Customer Reviews

We know what it’s like to dream of hiking amongst the granite peaks and glacial valleys of the Andes, but what is it really like to visit Patagonia with Swoop? We decided to let our customers do the talking and share their experiences below

Showing 1 - 20 of 457 customer reviews

James Bryan  - Spain Travelled: January 2019

1

Customer Rating On return from their adventure we ask customers: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?”

Whilst there were clearly great highlights (“Big Ice” and the French Valley being our favorites) and everything was well organized in terms of transfers /pretrip logistics we have to admit that we were fairly disappointed in the overall experience provided and would like to share some areas for significant improvement in our Patagonia trip. Our general feeling is that we paid a very high premium for Swoop to organise this trip (in comparison to the costs we saw on the ground and what fellow travellers were paying for the same activities) and as such would struggle to recommend the company to our friends. 1. We specifically asked before the trip the trekking logistics and what we would need to carry (as from previous experience we knew that the enjoyment of trekking can vary greatly with additional weight), and were advised that all camping equipment and lunch during the El Chalten would be provided each day, and that therefore we would only need to carry our personal belongings / clothing. It was therefore a surprise to arrive at the office on day 1 and be passed and asked to carry a (heavy) sleeping bag and lunch for all 3 days, which we did not have space for considering we had brought appropriate bags sized to carry only our own things as advised. This meant that we had to hang the sleeping bags off our rucksacks which was extremely uncomfortable, and that lunch was a) squashed and therefore partly ruined throughout the 3 days, and b) nowhere near enough in quantity to keep us energised throughout the days considering the level of energy we were using trekking and the cold weather (a tiny roll and small empanada per day with a few snacks), leaving us hungry every afternoon. We saw many other groups trekking who were having hot soup / drinks prepared and lunches carried by their guides that were clearly more plentiful and of a much higher quality. As well as this, the dinner on day 1 at the refugio that we were given was a bowl of polenta with a dollop of tomato sauce on top, so again not substantial as well as extremely unappetising (considering we were asked what we wanted, requested something with meat, but were provided this whilst the staff ate a meat platter next to us). The second night camp and food were much better but the first night was a disappointment given we thought we had booked a premium operator. 2. At the time of booking we were told we could choose the Estancia day trip. We asked about this a few weeks before the trip and were told “we have already booked you on the Estancia Cristina trip” and so we trusted your judgement given that you already knew we were adventurous and liked trekking. However the trip selected involved a 1 hour coach journey, 3 hour boat, 1 hour 4x4, some time for lunch, a museum tour and then 3 hours back on the boat / bus. Given that we had to wake up at 6:30am to do this trip this was not a pleasant experience and we would never have chosen this if we’d known the itinerary of the day, which we didn’t even find out until on when on the boat. Here we heard that there were two other options for the trip that included trekking which we clearly would have preferred (our option was full of older travellers and families who were unable to walk distances), but were advised that it was too late to switch at this point. Other guests we spoke to had a similar perspective that it was a very long day of travel for not very much. 3. Ecocamp is in a wonderful location and the food and accommodation is fantastic. However we had 3 significant issues: a. One of the major reasons for selecting this option were the different activities that we could do each day. On the first day we selected the “Towers trek” only to find out that we were in a group of around 20 relatively slow walkers which was extremely frustrating for us. After a lot of tedious and tense back and forth with the guides, we eventually persuaded them to let us go ahead if we signed a waiver (the experience however left us with a sour feeling considering the staff appeared to be annoyed). Seeing us do this, a couple of other guests also joined us on this saying they also wouldn’t have been able to cope with the slow speed. The second day was a Sunday and even the guides themselves admitted that the choice of tours was poor so we spent the day at the camp (again, with other guests who agreed). On the third day we did the French Valley trek but were disappointed to learn that the guided section did not go all the way to the French Valley, but only to the Italian campsite and hence not to the French lookout. So again we asked to sign the waiver (which again took a lot of time and convincing) so we could go ahead and see the French Valley itself. It was amazing but when we returned to the boat we were asked by the guides not to talk about our experience with the other guests (as they knew they had all missed the best part). On the 4th day the tours repeated themselves from Day 1 so we booked ourselves on our own horse riding experience. So overall we didn’t use any of the guided excursion throughout our entire 4 day stay at EcoCamp. b. There was a frustrating atmosphere amongst the guides of “rushing” everybody to be on time. We fully agree it is good to be punctual but felt we were constantly being “chased” by the guides to be on time with say 3-4 reminders during breakfast (despite never actually turning up late!) of when we needed to leave which does not make breakfast a very pleasant experience. Similarly for example on the French Valley hike described above, the guides were far too conservative with the time it would take to do things which meant either guests missing out or lots of standing around waiting for boats / buses. We personally also didn’t head to the final viewpoint specifically because of this, despite other walkers having been able to make it. c. Other guests were on “Adventure” packages which involved kayaking / horse riding whilst we were on a “Classic” package that we were not aware of until we arrived (aware of the activities, not aware of the different options and the name). In fairness to Swoop none of the other guests knew the names of the packages or that other options were available so I think this is the fault of EcoCamp but we would have like the option to do other things (we ended up walking down to the visitor centre to book our own horse riding and paying an additional $90 each) d. At dinner one of the guides said to us “this is quite an expensive hotel but not so expensive” which unfortunately for us summed up the attitude of the guides and the general way the hotel is run. They are correct it is not as expensive as some of the luxury hotels in the area but that is not a good benchmark. It is a very expensive hotel by any measure and the standard of the service and general desire to adapt to the needs of different types of guests just was not there. We were with other younger people who felt the same, that the EcoCamp is well catered for older visitors on the “classic” package or people doing the W Trek but not for younger people on the classic package. Overall for the EcoCamp experience which was a significant part of the cost of the trip we were left disappointed and we would like to request a part refund for our stay, given we were not given the option to select our package, did not do any of the guided excursions and had to pay additional fees for the horseriding. We would also like to request compensation for the Cristina Estancia tour considering the quality of the experience and trip which we hadn’t chosen ourselves. Please let me know if you have any questions and we look forward to your response.

