Category Archives: Things to do

Things to do in Ushuaia

Things to do in Ushuaia

Often people find themselves with just a day or half day to spare in Ushuaia between treks, cruises or other activities, so Swoop has compiled this list of suggestions for things to do whilst you’re there.

If you’re planning to spend longer than a day or two in the region the region (perhaps on an Antarctic or Tierra del Fuego Cruise, a Multi day Trek, or a trip to Cape Horn) then do get in touch – we would love to help you!

There is plenty to see and do in Ushuaia itself by simply sightseeing on foot, but if you are feeling a little more adventurous there are number of fantastic day trips you could consider as well…


The Maritime museum of Ushuaia is housed in the former prison of Ushuaia, which was closed down in 1947, and declared a National Historic Monument in 1997. There are some intriguing halls depicting penal life, and an exhibit of incredibly detailed scale models of famous ships spanning 500 years. It provides a really unique insight into the region’s history.

maritime museum

The oldest estancia in the Argentine region of Tierra del Fuego, this picturesque ranch provides a fascinating insight into the history of the region, as well as being an ideal base from which to explore.

est harberton


Spend a morning walking amongst cute Gentoo penguins on Isla Martillo in the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego. On the way you’ll stop at Ushuaia’s most important historical site, Estancia Harberton.


A great opportunity to discover the amazing colour of the Emerald Lagoon and the habitats and behaviours of these intriguing rodents!


nautical boat trips

nautical sailing

From the Sky!

from the sky sml plane

from sky helicopter

Active & Adventurous

Exciting day trips including trekking, canoeing, kayaking, horse riding and wildlife spotting for those who want to try something a little more adventurous.

  • Martial Glacier Hike

Take a taxi to the Cerro Martial ski centre and take the easy hike to the martial glacier for fantastic panoramas of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel.

A lovely horse back ride between the Beagle channel and Monte Susana, up to panoramic views of Ushuaia’s city and peninsula.

Eating & Drinking

Check out our blog post on top places to eat and drink in Patagonia. A top suggestion for Ushuaia is Ramos Generales, where you can  sample the locally brewed Cape Horn Beer, and one of their speciality Merengue Penguins!eat ramos generalescape horn beer


If you’re looking for a place to stay in Ushuaia then look no further, Swoop has compiled a list of their most recommended Places to Stay in Ushuaia for a variety of budgets.

Bushwhacking the Oggioni Pass – The Paine range’s most adventurous trek 

Bushwhacking the Oggioni Pass – The Paine range’s most adventurous trek 

 In Torres del Paine the W trek is the classic route that many people hike that takes you to 3 magnificent valleys – the ascencio, Frances and Grey valleys. For more experienced hikers there are a number of different routes including the Paine Circuit and others that take you off the beaten track and allow you to see another side to the park.
On my recent trip to Torres del Paine I wanted to see these routes that I hadn’t seen before.

The first route was the Oggioni pass high up above the Ascencio valley. This pass slices through the Paine range from the towers viewpoint directly to Dickson camp and looked incredible.  As I was short on time I recced the pass as a day hike from Hotel Las Torres but for very strong walkers you can hike across the pass to shorten a circuit trek or to create a completely different trek. Here is a description of the route and how we got on.


The sun rose in a glorious and triumphant glow,


We set off along the trail up the ascensio valley to the towers.


Instead of following the general migration toward the viewpoint…


…. We turned off and only caught this Scoundrels view of Las Torres.


The path became small as we stumbled through a boulder field….


….and into the woods.


We followed the Ascensio river as it bubbled its way down through beech forests.


There was no one around and we were on tenterhooks, certain that we would see a Huemul deer.


Our target lay on the ridge ahead.


At Japones Camp a climber’s camp with a ramshackle shelter made from Tarpaulin, string…


…and fallen branches and hung with victoriously and carefully chiselled wooden plaques in celebration of climbs past.


As the path narrowed we turned off it altogether…..


A tricky river crossing followed which involved crossing on all fours.

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Before doing this trek ask yourself if this is a river you feel able to cross.


The forest thickened…

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…and we wander up through the forest, free of paths and people.




The edible Pan de Indio didn’t tempt us as we toiled.


As we left the treeline…


…the views started to open out…


…and as we climbed…


…the peaks of Escudo and Fortaleza dominated the Silencio valley.


Rock dykes guided us towards the pass.


The scree slopes became tougher……


…and tougher


We left the valley far below, this was no place for vertigo…




The final push to the pass was snowy and early in the season much of the scree slope can be covered in a layer of snow.


At Paso Oggioni the view opened up to reveal Dickson lake. If you are continuing onward the trail bushwhacks down to Refugio Dickson at the near end of Lago Dickson.


A further climb to Punta Oggioni reveals the Silencio valley. and a view back the way we’ve come…


…and a peek at the back of the towers and the peaks of Escudo and Fortaleza peaks.





My guide, Justin had been to the pass but never scrambled up to the viewpoint above. We whooped with excitement for a good 5 minutes…




The wind was starting to throw us around so we descended back to camp.

For more information on The Paine range’s most adventurous trek, get in touch today.

