Sustainable Travel: Travel Trends | 2020 Vision

Top 5 Sustainable Travel Experiences for 2020

Responsible and unforgettable – the most sustainable travel experiences for 2020 are set to revolutionise the tourism scene in Latin America and the Polar regions.

Finding unique and rewarding ways to travel more sustainably in 2020 is the goal of so many adventurers heading to Latin America and the Polar regions. As part of our own sustainable and responsible vision for the new year, we’ve been scouring the continent(s) and highlighting our favourite lodges, expedition ships and experiences that showcase outstanding environmental and cultural initiatives.

Yes, we are all addicted to travel but, more importantly, we are addicted to feeling good about our travels. We want our visits and experiences to be as rewarding for the destination as for ourselves – knowing we help protect, nurture and sustain fragile ecosystems and endangered communities whilst simultaneously bringing their plight into the open, is perhaps the most rewarding part of responsible travel.

Ready to do some good on your travels in 2020? Here are Chimu’s 5 top sustainable travel experiences in Latin America and Antarctica.

1. EcoCamp, PATAGONIA – Lodging & activities

Sustainable Travel - EcoCamp Patagonia
Ecocamp in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia. Photo: Shutterstock

The sustainability factor

An exceptional lodge nestled in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park, EcoCamp is the brainchild of Chilean engineers and the first dome hotel ever built, anywhere. The camp takes advantage of renewable sources to satisfy its energy needs (using a mix of solar panels and hydro turbines), supports nearby farming communities by only buying local and sustainable food and utilises their services for guest’s activities (like horseback riding). Offering educational as well as active experiences for its guests, EcoCamp emphasizes the history of the indigenous communities who’ve been living in the region for hundreds of years, as well as the importance of local farming practices which have enabled the park’s flora and fauna to thrive.

The location

Torres del Paine is considered the crown jewel of Patagonia, a biodiverse reserve home to a stunning array of unique wildlife (the guanaco is its poster-child), glaciers that are part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, iceberg-brimming lakes, raging rivers, prime forests and those jaw-dropping granite towers that have lent the park its name. The hiking headquarters of the south and UNESCO-listed since 1978, Torres is not only the most popular adventure destination in Patagonia but is, without a doubt, one of the most magnificent national parks in the world.

The guest experience

There’s no denying that the EcoCamp’s sustainable domes are dreamy beyond words, each one equipped with its own wood stove (local dead wood is used) and oversized skylights that allow for natural light and heat to penetrate. This brings you Torres up close and personal and allows you the honour of immersing yourself in its wilderness whilst enjoying gorgeous comforts. You can spend your days exploring the park on foot and horseback, enjoy thrilling multi-sport excursions and, by night, socialise in the community dome and share the day’s wildlife encounters with like-minded explorers. With five dome-styles to choose and a very earthy ambience to enjoy, EcoCamp is your 100% sustainable, 100% unforgettable way to soak up the magic of Patagonia.

Experience EcoCamp with Chimu – Our adventure-filled Torres del Paine Discovery includes a 3-night stay at this sensational camp

2. The Ocean Endeavour, ANTARCTICA – Expedition cruise ship

The Ocean Endeavour sailing past penguins in Antarctica

The sustainability factor

Intent to double-offset the carbon emission for each of its departures from the beginning of the 2020 Antarctic cruising season, the Ocean Endeavour works in conjunction with reforestation initiatives in Southeast Asia, primarily, as well as turbine-generating electricity initiatives in Turkey. Moreover, its inherent design is beneficial to responsible travel in the Polar regions. Carrying only 200 passengers, the OE expedition ship causes minimal disruption to local environments and port communities when compared with megaliners which can carry up to 25 times as many visitors. The ship uses no single-use plastic, hands out one reusable dink bottle per passenger and serves meals created from ingredients which have been sustainably and locally sourced (among several other initiatives). Responsible tourism in the Polar regions is a complex issue yet scientists agree: as long as it’s done sustainably, tourism can be a great beacon for climate-change awareness, something both Antarctica and the Arctic desperately need.