...read more

Vic Schultz  - USA Travelled: March 2019

10

Customer Rating On return from their adventure we ask customers: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?”

The itinerary, transfers, tours, sights were all top quality. the trip exceeded my expectations. we were so fortunate that for 16 days , there were no weather problems. every tour, sight , planned activity was available to us. this, i understand , is the exception not the rule when traveling in march. if we experienced bad weather, i would probably be disappointed, but i am not.accommodations were interesting, especially staying in a yurt. the views, trips, food, guides end all wonderful. the only surprise was on the stella where we had assigned seating for meals. biggest surprise for us was the length /distances we had to walk . not all the trails were in great shape and 2 of us suffered falls, one fall requiring a doctor (not me). the only animal we didn't see that we wanted to see was the puma, however, we did see results of puma hunts.we met people that we enjoyed talking with and maybe see again, we'll see about that. what i was most pleased with was the itinerary. being able to travel in both chile and argentina and cruising the wild waters of the straits and fjords, for us, truly demonstrated the wild beauty of patagonia. we felt we didn't miss anything while fulfilling a dream to visit this part of the world. we did have airline issues but it was not due to anything swoop did. AR is a cheat airline, charging for bags and not even offering water to passengers on one flight. they also striped down planes of all amenities that i would normally find on similar aircraft if flown in the US. LATAM was OK , however, they did switch my reserved seats and i was unable to check in online. once again, this has nothing to do with swoop. highlight was camp patagonia. we were able to customize our hikes where as we couldn't do that in chalten . totally liked the day cruise in calafate. perfect for us. stopping at sights and taking short walks with spectacular views. i want to emphasize that ALL our guides/ tours were exceptional. we were delighted with each person who took us around showing what patagonia has to offer. we also discovered the most delicious candy bar that the guides gave us. we looked for this bar and bought it wherever we could. just know, you guys put together a fabulous trip.

...read more

Steve Strauss  - USA Travelled: March 2019

10

Customer Rating On return from their adventure we ask customers: “On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?”

There were a lot of highlights. We very much enjoyed Puerto Varas and surrounding areas. Our mix of activities centered around PV were really fun and diverse; the birding trip with an excellent Birds Chile guide, Carlo, to the Alerce forest natural park was a nice hike and we saw a number of birds; the kayak trip across the fjord was fun and our wonderful guide, Paz, was fun and we had lunch at a sheep farm, which was special. On our off day, we rented a car and drove into the Petrohui National Park and hiked up the flank of Osorno volcano, which was a bit challenging but really fun. The Mero Gaucho B&B was the best place to stay and had great staff. Puerto Varas was a nice little place to walk around and we found great places to eat. The second phase of the trip to Patagonia was really great. We had a good experience with the car rental and able to manage getting gas. Arriving at the Estancia Cerro Guido was a real highlight. The staff was wonderful and the accommodations were great and very interesting. We ended up going into Torres del Painey every day for hikes and drove through most of the park on one day. It was spectacular scenery and we especially enjoyed the ferry out to the Francis valley for a hike up towards the lookout was awesome. The other hikes we took were also suggested by the staff at the Estancia and those were excellent. We saw a lot of guanacos, rheas, flamengos, swans and geese. The food at the Estancia was excellent and we had very nice conversations with the waitstaff at the restaurant. Very special place. On the first night in the Estancia, after a long day of travel it was special to be able to see the Torres in the sunset. We have already told our friends about how wonderful our trip was to Chile in general and these places in particular. We were surprised by how open we found everyone in Chile to be and how enjoyable it was to talk to everyone we met; even those people who didn't speak much English and we speak very little Spanish, and much of that badly. We also had a chance to meet with one of the owners of the Estancia, who was on a visit to the ranch, and had a very interesting conversation. The gas situation in Patagonia was not really a surprise but we did find it manageable with some planning.

...read more