serendipity

Life is pretty wild and serendipitous. Three years ago – on February 16, 2017, to be exact – my friend Laurel sent me a message on Instagram with a photo of the coziest-looking dome in Chilean Patagonia. “Apparently, this is in Chile,” she wrote. “I think we should try to find it when I come visit you!”

“OMG! Yes! How soon can you get here?” I responded.

We chatted a little about dates and travel plans and left it at that. Nothing really came of it that year.

Then, in December 2017, my story with Torres del Paine began, as I spent five days hiking and camping the “W” with my friend Lindsay. I’ve since written about that experience for Stay Wild Magazine and Osprey.

There’s magic in the park. I firmly believe that. Be it the water, the calafate berries, the larger-than-life mountains, the ever-changing [and dramatic and intense] weather or something else altogether, there is something to Torres del Paine.

The park, and southern Patagonia, seem to always leave me wanting more. More time. More moments of connection. More adventures. Just more.

So after that December 2017 trip, I returned later that same season to join the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund on a trail project – a new trail, to be completed this season actually, between Paine Grande and Italiano.

I then returned to Bariloche, where [roughly a year after sending the above message] Laurel came to visit me in March 2018. Unfortunately, southern Patagonia was a little too far for her weeklong stay. But, of course, it’s always there for future visits 😉

My story with Torres del Paine continued last year, in March 2019, when I returned to the park for another trail project with the Legacy Fund – building a boardwalk over a wetland area near Dickson – and to work on a story for RANGE Magazine.

Fast forward to this year. It turns out the dome in the photo Laurel sent me three years ago is part of EcoCamp Patagonia, a hotel comprised of fully sustainable geodesic domes in Torres del Paine. The hotel is more than just its famous domes.

The attention to detail when it comes to interior design and a focus on cultivating community is obvious. More than that, EcoCamp has some pretty remarkable sustainability standards – and is working to improve its practices all the time. From composting toilets, to water heated via solar power, to a commitment this season to eliminate all single-use plastic, to composting all organic waste and so much more, the hotel is working to create a minimal impact on the park and our planet as well as a positive impact on the surrounding communities.

From February 15-17, 2020 [check that first date above], I stayed at EcoCamp and explored Torres del Paine once more. How wild and serendipitous is that? Three years to the date after Laurel sent that first message, I was not only in Torres del Paine but staying at the very place she’d messaged me about.

The park always feels both familiar and new to me. Alongside EcoCamp’s guides and other travelers, as part of their Wildlife Safari program, I spent a day adventuring around Laguna Azul and a corner of Torres del Paine I’d not known previously. We saw flamingos, foxes, guanacos, condors and other wildlife; ate calafate berries to ensure our return; and took in the park’s famous [and, on this day, moody] mountains from a distance.

Photo: Timothy Dhalleine

Unfortunately, Laurel wasn’t with me on this particular adventure. Oh, how I wish she had been! It’s always sweet to share these places and experiences with good friends and family. But a part of Laurel was there with me for sure, and in the future, I’ll be more than happy to return and share this special place with her – breathing in Torres del Paine’s majestic landscapes and the life, adventures and stories packed among them.

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For more info on EcoCamp Patagonia, their sustainability practices and community initiatives and / or to book your experience, click here.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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