The Estancia Peuma Hue

The Estancia Peuma Hue

On Sally’s recent visit to the Argentinian Lake District, she stayed at the Estancia Peuma Hue enjoying the fine food, hiking trails, stunning scenery and utter tranquility. Read on for her review.


Sitting on the shores of the glistening Gutierrez lake nestled between forested slopes and surrounded by jagged granite peaks, The Estancia Peuma Hue really is a place of dreams.

The main house of the estancia is just a stone’s throw from the beach which sweeps for 2 miles in front of the property. The water is icy cold so swimming is only for the bravest, but once you’ve taken the plunge it is a refreshing, invigorating satisfaction.

The 500 acres of the lodge includes the Southen end of the Cerro Catedral or Cathedral Mountain – aptly named because of its Dali like granite pinnacles. This side of the range is only accessible from the lodge and hiking trails have been marked by Evelyn, the lodge owner. You are unlikely to meet other hikers on the trails which gives you a definite sense of being ‘off the beaten track’ and makes for some excellent bird watching. Whilst out on the trails myself, I was able to get extremely close to a family of magellanic woodpeckers who continued their work totally undisturbed as I sat filming them.


The Estancia is passionate about animals of all shapes and sizes. They have their own horses that graze in the field in front which guests can ride and a gaggle of friendly dogs that love nothing better than accompanying guests on their hikes.

It wasn’t unusual to see Austral Parakeets flying over head, ashy headed geese out on the grass feasting on the fallen apples, dark bellied cinclodes on the beach and southern lapwings and black faced ibis on the grass in front.


On arrival guests are given an introductory briefing about the different excursion options available to them and are well and truly made to feel at home. From the moment I arrived I felt like I had entered somewhere very special and was eager to head out and explore the beauty that lay outside.


The Trails

The trails have been separated into 4 trails of different lengths and difficulty which can be combined to create 1 full day hike or 2 half day hikes. These trails can all be done self guided as they have handily been marked by different coloured ribbons on the trees which represent the different colours on the hand drawn map which you’ll be given on arrival.

The trails all start from the western side of the property and head up into Cerro Catedral which does mean that they start with an inevitable uphill. The shortest trail, the orange trail named ‘Camino del Jabali’ is a great one to do on the day you arrive to stretch your legs and get a feel for the place and surroundings; this trail is just a short 3 kms but affords lovely views back onto the Estancia and lake shore.


The blue trail, named ‘Jacuzzi Falls’ is the longest and steepest of the trail and takes you up high above the estancia to give great views back on the Gutierrez lake and the estancia and valley far below. The trail continues up to a wonderful view point out over the Jacuzzi Fall. This trail is only 6.2kms but due to the gradient will take 3-3.5hrs.


The remaining 2 trails, the pink and yellow, ‘Hilltop and Mirador Claussen’ can be tagged onto the blue trail or done separately. They lead to trails south of the estancia, with an initial climb then quite flat and give great views of the southern Mascardi Lake and southern mountains.

As I was visiting during the first days of Autumn, the lenga beach forests were starting to change colours which created some incredible shades of orange and red across the mountains which combined with the volcanic snow-less peaks in the distance and gave the foreground and background vibrant, unusual colourings.

Other Activities


Whilst staying at the lodge, guests can spend their days riding the horses, guided, in the surrounding hills and valleys. They cater for complete beginners to more advanced riders.

There are kayaks which can be taken out on the lake and they even have a boat which can take the less adventurous out for a spin. These are all included in the price of your stay. Additionally guests can pay to take a day out fly fishing with an expert guide or perhaps take a hike up high over the ridge of the Cathedral Mountain.


Gourmet Food

I was taken aback by the quality, variety and finesse of the meals I was served; even the pic-nic lunch was 5*! I was served delicious fish, juicy steaks, hearty soups, local craft beer, full bodied wine and the best breakfast of my whole 3 week trip. For the food alone I would return time and time again.

The owners are very involved with the day to day running of the Estancia and in the evening when the guests gather for a drink they personally come to chat with the guests, a really lovely touch. If you are looking to relax after a challenging hike in the south or perhaps looking for somewhere to enjoy a variety of activities from a luxury, cosy base then the Estancia Peuma Hue should not be missed.


As I drove away, back onto the main road to Bariloche airport, I was saddened that I had to leave but full of gratitude to have been fortunate enough to have experienced such a truly unique, spellbinding place.


The King Penguins of Tierra del Fuego

The King Penguins of Tierra del Fuego

King Penguins are the second largest of all penguin species after the Emperor Penguin, growing up to 100cm in height, and weighing up to 38lbs. They are very similar in appearance to the Emperor Penguin, although their breeding grounds rarely overlap, and are certainly among the most beautiful of the breeds.


They have beautifully coloured dark orange cheeks, a white belly, and grey/black backs that are lighter than most other penguins. Youngsters look very similar, but with lighter plumage and colouring (see photo below). Adults can rear a maximum of 2 chicks every 3 years, and no other bird has a longer breeding cycle! They take 14-16 months to fledge a single chick, which may be left to fast for up to 5 months during winter (May- September).


