Traveller FAQs EcoCamp

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)

Selecting and booking the holiday of a lifetime is an adventure in itself and we know that you'll want to be absolutely sure about all the details. Hopefully the answers to most of your questions are here in our FAQ section but if not please don't hesitate to contact us / e-mail us!
 
The place
 
The tours
 
Sustainability
 
General 
Will I be able to recharge my batteries on a trek?
 

Why should I stay at EcoCamp Patagonia?

EcoCamp is the perfect mix of adventure, environmental sustainability and comfort in the wilderness. We offer good quality food and wine in a friendly hospitable atmosphere, with innovative accommodation in the world’s first Geodesic Dome hotel. We have the utmost respect for the park’s fragile environment, using only green energy and a sophisticated waste recycling system. Our trekking guides are of the highest quality and are specialists in the park’s geography, geology and fauna. If eco-friendly accommodation with a community atmosphere, surrounded by unique nature, spectacular views and trekking routes sound like the ingredients of a perfect vacation then EcoCamp is for you! 
 

What type of people stay at EcoCamp Patagonia?

People who are interested in wildlife, hiking and sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience with fellow travellers at the world’s end! EcoCamp guests are usually very sociable and enjoy dining with their group after a long day’s walk and reminiscing about the day’s achievements over a glass of wine in the bar or a park map in the library. Our guests are environmentally conscious and like the fact that by staying at EcoCamp they are exploring the wilderness without leaving a footprint. Guests are not looking for 5* luxury and pampering but good quality trekking, meals and accommodation in one of the world’s most spectacular national parks. 
 

What are the differences between Domes?

Check out the different dome types here. The main differences are that Suite Domes have wood stove heating, a private bathroom with heating and a terrace (Same for Quadruple Suite Domes with two floors), Superior Domes have gas heating and a private bathroom and Standard Domes have shared bathrooms and no heating. 
 

Do you cater for children and families?

Yes we do, see our section on Family Travel. Our Wildlife Safari is particularly suitable for families with younger children staying in quadruple domes. Children aged 6-12 receive a 50% discount when sharing with parents.
 

What are meals like? Are you able to cater for special diets?

At Ecocamp we are convinced that good quality food is fundamental to enjoying a vacation and we do our best to meet our promise of providing tasty, innovative high quality meals. We've put a lot of effort into developing a menu of fresh hearty meals using locally-sourced ingredients, fusing Chilean, Altiplanic, Patagonian and international food. Groups eat together in Community domes and meals are a very sociable affair. Meals at mountain huts on trekking routes are simple but plentiful. Vegetarian and special diets are welcomed, just let us know well in advance. Read a sample menu on our Cuisine page.
 

Where can I read previous travellers' testimonials?

You can read Ecocamp Patagonia reviews on TripAdvisor and you can read the EcoCamp traveller comments on our website.
 

How do you recommend exploring the park?

For sustainability and safety reasons we recommend only exploring the park with professional guides who know the trails incredibly well. Ecocamp offers programs for Wildlife Safari, the W Trek (and its short version) and the Paine Circuit, with all services included. All operations we run are in line with park regulations and conservation practices.
 

Which tour is right for me?

The right tour for you will depend on your desired activity and comfort level. Our most challenging tour is the 9 day Paine Circuit which is physically tough - walking over large amounts of terrain each day and sleeping in tents - but incredibly rewarding. The popular ‘W’ is another rewarding trek with two different options, 5 and 7 days, which vary slightly in comfort level based on the number of nights spent at EcoCamp or mountain huts. EcoCamp’s Wildlife Safari is the perfect options for nature lovers who like to return to comfortable accommodation at the end of each day and have the flexibility of choosing between active or easy excursions each day. Choose your perfect EcoCamp tour with the help of our comparison chart.
 

Are private tours an option?

Private tours are of course an option. You can choose whichever departure date suits you best and customize your itinerary to best suit the needs and style of you and your group. Please contact us for rates. E-Mail: Or you can call us on:
USA/Canada | 1-800-901-6987
UK | 0-800-051-7095
Brasil |  0-800-892-1291
World | 0056-2-923-5950
 

How fit do I have to be?

It depends on the tour you want to do. To give you an indication of the difficulty of our tours in the park we have classified them on a scale of 1-5 (easy-strenuous)
 
Wildlife Safari & Patagonia United (both with optional Demanding activities)
Easy - difficulty 1
These trips offer an easy pace and an average-to-sedentary level of fitness. Activities may be optional. You should be in good health and fit enough for full day of walking.
 
W trek - 5 and 7 days
Demanding - difficulty 4
On these trips, you must be very physically fit and are expected to hike 4-10 hours a day over steep or rugged terrain. Physical training prior to trekking the W is recommended.
 
Paine Circuit
Strenuous - difficulty 5
The most difficult trip, including extensive hiking on difficult terrain for up to ten hours a day. You should be in top physical condition to enjoy such an experience.
 

Who will be leading the trips?

Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature expert guides who can be counted on for maturity, expertise in their field, extensive knowledge of Torres del Paine and a high level of entertainment. Your safety and enjoyment are their primary concerns. Get to know our Guides.
 

How many others will be on the trip?

It depends on the tour you are booking. Private departures mean only you and the people you are booking for will be on the trip. The maximum size of the group is specified for every tour (see Trip Facts) with 12 usually being the maximum and the guide:group ratio 1:6
 

Can EcoCamp really be 100% sustainable?

EcoCamp does its best to make sure visitors in the park leave the most minimal footprint possible. We have gained an award-winning reputation for our sustainable policies and innovative use of green technology and we have been certified as complying with the highest international standards of environmental management, such as ISO14001. We have a low impact design, 100% of our energy is renewable (excluding a back up generator used only in emergencies), we offset our carbon emissions and we focus on raising guests’ awareness of how to care for their environment. All in all we’re the closest thing possible to 100% sustainable tourism!
 

