All you’ve Ever Wanted to Know about Dinosaurs in Chile

If you come to my house at 8pm each night, you will see three heads huddled over a hard-backed book with several ripped and sellotaped pages thanks to overeager small fingers.  You will likely hear my youngest son babble with excitement at certain pages, while the turning of (the majority of) others prompts my oldest to recite something like the following with perfect diction:

¨That’s Micropachycephalosaurus,¨  He will say (and I’m checking closely – he’s right!), ¨He’s really small and he eats plants and his name is the longest!¨

Sometimes I cannot believe how wondrous children are, the way their brains soak up information like ever-expanding sponges, and the remarkable ability they have to remember intricately the things that interest them (and seemingly not hear other things, like when its time to brush their teeth, tidy their toys away or leave me alone because I’m on the toilet!).  Children have that beautiful ability to find something amazing in the smallest things, like in a pile of freshly-fallen autumn leaves or a great big muddy puddle, and with so many of us in a constant battle against the dreaded clock, we could all take a leaf or two from their book.

But I digress because while this post could easily be about the wisdom of children (!), it is actually about the focus of my kids’ obsessions, specifically dinosaurs in Chile. Did you know Chile is some kind of palaeontological paradise?!  Honestly, it’s amazing so keep reading.

I encourage E’s love of dinosaurs. I think it’s wonderful that he can name 45 species, and it opens up a great discussion around geography, life/death, the circle of life, and the place humans – and all creatures – occupy in the grand scheme of things. I also love that it is his interest that is making me learn so much more about this amazing country, as well as the history of Earth itself, and I am incredibly excited to see where this goes.

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Let’s Begin! The Incredible Truth about Dinosaurs in Chile

(Paraphrased from this article in the Scientific American)

What once walked these lands? Mapusaurus was a carnivorous predator over 10 metres long that likely hunted in packs, and was named in honour of the Mapuche people. Two types of sauropods in the same family of Diplodocus have been discovered in Chile, as well as the footprints of the predator Giganotosaurus, bigger than T-Rex and the 2nd largest meat-eating dinosaur discovered anywhere in the world (beat only by Spinosaurus).  Carnotaurus (you may remember him from the Dinosaur movie and the soon-to-be-released, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) once lived in Calama, while Coelurosaur remains have been found at the site at Pichasca (Limari Valley).

It's Take Your Dogto Work Day

Right at the bottom of South America is one of the most important sites in South America for fossils. Here you can find the El Puesto excavation site, a place where the dirt crumbles underfoot beside hundreds of fossils. You might find a piece of rib cage here, a femur tip there, while further down whole skeletons have been uncovered.  This zone famously contains a 7km field of hadrosaur (duck-billed herbivore) remains that indicate they were partially burned in a bizarre wildfire. This site, along with others in the area such as Las Chinas and Cerro Guido, provides an unprecedented view into the world of 72-66 million years ago, a time which previously little was known.  What has been discovered in this area is gobsmacking. Titanosaurid sauropods, unique flowers (some perfectly preserved and 72 million years old – a feat considering the fragile nature of the petals), the oldest fossilized leaves in South America (including oak, lenga, and coihue), 40 types of plants, marine creatures, pollen, wood … A few steps to the left and you may come across marine reptiles, a few spots over you may uncover land mammals of the Cenozoic period.  Did you know that the forests of the Cretaceous period that once flourished in Antarctica were almost the same as the forests you can see today in modern day, Valdivia? 

Here scientists have also been able to study the effects of climate change during the end of the Cretacious period, including the 25m fall of the sea level over under a million years which allowed a bridge to form between South America and Antarctica.  Experts have noted that these bridges were important areas of evolution, giving rise to the new notion that climate change is the unique catalyst of new species.

Sites such as these are being studied by international teams funded mostly by Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT).

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Introducing the Amazing, Chilesaurus, also known as the Missing Link

Chilesaurus diegosuarezi is its official name, but most of us will probably remember this unusual dinosaur because of the fact it was discovered in Chile – and the fact that this herbivore is so bizarre that it has been named the missing link between the evolution between herbivores and carnivores.

It’s a befuddling creature from the Jurassic period, the size of a small horse which once populated Patagonia 145 million years ago. It is also one of the most important paleontological finds in history, believe it or not, with four almost complete and 8 partially complete skeletons discovered. In 2004 seven-year-old Diego Suarezi discovered the bones while out with his geologist parents near General Carerra Lake, close to the site of breathtaking Marble Caves.  What is interesting about Chilesaurus is that it is a theropod, part of the same family as Carnetaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, but bizarrely vegetarian.  It had a beak, for starters, and flat teeth for plant-eating – curioser still it had fingers rather than claws, while still bearing the famous short arms of carnivores.

