What should I think about before travelling?

Health & Safety in Patagonia

Do ask questions of Swoop, our partners and your airline before you travel. We want you to get to Patagonia confident that everything's been done to protect you so that you can enjoy your holiday. Our partners will welcome the opportunity to share the protocols that they've spent many weeks designing, refining and testing.

Avoid putting yourself at any risk in the days before you travel - airlines and operators reserve the right to refuse you if they consider you unfit to proceed. Check in to flights online where possible to avoid unnecessary face-to-face contact.

Take your own PPE (personal protective equipment) with you. Make some time to find a face mask and gloves that you're happy with. Pack hand sanitizer, and consider taking an extra smaller bottle with you when flying or on the move. It would be wise to bring spares in case of damage or loss, particularly if you're on a longer trip with adventurous activities.

If you're not sure which trip to book and you want to reduce your time spent around others, ask us for trips that can be operated on a private basis and maximise your distancing from groups.

Do I need to make any changes to my travel insurance before booking?

Health & Safety in Patagonia

If you are unsure of what your existing insurance policy covers then check with your insurance provider to make sure it is suitable for the type of trip you have in mind.

Depending on the dates you are considering for travel, it may be worth finding out what the insurance provider’s policy is on postponing/rebooking your trip to ensure you are covered for all eventualities with relation to Covid-19.

If you are yet to take out a travel insurance policy please be aware that adequate travel insurance is a condition of your contract with us. You must be satisfied that your insurance fully covers all your personal requirements including pre-existing medical conditions, cancellation charges, medical expenses and repatriation in the event of accident or illness, loss of baggage and money, supplier insolvency/financial failure and other expenses.

If you choose to travel without adequate insurance cover, we will not be liable for any losses that arise which could have been covered under your policy.

What should I expect when I’m travelling through Chile or Argentina?

You should expect there to be distancing measures (and in some cases screening) in place at airports, checkpoints, restaurants, hotels, viewpoints, historical sites and more, which may mean that some things might take a little longer than usual. Make sure to build plenty of time into your schedule - we can help you with this.

Expect to see more signage and visual cues around for guidance, but if in doubt ask for help (in a safe and distanced way).

You may find the situation varies depending on where you are, for example, cities or more populated areas are likely to have tighter measures compared to more remote locations.

Be prepared and carry a face mask and hand sanitizer with you at all times, even if you’re going somewhere you expect not to need them. It is best not to assume that everyone will do the same, so it is particularly important to keep yourself protected.

Health & Safety in Patagonia
Swoop Says background image

Luke says

In recent months I’ve talked at length to our partners in Chile and Argentina to work on a plan for what is likely to be a tough season ahead. I’ve been humbled by their dexterity in adapting itineraries, and their creativity and commitment to designing new protocols to help travellers avoid contact and minimise risk.

Luke Errington Founder, Swoop Patagonia

What are the guidelines for transport and accommodation?

Vehicles

Vehicles are operating at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing between travellers. If you’re travelling together as a pre-existing group, exceptions can be made.

Vehicles will be disinfected by their driver before transporting travellers, during excursions and at the end of each day. Drivers will wear face coverings when appropriate, for example, when driving and cleaning the vehicle, alongside regular handwashing and temperature checks.

Although there will be sanitizer provided, we recommend you carry your own supply.

Health & Safety in Patagonia

Accommodation

Hotel Simple Puerto Natales

Accommodation providers will use social distancing measures to ensure gatherings in lobbies, stairwells, dining areas and bars are avoided. You should expect check-in, dining experiences and room tours to adapt in order to allow for social distancing, and for contact to be restricted to the absolute minimum - this could mean things may take longer than usual.

You may find that some facilities could remain closed if they cannot operate in a safe way, this will be decided on a case by case basis, so do check with your accommodation provider if there is anything specific you want to know.

Rooms will be deep cleaned between guests and general areas regularly sanitized according to guidelines. Hand sanitizer will be available at your accommodation, however, we recommend carrying your own at all times. Unnecessary traffic through the accommodation will be avoided where possible, for example, taxi drivers and tour guides will wait outside for collections.

What approach should I take to food and drink in Patagonia?

Health & Safety in Patagonia

Food During Excursions

Food will be sealed, individually distributed and not shared. You’ll be asked to hang onto any food waste you create during an excursion until you can dispose of it safely. You will be given a personal container for this where needed.