Few places in the world offer the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in the wild, and the colony near to Porvenir in Tierra del Fuego is particularly special in that it is the only breeding colony outside of the Sub-Antarctic Islands of South Georgia and the Falklands.


The Porvenir colony has a very interesting history: there are archaeological sites in the area containing remains of human settlements dating back 6,000 years, amongst which the bones of King Penguins have been found as both prey and tools, showing that they were present here as far back as prehistoric times! The colony is thought to have left the region not long after the arrival of humans who were hunting and sheep farming in the area, and only returned some ten years ago. They are now increasing in number year on year, and have now begun courting and breeding here. They now reach over 100 in number (Feb 2015), and the colony is expected to continue growing.


There are a few options for visiting this colony, the simplest and cheapest being a full 15 hour day trip (07:00 – 22:00).  On this trip, as well as spending some quality time with the Penguins, and learning about the history and culture of the area,  you’ll get to visit one of the most mystical islands of Patagonia, the ancestral land of the Selk-Nam, where you will experience the vastness of the southern skies, the wind of the pampas, and the history and culture of the region. You also go in search of a range of other species including the White Rumped Sandpiper, the endangered Ruddy-headed Goose, and a variety of pelagic species crossing the historical Strait of Magellan, such as the Black-browed Albatros, and visit the towns of Porvenir and Cerro Sombrero, ending with the ultimate reward of some quality time quietly observing the stunning King Penguins as they go about their business! 

Find out more about visiting the King Penguins in Tierra del Fuego.


Other options are available, for example a 2 day trip specially designed for serious photographers and those looking for more field time with the penguins, and longer trips that incorporate penguin spotting into longer wildlife itineraries for example, Whale Watching and Puma Tracking!


Read more about other ways to see Penguins in Patagonia.


Photos Courtesy of Big Sur.

Dramatic Day Hiking from Santiago

Dramatic Day Hiking from Santiago

 Just a 2 hour drive from Santiago takes you right into the heart of the Andes. Be surrounded by deep valleys, high peaks, glaciers and specular striated mountains of colours that give you a taste of the scenery in the Atacama desert.

The drive from Santiago takes you through the sprawling outskirts of Santiago where the houses gradually become smaller, simpler and more traditional, a fascinating glimpse into the average Chilean’s, Santiago reality. It also gives some idea of scale of the size of Santiago.

Having left Santiago at 7am, as we began to leave the city behind as the sun was rising up over the mountains bathing them in glorious shades of pink. After leaving the last, outlying houses of the city you then enter the Maipo Canyon and this is when the scenery really begins to change. The mountains rise up either side of you with cactus clinging to the edges, there are pastures with horses grazing, rural homes, honey and nuts being sold on the sides of the road and as in any rural place, the pace of life suddenly feels  slower.

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The last 10kms of the 100kms drive out to the National Monument of El Morado is a bumpy gravel road as you head towards the head of the valley with the smokey San Jose Volcano is looming ahead. At 1850 metres you reach the small oasis village of Banos Morales and here the hike begins. After registering with the park rangers you begin the climb up into the Morales canyon.

The name El Morado, meaning deep purple, comes from the colour of the Los Morales mountains that loom in a deep purple colour ahead.

The hike is a 16 km out and back route which takes about 6 hours (including photos and lunch stops) with a gain in altitude of 750 metres. The first part of the hike is a 1 hour ascent, but thankfully because of the early start, we were shaded from the sun by the mountain to our east. The vegetation throughout the hike, although variable, is low bushes and so throughout the hike there isn’t much protection from the blazing sun – high factor sun cream, hat and sunglasses are an absolute must.

Mountains and flowers

After the 1 hour climb you reach a high, flat plateau and the vegetation, trail underfoot and scenery beings to change. The second part of the hikes takes an undulating 1 hour through what feels like a meadow with horses grazing, grass and rosehip buses. After about an hour you reach the Laguna El Morado with the first glimpse of the San Francisco glacier – a great place to stop for a snack. If you are finding the heat a bit too much and don’t fancy the final 1 hour climb up to the look out point, then this would be an excellent place to reach as a turning back point.

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The final hour up is a gradual climb up and over moraine so is quite uneven underfoot. As you reach the head of the valley, in front of you rises the pointed peak of the Morado Sur and Morado norte both nearing 5000 metres and the San Frascisco Mountain. The view point that you reach infront of the face of the hanging glacier is at 2,600 metres. The glacier itself is mostly covered in sediment/moraine with a snow cover that depends on the time of year.  (The hikes opens in early December once the winter snow recedes).

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This is a great place to sit and eat your lunch with the possibility of bathing your feet in the icy glacial melt waters.

As you turn to make your descent, the colours of the mountains on the other side of the valley, which previously had been drowned by the glare of the morning sun take on a life of their own with greens, purples, reds, blues and white.  This is a little glimpse of what the mountain scenery of the Atacama is like which is so very different to the vegetated mountains or granite walls of Patagonia.

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The size of the mountains is astounding and as the sun moved across the canyon the changes in the look of the mountains was really fascinating.
For me what really made this day special was the variety of birds that we spotted (list included below), most of which aren’t seen further south and the vegetation and mountain scape felt like being in the desert. In just 2 hours from Santiago being able to get out into the mountains makes you really appreciate how close Santiago sits to incredibly stunning scenery.

