Emily Hendrick & Matthew Escovar
United States Of America
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?”
Emily Hendrick & Matthew Escovar's Trip Date:
16th Dec - 31st Dec 2018
Overall, how was your trip?
We felt very fortunate to have fantastic weather in Patagonia from start to finish, which meant that we were able to do everything we'd planned and more. We weren't sure what to expect of the wildlife, but were blown away by the diversity of animals we saw in Patagonia and even in Mendoza. Our guides were all very friendly and knowledgeable, and having them with us ensured that we truly appreciated what we were seeing, rather than rushing through the scenery. It's hard to say a specific highlight or magical moment, because each part of the trip had its own highlights. The glacier hike was surreal, seeing all those shades of blue. Cantering through Torres del Paine. Hiking up to stunning views of Mount Fitz Roy. Celebrating Christmas Eve at a family-run restaurant with the local community. Learning to really taste the different flavors in Argentinian wine. It may sound trite, but we have been on some fantastic trips and this was truly the trip of a lifetime.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
We went hoping for the best and prepared for the worst, and all our wildest hopes and expectations for Patagonia were exceeded.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
We felt very well cared for along every step of working with Swoop, from beginning to end. The final itinerary was fantastic and we appreciated having all of the information we needed right there in just a few pages. It was also nice to have drivers arranged to pick us up and drop us off at the airports so that we never needed to worry about transportation. When we arrived at each location, we were pleased to see that Swoop had been in close touch with our guides, hotels and tour services to ensure that we had a smooth experience. We did call Swoop's emergency line once because of a payment miscommunication between the local agency and The Vines, but the issue was not Swoop's doing and was resolved immediately.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
How was your horse riding experience?
Unexpectedly, the highlight of this part of the trip was that we were in a group of two. Normally we love riding with bigger groups, but we found out that this can often slow down the riding, so we were quite happy to ride with just our guide, Pablo, and the gauchos. The gauchos in turn seemed pleased to have a small group of advanced riders and to push the pace a bit! Estancia Tercera Barranca, our first farm, had fantastic horses who were very well trained and responsive, and a friendly gaucho who spoke perfect English. We got amazing views of Torres del Paine and loved the accommodations and food as well. This Estancia had the best rooms of the three places we stayed. The second estanica, Lazo, was very beautiful as well. The rooms weren't quite as nice as the first estanica, but they were totally fine for what we needed and we didn't spend quite as much time there anyway. Our second group of horses were quite nice as well and the gaucho was friendly and loved that we could ride. He did a lot of cantering with us, which was fantastic. We got a lot of amazing views on the last two days with this gaucho, especially of the glacial lakes in the park. We loved the third campsite in the Serrano Village because it was a very unique place, and the food was unexpectedly delicious, especially considering it had been cooked in a tent! The day we arrived in Serrano Village, we had some extra time so we asked our guide if we could go on a small hike in Torres del Paine to get a closer look at the mountains, which he willingly did for us. This could be a good activity to consider for others, but of course that would depend on the timing of when they arrive. Overall we wouldn't change anything about the horse riding experience, it was absolutely fantastic!
How was your experience in El Calafate and El Chalten?
One of the highlights of El Calafate and El Chalten was the towns themselves, which were lovely and very walkable. They had a smaller feel than Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, and the locals were very welcoming and accommodating. We adored our hotel, Madre Tierra, in El Chalten. The staff were so friendly and went above and beyond to confirm our transportation times and provide suggestions for what to do and where to go in the town. We can't say enough positive things about this hotel, they were simply fantastic. The glacier hike at the Perito Moreno Glacier was a trip highlight. We were blown away by the landscape of the glacier and the deep blues you could see in the water, and the guides did an excellent job at teaching us how to walk with crampons and helping us around the crevasses. No offense to the Grey Glacier, but the Perito Moreno Glacier made it look a lot less impressive by comparison! A few notes about the Big Ice Hike - we didn't realize that in addition to the three hour hike on the ice, there's a one hour hike to and from the start point on the glacier. It's about five hours of hiking in total. It might be good to give travelers these extra details so they know what to expect, and to advise them to bring a backpack each and gloves, because the backpack does keep you warm on the glacier! Our hikes in El Chalten were fantastic. We were really glad that we did the hikes with a private guide, firstly because she taught us a lot about the local biology and geology of the area, and secondly because we were able to hike at our own pace. Our guide had also lived in the area for five years and gave us great local recommendations for restaurants, which we enjoyed immensely. The hikes in El Chalten are quite crowded, but it was the most people we encountered on the trip so we didn't mind. One note about Christmas Eve and Christmas in El Chalten - it is a lot easier to find a restaurant there than we thought. We did make a reservation at a fantastic little restaurant called Brown Sugar which had live music for Christmas Eve, but the reservation wasn't really needed. There were plenty of places looking to make an extra buck with their Christmas Eve menus so it ended up not being a concern at all. Just a tip for any travelers for next Christmas :)
How was your Vineyard experience?
One of the highlights of this part of the trip was The Vines. We loved our stay there and the staff was fantastic. Another surprise was the wildlife, there were many animals to be seen including foxes, owls and other birds that made The Vines their home. The vineyards we visited were all fantastic and unique in their own ways. Our driver was involved in the local wine industry and knew all of the vineyards very well. Monteviejo had our favorite wine by far, and we also liked Piatelli because they took the time to really educate us about the wine during our tasting. Club Tapiz was a nice little boutique hotel. We regretted that we couldn't take part in their free wine tasting, but it was only because we'd already had a lot of wine that day! They were also fantastic about letting us use the pool and showers on the day we checked out, which allowed us to get the most out of our time there. The only thing we might have done differently was change the order and stay at The Vines second, because it's difficult for any other hotel to live up to that experience :) The cooking class at Finca Adalgisa was a fun way to wrap up the trip. We learned how to make enchiladas, steak and a fruit dessert from their chef, Cristina, who also gave us plenty of great cooking tips in general. All in all, we're glad we did the wine experience last. It was a great way to end the trip!
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
Be prepared for the worst weather, hope for the best. You'll never regret having warm clothes, even if you don't use them. Check the weather for different regions of your trip. We didn't realize that Mendoza was significantly warmer than Patagonia, and we could have packed more warm-weather clothes. Don't worry too much about making reservations. Argentinians are always willing to make space for a paying customer. Many of our favorite restaurants were small local places that were recommended to us by our guide. When in doubt, ask your guide or locals for their recommendations. You can drink water straight from the tap in El Chalten (it's basically glacier water). Apply sunscreen liberally and often on all exposed skin. The sun is very strong at all times of the day!
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
We have nothing but the highest praise for Swoop - you planned and executed our dream trip! We were especially impressed by your customer service. On a holiday, we were able in ~20 mins to work through with local partner a payment issue through your emergency line. We've never come back so relaxed and refreshed from a holiday, and we owe that to the amazing planning and thoughtfulness that went into every little detail. Thank you!!!