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Where to Get your Dino Fix in Chile

Until E fell in love with those Cretaceous critters, I had no idea there were so many dino-related excursions in Santiago.  There really is something universal about dinosaurs that kids love, isn’t there?

If you are happy to make a day of it, you can drive/bus/train out to Buin Zoo, a wonderfully-kept zoo about 45minutes from the city centre.  Unlike the widely criticized National Zoo over on Cerro San Cristobal, Buin Zoo has large enclosures, well-maintained grounds and excellent facilities for the whole family.  We love a trip here, although on our most recent trip we didn’t see a whole lot as we barely left the Dino Zoo.  Yes, fellow parents of the dino-obsessed, there really are a place where you can take your child to see life-sized models, and although it’s small, your child will absolutely love it.  Expect to see all the classics AND a giant sandpit to hunt for fossils in!

Closer to home and Santiago has two events on a limited run. The Santiago Planetarium has a showing of Dinosaurios al Atardecer, which explores the history of dinosaurs around the world (Spanish only) followed by a fun group activity.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Planetarium – it isn’t London or New York but it’s fun and E loved it (M did not so sit near the door if you go with small children in case you need to make a swift exit) and the activity was enjoyable for the whole family (we had a hard time getting Luis to leave).  There is a small toy shop with dinosaur/space related trinkets and it wasn’t expensive.  The Planetarium is just a short work from Estacion Central metro station right beside the Universidad de Santiago (USACH) but it has its own entrance.  This film runs until July 1st. NOTE: Do take care of your belongings around this metro station as it is extremely busy and be aware that this metro stop does not have a lift or escalator.

At the other end of town within the gorgeous Parque Araucano park (beside Parque Arauco Mall) you can find Big Bang Park + Chilesaurus, an indoor dinosaur extravaganza that is set to stay until September.  This is the perfect place to take your child to see huge replicas of their favourite dinosaur, including a dino dig and other fun activities. Star of the show is the moving, lifelike Chilesaurus, who your child will love.  Well worth it!

Further afield, in the 6th region to be exact, is the Route of Dinosaur Footprints (Ruta de las Huellas de Dinosaurios). At around 100km from Santiago and 70km from its nearest city (San Fernando), this is an endeavour for the obsessed or the adventurous but no matter who you are you will be left amazed by the visible footprints left by dinosaurs some 150 million years ago. Standing here, it is hard to imagine that the mountains you see before you used to be sea and that the 500 or so footprints dotted about are visible only due to the ash left by volcanic eruptions all those millions of years before.  The 2010 earthquake, one of the largest in world history, actually unearthed even more footprints, and the result is a spectacular journey back in time to a Chile that was very, very different. Promaucaes Outdoor leads guided tours around the area, lasting about three hours (around CLP$10,000), and the trip can be easily combined with a visit to the Termas del Flaco hot springs.  NOTE: both the tour and the hot springs operate only between October and May as the area is inaccessible in winter; you also will need to bring cash.

The Monumento Natural La Pichasca is the culmination of a gorgeous drive over azure reservoirs and past miles of grape-laden hills in the Limari Valley, just on the outskirts of the mining town, Ovalle (45 min from La Serena).  Here the fossils of ginormous Titanosaurus’ have been unearthed (not displayed in the park), as well as petrified forest, pre-Colombian cave paintings  NOTE: Pichasca is a long way from anything, so check opening times before you leave.  It also gets hot and sunny so pack plenty of water – enjoy!

So you Want a Dinosaur Birthday?

Eventosaurio, a small outfit inspired by their own kids’ love of dinosaurs, is all you need to make an original birthday party children will remember.  What child doesn’t want to meet a real, walking baby t-rex?  If you book Eventosaurio to your event, Rexy (and his handlers) will come for a visit – there’s no need to be scared because Rexy is fed beforehand and is only keen to play! You will learn all about dinosaurs during some fun activities before Rexy is unleashed on the partygoers (cue screams!) for some fun and games. Eventosaurio is not a cheap birthday rental and Rexy has some big dimensions, therefore needs quite a bit of space to move around, but if your child is dino-crazy like mine, their ecstatic faces make it all worth it.