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If you`ve a day to spare in Santiago and fancy getting out into the mountains, this excursion will not disappoint. The heat makes it strenuous but the distance and terrain isn’t particularly challenging and the scenery is truly breathtaking.

If you would like to include this great hike to your itinerary, then ask the Swoop team or view our Santiago page for more inspiration.

Birds spots at the Monumental Natural  El Morado

  • Crested duck
  • Rufous Banded Miner
  • Yellow Rumped Siskin
  • Grey Hooded Sierra Finch
  • White Browed Ground Tyrant
  • Plumbeous Sierra Finch
  • Correndera Pipit
Sally’s Hike in the Tagua Tagua Park

Sally’s Hike in the Tagua Tagua Park

On Sally’s most recent visit to the Patagonia, she was fortunate to take a 2 day hike through the Tagua Tagua Park. Relatively new, this park is a Private Protected Area (PPA) not a National Park, dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity.


The Hike In

The entrance into the park is unlike any other I have seen before, reached by boat across the vast emerald waters of the Tagua Tagua Lake.  As the El Salto River falls into the Tagua Tagua Lake the boat approached a cluster of rocks, here we clambered off and scrambled up onto the trail.


The trail starts from the information centre at 20 metres where you sign in. There was a pile of bamboo sticks which hikers can borrow to help them on their way as they head up into the valley.

The first hour, although forested, is through an area which has noticeably been inhabited as there is grass and introduced plants such as blackberries and apple tree. The only family to live in this area were the Melipillan Sanchez family between 1953 and 1994 who made a living from farming and also making the alerce shingles for building – a trade locally known as a tejueleria.

Tagua walk

There was a lot of humming birds (green hooded fire crowns) activity in and amongst the fushias bushes – flitting from here to there, fighting and being really noisy. As there were no other hikers we were able to stand and admire these beautiful birds.

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After the first hour of patchy forest and open grass land we then entered the dense forest where the vegetation becomes almost mythical with hanging lycans, trunks covered in creeping vegetation and the rain dripping through to create the illusion that the forest is moving! There were ferns of all shapes and sizes – giant ferns, monocell transparent ferns and umbrella ferns that looked like they were made of velvet.

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Also funguses – some as large as dustbin lids – mostly mushroom type or enormous layers of yellows, oranges, purples, more abundant and bigger than I had ever seen.

After crossing various riverson newly built wooden bridges and climbing up to 535 metres, you reach the Refugio Alerces.

Refugio Alerces

Looking out over the flooded Alerce forest, the Refugio Alerces sits 6.5km up the trail at 535 metres (the park guide says 4.5 hours but we had done it, taking our time in 3 hours). The refugio has sleeping space for 22 in open bunks and an open kitchen – it is really just 1 big room with bunks built into 1 wall – all in wood. As it is just 1 hut the heat from the wooden stove burner benefits all. There is an outdoor porch with a hammock and stunning views of the mountains behind.

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This refugio is manned by Sol and Felipe, the park rangers, who live up here all year round maintaining the refugios, trails and park in general.

The next 2 kms heading out from the Refugio Alerces climbs almost 200 metres in a series of ladders. They are not totally vertical and could be described mearly as steep walkways resting on the ground below.

Refugio Alerces2

After 9 kms from the start you reach the valley top at 710 metres where the forest opens up to large patches of mallin (fragil, spongy ground cover), the large granite walls show themselves and the expansive forests of Alerce and Cypress trees. As it had rained all day, there were waterfalls appearing from everywhere.

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You can easily track your progress along the path with handy signs every 500 metres .

We arrived at the Refugio Quetrus after about 5 hours hiking, absolutely soaking wet. Having worked previously as park ranger, Mauricio my guide was a dab hand at getting the fire going and the kettle on. This higher refugio is un-manned so was absolutely freezing!

Refugio Quetrus

This refugio, currently at the end of the trail but there is plans to extend the trail, sits at 710 metres so from the trail head you have gained 690 metres on the 10 km hike. There is sleeping room for 8 with a similar layout as the Alerces but the sleeping space is up a ladder on another floor. There is a porch with benches to sit out on and look out across the truly breath taking view of the Lake Quetrus, islands forested with cyprus trees, granite walls and waterfalls.

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At both refugios the toilet is housed in a separate wooden hut, a 2-3 minute walk up another trail, deep in the woods. This hut is just a toilet which flushes with rain water (all toilet paper should be bagged up and carried out of the park). The refugios have a supply of fresh water in containers which the park rangers get from higher up the mountain and the sink has running water which is just rain water (for cleaning teeth etc). There are no other facilities or privacy.


All food that you have in the park has to be brought in and rubbish carried out. If you do the trek as a guided trek, the guide will provide food, stoke the fire and cook up a storm. On the menu during my trek we had a local dish called Cancato, a sort of pizza using Salmon as the base or better described as salmon stuffed with tomato, courgette, onions and cheese. Really delicious after a hard day in the rain.

