Chile 13 day tour, Atacama, Lakes & Patagonia

Description of Chile 13 day tour, Atacama, Lakes & Patagonia

Travel the length of Chile on this itinerary designed to show the most beautiful, dramatic and breath-taking vistas that Chile has to offer. We take you on a journey of discovery from the Atacama Desert high in the Andes to the peaks and glaciers of Patagonia in the south, landscapes as diverse as nature could make them and use locals to guide you through this amazing country.

Starting in the Chilean capital Santiago, witness the cosmopolitan atmosphere of this city that dates back to 1541, before departing for the desert in the north. One of the driest regions on Earth, over the next few days you venture into the lunar-like landscape, with its rugged canyons, shimmering salt flats, colourful lagoons and spouting geysers. And after dark you can enjoy some of the best stargazing in the world. It's quite unlike anywhere else, totally fascinating.

From the desert to the lakes, stay at Puerto Varas. The impressive views of the Osorno and Calbuco Volcanoes will amaze you, viewed from the shore of the Llanquihue Lake and onboard the catamaran tour of Todos los Santos Lake where we take you to visit Peulla, a quaint little town close to the border with Argentina. The simplest of things can bring pleasure and here I Puerto Varas it is no different. Take a walk along the lake from which you can see both Sacred Heart Church and Iglesia Lueterana standing tall and colourful. Be sure to stop by and learn about the history of colonization and its impact on religion in this quaint tourist town. With a few days here, there is so much to do, you will wonder how to fit it all in! In the evening, Puerto Varas’s Coastal Street is lined with excellent restaurants that serve locally sourced ingredients in a pleasant, sociable atmosphere.

The last destination is the raw beauty of Patagonia in the far south of the country. With towering mountains, mirror-still lakes, blue-tinged icebergs and immense glaciers, the landscapes are truly breath-taking. During a cruise along Ultima Esperanza Fjord you spot sea lions and cormorants and get close-up views of glaciers that stretch down from the mountains to the water, and in Torres del Paine National Park you watch gaunacos against a background of jagged peaks and blue skies.

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Responsible tourism

Chile 13 day tour, Atacama, Lakes & Patagonia

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

At the company location in the UK there are fifteen staff members. Of these, four work from home (no commuting), one who cycles twenty miles a day to & from work, and another cycles ten miles a day (in summer). The new office that was recently built is very energy efficient. It is well-insulated, the roof is shaded by trees which helps with the building not overheating during the summer months and therefore air-conditioning is not a daily requirement, and it has lots of natural light to reduce electric light usage whenever possible.

The company is located on a former farm and the directors grow fruit and vegetables which are shared with the team (apples, pears, blackcurrants, broad beans, lettuce, mint, courgettes, squashes etc!), so we keep our own footprint low. In addition, there are other members of staff that have home grown products that are available to their team members. As a company, we look to buy energy-efficient computers, and believe in recycling, so the latest computers bought have been both energy efficient and re-conditioned.

As part of our commitment to the environment we have a programme to plant trees in Tanzania, Malawi, Peru etc. through the company’s foundation. This was set up to help alleviate poverty, conserve endangered wildlife, and protect earth’s environmental diversity for the benefit of us all. All the projects have a link with tourism in some way, and many benefit the wider world as well as local people, through conserving areas of natural beauty. We don’t just look overseas when considering the environment, even at the office the team planted tress in the fields surrounding the buildings to celebrate the company’s 21st birthday in 2019.

As a company we think about our partners overseas carefully. Whereas it is not always possible for them, due to their locations in remote areas, the company ethos is to use properties around the globe that have a similar ethical stance to ourselves. If they can use local suppliers for their provisions, be it food or furnishings then they do, and all offer a variety of menus including vegetarian and vegan/plant-based options. Our partners support the use of solar/renewable energies, and many are looking at ways of switching their current supplies to more eco-friendly options in order to be more efficient. The use of solar, water and air are options in use or being explored, as well as grey water run offs. Energy efficient appliances and practices, card operated in room lighting, low energy bulbs, and a change in laundry practices, are all in operation, and show just a few of the initiatives used. Our partners also use local staff within their properties. Many live on-site in seasonal properties for example reducing the travel emissions of the company, many come from the local villages and communities surrounding the properties. This includes everyone from house keeping to management and the guides that are from the locale.

Due to the nature of the holidays provided by the company, it is impossible to eliminate all flights but where possible we use the minimum flight hours an itinerary can operate with. The packages we have on offer include rail portions in some areas, which keep emissions low, many walking options and shared transportation.

Environment

The company that organises this holiday is a multi-award-winning responsible travel company. They try to ensure that nothing they do at home (in UK) or abroad compromises the environment or wildlife or exploits people. They believe in ensuring that travellers are well-informed, as an informed traveller tend to be a more respectful and sensitive traveller. They also believe in giving back to the country, people wildlife and environments which are affected by tourism.

