El Dinamo.cl: Torres del Paine Lodges, on the Path to Sustainability
Due to the difficulty of reaching our lodges (they are about a four-hour hike from the nearest road), we have concerned ourselves with generating a sustainability policy that permits us to supply energy in a clean and fast way…
The obtaining of the Sustainable Tourism Distinction (the S Seal), in addition to being a recognition of our serious efforts toward achieving sustainability in each of our lodges, is for Fantástico Sur an obligation to continue working. Fantástico Sur, the company that runs the Los Cuernos and El Chileno Lodges, has operated in Torres del Paine for more than 15 years, and has worked on the implementation of renewable energy and the responsible management of waste for more than 6. This experience qualifies us for the S Seal, meaning that we meet the standards of the National Tourism Service (SERNATUR) on behalf of the Sustainable Tourism Program and the National Touristic Sustainability Roundtable. Due to the difficulty of reaching our lodges (they are about a four-hour hike from the nearest road), we have concerned ourselves with generating a sustainability policy that permits us to supply energy in a clean and fast way. With the intention of protecting the environment, we decided to use alternative energy sources, like hydroelectric, wind, and solar. In the Los Cuernos sector, energy from the Bader River is generated by a hydraulic pump and stored in a battery bank. With this electricity, we manage to power the domes, the cabins, and the camp grounds at Los Cuernos. In the El Chileno sector, we have a windmill, which has been working optimally, that produces energy and stores it in a battery bank. Given the energy demands of the site, and our goal of achieving self-sustainability, however, have forced us to evaluate the possibility of installing a hydraulic pump in a nearby waterfall.
Regarding the management of waste, we have constructed biofiltration systems in both locations that function by taking advantage of the work performed by earthworms, which transform liquid waste into compost. In each lodge, we separate garbage into four containers: one for paper, one for organic waste, one for cans, and one for glass. Previously, we transported this waste by boat or horse to the Las Torres sector, where we loaded it into a garbage truck that transported it to the city of Puerto Natales. Currently, we are supporting an initiative of the Hotel Services of Torres del Paine Association, which hopes to create a recycling system that serves the entire national park. This season, we are preparing materials so that the visitors are more active in the care of Torres del Paine and commit themselves to sustainability: being sustainable requires each one of us to take an active role. We want to engage with the visitors that arrive at the park, and, in this sense, the Sustainable Tourism Distinction supports us and will be a great ally. One of the great challenges that we have going forward is to obtain the S Seal for our other lodgings and, in this way, contribute to the Torres del Paine National Park, and the lodging services that supply it, becoming completely sustainable in the medium term. We are very proud of earning this important distinction, which is internationally recognized by the Global Council on Sustainable Tourism, and we believe that as long as more companies work towards the achievement of sustainability, the image of our beloved National Park, and all of Chile, will keep growing stronger and will continue to position itself as one of the world’s sustainable destinations.