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?”
Pete Lee's Trip:Paine Circuit Half and Half
Pete Lee's Trip Date:
27th Jan - 17th Feb 2019
Overall, how was your trip?
The Heumal Circuit trek was a real highlight because athough it is very close to the very populated El Chalten it feels like truly remote wilderness. We met just 8 other trekkers during the whole of the 4 days and then only in passing.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
We liked it very much. It was similar to our expectations.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
This was a first trip in the area for us so advice from people who know the area was very useful. The suggestion of the Heumal trek in El Chalten was a really good one but your dossier was misleading because it implied it would only be necessary to carry a sleeping bag and mat in addition to personal stuff. At the last minute we had to decide whether to pay for a very expensive porter. This didn't put us in a good mood .. especially as we had specifically indicated that we did not want to carry a tent or food if possible. For the Paine trek, we thought with hindsight that it should have been possible for us to do this trek on a light weight self guided basis. More detail about this later. Regarding the bus and transfer bookings … it was good to have the El Chalten transfers organized by Walk Patagonia. Similarly it was good to have Dittmar’s organising and briefings about the transfers to Paine that were included in the Paine Circuit trek. However, although the bus travel to and from Puerto Natales worked very smoothly, it would actually have been much quicker and easier to have booked these on line ourselves rather than have Dittmar do it for us. They booked exactly what I had planned to book so there was no advantage from local knowledge, but it was several days before they confirmed that the bookings were made and provided details.
How did you feel about booking directly with our partner(s)?
Yes - this all worked fine.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
8 out of 10
How was your experience in El Chalten?
The Heumal Circuit trek was a real highlight because athough it is very close to the very populated El Chalten it feels like truly remote wilderness. We met just 8 other trekkers during the whole of the 4 days and then only in passing. The guide and porter provided by Walk Patagonia were superb and we had a lot of fun with them (even though the porter barely spoke English) as well being kept well informed about flora, fauna and geology. It was a good call for me to have the porter even though it was expensive. In contrast to the Dittmar situation he (and the guide) carried a lot of essential stuff with some luxuries thrown in. We carried only our own things. The guide was also essential for us on this trek as we wouldn’t have managed the Tyrolean crossings without him (at least, not without a lot of preparation beforehand!).
How likely is it that you would recommend this trip to a friend? (where 0 = Not at all likely, 5 = Neutral, 10 = Extremely Likely)
10 out of 10
How was your Full Circuit trek in Torres del Paine?
We gave the following feedback to Dittmar: The most important things to say are that: - we thoroughly enjoyed the Paine Circuit trek - the staff – guide and porters – were fantastic - the food was great - the tents were very comfortable with plenty of space for two - the travel and camp bookings worked like clockwork. So overall a 5 star experience. We did reflect on the way in which the package was constructed though. Our guide, Carlos, mentioned that different companies do it in different ways so I thought it might be worth feeding back our thoughts. We organized this trip close to the last minute so our main need for support was in booking the accommodation and food. We had briefed Swoop that we wanted to self-guide where possible but didn’t want to carry a tent or food and the half-and-half trip was suggested. Keeping the price down was also important. So our thoughts relate to the way in which your package met our initial requirements. The porters, Camilo and Gary, were excellent and, so far as we know, did everything you briefed them to do very well. However, we did question why we needed two porters. We understand that porters are able to carry 15kg of gear each and assume that this is in addition to whatever they take for themselves?? So far as we can see, they carried just 2 tents and the food and cooking gear for the Los Perros night. As accommodation was, in principle, available at each of our stopping points we assume that the tents were required because we booked the trek close to the last minute (??) but their maximum combined weight couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 kg. So did the food and cooking gear for one night account for about 25kg? Maybe it did; the bits and pieces that Camilo and Gary extracted from their rucksacks did seem to add up to a huge pile! They produced some excellent food for our night at Los Perros including a lavish afternoon tea and plenty of coffee after dinner. We much enjoyed this but we did think we could have coped with the basic “just add water” food that Los Perros apparently can provide. It seemed particularly bizzare to have this high service level at the most basic camp when no facility for hot drinks on arrival or after the evening meal was included in the package at any other camp. For me at least, that was a source of minor discomfort at the other camps. We also wondered why we were carrying sleeping bags and sleeping mats since if these could not be included in the porters’ 30kg (??) we understand that bedding could have been provided at each location. This wasn’t a big deal as we have light weight gear and it was well within our capacity to carry it but it did seem pointless to be carrying more than was necessary, especially when we had two porters in tow. The other question we pondered was whether we really needed a guide. We understand that Dittmar insists on a guide for a trip that involves the Paso John Gardener. That’s fair enough in principle, but we did notice that hardly anyone else going over the pass had a guide and that we were much better equipped and considerably more experienced than almost all of them. We went over in high winds and a blizzard and could see that if there had been more snow, route finding could have been challenging. I’m certain we would have easily managed on our own but it was quite reassuring to have Carlos with us if only because (a) he would know how to handle a situation in which bad weather actually prevented crossing the pass, and (b) he could help others if any of them got into difficulty. So I don’t think it was necessary for us to have the guide, but it was rather nice to have someone with us who know what to expect each day, pointed out things that others would miss and was generally knowledgeable about the wildlife, geology etc. Carlos was good company too. So, in summary, we thought it would be easy in principle to do the whole trip on a self-guided light-weight basis using the facilities provided at the huts but that having a guide did provide an extra element of interest. We thought the porters weren’t really necessary except, possibly, because our last minute booking may have required tents.
If you received our guide to Santiago before you travelled, what did you think of it? For instance (but not limited to):
I'm not sure if we used it in earnest. I don't recall it adding anything to what is readily available on the internet but maybe we could have made more use of your insider tips! We aren't negative about this .. just neutral. We were only there for a day and a half.
How was your Patagonian Cruise?
We thoroughly enjoyed the Australis voyage although the weather wasn’t entirely in our favour. It was a lot of money but a different and delightful experience for us so we aren’t regretting the expenditure. It was disappointing not to get to Cape Horn but I guess that’s the luck of the draw.
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
We enjoyed interacting with Taylor. The time difference between us and him had benefits and disadvantages. It was good to know we could still get a response from him until quite late in our evening, but it was sometimes (especially on a Monday, after a weekend with no service) frustrating to have to wait until late in our day before we could move things forward with him.