Today marks the start of Responsible Travel Week 2013!
Responsible travel is about so much more than just eco-awareness. It includes cultural sensitivity, a willingness to learn about your destination, the desire to connect with nature and a commitment to embracing economic fairness. We’re celebrating Responsible Travel Week with a look at EcoCamp Patagonia’s outstanding responsible travel credentials!
We think even footprints are too much, which is why EcoCamp Patagonia in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is designed to leave nothing behind. You heard us. Nothing at all. Not even a footprint! So how on Earth do they do it?
EcoCamp Patagonia’s individual dome hotel rooms and communal areas are built on raised platforms and connected with raised walkways, protecting the delicate native plant life at ground level. The domes themselves are built to be as lightweight as the bracing Patagonian winds allow, and in 2005 they proved their worth when the whole hotel was relocated to its current home near to the foot of The Towers without leaving a single trace.
So much for the visible footprint, but EcoCamp Patagonia is also committed to reducing the environmental impact that you can’t see, including harmful emissions. That’s why all of EcoCamp’s electricity is generated by water turbines and solar panels, they offset the carbon they use for transport and their domes even feature state-of-the-art composting toilets!
Responsible travellers want to connect with nature, to feel the wind on their face and smell the clean, crisp air, to be a part of their surroundings without damaging them. At EcoCamp, outside and inside spaces overlap as a result of the unique dome design. Whilst protected from the elements, you’ll still hear the wind rushing overhead and see the stars through portholes in the ceiling and walls, so it’s impossible to forget the staggering landscape of Patagonia even for a moment.
As a responsible traveller, you don’t just sit on your tour bus looking out at your destination through the window, you get out and interact, you learn, strive to understand, and above all you respect the local culture that has welcomed you.
EcoCamp’s domes are based on the dwellings of the indigenous Kaweskar people of Patagonia, who lived a nomadic lifestyle in semi-circular huts and had a very low impact on their surroundings. When staying at EcoCamp, you’ll feel the lifestyle of these original inhabitants echo down through the ages, as you head out on excursions each day and return to your cosy eco-dome at night.
Exploring with EcoCamp’s local guides is another great way to not only observe but become a living breathing example of Patagonian traditions and culture. From the earliest days of European exploration in the region Chilean cowboys, or Baqueanos, acted as guides to visitors from around the world. Respectful tourism with local experts is part of the history and fabric of the Patagonian landscape.
Buying local produce at a fair price during your holiday is as much part and parcel of responsible travel as taking steps to safeguard the environment. But in the middle of a National Park like Torres del Paine in the remote wilds of Patagonia, you don’t have the option of just nipping down to the shop. That’s why it’s more important than ever to choose a responsible hotel that you can trust to do the conscientious shopping for you!
EcoCamp Patagonia’s bedroom and community domes are appealingly decorated using the work of local artisans who are always paid a fair price for their work, and there are also fairly priced handicrafts available for purchase in the EcoCamp shop. In addition, all ingredients for EcoCamp’s exceptional Patagonian fusion menu are purchased as locally as possible, which not only cuts down on transport emissions, but also supports local suppliers in their livelihood.
Tell me what do you think about our approach to responsible travel? #responsibletravel #responsibletourism #greentravel #sustainability