Candle light

We chatted by candle light, read back copies of the Patagon Journal and had an early night listening to the howling wind and sound of the rain.

During the middle of the night I was aware that the autumn rains had definitely begun – I thought it had been raining hard the previous day but this was nothing, just a passing shower, in comparison to what we woke up to hear in the middle of the night. Since 3 am there had been thundering rain on the roof and we woke up to a curtain of rain outside; there were waterfalls cascading down the granite walls which surrounded us (in fact, the weather was so bad that I couldn’t see the granite walls just the white water) and the lake in front, Lago Quetrus, had risen significantly. The water had flooded the firewood store but luckily Mauricio had brought in enough the night before so within just a few minutes in the morning, we were nice and toasty with hot tea & toast.

The Descent

What an adventure the descent turned into – the footpath and river had become indecipherable! Knee deep in water, using trees to keep us up right, we waded out and back down the valley. Luckily the Refugios have their own store of rubber boots so I borrowed these instead of getting my own boots wet.


On reaching the valley decent back at KM 9, we could see that there was bright light on the horizon, this gave us great hope that the rain might stop…and it did! The sky cleared and the sun came out, what a treat. On the descent we took various side paths out to see hidden waterfalls and a stunning viewpoint which gave us views out over the whole valley.

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As we neared the end of the hike, the Tagua Tagua Lake suddenly came into view and with the sun shining on it that turquoise colour of the water seemed even more intense. As we sat on the rocks waiting for the boat to collect us, I felt totally exhilarated. The trek had been quite challenging, not because of the distance, more for the rain, slippery terrain, basic facilities and the thick dense jungle forest that literally breath air back into my lungs. On the opposite shore of the lake I could see the Mitico Puelo Lodge and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the hot shower and pisco sour.

Sally’s voyage aboard the Wiliche

Sally’s voyage aboard the Wiliche

While staying at the Tierra Chiloe Sally took an excursion on their boat ‘The Wiliche’, read all about what you can expect from this beautiful boat trip.

The Wiliche is a traditional wooden boat, 18 metres in length with a large, spacious, indoor lounge complete with cushions and woollen throws (all traditional Chilote of course).

Wiliche Int

From the hotel we cruised for an hour and a half passing cliffs, villages and rolling hillsides before arriving at our first destination of Chelin. On arrival we were greeted to the bay by 2 dolphins that were swimming around under the bow of the boat – this was really magical.

As we cruised along there were south american terns diving into the water, magellanic penguins popping up mid catch and many imperial cormorants. I was very lucky to have a day of still tranquil waters, clear blue sky with not a breath of wind or drop of rain in sight – a real treat for this part of the world.
Wiliche 2

The first village we visited of just a few houses had a wooden church that was under going restoration work. It was fascinating to see how the original church must have been built and see the techniques that were being implemented today to keep this 200 year old building alive.

Chilote graveyard

Behind the church was the traditional Chilote graveyard, almost a replica of the village but in miniature. The Chilotes are strong believers that after death people still need a roof over their head so the tombstones are actually little wooden, shingle clad houses. This was fascinating and really quite different to anything I’d seen before.

After a wander up to a view point, the captain, Jose, then came to collect us in the zodiac boat and we motored across to the opposite island of Quehui.


On-route, we pulled up alongside a small, local fishing boat to see what they were catching. On board were two men in thick wetsuits, two helpers and reels of yellow hosepipe; these men were divers and the hosepipe was part of the rudimentary equipment that they use. They were delighted to offer us some of their catch – muscles bigger than my hand, aptly names ‘ Shoe sole muscles’ and enormous clams. Later in the afternoon the captain cooked these up with white wine, garlic and onions – delicious and so fresh.

There had been many forest fires due to the dry summer and so the horizon was really hazy. However, on a clear day looking east you have a spectacular view of the snow peaked Andes including one or two volcanoes.

Lunch was served on board – canapes of salmon, Camembert with local honey and local cheese, followed by a salad and quiche and fresh fruit. 10/10
Food onboard Wiliche

The return journey took us on a slightly different route passing the north western side of the Chelin island. For the return journey I climbed up onto the roof and laid down for a well earned siesta – totally priceless.

Highlights of the day….

  • The Dolphins

  • The fascinating graveyard

  • The divers – interaction with the local divers

  • The stunning calm waters, emerald in colour with the hillsides reflecting perfectly – days like today are very rare I’m told.

Protecting Torres del Paine

Protecting Torres del Paine

Three years ago while, hiking in Torres del Paine, I was lucky enough to meet Drew, who has subsequently joined a small team of people dedicated to helping travellers and local residents to ensure the sustainability of Patagonia’s most famous national park. Here Drew talks about the Torres del Paine Legacy project, it’s aims and how you can get involved…

With all the beauty that Torres del Paine has to offer, it’s no surprise that the National Park attracts over 175,000 visitors each year. CONAF, the Chilean National Forest Corporation, expects this figure to increase by over 10% per year. But the travellers who visit the park do not go unnoticed…


What impact are Travellers having on Torres del Paine National Park?

Since 1985, the park has suffered three major forest fires, affecting over one fifth of the park’s 242,000 hectares; sadly, each of these has been started by travellers.

