Tag Archives: Chiloe

Nick’s 19 day trip to Chile & Argentina

Nick’s 19 day trip to Chile & Argentina

Nick and Ruth (his Mum) returned in March 2015 from a 19 day trip to Chile and Argentina, planned and arranged by Swoop Patagonia, based on Swoop’s own Day Hike Patagonia Itinerary . Here Nick tells us about their experiences on the trip, and in booking with Swoop Patagonia.

Nick’s Feedback

‘Swoop were great, a pleasure to deal with from start to finish. The whole thing was  fantastic, and you did an amazing job organising it. It was particularly good of you to book 20 days of more-or-less solid sunshine… so I’m sort of stuck for suggestions!

All the organisation was efficient, really well done. Right amount of email and phone calls, very patient with inquiries etc, all the information was fine. Can’t really think of anything that could have been better.

Torres del Paine was probably my favourite place. Best day’s walking was probably Laguna de los Tres (from El Chalten). Most incredible sight, probably the inside of a crevasse on the Viedma glacier. Penguins and sea otter on Chiloe were brilliant. I could go on, but then it’s not highlights any more!’

Nick’s Itinerary

Nick and his mum began their trip with 3 nights in Buenos Aires, where they spent their time at leisure, exploring the city, guided by Swoop’s tips on Things to do in Buenos Aires.

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La Boca, Buenos Aires

They then flew to Bariloche for a night at Las Marianas, where they spent another day at leisure, guided by Swoops tips on Things to do in Bariloche.

Next, they travelled across the waters of Lago Nahuel Huapi, Lago Frias & Lago Todos los Santos, crossing through the Andes to reach the lakeside town of Puerto Varas.

From here, they travelled by car and ferry to the beautiful island of Chiloe, where they took two day excursions to see some of the wild and varied wildlife inhabitants, starting with the protected nature reserve in the Bay of Caulin – a fantastic spot for spotting local and migratory birds.

After this, they continued their drive out to the Pacific Coast to visit the Punihuil Penguin Colonies, spending the night at La Casita del Mar.

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Sea Otter in the waters of Chiloé

[Read more about activity options available from this idyllic cabin by the sea on Chiloe Island.]

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Chiloe Island

Torres del Paine was their next stop, and they spent 3 days taking guided excursions from an eco camp in the heart of the park.

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View from Mirador Ferrier, Torres del Paine

The next stop was Los Glaciares National Park, where Nick and his mum took an afternoon excursion to stand, stare, and observe ice calving from the Perito Moreno Glacier.

‘The colours of the ice were just amazing’

The following day they travelled on to the mountain town of El Chalten….

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The road to El Chalten…

Here they spent 2 and a half days taking day hikes to Laguna Torre, and Laguna de los Tres, and ice hiking on the Viedma Glacier.

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Rio de las Vueltas Valley

Ushuaia was their next destination, and they spent time exploring the area independently, as well as taking a full day guided excursion in Tierra del Fuego National Park, including a trek on the Pampa Alta trail and visits to Ensenada & Lapataia bay.

Finally, they flew back to Buenos Aires where they spent a leisurely afternoon and evening before flying on home.

We asked Nick a few specific questions about his trip…

What did Swoop do well? What could we have done differently?

All the organisation was efficient, really well done. Right amount of email and phone calls, very patient with inquiries etc, all the information was fine. Can’t really think of anything that could have been better.

(One small thing: the Buenos Aires hotel address on the important information sheet was wrong — there are two Hotel Esplendors in Palermo, and the street address given was the other one).

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

Yes, definitely, especially if they want to do what we did and cram a lot into a little amount of time — I can’t imagine how long it would have taken me to sort all that out!

 How did you enjoy the different areas you visited on your trip?

I loved them all! It was a really good variety of places. Often, the towns themselves didn’t seem to be all that (El Calafate, Bariloche), but generally we were there for the stuff round the towns, so that hardly mattered (and they all had enough good places to eat and so on).

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Pedras Blancas Glacier (Laguna de los Tres hike)

 What did you think of the excursions and activities you took  part in?

Great, yes. If I’d been on my own, I would probably have done less guided stuff, and more on my own — but it was primarily Mum’s holiday!

 How  were your accommodations?

Fine — again, a nice mixture of places. The eco camp in Torres del Paine was particularly cool — and I imagine far cheaper than staying in one of the hotels!

What did you think of the guides and staff  who looked after you?

They were all lovely! The guides were all great. The staff at various places put up with all our questions, mum’s neurosis about missing flights, etc etc. I honestly haven’t got a single bad word to say about any of it.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Hmmmm… Torres del Paine was probably my favourite place. Best day’s walking was probably Laguna de los Tres (from El Chalten).

