22 February 2021, Written by Alicia Caton
This critical, invaluable time has allowed our company the opportunity to wake-up and rethink… how we will bounce back, and how can we return to operate and offer programs and products responsibly?
With the guidance of incredible partners and organizations, local and national tourism boards, and fellow colleagues who are business owners themselves – we´ve been able to plan post-pandemic recovery as a collective effort, and are grateful for this powerful force committed to a responsible return to travel.
As a public health measure to incorporate social distancing measures and sustainability into our operations, we have implemented a digital tool which allows guests to access their travel itineraries, digital reservation vouchers, real-time notifications and communications, and interactive digital maps and documents. This app will also provide guests with the ability to calculate their carbon emissions which can then be donated to approved off-set organizations.
We have redesigned many of our trips to incorporate the goods and services of small enterprises. Groups traveling in the Los Ríos region of Chile are welcomed into the home of a local indigenous Mapuche family who serves guests traditional food and shares their ancestral heritage and customs. Travelers exploring in southern Patagonia spend an afternoon with the artisan women and grandmothers of the Kawésqar community, who teach the special art of basket weaving using junquillo – a vegetable fiber growing in peat bogs which has been used ancestrally by the ethnic groups of Patagonia to make their beautiful basketry. The Kawésqar community is also our main supplier of boxed lunches which are included in each of our programs. A wonderful team of Kawésqar women prepare these lunches with local products and typical recipes which transmit the culture of the living people. These inclusions of vulnerable groups of our region allow for a deeper cultural immersion and an unforgettable experience for our guests.
We feel that conservation efforts are no longer sufficient in tourism. Travel must be an act of empathy and travel must regenerate our public and private lands, environments, ecosystems, and communities. To support this, we have dedicated a focus on rewilding and regenerative projects in various programs. Our guests can participate alongside legacy foundations throughout Chile working in trail restoration, reforestation and invasive species control in Torres del Paine National Park, as well as helping hands-on in two urban wetland areas near Lake Llanquihue. Guests´ efforts will aid in the monitoring, cleanup, and the natural ecosystem restoration plan of the city. A coordinated partnership with CONAF (National Forest Corporation) has allowed us – alongside future guests – to assist with the conservation and infrastructure of Yendegaia National Park in Tierra del Fuego. As part of each backpacking trip, groups will support the installation of trail cams for conservation studies to observe the areas´ several threatened species which include the Andean fox, southern river otter, and Ruddy-headed goose. These trips will also assist with scouting routes and providing logistical support for future projects in the park.
A special alliance with a private reserve in Torres del Paine National Park has allowed for the installation of our second base camp. Nestled among some of the last wild Patagonia horses, our guests will have a privileged opportunity to observe these exceptional horses alongside specialized guides who teach us the behaviors of these wild horses and how to understand the ecology of the destinations we visit.
Our efforts may only be minor on a global scale of change, but we believe that this delicate time is an opportunity to transform as individuals and collectively as leaders in our trade. As we continue along this unknown journey, we must take action and acknowledge that this time provides us with apowerful catalyst for growth, necessary change, and a more resilient, sustainable era ahead.