaco, Torres del Paine

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Rhea

What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlights of my trip were:

-Getting within 20m of a Puma

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Puma stalking foxes near Hotel Las Torres

-Watching lumps falling off Perito Moreno Glacier

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Perito Moreno Glacier Calving

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-A gorgeous autumn day hiking up to Laguna de los Tres (alone)

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Cerro Torre Summit

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Cerro Fitzroy from Laguna Capri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Lovely weather for trips on both the Beagle Channel and Magellan Strait.

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Sea Lions in the Beagle Channel

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Commerson’s Dolphin – Magellan Strait

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

I didn’t visit anywhere else, Buenos Aires aside, but certainly would love to go back to tour the north-west and visit Iguassu.

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Cuernos del Paine from Lago Pehoe

Patagonia on the Web – April 2015

Patagonia on the Web – April 2015

Swoop’s choice of Patagonia finds online this month.

Swoop’s favourite photographs:

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Swoop’s own Sally visited Patagonia this month and while out there tweeted this great photograph of her arriving at Monumento Natural El Morado.
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The Calbuco volcano erupted unexpectedly this month. There are some incredible images of this terrifying and fascinating natural occurrence all over Twitter.  @marichivalero posted this one of calm waters in the foreground as plumes of smoke rise from the volcano. 

10523603_919103111443325_2869941613572156927_nLove this picture by Nicolas Prompt taken after drinking  the tea in Chloe casa de Te, Ushuaia, can’t think of anywhere better for a tea break. 

Blog’s of the month:
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Raul from iLovetotravel wrote a great blog about his experience visiting the Perito Moreno glacier in 2015 compared to 2010.

cruceros penguinsCustomers often ask us about different ways to travel between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas so we have written a helpful blog with some great ideas for the journey.

 If you  want more information like this about a trip to Patagonia,  contact us today. 

Patagonia On The Web – March 2015

Patagonia On The Web – March 2015

Swoop’s choice of Patagonia finds online this month.

Swoop’s  favourite Photographs.

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Swoop’s own Harriet Pike has been over in Patagonia meeting with our partners and meeting potential new ones.
She took this great shot of a moody sky over Fitzroy on the
Laguna Torre day hike.

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This ‘Fox on the rocks’ was National Geographic’s photo of the day on the 12th March. This clever fox was picking up scraps of food that tourists had left behind and was taken by Irina C.
Screenshot (49)alanxelmundo on Twiter put this snap of a atmospheric sunrise of over Torres del Paine. What an amazing start to a  day.

Blog’s of the month:

 journeyby.com

lakepaineGreat blog post detailing some of the best hikes available in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego and the practicalities of doing so.
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Travel journalist @SarahDuff put up some incredible photo’s of her 4 month adventure through South America and a great in-depth look at her time in Patagonia, these are essential reads for anyone thinking about Patagonia as their next travel destination.

If you are interested in these hikes or following in Duff’s suitcase’s footsteps , get in touch and we can organise a great itinerary for you.

Patagonia on the Web – February 2015

Patagonia on the Web – February 2015

 

Swoop’s roundup of all things Patagonian across the web this month.

 Swoop’s favourite Photographs:

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Anna Mazurek (@travellikeanna) is a travel photographer and blogger who recently ticked Patagonia off her bucket list. She has some great photo’s of her adventures on her Twitter, including this one of a rather unusual guy she brought with her to the  Perito Moreno Glacier.

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Adventure motorcyclist Mark Mackoviak (@Not_a_Sherpa), posted photo’s to his twitter of his 2014 adventure in Patagonia.
They really give an insight into what it’s like to ride through the Patagonian landscape.

Blog of the month:

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‘What Patagonia is not’  from the REI blog,  gives a great snapshot of why you would choose  Patagonia.
If you are thinking of travelling to the region this will answer most of your questions and if you would like to find out more get in touch with us! 

Patagonia on the web – January 2015

Patagonia on the web – January 2015

Swoop’s roundup of all things Patagonian across the web this month.