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Stunning viewpoint at end of Laguna de los Tres hike

Most incredible sight, probably the inside of a crevasse on the Viedma glacier.

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Inside a crevasse – Viedma Glacier

Penguins and sea otter on Chiloe were brilliant. I could go on, but then it’s not highlights any more!

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Magellanic Penguins of Chiloé

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

I think it’s well worth starting in Buenos Aires, as we did. It’s a great place to spend a couple of nights getting over the long flight, and if you change dollars at the blue rate there, you’ll get much more for your money throughout the rest of your Argentinian trip.

Martin & Julia’s 28 day Patagonia Adventure

Martin & Julia’s 28 day Patagonia Adventure

Martin and Julia returned in November from a 28 day trip to Chile and Argentina, planned and arranged through Swoop Patagonia. Here they tell us about their experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop Patagonia.

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Martin & Julia’s Feedback

‘There are two things that you need from a travel company: real ‘hands on’ in-depth experience of the country being visited and an ability to understand the needs and desires of the customer travellers.  Sally, Luke and the team at SWOOP Patagonia had both.

Having recently retired, we were looking for a once in a lifetime, 28-day visit to Patagonia – with the emphasis on landscapes and wildlife.  Sally quickly worked out what we wanted and what we were each capable of doing, and proposed a great schedule, with several unexpected suggestions that stretched our brief, and activities that suited our different physical capabilities.  Now back home, we can say the trip was wonderful.  The schedules and pick-ups all worked, and Sally’s recommendations of Chiloe and Aguas Aribas were outstanding, El Chalten was great and our Cape Horn Cruise super.  The Patagonian wind blew every day – but the weather was kind – the trip really delivered.

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I felt that Sally and the team really took the time to get to know us and our wants, and used their in-depth knowledge to deliver a great schedule and a wonderful string of places to stay, eat & drink, things to do, wonders to see and experiences.   

Whilst one destination is off our bucket list, we’ve added another – El Chalten and Aguas Aribas in the Autumn with the Southern Beech forests turning red!!  

Thank you Sally, thank you SWOOP.’

Martin & Julia’s Itinerary

Martin and Julia began their trip with 3 nights to relax and unwind on the tranquil and untouched island of Chiloe. They spent their days hiking along the rugged pacific coast, bird watching on the many tidal beaches and slept in a cabin on the beach.

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The adventure continued by crossing into Argentina through a series of lakes and then hiring a car for few days to explore the stunning ‘Route of the 7 Lakes’ in the heart of the Argentinian Lake District.

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Taking a flight south they then spent 5 days exploring the Los Glaciares National Park, hiking to the Base of Mount Fitzroy, taking time to stand and stare at the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier and were wowed by the setting, service and seclusion of the Aguas Arribas Lodge.

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Torres del Paine was the next stop with 5 days spent hiking the trails of the famous W trek based in the comfortable Patagonia Camp.

They then boarded a cruise to explore the channels and glaciers of the Chilean Fjords and were lucky enough with the weather that they were able to land at Cape Horn.

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They ended their trip with a few days to explore the vibrant, gastronomic and diverse Buenos Aires based in a boutique hotel in Palermo.

Patagonia on the Web

Patagonia on the Web

Patagonia on the Web – 6th June

A roundup of all things Patagonia we found on the web this week.

Patagonia in the news:
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50 entire ichthyosaur fossils have been found in southern Chile, one of the best finds of its kind to date. The fossils were found in Torres del Paine and lived between the Triassic and Cretaceous periods, which extended from 250 million to 66 million years ago.
Find out more about the discoveries here.

Swoop’s Favourite Photographs:
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@thisisChile retweeted @barbarakvh  who took this lovely shot of Cucao, Chiloé.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 14.12.17The lighting is so dramatic in @Gabriele_Corno  shot “Out of Darkness” – Torres del Paine National Park, in southern Chilean Patagonia, Chile.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 14.18.40 Snapped with a point and shoot @ClareBevis gives a different view of Torres del Paine.

Blog of the week:

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 14.43.09Globetrottergirls.com have done a number of posts about their Patagonia trip, this one about Chiloe is fantastic and describes why it’s must see island. . “…we left the island feeling utterly romanced and wishing we could have seen more of its empty beaches and bays, explored more the national park and the tiny fishing villages.”

When travelling to Chiloe it can be difficult to get off the beaten track  when you go independently or using public transport.  Talk to us about a guided excursion that allows you to delve deeper into the island’s cultural history and wildlife.

