This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Responsible tourism: Chile vacation, Atacama Desert to Patagonia Glaciers
Your vacation starts in the Chilean capital Santiago, a dynamic, multi-layered city at the foot of the snow-capped Andes, with a tight colonial core surrounded by elegant riverside suburbs, well-tended parks, dilapidated low-income quarters and industrial complexes. As such, it is fascinating to visit but suffers serious industrial and vehicle-generated pollution. You will explore the colonial centre on foot, thereby not making any personal contribution to the destruction of air quality. This way you will learn about the city’s historical heritage and visit a few of the well laid-out urban parks.
The next step is the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world. This vast expanse of inhospitable landscape is harsh and rugged, but is not a wasteland. There are volcanoes and geysers, animals used to the altitude and stark conditions, and sturdy plants that grow near the few oases scattered around the area, all of which you will be able to visit. Near one of these oases is the village of San Pedro de Atacama, where your hotel is located. With the concept of blending into the environment, this hotel was build using local materials trying to have as little impact as possible and following the strict regulations for the use of water – a precious element in this region.
You will then continue to the southern Lake District, and stay in Puerto Varas, a town is set amid lush, green, rolling countryside on the shores of Lake. You will visit the emerald isle of Chiloe, renowned for its landscape of valleys and rolling green pastures, its food, its traditions, tight community spirit and for its churches, which were designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Your accommodation will be the Hotel Cabañas del Lago, the only one in the town with a “Sustainable Tourism Distinction” based on their careful use – and preservation - of natural resources.
The next step is Punta Arenas and onto the Torres del Paine National Park. The administrative body of this protected wilderness area of outstanding beauty, with its glacier-stubbed cobalt lakes, needle-sharp mountain peaks and wind-buffeted grassy plains, takes management of tourist visits extremely seriously. Torres del Paine gained national park status in 1959, and in 1978 was declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. By paying the entrance fee to visit these parks you are helping contribute towards the preservation and conservation of these fragile regions. You will be staying in one of the luxurious yurts of Patagonia Camp. Committed to respect the environment, the camp’s philosophy is that of an intimate contact with nature but with a minimum impact. The design and construction is minimally invasive, their waste treatment is carefully controlled and have implemented all systems of clean energy consumption to reduce 02 emissions to its minimum.
As is the case with all our private journeys, we adopt the services of locally recruited guides and drivers in each location in order to promote local employment. This also ensures that you have face to face contact with people who are intimately familiar with their environment and community, and have a vested interest in protecting it so as to ensure the future of tourism in their region. This will help to put a brake on the current tendency for people to leave their homes to seek work in the large urban centres, which harms the socio-economic viability of the countryside and smaller settlements and puts pressure on the infrastructure of the larger cities.
In Santiago, the Chilean capital, we encourage you to visit the arty Lastarria quarter which since the 1990s has adopted a policy of restoration to preserve its traditional Bohemian character and the striking Spanish colonial façades. Hotels, restaurants and arts and crafts workshops outlets are creating a culturally significant neighbourhood with a strong sense of community and in 1997 it was declared an official Zona Tipica.
Hotels also have a social responsibility towards their own communities, and maintain diverse programmes which involve not only their own employees but the community as a whole, providing employment and training where necessary.