Hannah and James visited Patagonia as part of a month long trip to the region starting off in northern Chilean Patagonia, before making their way down to Torres del Paine and exploring Chalten. They share some wonderful photos of their time in Patagonia, and we ask them about the highlights of their trip:
1. Where did you go in Patagonia and what did you do?
We went to Pucon for one night and then drove to the Huilo Huilo reserve via the Termas Geometricas. We stayed in the Magic Mountain for two nights and then drove to Puerto Varas and spent the night there before going sea kayaking for three nights with a guide from Secret Patagonia. We spent two of these three nights camping in Parque Pumalin. We then flew to Puntas Arenas and transferred to Puerto Natales for one night before embarking on a 5 day trekking expedition in Torres del Paine. We then spent a night in Puerto Natales at the Indigo hotel before catching the bus to Calafate in Argentina. We hired a car and then drove to Chalten and spent the night at Estancia La Quinta. We walked up to Mt Fitzroy before driving back to Calafate and spending two nights there. While there we did a day excursion to the Perito Moreno glacier where we walked on the glacier. We book-ended our South American trip with nights in Santiago at the start and Buenos Aries at the end.
2. What was the highlight of your trip?
Everything was a highlight! Some of them would be:
Termas Geometricas in Pucon. We drove there on our way from Pucon to Huilo Huilo, and spent a relaxing few hours moving between slate terma baths situated in a beautiful ravine. There were very few people there and it had to be by far the best termas we went to on our trip.
Magic Mountain hotel in Huilo Huilo national park. Whilst staying at the stunningly amazing Magic Mountain hotel we did the XXL canopy walk trip, which is included the highest zip line in South America and a zip line over a waterfall. Needless to say, this was a breathtaking experience I will never forget, if not partly because I was terrified of heights!
Trekking in Torres del Paine, and waking up to see the Towers looming above the refugio in the sunshine, a view which we could see from our beds. The overwhelming beauty that we woke up to every day whilst on our 5 day trek of the ‘W’ route is simply something that cannot be replicated. Whilst we did not find the trek overly challenging, it is the only way to see all of the beauty of the park and we highly recommend it! In the bus on the way back to Puerto Natales every person in the bus held on to every last glimpse of the Towers, trying to ingrain it into their memory, before promptly falling asleep.
Recovering from the trek in the rooftop hot tubs in the Indigo Hotel in Puerto Natales. After 5 days of overwhelming beauty, we recovered on the rooftop hot tubs followed by a pisco sour at the bar. A perfect way to end those 5 days.
The Majestic isolation of Parque Pumalin. Another amazing experience that cannot be summed up easily in to words. Highlights of those days must have been seeing the dolphins, having the sealions swim a few metres under our kayak, the beauty of being in the fjords and the satisfaction of reaching your destination after a hard days’ kayaking!
3. What, if anything, would you change if you could do it again?
Given the same amount of time I wouldn’t change anything but I wish we could have had more time to explore at bit more and savour things without having to move on so fast. We would have loved the opportunity to visit Valdes, Argentina to see the whales.
4. How were the logistics – did everything run smoothly?
The logistics were challenging as we left ourselves no room for error. On one 20+ hour day we got up before 6 at the end of a fjord in Parque Pumalin and finished the day at 2am in Puerto Natales before catching the early morning bus to Torres del Paine the next morning! Everything ran smoothly except the flight from Puerto Montt to Puntas Arenas was delayed so we missed the last bus to Puerto Natales. Luckily a call to Gonzalo from Chile Nativo was enough to save the day as he was able to arrange a private transfer.
5. What did you think of the operators Swoop recommended?
Absolutely fantastic. We could not have asked for more from Secret Patagonia or Chile Nativo. Andres from Secret Patagonia was an incredible guide and kept us happy and entertained throughout our long days of kayaking. His fieldcraft was top notch and we ate well even in the middle of nowhere! As mentioned Gonzalo from Chile Nativo saved the day with a transfer from Puntas Arenas and there was a member of his team waiting at the hotel at 1 in the morning to give us all the vouchers and details we needed for the self-guided trek. We had all the information we needed and it wired perfectly.
6. Would you recommend Swoop?
Yes definitely. Swoop/Charlotte were incredibly helpful with suggestions and tips for the trip as well as helping us find the right operators for the specific sections where we couldn’t organise it ourselves. It was a massive comfort to know that these operators were recommended by Swoop because they required payment in full in advance so we were putting a lot of trust in them and this would have been harder to do without the Swoop recommendation.