Growth in visitation has increased foot traffic along the iconic W and Circuit treks to the point where the limited trail system is in need of repair, yet the ability to do so lacks both financial and human resources.


Is anything being done about it?

There are numerous, ongoing efforts to restore the health of Torres del Paine National Park, but with such a massive geographical area and increased strain on resources, it is a long and slow process. It is because of this shortfall of support that the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund was born.


What does the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund do?

Through traveler-supported sustainability initiatives, the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund enables visitors to become a positive economic and ecological force in the park and in the region through responsible behaviours and direct contributions to enhancement projects.

The Fund’s mission is to enhance the experience and long-term health of Torres del Paine and its surrounding communities as tourist destinations through sustainability projects that are supported by travellers and local businesses.

In partnership with local private and public leaders in Última Esperanza and international NGO, Sustainable Travel International, the Fund is a platform for residents in the community to propose projects that enhance the destination, such as reforestation, trail restoration, and waste management.


How can I get involved?

We welcome you to join us in this mission. 100% of all donations made will go directly to sustainability initiatives, so you can trust that your generosity will have a direct, indirect, and induced positive impact on the legacy of this destination long after your stay. Here’s how to Donate, please do mention Swoop Patagonia in the ‘how did you hear about us’ section.


Things to do in Bariloche

Things to do in Bariloche

Perched on the shores of the vast, blue Nahuel Huapi Lake, the alpine town of San Carlos de Bariloche is surrounded by stunning forests, mountains and lakes as far as the eye can see in the Argentinan Lake District. Bariloche is considered a year-round destination (unusual for Patagonia), with a range of winter activities such as skiing and snow shoeing at the Cerro Catedral resort from April to September.

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During the summer months, you might spend a week or so in Bariloche, enjoying trekking, cycling and kayaking in the nearby Nahuel Huapi National Park (15 miles away in the north-eastern corner of the lake). You can also make the most of the white water rafting opportunities on the fast-flowing Rio Manso in Nahuel Huapi National Park. Take a look at our ideas for tours which include the Argentinian Lake District.

Often people find themselves with just a day or half day to spare in Bariloche itself in between treks or other activities, so Swoop have compiled this list of suggestions for things to do whilst you’re there…

1) Cycling The Circuito Chico

The Circuit Chico is a 25km undulating route that starts on the south shore of the Nahuel Huapi Lake and takes you all the way around the peninsula. You can stop for break en route at one of the many beaches, and take in the stunning views of the lakes, islands and mountains you will pass.

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It is a really beautiful route, and we would recommend doing it anti-clockwise if possible. You can travel this route by bus, but if you’d prefer to be more active, it’s fantastic by bike too. There are a few places to hire bikes from, such as Circuito Chico Bikes , who will normally provide you with a map and directions for your trip.

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If you have a little longer and are looking for a multi day cycling trip in the area then we have a variety of trips such as the Andes Crossing by Bike that we’d be delighted to tell you more about.

2) The Seven Lakes Circuit by Car 

If you have only a day in Bariloche, then driving the road north known as the ‘Route of the 7 Lakes’ is a great way to spend it! The route takes you from Bariloche to Villa Angostura and on to San Martin de los Andes, through forests, along rivers, and along the shores of some of the most beautiful lakes in Argentina. There are a few car hire companies in Bariloche, who rent cars just for the day. It is a long drive but really stunning if the weather is good.


The route can also be taken by bus, or if you have a little longer then you can also cycle it. Please get in touch with us if you’d like more information on longer cycle trips in/ around Bariloche.

3) Day Hikes

The Club Andino Bariloche have an information hut in the town centre, and can provide lots of information about hikes in the area. Their website is also quite helpful. The hike to Refugio Frey, set along the beautiful crystal clear green waters of Laguna Toncek, is a great option for a day hike. Here are the times of the Cerro Catedral bus for Refugio Frey.

From Refugio Frey

If you have longer than a day then you might consider a multi day hike in/ around Bariloche, such as this Hut to Hut trip. Equally if you’re up for some more challenging mountaineering you might consider Mount Tronador or Lanin Volcano. Please get in touch with us for more information.

4) Cable Car to the Best Views

There are two cable cars in Bariloche that get you up to see some really great views. Cerro Campanario, at only 1050m above sea level, can be accessed via chair lift or short hike of 30-40 minutes, and once you reach the top you’ll be treated to some of the best views in Bariloche.

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There is also another cable car closer to the centre of Bariloche, which isn’t quite as high, but the views are still wonderful.

bariloche beer

5) Microbreweries

There are a number of micro breweries,in Bariloche, where you can sample some of the finest beer, lager and stout in South America. Cerveza Berlina is one of several that has received good reviews, but there are many to choose from!

6) Chocolate

Bariloche is knows as the chocolate capital of Argentina, and there are numerous artisan shops boasting exquisite home made chocolates to treat yourself to after a hard days hiking/ biking!

