Mindy De Hooge
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?”
Mindy De Hooge's Trip Date:
16th Dec - 31st Dec 2018
Overall, how was your trip?
Highlight was ecocamp and our guide for the trek there. The food at ecocamp far exceeded any other food we had on the trip. Amazing vegan options at every meal. The biggest surprise was how hard it was to understand Chilean accented Spanish (I speak but mostly with Mexican speakers)! Our most magical moment was surprise live folk music at ecocamp on the evening of the summer solstice. We LOVE American and Celtic folk music, it was amazing to hear and see a new flavor.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
Amazing sights and all the logistics didn’t require a second thought.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
The service was great, we were so glad we had swoop to piece together the different stages of our trip. The itinerary was so informative, we referred to it a lot. Every transition went smoothly and every swoop-booked person we interacted with was so friendly.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
How was your experience in Buenos Aires?
We were in Buenos Aires for less than 24 hours but had a good experience. The Nuss hotel was perfect and we both said “we’d never have found such a good place on our own.” We walked the neighborhood for dinner and stumbled onto a friendly pizza joint that happily made me a vegan pizza (Cosi Mi Piace). Diego, who met us at the airport, was awesome - friendly and amazingly informative for the 20minute car trip.
How was your time in Tierra del Fuego?
We didn’t have a super great time in Ushuaia. It truthfully paled in comparison to the rest of our trip. We had better food in Buenos Aires and at ecocamp. We had better hiking with similar flora and fauna in Chile. We had better views of the sea birds and penguins on our cruise. We went to the maritime/prison museum which was mildly interesting and eclectic. Our hotel was beautiful. We would not recommend the guided tour we took to anyone unless it was their only chance to see penguins. We had no time to explore harborton ranch, our guide tried to bully us into a rafting excursion, and it ended up being a 3 hour drive for 10 minutes of penguins, not even as close as we saw them on the cruise.
How was your hike in Torres del Paine?
The hiking we did in Torres del Paine was the perfect level of challenging. I would update the packing list to NOT recommend waterproof shoes tho - I didn’t have them because I know better as a trail runner, but others in the group had major blister problems because water proof shoes hold your foot sweat in and wet feet are soft feet. Better to get wet in the rain and stand a chance drying off in between than to soak all day. Ecocamp has extraordinarily good food and were amazing about accommodating dietary restrictions. We wish we had spent more time there just for the good food! Scenery in Torres del Paine can’t be beat. It’s a lifetime must! We saw a lot of wildlife and learned a lot of local flora and fauna from our guide. We got so much out of this from having a guide, and would have totally missed out if we had just done the hiking alone.
How was your Patagonian cruise?
Our cruise was really lovely. We learned a lot from the onboard lectures- about glaciology and also the history of the Yamana people. We enjoyed the zodiac excursions, we usually took the “easy” option because it came with more educational time. The boat was very nice. We felt there was no reason to pay extra for the large-window rooms as we spent very little time in the room. They had an open bridge policy so you could knock and go in almost anytime! How cool! The food on the boat was a little lackluster. They had a lot of trouble with catering to dietary restrictions and our waiter couldn’t seem to keep track (seems like they didn’t have a system to write them down) so every night I had to re-explain and he had to go back to the kitchen to ask if the soup had cream in it, etc. Pickup and drop off drivers on either end of the cruise went smooth.
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
It opened my eyes to the fact that native peoples in South America have suffered much the same issues as the native peoples here in the us and Mexico. We will definitely look for more hiking holiday, this was the first one we’ve taken and it was amazing! Also really seeing the value of having a guide.
Is there anything you would recommend we change to make trips like yours more environmentally sustainable?
Can’t think of anything other than promoting partners/tour companies that are sustainability focused. Perhaps reinforcing reuse/buy-used for people doing gear shopping? And reselling their gear instead of trashing it if they will not use it again?
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
Take a Tupperware container to ecocamp to pack your lunch. All the guides do it. It lets you make a salad or take pasta alongside your sandwich. Don’t wear waterproof shoes for hiking. They’ll make your feet sweat! Pack PLENTY of sunscreen and reapply every hour even if you don’t usually burn at home. The sun is super strong. Even if it’s overcast.