Swoop’s favourite photographs:

Torres-del-Paine-7-940x1285This great photograph of Men on horseback traveling across the Valle del Francés is from  @MatadorNetwork‘s photographic tour of Torres del Paine. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 15.34.00 Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 15.34.15Both these photographs were taken by @patraveleditor when she went on a Patagonian adventure with us, where she was lucky enough to spot a puma. f6ba4299500e783dd86a5eaa7fddacfcWe found this beautiful shot on Pinterest. Crazy Land, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina, by Greg Boratyn @GregBoratyn

Blog of the week: puma5-940x626The Matador network wrote a great piece about puma trackingcompete with some impressive photographs of the experience.

Meet Harriet, the newest member of the Swoop team.

Meet Harriet, the newest member of the Swoop team.

Harriet joined the Swoop team this month. She has cycled, trekked and mountaineered her way through the entirety of the southern Andes and is now working with Sally and Luke to help customers plan and arrange great holidays to Patagonia. 

What inspired you to travel South America? 

I guess stories about South America have always struck a chord with me. My mother’s family lived in Valparaiso, Chile when she was a toddler and my uncle always told stories of learning to ride with gauchos in Chile. Then my parents visited Chile when I was 14 and I loved the stories they told on their return and I wanted to visit too. So I started to plan and save up for a trip to Patagonia which I made when I was 18. This was my first real wilderness experience and my first taste of trekking. I loved it and have spent as much time as possible in the outdoors (particularly the greater ranges) ever since.

I was inspired to return to South America in 2009 by the tales of Janne Corax, a Swedish mountaineer, cycling to and climbing peaks in the Andes and by John Biggar’s excellent guide to climbing Andean peaks. I too wanted to cycle to and climb those peaks!

IMGTrekking near Carretera Austral 2002

What is it that you love so much about Patagonia?

There are few places on Earth where nature is still in control but Patagonia is one of them. It is a place where you feel you have to respect nature because of the scale of the landscape, the constantly changing weather and the way it makes you feel very small and inconsequential. There are huge swathes of Patagonia where no one has been and I find that very exciting and want to explore every corner of it. I love the diversity and beauty of the landscapes from the slightly magical (and probably fairy filled) beech forest, to the immense glaciers and dramatic towers of granite, to the open Argentinian steppe.

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What was your favourite Patagonian experience?

In 2009 I set out from Rio de Janeiro on bicycle with my husband Neil. It took 3 months to reach the Patagonian Andes crossing mostly flat open pampa and agricultural land. Suddenly in the distance the monotony of the skyline was broken by a thin line of white snow mountains on the horizon. We had reached the Andes. We whooped and started to sing as the ground became more and more undulating. Then a huge white cone that seemed to stand much higher than the rest appeared on the skyline. We cycled towards Volcan Lanin for a couple of days, fell in love with it and decided we must climb it. We rented mountaineering gear and pedalled off with several days food towards the peak. Stashing our bikes at the bottom, we pulled on our boots and set off for a mountain shelter high on the volcano. The next morning we started early before the sun had risen so that the snow would be firm under our crampons. As the sun came up all the lakes of the lake district on both sides of the border began to shimmer orange and endless peaks came into view. Warmed by the sun and cheered by the views we reached the blustery summit at all the conical volcanoes around us. Wow, looking down at Patagonia laid below me is a sight that I will never forget.

With Lanin in the bag, a 2000m descent and a 60km cycle back to civilisation was all that stood in front of us and a huge hunk of Argentinian steak and bottle of vino. We legged it down the mountain, cycled back to town and arrived just after dark. That steak tasted amazing!

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Do you have a favourite place in Patagonia

My favourite town is probably Chalten. There are few towns with that magnificent setting and that you can leap out of a cosy bed and be under hanging glaciers in time for lunch.

