A Sustainable Resort in Chile

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Staying at Ecocamp Patagonia was the largest spotlight of my monthlong honeymoon in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. I utterly adored this place, and it made my time in Chilean Patagonia extremely memorable.

Ecocamp Patagonia is residence to the world’s first geodesic lodge room. That’s proper, they had been first — and we are able to thank their affect for the tons of of dome motels which have sprung up everywhere in the world!

But greater than something, Ecocamp is a sustainable resort that truly walks the stroll. Carbon impartial, utilizing sensible inexperienced expertise, and devoted to serving the area people.

One of my readers advisable Ecocamp Patagonia to me after loving her keep, and once I bought in contact with Ecocamp’s workers, we determined to work collectively. Altogether, Ecocamp provided me and Charlie three comped nights in trade for some protection; we paid for a fourth night time out of pocket.

Let’s check out this really great place.

This publish was printed in February 2024, primarily based on a December 2023 keep.

A drone view of Ecocamp Patagonia -- a cluster of small green domes in the middle of a hilly, grassy area, with a snowy mountain and the three jagged gray rock towers in the distance behind it.
Ecocamp Patagonia from above, the Torres del Paine within the distance!

Ecocamp Patagonia

Ecocamp Patagonia is positioned near the guts of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. It’s so shut, you possibly can hike immediately from Ecocamp to the bottom of the towers, which I did at some point! (More on that under.)

And the whole place consists of geodesic domes: personal domes for sleeping, neighborhood domes that home the eating and bar areas, a yoga dome, a therapeutic massage dome, and all of the domes the place the workers stay!

Ecocamp walks the stroll in terms of sustainability, way more than most sustainable lodging I’ve visited, and they’re dedicated to minimizing their environmental affect.

What does that imply? Ecocamp has been carbon impartial since 2007 and runs on renewable vitality generated by photo voltaic panels and micro-hydro generators from a close-by river.

Other sustainable practices embody utilizing composting bogs and a biofiltration system to assist replenish the soil; providing solely biodegradable cleaning soap and shampoo; and heating the domes by sun-exposed ceiling home windows.

And then there’s Ecocamp’s social dedication: they’re devoted to sourcing native produce, shopping for from their neighbors every time potential, and financially contributing to the preservation of Torres del Paine National Park.

A dinner menu featuring vegetarian and vegan options for all three courses.

If you might be vegetarian or vegan, YOU WILL LOVE THIS PLACE. Every night time, there are three-course meals, and every course has three choices, together with no less than one vegetarian and no less than one vegan. And the lunch buffet is totally vegetarian. I met plenty of vegetarians who selected Ecocamp because of this.

Additionally, Ecocamp is a digital detox. There isn’t any wifi and no telephone sign, although there’s a pc with wired-in web in the event you want it.

(However, I ought to level out that wired-in web isn’t sensible these days — you possibly can’t signal into most e-mail suppliers anymore with out two-factor authentication, and if there’s no wifi, you possibly can’t affirm in your telephone that you simply signed into an unfamiliar laptop computer.)

Ecocamp can solely be booked by Cascada Travel, and you’ll e book right here. It’s a bit complicated, however the package deal I did and advocate is Patagonia Wildlife Safari — a customizable itinerary of 4-7 days with every day excursions.

A dome hotel room with a big bed covered with blankets and surrounded by colorful rugs. Behind it is a wooden headboard made out of tree trunks.
Welcome to your dome. You’ll by no means need to depart.

Domes at Ecocamp Patagonia

In the resort that pioneered dome lodging, after all you’ll be staying in a dome! There are three sorts of domes to select from: customary dome, superior dome, or suite dome.

Standard domes are the essential possibility, with beds however no rest room (there’s a shared rest room), no electrical shops, and no warmth, however plenty of blankets that can hold you heat all night time.

Superior domes have an ensuite rest room with a bathe, sink, and a composting rest room, in addition to electrical shops and a propane heater to remain toasty at night time.

Suite domes are prime tier, together with an ensuite rest room and trendy low-emission wooden range, native decorations, and much more house. Some suite domes are loft domes, which might sleep 4 individuals and are perfect for households.

