Gary recently returned from a Full Circuit in Torres del Paine. Here he tells us about his experiences…
How was your trip?
Overall the trip was excellent. A few days were quite gruelling for us old folk but we made it and were very happy we chose the full circuit over the “W Trek”… there were fewer people, and the scenery was much more beautiful and varied.
What was the highlight of your trip?
The day hike to and past Gray Glacier was the highlight of our trip. It was very difficult but also very rewarding with the magnificent vistas and varied terrain.
Did you manage to visit anywhere else in Patagonia?
We spent the second week about 1 1/2 hrs NW of Coyaique at the Rio Paloma Lodge on the Rio Paloma. Good accommodations and good brown trout fishing.
What did you think of the operator we put you in contact with in Torres del Paine?
We thought the operator did an excellent job. Their equipment list was good although there are a few additional items I would suggest (see question on tips for other travellers).
How were your guides on the trip?
Our guide Armando was absolutely great, and other than the scenery was the best part of the trip (or equal to). He was patient with us, spoke excellent English, and provided lots of interesting facts and sights out to us.
How were your accommodations on the trip?
Our only minor dissatisfaction was the Hostel Amerindia on the W Trek: Cramped rooms, poor beds, and lousy showers! Accomodations in Punta Nuestra were very good however.
Do you have any trips for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
-I would recommend taking “Buffs” (which you very nicely sent us) and gaiters to the kit list for the W Trek. We ended up purchasing them in Puerto Natales at high prices at the recommendation of or guide and they came in handy for “the bogs” and snowfields.
-I cannot remember if gloves were on the kit list but were necessary over Gray Pass.
-I’d also emphasize the layering of clothing as we were fairly warm, obviously, while hiking but at night and when we came to a pass the temperature dropped considerably. Luckily our guide always warned us just before this happened to put on another warm layer!
-Although the trekking during the day, especially on the “Big O” circuit was not too crowded, the “W” parts were fairly crowded and not as enjoyable. I think clients should realize that the campgrounds are very crowded, with “tents on top of tents” and noisy, and that that this not a pristine camping experience. Be that as it may, we were much happier in the tent than staying in refugios with several other in the room. The tent was quite comfy and roomy.
How did Swoop Patagonia do in helping you plan and arrange your trip?
I appreciate very much Swoop Patogonia’s help in choosing our itinerary and picking a great operator for us in Torres del Paine. You did an excellent job.