The main concepts kept in mind when designing the EcoCamp were the following:
● To be exposed to nature as in a camp tent but with the comfort and sophistication of a four star hotel;
● Design and build interfering as little as possible with the environment. The hotel is not meant to be seen. No one is interested in advertising EcoCamp on site
● Take advantage of the sight. EcoCamp gives sight to the Torres del Paine granite pillars right from the dining room and from many dormitory domes
● The nomadic spirit should be brought alive, let's make the hotel portable, so when moved, very little tracks of previous existence on site will be left;
● EcoCamp allows the terrain to recover after each season, let's the grass grow, the animals graze, the sun shines and the wind blow all over the place. The domes are removed each winter.
● The wind is an active part of Patagonia, and it is important that guests experience it, so the canvas that covers the domes will react to the wind. You will be perfectly comfortable on bed but aware that nature is outside knocking at the door;
● The skies in Patagonia can be spectacular at nights, and the domes let guests fall asleep looking at the stars above
● Days in Patagonia are long from 5:30AM to 11PM and the best light for photographs is at dusk and dawn. The domes let the light flood the interior warning you that day is on. Grab your camera and get out to catch the first lights striking the mountains;
● Travelers come this far to be outdoors, let's make the indoor amenities as little as possible;
● The maximum capacity will be 30 guests so the feeling of intimacy, the idea of being in a Nomadic convoy will be kept even if the EcoCamp is full.
EcoCamp has been constructed with intentional goals and objectives. Here are some examples of how EcoCamp has been designed with sustainability in mind:
*Construct with what you have onsite and minimize the importation of materials that do not exist on place.
*Minimize the constructed area and leave indoors only the necessary places such as dormitories, living room, dining room, kitchen and bathrooms.
*Geodesic domes, reminiscent of the Kawesqar hut, will be the basic building module. Animal skin coating should be replaced by sturdy clothing.
*Avoid foundations. Terrain should be impacted as little as possible.
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. EcoCamp obtains all the energy from 100% natural & renewal sources like water, sun and wind.
ï¿½ Solar energy has been widely used in Patagonia especially on our summer season when the days can have 17hrs of daylight. EcoCamp uses 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, the lodge's 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 they have been able to provide lighting for dormitories out of the wind generators.
● EcoCamp uses 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 EcoCamp is 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 ï¿½carbon cycleï¿½ 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.
*Planet Green Top 7 Romantic Getaways in the World: Whoever said that having a romantic first-rate suite means that you have to be stuck up in some stuffy eco-unfriendly hotel. Ecocamp offers all the splendors of outdoor camping with the amenities of a four-star hotel. Each room consists of an open-plan, movable geodesic dome, private bathroom with composting toilets, comfortable bed, modern low-emission wood stove, micro hydro turbine, and solar panels, allowing each couple to live among mother nature's breathtaking scenery in full comfort without disturbing her delicate balance.
*Eco Hotels of The World gave Eco Camp 5 Green Stars
*MSN Travel Top 10 Luxury Camping Trips: Chilean Patagonia is synonymous with wilderness adventure - hard to reach and largely untouched, it's a dream destination for lovers of virgin jungle, granite Andean peaks, blue glaciers, and rushing rivers. As Eco Camp shows, however, communing with nature doesn't have to mean roughing it.
*MSNBC Top 10 Luxury Eco-Resorts: Geodesic domes reminiscent of the local Kawesqar people's huts were constructed for guests visiting EcoCamp Patagonia, which is in Torres del Paine National Park. Trekking into the Patagonian wonderland of mountains, fjords, volcanoes, pampas and ice fields is a top activity.
Patagonia is home of a world heritage site Torres del Paine. This national Park has unlimited beauty and adventure to offer, with glaciers, lakes, mountains, wild flowers and birds, trekking and horseback riding to choose from. Outdoor recreation at its best, our trips in Patagonia offer accommodation in camping or refugio or top class hotel. Suitable for group, individual or family vacations.
There is a choice of soft or hard adventure among the peaks and lakes of Patagonia within the world heritage site of Torres del Paine, expeditions to glaciers and opportunities to visit more remote parts such as Tierra del Fuego.
Trekking or horseback riding, gentle or tough itineraries, with expert Patagonian guides, good food and tours plus accommodation tailored to your needs. The flora and fauna of this area are exceptional, with wild flowers and colors to amaze and plentiful large and small birds for birdwatchers to enjoy. Nature or walking tours, or kayaking the rivers - Patagonia has it all.