Follow them on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Hope you enjoyed this dino-tastic article! If you are new to my blog, please feel free to have a nosey through – I may get a bit honest at times but hopefully you find something that strikes a chord. If you want to read about some other fun facts about Chile, have a read of this article, or for ideas about what to do with kids in Santiago take a look here. As always, if you liked what you read please give it a ´like´ and don’t forget to subscribe to my feed to keep up to date with new posts. I am always looking for new content, so if you have an idea for a story please send me an email to helen@queridarecoleta.com

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Writer Emily & her Life in Bariloche

I recently had the pleasure of meeting freelance writer, Emily Hopcian, through work and was intrigued by her stories of life in Bariloche, Argentina. A blog article must surely be on the cards, I thought, and luckly Emily thought so too  Hope you enjoy my first article about Argentina and stay tuned for more.

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Fitzroy Skyline.  Photo: Cascada Expediciones

Who is Emily Hopcian?

I’m a writer and content producer with a focus on outdoor adventure and social and environmental impact storytelling. I was born and raised in Michigan in the U.S. I have a love for most things water, cats and stories that are told well, especially character-driven stories with impact. Most recently, my hunger for travel, outdoor adventure and new challenges brought me to Bariloche, Argentina, where I’m developing a passion for and knowledge of this beautiful, story-filled region; the people who live, work and play here; and the plentiful adventures to be had here.

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Cordon Fitzroy Sunset. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

Why Argentina and why Bariloche?

I’ve had a desire to live outside the U.S. since I studied abroad in Bath, England in 2010. I held onto that dream, and in 2015, I started to seriously consider what living internationally would look like for me. Where did I want to live, and why? And what did I want to get out of living in a place outside the U.S.?

I wanted to learn Spanish. European countries felt similar to the U.S. in many ways, and I knew I wanted to challenge myself. Since I planned to continue working remotely for the company I was with in California, I set my sights on Latin America. Patagonia had been on my list for a while, so I honed in on Argentina and Chile. After talking with some acquaintances in Buenos Aires — yes, they were a bit biased 😊 — and being sold on the idea of a “European city in South America,” I decided to make the leap to Argentina.

I lived in Buenos Aires from November 2016 to May 2017. In short, the city was too much for me — and kilometers and hours, even by plane, from Patagonia. Craving a more natural landscape and the promise of outdoor adventures, I bought a one-way ticket to Bariloche, fell in love with this city and the Patagonian region as a whole and haven’t looked back.

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Photo: Emily Hopcian

How have you found living in Argentina?

I’ve experienced plenty of ups and downs in living here, but I also think that’s an ingredient for life no matter where you’re living. Landing in Buenos Aires, not knowing anyone, not speaking Spanish and navigating my own way were all significant challenges for me. I’ve been taking steps since day one and figuring it out as I go along. I learned a lot while living in Buenos Aires — castellano, what I need in my daily routine, good places to meet people with similar values, etc. — that helped me hit my stride here in Bariloche much faster.

I find the people and culture in Bariloche to be warmer and more welcoming than Buenos Aires. I think Bariloche attracts people with a more laid-back lifestyle. Which is not to say I didn’t meet great people in Buenos Aires. I did. Some of my favorite friends are from / still live there. Bariloche, as a whole, simply has more of what I’m looking for in my life.

For me, the biggest downside to living in Argentina is being so far from my family, who I’m very close to. Modern technology makes it easy to communicate and even see each other, but there are definitely moments when I miss the comforts of home, the things that are familiar to me — and my family is a big part of that. Suddenly losing my 10-year-old cat and watching my sister undergo brain surgery have been two of the toughest events to navigate from afar.

What have been your favourite travel experiences so far in Argentina?

My favorite travels have been in the Patagonian region, primarily El Chaltén. For me, Patagonia is everything I’d read about and so much more. The wild, remote landscape and simpler, richer pace of life are tough to come by in our world. Perhaps it’s the Michigander in me, but I like that the challenging weather is a defining characteristic of this region. Patagonia makes you work for your adventures.

In Bariloche, I love the plethora of opportunities for getting outside. I don’t have a car here and still find it incredibly easy to walk out of my tiny house and be up in the mountains hiking and camping overnight at one of Bariloche’s refugios (mountain huts) — a must-do if you come to visit — or near this region’s many lakes.

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Photo: Emily Hopcian

What are your favorite things to do and places to eat in Bariloche?

I enjoy hiking and camping in the mountains, and I’ve been learning to rock climb, which is a lot of fun and a great challenge to learn something entirely new in a foreign language. In terms of Bariloche’s refugios, Refugio Frey and Refugio Laguna Negra are my favorites. Cerrito Llao Llao is a great, quick hike with amazing views.

Cerveceria Berlina at Km 12 is one of my favorite places for beer and food; I usually get pizza. Cerveceria Patagonia has great brews and views. Delirante Cafe and Vertiente are two of my favorite cafes. Bellevue, Meiling Casa de Te and Chiado are cozy tea houses with great views. Rapa Nui is easily a favorite for chocolate and ice cream — as is Dolce Rama, which is right in my neighborhood.

