I want to be honest about sustainable travel. Just like ‘natural’ products, so is sustainable travel. It’s never 1000% ‘natural’, there’s always a process and a matter that remains. You will travel how you want to, but know that travelling sustainably does not mean not eating meat, clicking the green box option as you purchase your airfare or not using plastic, why? Because you’re getting on a plane (there is no other way, unless you go by sea) and that is definitely not “sustainable”. First things first, definitions. When you google ‘Sustainable’ it’s defined as a practice that sustains a given condition, as economic growth or a human population, without destroying or depleting natural resources, polluting the environment, etc.
Sustainability is defined as the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time. Sustainable tourism is thoughtful, sometimes a little more expensive and definitely worth it when you choose to visit places that run their business, sustainably. That is businesses that implement and commit to sustainable practices that have deep long term results,
Alma Soul & Travel was created on the belief that travel is education & perspective. Travelling sustainably is that, learning about the locals, gaining perspective on a different community and culture & acknowledging the economic challenges and differences of countries, choosing the smaller or more boutique agency for your adventure, buying local. We have gathered a list of places & people in Chile we believe are dedicated to sustainable tourism (by definition) who are creating and/or implementing ways to be greener & fairer, longer.
Recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Alto Atacama is certified in economic, environmental and socio-cultural sustainability. It was created by TANICA, a company whose ethos is to design and create innovative and sustainable projects that are respectful with their environment. Designs contributing to the city and the communities in which these projects are developed. Alto Atacama’s structure was built with thermal insulation which minimizes the use of energy for heating and air conditioning. They use water from their well which is then demineralized in their own reverse osmosis plant and then filtered into water their Andean Park. The gardens are a tribute to local native species thanks to the ancestral agricultural techniques used to sow, grow and reproduce endemic flora from seeds collected in the Altiplano highlands. Expect sustainability integrated with luxury at Alto Atacama.
Into the Andes:
Banos Morales is about 90 km from Santiago, heading towards the Andes. It’s here where Into the Andes founder, Karime Vitagliano spent much of her outdoor time growing up and where her grandfather built one of the first refuges in the town of Banos Morales in 1960. It’s also her favourite place in the world and the reason she started the company. Her intention is to bring people closer to the Andes and to spark a level of belonging to themselves and on a grander scale of nature. Seeing the grandeur of the Andes mountains puts things into perspective, like how vulnerable we are, how vital it is to protect the hidden abundance in the mountains. Naturally, she works and supports the locals who inhabit the canyon. Tours range from cowboy horse trips, swimming in clay-coloured thermal springs where you can touch glaciers, visiting goat shepherds and learning how goats cheese is made. You also get a lesson on geology and how the Andes range was formed. Sites visited included dinosaur tracks, fossils and Andean hidden spots. Karime works with another guide, it’s a small set up but humble and created with deep roots from the past. It a great sustainable tour to think about if you want to experience Santiago in a way you hadn’t thought you could.
Founder Ismael Herreros began surfing at age 11, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Ecotourism and has more than 10 years as a surf instructor and trainer under his belt. Océanos Chile was founded in 2012 with the intention of offering quality surf and travel experiences to enrich and showcase Pichilemu’s wonderful local, region and ocean. Expect the unexpected on an Oceanos tour, a visit to local pottery studios, salt flat tour and hidden mills in a canyon. Places you truly wouldn’t have thought existed in this town. Ismael has built trusting and close relationships with the community. He aims to enrich the tourist mind with the ancient wisdom and crafts of the region and its people, But above all else to share the Chilean waves and ocean how he has with environmental awareness, the truthful and good vibes way.
