Double the adventure for Nor & Cindy: 5 weeks in Antarctica and Patagonia

A handful of Swoop’s customers choose to venture to both the Antarctic and to Patagonia on the same trip. Swoop only specialises in these two destinations and so is perfectly placed to offer the dream trip to someone looking for a double-adventure! We know both regions inside out and can tie two ends of an incredible journey together.

For the icebergs and majesty of Antarctica and the vast wilderness and iconic peaks of Patagonia, a trip combining the two offers myriad opportunity for adventure, exploration, excitement, ….

Adventurous customers Nor and Cindy asked us to help them plan such a trip. Their epic 5 week journey packed in so many highlights of both areas it’s been understandably hard for them to process and filter all of the fantastic experiences they had. Nevertheless, Nor kindly sifted through his photos and memories to share with us for the blog.

Tell us about the first part of your adventure, to Antarctica on the Akademik Ioffe

We absolutely loved the trip! It was really an adventure as this was the only trip that the Ioffe was making south of the [Polar] Circle this year.


How was the vessel, the facilities and the food on board?

Overall the ship was very comfortable. I would highly recommend the 5th deck near the bow as that is adjacent to the library and there is a large sitting room (almost like your own private area) there. Our cabin was quite spacious and comfortable – as nice or better than on some cruise ships. Although the 6th deck cabins might be a bit more spacious as they do not have a 3rd berth I would not recommend them as they are higher up (more stairs) and also more prone to swaying.

We all agreed that the staff was great. Mostly young Canadians and Aussies with an American or two thrown in. The expedition leader was a sub 40 year old English woman who was a lawyer but gave it up to see the world. She was very good. There was also an older NZ couple (the glaciologist) and his Antarctic historian wife who had met and married in Antarctica (at the NZ base) 30 years ago. All of the staff had a speciality (mammals, birds, geology, etc) in addition to their zodiac driving duties. There were two full time photographers on board who specialised in wildlife photography.


The ship’s gym was small and not great but we only used it during the Drake Passages (we had relatively easy crossings). I would call the food four star. My meat eating friends said the meat was so-so. The fish dishes were generally of poor quality and the vegetarian ok. The compensation was that there was always a good salad bar and on excursion days we usually had a buffet which was good and varied (Mexican food one day, Asian food the next etc). We took a case of wine with us on board and there was no objection to us bringing a bottle to dinner.

Would you recommend the Akademik Ioffe to others?

We’d highly recommend the Ioffe for your future customers. Among the things we appreciated was that we received a USB drive with a number of slideshows that had been created by the professional photographers and the passengers, along with all the trip info and maps, which was great.


How was your time in Ushuaia after the cruise?

We stayed at the Arakur Hotel, and loved it. Their swimming pool, hot tubs, game rooms are excellent. In fact all the facilities are very good. They run a shuttle into town every hour so even though we were out of town we didn’t feel isolated and being on the hillside with a view of the Beagle Channel below was great.

The Patagonia element of your trip included another cruise, this time around Cape Horn, hiking in both Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks and visits to the lake district and wine regions of the area. Tell us about your highlights.

On our three night cruise, we sailed from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas on the Stella Australis. It was a comfortable ship and much more of a cruise than an expedition, compared to the Ioffe. Cape Horn was the “Big One” for me on this cruise – I loved it.


In Torres del Paine, Patagonia Camp was one of the highlights of our whole trip, where we had the same guide for all the excursions and we really enjoyed his company.


We had pleasant hikes, but then we had just come back from Antarctica and everything pales next to that! In Los Glaciares National Park we did the three major hikes in two and a half days and loved them. We found we liked El Chalten in some ways more than Torres del Paine, for the fact that the hikes were really good and we could just walk from our hotel to the trailhead.


We also visited the Alta Vista vineyard just outside of Mendoza, and they provided one of the best winery tours we have ever had; they also have a lovely garden and serve a picnic lunch.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Antarctica by far but besides the cruise there, the Patagonia Camp for the ambience and El Chalten for hiking.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of a similar adventure to both Antarctica and Patagonia?

In retrospect, it would have been good to have done Antarctica last, because it was so spectacular that it was sometimes hard to get excited about other things we saw after that!

We would also say that when you move as fast as we did, it’s hard to reflect so try not to plan everything and allow a little extra time for relaxing and flexibility.

Nor and Cindy used the expertise of the teams at both Swoop Antarctica and Swoop Patagonia to book their adventure. Get in touch if you would like to know more about either of these two thrilling destinations.

Alex Mudd

Head of Swoop Antarctica

Alex returned from his first Antarctica trip ten years ago firmly bitten by 'polar fever' and obsessed with icebergs. Since then, in between further forays to the polar regions, he's been evangelising about the joys of expeditionary cruising and doing all he can to return to The White Continent.

An inveterate traveller never happier than when beyond mobile reception. Some of his more memorable adventures have included dog sledding in Spitsbergen, hanging out with Huli Wigmen in PNG, piranha fishing in The Amazon and chasing the Northern Lights in Greenland.