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Grey Fox. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

How would you describe the local culture?

I feel as though the local culture is diverse here — meaning that it is what you make of it. For me, in many ways, the culture is reminiscent of a mountain town in the U.S. I lived in Jackson, Wyoming, for a short period of time, and while Bariloche feels and is bigger than Jackson, I see similarities, mostly in terms of an outdoor lifestyle. People are drawn to the mountains and outdoor activities.

That said, the influence of Argentine Patagonia is felt here. Asados in a friend’s jardín or el campo. The tradition of sharing a mate, conversation and time with friends is alive and well — be it in someone’s house, on one of Bariloche’s many beaches or up in the mountains at a refugio. For me, these two things — asados (barbeque) and mate (herbal drink from Patagonia) — reflect the slower, more easygoing pace of life here. There’s something about Bariloche that makes life feel a little simpler.

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Photo: Emily Hopcian

You recently spent some time volunteering with the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund. Can you tell us about this experience?

The Legacy Fund is leading thoughtful, innovative projects in Torres del Paine and in the surrounding communities. It was a great pleasure to join them on trail and conservation projects earlier this year — and to spend more time in such an incredible national park. One thing that’s really struck me about the Legacy Fund is that they’re working collaboratively to address local priorities — true partnerships with public and private stakeholders, both local and foreign, and park authorities. My experience with the Legacy Fund was educational and also a great chance to meet like-minded individuals from both Chile and the U.S. and swap stories and ideas with them, while contributing to a more sustainable future for the park and the communities surrounding it. In particular, I think it’s pretty neat that, as a volunteer, you play a role in positively contributing to the future of Torres del Paine. It’s an experience that is far different from that of your everyday visitor.

What are some of the pressing issues you see affecting Bariloche right now?

I think Bariloche is facing issues of continued expansion and development. In speaking with friends who grew up here, it’s my understanding that the population has grown dramatically in the past 20 or so years. Most people living here did not grow up in Bariloche. Many are from Buenos Aires and other cities in the north of Argentina. There’s obviously also a group of expats, like myself, here. There are other current events here — one having to do with the Mapuches who are native to this land and another having to do with Cerro Catedral, the ski mountain — but I don’t know enough about those events to explain or comment on them.

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Photo: Emily Hopcian

You are a freelance journalist. Can you share any tips for people looking to get started in the industry?

In terms of freelance writing, know who you’re pitching to. Know the publication or brand. Know their departments and campaigns. Know what types of stories they feature and what tone of voice they use. Do your research. Search online for pitch or story submission guidelines. Follow those guidelines. When possible, reach out to a real person — not just a general email. The best way to do that is by reading through mastheads or web pages that list employees. Social media can be a good tool for connecting with editors or making contact to then follow-up via email.

I’ve found sending three story ideas — sample headline + a story idea with the who, what and why now baked in — to work well. It gives editors a menu of sorts to choose from. I also mention whether I have photos, have access to photos or know a photographer who can capture photos for the stories I’m pitching.

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Photo: Cascada Expediciones

What is next for Emily?

At the end of January, I stepped into freelance writing and storytelling full-time. I’m navigating the challenges and victories that come with such a move. I’m starting my own creative agency with a focus on character-driven stories in outdoor adventure and social and environmental impact — especially stories local to Patagonia — told via writing, photos and videos.

In living, traveling and building community here, I’ve realized that there’s a gap in the outdoor and travel industries’ storytelling. We often tell stories of Americans and Europeans traveling and adventuring in foreign spaces, like Patagonia, but we don’t often share the stories of locals adventuring in their own backyards. I believe there’s a missed opportunity for cultural — and, quite simply, human — connection and to encourage all of us to think about / see places and our role in them differently as we explore. So I want to share the stories of locals in their own backyards, starting with the Argentines and Chileans in Patagonia.

Beyond Patagonia, I’m also working on bringing a mid-length documentary to life about a Nepalese female mountain guide in the Himalayas.

I plan to continue living in Bariloche, making a home and community for myself here — and would like to rescue a cat later this year.

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Photo: Emily Hopcian

Keep up to date with Emily’s adventures in Argentina by reading her blog. You can also follow her on Instagram and on Twitter

 

 

 

EcoCamp Patagonia

Wind swirls. Birds call. Sun shines.

Days are solitary steps, dripping water and mirror lakes. Nights are shared meals, laughter, and endless stars. Sleep is deep, dreams are heavy.

There are no words.

