Tag Archives: Full_Circuit

Tony’s Patagonia experience

Tony’s Patagonia experience

Tony came back from spending almost a month in Patagonia traveling through some extraordinary landscape on the way. Here he tells us about his experiences in Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine, and the Atacama, and in booking with Swoop Patagonia.

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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. This was a great trip. Really wouldn’t have changed anything. Thank you so much.

Tony’s Itinerary

Tony flew into Buenos Aires Airport and in his first full day did a short day hike in Chalten to get a feel for the place, before embarking on a group guided hike the next day to Laguna de Los tres  where you can take in a breathtaking view of Fitzroy. The next day he made the most of his time there by enjoying a self guided hike.

The next step on his journey was catching a bus to El Calafate to see the stunning Perito Moreno glacier before getting ready to embark on the full circuit trek through Torres del Paine.

While trekking through the park Tony stayed in supported camping at different points on the full circuit.  He enjoyed a route that took 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 where a BBQ lunch was enjoyed.

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Next up on his tour of Patagonia 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.

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

How did you find travelling during your trip?

All BA flights were great. Comfortable, excellent staff/service, reasonably good food, great choice of films. However I do think you should advise travellers to book in online beforehand as I didn’t (know) and had no choice of seat (only me so didn’t matter) BUT it was full on the way out and not having checked in on line meant I was potentially kicked off (there was some discussion before I was let through which I believe was to check if there was enough spaces for me). All Internal flights were fine and on time.

My Bus  journey to Salta was 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 always felt very slow. A top tip though is to stop at the info centres that help you get orientated with walks available.

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How did you find your hiking expeditions? 

I really enjoyed the 3 day walks – Day one in Tumbado, day 2 Fitzroy ( which was guided) and day 2 Torres del Paine. Walk Patagonia were amazing with 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 Lagoons/Trip to Geyser 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 very (over an hour) late picking up for geyser trip and then the bus broke down en route so we almost missed the geyser activity.

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What were the other excursions on your trip like?

I went on quite a few  different activities while in Patagonia. 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. Although maybe punters should be warned that the path up is narrow, strewn with boulders with vertical drop down one side. For me it was better that I didn’t know however.

My trip to Fortaleza was full of highs and lows. I was a bit concerned when found nobody at the office when I first called in as per itinerary instructions but no big deal. The hike was just the guide, Jose, and myself. Jose was great and really got me through the trip. The conditions in exposed areas was very hairy and some travellers might have been concerned that they hadn’t been warned about how it could be. Personally it was best I didn’t know beforehand and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. It was tranquil, traumatic, challenging, and exciting/ Day 2’sa short paddle in the lagoon is a bit oversold I reckon and I opted not to bother. At night however 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.

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My time in the city of Buenos Aires was lovely. On my initial journey through the city,  it really didn’t look like my sort of place but I loved walking around it on my return. I really enjoyed the marina area, waterfront parks and the Eco Park and it was all helped by the lovely weather and some great sightseeing opportunities.

Interested in a Patagonia adventure like Tony’s? Get in touch with us today.

Patrick’s Trekking holiday in Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares

Patrick’s Trekking holiday in Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares

Patrick returned in April from a trekking holiday in Patagonia that included treks in both Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

Thanks for all the help leading up to my trip. It was a fantastic journey and Swoop’s assistance was a great part of making it a success. 

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How were Swoop Patagonia? 

You guys were fantastic. Patagonia is such a big area and it’s kind of intimidating to begin the planning process. But with Swoop’s help, I was able to put a solid travel plan together with ease. I’d say the biggest thing I appreciated was you getting me started with ideas and connecting me with reputable companies in Patagonia. It was like working with a friend who just got back from her own trip.

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How were Swoop’s partners who supported you in Chile and Argentina?

Both were fabulous.

Zoe in El Chalten was amazingly helpful with bus transportation, hiking planning, and just offering advice on how to get the most out of the area. And my guide for the Huemul Circuit, Pablo, was incredible. He was professional, knowledgeable, and helpful in every way. That trek would’ve been much less enjoyable without him guiding us along.

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Similarly, Julieta, my guide for the Torres del Paine Full Circuit trek made that experience greatly enjoyable. She did so many little things, like having her friends make brownies and granola bars for us, that really made the adventure special. I didn’t work with your Chilean partners’ office folks as much, but they were very friendly and helpful when I did interact with them.

