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Richard Hallsted

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?”

Richard Hallsted's Trip:

Safari in Southern Patagonia

Richard Hallsted's Trip Date:

2nd Feb - 17th Feb 2019

Overall, how was your trip?

If you like hiking (or the outdoors in general) and wine, Chile is one of the best places on the planet to visit. Landscapes remind me of the Montana nickname - Big Sky Country. Wildlife was more abundant and more accessible than we expected. People were friendly and helpful. Didn't really go in with specific expectations, so we really were not "surprised" by anything. I/we learned much more detail about the society and the original European settlers than we knew. I had no idea that Croatians migrated in some numbers to the area - like my ancestors (Rick).

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

Pam - Patagonia was better than I anticipated - the beauty, the food, the people. Rick - It is a rare place that is better than the pictures in the brochure (or the website).

Would you visit again?


How was the service that Swoop provided?

Extremely pleased we booked with Swoop. Very happy with the detail and specificity of the process. Given our time frame and the regions we wished to visit, itinerary was fine. It is a long country. Swoop service was fine and documentation informative. We appreciated the details in the Final Itinerary documents. We loved the Matetic stay (the wine was high quality, up to the standards of our Sonoma or Napa wineries we have visited over the years). We wished we would have understood better the detail of what was included at Matetic and maybe a timeline of a day there. We probably would not have rented a car (we were the only ones staying there that had a rented car) and maybe not signed up for full board. Again, we loved it but it is not our usual wine country itinerary and maybe we did not quite realize how far away it was from anything else. Suggest to only book Latam Air, not Sky. If you need another hotel in Puerto Varas, Hotel Cumbre was great. Room was fine, view of volcano from every room and breakfast was great. We walked by Cabana del Lago and it was probably just as nice. But for driving, I believe Hotel Cumbre is easier to get in and out of for day trips - minor point.

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10 out of 10

How was your experience in the Lake District?

We had a slightly different experience here as Pam's Chilean distributor and partner is located in Puerto Montt. We went straight to their office from the airport. The president is from the area and used to be a guide in the Petrohue area so the next day they hosted us on a hike the next day in Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales on the Sendero "Paso Desolación". They drove us to the northern end of the trail so we went one way ending up with a pleasant lunch at the Petrohue Lodge. It was a beautiful sunny day. We had a great time with great discussions about life in Chile and everywhere else we both had been and life in general. But the concept of the one way hike with nice lunch at the end is a great outing..... Car rental worked well - got a mid size SUV which helped on our driving around the lake the last full day there. Again, as said previously, the real volcanos and lakes were even better than the pictures. Hotel we stayed in was perfect for us. We ate one dinner there and it was very nice as well as going out to a couple of the restaurants in town. Puerto Varas was fun, with various art on the shore area, up the hill exhibition and around. A bit more of a touristy spot than the rest of our trip, yet worked well for us after the Torres adventure.

How was your experience in Torres del Paine?

What a cool place...….. We go to Yosemite once a year at least, if not more. We were married in Yosemite. I could go on about Yosemite but you want me to finish this. This is the Chilean Yosemite. Not as easy to get to, which is probably a good thing for the park. As stated earlier, we did not really have set "expectations", just seemed from what our backpacking daughter who had been there a couple of years previously and what I sensed from my online perusing of websites and other peoples reviews that this would be a place we would enjoy. We did enjoy the vistas, granite, trails, etc. immensely. In that sense, it surpassed our expectations. A lot of that may have been Eco Camp. As I mentioned somewhere in the preparation of this trip, it seemed to be a closer reflection of our ethos than staying in a hotel. Just meeting the guides, hearing their stories and getting to know them a bit was a big bonus. Always good to be around youthful exuberance. And dining and hiking with fellow visitors was also interesting and greatly added to the trip. Food was fun and good. Really appreciated the make your own lunch with the salmon and avocado we put in the wraps we made everyday. Wildlife - guanacos, guanacos, guanacos. Condors galore. Rheas, etc. No pumas for us, but others in the right place at the right time saw some. Really liked the domes but definitely would want the superior version with bathroom and nice fireplace. People in standard domes froze. Enjoyed the vibe of the community domes and hanging out some. Transportation all worked well. Comfortable enough and all the drivers were courteous and pleasant.

How was your Vineyard experience?

Highlight was the food and wine. We have visited wineries and vineyards in many places in the world and it is always interesting to see the approach and methods used. The landscape was very much like our California terrain. Guides, staff and all were very helpful and pleasant. Accommodation was great as well, though it would have been nice to have some sort of air intake or air conditioning in the room. Wine - really enjoyed the wine, we did not encounter one we did not like. We are partial to Pinot's and this is one reason we wanted to come to this part of Chilean wine country. One thing that I wish we could have done is visit other wineries and taste as, at least online, that area has many quality establishments. Given the 0.0 blood alcohol limit for driving in Chile, I would suggest that Matetic organize a possible tour of other wineries for people staying there, in particular with a more personal short tour focus on tasting with a few nibbles at each stop. That assumes they are friendly with their competition. In general, people in the different regions of California wine growing do band together for the greater promotion of their craft.

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

Be flexible as weather and nature may alter your plans (as it did for us in Punta Arenas with the wind cancelling our penguin excursion). Punta Arenas is worth a half a day or so exploring with our highlight there being the tour of the Austral Brewery. Cemetery was fascinating insight into the Europeans that settled the area.

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

If one is really, really bored, following is a link to my flickr album page where near the top should be publicly viewable sets of our trip.

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