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Patagonia is magic, as I have already said. But so is this place – EcoCamp Patagonia – 33 domes that rise from Torres del Paine National Park like the rounded backs of ladybugs. This completely sustainable and eco-friendly hotel/camp hybrid has won plenty of awards and has been frequented by familiar faces such as Amyr Klink (Brazil), Laura Lisowski (UK), Ramon Navarro (Chile) and  Paz Bascuñán (Chile).  They sing its praises, all of them citing the deeply transformative experience that such a deep connection with nature (and such a forceful severing from modern technology) brings.

Standard Domes

Compact but comfortable, these tiny spaces have been designed to shade you from the harshness of the Patagonian elements while still making you feel as though you are outside.  This achieved through the sounds and air that move through the pods, through to the complete lack of electricity and mod-cons that so clutter city life. Shared bathrooms, perfect for solo visitors.

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Superior Domes

The spacious upgrade up from the Standard, with private bathrooms and heating.

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Suite Domes

A luxurious space featuring a low emission wood burning stoves for heating and private bathrooms.

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Loft Dome

The best option for families, these two-storey domes feature private bathrooms and private terraces.

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Yoga Dome

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Community Domes

The heart of the Camp, these four connected domes comprise the Dining Domes, Bar Dome, Reading area and patio.

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What To Do

Trekking, puma tracking, horseriding, photography, kayaking … the list is endless.  All you need is an open mind and a thirst for adventure.

How to Book:

Check out their webpage here

Instagram here

Twitter here

Facebook here

YouTube here

Patagonia Magic

At the risk of sounding cliche, Patagonia is magic. Where else can you see skies this vast, glaciers this ancient, wildlife this stunning or a mountain vista so dripping in otherworldly power that it transfixes you and makes it impossible to look away?  Eyes just are not big enough to fully appreciate the spellbinding qualities of this isolated, wild spot hanging off the edge of the world at the bottom of Chile and Argentina.

 

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Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

Just getting here to Torres del Paine National Park has been a mission. A three hour flight to Punta Arenas followed by a five hour transfer – while comfortable – takes dedication. Perhaps this is a good thing, as the park already sees traffic of some 250,000 people each year and trail erosion, habitat destruction, waste and water contamination have been some of the tourist residue affecting the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  

 

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Guanaco. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

Tourism in the area is a contentious topic, with local economies thriving (including that of Chile – Torres del Paine is the country’s number one attraction), but the reality is that park visitors have dramatically affected the park´s landscape.  Three devastating fires over the last thirteen years have destroyed 1/5th of its total area, an area that the critically endangered huemul (South Andean Deer), puma (mountain lion), guanaco (a type of camelid), skunk, along with 23 other mammals, 118 bird species (like the comical rhea), and a wealth of fauna types all call home.

 

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Black Faced Ibis. Photo: Cascada Expediciones.

 

The park itself is a fragile ecosystem, battered by 80km/h winds and 1000-3000 mm annual rainfall and freezing winter temperatures. There are four distinct areas: Patagonian Steppe, Pre-Andean Shrubland, Magellanic Deciduous Forest, and Andean Desert, as well as unique wetlands of the type found nowhere else in the world.

 

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Andean condor. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

The park´s most famous sight, the Paine motif, are granite towers formed from 13 million-year-old magma and glacial forces. The Cordillera del Paine mountains are sliced by valleys such as the Valley of Frances, and forests of lenga beech, pumilio and scrub.

 

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Torres del Paine valley. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

It was originally settled by the Kaweskar, a nomadic people who occupied all of Western Patagonia for 6000 years, who originally built dome-shaped movable houses that allowed the volatiles winds to slide off. Inside, they would gather around a central fire whose smoke would disperse through a hole in the roof. They had a rich language with different dialects and a strong preference for storytelling, and they lived in small family-based groups. They hunted deer, scrounged for eggs, and used canoes to hunt for sea lions and otters, among other things.  In 1959 NASA was interested in developing a way for their astronauts to survive if they crashed on a frozen planet, and made some studies on the Kaweskars ability to withstand Patagonia´s extreme cold. They discovered that the human body is able to withstand and adapt to various conditions, such as in the case of the Kaweskar. Unfortunately, there are only 5 Kaweskar left that still speak the language and follow the culture, living in the small fishing community of Puerto Eden.