Charlie and I stayed in a set dome. Here’s a take a look at it:

A dome hotel room, with a big king-sized bed covered with blankets, some chairs topped with fur blankets, and a wood stove.
How cozy is that this dome?
A small bottle of champagne and two glasses next to a platter filled with eight tiny chocolatey pastries and a note reading "Katelyn and Charles, happy honeymoon!"
What a beautiful shock — they introduced us sweets to have fun our honeymoon!
A small private bathroom with a shower stall and a sink.
One angle of our personal rest room, with a bathe and sink.
A small white toilet with a lever on the ground to flush it.
Our compostable rest room, operated by a lever on the bottom.
Another view inside the dome hotel room, with a wood stove and small wooden cabinets to be used as a closet.
Another angle of our superior dome, with the wooden range, tiny closet, and secure.

I used to be impressed by the plentiful sizzling water and good water stress within the bathe, and the composting rest room was simple to make use of (although you do have to hold reminding your self to not throw rest room paper in it!).

Every night time once we got here again from dinner, there was a hearth burning within the wooden range. So cozy — however at occasions slightly too heat! By the third night time, we lastly timed it proper, holding the home windows open till we went to sleep.

One disadvantage: There was a LOT of sunshine within the morning from the aspect home windows, which had no curtains. We visited in early December, when the solar rises at 5:30 AM (thanks, southern hemisphere). I used a sleep masks and advocate you convey one in all your personal.

A breakfast plate with scrambled eggs, vegetables, a tiny lemon meringue pastry, and some cheese, next to a cup of black coffee.
Fuel up to your day of climbing!

A Typical Day at Ecocamp Patagonia

Your day begins with a hearty breakfast, and also you’ll obtain your breakfast time the night time earlier than primarily based on the tour you’ve chosen. Most individuals eat round 8:00 AM. And in the event you’d like, there’s an early yoga class you possibly can be part of.

After breakfast, you pack your lunch for the day. You’re given a reusable container to fill from the totally vegetarian lunch buffet — pastas, rice, quinoa patties, chickpeas and all types of beans, eggs, cheeses (together with vegan cheeses), breads, and greens.

Also throughout breakfast, you make your alternatives from the three-course dinner menu for that night.

A table covered with the lunch buffet items: quinoa patties, hard-boiled eggs, tofu, vegan cheeses, and salad.
Lunch buffet at Ecocamp

And then it’s time to go off in your tour! You is likely to be climbing, monitoring wildlife, or on a ship journey. More on the three excursions I did under.

After you come out of your tour, you may need time for a therapeutic massage (which I like to recommend reserving prematurely — slots go rapidly!). There can be a every day eco-tour the place you possibly can find out about how the resort operates behind the scenes and see their inexperienced expertise.

Just earlier than dinner, it’s time to your every day briefing! Your tour leaders will let you know what time to satisfy in the neighborhood dome, they usually’ll go over the three excursions accessible for the next day. You’ll select tomorrow’s tour right now.

This additionally doubles as glad hour! You’ll get to take pleasure in a cocktail (Pisco bitter or calafate bitter!) and a few nibbles.

Inside the dining room dome: people sitting at tables, waitstaff serving, and big plastic windows on the side of the dome.
Dinnertime at Ecocamp

Then it’s meal time. The good factor is that you simply’ll be sitting along with your companions from the tour that day — so that you’ve already gotten to know one another a bit (and positively have stuff to speak about).

The dinner is three programs with three choices for every course (together with no less than one vegetarian possibility and no less than one vegan possibility for every course), and wine is served.

And then it’s time to go again to your dome for the night time. If you’re staying in a set dome like we did, you’ll come residence to a hearth within the wooden range. And the it’s off to mattress, as a result of your physique wants relaxation after a day within the nice open air!

Charlie and Kate, in matching Patagonia coats (his yellow, hers hot pink), standing in front of a jagged gray-purple mountain topped with snow and bright turquoise lakes. Kate's long wavy brown hair is flailing in a million directions due to the wind.
You can see the fierce Patagonian wind in my hair!

Excursions at Ecocamp Patagonia

I used to be at Ecocamp Patagonia for 4 nights and three full days, which was the proper period of time to check out a number of totally different excursions.

Each day has three tour choices, and there’s all the time one simple tour accessible.

