In the heart of Patagonia we have created the EcoCamp which is located in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Patagonia is a vast and diverse region, with scenery ranging from dramatic mountain formations and smoky volcanoes to flat barren pampa and expansive ice fields. These lands are crowded with glaciers, lakes, fjords, ancient forests and wildlife such as guanacos, flamingos, condors, ñandus and huemules and also offer some of the most magnificent trekking and nature in the world.
Patagonia EcoCamp design was inspired on the traditional Kawesqar hut resembling and igloo and a dome at the same time. The instinctive engineering ability of the Kawesqar can be easily understood these days. The semi-hemispherical structure of the EcoCamp domes is formed by a number of isosceles triangles that provides uniform distribution of the stress caused by severe wind loads. Wind speed in Patagonia often surpasses 160-180kms per hour which makes traditional straight and flat walls extremely vulnerable if the structure is meant to be light. Other significant aspect is that rounded bodies minimize the external surface in contact with the cold environment allowing less exchange of temperature with the warm interiors. Finally, semi-hemisphere gave Kawesqars the maximum internal space in relation to the surface they had to cover with valuable and sometimes scarce animal skins. Patagonia EcoCamp is a tribute to Kawesqar dwellings and way of life.
The 10m²/108ft² Standard Dome was the world’s first geodesic hotel room, and soon became the staple design model for other dome hotels that arrived years later in Europe, Argentina and other locations in Chile. Domes are resistant to the fierce Patagonian wind and have ceiling windows to look up at the stars as you fall asleep. Without heating but cozy and snug with fleece blankets, Standard Domes are the perfect home to return to after a day’s trek and a dinner shared with group and guide.
Each day, guests will meet with our excursion manager to discuss and set their new day activities. See below for sample excursions.
Laguna Azul and Fauna Trail
We start the day driving to Laguna Azul, on the north-eastern side of the Park, stopping at various points en route to admire the local flora and fauna and the mighty Paine Waterfall. Once at Laguna Azul we hike to a sightseeing point with a panoramic view of both the lagoon and granite towers. We then drive down to the shores of Sarmiento lake, home to many limestone formations and herds of guanacos, and walk northwards along the Fauna Trail past the small Goic lagoon and various types of fauna. After around 5km we reach the Laguna Amarga ranger station from where we are driven back to EcoCamp to relax and enjoy the evening meal.
Western Lakes and Grey Glacier*
We 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, we 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 we reach its spectacular lookout point. Later, back at Lake Pehoe, we are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey. 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 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.
Laguna Inge & Los Cuernos Pass
After breakfast we head to Laguna Inge, located 4km south-west of EcoCamp Patagonia on Los Cuernos Trail just above Nordenskjold lake. There is a wonderful viewpoint of rainwater and glacial water side by side. On the way along Los Cuernos there is a variety of fauna and hopefully we’ll see Andean condors flying overhead. During this excursion we admire the park’s flora and fauna, its strong wind and curious, changeable weather. As we walk along the trail we enjoy magnificent views of the park’s central lakes and the Paine’s Horns, majestic black horn-like peaks of slate atop gray granite which crown the centre of the Massif. Depending on the group’s pace we might reach the Cuernos refuge, our trekking goal for today, before we start our return walk to EcoCamp.
The botanical Safari is a self-guided educational trail designed by EcoCamp, inviting guests to learn more about the flora and fauna in Torres del Paine National Park right next to their domes. No guide is needed on this micro exploration and guest can freely wander along the trail and take note of the diverse vegetation and fauna.
Trek Towers Base
We walk from Ecocamp towards Hostería 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. Our big challenge comes as we climb the steep moraine, a mass of boulders leading us 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 us, with the glacial lake visible below. Is there any better place in the world to have lunch? After feasting on the view and our picnic, we backtrack along the same trail through Ascencio Valley and return to EcoCamp.
Western Lakes and Pingo Trail
We 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, we 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 we reach its spectacular lookout point. Later, back at Lake Pehoe, we are driven south to a beach along the shores of glacial Lake Grey where we walk to reach the start of the beautiful Pingo Trail taking us through a fairytale Magellan forest full of local fauna and flora. As we walk, huge rock formations in nearby hills and the strong Patagonian wind give us a good idea of just how wild Patagonia is! We reach a small sightseeing point with splendid views of the Massif’s west face, and then walk back to Grey Beach to meet our fellow travellers coming back from the boat ride. Together, we all head to Ecocamp to enjoy dinner and relaxation time.
Lake Pehoe and French Valley*
After breakfast, we start our day driving towards Pudeto dock, located on the shores of Pehoe Lake. We board the catamaran that’ll take us to the north-western sector of the Lake where we’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 deep we go depends on our groups’ rhythm – An active walk leads us 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 we continue up the trail to the upper section of the valley where we admire the valley’s entire group of geological formations: Hoja (Blade), Máscara (Mask), Espada (Sword), Catedral (Cathedral), Aleta de Tiburón (Shark’s Fin) and the magnificent Fortaleza (Fortress). Here we 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, we 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 us back to Pudeto and we’re driven back to EcoCamp.
*The excursion to French Valley varies throughout the season depending on the catamaran connecting Pudeto and Refugio Pehoe:
The trek to Puesto Seron means doing the first part of the Paine circuit, bordering the eastern side of the Massif. The trail leads through plains home to Lenga forests and other flora, and with great views of Laguna Azul and Sierra Masle. Hopefully we encounter the park’s animals that roam around this sector, in their quest to avoid the more populated areas of the Park. After a few hours trekking we reach Camp Seron where we enjoy a box lunch and admire the scenery before heading back to Ecocamp.
- Accommodation at EcoCamps at selected accommodation type
- Regular bus tickets Calafate - Natales if starting/finishing in Calafate
- All ground transport and transfers as indicated in itinerary
- English speaking guide
- Park fees for Cueva del Milodon and Torres del Paine National Park
- All meals as per itinerary (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner