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?”
Joe's Trip Date:
22nd Dec - 13th Jan 2017
Overall, how was your trip?
In three and a half weeks we packed in an incredible amount; it is almost too soon to say what the highlights were. The landscapes were awe-inspiring; the wind, literally, took your breath away. The people that bother to live, work and even travel so far away are almost always delightful. It is a physical challenge: you could experience a limited Patagonia without exerting yourself, but you would miss so much. It's the sort of travel that at times makes you wonder, "Why aren't I lying on a beach in Thailand??", but that you appreciate so much more after the event.
In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?
Patagonia is wild, remote, varied and spectacular - we expected all of the above, but it was MORE so in every way.
Would you visit again?
How was the service that Swoop provided?
The logistics of our trip were impeccable - every guide, transfer, even aeroplane seat, turned out exactly as planned. There were things that were not perfect, but we were at "el fin del mundo", and things ARE not perfect - your specialist knowledge was reflected in the fact that what we had was almost always the best available option. A family of 5 with varying physical capability and interests, on occasions some were really stretched - possibly we overestimated our abilities (??!) - but we found ways to ensure those that needed breaks had them, and without exception we returned fitter and proud to have achieved so much. We, thankfully, did not need any additional support during the trip, though it was reassuring to know it was there.
How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?
10 out of 10
How was your experience in Santiago and the surrounding area?
A huge city, the parts of Santiago reached by visitors are all close by. It was fun and vibrant, a great place to overcome jet lag and experience some South American culture. Hotel Lastarria was a great choice, and the bike tour a good way to get your bearings. There are some excellent restaurants around and lots of street markets to explore. We enjoyed Valparaiso at the end of our trip much more than expected - it was a complete contrast to Patagonia. Joining the Tours4Tips walk was excellent, particularly as it took us onto the local transport network and beyond where was reachable on foot. Did find Valpo a little intimidating - it is quite a rough and ready city and you need to be alert to security. Our guide en route to the city and Valpo gave excellent introductions to where we would be and what to look out for.
How was your experience in El Calafate and El Chalten?
El Calafate felt like a metropolis after Puerto Natales. Public bus transport between the two is incredible - who knew South American coaches would be so luxurious?? Kau Yatun Hotel is delightful - a little out of town which might have been a pain if the weather had been wet, but it wasn't. Had an excellent guide to Perito Moreno. In fact, I should also mention that all your drivers (throughout the trip) were excellent - safe and focused. El Chalten is a lovely little town - basically just a village of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts really. We did enjoy the trekking around here, though found it a little repetitive after the variety of Torres del Paine. The Hotel Senderos was fine, though the rooms small to be climbing over luggage, especially where the three girls were in the one room. Particularly grateful for your recommendations and reservation of plane seats - often had excellent views on all three internal flights. Two things of note: whatever the weather forecast is, ignore it - it will be different in five minutes, and be REALLY prepared when it comes to cash. You did warn us, but even when we tried to be organised, it was tricky: places do not take credit card and are not that keen on foreign currency, ATMs all over Patagonia run out of money all the time in peak periods, you often queue to get cash, and the bank's charge for withdrawals is very high. We didn't have any crises, but we came close ...
How was your hike in Torres del Paine?
We loved Torres del Paine and felt totally at ease hiking without a guide, though were grateful for the ways in which Swoop managed the logistics to ensure we saw the best of what was there. This park is incredible in every way - you could barely put the lens cap back on your camera without wanting it out again. Accommodation and meals range from functional to fantastic. Some walking routes (notably to the Towers) felt a little busy, but we were there at peak time. The hiking is challenging, though the first day got our legs working. We had arrived with inadequate waterproof pants and gloves but thankfully sorted this at the last minute: without them we would have suffered dreadfully in the wind (no rain). We ended at Glacier Grey, and spent a few hours hiking up past the hostel to the swing bridges with incredible views over the glacier from above - this was not on our agenda, and we only went because the Ice Hike guy recommended it - it would be a good addition to the agenda in future.
How was your experience in the Lake District?
The Lake District is so pretty! Before saying more, it did shock us that it was quite as cold as it was - don't know if that was unseasonal, but we expected some springtime relief after the south and didn't get it. Now ... we could not say enough good things about our guide Patricio, who drove our support vehicle and delivered hilarious motivation for temperamental teenagers when times got tough. He read very well when we needed support and when he was best off leaving us alone. Cycling these six days was tough. Lots of cyclists seem to ride the Seven Lakes Road (sealed but trafficky). Not many seemed to venture off onto our route - and 78km on rutted gravel into a 90kmh headwind may explain why. Yes, there were tears and swearing. Maybe it was too hard. But then, the scenery was fantastic, with Patricio's help we juggled car breaks as needed, and after a hot shower and a glass of red wine the pain was all forgotten. Would we get the teenagers to do it again? Probably not. But are they pleased with what they achieved? Probably. And that was the toughest day. Our bikes were excellent. The muddy mountain biking day was a hoot (Peninsula de Quetrihue) and the sense of progress crossing four lakes and an international border on the route from Bariloche to Puerto Varas so worthwhile.
Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?
Go to Swoop. Be prepared for tough weather and remote conditions. Love the little luxuries (we travelled with espresso boiled lollies and morning coffee was a treat every day ..). Immersing yourself in the entire Patagonian experience will challenge all your senses. Enjoy the journey - this is travel rather than holiday. If you don't want that, go lie on a beach somewhere.
Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)
Probably but I can't think of anything right now - if you have any questions about what I've written, do ask ..
5 people found this review helpful