Ashleyanne

Switzerland

Customer
Rating

7

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?”

Ashleyanne's Trip Date:

18th Nov - 1st Dec 2018

Overall, how was your trip?

The highlight was our puma tracking trail with Antonia in TdP (6.2km) which also took us to ancient cave paintings or the condor trek we did where we got to "soar" in the Patagonian wind at the top of our mountain and condor lookout. She tailored made an experience for me (a non-hiker) that made me absolutely fall in love with the park. She found was to get us to taste, see and smell all the truly wild and magical pieces of this special place. Without her wisdom and enthusiasm, our experience would have been so different, and I'm certain it would not have been as good. Whether we got Antonia by luck or by a plan, she was absolutely perfect for us. We are looking forward to keeping in touch with her.

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

Patagonia exceeded my expectations and captured my heart and imagination! Whether we were soaring on the brisk winds that caress the Torres or tasting the fruits from the earth, we fell in love with Patagonia and can't wait to return!

Would you visit again?

Yes

How was the service that Swoop provided?

Overall, I am pleased we booked with Swoop. There were parts of this trip that were undoubtedly better because we had local insight other parts that I could have planned better with a little more research on my own - these were mainly the hotels. A couple of comments: Transport: The buses Swoop booked were easy to navigate, and we were pleased to have the organized for us. Although the bus from El Calafate took 7 hours vs. the anticipated 4 (delays at the border). This meant we were late getting into TdP and since our tour guide had our lunch - we were starving by the time we arrived. But Antonia had a plan and made the day special nonetheless. Our first full day in the TdP was hard - cold, wet, grey but the boat trip to see the glaciers was a great way to still experience the natural brilliance without hiking for hours in the rain. I'm glad I asked to include that part in our tour otherwise we would have missed out during the speed of our booking. We liked the domes camping on the Serrano River, and we were glad we chose a private tour vs. joining the 3-day W trekking groups. After hearing the stories of those doing the 3 day trek at dinner and seeing the weather they encountered we made the right choice for us. The 3-day W experience would have been too much and we felt we would have lost the magic for the sake of speed and box checking. Finally, because Antonia made such a good plan for us, the guilt we felt for not doing the W on this trip melted away and was replaced with a truly tailor-made experience. 2 nights here was the perfect amount of time here. The IF hotel in Puerto Natales was fine. The owner was very nice. We were on the 3rd floor...with no lift. Which usually wouldn't be a problem but we had extra luggage with us from the Antartica part of our trip, and that made a lot of additional and unexpected lifting. Come to find out this would be a common situation for there rest of our trip (including El Loco Yuenga, Baracco Lodge). Perhaps it would be wise to advise clients of the lack of a lift - just in case they are not fit enough to carry their 23kg luggage up 3 flights? Puerta Arenas: El Loco Yuenga was an interesting fun boutique hotel with good location. We really enjoyed the one night we stayed here, and despite our penguin tour being canceled (it turned out for the best), we had great meals here and a nice walk in the city. Porto Varas - Solace (not Estancia 4XX - there was some confusion on where we were during one of the transfers) the location was great, the hotel wasn't anything special. Wouldn't stay here again. Baracco Lodge was the best surprise of the "hotel" part of the trip. We enjoyed our couple of days here. The horseback riding was fantastic! Perhaps the best "trail ride" I've done in years. We also really liked the heli-kayaking. Such a unique experience and our room was BEAUTIFUL. I'm so glad we did the superior suite. The lamb bbq was also a highlight of our stay here. Lovely hospitality but short on the piscos by the hottub. Hotel Aiken in El Calafate was a 3 out of 10 for us and the least popular of the Swoop suggestions. The room was fine, but as we pulled up there was a bus of old German tourists was unloading, and it made it feel like we were stuck in a tourist mill along a long journey (which it was). I would have paid a little more for something more unique. On a brighter note - across the street, at the restaurant, we had one of the best glasses of wine of the trip. Speaking of wine, this was the greatest disappointment of our trip. When we finally got to go on our wine tour - the Swoop itinerary mentioned a tour of 3 vineyards in the Casablanca Valley. We went to one - and the saddest part!? They didn't even import to Switzerland, Germany or France which meant we would either have to carry any wine we purchased or not buy any. After our one wine tour, we continued with a driving tour of Vina del Mar - meh. And a quick walking tour of Valparaiso with our Santiago guide. This was ok, but when we went 2 more free tours on our free day, we had a better experience. The Protours version of the trip could have been better spent at the vineyards - which needed the car. I don't know if there was confusion on the agreed upon itinerary between Protours and Swoop and what was shared with us but it made for an awkward day. That said, we LOVED Valparaiso and Fauna. It was an excellent location and comfortable, unique hotel. By this point, I was also hungry for a massage as our vacation drew to a close and Fauna delivered. It was an unexpected perk! Finally, 2 days in Santiago was great - just long enough. The highlight of our Santiago trip was when Tania our guide took us to the market (the local version not the "clean" version) to buy Merken (a local spice) and to have Sopapillas from a traditional Mapuche stand. Fantastic! She really worked with us to create a spontaneous foodie tour... empanadas, completos, Sopapillas... wonderful!! The hotel Luciano K was fine - both versions of our room. The location was perfect however the staff at breakfast were rude and not helpful. Certainly not 4.5-star service. Regarding prep before our trip, Hilary and Chole were great--responsive, through and willing to help. I was thrilled to have you guys on board and how fast you turned it around. 1 to 1.5 months is not a long time to work magic, and you definitely found us some Patagonian magic! We did use the WhatsApp support -it was fast and efficient. Thanks!! Could you let me know what happened with the Wine Tours? Was I confused or where they? Many thanks again for being our local "fixers!"

