Accommodation and Meals:
We use several small, family owned hotels and hosterias during this trip which helps to keep money in the local community. We spend 12 nights in mixed hotels or locally owned bed and breakfasts. One of the hotels you will stay on is in on the edge of the Torres del Paine National Park, set on the banks of the Serrano River. At these places, locally food is served wherever possible and where meals are not provided, we encourage clients to spread their commerce to a variety of authentic restaurants. Chile is famed for BBQ and wine but they also have several micro-breweries and some wonderful, local seafood.
Our guides enforce a strict 'Leave no trace' policy in National Parks, which involves ensuring that so litter is left behind and that flora and fauna are left undisturbed by our tours. We visit Valle de la Luna, Vincente Perez Rosales and Torres del Paine National Parks. In each case we pay entrance fees which then go towards supporting indigenous communities in surrounding areas and for conservation initiatives. Although much of this trip is spent exploring rock formations, glaciers, lagoons and geysers, we still make time to explore cities and small towns. By giving guided tours of these inhabited areas (Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt, Valparaiso etc.) we are introducing clients to aspects of Chilean culture and supporting the employment of a local guide.
Local Craft and Culture:
There are several local craft and food markets on this tour which sell traditional handicrafts and regional delicacies like in San Pedro de Atacama, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas. These are great opportunities to support small vendors and get in insight into daily life for many locals. Handmade earthenware, painted pottery, brightly woven textiles and intricate jewellery are all common items. At the Central Market in Santiago and Angelmo Market in Puerto Montt it is possible to buy and eat an array of colourful, fresh local food- fruit, ice cream, empanadas, completes, shellfish and sopaipilla.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.