Sarah and Charles
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?”
Sarah and Charles' Trip Date:
3rd Mar - 27th Mar 2017
Overall, how was your trip?
See detailed answers for highlights. We were amazed and delighted by the enormous variety of landscapes we travelled through. The Chilean and Argentinian people we met were, without exception, warm and welcoming. Our grandchildren will be subjected to the full photographic record once they are old enough, and urged to visit for themselves. There were endless surprises every day!
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
It was unique, and exceeded all our expectations.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
We had a fantastic service from everyone we dealt with at Swoop. Harriet's enthusiasm for Patagonia was totally infectious and her final itinerary was perfect for us. The complexity of linking the different parts of our trip so smoothly was something we could never have achieved on our own, so Swoop's service provided good value for money. The local partners in Chile and Argentina went out of their way to help us and provided an excellent service.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
How was your experience in El Calafate and El Chalten?
Again, highlights difficult to specify - there were so many - but maybe looking down from the peak of Trumbado onto a condor as it glided below us. Maybe being the only people in the los Hermules park for a whole, beautiful day. Also watching a massive calving off the face of the Perito Merino glacier right in front of us. Hostal Schilling in El Calafate was ok apart from the rather scary and smelly paraffin heater in our bedroom. Carlos who guided us around Perito Moreno glacier was bursting with interesting facts about the glacier itself, the history surrounding it and the flora and fauna. It would be worth suggesting to your local partners that the public bus to El Chalten would have been quicker, more direct (no annoying photo opportunity stops) and better equipped (toilets!). We absolutely loved El Chalten and the hiking around Fitzroy. The Notofagus was a really comfortable base and Betty was an engaging and attentive guide. She even brought mate for our picnic after we admitted to not having tried it yet. Fernando looked after us very well and in very good humour on our long, cold and wet hike across the border to Candellario Mancilla. His excellent English was really helpful in communicating with our hosts and establishing that the 'Quetru' really was going to leave when it was supposed to. Whilst appreciating that Ricardo's estancia is the only option for accommodation at Candellario Mancilla, I think it might be a good idea to warn clients that it really is very basic (eg damp bed). That said, the chicken that Ricardo's mother killed and cooked for dinner was delicious.
How was your hike in Torres del Paine?
Top highlights for both of us were without question the camps at Bader Valley and Japones. Weather was not brilliant for seeing the Towers and Cuernos but we had some tantalising glimpses and the shifting cloud made for interesting and atmospheric views. Our guide Felipe was excellent: well informed, helpful, fun, good at coaxing Charles across some slightly scary sections of trail and a very good cook. He also found us some very entertaining Torrent Ducks. Other than that not a huge amount of wildlife apart from unseen rats at Japones that chewed our walking pole handles. Laura in Puerto Natales was helpful when our flight delay to Punta Arenas looked as if it was going to make us miss our bus. Also came (unasked) to bus station to take us to hotel.
How was your experience in Aysen?
The trip across Lago O'Higgins on the 'Quetru' was spectacular. Other highlights in Aysen.....Lagunas Atlas hike was beautiful and solitary - only saw one other couple all day. The San Raphael glacier approached by boat on a day of swirling mists and ultimately bright sunshine and dead calm was incredibly atmospheric. Carlos the Condor doing a close fly-past as we approached Laguna Cerro Castillo. We had a really comfortable room in the Hostal El Mosco in Villa O'Higgins. Fili is a great hostess and provided delicious breakfasts including home made cakes and pastries. She has no English but luckily had Martin, a temporary employee to translate. Our first day hike was guided by Mattius who had a bad leg and didn't really want to take us very far. With much cajoling we did get to the viewpoint for Laguna Torres, and he did produce a spectacular picnic lunch on a tablecloth while flying the Chilean flag! Thankfully he handed us over to his friend Hector to guide us up to the Submarine glacier the following day. Hector was the complete opposite of Mattias - a very attentive and knowledgeable guide who was happy to take us to the glacier despite slightly murky weather. Our hire car arrived the evening before we needed it so we knew that we could get away early enough to catch the ferry at Rio Bravo. Note to local partners - would it be possible to provide a map of Cochrane? we managed to find Petrol, bank and supermarket but then spent over an hour trying to find the northbound Carretera Austral towards Green Baker. Apparently we are not alone in having this problem! Accommodation and food at Green Baker Lodge excellent. Hostal El Puesto in Puerto Rio Tranquilo also excellent. Really comfortable rooms and helpful staff. We really enjoyed our stay at Mary's hostal in Cerro Castillo, although we were slightly surprised to find ourselves in a bunk room in a hostal and not a double room in a homestay as billed on the itinerary. Again, not a problem but better if it had been flagged up. Californian Katy who guided us on our first day hike was fine, and Enrique who took us horse riding took care of us as novice riders very well.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
Getting money out was a real problem. As suggested we took out plenty of Argentinian pesos in El Calafate which worked fine. However, after Puerto Natales there was no Chilean currency available until we got to Coyhaique. The ATM in Cochrane was not dispensing cash on foreign bank cards. Possibly best to advise people to take all they need from Puerto Natales. Maps! Map to escape from Cochrane as described above. Also, tourist map of the Carretera Austral and Aysen region available free in Puerto Rio Tranquilo - it would have been useful to have this in Villa O'Higgins with the hire car.
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