Below are the guided excursions that are included when doing the Patagonia Wildlife Safari or End of the World trips: Transportation, lunch, and guide services are included. Please note the days when excursions are offered each week.
Laguna Azul and Patagonian BBQ
Mondays and Thursdays
On our way to Laguna Azul we will have the chance to enjoy some marvellous views of the famous Torres, as well as passing through the Pampa Guanaco, where we will be lucky enough not only to spot many elegant guanacos, but also to hop out of the van and walk amongst them. After soaking up these beautiful surroundings, we will continue our drive to Laguna Azul, where a BBQ lunch will have been prepared for us! We will enjoy our lunch looking out over the lake, with a view of the three granite towers in the distance, snug in the warmth of the BBQ quincho. After lunch, we will walk south to Macho Cañon, where we can observe the typical fauna of the Torres del Paine National Park, including more guanaco herds. From here we will jump into our van again, heading back to the EcoCamp in time for cocktail hour.
Western Lakes and Grey Glacier
Tuesdays and Fridays
We start off driving across the Park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black, granite horn-like spires. We stop at various viewpoints on the way to enjoy observing and photographing herds of guanacos, Andean condors and interesting flora. We drive down past Pehoe lake and enjoy a short scenic walk along the tip of its southern shore, with views of the vast Toro lake. From here we drive up to Grey Lake and wander along the beach on the shores of the glacial water. Here we enjoy a tasty box-lunch by the lake before embarking on a boat ride across the icy waters to the towering blue walls of Glacier Grey. After this incredible sight of the glacier up close, we drive back to EcoCamp. (*During September, October and April the boat trip to Glacier Grey may be cancelled as the boat requires a minimum of 8 passengers to sail, which might not be reached in some cases. If this is the case we will plan an alternative excursion in the Park.)
Lake Sarmiento and Fauna Trail
Wednesdays and Saturdays
This easy-going, predominantly flat trek boasts stunningly diverse natural scenery and offers the chance to feast your eyes upon a startlingly blue lake, which is secluded from all the other water systems of the area. There will be ample opportunity to spot many graceful guanacos and great grebes along the way. First we will examine the geology of the area’s turbidite rock folds, before descending the isthmus which separates Lake Sarmiento from Lake Sarmiento Chico (the two lakes were once a single mass of water), walking along a slight slope, and ambling beside the eastern edge of Lake Sarmiento Chico. We will eventually arrive at an impressive bay on the western side of Lake Sarmiento, admiring a breath-taking view which could easily be mistaken for a piece of art! We will also be able to study the area’s characteristic calcium deposits here. Then begins our ascent back to the van, and along the way we will stumble across an awe-inspiring, panoramic vista of Lake Sarmiento from its western shore, looking towards its eastern coast glimmering on the horizon. From here we drive back eastwards along the northern shore of Sarmiento Lake until we reach the starting point of the Fauna Trail. As we walk northwards along the trail we see park fauna on the Patagonian plains including guanacos, ostrich-like ñandús and maybe the occasional puma print! We pass by Goic lagoon and after an approximate 5 km relaxed walk we reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station where we’re picked up and driven back to EcoCamp.
Salto Grande and El Condor Lookout
After breakfast we head out in the van westwards, taking a route along the southern shore of Nordenskjold lake. Our first stop is the magnificent Salto Grande waterfall, with its impressive cascading waters falling from Nordenskjold lake into Pehoe lake. From here it's a short walk to Cuernos viewpoint, with a panoramic view of the mighty Horns. From the viewpoint, we drive to Pehoe Lake and begin the two hour round-trip walk to El Condor Lookout from its shores. We go gently uphill through the steppe vegetation; a great opportunity to learn about the local flora. Here we witness the piercing blueness of Pehoe Lake and and the Paine river. On a clear day, we can see the immensity of the Southern Patagonian ice fields in the distance. We reenergize taking in the whole Paine Mountain range and its stunning snowcapped peaks. After a hearty lunch in the perfect location, we backtrack along the same trail and drive back to EcoCamp.
Trek Towers Base
Mondays and Thursdays
Walk from Ecocamp towards Hosteria Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio Valley on the Tower's eastern face. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. The big challenge is climbing the steep moraine, a mass of boulders leading towards one of the world's most famous views overlooking the Towers. The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/ 9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the Towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before you, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and your picnic, backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp.
