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?”
Michael's Trip Date:
23rd Feb - 28th Feb 2023
What was your most memorable moment?
The W-hike adventure was amazing and challenging in so many ways. For better or worse, the variable weather thoroughly beat us up, but that added to the memories. For joy of beauty, the first reveal of the mountains at Cuernos were spectacular.
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?
9 out of 10
On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your trip: Self-guided W Trek (5D/4N)?
9 out of 10
Tell us about Torres del Paine
This was definitely a very memorable experience, with ups and downs, challenges and rewards. The weather was frequently extremely hard. But, our packing and equipment were perfectly suited. The pre-departure packing and Q&A Zoom session and videos were very helpful in ensuring we had what we needed. We loved having our custom packed lunches. We ate so much, and were never without a meal of snack at the appropriate time. We lost weight and worked hard. I had to poke another hole in my belt after losing two sizes. We were able to get a good window of visibility at the towers mirador, between snow squalls. The line of amateurs and people of all different physical ability levels on the Torres descent was difficult, and an experience we wouldn't need to repeat. Our peak locations would have been the hike from Central to Cuernos and Cuernos to Paine Grande. We preferred that area's scenery, and we had some great weather, up until the end at Paine Grande. Hiking Paine Grande to Grey was terribly hard. Had I known how hard it would be against the fierce wind, I would have tried to skip it and stay at PG for two nights. I'm not sure the effort to get to Grey and back was worth it. Getting there took us eight hours, where the itinerary expected four. On return, with the wind at our backs, it took us five hours. But, it was vastly easier with the wind to help.
Tell us about the Trekking
I was initially very skeptical about the Chile Nativo Vamoos app. I expected it to be full of useless advertising and barely helpful. On the contrary, we used it a lot! We loved the live map. We also liked that not everything wa spelled out, and we had the joy of discovery and self reliance. Yet, we always knew what was expected and where we stood. As mentioned, the time and distances seemed to not correlate with our reality, so we were always arriving late to dinner. Janice turned her ankle slightly on the Torres descent and developed knee inflammation with repetition, so that slowed us down a lot. Good thing we brought KT tape and medical cloth tape, plus loads of Moleskin and bandages. We send lots of thanks to the staff at Chile Nativo, Puerto Natales, plus the refugio staffs. Each stop was great, the food was very good, the lunches prepared with care, everything we needed, and wine as well. For myself, it exceeded my expectations.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
Pack light but efficiently. I never needed my puffy jacket. If anything, I was warm more often than not. Wind and rain layers were the paramount preparation, plus truly waterproof boots. We were hiking in runoff streams to our ankles frequently. We encountered 85MPH winds more than once. Bring eye protection from flying rocks and sand. We ended up with heavier packs than we would have liked, but we had all of the resources we needed. She used an Osprey Sirrus 24L and I used an Osprey Stratos 34L and we had extra shoes, bottles and layers bungeed on the outside as our needs changed. We did not need extra bars and snacks, as the refugio staff prepared very sufficient meals. Finding room for all of the fresh fruit, bars and snadwiches was a challenge, but the food was so very welcome. We flew down without trekking poles (bastones). I had never needed them on day hikes. We bought one pair in Puerto Natales for less than the cost of renting. They were so useful! We shared the pair and poles were super beneficial on the ascents, particularly. Give yourself and extra couple of days In Puderto Natales to recover. We stayed at The Line Hotel between town and the airport, which we loved. Far quieter than the in-town hostels for less money. We kept returning to El Bote for meals; loved it.
Has your experience changed your perspective in any way?
Being an internet systems engineer, it is rare when I completely disconnect from the world and its news. This was an excellent forced hiatus from Northern Hemisphere "reality." It did us both a lot of good to be off the Internet. We did not buy WiFi time at the refugios. We were pleased with our choice to go self-guided. It gave us freedom, the sense of discovery and the ability to take it all at our own pace, including naps if needed. I started to get sick in my last two days, which really challenged me to continue. This trip was harder work than I had expected. but, it also delivered a great sense of accomplishment, problem solving and perseverence.
Do you have any recommendations for Swoop, or feedback about the team?
As I said, we were positively surprised with how well prepared we were through Swoop's advice and through Chile Nativo's resources. The Vamoos app was a frequent companion. We liked the 1PM messages, like we had a friend giving us remote advice, that was cute. There's no way we could have intertwined all of the logistics ourtselves. We're so pleased that we could get every night that we needed, uncluding our extra at Chileno. Also, we were so pleased to be able to stop at Chileno on our first night, rather than trying to summit and descend all in one day. I can't imagine how people do that all on the basic itinerary.
How prepared and excited for Patagonia did you feel?
Janice was more excited than I was, before we went. I saw all of the work that we had to do to get prepared and get down to Puerto Natales. Once we were underway, it was amazing, and I loosened up into the experience. The joy of discovery unfolded, and while the Torres was fun, the real joy was discovering the more remote areas where the day trip buses didn't go.
Would you consider another trip to Patagonia with Swoop?
Would you be interested in travelling to Antarctica with Swoop?
Would you be interested in travelling to the Arctic with Swoop?