 

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The Kaweskar.  Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

While there are various trekking outlets and hotels (mostly owned by Kusanovic family), given the many issues that face the park it makes sense to opt for a business that has sustainability at its heart.  Enter EcoCamp Patagonia, an award-winning hotel/glamping hybrid situated in the Torres del Paine park itself Based on the original dwellings of the kaweskar, their domes were the first of their kind in the world, in 1991 setting off the wave of geodesic accommodation that can now be found worldwide.  The camp is also fully sustainable, attaining the fist ISO14001 certification in Chile (and the only in Patagonia) and follows this eco philosophy across every aspect of its function. It has composting toilets and a full recycling program (it sorts its waste all the way in Punta Arenas and sometimes in Puerto Montt), and sources 98% of its energy from solar and hydro sources (it is registered carbon neutral).  So-called ¨black water¨ from toilets are treated to become compost, while the ¨gray water is filtered and used again. Refrigerators are the Camp´s biggest energy sucker, and so to keep their environmental impact low they forbid the use of electrical appliances such as hairdryers and heaters. The domes were built on wooden platforms to make for easy dismantle and contain no concrete – even the walkways are raised.

 

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EcoCamp Patagonia. Photo: EcoCamp Patagonia

 

There are 33 domes, the cheapest being the Standard which makes for the deepest immersion into the park´s nature. These rooms have no electricity and rely entirely on the patterns of the sun for light (bring a torch if you plan on some night-time reading!), created with the intention to keep the guest as in-tune with nature as possible.  The Superior domes are larger and have heating, while the Suites are créme de la créme, perfect for relaxing after a long trek.

 

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EcoCamp also promotes inclusive travel.  Photo: Cascada Expediciones.

 

In terms of outdoor activities, Torres del Paine is one of the most beautiful spots in the world to interact with nature. From EcoCamp you can track wild horses or pumas, take a photography tour, trek the famous ´W´ or ´O´ circuit, or go for longer, more intense programmes that include sea kayaking, mountain climbing; they also promote all-inclusive travel, with special assistance for blind or wheelchair-bound guests.

 

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Puma. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

These are the kind of trips that happen once in a lifetime. That´s why you should do it right, go for sustainability and quality over price, and see it from the perspective not of a tourist, but as a human being, an Earth animal going back to its roots away from the trappings of wifi, social media and work stresses.

The Nitty Gritty

For more about composting toilets, read this.

For more about EcoCamp, visit here.

To watch a video about EcoCamp have a look here.

To see some of the amazing tours in Patagonia, take a look at this.

Did you like this post? Go on – give it a ´like´ and take a look at some of these other posts that might tickle your fancy:

Hotel and wine at Winebox Valparaiso;

Roadtrip to see the Flowering Desert and Bahia Inglesa;

Ghostown of Sewell;

World famous Alpaca Farm;

 

Karun: Leading Change in Fashion

From the wild open spaces to the starry sky, the snug fields of green tucked between snow-capped mountains and the raw expanse of open ocean, Chile has got to be one of the world´s most beautiful specimens of Planet Earth.  It seems only fitting, then, that it is also a country taking the business model and embedding it with an environmental conscience (as we have seen with TTANTI and Apicola del Alba).  This next business is one that is setting a new benchmark in the fashion world by merging concepts of sustainability and responsibility with quality eyewear in a way that is quite simply revolutionary. Enter Karun World, sunglasses and glasses made ´from a different point of view´ which I am so excited to feature on my blog because I love the concept, all that they stand for and the sunglasses themselves which are effortlessly stylish and unique.  Here are some reasons why they should be on your radar too.

They symbolize a new vision

The philosophy governing Karun is that their products form symbols of a new way of being; a new way of thinking of ourselves and how we view the world around us. As founder Thomas Kimber says, ¨it´s clear the world needs a big change. I don´t pretend to change the world by making sunglasses, but prove that we are able to make the best products in a completely different way that respects the planet¨.  They follow a circular and regenerative model, aiming to prove that it is possible to manufacture products that are high in quality and that have a lower impact upon the environment than the usual extractive methods that define the norm. They also see themselves as much than just a company, in fact their Kickstarter page states ¨ Everything we do is a reflection of the dream of a great group of people sharing similar values and way of life. We are working as hard as we can to prove through example that we can change the way we interact with ourselves and our planet¨.

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Photo: Karun

They look to nature for inspiration

Karun is inspired by the wilds of Patagonia and means ´to be nature´ in Mapundungun, the common language spoken by the Mapuche indigenous people. This rugged landscape at the southern end of Chile is a place known for its beauty and raw energy, and this is channelled into the designs.  They don´t focus upon inventing new things, instead they look to nature to inspire them.

