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?”
Matthew Hanson's Trip Date:
8th Nov - 23rd Nov 2018
Overall, how was your trip?
Torres del Paine was the highlight. Aguas Arriba was a close second. The landscapes were stunning. There wasn't terribly much wildlife, but we'd also ranked landscapes over wildlife in our trip preferences. Every one of the local activity leaders was fantastic--professional, exceptionally good at communication, and really worked to provide the best experience (Nikolas in Torres del Paine, our driver Luis, Juan in Chalten, both of our kayak operators at Perito Moreno glacier, and the head guide in our Torres del Paine kayaking trip). The glacier was a surprise--we weren't expecting it to be so impressive. I wish we could have gotten closer. Waking up in the quite of Torres del Paine campsite and Aguas Arriba were pretty magical. Watching Alexi grill meat (and try to warm up the wine), while ignoring everyone's instructions on how to cook steak rare, and listening to NWA, it started snowing in our campsite--that was pretty unique.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
It's like nowhere else. I was standing right there, and it still looked like a mat painting.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
Chloe did a great job of helping me understand the options, and did a great job of facilitating our decision-making, with a great mix of prodding as needed while still being patient. The itinerary was great. We weren't wild about Calafate, but it makes sense why Swoop booked it for us. We had one miscommunication about our bookings, which we discovered right before we left, and Hillary moved to rectify it immediately, and communicated very clearly about it. We didn't need any emergency support--we emailed in one time to note that a kayaking experience was cancelled due to weather, and received a shockingly swift response!
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
How was your experience in Buenos Aires?
The hotel was terrific and a great location. The hotel was great--a lovely location, and a great experience. Swoop had some great restaurant recommendations. We also tried one of BA's closed door restaurants with a sommelier, which was a terrific experience. All of the food was amazing. We tried to go to the more "local" tango show (El Catedral), but there wasn't anyone there--some more guidance on when to go would be handy for visitors. I did have trouble figuring out the retail hours. There were a couple of afternoons when I unsuccessfully tried to go shopping--discovering everything was closed.
How was your experience in El Calafate and El Chalten?
El Chalten was amazing. We weren't wild about El Calafate--perfectly lovely, and our hotel was great, but a bit more developed/too much like home for our preferences. The bird sanctuary was a sleeper. The glacier was stunning. It's one of those things I expected to be interesting, but was unprepared for how truly impressive it was. I wish we could have gotten closer to it, or gone hiking on/near it, but it was amazing to just watch. The kayaking guides were incredibly professional and did a great job communicating about the weather challenges that prevented us from going--I would definitely recommend them again. Our big regret was not being able to hike to Fitzroy. It was rainy, so we wouldn't be able to see it. Juan, our guide, was very professional and helpful. We did a short hike instead, which was nice, but I regret not being able to hike to Laguna de los Tres. All the transport was flawless. Aguas Arriba Lodge was stunning. Truly peaceful. We had a great hike on arrival, and spent the next (rainy) day watching the weather on the mountain across the lake, drinking cappuccinos, and reading. It was very relaxing. They take hospitality seriously :)
How was your experience in Santiago and the surrounding area?
I was surprised by the street art--that was great fun. I would have loved to visit some art galleries, but it was a bit tricky to navigate those. Santiago was very easy to navigate, and surprisingly walkable. We did not visit the wine valleys. I'd love to do that next time, and see the desert. The local hotel was the only downside. The building is gorgeous, and you can't beat the location, but they have some work to do on the customer service side. When we went to close the blinds on our second-to last day, the whole curtain rod and curtains fell down. We told the front desk, and they said they'd fix it. They didn't, which meant that the decorative lights on the outside of the building were shining into our room all night, and we couldn't sleep. On top of this, once we were in bed around midnight, someone came knocking at our door. Assuming it was another guest mistaken about the room, we ignored it. After a minute or so of knocking, someone unlocked the door, and entered the room, and then quickly left. It turns out it was the hotel staff, belatedly delivering our welcome packet from Swoop's local partner (two days late). I was VERY creeped out that they would actually enter someone's room--the electronic keys should have clearly indicated we were in the room, or they could have called. Really any solution would have been better. Finally, when we booked a taxi to the airport, the man at the front desk insisted on booking it for an hour later than Swoop recommended. We thus did not have enough time the airport, and had to rush to the front of the line (which is rude, and I hated doing). The taxi driver was also a bit sketchy--he seemed to be overpriced, and insisted on us tucking our cash payment under the armrest in the front of the car to avoid some sort of police notice--not a big deal, but it was a bit weird.
How was your hike in Torres del Paine?
Nikolas was a terrific guide--he has the perfect blend of understanding the odd mix of privilege and vulnerability you have as a tourist, and clearly has a great deal of pride in showing off his country. I came down with a pretty nasty cold on my second day, and everyone took terrific care of me (Nikolas, Luis our driver, and the two other couples from South Africa/Canada in the campsite). On our return to civilization, Nikolas took me to a local pharmacy so that I could dose myself through the rest of my cold. The long hikes were challenging, but well worth it, and it was delightful to have the glamping at the end. The tents were lovely. More hot water would have been even better in the showers, but it was otherwise terrific. There wasn't a lot of wildlife.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
We've already recommended Swoop to a host of people.
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
Can you handle travel arrangements to places like Torres del Paine for folks who aren't up for demanding 8hr hikes? My parents would love to visit, but are less mobile than I am :)