EcoCamp: Luxe Glamping in Patagonia in the Heart of Torres del Paine
Patagonia is wild and raw. A special place where nature surrounds you. Every year, thousands of adventure travelers head to southern Chile and Argentina to check out the national parks and natural wonders found here.
In Torres del Paine, hiking and trekking is what you come here to do.
Wildlife like llamas, guanaco, rhea (a small wild ostrich) and the elusive puma are all native to Patagonia. The beautiful snow-capped Andes mountains backdrop the icey blue glaciers and grassland pastures as far as the eye can see. And travelers can truly experience it to their heart's content.
Where to Stay in Patagonia
You might be wondering where to stay in Patagonia if you're not exactly the camping type.
The wilderness here is so pristine you may assume the only places to stay would be campgrounds or backpacker refugios favored by hikers and climbers doing the Torres del Paine W trek. Not at all.
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Turns out, even outdoorsy, day-packers like a little luxury now and then.
There are enough accommodations in or near Torres del Paine to satisfy most travelers. When we travel, we prefer our hotel matches our trip. For instance, if it's an "active" trip and we’re either trekking Patagonia or lightly exploring the park in and out of a dusty car, we wouldn't feel comfortable in an over-the-top luxury hotel, nor have the time to enjoy it.
That's just us. If you think sustainable, stylish digs in geodomes are pretty cool, Patagonia has those too. Perfect for nature-lovers!
That's EcoCamp. Glamorous camping (glamping) in roomy, well-appointed and eco-friendly geodesic domes located in the choicest spot you can imagine — at the foothills of Las Torres with a clear view of the granite towers that give the Park its name.
The fact that they're the greenest hotel in Patagonia is icing on the cake.
Glamping is a great way to enjoy rustic surroundings and stay in tune with the natural world of wherever you travel. Just because you want to be close to nature doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable, or even stylish!
We stayed here recently in early March and had the opportunity to review EcoCamp Patagonia. It was easy to see why autumn here is one of the busiest times of the year.
EcoCamp offers a wide variety of activities when you book with them. Depending on which package you choose, you can select from hikes, tours, and a number of other excursions.
There’s no pressure to keep up with the well-practiced hikers and nonstop activity junkies. Sometimes just relaxing in the outdoors or in your dome is all you may want to do for the day.
Trust us, there’s enough incredible scenery that can be seen from the camp to keep you mesmerized for hours. EcoCamp makes it easy. You can choose your activities when you book or change to something else after you arrive and want to join new friends on an excursion.
No matter what your plans are for the day, a team of guides meets with guests, a Pisco Sour in hand, before dinner to either select an activity for the next day or review what exactly an activity will entail. They can help with organized tours or offer expert advice and info on how best to tour Torres del Paine National Park on your own.
For our excursion we chose the hike to the base of Las Torres, The Towers. Our guides briefed us on what to expect, things like the terrain and how long it would take to hike out and back. EcoCamp has thought of everything.
In the morning before you step off you can pack yourself a bag of healthy energy boosting snacks. Our guides were professional, highly experienced, and a lot of fun. We always felt safe and would not hesitate to go on an excursion again with any of EcoCamp’s guides.
EcoCamp has three different geodesic domes. There’s the Standard dome with shared bathrooms and showers, but that still provide a good amount of privacy. The heated Superior dome is heated and has a private bathroom. The top of the line is the Suite dome or Suite Loft which are heated and have a private bathroom along with a terrace.
Our Suite dome had more than enough room and a wood stove if the down blanket wasn’t enough. The dome was very comfortable and cozy with just the blanket. Through the large vinyl paneled window, we had a direct view of the mountains, and stars.
The modern bathroom had a composting toilet, fluffy towels, and complimentary biodegradable bath gel, shampoo and conditioner which were all very nice. Storage wasn’t a problem. Our dome had a safe and a coffeemaker with plenty of room for luggage if needed and shelves for backpacks.
The overall guest experience is supremely comfortable and catered to the individual, with a wide array of choices on accommodations, activities, outdoor excursions, and meals.
EcoCamp Community Domes
The layout of EcoCamp is well thought out. Situated well away from guest’s domes are the community domes. After a day’s adventure guests gather in the large comfortable common areas and on the outdoor deck to relax and swap stories over something from the nearby bar.
In the community domes are also the kitchen and the dining room. Comfy furniture, great floor cushions, and panoramic views make the cozy common area near the bar a favorite gathering place at the end of the day.
Most visitors are well aware of the fragile ecosystem that is Torres del Paine and want accommodations and amenities that honor and protect the environment. With all energy coming from solar panels and a micro-hydro turbine, EcoCamp is Patagonia’s most eco-friendly resort and its first ISO14001 certified hotel.
The green domes are designed to maximize the passive heat and light energy from the sun, and the interiors are made from renewable materials.
Raised wooden walkways connect all domes on the property to protect the terrain and minimize disturbance to the fauna and flora throughout the camp. You can shut off your mobile devices.
There’s no wifi for guests. People actually engage in conversations. It’s a welcome respite to our technical world and making new friends is always fun.
A Sense of Community
One of the first things you’ll notice after settling in is that EcoCamp promotes a strong sense of community. The staff is friendly and engaging but respectful of your privacy. What struck us most is that everyone is relaxed as they share their day’s adventures.
No upmanship or competition, just nice people enjoying the experience. We were told that a puma sighting nearby was cause for guests to celebrate for days.
There’s only one way to say this. You’re in the heart of Patagonia! Wi-fi is not on the menu for guests, and that’s precisely the point. Part of being here is unplugging from the hectic world and allowing yourself to absorb the raw beauty of this place.
If anyone complains that they couldn’t get in touch with you while you were away, you have all the excuse you need.
Packages at EcoCamp include three meals a day made from locally sourced ingredients. We didn’t imagine or expect our meals to be so delicious or so well presented. A fusion of Chilean, Patagonian, international, and altiplanic cuisines made for some incredible dishes. It was like eating in a fine gourmet restaurant, a very welcome surprise considering the ruggedness of this outback area.
Small parties or large, dining here is communal. A camp staffer joins each table for dinner to help everyone to relax and be engaged in the conversation. Worth mentioning is the ‘box lunch’ table. After breakfast, guests can assemble a healthy lunch box for their excursion or pack enough snacks to enjoy while on the trail.
We were impressed with the food at EcoCamp, from the plentiful breakfast and additional trail snacks offered, to their main meals served at dinner. The Chefs take the traditional foods of Chile and reinterpret them so creatively, you almost hate to dive in and ruin the presentation. Almost :-)
For all of the personal touches, EcoCamp infuses your stay with a sense of community and the sharing of those experiences among guests, proving hands down that eco can not only be comfy, but also a transformative — even luxurious — experience. Clearly, they're doing eco right.
Without question, EcoCamp gets ecotourism right. The overall eco-experience is excellent, and although they cater to individual wants, they also provide a relaxed sense of community where guests can compare their experiences.
Everyone we met overcame language barriers and were eager to chat. Maybe what they did today, you’ll want to do tomorrow. We make friends wherever we go and EcoCamp was no exception. They are proving that an eco experience can not only be comfy, but can also stir your spirit and soothe your soul.
We were guests of EcoCamp during part of our stay in Torres del Paine. As always, all opinions are our own based on firsthand experience.
IF YOU GO
EcoCamp offers semi-private transportation from the airport in Punta Arenas, Chile included in the EcoCamp package you buy. The trip from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine is approximately a 6-hour trip. Packages include all meals, activities, and guided tours.
What do think of Glamping? Have you stayed in an eco-friendly lodge or hotel before? I'd love to hear of your experience in the comments below.