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Photo: Karun

They are revolutionizing eyewear

Karun is a Chilean business that is revolutionary. Their first collection (Wood) used fallen trees in Patagonia, carefully selecting them rather than cutting any down, to create unique eyewear that embraced the differences found in each specimen.  After this they teamed up Bureo, a company creating skateboards made from recycled fishing nets sourced from Chile, to make the first glasses in the world made from 100% recycled fishing nets using recycling programme Net Positiva.  Discarded fishing nets cause around 10% of plastic pollution in our oceans and cause major damage to sea ecosystems and marine creatures. Net Positiva was developed by Bureo and launched in Chile in 2014, where it collected some 3000kg of discarded fishing nets in just six months.  Net Positiva works across the USA and Chile to clean up coastlines, and are engaged with various non-profits that remove ocean pollution.

Now Karun bring you The Clothing Collection.  This collection highlights the issue of waste in the fashion industry, where items are mass produced and quickly discarded by consumers.  Jeans are some of the contaminating, with around 3 billion pairs produced annually, of which 80% then end up in landfills.  From there greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are released which cause considerable damage to our soils and water.  The Clothing Collection is the world´s first eyewear made using recycled jeans, combining 75% recycled jeans and 25% bio-resin.  Karun have partnered with Balloon Latam, where a portion of sales from each pair of sunglasses goes towards entrepreneurs in the Llanquihue Lake region of Chile.  Balloon Latam works across Latin America to help develop local economies in a way that is respectful of each community´s identity, cultural conditions and productive possibilities. The designs in this collection are influenced by native Chilean birds such as the Chucao, which is native to the south and known for its emblematic sound, the red-breasted Loica (Long-Tailed Meadowlark) and the crested Kuru, or Magellanic Woodpecker.  Karun has been lauded everywhere, from Cosmopolitan to CNN and GQ.

 

Their eyewear is special

The materials are 100% Chilean and designed in Chile, and are put together using the finest technology in Italy.  The sunglasses use Zeiss official lenses which offer complete protection from UVA/UVB rays, and are available in either grey or amber, or as optical lenses. They contain German stainless steel spring hinges and have no added chemicals. The current collection come with a hardcase container made from jeans and fully recycled cardboard packaging.

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How You Can Get a Pair

Karun are currently seeking funding via Kickstarter, a global crowdfunding platform that got their other designs off the ground.  The campaign ends in late July, and the first 500 models will be completed by August.  In October all the models will have been completed to be delivered by November.

During the campaign, the glasses have a price of USD$149 which is 40% less than their actual retail price so get in there quick to take advantage!

 

 

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More Information

Website here

Facebook here 

Instagram here

Kickstarter campaign here


If you liked this, you might like to support one of these other amazing small businesses:

TTANTI watches made from fallen Patagonian trees;

Pajarito de Mimbre books & toys;

Apicola del Alba natural cosmetics.

 

TTANTI: Fine Watches Made in (and of) Chile

¨We believe that a watch should not only display a point of time as measured in hours and minutes; but should be a constant reminder that time is passing, that we must appreciate every moment that ticks by.¨

– Sarah Goldsmith, TTANTI

Over the years I have become really passionate about Chile.  Knowing its quirks, its people and flora and fauna, and giving my support to the #hechoenchile movement that is finding its stride with leaps and bounds recently. I also want to encourage the support of small businesses, often born of as much love and passion as hard work and stress to get a simple dream off the ground. I believe TTANTI, a small business that has appreciation for Chile at its heart as well as a focus upon sustainability, is the epitome of all these things, creating beautiful timepieces that represent not only the passing of time but a respect for life, and each one contains Patagonian materials. Wearing TTANTI, then, means you are keeping a small piece of Chile at your side throughout life´s moments.  Here is my interview with Sarah Goldsmith, an expat from the United States who is the Director of Communication and Sales for TTANTI.

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Who is TTANTI and how did the store begin?

TTANTI was founded in 2014, but really started to grow in 2016. Our team is lead by the founder, Angel Andraca. Angel is a native Chilean and wanted to combine his love of minimalist design with the spirit of Patagonia and the long tradition of Swiss watchmaking. Designer Rodrigo Bravo brought together the concept in a striking and harmonious way that gives respect to the traditions of Patagonia, while showcasing a modern aesthetic. Our Chilean team is rounded out by Sarah Goldsmith (me), Felipe Rioja, Carlos Bravo, and Mathilde Pfeiffer. Our European team includes Patrizia Vogl, Guillaume Vaslin and Steven Fantina.

 

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TTANTI is inspired by the raw and rugged beauty of Patagonia.  The watch featured is the Darwin Black, made with Aromo Criollo wood, a tree known for its beautiful flowers.            Photo: TTANTI

What is the motivation behind TTANTI?

