Our ethos is based on respecting nature and protecting the environment, both of which are fundamental to responsible living and sustainable tourism. We acknowledge that the way we live our lives has a direct impact on the world around us, and that if we want to protect earth and its remaining pristine areas for the indefinite future we have to make certain lifestyle choices. Here are the ways in which Cascada are helping to make the world more sustainable:
Attitude Towards Nature
At Cascada we respect the power of nature and its immensity. Images from around the world, not to mention earthquakes in Chile itself, have shown just how powerful nature can be. We understand how vital it is to change the way we behave in order to preserve the state of the world and avoid natural disasters caused by misconstrued human development.
We recognise the need to provide sustainable tourism in order to preserve natural wonders so that people can continue enjoying wonderful places like Patagonia, the Atacama desert and the Lake district. Sustainability is our number one priority when choosing operators and destinations and creating trips, and we encourage all of our guests to see sustainability as a means of protecting the world around them.
At EcoCamp Patagonia we keep things simple. We want guests to be as close to nature as possible, experiencing the rush of the Patagonian wind, the view of the Torres from the dining room, the fresh air on the outdoor walkways between domes. This close proximity to nature is what makes for an unforgettable experience in the Patagonian wilderness.
All of our energy is renewable and comes from hydro-electric and solar power. Electricity is therefore limited and luxury items like hairdryers and electric shavers are not allowed. We encourage guests to embrace this return to a more natural way of life and appreciate that their sacrifices are helping conserve a pristine area which might otherwise be threatened by our presence.
The world’s population has doubled in the last fifty years to 6 billion and we are fast consuming the earth’s resources. We want to decrease our footprint and consume less to help preserve these resources, leaving no trace behind as we walk through nature. At EcoCamp our consumption of electricity is very low and comes from renewable energy and we use recycled materials for dome construction and indoor amenities.
We are recycling advocates and recycle all paper in the office that is no longer needed. Company directors Javier and Yerko compost at home and recycle all organic waste, glass, packaging and carton. At EcoCamp all organic and non-organic waste is separated and organic material is fed to a neighbouring pig farm while non-organic material is removed from the park and sent to the nearest city to determine its recycling status. All of our food products are sourced locally and we request minimal packaging from our suppliers. Guests re-use zip-lock bags and flasks throughout their stay at EcoCamp. Domes are constructed to maximise inside space and minimise external surface area so as not to waste heat through temperature leaving through walls.
No Harmful Products
All of our cleaning products are biodegradable, in line with the environmental standards set by ISO14001. The food at EcoCamp is locally grown and is organic, with no harmful pesticides.
Walking outdoors is becoming increasingly uncommon due to the ever-glowing global dependency on cars. City-dwellers rarely come into contact with the natural world so talk of protecting nature doesn’t have a great significance for them. The Cascada office has a beautiful front garden where we eat lunch, and we have large windows which we keep open or shut depending on the season. We have no air conditioning or elevator, climbing the stairs is a must! Many of the office staff who live far away work a couple of days a week from home to save commuting.
We ensure the food served on our trips is wholesome and plentiful. At EcoCamp we serve a varied menu of Chilean food and allow guests to choose from a range of delicious ingredients to make their own picnic lunch. Yerko and Nani, both founders of Cascada, have chickens, rabbits and a vegetable garden in their home and make bread. Founder Javier buys eggs and chickens locally and buys bread made by the Hare Krishna movement.
We like to maintain the balance between work and free time. Stress is not conducive to a healthy life, and one of Cascada’s goals is to ensure the personal and professional development of all employees.
All of our trips involve some free time, where guests have the opportunity to unwind and be by themselves for a while should they wish. Each evening at EcoCamp we create a relaxing environment in our core domes, where guests can go to socialise in the bar, read on the terrace and plan a trip in the library. We also like to think of our trips as relax time, away from the stresses of everyday working life, enjoying activities in the midst of nature.
As you can see from our staff profiles, the working environment at Cascada is a big company asset. Our long-serving and foreign staff usually have a month’s vacation, and women with young children have accommodating timetables, often working a few days from home. Teamwork is a very important feature at Cascada and our open office plan lends itself to communication between teams.
Nobody is expected to know everything about green living and eco-friendly development, neither are they expected to follow one set course on how to live sustainably. We have a Traveler Handbook available in all domes outlining the ways in which we at Cascada choose to operate responsibly, and what we expect from our guests. The rest is up to each individual, to read books, articles or magazines about sustainable living and decide what to take away. Director Javier makes time to read and so far this year has read Eckhart Tolle’s The power of now, Vicki Noble’s Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World and Jose Luis Sampedro’s Humanist Economy.
Support Environmental Projects
Cascada is proud to support sustainability projects in Chile, and to voice our opinion against projects we feel threaten natural areas of wilderness. We share all of our innovative ideas with Corporacion Fomento & Producción (CORFO) so that other companies can benefit from our advancements in green technology and move towards a more sustainable operation themselves.
Cascada supports Agrupación Medio Ambiental (AMA), a non-profit environmental organisation working to protect National Park Torres del Paine and educate people about the environmental impact of tourism in the park. We also work with Refugio Animal Cascada, a nature sanctuary run by Cascada founder Nani Astorga. The refuge aims to preserve the area’s conservation, provide a rehabilitation centre for native animals, and to contribute to environmental education in the local community. To date the centre has recieved over 90 animals, from birds and mammals to reptiles and amphibians.