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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

7 out of 10

How was your experience in the Lake District?

Porto Varas - Solace Hotel (not Estancia 4XX - there was some confusion on where we were during one of the transfers) the location was great, the hotel wasn't anything special. Wouldn't stay here again if I were to return. Baracco Lodge was the best surprise of the "hotel" part of our trip. Stefan loved it - from the view to the saddle bar stools. And the helicopter part was a dream for him. We enjoyed our couple of days here. The horseback riding was fantastic! Perhaps the best "trail ride" I've done in years. We also really liked the heli-kayaking. Such a unique experience and our room was BEAUTIFUL. I'm so glad we did the superior suite. The lamb bbq was also a highlight of our stay here. Lovely hospitality if not short on the piscos by the hottub- which might entirely be a culture thing!

How was your experience in El Calafate and El Chalten?

Hotel Aiken in El Calafate was a 3 out of 10 for us and the least popular of the Swoop bookings. The room was good, but as we pulled up there was a bus of old German tourists was unloading, and it made it feel like we were stuck in a tourist mill along a long journey (which it was). I would have paid a little more for something more unique and or reserved it for another time if we could have made other transportation arrangements. On a brighter note - across the street from the Hotel Aiken, at the restaurant, we had one of the best glasses of wine of the trip. Come to find out, this will become an telling memory when we get to the Santiago part of our trip. We were grateful for Swoop's knowledge of how to leverage the available transportation options to get us to our destination of Punta Arenas but as there would be unexpected literary cancellations (penguin tour) there it was hard to know that we would lose almost 2 days (1 travel and 1 sightseeing) to see nothing in El Calafate.

How was your experience in Santiago and the surrounding area?

