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Supporting Rural Youth through Tourism

Chile Nativo hosts educational youth outing to Torres del Paine National Park in November 2019. Pictured are students from the Rural Schools Cerro Guido & Ramón Serrano Montaner, educators, Chile Nativo Founder Gonzalo Fuenzalida, and professional local tourism guides.

“Your past is a strength for your future, not a reason to leave your roots.” 

         In 2019, Chile Nativo signed a cooperation agreement between the Municipality of Torres del Paine, in which we promised to present educational support projects to two rural schools within the commune – Escuela Rural Cerro Guido & Escuela Rural Ramón Montaner. These projects take place in the form of environmental education and youth outings to Torres del Paine National Park – the most important tourist destination of the region where both rural schools are located. The idea is to teach the students the significance of their natural environment and its relation to local tourism, as well as the importance of learning English which can provide a path for future career opportunities and both personal & socioeconomic development.

Last season, Chile Nativo founder Gonzalo Fuenzalida visited the two rural schools located in Cerro Castillo – the commune lying just outside of Puerto Natales and where Torres del Paine National Park is located. The national park is the most important tourist destination in the Magallanes region. The schools sit quietly nestled in the pampas surrounded by windswept valley landscapes, wide open skies, and the symbolic Horse Monument in the commune’s center. Youth & community recycled art projects color the communal outdoor spaces which reflect natural elements related to the regions unique culture, landscape, and future visions. Children work together in large single classroom settings where montessori education methods are generally practiced due to the small number of total students. The schoolhouses are filled with abundant natural light, warm wood-burning stoves, and the students’ ornate & colorful artwork and projects. The students are engaged together, working on various assignments – whether it be learning about Chile’s 16 unique regions, the native flora and fauna, or creating unique art.

Students, along with their professors, join Gonzalo for a group interview in order to find out what the national park and natural environment means to them and their families, and what role English plays (if any) in their daily life. Gonzalo explains that learning English is fundamental for work opportunities in the area since the region is almost 100% dependent on foreign tourists and tourism services. And for students who wish to travel abroad for study or work, English will be an important form of communication in order to be successful.

School walls proudly display the students various projects which emphasize the natural elements of the community's region.
Community spaces in Cerro Castillo are constructed by the youth using recycled materials which reflect the importance of sustainability for the region's future.

“We remain hopeful for a safe return to tourism in order to continue our relationship and support of rural youth who will guide us in the future…” 

 

Knowing that many young adults desire to leave the places where they grow up, this educational support initiative strives to teach youth that their past is a strength for their future, not a reason to leave their roots behind. Students from these rural communities have a unique opportunity to turn their small-town life into big opportunities. Learning to appreciate their natural environment and neighboring national park – a pristine destination known as the eight wonder of the world – instills a love and desire in the students to protect the very same place in which they are fortunate to live and can allow them to build a stable and sustainable future.

Gonzalo Fuenzalida interacts with the students in their classroom at Escuela Rural Cerro Guido

After visiting the students and their schools, more than 20 youth along with two Montessori teachers and Chile Nativo guides participate in an educational outing – traveling 1 hour into the heart of Torres del Paine National Park arriving to the shores of the Grey Lake at Hotel Lago Grey. The group is warmly greeted by the hotel’s generous staff and the picturesque granite mountains peaks, lush forests, and the impressive lake views which surround this iconic hotel. A delicious welcome breakfast nourishes the students before they begin a 3 hour round-trip navigation on Grey Lake, navigating among floating icebergs with astounding views of unparalleled landscapes and the immense Grey Glacier.

Hotel Lago Grey welcomes the group upon their arrival with breakfast
Montessori educators & student enjoying the navigation ride to the Grey Glacier.

For many of the students, this is their first time embarking on a boat and seeing the magnificent Grey Glacier and its immense blue ice wall up-close. For the duration of the day, students learn alongside the guides some of common english names of the flora and fauna found in the park. The outing offers students the ability to learn common english phrases and words, and practice speaking english with confidence. The students explore various sectors of the park hiking to highlight lookout points such as Los Cuernos and encounter Magellanic Woodpeckers, calafate (Berberis microphylla), Streaked Maiden (Olsynium biflorum), and a variety of other native flora and wildlife. The group even had luck at sighting the majestic and cunning puma of Torres del Paine – a dream come true for anyone visiting the park.

The group poses for a photo in front of Grey Glacier

This years 2020 scheduled educational outing was not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The costs of the pandemic have infringed on youth rights which have been immediate, affecting children and families in numerous ways throughout rural communities and across the globe. We continue to search for relevant ways to connect with the children and their communities which are an important pilar for the children’s growth and development.

The health, safety, and wellbeing of all the children and their families during the pandemic remains the primary focus for the region’s community and leaders, and we remain hopeful for a safe return to tourism, in order to continue our relationship and support of rural youth who will guide us in the future.

