Michael

United Kingdom

Customer
Rating

10

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:

25th Oct - 13th Nov 2016

Overall, how was your trip?

One highlight completely impossible to single out; there wasn't one day that I wouldn't do again. Wildlife - the day with Marcel in Ushuaia National Park was brilliant as he 'inducted' me into the world of birdwatching which itself greatly added to the rest of the trip; but I guess the wildlife 'highlight' has to be sighting two pumas at relatively close range over a fresh guanaco kill as we were driving out of Torres del Paine on that last morning - a wonderful sight on its own, the more special for knowing that it's so rare, and we were so lucky, to see a puma at all!

In one sentence, what did you think of Patagonia? Did it live up to your expectations?

Utterly and spectacularly beautiful; awesome in its varied vastness and fascinating in its minute detail.

Would you visit again?

Yes

How was the service that Swoop provided?

Hugely reassured to be able to discuss all sorts of different aspects with first hand knowledge specialists before booking, resulting in exactly what I wanted re itinerary, accommodation and activities. I didn't need to discuss or contact 24/7 support during trip 'cos nothing of any significance unexpected happened. Would definitely recommend you to a friend planning a trip to the region in the future.

How likely is it that you would recommend Swoop to a friend?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10 out of 10

How was your experience in Buenos Aires?

Good. Meet and greet at airport worked well both times. One hitch was the pick up from hotel to airport on way back to London - you had said pick up would be approx 1015 (I think - I can't get the itinerary back up on screen to confirm exact time you said) but that the precise time would be confirmed by agent/hotel the night before; no such confirmation came from agent and hotel knew nothing about it; I was in reception from 1015 (or whatever time it was that you had stated) but no taxi/transport appeared; I decided to give it half an hour before ordering a taxi through reception but at precisely that half hour (let's say 1045) the taxi appeared; so something went wrong with agent resulting in no harm in the end but an increasingly anxious wait and narrowly averted payment for unnecessary city taxi. Guide was a verging on elderly lady, very pleasant and extremely knowledgeable but very quietly spoken and bordering on pathologically slow walker! I had a limited time for tour but felt she gave me a good 'feel' for BA. Hotel was perfectly adequate without being swish; breakfast OK; restaurant options within walking distance limited. I really didn't see enough of BA to be able to recommend or otherwise - from all that I've heard from others though, it must be well worth a visit of 2-3 days at least, although seems to have a reputation for not being particularly safe - no idea whether well-deserved or not.

How was your experience in El Calafate and El Chalten?

5 hour wait between buses on way through El Cal between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, then one overnight on way through between El Chalten and Buenos Aires. Pretty lively town, multitude of restaurants etc, Schilling hotel was great location, simple but clean and comfortable accomodation, fairly basic breakfast, extremely helpful reception/ist. One bad experience with an ATM - instructions in English, followed to the letter, got as far as instruction to retrieve my cash, but drawer locked and no cash forthcoming; initially kept the card too, but eventually regurgitated it about 10 minutes later spontaneously! After 5pm on a Friday, so no bank staff present; 'emergency' number for that bank just an answerphone; card was charged full amount, but managed to get it back from the card CAXTON a few weeks later back in UK. El Chalten absolutely magical. Nothofagus BandB perfect for me. Your restaurant recommendations excellent. Trekking fabulous - 2 guided days to Laguna de los Tres and Loma ... Tumbado - excellent mid 20s female guides Aline and Betti - terrible weather at top of Tumbado so no views at all but still a fabulous walk/trek in hostile conditions and got wonderful views of whole mountain range on other days! Final day I had to myself til 6pm ish bus to El Calafate - great walk up valley to waterfall, then back again through El Chalten to Los Condores and Las Aguillas on a crisp clear day - piercing wind on top of latter but magical views out over steppe and Lago Viedma one way with the whole Fitzroy range the other - strongly to be recommended for 'hesitant' trekkers and/or those with limited time. Would recommend El Chalten over Torres del Paine for anyone not abl to do both.

How was your experience in Torres del Paine?

