Tag Archives: Serrano

Greg and Michelle’s Off The Beaten Track Adventure

Greg and Michelle’s Off The Beaten Track Adventure

Greg, along with his sister Michelle and two other friends, asked Swoop to help them explore some of the more unknown destinations in Patagonia. Their jam-packed itinerary took them to many of the well-known highlights but via routes that enabled them to truly discover Patagonia’s wild beauty. We put together a challenging, action-packed programme with some of our most trusted partners to deliver an unforgettable adventure.

Greg’s itinerary

Greg and Michelle flew from New York to Santiago in Chile. A connecting flight took them on to Punta Arenas where they had two bus transfers, first to Puerto Natales and finally arriving in Torres del Paine National Park to embark on the avid hiker circuit.

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Dramatic skies in Torres del Paine National Park

Hardly pausing for breath, they ventured out on their first hike to see the famous granite towers that give the park its name. From there they hiked on to Japones Camp – a climbers only campsite near to the towers at the far end of Valle Ascensio. A night at the camp was followed by a hike of the Oggioni Pass. This trek is one of the more challenging and technical in the region. Climbing Oggioni highlighted that even within a group of friends on a tour of Patagonia, different people appreciate different things. Greg explains:

“In Torres del Paine we found the trails in particular on the W trek a little bit crowded. We loved the Oggioni Pass and this was a highlight-especially descending from the pass. However Liz and Marc, who were also on our trek, didn’t enjoy the Oggioni and didn’t really mind the crowds on the W trek, so it is a matter of taste.”

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Crossing a river on the Oggioni trek

After the strenuous Oggioni pass crossing, the group rejoined the traditional Paine cirsuit route at Dickson camp headed across to Perros Camp and then completed the John Gardiner pass with some ice hiking (read about Swoop’s Harriet and her ice hiking experience). From there, it was down into the French Valley via Lago Grey, and the group had completed their full circuit of the Torres Del Paine National Park.

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Celebrating the beauty of wilderness

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Taking a quiet moment alongside Lago Grey

After their trek, the group had a 2 day kayak along the Serrano river planned which was unfortunately cancelled due to high winds and so they headed on, to Puerto Natales and finally into Argentina, to the town of El Calafate, to see the Perito Moreno glacier.

A bus from El Calafate to El Chalten took Greg and his friends to the highlight of their trip: the Fitzroy range to see some of Patagonia’s most dramatic mountain and glacial landscapes. Two days of self-guided hiking straight out of town took the group to see Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre. They were well fed during their time in El Chalten too; using Harriet from Swoop’s handy El Chalten restaurant guide, the group made their way around town, particularly enjoying the vegetarian options.

After their warm up, they embarked on the tough but rewarding four day Huemul Circuit.

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Greg and his sister Michelle on Paso del Viento

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Trekking past a refugio on the Huemul Circuit

Huemul crossing still

The second zip-line crossing on the Huemul Circuit

Elated as opposed to exhausted, the group ended their epic trip in El Chalten and from there a series of transfers arranged by Swoop took them back to Buenos Aires and home to the United States.

We asked Greg a few questions about his adventure and for his top tips. Here’s what he said:

How were Swoop Patagonia?

“We would absolutely recommend Swoop. We really valued Swoop’s expertise, the fact that you had been to the places we were going and could link together all the different treks with local buses. All the buses worked out really well and we were happy with how it all worked out. When our kayaking trip was cancelled due to high winds our guide went out of his way to find alternative activities for us.”

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On a day hike out of El Chalten

What would you say to others considering a similar trip?

“In our opinion, El Chalten is much better and you should forget Torres del Paine and go straight to Fitzroy! The local operators were great and it was just a much nicer environment. Make sure you do your research on the various trekking options out of El Chalten to get the most out of your time there.

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The group day hiking around El Chalten

We would recommend you take the trip to Estancia Cristina near El Chalten, (we took the hiking option which included a 3 hour boat ride with a trip to the Upsala glacier), then we were driven up to a viewpoint and hiked back for 7 miles. We really enjoyed it and saw fossils along the way. Having visited both, I would say the lesser known Upsala glacier is much more enjoyable to visit than Perito Moreno with far fewer people fighting to see it.”

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Spectacular ice formations

“In terms of places that we stayed, in Torres del Paine, we liked Refugio Grey but didn’t like the dorms at Cuernos and Dickson refugios. One thing worth remembering is that we would have preferred to have camped every night rather than having stayed in refugios and this is possible, so think about that choice before you book.

We thought the buffs that Swoop sent were essential and would not go to Patagonia without one – it is so windy! We’d also recommend you take your own snacks on the treks to liven up the food a little.”

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Michelle sporting her Swoop buff

What was the highlight of your trip?