How does EcoCamp’s green energy work?

All of our electricity comes from a micro-hydro turbine and photovoltaic panels. The energy is gathered together in a battery bank to power all of EcoCamp’s refrigerators, lighting, electrical appliances, stereos etc. 
 
Water from the river enters the micro-hydro turbine at 5 litres per second with a net pressure of 38 meters delivering a steady power of 800 Watts (after exiting the turbine the water goes to a water tank used in the mountain hut located below, then back to the stream). An inverter is used to switch the battery bank from 24V DC to 220 AC which is the standard voltage in Chile. An array of 1700 Watt photovoltaic panels, also connected to the battery bank, provide the extra energy we need to complete our electricity supply.
 
Given that EcoCamp’s energy is 100% renewable, electricity in domes is limited and hairdryers and electric shavers etc. are not permitted. Cameras and photos can be charged in Suite Domes and Community Domes. See our page about green energy for more information.
 

Will unpredictable weather cause problems?

EcoCamp is only open from September to April (southern hemisphere summer and the months either side) when the weather in Patagonia is at its most stable. However, unpredictable weather in Patagonia is a given at any time of year and if you ask a local baqueano (Patagonian cowboy) about the weather forecast for the next day, he'll answer “I don’t know what it’s going to be like in 15 minutes, so don’t ask me about tomorrow”. 
 
If the weather turns really nasty and things get complicated, your trip leader will probably make some adjustments to the itinerary to ensure the best interests of the group. Come prepared for four season weather in a day but don’t despair because just as quickly as the weather turns bad it can get bright and sunny again!
 

Where can I find more information about Torres del Paine?

In our Patagonia Destination Guide! You can also check out our page on Cascada.travel Travel Books and More for Patagonia guide and literature recommendations.
 
 
While EcoCamp Patagonia constantly provides access to electricity, it is not the case for some refuges that are more remote. For conservation and remoteness purposes, all refuges may switch off the energy during the night. Due to the remote location of Dickson and Perros refuges, electricity and hot water are in limited supplies, it is therefore impossible to recharge batteries on Day 2 and Day 3 of the 9-day trek (Paine Circuit). Paine Grande and Los Cuernos Refuges, where you may stay on a W Trek, provide power supply to the guests.
 

What happens if I fall ill or injure myself?

Our leaders are trained in first aid to cope with minor incidents but in the unlikely case of something more serious, we will seek local medical assistance. Medical insurance is mandatory for all our trips and we also strongly suggest you buy cancellation and curtailment insurance. If you do not currently have your own plan, here are several companies that sell insurance online. These companies offer different plans depending on your nationality: 
 
Columbus Travel Insurance
Columbus Direct is the best known brand in the travel insurance market and offers high quality travel insurance to meet all your travel needs. By selling directly to the public, they cut out the middle man and save customers up to 60% in commission charged by other providers. Traveller citizenship: Most of Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries. Check the list on their web page.
 
World Nomads
World Nomads is designed specially to be unlike any other type of travel insurance by providing 100% of services online - no paper or fax. Just help yourself to everything from your nearest internet cafe while you are away! Traveller citizenship: Worldwide
 
InsureMyTrip.com
Offers 51 different travel insurance plans from 14 different companies. You can compare each policy giving you the information you need to make an informed decision about your travel insurance needs. Traveller citizenship: Worldwide
 
Downunder Insurance
Offers travel insurance to travellers and residents in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The cover ranges from basic to highly comprehensive, with affordable policies aimed at backpackers and gap-year students, but with cover available to travellers and holiday makers up to 55 years of age. Traveller citizenship: only UK, Australia & New Zealand.
 

Can you organise international and domestic flights?

For your international flight into Santiago de Chile or Buenos Aires, Argentina it will be more convenient to do it directly with your local travel agency or through the following airlines: Lan Chile, Air france, British Airways, Lufthansa, American Airlines, Air Canada or Tam Airlines.
 
We can help with your domestic flights in Chile. When you book these flights through us it is easier to coordinate with the land arrangements. Let us know at the earliest possible stage so we can reserve spaces early and avoid higher rates due to last minute reservations. If you ask us to make your local airline reservations, we need to make it using your legal name (the name that appears on your passport). We charge an issue fee of USD 25 for each domestic flight ticket to Punta Arenas. 
 

What's included in the price?

EcoCamp trips are full board, with a buffet breakfast, a box lunch and three course dinner with an aperitif and appetizers included each day of your stay. Half a bottle of wine per person is allocated with each evening meal. All ground transport is included as indicated in the itinerary, with airport pick up and drop off and a bus service to/from El Calafate. Entry fees for Torres del Paine and Milodon cave are included, as are all excursions included in the itinerary (boat crossings etc.), all accommodation and guide (& porter) services. 
 
The only things not included are flights, insurance, voluntary tipping and any drinks bought at the bar.
 

Solo Travellers - Will I have to share?

Yes and no - staying at EcoCamp as a single you have the choice of sharing a standard dome with someone of the same gender or paying a single surcharge to sleep alone. Suite Domes are not shared and single surcharges apply. On treks you share dorms when staying in mountain huts, there is no other option. Staying in a tent during the 9 day circuit you share the tent with someone of the same gender to avoid a surcharge or you can opt for a single tent and pay a single surcharge. Where combinations are not possible we don't charge a supplement, and we never expect two people of oppostie genders to share. Our tours attract like-minded people so you will meet people and make friends from all over the world so, solo travellers, embrace the sharing!