My three excursions had been: Lake Grey and Grey Glacier boat journey, climbing to the Base of the Towers, and the Fauna Trail.

A group of people in orange life jackets standing on the edge of a boat, overlooking a steely gray lake and a blue and white glacier in the distance.

Lake Grey and Grey Glacier Boat Trip

This was labeled as an “easy” tour at Ecocamp. We started our day with a two-hour drive to Lake Grey, stopping for photographs at a number of scenic viewpoints alongside the western lakes, then stopping at a lodge for a espresso whereas the guides bought our tickets. (And…the lodge provides you half-hour of free wifi. FYI!)

We then set off for the boat on an extended stroll throughout a gravelly grey seaside. We had been fortunate to see an unlimited blue and white iceberg within the water, which had damaged off the glacier earlier.

From there, we hopped on the boat to start the Lake Grey navigation, ate our field lunches, and loved a complimentary cocktail.

Along the way in which we picked up hikers doing the W Trek — this boat journey doubles as native transportation — and we sailed proper as much as the glacier. I’ve by no means been so near calving ice earlier than! We even bought to see some fairly waterfalls.

People walking on a gray sand beach, with a bright blue and white iceberg in the distance, floating on a lake. There are jagged purple-gray mountains in the distance.
How fortunate had been we to see such a cool iceberg that day!
Several people walking up a gray sand beach where a boat is waiting for them to board.
You board the boat immediately from the seaside.
A group of people in orange lifejackets standing on the edge of a boat. In front of them is a waterfall softly falling from a rocky cliff, almost like a bridal veil, falling into a gray-green lake.
The waterfall on Lake Grey was so stunning.
A huge blue and white iceberg, looking like frosting with lots of peaks and nooks and crannies, a big purple-gray mountain behind it.
That’s some severe ice!

This tour was a very nice introduction to Patagonia, and although it was a simple tour, there was a surprisingly lengthy stroll throughout that vast grey seaside!

Is the Lake Grey tour value it? I believe it’s, for most individuals. However, I ought to level out that this glacier doesn’t evaluate to Perito Moreno Glacier in close by El Calafate, Argentina. That huge glacier is much extra spectacular.

That, and earlier this 12 months I visited Eqi Glacier in Greenland by boat, which was way more hanging — although I’m going to guess than 99.9% of tourists to Patagonia don’t go to Greenland earlier within the 12 months!

A placid clear turquoise lake surrounded by gray rocks, including three jagged towers behind it.
Base of the Towers, Torres del Paine — everybody desires to see this view!

Hike to the Base of the Towers

Hiking to the bottom of Las Torres is probably the most tough tour that Ecocamp affords. The hike takes 8-10 hours, it’s a 22 km hike out and again (13.6 miles), and has 1200 meters elevation achieve (4000 ft). Additionally, there’s no simple means out — it’s essential to hike out the precise means you hiked in.

Even so, Charlie and I knew we needed to do it. That photograph of the tower base, the blue lake in entrance of the three jagged rock formations, is the final word Patagonia memento.

And man, this hike was TOUGH. There are so many various phases.

A few people hiking on a path leading up to a snow-covered mountain. The clouds are weird -- like two thick, solid lines.
You depart Ecocamp and begin on some “Patagonia flat” terrain (light hills rolling up and down), earlier than it turns into extra of an uphill slog.
The "windy pass" -- a hiking trail hugging the side of a mountain with no shelter from trees.
Next up is the “Windy Pass” (Paso de los Vientos), an up-and-down unsheltered path that lives as much as its title!
A "refugio" -- a cabin where hikers are taking a break at the picnic tables outside.
Refugio Chileno is about midway to the bottom of the towers. W trek hikers camp right here in a single day, and that is the one spot on the path with an actual rest room. You can refill your water bottle right here, too.
Two hikers with poles hiking through a forest.
Next up is an extended hike by the forest — in all probability the simplest stage of the hike, with light up-and-down terrain and safety from the wind and solar.
Hikers walking up a dirt path into another forest, a mountain behind them.
That’s when the primary moraine part begins: surrounded by extra forest. This is the place the robust climbing started and climbing poles had been important. Here you possibly can refill your water within the streams.
A mountainside with gray scraggling rocks, and teeny tiny hikers hiking among them.
The remaining stretch: climbing up the moraine with no shelter, simply you and the weather. Look at how tiny these persons are!!
The first glimpse of the towers base, with hikers hanging around a pale turquoise lake with the three tall jagged gray towers behind them.
FINALLY — you get to the very prime and see the candy, candy sight you could have hiked so lengthy and so exhausting to see.
Kate and Charlie taking a smiling selfie in sunglasses in front of the three jagged gray towers.
Proof that we made it!!
Hikers hiking down a scraggly rock-covered mountain, leaning on their hiking poles.
After lunch and spending about 40 minutes on the base, it was time to hike down once more! And in the event you hike, that climbing down is commonly worse due to the stress it places in your knees!