Luke Reviews Casita Chil-Hue, Chiloe

Luke Reviews Casita Chil-Hue, Chiloe

Britt and his wife have lived here for 15 years, and have built two cabanas and a couple of smaller lodges in the land around their home. You couldn’t ask for a host more knowledgeable of Chiloe’s history and culture and passionate about sharing it.
He cooks a great breakfast too!

I stayed in the Casita which would suit a family of 3-4 really nicely, with a beautiful bedroom, kitchen/dining area and a loft area that kids would love.

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I woke up here to wonderful views out to the Pacific, put on my trainers and took as little as twenty pace to reach the beach and enjoy a wonderful early morning jog. The beach lies on the northern coast of Chiloe and stretches all the way to the island’s second town, Ancud.
It was a beautiful morning and, as is the case all the way along the coastline of Chiloe I saw so many different birds and not a single human being.
Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 13.15.45Ancud is a 10 minute drive away, and given that the town has little to offer in the ways of nice restaurants and bars that’s probably no bad thing.

Use this as a base on Chiloe if you want:
peace and tranquility and wonderful hosts, just a few feet from the ocean

Isla de Chiloé, Chile

Isla de Chiloé, Chile

When Darwin visited Chiloé in 1835, he described the island as “the border of Christianity”, both in the geographical and spiritual sense. The brilliant researcher was marveled by the co-habitation achieved between Mapuche Indians and the Spanish conquerors over three centuries. This relationship has helped bring about a culture which can be appreciated today in the small wooden chapels and the fascinating domestic mythology. 

Castro, Isla Chiloé, Chile

The wooden chapels of Chiloé are considered as UNESCO world heritage sites for their cultural significance, blending native and Spanish beliefs into the churches. Each chapel has southern-facing front doors to protect them from the rain. The weather in Chiloé according to Charles Darwin is, “in winter the climate is detestable, and in summer it is only a little better. I should think there are few parts of the world, within the temperate regions, where so much rain falls. The winds are very boisterous, and the sky almost always clouded: to have a week of fine weather is something wonderful.”

Iglesia San Carlos de Borroneo, Chonchi – Chiloé © Nick Leonard 

Many of the buildings and houses on Chiloé also take advantage of the wooden architecture, and are often covered with wooden shingles called tejuelas cut from the native Alerce tree, to create roofs that can withstand the frequent rain showers in the region. You can find many houses of this type in the area of Llanguihue and Puerto Montt.

 Typical wooden houses in Castro © Nick Leonard

The Chiloé archipelago is considered part of the Northern Patagonia area of Chiloé as well as the southernmost reaches of the Lake District. The beautiful Chiloé Island is located south of Puerto Montt. It is linked to the mainland by ferries which cross the Chacao channel.

The eastern side of the island, facing the mainland of Chile across the Golfo de Ancud in the north and Golfo de Corcovado in the south, is broken up into a myriad of coves and inlets.

Chiloé’s three main towns, the new capital Ancud is in the north, Castro, the former capital, on the east, and Quellón on the southern tip, offer most of the island’s tourism amenities.

 

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 Ancud Port at Sunset


Quellón port, Chiloé

Must Sees and Dos in Chiloé: 

The famous palafitos, or houses on stilts, along the waterfronts and mud flats at San Juan, Chiloé.

The Feria Artesanal Market, along the waterfront, offers local handicrafts, particularly woolens (scarves and sweaters) and basketry.

Chiloé people survive on farming and fishing, so dine on their traditional meal; curanto, prepared traditionally in a hole in the ground over hot rocks. The dish includes mussels, clams, beef, pork, chicken, sausage, and potatoes topped off with chewy pancakes called milcaos. You can order a variation in a restaurant where it is cooked in a pot and called pulmay.


Preparing the Curanto

Puñihuil, the only place in the world where Humboldt and Magellan penguins nest side by side. Unfortunately you are not allowed to leave the boat, because the breeding grounds are protected. The area is very rich and supports many other species, including three species of nesting cormorants (Red-legged, Rock & Imperial), Kelp Geese, three gull species, skuas, Blackish and Magellanic Oyster Catchers, sometimes sea otters and flightless steamer duck.

The Pingüinera Puñihuil Penguin Reserve on Chiloé Island
 

Visit the Chiloe archipelago and kayak from £561.

“Kayak from island to island with specialists in this beautiful lake district, visiting fishing villages on the way. You’ll have the opportunity to relax in the evenings back at the picturesque stilt house hostel and enjoy dinner in a nice sea front restaurants where you can try the delicious Curanto dish”.

 

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