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Overseas travel might not be recommended yet this summer, so we wanted to take you on a journey to the end of the world: The Argentinian Patagonia. The Argentinian Patagonia covers roughly 400.000 square miles (almost two times the size of the UK), and it starts south of the province of Rio Negro. Its territory is divided in five provinces, all the way from the Lake District in Rio Negro, passing through the the Glaciers National Park, down to the globe’s southernmost city, Tierra del Fuego (And that is where we want to start our journey today).
We will start our digital voyage in the end of the world, Tierra del Fuego, jumping-off point for Antarctic cruises and crab fishing expeditions; all the way up until Bariloche, recognized for its cuisine, vibrant city and architecture. The Argentinian Patagonia is a nature lover’s dream, and in hopes to preserving its magic and be respectful of the communities living there, we spoke with Virginia, Andrea and Agustina from Mater, a sustainable travel company with base in Buenos Aires, who helped us recreate a journey through the majestic End of the World.
“Sustainable tourism is not a classification. Rather, it is a way of traveling, it is to take, to broaden awareness in the environmental, social, cultural and economic aspects, which would be the three axes of sustainability.” Virginia Landetcheverry said, founder of Mater Tourism. By taking this three axes of sustainability in mind, we will start our digital expedition.
We start from the end: the world’s southernmost city. Ushuaia is located between the Andes and the Chilean border. Windy, hard, and beautiful, Ushuaia is the perfect window to admire nature; and get a one-in-a-lifetime adventure. Between the sustainable adventures suggested, there was the possibility to accompany locals while crab fishing, boat expeditions to the Beagle canal, that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean; and visits to “Estancias” (farms) to see the work of native communities.
Calafate is the meeting point for all those tourists that want to visit the National Glaciers Park, house of the Perito Moreno Glacier, a 60km tall Glacier. Deserted roads, visits to local fincas to eat with the locals and learn from their work, and day trips the Cueva de las manos (Cave of Hands), a Unesco-listed cave with handprints made 9000 years ago by ancient people; are among the sustainable activities available. Walks over the Perito Moreno Glacier are also an option for those craving for adventures.
Video: Expedition "Glaciar Sur Aventura" (Glaciar south adventure) | Courtesy of Mater
Los Antiguos is a small town located at the shores of Lake Buenos Aires, a Shared Lake between Chile and Argentina. (Extra info: in Chile’s side it is called General Carrera Lake). This picturesque town is famous for its orchards of cherries, strawberries and apples, according to the season. Unique In the world, in the Lake Buenos Aires, people can see the Marble Cathedrals, nature wonders not to miss. Close by, in the Parque Nacional Patagonia, rescuers are working on the refaunization of local endangered species, such as the Yaguareté.
Landscapes, Patagonian forest, river, volcanoes…Bariloche is located in the province of Rio Negro (remember? Where Patagionia starts), at the foot of Lake Nahuel Huapi. The city is famous for its German and Swiss colonies, whose influx can be seen in the cuisine, the many chocolate factories, and breweries, that make Bariloche a wonderful destination in the start of the End of the World. Outside the touristic sphere, the sustainable tourist can enjoy day trips to native communities, and learn more about the local traditions.
Virginia said, and we could not agree more. We stated it before in a previous article: the impact that the tourism industry has on the environment is worrisome; and we as travelers must address it, looking for ways to offset as much as possible our carbon footprint. But what many times flies under the radar is the fact that Tourism is transversal to many aspects of life; and to many people and communities. In order to extrapolate sustainability into the tourism industry, we must work with the communities involved. Respect local communities, respect their work and their traditions.
Respect for local communities that put their hard work, and many times live off the tourism industry that takes place in many towns in Patagonia and all around the world, must come from acknowledging their value. The time they put to create the goods and clothing they produce and sale, added to the sustainable materials employed in their production must be translated into the value that we as tourist are willing to give them. Sustainability, as Virgina said, is all about luxury; and what can be more luxurious than a hand made sustainable garment or piece made from local artisans?
+ Words: Leila Salinas, Luxiders Magazine
Journalist | Berlin-based
Connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram (@leisalinas)