The following groups have made a historical impact on the Patagonian region. Oftentimes the natural marvels overshadow the rich cultural history. But here at EcoCamp, we aim to educate our travelers about the region’s original culture and how we can preserve it. 

Patagonia’s Original Inhabitants 

Various indigenous tribes once roamed Patagonia’s lands. The four major groups are the Tehuelche, Selk’nam, Yaghan and Kaweskar.

  1. The Tehuelche came to Patagonia during the second half of the first millennium. As they moved northwards in Patagonia, they took notice of the silhouette of an incredible rock formation in the distance. Today, we know of this formation as the famous Paine massif. Paine means “blue” in Tehuelche language, which was the primary color they noticed in the distance. 
  2. The Selk’nam resided south of Torres del Paine in Tierra del Fuego. From their bold traditional wear to their incredible strength and ability to survive on an isolated island, the Selk’nam culture still catches the interest of many people today. 
  3. The Yaghan were sea nomads who using canoes to sail to the icy Patagonian islands and collect food. The Yaghan would camp along the seaside as they traveled, oftentimes sleeping in temporary structures made from wood, grass, skins and moss. 
  4. The Kaweskar arrived in canoes in the 15th century and lived a nomadic lifestyle. This group lived in dome-shaped structures that could be easily taken down. They always aimed to “leave no trace,” respecting their beautiful surroundings and making minimal impact on the land. 

The Arrival of Baqueanos

Patagonia was soon discovered by new groups of people, outside of the indigenous inhabitants. Some of those people are called baqueanos, which are basically Chilean cowboys. Since the 1870s, they have acted as guides and experts of the region. Today it is still possible to travel with baqueanos, especially on a horseback riding trip. 

In addition to guiding, baqueanos are known for herding sheep and cattle in Patagonia. They have also hunted and sold animals skins and feathers to the colonial market. 

How EcoCamp Preserves the Culture 

EcoCamp was fully inspired by the homes and lifestyle of the Kaweskars. We took the structure of their homes and “leave no trace” philosophy and applied it to our modern day hotel. We also have pictures of their tribes at EcoCamp and all of our decorations represent a traditional mountain style. 

Additionally, we train our guides and staff to educate travelers about the traditional culture. On our tours, it is possible to view Aonikenk (Tehuelche) cave paintings and horseback ride with baqueanos. At the hotel, we represent traditional Chilean flavors in the food we serve, incorporating purple potatoes, quinoa, hare, fish, churrascas and sopaipillas. 


Cultural Preservation

Patagonia ecocamp
Guide to visit Patagonia

The Patagonia Way

Insider's guide: When to visit Patagonia

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