I think so far this has to be the most exciting place I’ve stayed at in Patagonia and the most unusual. It’s located at the start of the W Circuit in the national park and from Puerto Natales it takes about 2.5 hours to get there. It’s elevated above the other hotels and refugios in this part of the park on a hill overlooking the start of the valley. In fact, from some of the domes you have a fantastic view of the Torres. The Eco Camp is an exclusive camp for its clients and you can’t just turn up, it has to be booked in advance. This is because the Eco Camp isn’t just accommodation, they run their own trips including the W and Full Circuit but also a Safari trip which takes you to a lesser known part of the park around Laguna Azul.
The Eco Camp consists of standard domes for 2 people, which are small and just have twin beds with a shared bathroom, located in the centre of the camp. The bathrooms are clean and spacious but you do have to go outside to get to them. The standard domes don’t have central heating in them but the Eco camp uses extremely warm fleecy bedding which prevents you from being cold. Your wil also have a hot water bottle at night just to make sure you don’t get cold.
In turn, the suite domes are bigger with more space, a table and chairs, a fire and a bathroom. Each morning a guide will come into your room at 7:30 to relight your fire which will have gone out during the night. He’ll also bring you hot water to make tea in your room if you remind him the night before. I had a great sleep in the dome and found it comfortable and exciting to stay in such a place.
Unlike somewhere such as the Explora Patagonia where the focus is primarily on service, the philosophy of the eco camp is also heavily focused on being as eco friendly as possible. This means that all the water used comes directly from a lake in the mountains and you can tell as the water looks a glacial grey in colour. The waste from the toilets goes into a compost and 90% of it is evaporated, so toilet roll goes in the bin. They are proud of their green philosophy which starts with using biodegradble soap and shampoo and ends with using energy from solar panels to top up the generator. The domes are also a green colour in order to blend in better with the surroundings and not to alter the landscape too much.
The shared areas are comfortable with a room for reading and listening to the guides talk, the bar and restaurant in three separate spaces. Each is warmed by a fire and are cosy places to congregate. The meals here are delicious and well thought out. We had a nut and orange salad for starters, which wasn’t to everyone’s taste but was unusual at least. Then they brought out ‘lamb claw’ with mashed potatoe and chestnuts. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth delicious and tender and the mash was wonderful, I think it may have been one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Desert consisted in a toffee wafer cake which also lovely but rather big – oh well, the more the better! Not only this, the evening meal was a great chance to get to know the other members of our trip – two Australians, two Brazilians and a Brit. Each had their own story to tell, each had been travelling for a few weeks and everyone was excited for the days ahead. Not only this but even though the Brazilians didn’t speak much English or Spanish, we all conversed round the table with our guide and chipped in with words that we knew in Portuguese, it was really nice. Breakfast was a similar affair with copious amounts of tea and coffee, scrambled eggs and toast. Fresh fruit was also on offer as was juice, yoghurt, ham and cheese.
I think this gives you a bit of an idea of the Eco Camp, the kind of spaces you spend your time in and their friendly attitude. However, the safari trip we did deserves its own post with a map but as I am en route to Ushuaia please watch this space!