Patagonia EcoCamp Sets Sustainability Standards for Ecolodges Around the World
Anyone who’s visited Patagonia before is likely to appreciate the natural beauty and epic wonder the area has to offer. It’s essentially a protected outdoor playground for climbers, hikers, bikers, and other nature enthusiasts who want to explore one of the world’s most environmentally diverse regions. So it’s no surprise visitors respect lodging options that respect the land through sustainable design and function, like the Patagonia EcoCamp.
Located in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, the EcoCamp is a low-impact option for travelers and adventurers alike. Its geodesic dome lodgings offer immersion into nature without foregoing any of the comforts of home. In sharp contrast to the resource-consumptive practices of a typical hotel, the Patagonia EcoCamp also runs on solar and hydraulic power for a low carbon footprint, taking steps to conserve resources and control waste at every turn.
Founded by engineers and expedition specialists Yerko Ivelic and Javier Lopez in 2001, the camp has earned praise from both visitors and major publications. That’s because it’s not only a sustainable accommodation, but a remote engagement that draws off the experience of the land’s native Kaweskar people, who have inhabited and valued the area for at least 6000 years.
As stewards of the land, the owners of Patagonia EcoCamp feel an obligation to provide environmentally-responsible travel options that allow visitors to enjoy the nature without endangering it. With this in mind, the EcoCamp has received certifications for their green initiatives. They aim to eventually incorporate more than just solar and hydro energy, but to maintain a circle of sustainable actions that set an example for other ecolodges around the world. This includes supporting the local community, culture, conservation, and commerce. They accomplish this by hiring local help, relying on local farmers to provide produce, and supplementing the bar and restaurant with food collected from the area throughout the year. The EcoCamp also invests in the education of local children by inviting classrooms to visit and learn more about sustainable practices.
To save even more energy, the Patagonia EcoCamp has fitted its domes with large windows to promote the use of natural light over artificial ones. Hair dryers are also not allowed at camp — a rule imposed as yet another lesson in unnecessary energy consumption. One unique lack-of-feature in the ecolodges is the absence of Wi-Fi. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly the goal is to encourage visitors to interact with each other and nature rather than their smartphones.
The domes themselves are built above-ground with no concrete so they can be dismantled and removed with no impact to the land. All 35 of them are connected through a web of elevated wooden walkways that do not impact land erosion. To avoid water pollution, the compound is equipped with composting toilets. Any additional water used is filtered before being sent back to the surrounding landscape.
Visitors to the Patagonia EcoCamp get more than a bed, they get an ecotourism experience to match their interests. Multi-sport tours are available with a variety of options to meet any interest. From a stay in the peaceful and serene yoga dome to an adventurous nine-day trek through the Torres del Paine National Park, Cascada Expediciones offers a selection of adventures sure to appease the sustainable traveler. Trips include opportunities to hike, bike, kayak, ride horses, fly fish, and even head out on safari.