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What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight of the trip was the Huemul trek. It was more of a back-country adventure, which I really enjoyed. We pretty much had the trail to ourselves and the terrain was varied and challenging. Plus, the scenery, while perhaps not as famous as Torres del Paine, was still iconic Patagonia. I got pretty lucky with the weather, so I was able to get some great shots!

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Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

I did make it down to Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego and I would say that area is not quite as magical. The hike up Cerro Guanaco in Tierra del Fuego national park was as challenging as any day of hiking I did in Patagonia and offered incredible sights from the top. But other than that, nothing else in that part of the area really amazed me. I suppose part of this could be that I visited Ushuaia after seeing the rest of Patagonia, so maybe I’d recommend people start in Ushuaia and then head elsewhere.

Thanks again for all your help! If there are any websites where I can brag about you guys, let me know.

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Dan & Alina’s Extended Full Circuit

Dan and Alina returned in April 2015 from a Trek in Torres del Paine. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trek and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

All was great . We discovered a universe that needs to be preserved.

What did Swoop do well?

The trip was great – both the Extended Full Circuit itinerary and Swoop’s selection of the best local partner to support us were good. I am actually going to go on a quest to try to convince all of my outdoorsy friends that this is a must do – and categorically recommend Swoop.

What could we have done differently?

The only thing I would suggest (which may work for some others like us who only spend 2 weeks there) would be to advertise a Torres De Paine Full Circuit with an El Chalten leg. This is what we ended up doing, with a night in El Calafate in between. The two places are close enough and it ended up being absolutely the best, since you see  El Chalten (Fitz Roy, Cerro Tore, etc) and the Torres Del Paine Circuit.

The other thing I would suggest is to try to promote the Torres de Paine Full Circuit  more, since it is different (and way better in my opinion) than just the W Trek. There are places like Dickson, Perros, El Paso, the view of Grey Glacier from El Paso that are ‘once in a lifetime’, and a simple W Trek does not include those.

How were Swoop’s partners in Torres del Paine?

They are great – Laura was so great to accommodate a last minute change (quite radical actually, as we wanted to include El Chalten on the Friday before the trip).

How was your guide?

Our guide, Nico, was not only a world class climber, but also ended up being like family! He was very knowledgeable, passionate, and in love with Patagonia. Dario was of the same caliber also- they were some of the best guides we used. We could not have been treated better, honestly.

What was the highlight of your trip? 

For me, every day was special, really. I cannot pinpoint to one unique highlight – Patagonia creates in you a state of inner peace that takes over everything that you experience. Really special.

Did you manage to visit anywhere else on your trip?

The only other part of Argentina we saw was a ½ day in Buenos Aires. Very pretty, highly recommended if you have a long enough layover. And the bus system is so great that you don’t even need to hire taxis from the airport to the city centre, nor to rent a locker in the airport. The bus system offers all, for very very convenient price (we ended up storing our backpacks for a day for 30 Argentinian pesos, both – the equivalent of 3 UDS – not bad for 2 big backpacks!

Thank you again for organising such an amazing trip, it was wonderful indeed.

 

Trekking in Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares

Trekking in Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares

Mark & Nat returned in March 2015 from a trekking holiday in Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

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Would you recommend Swoop to friends, family or colleagues planning a trip to Patagonia?

We would definitely recommend Swoop Patagonia to our family and friends. Your service really helped us weed through the many options available in Patagonia.

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Local knowledge and experience were clear – we really valued being able to tailor an itinerary to suit us, and giving our business to local operators.

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

Both were excellent. Julietta who looked after us on the Full Circuit in Torres del Paine was a stand-out guide, and the team in Chalten was also very helpful when we had to make unplanned changes to our itinerary.

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Our plans changed in Chalten due to an injury incurred along the way, so instead of taking the Huemul Circuit, we ended up staying three nights in a house on the Los Huemules reserve. This was an excellent alternative – we were able to self-cater and go for day walks, and it got us out of El Chalten (for a change).  Worth offering to other clients in the future.

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The Laguna del Diablo day walk was especially enjoyable, and Aguas Arriba lodge was a great suggestion for a luxurious wind-down base.

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What would you have changed about your trip? 

