On this tour we stay in first class hotels throughout, all owned and managed by local companies. Our yurts in Torres del Paine are a new innovative way to stay in comfort yet with minimum impact on the local environment and surroundings – all structures are made from local materials and blend in with the scenery. All waste is carefully managed and all water pre and post consumption is treated on site to ensure no toxins are released back into the water table.
On the day trip to the island of Chiloe, we visit a penguin colony, set on islands just offshore. We navigate the islands in zodiacs but do not set foot on the islands where the penguins (and sea otters, steamer ducks etc) are found, in order to protect their natural habitats. Local fishermen operate the zodiacs, a successful and lucrative venture, giving them an alternative to fishing prohibited fish and shellfish, such as abalone. We end the day on Chiloe by visiting a local chilote house, typically that of welcoming Senora Sefora. She invites local musicians to entertain us and she and her family prepare a feast of the local dish, curanto. The warmth of the ‘chilote’ people is touching and it is clear Sefora opens her home to tourism because she enjoys sharing her culture with us, not just for the much needed income that comes with it. This day is often quoted as the highlight of this tour.
Much of this tour is spent in the national parks of Patagonia. When inside the parks we ask clients to keep all waste with them until back in the nearest town, to walk only on designated paths, and not to pick flowers or disturb the natural resources. Given the purity of the water in Patagonia, we also encourage clients to drink tap water rather than buy bottled water, to avoid excess waste of plastic.
On this tour we work with small privately owned ground agents who live in the area, have established RT policies in place, and employ local guides and staff. The hotels on this tour are individual properties, not part of international chains and we eat in local restaurants serving locally grown produce – our style of travel ensures that as many local people as possible benefit by our being there. This tour runs with a maximum of 20 people which helps to minimise the impact on delicate environments.
We work with local guides throughout Patagonia, not only supporting local employment, but our guides are best positioned to teach you about the local flora and fauna, as well as the more disturbing aspects of the local environment, notably the receding glaciers and areas of former deforestation. Our guides, and tour leaders, advise how best to minimise our impact whilst travelling in this region and the receding glaciers act as stark reminder of what we can also do back home to minimise the impact of our humankind on the environment.