Enjoy a more eco-friendly stay in Patagonia with our green guide to the region, taken from travel bible Great Escapes.
Stay in an eco camp
Ecocamp is a remote, futuristic camp in Chile’s Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Tucked up in an igloo-like geodesic dome (made from sturdy galvanized iron and raised above the ground on a wooden base), guests can enjoy all the creature comforts of a hotel yet still have the wind-whistling-against-the-canvas experience of camping. Inside, the domes are high enough for you to stand upright; there are double or twin beds with fleece sheets and blankets, and the “suite” versions have a private bathroom. Heating comes from a wood stove and each dome has its own hydro-turbine and solar panels to provide electricity.
Ecocamp’s owner, Cascada Expediciones, organizes a circular seven-day trek in the Torres del Paine that begins and ends at the camp, taking in Lago Nordenskjold, Valle Francés, the glacial Lago de Grey, the eastern lakes and the gigantic granite monoliths of the Torres del Paine. From the top of this awesome range you’ll feel like you’re at the ends of the earth, though of course you’re not: the Falkland Islands are only 800km away.
Prices, bookings, and details of walking itineraries are at www.cascada.travel. Wilderness Journeys (www.wildernessjourneys.com) also organizes a sixteen-day trekking holiday visiting the Torres del Paine, Fitzroy range and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.
Ride through the wilderness
Ride across northern Patagonia on a nine-day wilderness horse-riding adventure, galloping across water meadows and rolling hills, passing through narrow rocky gorges and climbing up to high vantage points where condors soar overhead. The trip begins and ends at Estancia Heuchahue, a working cattle farm by the Río Aluminé in the Patagonian Steppes. The estancia is a centre for horse-riding – there are some eighty horses here – and is almost entirely self-sufficient: water for irrigation is gravity-fed from natural springs, all the electricity is provided by a hydro-turbine and fuel for hot water and heating comes from firewood on the farm.
The trip starts at Chapelco Airport in San Martín de los Andes, by Lago Lacar in western Argentina. For prices and itineraries see www.equineadventures.co.uk.
Explore the Lake District
Just 35min south of Bariloche, the Lake District is one of the most accessible parts of northern Patagonia. Peuma Hue is a ranch at the southern tip of Lago Gutiérrez within the grounds of Nahuel Huapi, Argentina’s biggest national park, where you stay in restored log cabins overlooking a forested creek and the valley of D’Agostini. The area is popular with anglers, and there are guided treks and horse-riding in the surrounding poplar-filled hills. The short walks around the estancia connect with the national park trails, which you can follow on multi-day treks using the park’s mountain huts, plus there’s white-water rafting and kayaking at the nearby Río Manso.
For prices, directions, booking and details of accommodation and activities see www.peuma-hue.com.
Paddles and pedals
Fitzroy Adventure Camp, 17km north of El Chaltén, is a great base from which to explore the Mount Fitzroy range – its eight cabins on the shore of Río de Las Vueltas have views of Mount Fitzroy’s north face. The emphasis of the camp is on low-impact activities, so you can hire mountain bikes, canoes and kayaks for the day, or join a two-day canoe-and-camping descent of Río La Leona between Lago Viedma and Lago Argentino.
For trekking routes and expedition details see www.fitzroyexpediciones.com.ar.