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?”
Sean's Trip Date:
21st Nov - 1st Dec 2021
What was your most memorable moment?
There were so many but I found the hike on day 3 through the French valley to be out of this world.
Which of the following best describes your adventure?
On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend or colleague?
10 out of 10
How was your experience getting to and from Chile/Argentina?
There is a very convenient non-stop flight form JFK to SCL so that part was easy. There were no issues with the flight to PNT other than all of the Covid testing (4 each). But having said that the mobility passes worked.
How did it feel to be one of the first travellers to visit Patagonia after the pandemic?
Initially we were a little nervous with all of the paperwork and testing with the potential for a snafu along the way. However the mobility passes worked well and the test were all negative and we were only confined for about 10 hours on our arrival until we had a passing test form the airport. I must say that the logistics of testing is Chile is excellent. Once we were clear to move about, the overwhelming feeling was that of welcoming as tourism has clearly suffered. We were even feted with a cake to celebrate our presence as the first foreigners in Chilenativas Serrano Riverside Camp (in addition to my wife's birthday of course). Selfishly I have to say that we benefited from a less crowded trails .
Tell us about Torres del Paine
It exceeded our expectations which were quite high to begin with from your slick web site and many travel programs. The highlights were many as mentioned previously. There is such a unique combination of terrains form glciers top snow capped peaks and turquoise lakes which would be hard to find together in a relatively compact area. Even the weather co-operated with clear skies at key moments where the landscape was at its best. While the site of the large tract of land that was consumed in the 2018 fire was sad to see, there was something eerie and ghost-like about the blanched dead trees. Being able to trek on a receding glacier is something that may not be possible in the near future so that also made it memorable.
Tell us about the Trekking
We are avid hikers so we will push through pain if needed. No pain was encountered, Just fatigue at the end of the day. Well worth it if you have any desire to see spectacular scenery. The accommodations were comfortable and the food was tasty - replenishing calories faster that we expended them. And we never felt our packs that we had to carry were in any way burdensome. Whar was raly impressive was what our guides could carry including tents and some many treats for us like pesto sauce, real coffee and chocolate.
In what was an extremely enjoyable experience it would be unfair to raise any criticism but I will do so only to help you with future planning. We were not aware that sun glasses are mandatory on the glacier hike until we arrived at the camp but fortunately we did have enough between, So a heads-up on that would be helpful. We were disappointed that we could not kayak but that was probably the least important activity. The weather is beyond your control and you kindly offered a refund. I did feel that the company providing the kayak experience were keen to cancel quickly and not wait to see if the weather wold break (which it did). However that same company did fine job on the ice hike. The horse back riding was enjoyable and we saw some rare birds. I have to say that the guide, Mauricio, was totally disengaged even at one stage when my wife lost control of her horse as he ran through the forest causing some minor injury and distress. Pelin, the Chile Nativo guide intervened to calm the horse and had to summon Mauricio who had watched the whole thing passively without moving. He did eventually lead the high-spirited horse until it calmed down. Again kudos to Pelin on her intervention. She also acted as interpreter and sometimes had to draw information from Mauricio as he was otherwise not very communicative.
Were Swoop right to recommend Chile Nativo?
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
Be prepared for long hikes. Bring layers of clothing which you may have to change into and out of a number of times in a single day. Not all creature comforts may be available including fast internet but we found that to be a good thing. Don't forget the sunglasses and the SP50 even on cold days. And don't be surprised if the sun seems to move from right to left. Unless you from the southern hemisphere
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
We have learned so much more about Chile and its many indigenous tribes. Even the recent history was apparent form the museum dedicated to the atrocities of the Pinochet dictatorship. As the first round of the Presidential election took place when we flew to PNT we were very interested in its outcome. We are obviously hoping the new president can address some of the problems that is facing this beautiful and welcoming country. We are impressed with the way they are handling the pandemic while balancing the safety of the population and protecting tourism. We hope they are successful with that and that they will see more visitors in the future including a return visit from the Johnstons.
Do you have any recommendations for Swoop, or feedback about the team?
I covered most of this in the earlier section with some of my criticism but there is not much I would change with the program. The payment process was a little unwieldy so thank goodness for credit cards.
How helpful was the information we shared with you, in your Adventure Planner, before your trip? Such as ‘Getting to Patagonia’ and ‘What to wear in Patagonia’. Was there anything missing?
The information that you provided were more that enough. We are fairly resourceful so we also got some guidebooks to supplement what you gave us. This was our personal preference and does not reflect negatively on what you gave us. Anyway our guides went well beyond what our guide books had told us and there is no comparison to see a fire bush up close versus in a book. Sometimes less is more so I think you have hit the right balance on what travel needs to know before the trip. Don't forget the sunglasses on the ice hike!
Was there anything else Swoop could have done for you to help you prepare for your trip?