Local Vendors

If you decide to buy food from local vendors do wear a mask if you need to go indoors. Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before eating, avoid touching your face throughout, and wash or sanitize your hands again once you’ve thrown away any food waste. Be mindful of cold food, especially anything that could have been directly handled such as sandwiches, ice cream cones or pastries. Check someone has used fresh gloves or washed their hands before serving, and exercise caution.

Dining Out

Choose restaurants that are being mindful of Covid-19, employing socially distanced seating arrangements both inside and out, and carrying food and drinks using a tray to avoid excessive touching. You may want to bring your own cutlery with you, and use a mask when using indoor facilities. Take your own hand sanitizer with you, and wash your hands regularly. If possible, settle the bill in a way that reduces contact; avoid touching the receipt, sanitize your hands before and after handling cash, or make a contactless payment.

How are outdoor activities changing?

Health & Safety in Patagonia

Group sizes will be limited and social distancing will be in effect. At the start or end of activities, briefings will be given in open outdoor spaces, or with face masks worn.

Expect to take the road less travelled, the lesser-known trails, the quieter parts of the river and so on, this will help you stay distanced within your group, and avoid other groups, without compromising your wild experience.

Each person should have their own personal equipment for the duration of the tour. If it is possible to bring your own with you this would be ideal. Any equipment provided to you will be cleaned, including larger equipment such as kayaks, crampons or ice axes. Communal equipment will be disinfected where appropriate before it is handed from one person to another.

In wild areas where there are no hygienic facilities ‘Leave No Trace’ techniques can be used which will be explained by the guide in charge of your activity.

What can I expect of my guide?

Health & Safety in Patagonia

Your adventure tour guide will wear a face mask or face protector and gloves when he/she is less than 2 meters or 6.5 feet from you, or inside vehicles and enclosed spaces. The guide should have spare face masks available in case any staff member or traveller loses or damages their own.

Hands will be washed regularly with soap and water or using alcohol hand gel. The first aid kit and its hygiene products are the responsibility of the guide in charge.

Before the tour begins your guide will be in charge of taking temperature readings. If there is anyone who presents symptoms, even minor, the company will be notified and they'll end their participation. You should be given all information on which restrictions to expect during the tour in an open space and before getting on the transport vehicle. No physical contact between travellers will be allowed unless they are part of your travelling group for the duration of your trip.

Your guide should make sure that any interaction with people outside of the tour group is limited to the minimum - as such they will work to keep your group away from other visitors and not use the same resting places or camping sites. If absolutely unavoidable, health and safety protocols will be applied (mask, personal distancing, hand sanitizing). You can read more about food here.

What are my obligations as a traveller?

You should follow helpful guidelines and restrictions indicated by your guide, notably the wearing of face masks, regular washing/sanitizing of hands and maintaining social distancing where needed. Bring your own bottle of water, mask, sanitizer and gloves, and spares in case of damage or loss.

Declare immediately if you feel you have any symptoms of Covid-19, even if they are mild. More information on this below.

Familiarise yourself with proper handwashing and mask-wearing techniques, allow time in your schedule for delays due to Covid-19 and be patient with guides or operators who have adapted long-standing trips to allow for new challenges.

Julie and Nic

What happens if I suspect I have Covid-19 whilst travelling?

If you develop symptoms whilst travelling you will not be able to take part in activities or tours and should isolate indoors immediately to avoid contact with other people. Notify your operator of your situation as soon as possible. Avoid all non-essential movement and onward travel.

What symptoms should I be watching for?
- Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fever, chills or muscle pain
- New loss of taste or smell
- A sore throat

Other less common symptoms:
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea

Health & Safety in Patagonia

Will I need to enter into quarantine upon returning home?

Health & Safety in Patagonia

There are very different rules depending on where you are travelling back to. Your own government will update these rules regularly in response to what is most sensible at any given point in relation to Covid-19.

You will need to check the relevant source below for up to date information. Please note the rules in your home country will likely be reactive to the situation in the country you are travelling from at that time.

UK
EU
USA
AUS

If your country of residence is not listed above, please check with your government for advice. 

Sources Consulted

  • WHO (World Health Organisation)
  • ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Association)
  • Birds Chile


Some images/descriptions courtesy of ATTA and Birds Chile.

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