Chilean Patagonia holiday, north and south

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Chilean Patagonia holiday, north and south

Environment

We believe tourism should be educational and sustainable, as well as entertaining. We designed this trip to contribute minimal impact to the local environment with positive benefits to the local communities. All guides follow strict “green ethics”. Reusable water bottles are provided in an effort to encourage less waste and discourage the need for plastic throw-away bottles. All of our guides provide clear and committed instructions for interacting with nature and wildlife with efforts to preserve and leave undisturbed the beauty for generations to enjoy.

All excursions on this trip are low-impact with natural, historical and cultural themes and led by guides trained in ‘Leave No Trace’ practices. Excursions in Torres del Paine are focused on natural history as well as the conservation of local flora and fauna, such as guanaco, foxes, puma and a wide variety of birdlife. Lakes District tours focus on the human and natural history of the area. Excursions will include photo safaris to surrounding volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls and national parks. A day trip to Chiloe Island will feature local culture and customs, architecture and history, a visit to a penguin colony, thus promoting a deeper understanding of life on the island. On all excursions waste products are removed, packed-out and either disposed of responsibly or recycled.

Hotels and lodges selected in all of our itineraries practice ethical business standards and are committed to environmental preservation. We only book lodges in Torres del Paine that promote the Code of Conduct for the Responsible Traveler set down by SERNATUR, Chile’s National Tourism Service. These principles value local traditions and customs, support the local economy and respect the environment. They also all implement energy-efficient methods designed to reduce waste and resources, such as reusing linens, recycling plastics and metals.

At Ecocamp Patagonia all domes are designed and constructed to cause minimal impact on the terrain and to provide efficient thermal insulation and wind protection. Community domes are connected to sleeping quarters via raised open walkways which minimise foundations, excavations and terrain disruption and allows animals to roam around freely underneath. All bathrooms at Ecocamp have a high-tech composting chamber - the first in the hotel industry in the whole of Chile and Patagonia. Green technology is constantly tested and installed and all of EcoCamp’s energy comes from a micro-hydro turbine and from solar panels. Energy is gathered together in a 24V battery bank to power all of EcoCamp’s refrigerators, lighting, electrical appliances, stereos etc. Propane gas is only used to heat water and superior domes. A pilot scheme to heat shower water with solar energy is in motion. Electricity is limited and only available to guests for charging camera batteries and laptops, not using hairdryers or electric razors. EcoCamp Patagonia Domes have skylight windows so natural light and heat can be utilized.

EcoCamp actively supports the three pillars of sustainability, known as the triple bottom line, and works to ensure a positive outcome for people, planet and profit. EcoCamp is a proud supporter of the Zeitz Foundation who advocate the 4Cs of sustainability - Conservation, Culture, Community and Commerce. EcoCamp has gained an award-winning reputation for its eco-friendly policies and innovative use of green technology. Guides ensure guests leave no rubbish during treks and that all non-biodegradable material is brought back to EcoCamp to be properly disposed of. Guests reuse zip-lock lunch bags and water flasks. Guests recycle their lunch bags everyday and use the same flask which they re-fill with water en route during their trek. All domes include a traveler handbook informing guests of our ecological practices and their responsibilities while in the park, which include staying on the raised wooden walkways, never smoking inside domes, using biodegradable hygiene products, always returning waste to the recycling point at EcoCamp, taking batteries back home, minimising time in the shower and sharing transport to and from EcoCamp.

In the year 2008, Ecocamp became a Carbon Neutral company with the goal to minimize emissions of CO2 as much as possible and in the future hopefully become a CO2-free lodge. Between June 2009 and June 2010 183,680 tons of CO2 emissions were offset and between July 1st 2010 and June 30th 2011 229,402 tons were offset.

Community

All guides are local townspeople trained in their specialized fields with an emphasis on environmental standards. Our hand-selected list of local scientists, naturalist and specialist guides are well-educated community members and have the interests of their communities at heart when making decisions relating to tourism and their cultural biography.

EcoCamp Patagonia makes a concerted effort to benefit the local community in which it operates. The local economy in Magallanes relies heavily on tourism therefore the best and most logical social support EcoCamp can give is buying locally and employing locals. All food is bought from nearby farm suppliers and 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. There is a shop at EcoCamp run by one of the founders which sells local clothing made principally from wool and leather.

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. Staff receive regular in-house training throughout the season, with many progressing to a higher position the following season. Many kitchen or maintenance workers have gone on to become porters and eventually guides. All staff receive initial training when they start work at EcoCamp and learn in depth about EcoCamp’s philosophy and sustainable practices.

As members of the IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association), we promise to only work with partners and guides who are conscious and conscientious of the various backgrounds of our globally diverse travelers.

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