Perhaps travelling later in the season (we were there mid Feb) – the number of people in Torres del Paine and scale of the refugios was a little overwhelming. We were very pleased that we did the Full Circuit instead of just the W Trek for this reason.

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There also seemed to be a bit of a communication gap between the trekking and kayaking companies in Torres del Paine re what gear to bring. This was resolved quickly but could have been avoided.

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What was the highlight of your trip?

The highlight was the John Garner pass on the Paine Circuit.  We had excellent weather, and this was an unexpected vista.

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The kayak tour was also a highlight, especially the hospitality and company provided by our guide, Jose Luis. Do make sure that you warn people that it is 42km on day one, and can be extremely windy – this caught us a little off guard.

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Do you have any tips for fellow travellers planning a trip?

Be prepared for the Patagonian winds, and do the Full Circuit over the W Trek if you are physically able to.

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Lisa’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Lisa returned in March from a Full Circuit Trek based from an eco friendly camp in Torres del Paine. Here she tells us about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

Trip to Patagonia was fantastic.  Fortunately we had great guides, a really fit group (everyone was a hiker), pretty good weather and perfect weather for the 1 day that meant the most to me :)

How were Swoop Patagonia in helping you plan and arrange your trip?

Swoop were great – very responsive to my emails, and thanks for sending me the pre trip gift, it was a  nice surprise :)

How were swoop’s partners who ran the Full Circuit?

They were not as responsive to emails and queries as Swoop, but we got there in the end.

What did you think of your itinerary?

The 9 day Full Circuit Itinerary was good – though the first day is a very tough introduction to the hike due the number of kms walked – and it would have been nice to have a “grace” day somewhere in case of bad weather (though realise this makes logistics very difficult).

What did you think of your Guides?

The guides were fabulous – we had a lot of fun :)

What was the highlight of your trip?

My highlight was the perfect day we had for the Paso Yungai coming down on top of the Grey Glacier.  No wind, sunshine, perfect weather for the most important day of the trip for me (I’d done some of the hike before – it was for this moment/view that I wanted to do the full circuit). Another highlight was having a wonderful bunch of people to walk with.

Did you visit anywhere else on your trip?

Also visited El Chalten region in Argentina for 8 days. Unfortunately the weather was not so kind to me there but I did manage to do some day hikes.

Helen’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Helen’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Helen returned in December from a trekking holiday to Torres del Paine. Here she tells her about her experiences on her trip and in booking with Swoop and our partners…

‘I had an amazing trip…I loved Chile, it is such a wonderful place. I could not have asked for more. In fact I loved it so much I have now arranged to take a 12-month sabbatical and am going back to South America in October!’

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

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I spoke to Luke on the phone 2-3 times whilst I was researching my trip to Chile. He had such fantastic knowledge and really took time to help me think through lots of ideas and options. I was really impressed by this as I felt it was going above and beyond what Luke needed to do as he would get no finical benefit from doing so. In the end this helped me lock down my itinerary and resulted in a fantastic trip.

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What could we have done differently?

Nothing really. Everything you did during the booking, the little ‘gift’ prior to me going and the follow up work really well.

 

 

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Would you recommend us to friends, family or colleagues for a trip to Patagonia?

Yes, absolutely.

 

What did you think of your itinerary?

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The part of my trip that I booked with Swoop was the 7 day Full Circuit, and I can safely say this was the highlight of my trip! The trek was amazing and the beauty of the scenery was second to none.

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It was fantastic: really well thought out, with a good mix of long days and short days which meant people could recover. We had some days that were fairly easy and then the odd day where you were pushed and hardened. I know the guide was concerned that I had not done any trekking before – and Luke had asked me how fit I was.

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I managed the trek well but I was glad that I do go running and go to the gym, as the trip would not be good for people without a certain level of fitness.

The food we had was great considering the conditions we were all in. The refugios were rustic, but as I would expect, and to be honest – hope for!

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How was your guide?

Our guide was called Mauricio and he was just fantastic. He is so knowledgeable, so energetic, so witty, and judged the group and everyone’s personality very well. He has been doing this job a while so has lots of contacts all around the tour, which he uses very well.

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Nothing was too much trouble and he ensured all his guests had everything they needed. He also looked after the Porters very well and you can see how he worked to make sure the whole team were happy and content. I can’t rate him highly enough… a seasoned professional at all times. The group was great and worked really well with everyone just clicking.