TTANTI was born out of a respect for the noble materials of Patagonia and the spirit they encompass, as well as the centuries old tradition of Swiss watch making. Combined into one timepiece by the patient and passionate work of Swiss and Chilean craftsmen, we seek to transmit our beliefs to our customers. We believe that a watch should not only display a point of time as measured in hours and minutes; but should be a constant reminder that time is passing, that we must appreciate every moment that ticks by.

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Watch in Darwin White. Photo TTANTI

What makes a TTANTI watch unique?

TTANTI has its roots in a land where local traditions and foreign wanderers coexist, and our commitment to that land sets us apart. Protection of this land, responsible use of its materials and preservation for years to come is at the forefront of all we do. We use only previously fallen trees and are proudly certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for the responsible use of native forests. Our leather straps are cut from scrap material would otherwise go to the landfill. We package in recycled materials, maintain a wholly online/virtual workplace and strive to take any steps necessary to reduce our impact on the environment.
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The watches are all assembled in Santiago. Photo: TTANTI
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Photo: TTANTI

Who designs the watches and what are they inspired by?

Our designer Rodrigo Bravo seeks innovation through simplicity and functionality. He creates unique objects and solutions through a methodology that is born from the study and rescue of traditional carpentry techniques with the most advanced technologies. Rodrigo merged our inspiration with his detailed study and knowledge of functionality to create our strikingly and simple design.  Although typically worn by men, and designed with a man’s wrist in mind, they’re popular with men and women alike! I am a woman and wear a TTANTI every day. I love the elegant but relaxed look it brings to my outfits, and love the connection with Chile it brings me.

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The watches are suitable for men and women.  This watch is the Magallanes White.                    Photo: TTANTI
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Watch in Darwin White, the TTANTI bestseller!                                                        Photo: TTANTI

How are the watches made?

The process to create a TTANTI involves the combined efforts of dedicated and passionate craftsmen from Patagonia, Santiago and Switzerland. After our timepieces are painstakingly assembled in Switzerland to exact specifications, we bring them to our workshop in Santiago. We then hand assemble the watches with the laser cut and hand polished wooden rings and hand cut and sewn leather straps from Patagonia.

 

How should we care for a TTANTI timepiece?

Your TTANTI is a work of art, and should be treated as such. Our wood has been rigorously tested for durability, but should be treated with care – it is in fact an antique in the making. Just like your grandmother’s oak dining table will sustain scars and memories from life, so too will your TTANTI. This is the natural aging process of wood. Specific care instructions for your TTANTI can be found on our blog.

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The Chatwin White, made from Patagonian Oak, a tree which grows some 50m high.             Photo: TTANTI

What does TTANTI mean?

TTANTI means “seed” in the Kunza, a nearly extinct native language from the north of Chile. We want to plant an emotion that evokes the philosophy we deliver and in order to give tribute to the ancient cultures of our country.

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Magallanes with a Darwin strap.   You can request your strap combinations. Photo: TTANTI

How have the watches been received?

Reception has been really promising. We’re growing slowly but surely, and every sale is a celebration for our team! We all truly believe in what we’re doing and love seeing our work appreciated.

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Darwin White watch.  Photo: TTANTI

What is next for TTANTI?

We want to bring the wild, wonderful nature of Chile to our customers. We want to transmit the beliefs and traditions of our beautiful country, from north to south, to our customers. Eventually we would like to expand our product line to include trees and leathers from the other regions of Chile, though that might be a little further out.

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Magallanes White, made using Lenga wood made from the trees native to Andine and Patagonian forests.  Photo: TTANTI

Do you have a special offer for my amazing readers?

Yes! We are offering Querida Recoleta readers a 10% discount off of our products with the code queridarecoleta07

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More Information

Website here

Instagram here

Facebook here

The names behind the watches:

Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), also known as Hernando de Magallanes, was a Portuguese explorer who led the first European voyage to circumnavigate the globe,, while searching for the Spice Islands. He found the route through South America to the Pacific, known today as the Strait of Magellan (estrecho de magallanes).

Charles Darwin (1809-1882), who needs no introduction, traveled the globe on a scientific expedition aboard the Beagle. He explored Chile from Tierra del Fuego to Copiapo; controversially, he is believed to have used the indigenous people he met in Patagonia as an example of his theory of evolution.

Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989was a travel writer from England who wrote In Patagonia (1977), a book which revolutionized travel writing and drew the world´s gaze to the southernmost areas of Chile and Argentina.

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Photo: TTANTI

If you liked this, check out some other small businesses you can support:

Pajarito de Mimbre: Children´s Books + Toys

Padre Nuestro: Traditional Shoemaking

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