Sefton (and Sue)
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?”
Sefton (and Sue) 's Trip Date:
22nd Nov - 3rd Dec 2016
Overall, how was your trip?
Overall the trip was great with the highlights being the kayaking excursion and homestay on Yolande's farm and the Chiloe Island wildlife. Everyone we met was very friendly, especially Yolanda, and the guides were all excellent especially Isobel. The Patagonia (Torres del Paine) landscapes were fantastic but we didn't see as much wildlife as we would have liked.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
Stunning scenery which definitely lived up to our expectations.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
Swoop's service was very good in all respects except for one small issue - we were unable to complete online check-ins for our internal flights. The local agent (BirdsChile) were also unable to do this for us and we understand that they also contacted Scoop in the UK who were also unable to assist. This is something that we feel needs to be addressed as checking in online in advance makes whole "airport experience" more bearable. On the flight from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas we were unable even to get seats together or get window seats (due to a foul up by the Sky Airlines check in staff).
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
9 out of 10
How was your experience in Torres del Paine?
The highlights in Torres del Paine were the stunning scenery and especially the Grey Glacier excursion. However, we did not see as much wildlife as hoped for. The accommodation was very good - stunning location, excellent food, high quality guides and the standard of service was exceptionally good. One downside was the fact that because Camp Patagonia is located outside the National Park, the excursions all involve considerable additional road travel (up to 2 hours in some cases) which makes the days very long. If we went again we would look for accommodation in the National Park. Our main criticism was about the trips available from Camp Patagonia. We probably won't be able to afford another trip to the Torres del Paine area so getting to see as much as possible and the 'big' sites in the 3 days we had available was very important to us, weather permitting. We had been led to believe that all the excursions would be available and, indeed, we were given a booklet with details of all the excursions to peruse on the drive from Punta Arenas. However, when we arrived, we were only offered two low level shortish walks the next day and we were explicitly told we couldn't do the Base of the Towers walk. This was despite the fact the the next day had a relatively good weather forecast, the best forecast for all of the three days. We took a pleasant walk (a combination of two short walks with lunch in between) instead. The forecast for the second day was rain all day so we asked if we could take the boat excursion to Grey Glacier - it was something we really wanted to see and we would get some shelter from the rain on the boat. Our 1st day guide said he'd set it up but when we got back, we were told we couldn't go because the boat had broken down. They said they would check again first thing in the morning. In the morning, about 8.30, they said they had phoned and it was still broken down. We were offered two other walks in the rain. Neither was very inviting but we opted for a walk taking in some small caves on the road back to Punta Arenas. Whilst the countryside was pleasant, it wasn't dissimilar to a very wet walk in the UK Lake District which we can do any weekend without paying £1000 a day! However, we were infuriated to find later that evening that other residents of the hotel had been on the 9am Grey Glacier boat that same morning which patently was running. When challenged, the manager said that they didn't organise the tours for this other group, only the hotel accommodation. Nevertheless, we find it hard to believe that they didn't know where a minibus load of guests were going particularly as there were few guests staying at the time and this group would've needed an early breakfast. The natural suspicion is that they did know the boat was operating but did not want to provide a 'special' tour for us and assumed we would believe the fabrication that the boat was out of order. So on the last day, we had to choose between Base of the Towers walk and the Grey Glacier when we could easily have done both of these in our programme, both in good weather if we hadn't been told neither option was available on the first day and the boat was out of order on the second day. We don't think this is acceptable when we were clearly sold a package that allowed us a personalised choice of excursion.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
We were there in late November but if we return we would try and visit the southern part of the trip (Torres del Paine) a little later in the season when we assume it would be a little warmer and the weather might be more settled.
How was your experience in the Chilean Lake District & on Chiloe Island?
Isobel, our guide, was excellent - friendly, informative and great company. The accommodation and food in Puerto Varas (booked independently by ourselves but recommended by Swoop) was excellent, as was the hotel in Petrohue. All the transfers worked smoothly and the staff were all very helpful and friendly. As mentioned already, the kayaking trip and homestay was the highlight of our trip. Juan (?), our guide, was very good and Yolande could not have been friendlier or more hospitable. The hike on Desolacion Trail was harder than expected, due to the volcanic ash deposits left from the Volcan Calbuco eruption in 2015, but very enjoyable despite that. Chiloe Island was a very busy schedule but definitely worth it for the wildlife element. We weren't so impressed with the home stay on Chiloe Island though. Whilst the food and room were fine, the host didn't seem to be interested in engaging with us at all. This may have been because of the language difficulties (our Spanish is extremely limited!) but little attempt was made to use Isabel as a translator, so we don't feel we really got the benefit of a home stay compared with a hotel. Our guide, Isobel, was simply great. Overall though, our experience in this section of the trip was excellent.
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