El Chalten and the Fitzroy range were the definite highlights of the trip – we loved the Huemul Circuit.

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Fitzroy

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Greg bathing in a glacial lake

If you’re looking for a unique experience in Patagonia and would like help planning your adventure, we’d love to help; get in touch!

Brandon’s Kayaking Trip in Torres del Paine

Brandon returned in February from a trip to Patagonia during which he took a Kayaking trip in Torres del Paine National Park, planned and arranged by Swoop Patagonia and our partners in Chile. Here he tells us about his experiences on the trip and in booking with Swoop…

How were Swoop Patagonia?

Swoop did a great job coordinating service with their kayaking partners in Torres del Paine.

How were Swoop’s Kayaking Partners in Torres del Paine?

Swoop’s partners provided excellent communication. They were far more informative and descriptive in their emails that other contacts we had in Chile.

What did you think of the Kayaking Itinerary?

The itinerary was great: we took a 2-day kayaking trip along the Serrano River. We spent the perfect amount of time on the water, with a good combination of work and relaxation. The views were incredible and we really lucked out with the weather. We also appreciated how flexible the itinerary was for day 2.

How was your kayaking guide?

Dan was an excellent guide.  We had complete confidence in his skills and he was a pleasure to spend our trip with.  He does an excellent job of adapting the timeline and style of trip for the individual group.

Is there anything you would change about your trip?

The dinner was a little interesting. We probably would have preferred to not have tuna in the pasta – it would have been great with just the vegetables.  Perhaps they might consider adding something local like pre-packaged smoked salmon or trout to make the meal seem a little fancier.

 

2 Days Kayaking in Torres del Paine

2 Days Kayaking in Torres del Paine

Ainsley & his friends returned just a few days ago from two days Kayaking in Torres del Paine National Park along the Rio Serrano after a self guided W Trek. Here Ainsley tells us about their trip…

‘We had such a wonderful trip’

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What were the highlights of your trip to Torres del Paine overall?

  • Staying at Torres Central after days of hiking and camping in tents.  
  • Making it to the Torres lookout.  
  • Taking in the colours of Patagonia.
  • Kayaking down the Rio Serrano.  

What were the highlights of the Kayaking trip in particular?

  •  Laughing together about all of the mishaps of our inexperience.  
  • Sharing a delicious meal with the guides before heading back home. 

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 What did you think of our Kayaking partners in Torres del Paine?

They did a wonderful job, being patient with us inexperienced kayakers and feeding us well after we’d eaten trail mix for days out on The W.  

We loved going down the river and getting to see the glacier up close.  And riding German’s boat to the secluded hostel for a nice meal (with wine and pisco sour) overlooking the glacier was wonderful too!  

What advice / recommendations would you give to other travellers?

As far as tips for future kayakers goes, I feel like the guides took good care of us, and we did well even though none of us had much kayaking experience. I will say sunscreen was important, and bug spray would have been nice.  

How did Swoop do?

Swoop did a good job pairing us up with great kayaking partners in Torres del Paine, who took over and promptly answered many questions about the trip and Patagonia in general.  

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Review of Hiking and Kayaking in Torres del Paine

Review of Hiking and Kayaking in Torres del Paine

 
We speak to Tim about his trip to Patagonia and Atacama. He talks kayaking, hot springs and hiking.

What did you think of Patagonia and how was your guide?
The W-trek was very good and the guide, Julieta, was excellent. The accommodation was all very good and the hot tub at the Los Cuernos cabins was well worth the extra. There were two others on the trek, a couple of 19 year old americans, so it was a very small group adventure which was fine for a honeymoon. One thing we weren’t ready for, probably misread the trip notes, was having to carry everything we needed for the 4 days in our rucksacks. Fortunately we managed to cram everything in with some rapid repacking.

How was the kayaking?
There were just the two of us on the Rio Serrano kayak trip with a scottish couple acting as guides. We got on very well and had a great time – shame it was only two days. We did the full river trip in one day in the hope of kayaking at the small glacier close to the ferry but there was too much ice in the entrance to the lake.

What was your top highlight?
The kayaking and the Taito Geysers – swimming in the thermal pool while the air temperature was below freezing – in Atacama.
 
What was the Atacama like, would you recommend it to others?
The accommodation in Atacama was booked as part of a package with Altiplanico Discover and we recommend it if you have other people wanting something similar. Unlike some of the larger, all-inclusive hotels, the Altiplanico  was within 15 minutes walk of the center of town so fine for just strolling in to eat at night. The Tatio Geysers and salt flat with flamingos were the best of the tours.

What do you think of Swoop and the operators that we recommended?
All in all a great holiday and we are happy to recommend yourselves and all of the companies in Chile. Even LAN managed to pull their finger out for the return flight!