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A Sustainable Resort in Chile


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

Ecocamp Patagonia is house to the world’s first geodesic lodge room. That’s proper, they had been first — and we will thank their affect for the a whole lot of dome motels which have sprung up all around the world!

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

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

Let’s check out this really fantastic place.

This publish was printed in February 2024, based mostly 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 Nationwide Park in Chile. It’s so shut, you possibly can hike instantly from Ecocamp to the bottom of the towers, which I did someday! (Extra on that beneath.)

And your complete place consists of geodesic domes: non-public domes for sleeping, group domes that home the eating and bar areas, a yoga dome, a therapeutic massage dome, and all of the domes the place the employees reside!

Ecocamp walks the stroll on the subject of sustainability, far more than most sustainable lodging I’ve visited, and they’re dedicated to minimizing their environmental influence.

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

Different 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.

After which there’s Ecocamp’s social dedication: they’re devoted to sourcing native produce, shopping for from their neighbors each time attainable, and financially contributing to the preservation of Torres del Paine Nationwide Park.

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

In case you are vegetarian or vegan, YOU WILL LOVE THIS PLACE. Each evening, there are three-course meals, and every course has three choices, together with at the very least one vegetarian and at the very least one vegan. And the lunch buffet is completely vegetarian. I met numerous vegetarians who selected Ecocamp because of this.

Moreover, Ecocamp is a digital detox. There isn’t a wifi and no cellphone sign, although there may be a pc with wired-in web in case you want it.

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

Ecocamp can solely be booked by Cascada Journey, and you’ll guide right here. It’s a bit complicated, however the package deal I did and suggest is Patagonia Wildlife Safari — a customizable itinerary of 4-7 days with each 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 go away.

Domes at Ecocamp Patagonia

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

Customary domes are the fundamental choice, with beds however no toilet (there’s a shared toilet), no electrical retailers, and no warmth, however numerous blankets that may hold you heat all evening.

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

Suite domes are high tier, together with an ensuite toilet and fashionable low-emission wooden range, native decorations, and much more area. Some suite domes are loft domes, which might sleep 4 folks and are perfect for households.

Charlie and I stayed in a set dome. Right here’s a have 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 rejoice our honeymoon!
A small private bathroom with a shower stall and a sink.
One angle of our non-public toilet, 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.
One other angle of our superior dome, with the wooden range, tiny closet, and protected.

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!).

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

One downside: There was a LOT of sunshine within the morning from the facet 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 suggest you deliver one in every of your personal.

A breakfast plate with scrambled eggs, vegetables, a tiny lemon meringue pastry, and some cheese, next to a cup of black coffee.
Gasoline 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 evening earlier than based mostly on the tour you’ve chosen. Most individuals eat round 8:00 AM. And in case you’d like, there’s an early yoga class you possibly can be a part of.

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

Additionally throughout breakfast, you make your choices 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

After which it’s time to move off in your tour! You is likely to be climbing, monitoring wildlife, or on a ship journey. Extra on the three excursions I did beneath.

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

Simply earlier than dinner, it’s time to your each day briefing! Your tour leaders will let you know what time to fulfill locally dome, they usually’ll go over the three excursions out there for the next day. You’ll select tomorrow’s tour presently.

This additionally doubles as joyful 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 great factor is that you just’ll be sitting together with your companions from the tour that day — so that you’ve already gotten to know one another a bit (and undoubtedly have stuff to speak about).

The dinner is three programs with three choices for every course (together with at the very least one vegetarian choice and at the very least one vegan choice for every course), and wine is served.

After which it’s time to move again to your dome for the evening. For those who’re staying in a set dome like we did, you’ll come house 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 outside!

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 may 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 couple of totally different excursions.

Every day has three tour choices, and there may be all the time one simple tour out there.

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

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 Gray and Gray Glacier Boat Journey

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

We then set off for the boat on a protracted stroll throughout a gravelly grey seashore. We had been fortunate to see an infinite 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 Gray navigation, ate our field lunches, and loved a complimentary cocktail.

Alongside the best way 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 acquired 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 instantly from the seashore.
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 Gray was so lovely.
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 critical 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 massive grey seashore!

Is the Lake Gray tour price it? I feel it’s, for most individuals. Nevertheless, I ought to level out that this glacier doesn’t examine to Perito Moreno Glacier in close by El Calafate, Argentina. That giant glacier is way 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

Mountain climbing to the bottom of Las Torres is essentially the most troublesome 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 toes). Moreover, there’s no simple approach out — it’s worthwhile to hike out the precise approach you hiked in.

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

And man, this hike was TOUGH. There are such a lot of totally different levels.