  • Reviews

    Chile Nativo Travel
    5.0
    Based on 18 reviews
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    Sashi Perera
    Sashi Perera
    2020-03-26T03:03:07+0000
    The staff at Chile Nativo were so helpful with our pre trip enquiries. The plan and briefing we received for our 5 day... Independent W Trek were so useful, we enjoyed every moment of our trek. Big thanks to the team for a very memorable experience.read more
    Katie Kow
    Katie Kow
    2020-03-17T15:59:20+0000
    Seamlessly communicated and executed trip! Would recommend for sure!
    Fionna Tod
    Fionna Tod
    2020-02-26T15:41:33+0000
    Chile Nativo organised our self-guided 4 day trek in Torres del Paine and it was amazing. They arranged all the... transport, food and accommodation so all we needed to do was enjoy the hiking- which we certainly did! I would definitely use them again for similar adventures in the future.read more
    Fernanda Lela
    Fernanda Lela
    2020-01-19T04:47:14+0000
    Melhor empresa de turismo do Chile
    Mary Schmitz
    Mary Schmitz
    2019-08-25T14:00:18+0000
    I had the most amazing trip of my life with these guys - trekking around the Big O circuit. Incredible! Our guide,... Mauricio Vargas Delgado, knew every detail of the route. Getting the trip set up was easy - the staff is very responsive to any questions during planning and booking.read more
    Edric Subur
    Edric Subur
    2019-08-14T12:15:49+0000
    I am very happy with the service Chile Nativo provided. First of all, the experience during the trip itself was... amazing, the accommodation was more than I could ask for, the snack was delicious and our guide was not only very friendly but also extremely intelligent - he could answer all kind of questions we threw him about the park, animals, and geography! But the best part of Chile Nativo came up when a crisis hit. I got on the wrong bus the day before the tour started which prevented me from getting to the tour in time as a result. Daniella and Johana from the team were incredibly resourceful and kind to help me out of this situation. They worked after hours to help me find a private car that was willing to drive me from El Calafate to Puerto Natales in Chile. Johana even came to the office early morning to greet me and attend to me. I was beyond grateful for their professional service that really goes the extra mile in making sure I get to make to my trip and enjoy it thoroughly. Highly recommend Chille Nativo to everyone visiting Patagonia!read more
    Peter Noorani
    Peter Noorani
    2019-05-21T01:53:34+0000
    Working with Chile Nativo was a very positive experience. They were able to accommodate our dates with no issues,... despite the dates being offset from their usual schedule. Everyone we worked with was communicative and helpful, and we felt well prepared given the information (e.g. packing list) they provided. The most important benefit of traveling with Chile Nativo was our access to one of their guides, Fernando.I cannot give enough positive feedback for Fernando. While everything you'd expect from a good guide was present, Fernando delivers so far above and beyond what's expected. Any question we had about a tree, for example, Fernando could answer, and then provide several layers more detail and information. I’ve never been hugely into geology, but Fernando’s knowledge of the rock formations in the park added a fascinating element to our hike; everything around us became even more interesting. By the afternoon of the first day, it felt as though we were hiking with a good friend who happened to know everything about the park. We were genuinely sad to leave once the trip was complete. The entire time, I felt that we were getting the very most out of our hike, and that Fernando knew the tips and tricks to avoiding crowds and getting the best views. A huge plus is his photography skills, too! Fernando was recommended to us by a friend, and we’ve been insistent to all our friends who’ve asked about our trip that they should also use Chile Nativo and ask for Fernando.read more
    Eline Lonchay
    Eline Lonchay
    2019-03-29T18:51:04+0000
    I did the Fjord Trail with Chile Nativo and it was beautiful! The landscapes surpass what you can even imagine. We were... the only ones in nature for 3 days! The horses were nice, I had never done this before and I felt safe. I was never cold at night (make sure you rent your sleeping bag for this). We finished our tour with a boat trip on the Serrano River, back to Puerto Natales and we got to see the Balmacero Glacier and the Serrano Glacier (and walk around it). It is well organized and definitely a different way to travel and see nature in Patagonia !read more
    Nerile Rimiene
    Nerile Rimiene
    2019-02-21T17:53:11+0000
    We had W trek in Patagonia in February 2019. Everything was organized perfectly, thanx a lot! Enjoyed a lot! That was... the only company who managed to organize trek on our particular dates and everything went just smoothly.read more
    Joe Williams
    Joe Williams
    2019-01-30T14:57:50+0000
    Excellent trip to Torres Del Paine. Chile Nativo handled everything from front to back. Including bus rides to and from... airport and everything in between.read more
    Carter Sample
    Carter Sample
    2019-01-15T22:21:39+0000
    My wife and I just completed the O Circuit with Chile Nativo. Our guides Fernando and Ignacio were absolutely amazing!... Aside from the beautiful trip, we learned so much because of Chile Nativo Travel and our two guides. They were very accommodating of my wife's food allergies and were constantly upbeat and encouraging to us and our group. They even taped up ankles and sore joints when we expressed any sort of discomfort. A+ experience all around!read more
    Donna Murr
