Here’s the question of the summer: how can you be eco-friendly while you travel?
This past June, my husband and I got married and after doing our best to plan a green wedding (more on that soon!) we decided to have a honeymoon fun-venture in the incredible country of Chile. Think: hiking, camping, boating and horseback riding in Patagonia, plus world class skiing in the Andes at Ski Portillo and of course, lots of wine! It lived up to the hype by exceeding every expectation we could possibly have had, most especially the Chilean people and culture. For all of you who love outdoor-adventure travel, I highly recommend putting it on your list of places to visit.
We were fortunate to discover that Chile is ranked the world’s best developed country for eco-tourism. However, the sheer impact of flying to the end of the earth gave us reason to pause and consider the effects of our carbon footprint on this beautiful world. There’s simply no easy way to travel and be eco-friendly at the same time but it can be done. Brian and I travel often and this trip really helped us to hone our green travel skills abroad, so I’m excited to kick off the sustainable summer travel series with one of my favorite places in the world: Chile!
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We’re kicking things off with this eco-friendly travel guide to Chile in South America. Follow along the rest of the summer for eco-friendly products, packing lists and tips from the road.
One of the things I appreciate most about a challenge like this is that it forces you to be more creative. Instead of giving up, search for new alternatives, use what you have and most importantly, learn from your mistakes. Being in another country always gives us the opportunity to see things with a new perspective, especially our daily habits! Keep an open mind and be willing to shake things up when you need.
Chile’s dedication to ecotourism and sustainability made me realize that it is possible to see this change happen worldwide. Their energy about the topic was truly infectious and really made me think about what that could and does look like on a global scale. We were so inspired by their love for their environment and passion for conservation that it lit a new spark. Overall, the one thing I learned from them is to never let ourselves become tired, bored or uninspired by our natural world.
Where we stayed: Explora Patagonia Hotel, Salto Chico
What we did: Hiking + horseback riding
How we went green: Explora is a beautiful hotel with a minimalist mindset indoors and a maximum appreciation for the outdoors. They adhere to strict standards of sustainability and are advocates of the Leave No Trace principles when out in the Patagonian wilderness. We learned so much about the area from their outdoor guides and staff.
Takeaways: No Wi-Fi! It’s amazing how immersed you can be in a natural setting when distractions are far and few between. I learned to take it even slower, to pay closer attention to the things around me and savor every moment even more.
Man is it tough to stick to your eco-friendly guns while traveling in a city. There are more opportunities to be wasteful and when there is a language barrier it can be even harder to find your way around. However, Santiago is a gorgeous city flanked by the Andes, full of parks and amazing people creating even more amazing food and drinks. Go and visit this beautiful place if you can.
Eco-friendly places to go in Santiago, Chile:
1) Parque Metropolitano de Santiago is a large park in the heart of the city. We spent hours walking through nature trails, climbing to the top of San Cristobal Hill (those views! and wow, that trail can kick your butt if you’re a tired traveller), and watching countless locals ride their street and mountain bikes all over this naturally beautiful spot. There’s also a zoo and plenty of green space for people with children or someone likes me who tends to feel cooped up in the city streets.
2) Bocanariz is an upscale wine bar in the charming neighborhood of Lastarria. It is famous for its local Chilean wine and food pairings that, I’ll have to admit, changed our lives haha. Go if you can!
3) Anywhere by foot! Santiago is a city full of long promenades, parks, fountains and historic sites built into the hills. After filling up on empanadas and Chilean wine we had no problem getting from point A to B on foot instead of calling a cab and creating more carbon emissions. Plus, a little extra movement can’t hurt!
Emiliana Organic Vineyards
East of Santiago and west of the coast sits the famous Casablanca Wine Region. Here, nestled in between mountains, hills and a handful of other wineries is Emiliana Organic Vineyard. We took the trip out to this magical spot to visit one of the oldest practitioners and advocates of organic, biodynamic wine making in the country and were greeted by a warm staff, fantastic wine (of course) and my favorite part, a host of animals who were also integral members of the Emiliana family. I really felt at home and never wanted to leave. Check it out, below.
P.S. since it was winter the vines were bare and the weather was overcast. I thought the moodiness was actually a really unique element but can’t even begin to imagine how it looks in the summer!
A few of my favorite eco-friendly things at Emiliana Vineyards…
The vineyard houses chickens on the property to eat the pests in lieu of using pesticides that would otherwise harm the workers and their herd of alpacas do their part in creating a natural fertilizer for the soil — also known as manure. Not to mention, their solar panels allow them to operate on renewable energy as well!
A surprise element was their community garden, which is tended to by their workers who plant whatever they like and take home to their family. I was so in love with this place and its passion for sustainability in both an ecological and societal manner, that I could have stayed forever. Oh, and duh, the wines were ridiculous, too. You should go.
Share your best eco-friendly travel tips below, plus, comments, questions or thoughts on how to travel more responsibly!