Responsible tourism: Hiking vacation in Patagonia, small group
Our local partner in Patagonia had operating in the area for more than 20 years, visiting natural areas and learning the best ways to minimize impact on the environment. They were the first tour operator in the area to stop using camp-fires, due to the danger it represents to the forest. Prior to trekking and camping in the Los Glaciares National Park and Torres del Paine National Park, the guide advises visitors on the importance of minimizing waste and taking away rubbish rather than leaving behind. Passengers are asked to bring a re-usable water bottle, which is then refilled, rather than using several plastic water bottles each day. Lama’s are used for transportation, rather than horses, as they have less impact on the ground and so paths last longer.
During the trip, we visit many glaciers, the most impressive being Perito Moreno Glacier. The tour leaders explain the impact of global warming on the glaciers, comparing the size of the glaciers as they are today to how they were in previous years.
The towns visited on the tour such as Ushuaia and El Calafate rely on tourism as an important part of the economy. Local guides, trekking leaders and other staff are employed with fair wages and working hours. Services provided by the community are included in the itinerary, such as restaurant meals, lunch boxes provided by a local supplier, and local transportation, ensuring that money from the tour goes back into the community. As our partner has been taking passengers to El Chalten for many years, it has helped to develop the area, having local government improve the roads to access the town. Their activity has made an impact to the quality of life of local inhabitants.