Emma Rae

United Kingdom

Customer
Rating

9

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?”

Emma Rae's Trip Date:

5th Jan - 11th Jan 2018

Overall, how was your trip?

It's impossible to pick a highlight because we enjoyed so much of what we saw and did, for many different reasons - the landscapes, encounters with wildlife, chatting with people, our activities, the weather, the food. We were surprised by the quality of the huts we stayed in (more like basic hotels really) and the coaches we travelled on (so smart and comfortable). Also, the weather was far better than we expected! We really feel like we made the most of our time in Patagonia, which was important as unfortunately it could be some time before we can go back.

In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?

Impressive and varied landscapes everywhere we went - the photos do not lie!

Would you visit again?

Maybe

How was the service that Swoop provided?

I am so glad we contacted Swoop and that everything I discussed with Tom was taken on board before we finalised the itinerary. I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted but Tom added in the kayaking and a more comprehensive Perito Moreno trip. Although the costs of those seemed high it was great to make the most of the time we had in Patagonia, so we were happy with the value overall. Everything came together and went to plan, so I have been pleased to recommend Swoop to anyone who's taken the slightest interest!

How did you feel about booking directly with our partner(s)?

Yes, Chile Nativo were great for us. Marina was so helpful in the planning stages, responding quickly and comprehensively to my many questions. Once there, Gabriela was very kind and patient in person when I had some queries about our countless vouchers - a system that thankfully works better than I had imagined it would! The only criticism is that Chile Nativo's website lets them down. It could really do with an update to make them look more professional and genuine to prospective clients. I think it might have given us a bit more confidence if Swoop could have facilitated the payment for our services, as we had some trouble with Chile Nativo's system.

How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

9 out of 10

How was your kayaking experience in Torres del Paine?

Our guide found us at breakfast at Hotel Lago Grey - it turned out we had to leave an hour early due to strong winds forecast (no, the message hadn't got to us...) We didn't mind too much, preferring not to have to paddle into a gale, but it was a shame to then be told to slow down on the the river and arrive at camp so early. Perhaps a better understanding of our previous kayaking experience would have avoided this. We found the river conditions very easy and with the wind behind us after lunch, barely had to paddle! The following morning's excursion on the lagoon was a bit more 'exciting'... It seems we were probably too close to the glacier - a large piece calved off and sent a wave towards us. Thankfully we didn't capsize and managed to surf back down the lagoon towards shore. If the kayak's rudder wasn't already damaged, it certainly was now! (The kayaking equipment was OK but could've been better - my drysuit neck was far too slack.) This was our guide's first season in the area and he's probably learnt a few things from our trip! Otherwise, he was keen to do as much as he could for us, including dragging the boats around and setting up camp (despite us trying to help). The camp food was great - better than on the W trek even and the tent & sleeping bags/mat were very comfy. We hadn't realised how little space would be left in the kayak for our own kit though and had to send even our minimal W trek kit back to our hotel with the driver, which wasn't ideal as I'm always a bit worried about stuff getting lost... The ranch visit/BBQ on the way back out wasn't really our style (too busy/touristy) but the boat journey was good. The whisky is something we'd usually decline but we chose to toast the glacier encounter after all! In the end, it was a good experience but I'm not sure I'd repeat it without a few alterations! It might also have been good to have a larger group of similar ability.

How likely is it that you would recommend this trip to a friend? (where 0 = Not at all likely, 5 = Neutral, 10 = Extremely Likely)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

6 out of 10

How was your W trek in Torres del Paine?

We were a little reluctant to join a guided trek but were overall glad to be part of a small and capable group with a good guide. Everything went smoothly and I think we got lucky with the weather. Our guide helped us to get the most out of our time, with longer walks where possible (to the head of French Valley, as the weather was good) and extra walks to viewpoints of Glaciar Grey. This was appreciated, as there could otherwise have been too much down time. The only downside was that our guide then seemed to be getting a little tired/grumpy as the trek went on - perhaps too many trips back-to-back?! The landscapes were everything I had been hoping for and the wind as strong as claimed! We loved the cabin upgrade at Refugio Cuernos - these seemed to be very sought after, so we were glad to have booked early. The catamaran was a fun way to leave the trek and it was great to stay at Hotel Lago Grey and not to have to travel back to Puerto Natales before our kayak trip, despite the price tag! We found the roads nearer the park in surprisingly poor condition given the size/amount of vehicles trying to use them.

Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?

The following is what I wrote to a friend this morning, which you'll find brutally honest! I'll warn you now that some things in Patagonia are not easy to plan. For example, the buses, which are great quality but difficult to figure out timetables or book online and are then totally full, so you wouldn't just want to turn up without tickets. Also, for trekking in Torres del Paine they recently changed the rules and now you need accommodation reservations in advance, which the guiding companies seem to have a monopoly on. That's mostly why I ended up organising an itinerary through an agency. It wasn't cheap, as Patagonia isn't anyway, but it was well worth it overall. Have a look at the Swoop Patagonia website for starters - it's a great resource.

Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)

Our photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Qx4nC9g8lx4ULSRZ2 I'd rather you didn't share the whole album or link but if there's a photo in particular you want to use, please let me know. You perhaps already know that our missing packed lunch on the Perito Moreno trip was refunded by Chile Nativo. Whilst this was obviously not a showstopper, it's a wonder more things don't go wrong when bookings are passed down [up to] four levels of agents. We are grateful this was our only problem! I loved Chalten and am glad we spent time there (before the town really explodes?!) Your tip on taking a transfer to Pilar was ideal. Unfortunately I did not enjoy Calafate so much, finding it busy and false. Perhaps this is due to the proximity to the airport and obviously we had to stay there for PM glacier. The Hostal Glaciar Libertador was just a bit too noisy and cheap, although well located between the new bus station and town. For info, the local agent for our Redspokes cycling trip was http://www.bikeway.com.ar/ I think they also run trips for Exodus and Skedaddle. Our guide Jeronimo and driver Gustavo were superb.

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