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

Nothing at all :)

‘So the whole crew and all the people working on the trek where fab and really made my trip as good as it could have possibly been. Thank you.’

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Chantal’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

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.

Raphael’s Full Circuit from an eco camp in Torres del Paine

Raphael returned in January from a Full Circuit trek in Torres del Paine National Park, based from an eco friendly camp. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking through Swoop and our partners…

‘It was a magnificent trek. We were lucky with the weather and it was great! The deep beauty of the Park cannot be denied. I will keep an excellent memory of this adventure!

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

I have particularly appreciated all the details sent in your e-mails and the time you spent to answer me carefully. I would recommend Swoop Patagonia to other people.

How was the eco camp?

This was where the one negative point of the trip occurred. On Christmas eve, the couples in our group had the dinner in the eco camp and the single trekkers (3 persons) had their dinner in the refugio. For both the cohesion of the group and for the meal itself, I think this point should be corrected in the future. I don’t know if the couples have paid more. On new years eve, we asked if we could to eat in the eco camp, and we had to pay an extra charge.

How did you enjoy their itinerary?

The 9 Day Circuit from eco camp was an excellent itinerary: the Full Circuit is of course the best trek possible. I did find the alternation between more difficult and easier walks was a bit surprising.

How was your group?

For me, as I am French, it was the first experience with a English-speaking group. It was very nice and interesting to be with Anglo-Saxon people. Speaking English was not so difficult, understanding the guides was not problematic but the Australian and Californian accents were a bit hard to understand (Before year 2000, I used to have meetings in English for my job but since 2000, this is no longer the case). I have decided to watch more English or American channels on TV!

How were their guides?

We has two passionate guides, with a very good knowledge of the park. I remember that one day the weather was very bad in the morning (for the French valley). Nevertheless we tried to climb in the valley till the “Mirador Britanico”. Suddenly, for one hour, the weather was beautiful : the view was amazing und unforgettable. Thanks to the guide Chuma for taking us there !

 

Tineke’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

Tineke’s Full Circuit in Torres del Paine

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

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I was really happy with the prompt and personable way in which Swoop responded to all my questions. I also really liked the fact that Luke was able to secure a private trip with one of their partners in Torres del Paine for a competitive price, despite the fact that we only had three people in our party. We loved the fact that Swoop and their partners found other people to join us so that we could eventually do this trip as a group of what turned out to be five very compatible people. I have no suggestions and I will most certainly recommend you to anyone considering going to Patagonia.

How were our partners in Torres del Paine?

Also great! Laura did a wonderful job taking care of the logistics, and we also liked the company she chose for our penguin excursion. We felt very spoiled that all the thinking and organising had already been done for us.

How were your guides on the trip?

Justin, our guide, was fantastic: knowledgeable, professional and a great guy to get to know better. We all enjoyed each other’s company.

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How did you enjoy the itinerary?

The itinerary was well thought-out, in retrospect, and we got lucky with the weather relative to that itinerary. For instance, the kayaking trip happened to work out during the morning that it was planned for, but would not have been possible the day before or the afternoon after. The 5th day involved crossing the John Garner pass and – rather than continuing on to Grey – we stayed at Paso. That seemed at first to be a needless stop, since we got to the (cold and rainy and very basic) camp early in the afternoon. However, we appreciated the extra day when we realised that the next part – though not terribly long – did involve a lot of steep downhill. We could have continued on, but would have enjoyed that section less if we had crammed it in the previous day.  Moreover, it gave us another day in the backcountry, which was the best part of the trip!

How were your meals on the trip?

I don’t think anyone has much control over the food. It’s a wonderbread-country 😉 and the lack of competition among suppliers did not seem to encourage them to provide any great lunches. Some were REALLY awful and pretty minimal for a full day of hiking. A particularly cynical inclusion was a bottle of water in our lunch bag from ‘Fantastico Sur’. Really? However, I can’t blame Swoop’s partners, Justin (our guide) or Swoop of course for any of that. We survived.

What was the highlight of your trip? 

It’s hard to point at one highlight. What made the trip so special was that we truly enjoyed every day. Having a guide (and porters for part of the time) was a really great idea. It took all the worrying and second-guessing out of it, for one thing.

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