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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?”
Steve Strauss' Trip:Hike, Kayak & Ride Puerto Varas
Steve Strauss' Trip Date:
7th Mar - 15th Mar 2019
Overall, how was your trip?
There were a lot of highlights. We very much enjoyed Puerto Varas and surrounding areas. Our mix of activities centered around PV were really fun and diverse; the birding trip with an excellent Birds Chile guide, Carlo, to the Alerce forest natural park was a nice hike and we saw a number of birds; the kayak trip across the fjord was fun and our wonderful guide, Paz, was fun and we had lunch at a sheep farm, which was special. On our off day, we rented a car and drove into the Petrohui National Park and hiked up the flank of Osorno volcano, which was a bit challenging but really fun. The Mero Gaucho B&B was the best place to stay and had great staff. Puerto Varas was a nice little place to walk around and we found great places to eat. The second phase of the trip to Patagonia was really great. We had a good experience with the car rental and able to manage getting gas. Arriving at the Estancia Cerro Guido was a real highlight. The staff was wonderful and the accommodations were great and very interesting. We ended up going into Torres del Painey every day for hikes and drove through most of the park on one day. It was spectacular scenery and we especially enjoyed the ferry out to the Francis valley for a hike up towards the lookout was awesome. The other hikes we took were also suggested by the staff at the Estancia and those were excellent. We saw a lot of guanacos, rheas, flamengos, swans and geese. The food at the Estancia was excellent and we had very nice conversations with the waitstaff at the restaurant. Very special place. On the first night in the Estancia, after a long day of travel it was special to be able to see the Torres in the sunset. We have already told our friends about how wonderful our trip was to Chile in general and these places in particular. We were surprised by how open we found everyone in Chile to be and how enjoyable it was to talk to everyone we met; even those people who didn't speak much English and we speak very little Spanish, and much of that badly. We also had a chance to meet with one of the owners of the Estancia, who was on a visit to the ranch, and had a very interesting conversation. The gas situation in Patagonia was not really a surprise but we did find it manageable with some planning.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
We found Patagonia to be a spectacular place with lots of wildlife, wide- open spaces, and commanding views.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
We were very pleased to have booked through Swoop. The choices for places to stay and the suggestions for activities that we ultimately came too after reviewing and adjusting the original plan were very much aligned with our interests, levels of comfort and adventure. So we appreciated the level of interaction to develop the itinerary and then allow us to evaluate and edit. It is so much harder, perhaps even impossible, to come up with these ideas on our own without having experience in the area. The information provided by the final travel itinerary was helpful as was the items to take with us. We didn't call on any support during the trip. It was nice to have the person meet us at the Punta Arenas airport (although we hadn't expected it) and she helped us to plan for the drive and places to go.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
How was your experience in the Lake District?
Steve's highlight was the hike up Orsono volcano and I loved the two day trips, the Alerce forest and kayak trips. Our guides were both really great and had good suggestions for places to eat, other sights to see and visit in town. We would certainly recommend both guides very highly. The Mero Gaucho was a special place, which was conveniently located for walking downtown, and the front office staff were lively, friendly and very helpful. The rooms were well appointed, very comfortable and exactly what we were looking for in a place to stay. Our driver were both interesting and knowledgeable. On our off day, we rented a car - facilitated by the front desk staff and drove to Vicente Perez Rosales National Park to hike. It was easy to navigate our way to the park, drive along lake Llanquihue, and we had a great hike. On our kayak trip in the Reloncavi fjord, a real highlight was stopping at Yolanda's farm for lunch. A very memorable stay and visit.
How was your experience in Torres del Paine?
We had a great time in Torres del Paine. It is amazing country. We were stunned to hear and see ice falling from the hanging glaciers in the Francis Valley on our hike. It was fascinating to see the Torres towers in the early morning, in fog, and during sunset. We hadn't expected the surrounding countryside to be so spare and with such a long horizon. The plants were also very special with unusual shapes and structures. With the car, we had flexibility and were able to drive through many sections of the park. We were pleased that there weren't as many people and we could get on the ferry and hike with either almost no one (Mirador Condor, Lake Azul) or with a steady, but manageable flow of people, Frances Valley. The traffic was also not bad in the park. We would and have recommended the Estancia Cerro Guido. It was a wonderful venue- from the horses grazing on the lawn, to the gauchos headed out every morning, to the views of the park and Cerro Guido. The food was excellent and we met several young people working in the restaurant, as guides or desk staff. They were all wonderful; excited about their jobs and prospects and very engaging. We enjoyed everything about this place. The car was 4WD and worked out really well. The roads are interesting to drive, as they follow the contours of the landscape, but well maintained and very passable. We did have to drive back to Puerto Natales for gas but not a big problem. The hotel guides had good recommendations for hikes that helped us manage the driving and gas situation. We were happy to go it alone and not use guided tours- it worked well for us to have a schedule that allowed us the flexibility to check out different aspects of the park. We met with the Swoop partner at the airport and she was very helpful for us planning to visit for a while in Puerto Natales and with suggestions for things to do in the area. We had no issues at all during the trip. It was really a wonderful place to go and we anticipate visiting again in the future.
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
We both thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Given the number of people who visit Torres del Paine it is remarkable that the park is managing the resources well. We were struck by the energy and dynamism of young people in Chile.
Is there anything you would recommend we change to make trips like yours more environmentally sustainable?
Good question. Don't have any specific recommendations.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
We rented hiking poles from a shop in Puerto Natales. They were very useful and we didn't have to pack them or have to check luggage for our flights.
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
Don't have a picture at the moment to share. Maybe we can send one later.