First, the trip was well planned. The travel company communicated with us regularly and promptly, providing comprehensive information and advice in response to our questions. We felt well-informed and involved in the development of the trip.
Second, the content and logistics of the itinerary were excellent; all the places we wanted to visit were included and sequenced efficiently. The daily events were well detailed, providing an easy-to-follow roadmap and eliminating uncertainties.
Third, all the people who assisted us on the trip were outstanding—friendly, knowledgeable and sincerely interested in facilitating our experiences. The guides were truly outstanding, and we became fast friends. The drivers were courteous, professional and on time. The hotel staffs were gracious and helpful, especially at the hotel in Puerto Natales (a great hotel and restaurant, where everyone spoke English). We appreciated the contact with the company during the trip, including emails, phone calls and the representative who met with us in Puerto Natales before we left for Torres del Paine.
One suggestion in planning the itinerary is to have more discussion on the merits of hiking the “W” from west to east. There were times on the trail, and discussions with others, that suggested advantages of a west-to-east trek.
Overall, we give this travel company a “*****” rating and our highest recommendation!
In the Atacama, all the trips were outstanding. The duration of the tours and the extent of the sightseeing were optimal. If we had to pick only two highlights, it would be the astronomy tour and the Cerro Toco hike.
In Patagonia, every day was different and unforgettable. The nightly social life in the refugios was enjoyable. It’s hard to pick one, or even a few, highlights of that unique place.
We wouldn't change the itinerary, with the possible exception of reversing the direction of the W trek as noted above.There were two glitches on the trip:
First, when we got on the bus at Calama, the driver gave us an itinerary from a local tour operator which changed the itinerary, so that the first night’s astronomical tour was followed by the geysers’ tour. We had less than 3 hours of sleep between stargazing until 1:30 a.m. and the 5:30 a.m. departure for the geysers. Our fatigue was increased because that was the first day at altitude in Atacama, and the geyser tour climbs to 14,000’. We would appreciate knowing how that change of schedule came about, because we weren’t consulted in advance or given an explanation later.
Second, there were protests around the hotel on the last day and night in Santiago. Hotel staff advised Jack G. and Joel F. that taxis wouldn’t come in the area and warned them not to go outside to a restaurant or bar. The noise and tear gas was unsettling and required them to shelter in the hotel with all doors and windows closed. The travel company had monitored the protests before our trip and during our first stay in Santiago, February 29th -March 2nd. That should have been done on March 13th so that Jack and Joel could have been moved to the Holiday Inn or elsewhere away from the protests.
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