The wine tour(s) was the greatest disappointment of our trip. When we finally got to go on our wine tour - the Swoop itinerary mentioned a tour of 3 vineyards in the Casablanca Valley, we went to only one instead. And the saddest part!? They didn't even import to Switzerland, Germany or France which meant we would either have to carry any wine we purchased or not buy any. After our one wine tour, we continued with a driving tour of Vina del Mar which was "meh." We chose not to stop to see the "famous" flower clock (we have plenty of those in Europe) and so it was quick beach stop to smell the sea air before we got into the car again to head up to Valparasio. With this in mind, the day could have been better spent at the vineyards - which needed the car. I don't know if there was confusion on the agreed upon itinerary between Protours and Swoop and what was shared with us but it made for an awkward day. When we arrived in Valapariso the guide took us to our hotel to drop off our luggage before taking us on a "quick" walking tour. This was ok but unexpected and as we had planned to do 2 more free tours on our free day, duplication was imminent. Come to our free day and we had a significantly better experience with local guides in the city. All that said, we LOVED Valparaiso and Fauna. It was an excellent location and comfortable, unique hotel. By this point in our trip, I was also hungry for a massage as our vacation drew to a close and Fauna delivered. It was an unexpected perk! Finally, 2 days in Santiago was great - just long enough. The highlight of our Santiago trip was when Tania our guide took us to the market (the local version not the "toursit" version) to buy Merken (a local spice) and to have Sopapillas from a traditional Mapuche stand. Fantastic! She really worked with us to create a spontaneous foodie tour... empanadas, completos, Sopapillas... wonderful and something special we would have been reluctant to do on our own. We also enjoyed the funicular to the top of the hill even though the rest of the city tour felt very rushed - which was partially our fault for stopping to snack - I guess :) . As for the the hotel Luciano K -- it was fine - both versions of our room (superior and deluxe). The location was perfect; however, the staff at breakfast were rude and not helpful. Certainly not 4.5-star service. The breakfast itself was a 6 at best. I would dare to say it was on par with Hotel Aiken which is certainly a hotel class below this one. In terms of transportation - Alejandro - our Santiago driver was fantastic! Kind, helpful and patient when we were late getting back from our walking tour. His vehicle was clean, spacious for the 3 of us and modern.

How was your experience in Torres del Paine?

As I described before, Antonia our guide was wonderful. She made this part of the trip for us. Without her we would have had a different drip entirely. That said, our first full day in the TdP was hard - cold, wet, grey. We were wet to the bone but the boat trip to see the glaciers was a great way to still experience the natural brilliance without hiking for hours in the rain. I'm glad I asked to include that part in our tour otherwise we would have missed out during the speed of our booking. We liked the domes camping on the Serrano River, and we were glad we chose a private tour vs. joining the 3-day W trekking groups. After hearing the stories of those doing the 3 day trek at dinner and seeing the weather they encountered we made the right choice for us. The 3-day W experience would have been too much and we felt we would have lost the magic for the sake of speed and box checking. I'm glad I didn't give in to the guilt trip I felt for not wanting the hike the W that I felt after discovering the distances on the Swoop website during the last hours of our booking prior to making our payment. And because Antonia made such a good plan for us, the guilt we felt for not doing the W on this trip melted away and was replaced with a truly tailor-made experience. 2 nights here was the perfect amount of time here. Both of our drivers during this part of our trip were wonderful! The first one, as a former guide himself was brilliant at knowing when to stop for a photo or for spotting animals and unique landscapes.

How were your wildlife encounters?

Puerta Arenas: El Loco Yuenga was an interesting fun boutique hotel with good location. We really enjoyed the one night we stayed here, and despite our penguin tour being canceled (it turned out for the best), we had great meals here and a nice walk in the city. That said, prior to our tour plans with Swoop, we had just been on a expedition tour in the Antarctic -- which the planning team knew about. We saw SO many penguins on that trip, that by the time we would have been on our wildlife encounter in Punta Arenas to see more penguins, the luster of wildlife would have worn off.

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

I didn't know where to put this feedback in the detailed pieces so I'm adding it here: The IF hotel in Puerto Natales was quaint. We were on the 3rd floor...with no lift. Which usually wouldn't be a problem but we had extra luggage with us from the Antartica part of our trip, and that made a lot of additional and unexpected lifting. Come to find out this would be a common situation for there rest of our trip (including El Loco Yuenga, Baracco Lodge). Perhaps it would be wise to advise clients of the lack of a lift - just in case they are not fit enough to carry their 23kg luggage up 3 flights? That said, The owner was very nice and the resto next door was suburb!

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

I discovered Swoop when I was trying to pack for our Antarctica expedition - which preceded our trip to Chile. During that research phase, I found your images and tips really helpful especially the sections on how to dress. Because your content was so helpful and the layout and design of your website easy to use for the most part, we ended up booking with you all. I also appreciated having all the info in one place via a link. The only thing I think would have made it easier would have been to have it all on an app which could have been used without internet access. During many parts of our trip, and because we moved around every 2-3days it meant internet was dodgy and and I found myself just taking screen shots of our itinerary for easy access. Finally, if you would like more detail on any of my comments or feedback in this document, please reach out to me. :) Thanks again for helping us make Chile a destination we will never forget!

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