Drive & Walk Western Lakes, Hike Pingo Trail
Tuesdays and Fridays
Drive across the Park, admiring the view of Paine Grande and its snowy peaks, and Los Cuernos with its black granite horn-like spires. Walking along the shores of the stunning Lake Pehoe, see the furious Salto Grande waterfalls where the water from Lake Nordenskjold cascades down into Pehoe. The walk continues over the gentle Nordenskjold trail until reaching its spectacular lookout point. Later, back at Lake Pehoe, you are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey to walk to the start of the beautiful Pingo Trail, taking you through a fairytale Magellan forest full of local fauna and flora. As you walk, huge rock formations in nearby hills and the strong Patagonian wind give you a good idea of just how wild Patagonia is! Reach a small sightseeing point with splendid views of the Massif's west face, and then walk back to Grey Beach to meet your fellow travelers coming back from the boat ride. Together head to Ecocamp to enjoy dinner and relaxation time.
Navigation Pehoe Lake and hike French Valley
Wednesdays and Saturdays
After breakfast, start your day driving towards Pudeto dock, located on the shores of Pehoe Lake. Board the catamaran and voyage to the north-western sector of the Lake where you'll begin the challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. How far you go depends on the group's rhythm - An active walk leads to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south-eastern face of the Massif, where there is a truly wonderful view. Then continue up the trail to the upper section of the valley where you can admire the valley's entire group of geological formations: Hoja (Blade), Mascara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburon (Shark's Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress). Here, picnic and rest for a while. An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is available as well, if the group isn't keen on resting. Then, descend through a rippling terrain of grassland and light forest until reaching the Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. From here, the catamaran takes you back to Pudeto to be driven back to EcoCamp. Please note: the excursion to French Valley varies throughout the season depending on the catamaran connecting Pudeto and Refugio Pehoe. Please contact us for more details.
Trek Cerro Paine
We leave after a tasty breakfast at EcoCamp to head to Cerro Paine, a nearby mountain characterized by its two imposing peaks. We hike along the mountain for half an hour, which allows us to warm up while admiring the view of the surrounding pampa. The challenge starts as we start climbing the eastern part of Cerro Paine. We cross the lenga forest with the sound of the local birds and enjoy a few stops to observe the immense Almirante Nieto Mountain and its glacier on our left side. With any luck we will follow the tracks of the puma as the towers come into full view. A nice place for Lunch, isn’t it? As we are ready to start the steepest part of the hike, we leave the forest and hike on the rock. As we go up, we admire the spectacular panoramic view of the immense pampa and the mountains in the distance, like the Balmaceda mountain. We go up for about an hour up to 1200m/3937ft to reach the eastern peak of Cerro Paine, which offers an unforgettable lookout of the towers and the ascencio valley. After chilling in one of the most striking views of the national park, we backtrack along the same trail and return to EcoCamp.
Cycling to Laguna Azul + Patagonian BBQ
Mondays and Thursdays
After breakfast drive to Estancia Laguna Amarga, next to the ranger station at the entrance of the park. Here, hop on your mountain bikes & pedal away towards Laguna Azul campsite approximately 20 km to the north east. Cycle past an array of fauna on the Patagonian plains including guanacos and ostrich-like nandus (plus maybe the occasional puma print!), heading up north past the cascading Paine waterfall where you can stop for a break to admire the view. Continue your journey heading past a small canyon in the middle of the Patagonian flora and fauna before looping up towards Laguna Azul. Upon arrival at Laguna Azul, be treated to a classic Patagonian barbecue prepared by a local Patagonian chef in EcoCamp's cozy barbecue area on the lakeshore. Once you've feasted and enjoyed some rest, there's time to explore the surroundings and climb to the nearby sightseeing point with a panoramic view of the lagoon and the Torres in the distance. The cycle ride back to EcoCamp is optional - anyone who is happily tired after the journey and barbecue is welcome to travel back in the support van (accompanying the group at all times on the outward journey). Back at EcoCamp, the cyclists reunite with their Safari hiking counterparts to enjoy the evening aperitif.
The W circuit is the circuit followed during the Pure Patagonia and Patagonia Panorama trekking trips. Travelers will stay in the standard domes at the EcoCamp for 4 nights and in the refugios for two nights when doing these trekking trips.