A few people hiking on a path leading up to a snow-covered mountain. The clouds are weird -- like two thick, solid lines.
You allow 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.
Subsequent up is the “Windy Go” (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 may refill your water bottle right here, too.
Two hikers with poles hiking through a forest.
Subsequent up is a protracted hike by the forest — most likely 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. That is the place the powerful climbing started and climbing poles had been important. Right here you possibly can refill your water within the streams.
A mountainside with gray scraggling rocks, and teeny tiny hikers hiking among them.
The ultimate stretch: climbing up the moraine with no shelter, simply you and the weather. Take a 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 high and see the candy, candy sight you might 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 case you hike, you recognize that climbing down is usually worse due to the stress it places in your knees!

There have been two Ecocamp guides with us, and we stayed collectively as a gaggle for nearly your complete hike (although Charlie and I, whereas not ridiculously gradual, had been behind the pack).

By the point we hit the refugio on the best way 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 toes and knees actually began to harm.

Nonetheless, regardless of being the gradual ones, the hike altogether took us about 9 hours.

Total, am I joyful I did the Torres hike? Sure. I’m grateful for the expertise, and pleased with myself and Charlie for surviving it. However solely looking back. It was actually powerful on the time, and if I had been in worse form, it may have been depressing.

For those who’re on the fence in regards to the Torres hike, speak to your guides about whether or not or not it is best to do it. They’re skilled guides they usually gained’t drive you to do one thing past your means.

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 Path

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

All through the hike we stopped regularly 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!
Discuss in regards to the excellent Patagonian postcard!
An ancient cave painting of what looks like animals and the shape of a hand.
Historical 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.

A number of the views on this hike had been completely stupendous. We noticed condors flying overhead, numerous 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 infinite 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 price it? I might need been a bit underwhelmed if this was the one hike I did, nevertheless it was the PERFECT exercise to do the day after an intense hike.

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

Different Excursions

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

And may you select to not do any excursions? Positive. One woman I met was nursing a gentle harm and didn’t need to threat the Towers Base hike. As a substitute, she had a non-public yoga session, acquired a therapeutic massage, and did a sound bathtub.

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

What number of days at Ecocamp Patagonia is finest?

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

Ecocamp shouldn’t be the type of place the place it is best to 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 company who had been staying at Ecocamp Patagonia for every week. That will ALSO be an superior alternative. You could possibly mix 5-7 days at Ecocamp with 5-7 days in El Calafate and El Chaltén in Argentina, and that makes a superb Patagonia itinerary!

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

Easy methods to get to Ecocamp Patagonia

Ecocamp Patagonia will choose 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 are going to deliver you a field lunch to eat on the journey.

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

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

For those who’re touring onward to Argentine Patagonia, you might have solely two choices: an early morning elevate to the bus station in Torres del Paine Nationwide 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 guide a non-public switch that takes you the entire approach.

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 Suggestions for Ecocamp

For those who’re planning on visiting Ecocamp, listed below are a couple of suggestions I’ve:

Pack the proper climbing gear. What do you want?

You don’t have to deliver climbing poles — Ecocamp offers these.

Learn by the excursions on the web site earlier than your journey, and select them tentatively upfront. I discover it simpler to retain info from studying somewhat than listening, and a few of the Ecocamp guides, although pretty, went on lengthy tangents about trivialities of the excursions somewhat than sticking to fundamental info like the issue of the climbing.

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

If you’d like a therapeutic massage, schedule one upfront. The slots go rapidly, and if in case you have an extended tour, it’s possible you’ll solely be capable of make the ultimate slot of the day.

See in case you can fly into Puerto Natales. This may prevent two hours of driving somewhat than flying into Punta Arenas.

Carry a sleep masks. This may enable you to 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 price it?

I feel Ecocamp Patagonia is immensely price it. That is the very best 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 nice: That is an extremely particular property that makes you’re feeling such as you’re experiencing one thing distinctive and memorable in the course of spectacular nature. They take sustainability critically. The meals is nice. And the employees are completely improbable.

What might be improved: Communication with company over pickup delays. I want we had acquired a “We’ll be there in half-hour” electronic 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 feel having rentable sleep masks could be a terrific thought.

Worth for cash: While you think about that that is an all-inclusive resort — frankly, you gained’t spend cash on something apart from cocktails within the bar, massages, or gear within the store — I feel 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.

Total, I adored my keep right here, and I’m recommending it to everybody planning a Patagonia journey. For those who dream of visiting Patagonia sometime, that is the type of place that will provide you with a visit you’ll bear in mind endlessly.

Extra on Patagonia:

Extra on Chile:

Extra on South America:

Does Ecocamp Patagonia sound like your type of place?