Our service supplier on the ground in Chile follows a strong corporate responsibility policy based around simple principles of providing responsible travel to their partners, to enhance local economies, respect the environment, value local traditions and customs and to at all times be respectful travellers. They follow The World Ethical Code for Tourism is the fundamental reference framework for responsible and sustainable tourism. This code is an all-encompassing set of principles designed to guide the main players in tourism development. Aimed at governments, tourism companies, communities and tourists alike, its objective is to help maximize the benefits of the sector, while minimizing its possible negative consequences for the environment, cultural heritage and societies around the world.

The lodge has been built as a sustainable property with innovative architecture which blends naturally into the landscape. The now revitalized pampa has benefitted from their conservation efforts and focus on minimizing their footprint, from the daily operation within the hotel, to excursions across the National Park. The company uses LED lighting and controls its thermal efficiency to reduce the cost of energy. They are also evaluating future renewable energy projects and plan to incorporate a kitchen-garden to help stock our kitchen. Additionally, in association with the Chilean Tourist Board and Forestry Association, the company actively supports an ambitious reforestation project which aims to plant one million trees across Chilean Patagonia’s national parks. During the construction of the lodge, to manage any environmental impact, landscape artists Catalina Phillips and Gerardo Ariztía, removed all the on-site vegetation, temporarily nurturing it in a greenhouse before replanting it around the hotel once the building work was complete. Today you can see the success of this work with visits from Guanacos, nandus, native birds and foxes, who make their homes here. For the guests, they also created a pathway that leads to the banks of the surrounding lake, so they can enjoy the beauty of Lake Sarmiento with its ancient limestone thrombolites without harming any vegetation along the way.

At their sister property, they are celebrating 10 years of sustainable initiatives. The sun offers its natural energy and water is highly valued. The property reuses it to irrigate our gardens, which themselves have been planted in recovered terrain. This property is the first hotel in South America to produce solar-powered electricity, with a hybrid system that meets the hotel´s daily energy demand. Thanks to a high-tech energy management system. Due to our solar plant, they now save 110,000 litres of diesel annually.

Every day, 100 percent of the water at the second property is extracted from their own well, to avoid tapping into the townspeople´s supply. The water is then treated onsite enabling them to provide their own water in the hotel. On top of this, they reuse the grey water for irrigation.

For every person that travels with the company, it plants trees through The Travel Forest initiative. Depending on where they plant and the requirement of the specific area, they plant either indigenous trees or a mix of indigenous and non-native species. Planting non-native seedlings may seem counter-intuitive but doing this can often help any remaining indigenous forest from being cut down (e.g. for fuel) as some non-native trees grow much more quickly than indigenous types. They particularly aim to save ancient or older indigenous forest, through offering an alternative option for fuel requirements of local communities. In addition to this benefit, their Travel Forest initiative helps with such things as planting for water-course retention, soil erosion, shade and even food – all depending on what is planted and where. They have planted almost 100,000 trees to date in various degraded locations including the Andean mountains in Peru, northern Tanzania and Malawi. This has always been done in conjunction with the local communities who plant and then tend the seedlings. Trees are far more important to the health of this planet (and us) than many people imagine. This global Travel Forest initiative can and does make a big difference.

The UK head office has a good policy of recycling, reducing and re-using (electricity, paper, plastic etc). They also buy only fair-trade goods such as tea, coffee, and use biodegradable detergents etc. They also make a point of buying only top eco-rated equipment (e.g. monitors).

Community

The second property is part of the dual education system at Likan Antai, a technical school where the company has taken on more than 40 young people as apprentices, under the guidance of experts in the fields of tourism, electricity and agriculture. They’ve also given graduates from this school employment within the organisation, thus supporting the local community in multiple ways.

Hotel AWA has a deep conviction that it is the role of the whole society to take charge and support institutions and foundations whose purpose is the same. Human, social and cultural development. For this reason, they have decided to support several foundations, including Conservatory of Music and Fine Arts of the South (COMBAS), a non-profit organization that promotes artistic and musical development in the district of Puerto Varas. They also support the Living & Happy Foundation which was set up to improve the quality of life of children who fight against cancer, The Foundation for Trust which fights against child sexual abuse, the Legacy Chile Foundation - Llanquihue Wetlands Project whose mission is to recover and conserve the ecosystems that border the city of Llanquihue and the Foundation for Overcoming Poverty to promote greater degrees of equity and social integration in the country that ensure the sustainable human development of the people who today live in a situation of poverty and social exclusion.

Hotel Cabana del Lago was the first 4-star hotel in Puerto Varas to obtain a "sustainable tourism distinction" in Chile from the start of its operation. They are a community hotel that prides itself on employing local people and using local sustainably produced produce thereby favouring the growth and economic well-being of the community in which they operate. The prioritize supplies from local producers and support sustainable suppliers, giving them preference over others, and they work with the city to help maintain it as a tourist destination and to preserve its historical and cultural heritage.

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