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Ecocamp Patagonia  Hot Featured
Hotels 5 Green Stars
  
Information
Eco Stars: 5 star
Stars: unrated
Location: South America
Country: Chile

Ecocamp Patagonia

The Ecocamp offers a great compromise between hotel accommodation and camping. In Torres del Paine national park you will find these large dome-shaped tents that offer the simple luxury of being able to stand up straight and lie down on a real bed with a dining tent nearby offering good local food. The discomfort of traditional camping are far away but the excitement of a close contact with the environment is still very much the main attraction.

A variety of tours in English are available from trekking experience to wildlife tours and photography safaris. Whatever your interests this is a great place to unwind and enjoy the wonders and beauty of Patagonia.

The basic premise of the EcoCamp was to maintain the nomadic spirit of the ancient inhabitants that moved along the dismembered coast looking for food and shelter. These people lived in harmony with “Mother Nature” and built their huts out of wood, furs and leathers, all organic materials they found on site. Patagonia EcoCamp’s design was inspired by these traditional Kawesqar huts.


Green Star Rating Results:
For more information on how these work click here
Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (5)

Special Achievements:
EcoCamp has ISO 14001

Energy Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - In finding the proper sources of energies environmental design consider using the natural forces that are found on site and that human has learned to use on its benefit. We obtain all the energy from 100% natural ? renewal sources like water, sun and wind.

• Solar energy has been widely used in Patagonia especially on our summer season when the days can have 17hrs of daylight. We use solar panels to provide energy for small fans on the toilettes chutes and to light the circulation areas.

• Wind energy is still on an experimental stage in Patagonia, our experience with two generators has been diverse and main difficulties reside on that the wind flows very irregularly with strong currents at certain hours and not a breeze in others. Nevertheless we have been able to provide lighting for dormitories out of the wind generators.

• We use propane for heating water at the bathrooms and for the kitchen stove.
• Despite some investigators claim that the toxic emissions from a modern wood heater are similar to emissions from burning fossil fuels we are considering the feasibility of using modern wood calderas to provide sort of central heating and eventually modern wood stoves for cooking. In the vast plains of Patagonia there is plenty of fallen dead wood that could be collected. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and by photosynthesis, release oxygen and store carbon in the wood. When wood is burned, the carbon dioxide is re-created and released into the atmosphere. This is the same amount of carbon dioxide that would be released should the tree die and rot on the forest floor. This is the known as the “carbon cycle” and is environmentally neutral. The contra is that wood heaters generates four times the particulate emissions than oil combustion and ten or more times the particulate emissions than natural gas, though Particulate Pollution will never become a problem in the windy Patagonia it is a matter of consideration. Putting in practice the considerations described above results on the fact that we can provide our guests with very limited and discretional electrical power: No hairdryers, no battery recharge, no electrical shaving machines, no long showers, no internet, etc. Passive heating ? lighting The best way to preserve is with no doubt not to heat nor to light at all and keep up with the natural rhythm. Domes have a panoramic window and come coated with white canvas which allows plenty of sunlight inside. Coating considers an outer canvas layer and a thick insulation cushion to minimize the exchange of temperature.

Water Rating: ★★★ (3)
Staff Comment - There is not a water problem in Patagonia.

Disposal Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - The basic environmentally sensitive management of waste considers the stages of:
• Bring into the wilderness area as little garbage as possible. Buy goods on bulk and minimize or avoid the paper, thin and plastic containers. • Classify and store the waste in terms of what can be recycled, generally: plastic, glass, organic, paper and batteries.

• Export all the waste out of the wilderness area and reduce the organic waste. Our neighbors at Estancia Las Torres have pigs that happily eat our organic waste;

• Recycle. The waste properly classified and compacted must be given to corporations that process it and recycle. In Patagonia there is little of that and we must find a way to forward that waste to Santiago. Our bathrooms deserve a special paragraph. Patagonia EcoCamp has two composting chambers that collect waste from 4 toilettes. The process first consider separating solid and liquid waste, solid waste remains in the composting chamber mixed with paper and woodchips and liquids come down to a lower deposit from where it passes a cleaning chamber and then is infiltrated in the ground. So far this is the first and only existing composting unit in Patagonia and dealing with it has been a hard task, low temperatures require our chambers to be heated as to keep the microorganisms active.

Eco-Active Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - This has been a process that has evolved throughout time. Back in 1996 we had to import the more specific training, in fact our company was the 1st outfitter in South America to get Wilderness First Responder Certification for our guides. On three different years we flew Wilderness Medical Associates teacher all the way down to Chile to train our staff, courses were open to other guides from Explora, Ski Resorts and government.

Later on, NOLS started offering WFR courses and our guides booked on them. Our policy was to finance 50% of the course (most of our Patagonia staff is employed 7 out of 12 months with us and the rest of the year the free lance in different places). - Every year, at the start of the season we have a training course for assistant guides. Course is given by seniors guides and topics are wildlife, geography, flora, geology and first aids. - Specific training for senior guides comes up very much with their own initiative and we agree on each particular case a specific way of financial support. - ISO 14001 certification considers a steady training program more specific to monitor the organization processes. - We also educate our guests on how the Ecocamp works, how they should behave while on the National Park, etc.,...

Protection Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment - Because of the isolation of the place, the lack of agriculture, and the fact there are no villages any close from Torres del Paine is that helping the surrounding inhabitants is very limited. What we have done as an example is: - Hire horses and riding services from the smaller less known farmers instead of hiring from the traditional concession owners whose have grown considerable big. - Buy handcrafts from the locals as to decorate the EcoCamp - Hire the local artists to decorate the EcoCamp - Buy some farm products (eggs, meat, cheese, dried fruit, grain, animal skin, marmalade, bread, etc) from local suppliers So far the contribution we have done to environmentalism has been related to studyng, testing, purchasing and installing sustainable technologies for renewal energy supply, insulation ? waste management.

We have preferred to concentrate our efforts in our own project development ? have not been donating money to other organizations. Other thing is that at the Ecocamp; The capacity of the is limited to a maximum of 32 guests and it will not get bigger. Because of the remote location and lack of immediate contact with civilization being self-sufficient here means that there must be almost one staff per each guest. Scale economy will apply after 40-60 guests and this is the minimum capacity any “normal” hotel will go for. We just think that 30 people is a good number to ensure an intimate experience and to keep waste emissions, from our guests and staff, limited. Our composting capacity is 40pax or less.

The EcoCamp very much restrict our guest to a sustainable behavior. There are not electricity plugs but on the core domes where it access is controlled. Guest could still take long showers and waste more gas&water than necessary, but since the bathrooms are not next to the rooms guests tend to limit their showers themselves. In Torres del Paine National Park, Planting in is prohibited same as bringing in animals. However, this area has been severely impacted by colonist and farmers since middle 1800s. Animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, hares, rabbits were introduced and they co-exist today with wild animals such as: guanacos, foxes, chillas, skunks, wild rabbits and puma.

• All constructions are built over rise platforms that allow free circulation of wild animals underneath the structures. Buildings are connected with rise walkways.
• There are no fences surrounding the EcoCamp so horses come in freely to grass in the mornings……You can bet that they also mess all over the place…..
• Solar light lamps lit the walkways and domes at night. They are very subtle as not to disturb night animals.

Contact Details

Name:
Ecocamp Patagonia
Address:
Don Carlos 3219,
Las Condes,
Santiago,
Chile
Telephone:
TOLL FREE USA & CANADA: 1-800-901-6987
TOLL FREE UK: 0-800-051-7095
Website:
www.ecocamp.travel
E-mail:
Click Here


  

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