My first exposure to the mountains so very exciting. Ecocamp was brilliant, mostly! On the negative - the standard domes would be fairly tight for two people especially if 'singles' - I was threatened with a room mate for each of the three nights I was there but s/he never materialised. Also with no heating (we were snowed on final night) they are pretty cold and certainly completely impossible to dry clothes in; for those that can afford it, well worth recommending the 'suite domes' with en-suite bathrooms, acres of space in main dome and lovely wood burners! On the positive - fabulous location with amazing views of massif and Torres and potentially brilliant sunrises; communal bathrooms etc (if having to use them) pretty jolly good in the circumstances; communal domes (dining, bar etc) fantastic and the food totally unexpectedly utterly amazing - the range of choice and inventiveness of the menus was superb, the food delicious, the wine excellent, the breakfasts rival the very best five star hotels and the variety and volume available for 'self pack' lunch bags/boxes completely stunning! Guides Dani and Paz both excellent and Dani in particular, with his passion for and knowledge of flora, fauna and geology etc dramatically enhanced the enjoyment of the trekking. Both guides very good at 'team' cohesion and our very diverse group gelled like long lost friends. W trek hugely enjoyable. Really not that strenuous given the very modest pace set by Dani. Views completely stunning. Weather for us was 'all four seasons' - too strong winds stopped us from getting to moraine vantage point under French glacier and also the next day unable to get up to laguna under Torres - disappointing but in no way a disaster as the whole expedition so special otherwise. The final day 'wandering the steppe' and bird/animal spotting really enjoyable. The puma observation/spot on the drive out on the final morning truly the 'icing on the cake'. All arrangements worked perfectly. Highly recommended!

Do you have any tips or advice for other people planning a trip to Patagonia?

One other thing I meant to say about Ecocamp - although the standard domes were freezing when I was there, the beds and bedding were sumptuously comfortable and more than accommodated the ambient temperature! I guess my only advice would be always to organise through a company like yourselves and for you guys to encourage people to discuss every detail with you - the options are so numerous as to what/where/how to do things that it's impossible to maximise the chances of 'fulfilling' the dream without your knowledge and insights.

Anything else? Tell us anything you’d like to share that we forgot to ask! It’s ok to leave this empty too :-)

I think I've said enough!

How was your experience in Tierra del Fuego?

Hotel quirky but very comfortable and food more than adequate. It's quite a way out from town so wouldn't be ideal for people wanting to be in and out of town more frequently. I did walk in on my 'free' afternoon but it took over an hour at a good pace. Plenty to see in Ushuaia to keep you interested and occupied for a day or two at least. The catamaran trip east down the Beagle Channel was a spellbinding introduction to the region; dramatically beautiful with wind-whipped blue sea flanked by snow-capped rugged mountains; island hopping to view sea birds, penguins, seals etc very rewarding. Definitely to be recommended even if not staying at Estancia Haberton for a night of two. Estancia Haberton magical - helped by the initially stormy weather of the morning settling into total calm clear by the evening and the next morning. Fascinating to learn more about the early inhabitation of the region in general and Est Hab in particular and the museum and marine biology research centre even more so. I stayed in a small cabin half way from main house to museum - small covered verandah outside with two 2/3 bedded en-suite rooms, simple but very comfortable, with heaters capable of achieving furnace temperatures. Fabulous sunrise down the bay from my bed! Dining room/restaurant up the hill has magnificent views and delicious food. Gorgeous walks round the headland on the seashore, and then inland round the bay and down into the wooded areas and beaver lakes opposite. Mesmerisingly beautiful. Regretted not having longer to spend there. The day with Marcello one of the highlights of my trip. I arrived with an uninformed interest in birds, and left feeling (though probably not actually being) hugely knowledgeable! Just enjoyed the day with him; he's delightful and obviously knows everything there is to know about birds and imparts both that knowledge and an infectious enthusiasm throughout the day. And all in that wonderful location of the National Park with the peat bog valley floor, lakes and surrounding mountains then down to the sea bays. A really wonderful day. I required a lot of reassurance prior to departing that the extra expense and time involved in going down to Tierra del Fuego was worth it. I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever, even knowing that had I had time to go over to Isla Navarone it would have perhaps been even more dramatic. It's all so different to Torres del Paine and El Chalten that it was worth every penny.

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