There had been two Ecocamp guides with us, and we stayed collectively as a bunch for nearly the whole hike (despite the fact that Charlie and I, whereas not ridiculously sluggish, had been in the back of the pack).

By the time we hit the refugio on the way in which again, aka the 75% marker, we break up up into two teams and Charlie and I did a slower-paced hike again with our information Anaïs. This was the purpose the place my ft and knees actually began to harm.

Still, regardless of being the sluggish ones, the hike altogether took us about 9 hours.

Overall, am I glad I did the Torres hike? Yes. I’m grateful for the expertise, and happy with myself and Charlie for surviving it. But solely on reflection. It was actually robust on the time, and if I had been in worse form, it may have been depressing.

If you’re on the fence in regards to the Torres hike, speak to your guides about whether or not or not you must do it. They are knowledgeable guides they usually received’t pressure you to do one thing past your skill.

People hiking along a well-worn trail in a hilly area of Patagonia with no trees.
Torres del Paine is spectacular from each angle.

Fauna Trail

This was one other “easy” tour from Ecocamp, and this low-key hike was the proper restoration day after the extreme Torres hike. Altogether we hiked for just some hours throughout “Patagonian flat” landscapes (light up and down).

Throughout the hike we stopped ceaselessly to study in regards to the native natural world within the area from our guides. We even visited a rocky overhang with cave work courting again greater than 6,000 years!

A view from above a Patagonia landscape: there's a river, lots of green hills, gray snow-capped mountains in the background, and a guanaco (llama-like animal) just standing there and posing!
Talk in regards to the excellent Patagonian postcard!
An ancient cave painting of what looks like animals and the shape of a hand.
Ancient cave work
A gorgeous hiking view with several people hiking through a green valley, a huge gray snow-capped mountain rising in the distance.
The climbing right here was so beautiful.
A young woman demonstrating to some plants in front of her, telling the group what they are.
We realized a lot from our enthusiastic guides!
A large waterfall flowing over a huge rock, purple-gray mountains and the three jagged towers behind it.
Cascada Rio Paine
A group of people having a picnic with beers, cheese, and cookies.
Picnic time! We inhaled these beers and cookies.

Some of the views on this hike had been completely stupendous. We noticed condors flying overhead, plenty of cool geese, and the guanacos posed for us like they had been in a postcard!

After the hike, we drove to Cascada Rio Paine, an unlimited waterfall with the towers cheekily peeking out behind it, and loved an impromptu picnic, with tasty snacks and native beers along with our packed lunches.

Is the flora hike value it? I may need been a bit underwhelmed if this was the one hike I did, however it was the PERFECT exercise to do the day after an intense hike.

Bright turquoise lakes in front of snow-covered jagged gray mountains.

Other Excursions

There are loads of different tour choices at Ecocamp. You can go horse using at an estancia (ranch) close by; you possibly can hike the difficult French Valley or the straightforward Sarmiento and Sarmiento Chico Lakes. You can observe wild horses and even pumas.

And are you able to select to not do any excursions? Sure. One woman I met was nursing a gentle damage and didn’t need to danger the Towers Base hike. Instead, she had a non-public yoga session, bought a therapeutic massage, and did a sound tub.

An outdoor deck surrounded by green domes housing the dining room and bar area at Ecocamp Patagonia.

How many days at Ecocamp Patagonia is finest?

I stayed at Ecocamp for 4 nights, which allowed three days of excursions. Honestly, I’d advocate that at least.