AWA is a family and independent Hotel. Located on the shore of the great Llanquihue Lake with a jaw-dropping view of Volcan Osorno. A newer hotel to the region it was built to have sustainable features. Family designed, so is their commitment to evolving sustainability. Supporting local productivity, 90% of the products made and grown from farms and people in the Los Lagos region, as well as working in conjunction with school and colleges to assist in training. 30% of their energy source comes from solar panels(265 panels) and they promote team growth within the company instead of bringing in from the outside. They use produce from the organic garden based on regenerative and perma-agriculture. The family behind Hotel Awa created their own set of goals with respect to various environmental parameters mainly related to the carbon footprint, nothing sophisticated but conscientious on how they can curb their footprint.
30 minutes from Pucon you’ll find Puesco Escape. En route to the Argentinian border on a road with incredible mountains, volcanos and trees, at the foot of the famous Millallipen, Puecso Peinetas, which means ‘the combs in English. For the native people, Mapuche, it’s Millallipen which means ‘place of abundance and/or hidden treasure’. Owners, LJ and Kelsey created Puesco Escape to facilitate low-impact, outdoor adventure activities inside of a small radius from our home base in Puesco, Chile. Puesco Escape provides a cultural immersion experience for guests by visiting local families on small farms in nearby Mapuche communities. “We see this as our strongest effort towards sustainability, these farm-to-table meals promote sustainable agriculture which in the long term creates economic sustainability throughout the valley. This allows local families to provide a service which supports their traditions and culture as well as providing a source of income for them in a remote, rural area where there are few work opportunities available”. Puesco Escape serves for those wishing to experience a genuine cultural exchange that enriches all involved. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity for the local families to learn about foreign languages and customs and visitors can learn about the lives and history of the Mapuche who have been here for centuries.
La granja agroturismo:
For the foodies out there, Robert and Judith Goeppinger own La Granja Agroturismo. Located in Pictures about 30 minutes from Pucon, their property will blow your mind and humble your heart. They represent what it’s truly like to live from the land. With a unique story behind them and a farm that you will leave feeling truly refreshed and humbled by the generosity and the sweetness of their heart. Campesinos as they’re called in Chile, they’re knowledge is knowing how to farm or utilize soil for the sake of livelihood and the community. You’ll find artichokes, turkey’s, geese, rainbow chards, apricots, opium flowers, native trees, the list goes on. Judith and Robert are a united couple with so much knowledge, meeting them is like a million-dollar lesson in slow living and connection to the earth. They also grow raspberries and strawberries which can be bought from them or at the local family supermarket chain. Visiting La Granja is every cook’s dream.
Sustainability is their philosophy, ecology is their passion and caring for the planet is their drive. Patagonia Camp was designed and built with deep intention based on the environment. Their aim is to be as less invasive as they can. At Patagonia Camp they have ensured that constructions preserve the natural flora and fauna, the entire complex is built on raised wooden stilts to avoid intervening with the ground, the products used and offered are biodegradable. The use of sawdust is carried out as a kitchen cleaning modality, organic waste is transformed into compost by composting earthworms in the Camp, they hire and work with locals to maintain the flow of the local economy by empowering them.. Patagonia Camp is committed to implementing sustainable ecological systems where the results are seen in the long term and that work. The founders and employees of Patagonia Camp are travellers, hikers, skiers, water lovers, natives. They love Patagonia and acknowledge that it is home to natives and species and that it’s a vital part of the world.
We recognise that there could be many more sustainable businesses out there. This is a handful of sustainable businesses in Chile that we have worked with or have personally experienced who factor in a variety of sustainable practices. At the core of every sustainable business owner lies a common thread, their love for nature, history and their country. Their aim is to preserve and share it with you. Exploitation is for the cheap and inpatient, Travel is not that. Travel is discovery, of yourself, understanding the possibilities of achieving a balance between the economy and the environment. Travel should inspire you to learn more and protect your cultural and natural heritage, consider the social and economic benefits for local communities and inspire you to become an ambassador.
At Alma Soul and Travel, we also love nature (especially surfing, the ocean and skiing), we love our country Chile and its majesty, we are rich in culture and history. And we want you to experience it the right way, the sustainable way.