Each year Earth Day grows more pertinent and urgent. This year, having witnessed the pause and risin...
MAGALLANES Y LA ANTÁRTICA CHILENA, CHILE
In the heart of Chile’s magnificent Torres del Paine National Park, EcoCamp Patagonia was the region’s first fully sustainable accommodation. Green technology and low-impact design make EcoCamp’s iconic geodesic domes exemplary in the world of ecolodges. Adventure is the primary reason for people to visit EcoCamp, but wildlife is also plentiful — puma, guanaco, South Andean deer and nandu all reside nearby.
Recognising the importance of local culture, EcoCamp’s guides make every effort to demonstrate that EcoCamp’s domes are a tribute to the ancient Kaweskar tribe, whose inhabitants moved nomadically around the park in the early 20th Century. Nowadays 90% of employees are from the local region and receive upskilling opportunities where possible.
The design premise behind EcoCamp was to create accommodation where travellers could connect with the wilderness. The domes blend into their surroundings and naturally utilise light and heat, with skylight windows for stargazing. Shallow excavations and raised open platforms minimise the impact of the domes, leaving fauna to roam freely between them. Since 2008 EcoCamp has been carbon neutral and they are now aiming to become a CO2-free lodge. To help this process, all food is purchased within a three-hour delivery radius and interiors, handicrafts and furniture are hand-selected, mostly from local artisans.
EcoCamp Patagonia joined The Long Run in 2014 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.
EcoCamp has gained an award-winning reputation for its eco-friendly policies and innovative use of green technology. They are leaders in environmentally responsible travel to areas of fragile natural resources and they minimise the footprint of every visitor in Torres del Paine National Park through their careful development strategy and implementation of green technology. The low impact design of the camp and their focus on raising guests’ awareness of how to care for the environment highlights our commitment to a greener present and future for tourism. Conservation is central to the philosophy driving their operations, and they have been certified as complying with the highest international standards of environmental management, such as ISO14001.
EcoCamp makes a concerted effort to benefit the local community in which it operates. All food is bought from nearby farm suppliers who sell products such as eggs, meat, cheese, dried fruit, grain, marmalade and bread in addition to buying fruit & vegetables from local vendors. Horses are hired from local ranch owners and most handicrafts and decoration are purchased from local artisan markets. Many pieces of furniture are also bought locally in Punta Arenas. 90% of all staff employed are from the local region – the majority from nearest town Puerto Natales and some from the regional capital city Punta Arenas. All staff receive initial training when they start work at EcoCamp and learn in depth about EcoCamp’s philosophy and sustainable practices.
Patagonia is a vast region which is sparsely populated. The region has a rich cultural history but over time all of the native Patagonian tribes have become extinct and the main Patagonian culture which exists today is the Baqueano (Gaucho) culture. EcoCamp works to preserve the region’s cultural history and embrace the ongoing Baqueano culture.There is relatively little unique cultural heritage in Torres del Paine, compared to say other regions in Chile. Natural heritage and geological assets are the main draw! The tradition of Baqueanos (Patagonian horsemen) still exists however, and EcoCamp hires Baqueanos for its horse riding trips. All of EcoCamp’s furniture, decor and decorations are made in Chile, the majority in Patagonia.
Lapa Rios and Pacuare owners and avid conservationists Luz Caceres and Roberto Fernandez recently p...