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?”
Susan Lewis' Trip Date:
24th Mar - 10th Apr 2018
Overall, how was your trip?
Patagonia camp was THE highlight. Brilliant place to stay. Excellent service. Fantastic walks. Brilliant staff. Liked the fact that there were walks at different levels so able to pick and choose to meet your needs. Loved looking for pumas - and seeing all the other wild life - eagles. condors, foxes, skunks as well as lama guanaco. Stella Australis cruise also awesome. Some poor weather but going to Cape Horn was a highlight - and seeing the many glaciers. Talks on ship were truly excellent. Had read This Thing of Darkness (Harry Thompson) in advance and the cruise really brought it to life. Perito Moreno glacier also a highlight.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
Scenery was amazing - and surpassed expectations. Little disappointed with some of the towns e.g. Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales. Overall food disappointing.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
Sally really listened to my requirements (and budget!) and brought the whole thing together really well. The luxuries (Patagonia Camp and cruise) blended well with the more 2/3 star hotels and economising on things like the public bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate worked really well - as it was really a luxury coach! My major criticism would be around information on things to do at various places. I am used to conducting a lot of research myself and finding our own way about but when you are short of time some pointers in advance are helpful. I don't think there is enough information on your website and asking the hotel for ideas was generally hopeless! (Hotel Clasico in BA being the exception) e.g would have been useful to have pointed us to new museums in Ushuaia and Tourist Information for walks as well as suggesting taking a taxi and then the train through the Tierra Del Fuego national park. We were met at the airport and it just felt like the rep was trying to sell us a tour the next morning so we wasted more time than we needed to if Swoop had given better pointers. Likewise it would have been useful to know about the free shuttle bus to the glacier museum in El Calafate. It was too late by the time we found out. We asked at the hotel about the walk around the lagoon but they were very dismissive saying there were no birds to see. A real niggle related to currency in Argentina. I asked you about this in advance and I do think you could be clearer about this. In effect we needed to pay in Argentinian pesos. I couldn't buy these in the UK so arrived on a Sunday in BA with none - and nowhere to change money. ( Hotel was not in the centre and there didn't seem to be a ATM nearby).The hotel came to our rescue and changed US$ (legally or not I don't know). On several occasions we tried to pay by Visa but restaurants charged 20% more for doing so. I am pleased we booked with a specialist company but your knowledge of Patagonia occasionally worked against you in that sometimes I sensed you thought I was worrying unnecessarily about things and it would all be alright when we got there - which it was - but you know that because of your experience and I didn't!
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
7 out of 10
How was your experience in Buenos Aires?
Your travel partner in BA was excellent. All transport was on time and the person meeting us excellent. Highly recommended. We liked the Hotel Clasico very much and the person on reception at arrival and the next day was VERY helpful - telling us about the METRO and tango in San Telmo. Saying that we think we would have preferred to be in Palermo Soho. We had very poor experiences in the restaurants near Clasico. In fact in general we found the service in restaurants in Argentina very poor and preferred Chile in that regard. Hotel Casasur was fine although the room was very small and I did query that. Breakfasts in both were excellent. We thought the tango shows in BA were very expensive and decided not to go. Again it would have been useful for you to give specific information about seeing free tango in the square in San Telmo. We walked and walked in BA - as well as using the METRO. One day covering about 20kms. Generally the best way to see a city. It seemed every time we stopped to consult our map,someone stopped to see if they could help. By the end of out stay we thought we had got to grips with it but it is a huge city and of course you see the extremes of wealth and poverty. I enjoyed having a sense of its affluent past and also seeing the up and coming neighbourhoods of Palermo and San Telmo. We had wanted to go to a football match between 2 of the rival clubs in BA but were warned off this by your agents - possibly wise as i think it would not be a good idea to get lost there (we heard of 2 ladies having their bags snatched on the flight home). I think BA requires a lot of time to get to know it but I don't think we would return other than for an overnight stay.
How was your experience in El Calafate and El Chalten?
We were only in El Calafate for 2 nights. Perito Moreno Glacier simply superb. Your partner agency was 15 minutes late picking us up for the trip which was annoying as only 2 other people on it. Guide was however very knowledgeable. Packed lunch was collected from reception but not provided by hotel - very poor indeed. Hotel very disappointing and I don't think you should use it - must be lots of choice in the town. Very poor breakfast, tired hotel, morose staff - seemed to be a hotel used for stopovers on bus tours. As I have said elsewhere would have been useful to have had details in advance about free shuttle to the glacier museum.
How was your time in Tierra del Fuego?
Hotel Alto Andino was fine. Good room and loved the dining room with panoramic view. Didn't really make the most of our time in Ushuaia and again I think this was because of little information in advance. We could have done some self-guided walks but weren't aware of this until it was too late (by going to Tourist Information). Only realised about the "convict" railway because your agent, an arrival, tried to sell us a trip which included this. We took a taxi to the railway and did it ourselves, We treally needed to be "up and running" as soon as we arrived in Ushuaia and i think you could have pointed us to the Tourist Information (and also mentioned the various museums).
How was your experience in Torres del Paine?
Pleased we were slightly out of season (Sally's suggestion to meet our budget) as can imagine it can be heaving in peak season - and Patagonia Camp staff can closely follow the 12 microclimates to find decent weather. Everything about the stay in Patagonia camp was 5 Star. Scenery, wild life, guides, accommodation - everything - exceeded all expectations. I had a heavy cold and cough and staff went out of their way to provide a flask of hot water, honey and lemon. We decided to leave early on our last day rather than stay for dinner as I was too ill to walk much - they rearranged the transfer time to Puerto Natales, arranged for us to have dinner at the hotel there and because we had paid for dinner at Patagonia Camp, picked up the bill. We hope to return.
How was your Patagonian cruise?
Stella Australis cruise was excellent. Crew did everything they could to enable excursions from ship to happen - but weather stopped 2 of them.The poor weather was slightly disappointing but did give atmosphere and a flavour of the climate in that part of the world - after all we weren't cruising the Med. Excursion to Cape Horn really good. Excursion staff very well informed and talks/ lectures they gave of a very high level with excellent research. Although we had one of the most basic cabins it was very good indeed and we enjoyed being at sea level to watch the world go by. Only negative was the last night when a chart of the cruise was auctioned off - the proceeds going to the crew. Given the huge "tip box" in reception and the suggestion of a tip of $15 per day per person we thought this most inappropriate. If everyone followed the tip suggestion that would be $3000 per day - more than enough. Checking in luggage for the cruise was a bit of a pain. had to check in by 3 pm but couldn't get on board until 6pm so a lot of waiting in the cold.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
If we go back we will probably stick to Chile. Found service to be better. Economising on some things to pay for the real treats is a good idea. Think about how to pay for things in Argentina. In addition we arrived in BA both times on a Saturday - not the best time as many shops are closed and then if you are there for the weekend museums are generally closed on Mondays. You can eat quite cheaply and since we found that overall food was not amazing (Including the famous Argentinian beef - our farm shop locally does better!) go for that!
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
Inevitably when asking for feedback you get lots of negatives! Have given these because I think Swoop can improve - mainly more communication about places - don't rely on local agents and hotels for this. I don't think another company could have given me what I wanted from this trip within our budget - and for that I'm grateful for the work you put into planning the itinerary.