    Donna Murr
    2018-12-15T20:38:18+0000
    Our two fantastic, knowledgeable and fun guides (with very good English) helped to make our W hike an unforgettable... experience.read more
    Serena Clardie
    Serena Clardie
    2018-12-03T19:44:14+0000
    I can't recommend this company enough! The initial planning and email correspondence leading up to our trip was... professional and seamless. They even took care of adding on and planning an additional leg to our trip to Argentinean Patagonia with a reliable local company there. Most importantly though, our Fast Trek W trip with Chile Nativo was everything we hoped it would be and more. Our guides, Baru and Nacio, were THE BEST. I was sad to leave them at the end of our 3 days together. They were responsible, knowledgeable, kind and so much fun - and they kept us going when spirits might have been a little down after 2 straight days of pouring rain and relentless wind. :) The camp is fantastic - the domes were super comfortable and the dining hall dome was a great meeting place to eat (and stretch and drink wine and pisco and even dance!). The drivers were great, the chefs were impressive (thanks Alexis!! - the food was an unexpected treat because it was seriously good, not just camping good). We somehow also managed to get extra lucky and click with the rest of the people in our group and are already planning our next trip together, so thanks for that added bonus! It was a magical trip that we will never forget. Thanks Chile Nativo! ❤️read more
    Adrienna Bunti Robotham
    Adrienna Bunti Robotham
    2018-11-10T02:39:56+0000
    We had a once in a lifetime experience with Chile Nativo and Felipe which we will never forget. We enjoyed the 5D/4N... Torres del Paine Winter Multisport Adventure in early September. It was fantastic to be there in the “fringe” season, the weather was beautiful and we felt like we had the place to ourselves! We were very fortunate to have Felipe all to ourselves as well, giving us flexibility around our capabilities and the weather. Felipe was incredibly knowledgeable about the area, the fauna, flora and even the geology (which impressed me as I’m a geologist!!). Felipe’s English is perfect, his cooking was delicious, and we felt very much at home during our trip. Our kayaking was cancelled due to very extreme weather, and Felipe not only found an alternative for the day for us, but also arranged for a generous refund.There was an issue with our international bank payment (through no fault of Chile Nativo’s) and the entire team continued to communicate with us and chase the payment at their end for weeks. We really appreciated this!Cannot recommend Chile Nativo, Felipe and Torres del Paine enough!read more
    Jorge Orellana Benado
    Jorge Orellana Benado
    2018-04-17T20:53:04+0000
    Beatriz Ahumada
    Beatriz Ahumada
    2018-04-04T22:25:47+0000
    Extraordinario..... excelente calidad y profesionalismo de los guías y todos los que colaboran en el campamento... .....y además que el paisaje de las torres del Paine es maravilloso.. pero la gente de chile nativo hacen que uno lo disfrute y viva al máximo.... gracias por todo...read more
    Edgardo Songer
    Edgardo Songer
    2018-04-04T22:10:45+0000
    Fue un viaje que superó las espectativas la calidad de el staff la calidad de los equipos todo perfecto
    Pamela Farias Valenzuela
    Pamela Farias Valenzuela
    2018-04-04T22:01:21+0000
    Excelente grupo Profesional, Guías con conocimientos, puntuales en los Tours. Variedad de alternativas para recorrer... la Patagonia. Los Campamentos con Domos son muy cómodos y las comidas están muy bien equilibradas. Se ve que conocen muy bien el lugar y su clima y que les gusta lo que hacen. Recomendable 100%read more
    Miguel Angel Meca Cortes
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    2018-04-04T21:00:43+0000
    Excelente logistica, guias con conocimientos en todas las areas(de lo q preguntabas tenuas una respuesta ), campamento... base, un lujo los domos en rio serrano; comidas, transporte y excursiones a otro nivel, mas que recomendableread more
    Darko Beovic P.
    Darko Beovic P.
    2018-04-04T19:36:42+0000
    Chelsea Fuller
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    2018-02-01T13:56:55+0000
    My boyfriend and I were stuck when we waited too long to book accommodations in Torres del Paine for a trek we only had... 4 days of our trip to cover. A friend of a friend sent us to Chile Nativo (he had recently completed travel they helped book), and they saved the day. They tailored a trek according to our tight timeline. The route (thanks to Cecilia), the refugios, the adjustments to plan (thanks to Valentina in the Puerto Natales office), the warm hospitality (namely from Luis the van driver) and the overall organization left us with so little to have to think about that we could focus solely on enjoying ourselves...and on weathering the elements!Highly recommended.read more
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    2017-11-26T14:15:38+0000
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    2017-08-09T17:46:02+0000
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    2017-07-17T02:08:36+0000
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    2017-05-21T00:47:17+0000
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    2017-05-20T18:29:22+0000
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    2017-05-20T15:32:30+0000
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    2017-05-02T05:43:11+0000
    Increible que esta ya sea mi cuarta aventura con ellos. Realmente profesionales, conocen muy bien su trabajo.... Experiencia inolvidable. Gracias y espero volver pronto por otro aventuron en la #Patagonia.read more
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