7)  Dining

Check out Sally’s blog post on top places to eat and drink in Patagonia. Her top picks in Bariloche are:


-Alto el Fuego: Excellent quality meat, unusual wines and good value. (20 de Febrero 451)

-Holly Restobar: A good option is you’re looking for something other than steak; the ribs are excellent. Also has fabulous views out across the lake. (Avenida Juan M. de Rosas 435)

8) Accommodation

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Baricloche then look no further, Swoop has compiled a list of their most recommended Places to Stay in Bariloche for a variety of budgets.

Swoop’s Top Pick of Restaurants Throughout Patagonia

Swoop’s Top Pick of Restaurants Throughout Patagonia

After many years working as a tour leader wining and dining clients night after night, Sally has had the chance of discovering, eating and thoroughly enjoying the very best that Patagonia has to offer. Below are just a few of her recommendations.

Sally’s Top Restaurants in Chile

Santiago: Providencia

1. *Top Pick* : Liguria: Traditional Chilean cuisine, excellent quality and very buzzing – take your dictionary! (3 locations, my favourite is Av. Providencia 1373 – very near Manual Montt metro)

liguria 2

2. Baco: Fantastic wine selection, good for tapas type food and great steaks. (Nueva de Lyon 113)

3. El Giratorio: 17th floor rotating restaurant – incredible views of sunset over the city and the Andes. Food is traditional and tasty but also trying to be fine-dining. (Av 11 de Septiembre 2250, Floor 16)  


Santiago: Bellavista

1. Como Agua Para Chocolate: Delicious fish and meat dishes, great wine selection, wonderful decor and atmosphere and staff generally speak very good English. (Constitución 88 – street parallel to Pio Nono, main street of Bellavista)

agua con choc

Santiago: Lastarria

1. Bocanariz: Unrivaled selection of Chilean wines, this is THE place to come to experience the very best in Chilean wine – the food is delicious as well if you fancy staying for dinner. A great addition to the quirky neighbourhood. (José Victorino Lastarria 276 – next to church)


–Here are some more ideas for Things to do and Places to Stay in Santiago–


1. *Top Pick* : Rincon del Lago: Not in the centre so off the tourist trail, this little family run place serves up really reasonable, traditional food, nothing fancy but good wholesome grub – great after a day out on the trails. (G. Urrutia 635)

2. Trawen: long established place on the main street but still serving up delicious local dishes, top notch pisco sours and unmissable desserts. (Av. O’Higgins 311)

Puerto Varas

1. *Top Pick* : Las Buenas Brasas: It’s popular with tourists and for a very good reason – the food is delicious, the service spot on, the pisco sours are strong and the added extras of “Sopaipilla y pebre” on arrival make this place a real gem. (San Pedro 543)


2. Cafe Danes: Great for lunch, cakes (kuchen) and empanadas – try the Empanada de horno – beware the portions are huge! (Del Salvador 441)

Punta Arenas

1. *Top Pick* : Restaurante Brocolino: From it’s exterior it looks like nothing special, but trust me, inside you’ll be greeted with mouth watering aromas of king crab in wine wine, Patagonian lamb, and sinful desserts. For me what really makes this restaurant special is Hector the chef, a true Patagonian character! (O’ Higgins 1049, Punta Arenas)

–Here are some more ideas for Things to do and Places to Stay in Punta Arenas–

Puerto Natales

1. *Top Pick* : Cormoran de las Rocas: With offering of fresh fish, delicious meats even including guanaco, this restaurant is a great bonus for Puerto Natales; set up on the first floor of the building, what really makes this restaurant special are the incredible views out over the Last Hope Sound. (Miguel Sanchez 72)


–Here are some more ideas for Places to Stay in Puerto Natales–

Sally’s Top Restaurants in Argentina

Buenos Aires: Microcentro

You could spend a lifetime in Buenos Aires and still not have explored all of its wonderful, quirky, unique gastronomic offerings; here is just a brief list of some of my favourites.

1. *Top Pick* :  El Establo – My all time favourite restaurant in Buenos Aires is El Establo.  It is old school, bright lights, white table cloths, old waiters that don’t write anything down and popular with tourists but hands down the best steak. Open parrilla, ham hanging from the ceiling and homemade chimichurri. Order the ½ Bife de lomo, jugoso (rare fillet steak) – it simply melts in your mouth. (Paraguay on the corner of San Martin in Retiro)

Buenos Aires: San Telmo

1. Gran Parrilla del Plata: Excellent quality steak, reasonably priced, great service, great decor. (Chile 594 – on the corner with Peru)

gran parilla del plata

2. La Brigada: Quite pricey but a real meat experience! (Estados Unidos 465)

la brigada

3. Cafe La Poesia: Atmospheric cafe in the heart of San Telmo; translating as ‘Poetry Cafe’, it is a literary institution with photos of famous Argentinian authors, prose around the walls and plaques on some of the tables where famous authors have sat. Great for coffee, snacks, drinks and picadas (shared platters). One of the protected ‘Cafe Notables’ of Buenos Aires. (Chile 502 on the corner of Bolivar)

la poesia

4. Bar El Federal: Another great ‘Cafe Notable’ of San Telmo with its incredible wooden decor, pavement tables and ecelctic mix of students, backpackers, artists and old timers reading the daily news. Order a coffee/beer and watch the world go by. (Peru on the corner of Carlos Calvo)

el federal

Buenos Aires: Palermo

1. *Top Pick*: Don Julio: Excellent steak, great service and a wonderful wine list. Definitely my *Top Pick* in Palermo. (Guatemala 4691 on the corner of Gurruchaga)