My favourite area is probably Aysen. There is a remote, rustic, end of the word vibe there that you don’t get in the more touristy areas of Patagonia. The people are wonderfully down to earth and they don’t seem to need much of an excuse to have an asado (lamb BBQ). The views from the Carretera Austral are stunning with General Carerra lake and Parque Queulat particularly memorable but there is also some beautiful hiking that lies just off the road that is often overlooked and is a haven for those looking for off the beaten path hikes. I also have a soft spot for Aysen because it is where I discovered real wilderness for the first time and where I met my husband.

I also love Lanin National Park, north of San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina and in particular Lago Quillen.

Patagonia on the Web – 8th August

Patagonia on the Web – 8th August

Swoop’s roundup of all things Patagonian across the web this week.

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 16.25.10Mt FitzRoy – Greg Boratyn
‏@GregBoratyn takes wonderfully colourful shots of Patagonia that look at how the changing light effects the landscape. You can take a look at the rest of his work at his website.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 16.34.28@dbustosp posted this fantastic photo of Lago grey on his instagram account along with some awesome shots of Torres del Paine. 
Find out more about Largo Grey .

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Glacier lake by night ~Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
The light on this  shot by  PanTwentySix on Flicker is amazing. Follow on twitter @Aquafloater

Swoop’s blog of the week:
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Climber Alex Honnold on the Fitz Traverse; Photograph by Tommy Caldwell
National Geographic Beyond the Edge blog.
Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell talk about their  “Extreme Backpacking” on Patagonia’s Fitz Traverse.

Follow in their footsteps and plan your own Fitz Traverse adventure. 

Patagonia on the Web – 17th July

Patagonia on the Web – 17th July

Swoop’s roundup of all things Patagonian across the web this week.

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:.

Patagonia-POTM-June-2014-Artur-Stanisz-620x422landscapephotographymagazine.com June winner was this stunning shot of Torres del Paine by Artur Stanisz from Canada

tumblr_n8upsqeke51sqdai9o1_500We stumbled on this picture on Twitter from  http://bonchant.tumblr.com/. Gives the atmosphere of what travelling around Torres del Paine is like with a fantastic view around each corner. 
3d47e68710a5f184a807256fea75272eLove this shot from the street’s of San Telmo found on Pinterest San Telmo, Test 1 by Moises Torne on Flickr

Swoop’s blog of the week:

obeliskManda’s blog about her unexpected trip to Buenos Aires really captures how great the city is even if you haven’t planned going there originally.

Read our very own Sally Dodge’s views on the vibrant city of Buenos Aires .

Swoop’s Article of the week:
Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 16.42.44Great piece from Ben Lerwill on patagonia for National Geographic this month talking about his  trip in Tierra del Fuego.

If you are interested in this kind of trip take a look at our Austalis Cruises and our Patagonian cruise page to find an adventure right for you .

Patagonia on the web 27th June

Patagonia on the web 27th June

Swoop’s roundup of all things Patagonian across the web this week.

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:

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Some great photographs that celebrate Torres del Paine in winter.
Ice Monsters by loris van Breugel
Gigantic icebergs drift on Lago Grey on a calm morning in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, with a view of Paine Grande in the distance.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 17.28.05Great black and white mood shot from @AdamBarkerPhoto on Twitter taken while fly fishing in Torres del Paine .
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This great floral shot is from @UnevenSidewalks blog post Torres del Paine: 5 Days of Incredible Trekking

Swoop’s blog of the week:

This week’s blog of the week is jimmyeatsworld’s Fifteen images that will make you go to Patagonia.
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“If somebody mentions landscape photography, my immediate thoughts shoot back to October/November 2013 when I made my first visit to the Patagonia region. It was to be the pinnacle of my adventures in Latin America and it sure didn’t disappoint. From the moment we arrived to Colombia and the start of the Andes mountain range, the landscapes just got better and better the further south I went.”

If they inspire you to start planning a Patagonia trip where you can take just as stunning photographs, talk to Swoop about our photography cruises.