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?”
Nicola Anderson's Trip Date:
14th Dec - 2nd Jan 2019
Overall, how was your trip?
Highlight: Puerto Varas generally and Valparaiso - loved both "cities". With F & F the activities are being talked about the most - kayaking, trekking, riding, fishing etc - not all enjoyable while happening (trekking and kayaking were hard work) - but great achievements once done! Dolphins circling kayaks one highlight and watching them in the bay the next morning from our tent. Seeing Darwin frog in Tagua Tagua another. Barraco Lodge generally enjoyed by my 10 year old - dogs, hot tubs and watching helicopters taking off and landing!
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
Yes - beautiful. We love Scotland so were always going to love it. Pity about the horse fly things near water - would avoid Dec / Jan if went again as they really did ruin certain things.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
Swoop service improved! Struggled in the early days to get hold of anyone but I did get in touch 18 months pre trip. Was surprised that Swoop was unable to book international flights in advance like other agents - that would have been helpful. During the trip and the in the lead up though Swoop were very helpful and all agents on the ground were great. Itinerary was perfect - just the right info.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
8 out of 10
How was your experience in the Atacama desert?
Francisca our guide was fabulous - fun and at the right level for the kids. Landscape / activities all as expected (only a slight disappointment for me as I was there in 1992 pre national park so the changes to the area are significant!). Francisa's restaurant recommendations saved our evenings - they were spot on and fun. Accommodation was a disappointment - surly staff, generally unconcerned and pretty unhelpful. Hotel felt a bit unloved - very few guests stayed in for dinner, pool area in need of a clean / paint / new bartender! - Thomas was just teenagerish and lazy! Transport / trips all perfect.
How was your experience in the Lake District?
Hiking was great - Isabel was excellent - very knowledgeable. Her only error was not bringing any wine / beer or tea / coffee to the refuge and had we known we would have taken some (she carried lots of mate tea for herself though!!). Boys really took to her on day 2 and she made a miserable trek down in the pouring rain fun for them and that is a big achievement! She even found a Darwin frog so boys v chuffed to have seen something so rare. Refugio as expected. Views of lakes stunning. Ferry timings are not much good though - too late on day 1 to get to the waterfalls / view points - but that is ferry's fault not the guide's. Barraco Lodge was interesting. Boris and staff were great fun, completely charming but possibly a bit scatty.... - Boris and his dog were my younger son's highlight of the whole trip I think. However, he seemed wonderfully uninformed of our itinerary but luckily Hilary had emailed me directly re the changes to departure time etc or we would have been hanging around by the ferry for 4 hours as Boris claims he was not informed. On arrival from 2 days' kayaking, Tatty informed us that the double kayaks were ready for our trip the next day......(we were not meant to be doing anything the next day and no kayaking was mentioned for Barraco!) - so we then talked to Boris and his itinerary was completely different to mine. To be fair, he did his best to sort this but the owner of Barraco did mention to me later that evening that he "gathered we had changed all our plans and he hoped we were happy now" - which was obviously a bit unfair and very embarrassing! Riding: good but only good - a lovely speed boat trip to get to the horses, then one hour ride, then 3 and three quarter hour lunch in a family's house that speak no English (totally delicious food but quite a long time to be hanging around), then a quick and amazing ride on the horses in the river, followed by an hour's ride back to the boat.....so 2 hours total of riding - beautiful and fun though. Also, although she was lovely, I was taken by Amelia, the 12 year old daughter of the owner, and the wonderful Oomar (?) - the latter rides beautifully but does not speak a word of English and obviously at 12, Amelia, knows very little about the flora / fauna / history of the area that one might expect a guide to be able to talk about..... Fly fishing was generally great - three fish caught and released and guide was a proper guide / good English and great. Paddleboarding: no paddleboards and no wetsuits......Boris ordered us two blow up paddleboards (useless!), one of the paddles broke within 5 minutes, and we had to make do with one of the blow up kayaks (again one v small paddle for a double kayak and no rudder so v hard to steer or even make it move). Wet suits were vaguely mentioned but it was clear that they didn't actually have any so it would have been a huge inconvenience if we wanted them..... We were asked to be ready by 10 but as is usual at Barraco, no-one else was ready, so we didn't actually leave until 11.30! Again guide was the 12 year old girl who was oblivious (as she was fishing) when my son fell in, dropped his paddle, his ankle attachment came undone as was never put on correctly and he panicked.....the blow up boards meant that when my husband tried to board the board bent in the middle so useless. Basically, what was advertised on their site as a "day's excursion paddleboarding" and which I know we paid for, was an hour or so in freezing water on blow up paddleboards in a fast moving, tidal, deep area surrounded by horrid flies - so we were back at the Lodge by 1.30 pm and had a rather dull afternoon hanging around. I am afraid I did, politely, express my complete dissatisfaction Boris who tried to amend by offering to helicopter us off the top of Tagua Tagua ....but we declined as this would have meant a) waving goodbye to Isabel at the top in a rather grand and embarrassing fashion! b) missing out on a day of adventure and seeing a nearly extinct frog c) spending a day hanging around at Barraco Lodge again waiting for our transfer at 6.30 that evening......so a generous offer but not really thought through by Boris....... Golf is offered on the website.....there is clearly no golf in reality there just an old pair of clubs hanging around. Overall Barraco fun - communal eating had it's moments but really only because there was another party of 4 adults / 8 kids / their pilot and their guide who clearly dominated proceedings and we always felt very surplus to requirements at dinner stuck at the end of the table, speaking English! They were also sleeping in rooms all round us, above us, etc so no privacy and very noisy but that probably can't be avoided there. Interestingly, the bathrooms are very tired now and oddly we were there for 4 nights and the towels were never changed or dried and we had to hang bath mat out of hedge as the bathroom was beginning to smell rotten everything was so wet and never replaced or dried. We asked for one bag of washing to be done - this was lost (or at least lost until the night before we left when it was claimed we had never handed it, it was then found and clearly washed very quickly and given back to us only slightly cleaner!).
How was your experience in Santiago and the surrounding area?
Hotel great and very friendly - Luciano K. Guides great, drivers lovely. All good.
How was your Kayaking adventure?
AJ fabulous guide. Harder work than I had imagined and rather more scary. I would be wary of taking anyone less than 10 on this as my 10 year old is quite big for his age but was exhausted by the middle of day 2 and frankly unable to help much paddle against the tide for a full day to get to our landing place. Camping was fun - sad that we had to eat inside with another Chilean family who spoke no English when for some reason we had been expecting camp fires and cooking on the fire - but Yolanda was sweet and it was a good experience. AJ's pack lunches were particularly delicious.
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
Yes - I realise that if I do another big trip I need to be more involved in the smaller things around the activities to ensure they really are as expected. I am afraid I do feel a bit diddled by both the riding and definitely by the paddleboarding.