2. La Cabrera: Popular with tourists and local a like this restaurant, located on 2 different corners of the same street, serves up enormous steaks that are strictly encouraged to share accompanied with a delicious selection of side dishes – excellent service, great atmosphere and as they don’t take reservation they offer you champagne while you wait for your table. (José Antonio Cabrera 5099 on the corner of Thames)

la cabrera

3. El Preferido de Palermo: Another ‘Cafe Notable’; this is a great place to stop for a drink just to have a look inside. The food is traditional and offers some real Argentinian treats. (Jorge Luis Borges 2108 on the corner of Guatemala)

–Here are some more ideas for Things to do and Places to Stay in Buenos Aires–


1. *Top Pick* :  Alto el Fuego: Excellent quality meat, unusual wines and good value. (20 de Febrero 451)

2. Holly Restobar: A good option is you’re looking for something other than steak; the ribs are excellent. Also has fabulous views out across the lake. (Avenida Juan M. de Rosas 435)

–Here are some more ideas on Places to Stay in Bariloche–

El Calafate

1. *Top Pick* :  La Tablita: a visit to El Calafate isn’t complete without trying the slow cooked Patagonia lamb and after many years of trying out many places this has come top time after time; word of warning- order 1 between 2 (even though it isn’t a dish for 2, the portion is enormous!) ; also,  don’t miss the Calafate ice-cream. (Rosales 28 – cross over the bridge past the petrol station and it is down on your left hand side)

la tablita

2. La Zaina: Set in a restored old building with a eclectic mix of memorabilia, this place serves are great selection of Patagonia meats (great pasta as well), warm home mae bread and an interesting wine seection. Service can sometime be slow but then, what’s the hurry?! ( Gdor. Gregores 1057 – on the corner of Tomas Espora)

–Here are some more ideas for Places to Stay in El Calafate–

El Chalten

1. *Top Pick* : La Tapera: Delicious hearty stews, cosy, warm atmosphere and great views of Fitz Roy from upstairs. (Antonio Rojo & Riquelme – next to the Walk Patagonia office)

2. CerveceriaThe Micro Brewery! A visit to El Chalten isn’t complete without a visit to the micro-brewery. They brew 2 different beers, 1 pale (rubia) and 1 dark (negro) and serve with bowls of popcorn (they also serve bottled beers and wine). Great atmosphere, cosy, garden to laze in sun after a hard days walking and open late into the evening. (Av. San Martin 564)

3. La Vineria – “The best wine bar in South Patagonia” -taken from their website, quite a claim but almost definitely true. It has an incredible selection of Argentinian wines (and artisanal beers), great picadas (shared platters)of meats, cheeses and tapas Argentinian style; Sebastian the owner is extremely knowledgeable. (Lago Del Desierto Ave, 265 – next to the Chalten travel office)


–Here are some more ideas for Places to Stay in El Chalten–

4. La Wafeleria: – A well deserved stop after a long hike or great place to settle in for the day if the weather closes in. (Av. San Martin 640)


1. *Top Pick* :  La Casa de los Mariscos: – It’s an easy place to walk past without noticing, it looks quite shabby from the outside, there is no king crab tank in the window and the doorway is very small. But once inside it is buzzing, cosy and wafts delicious aromas. Try the Centolla Fugeian – king crab in a chilli sauce, Centolla Provincal – king crab in a parsley and white wine sauce or Centolla Natural –  king crab salad. (San Martin, 232 – corner with Deloqui)

2. El Almacen de Ramos General: No stay in Ushuaia is complete without a stop at this wonderful little gem! It’s a bit of everything from museum to cafe to restaurant to bar. With an eclectic mix of memorabilia, chocolate coated meringue penguins, cape horn beer and homemade pasta. (Av. Maipu 749)

–Here are some more ideas for Things to do and Places to Stay in Ushuaia–

Other Restaurants Outside of Patagonia that Sally Just Can’t Help Recommending!


*Top Pick* : Ocho Cepas: Set in a beautifully restored old colonial house, the restaurant is split between the different rooms of the house, with its very own wine cellar. The steak is great, the menu interesting and the atmosphere intimate. (Peru 1192 – on the corner of Espejo)

Puerto Iguazu

1. *Top Pick* :  El Quicho del Tio Querido: If you aren’t enticed in by the delicious smell of cooking meat from it’s enormous open air grill then you will be by the fascinating live music (played after about 9:30pm); the steaks are incredible, the service great and the atmosphere relaxing. (Av. Pres. Juan Domingo Perón 159)


2. Aqva: A little on the pricey side but serving up local river fish in delicious sauces – a definite top pick if you’re a bit meated out (Av. Cordoba on the corner of Carlos Thays)


Any feedback and new recommendations are welcomed (vegetarian options to follow), and why not take a look at our Before You Go Page for more travel tips and recommendations for your trip to Patagonia.