Ecocamp just isn’t the type of place the place you must rush in and rush out — the magic is entering into the routine, attending to know your guides and fellow vacationers, and having fun with the digital detox.

I met some visitors who had been staying at Ecocamp Patagonia for every week. That would ALSO be an superior alternative. You may mix 5-7 days at Ecocamp with 5-7 days in El Calafate and El Chaltén in Argentina, and that makes a wonderful Patagonia itinerary!

Hikers walking a path next to a stream leading up to a snowy mountain in Patagonia.

How to get to Ecocamp Patagonia

Ecocamp Patagonia will decide you up from the closest airports: Puerto Natales (two hours away, with restricted flights) and Punta Arenas (4 hours away, however with extra flight choices). They will convey you a field lunch to eat on the journey.

Charlie and I flew into Puerto Natales immediately from Puerto Montt (close to the place we had been staying in Puerto Varas).

Unfortunately, that is the place we had a snafu: Ecocamp was not there to choose us up. After no person confirmed up, we referred to as the workplace they usually stated the van was late. From what they stated, this seems to be a uncommon prevalence, however I actually want that they had emailed or texted us to tell us.

If you’re touring onward to Argentine Patagonia, you could have solely two choices: an early morning raise to the bus station in Torres del Paine National Park (suppose round 6:00 AM), the place you possibly can take a bus to the Argentine border and one other bus to El Calafate, or you possibly can e book a non-public switch that takes you the entire means.

Charlie and I booked a non-public switch to El Calafate, and the worth was extremely excessive (round $800 USD). From El Calafate, you possibly can take a bus to El Chaltén, or fly to Buenos Aires or Ushuaia.

Kate standing with her hands on her hips in front of the pale turquoise lake at the base of the towers.

Kate’s Tips for Ecocamp

If you’re planning on visiting Ecocamp, listed below are a number of suggestions I’ve:

Pack the precise climbing gear. What do you want?

You don’t have to convey climbing poles — Ecocamp supplies these.

Read by the excursions on the web site earlier than your journey, and select them tentatively prematurely. I discover it simpler to retain data from studying reasonably than listening, and among the Ecocamp guides, although pretty, went on lengthy tangents about trivia of the excursions reasonably than sticking to fundamental data like the issue of the climbing.

Get to breakfast a couple of minutes early, and pack your lunch first. We bought this tip and it was tremendous useful! So good to make your lunch earlier than it will get crowded.

If you desire a therapeutic massage, schedule one prematurely. The slots go rapidly, and in case you have an extended tour, you could solely be capable to make the ultimate slot of the day.

See in the event you can fly into Puerto Natales. This will prevent two hours of driving reasonably than flying into Punta Arenas.

Bring a sleep masks. This will aid you sleep when the solar rises at 5:30 AM!

A little wooden house at the end of a wooden pathway, set between two green domes.

Is Ecocamp Patagonia value it?

I believe Ecocamp Patagonia is immensely value it. This is the perfect place Charlie and I stayed on our monthlong South American honeymoon, and we’ve been speaking it as much as everybody we’ve met since.

The good: This is an extremely particular property that makes you’re feeling such as you’re experiencing one thing distinctive and memorable in the midst of spectacular nature. They take sustainability critically. The meals is nice. And the workers are completely implausible.

What may very well be improved: Communication with visitors over pickup delays. I want we had obtained a “We’ll be there in 30 minutes” e-mail or WhatsApp. That, and I discovered it exhausting to schedule within the eco-tour and a therapeutic massage when so many excursions ran late. Some guides weren’t as clear as others when explaining the excursions. I believe having rentable sleep masks could be an important concept.

Value for cash: When you consider that that is an all-inclusive resort — frankly, you received’t spend cash on something in addition to cocktails within the bar, massages, or gear within the store — I believe the worth is extraordinarily excessive. You get a singular place to remain, three wonderful meals per day, and a full tour every day with transportation and educated guides — plus free pickup and drop-off at close by airports and bus stations.

Overall, I adored my keep right here, and I’m recommending it to everybody planning a Patagonia journey. If you dream of visiting Patagonia sometime, that is the type of place that offers you a visit you’ll keep in mind ceaselessly.

More on Patagonia:

More on Chile:

More on South America:

Does Ecocamp Patagonia sound like your type of place?

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