As one of the longest countries in South America, the destinations for enjoying ecotourism in Chile are really varied. The weather, the oil, lakes, lagoons, sea wildlife, and mountains, all of them spread in 4200 km of untamed landscapes still populated by natives and their unique cultural heritage.
Nowadays, there are many tourism agencies that offer “ecotourism” activities, but what should you look for in the destination to have a truly responsible travel experience?
- First, make sure their staff is local, and that they bring you to places only locals would know about.
- Value if they care about the trace their trips left in the environment and if they have a good relationship with local communities.
- Learn about their local operators, they are small-business entrepreneurs or private companies?
These are the elements a responsible business should feature. Traveling with this kind of tourism professional will ease the process of navigating the extensive landscapes of Chile, and visit all the regions where ecotourism activities can be enjoyed!
1. Where to go to experience ecotourism in Chile?
Pan de Azucar National Park
Located 800 meters above sea level, this is the place to enjoy amazing views of the Pacific sea waters and explore the wildlife of the area. There is a campsite you can stay in, with easy access to hike and bike trails to spot foxes, vicuñas, and colonies of Humboldt penguins. There are archeological sites, and the turquoise waters of the rocky beaches are perfect to scuba dive!
Location: Copiaipó – 2 hours from Santiago de Chile Airport.
La Campana National Park
Discovered by the naturalist Charles Darwin in 1834, this natural park features one of the last Palm Trees Forest in Chile. Enjoy hikes to immerse yourself in nature, climb La Campana Hill and make it to the top! There are 100 species of animals to discover and a giant fall.
Location Coquimbo – 1 hour from Santiago de Chile Airport
Vicente Perez Rosales National Park
This is the first national park in Chile, and the land walked by the natives Araucanos and the fir Jesuit missionaries. The main attraction here is the hike shaped by eruptions and the lava rivers of the Osorno and the Monte Tronador volcano, which are no longer active. This is the destination for eco-travelers who prefer water sports. Here the turbulent waters of the Petrohúe rapids are the paradise for rafting and other water exploration activities.
Location: Osorno – 1 hour from Santiago de Chile Airport.
Torres del Paine National Park
The main attraction of Chilean Patagonia, this park has become one of the most famous destinations in Chile. Though some hotels have been constructed lately, there are many campsites and refuges to stay inside the park and enjoy some of their longest hike experiences, like the W Circuit or the most extensive O Circuit. It concentrates a variation of different ecosystems, mountains, lakes, glaciers, and native wildlife like the puma, and the access is limited to a certain number of visitors per year.
Location: Punta Arenas – 3h 30 min from Santiago de Chile Airport.