The magic of this circuit is that it includes many of the Park's highlights, yet accommodates hikers of all abilities. Hikers who want to go all day will find plenty of opportunities to do so. The joy of the W route is that it also accommodates hikers who prefer a more relaxed pace. There are plenty of options to cover moderate distances and enjoy the spectacular scenery, and still reach the next campground!
The W circuit for the most part avoids the difficult and taxing routes except for the last section to the Torres.
DAY 1: ECOCAMP - REFUGIO LOS CUERNOS
(Easy/Moderate difficulty, 7 hours, 16Km/10 miles, highest point 244m/800ft)
This morning leave the EcoCamp and set out towards the Refugio Los Cuernos. From here the view of Lake Nordenskjold is amazing, and the area is rich in native trees - Mires, Calafates and Motors. Then begin the more exciting part of today's hike, with many ravines and river crossings (somewhat challenging after it rains!). This section has many ascents and descents before finally leveling out. As you near the refugio, pass the entrance to Bader Valley (a paradise for climbers and one of the more hidden corners in the park), and finally cross a wooden footbridge over a little stream near the Refugio Los Cuernos, where you will settle in for the evening.
The Refugio sits at the base of Cuernos del Paine (2,600m/8528ft) in a zone protected by the wind and close to a stream. The view is wonderful; enjoy a relaxing evening with other hikers in this cozy spot nestled below huge mountains and beside a wild lake.
DAY 2: FRENCH VALLEY - REFUGIO PAINE GRANDE
(Moderate/Difficult difficulty - 8 hrs - 25km/15miles - highest altitude point 686m/2250 feet)
After breakfast, begin a challenging trek to Valle Frances (French Valley) along a steep trail that goes into the very heart of the Paine Massif. How deep you go depends on your groups's rhythm - An active walk leads to the hanging bridge over the French River, located at the foot of the south-eastern face of the Massif, where there is a truly wonderful view. Then continue up the trail until reaching the upper section of the valley and admire the valley's entire group of geological formations: Hoja (Blade), MÃ¡scara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de TiburÃ³n (Sharkâ€™s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress). Here picnic and rest for a while. An optional trek to Mirador Britanico is available as well, if the group isn't keen on resting.
Then descend through a rippling terrain of mixed grassland and light forest until reaching Refugio Paine Grande, located on the peaceful shores of Lake Pehoe. Here organize your luggage, relax and enjoy a replenishing dinner.
DAY 3: PAINE GRANDE REFUGIO - THE GREY GLACIER
(Moderate difficulty - 4 hours - 14km/9 miles - highest point 244m/800ft)
Today hike from Paine Grande Refugio along the shores of Lake Pehoe to the northern end of glacial Lake Grey. Enjoy a picnic lunch before boarding the boat that sails to the blue face of Glacier Grey. There's lots of time to marvel at this calving glacier during the boat ride across this lake, with its floating pieces of ice. From Lake Greyâ€™s southern end transfer to EcoCamp.
Occasionally the weather may not permit sailing across the lake, or during Shoulder Season (October and April) the sailing might be cancelled if the required minimum of passengers isn't reached. In this case trek up to the sightseeing point offering a spectacular view of the Glacier. Then return on foot to Paine Grande and take a catamaran to Pudetoâ€™s dock, from where you will be driven back to Ecocamp.
DAY 4 or 5: ECOCAMP - TORRES DEL PAINE
(Difficult, 10 hours, 21 KM/13 miles, highest point 914m/3000ft - elevation gain of 720m/2362 ft)
Time for a big breakfast and lots of enthusiasm - Your goal today is to complete the most famous trekking trail in Torres del Paine National Park!
Walk from the camp site towards Hosteria Las Torres and join the uphill path to Ascencio Valley on the Tower's eastern face. Dry mountain spots, beech forests and small rivers line the scenic walk towards the valley. Your big challenge comes as you climb the steep moraine, a mass of boulders leading towards one of the world's most famous views overlooking the Towers.
The famous Torres del Paine (2,900 m/ 9,400 ft) consist of three gigantic granite monoliths, the remains of a great cirque sheared away by the forces of glacial ice. After an uphill slog, the Towers eventually come into full view, rising majestically before you, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and your picnic, backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp.
Puma Tracking - Join certified guides on this unique puma tracking option.
Private Yoga Instruction - Spend one-on-one time with the lodge's certified yoga instructor in their new yoga dome.