The location

Antarctica is often dubbed the world’s final frontier for more than just its extreme geographical location. A pristine continent at increasing environmental threat (yet one which can’t benefit from a local population who cares) Antarctica is home to some of the most magnificent wildlife on earth. From King and Emperor penguins to seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins and millions of migratory birds, this land of frozen white horizons is perhaps the most fascinating travel destinations on earth. For wildlife lovers and nature enthusiasts, Antarctica is unsurpassed.

The guest experience

Coming nose to beak with penguins is a dream experience of its own accord, let alone when you can soak up the spectacle of Antarctica as well. On an expedition cruise to the south, you’ll feel utterly removed from the modern world, at one with pristine nature and transformed by the experience. On the Ocean Endeavour, you’ll have a team of experts at your service, ready to guide and educate you on all things Antarctica. Lecture and presentations are given nightly and, by day, you’ll be offered a host of unique activities like kayaking among icebergs, snow shoeing, hiking and even camping.

Sail to Antarctica on Chimu’s Ocean Endeavour – We’ve taken over (the ship, that is!) and we’re taking this incredible dame of the seas to Antarctica and the Arctic in 2020. See all the stellar Ocean Endeavour expedition cruises scheduled for next year

3. Rainforest Expeditions, PERUVIAN AMAZON – Lodging & activities

Sustainable Travel - Posada Amazonas lodge
Posada Amazonas lodge. Photo: Rainforest Expeditions

The sustainability factor

Rainforest Expeditions run three distinct eco-lodges in the Tambopata National Park, each one emphasizing immersive and educational experiences in the Amazon, as well as cultural exchanges with at-risk indigenous communities. Operational since 1989, RE is a Peruvian initiative part-owned by local communities, whose main aim is to help preserve not only the priceless wilderness and wildlife, but also their traditional and ancestral way of life. This is an astonishing place for families to visit. At Chimu Adventures, we are passionate travel agents and even more passionate parents – we’ve taken our families to Tambopata with Rainforest Expeditions to have the enlightening adventure of a lifetime and feel that our children gained a much deeper understanding of the importance of the Amazon. This is something we are striving to share with fellow conscientious travel families. As such, we’ve teamed up with RE to offer children under 12 a free stay when they visit with their families. The offer is available until March, 2020.

The location

Tambopata boasts the highest concentration of butterflies and birds on earth (for relative size) and is famous for hosting the world’s largest macaw clay licks, among its mind-boggling biodiversity. Comprising eight distinct forests, Tambopata is home to a cache of Amazonian wildlife (including a dozen endangered species, among them giant otters, ocelots, jaguars and giant armadillos) and indigenous tribes still enjoying a subsistent lifestyle.

The guest experience

The park is revered for offering the widest array of Amazonian activities of all the reserves and, in particular, for being so family-friendly. Every single lodge run by RE is unique yet what they all have in common is that they offer interactive experiences in one of the most pivotal environments on earth. Trained guides lead groups on excursions that incorporate wildlife-watching and ancient cultural traditions, infusing nature, animals and people to bring the history of the Amazon to life – all the while providing direct financial support to the very communities we all come to visit.

Visit the Amazon with Chimu – Our unique packages offer something for everyone: see our Refugio Amazonas and Posadas Amazonas experiences.

4. Tierra Atacama, Atacama Desert, CHILE – Lodging & activities

Sustainable travel - Tierra Atacama
Tierra Atacama, Chile. Photo: Tierra Atacama

The sustainability factor

Tierra Atacama is 100% reliant on renewable energy (and was actually the first hotel in the continent to produce solar-powered electricity), sources and treats water from its own well and has, over the course of two decades, restored an impressive biodiversity to its six hectares of land, part of its ambitious plan is to plant one million trees in Chile. Combining forces with a local technical institute, Tierra also trains and employs the next generation of local experts in the agricultural, electrical and tourism sectors. Being considered the flag-bearer for renewable energy in the South American tourism world, Tierra is one of the most respected and revered lodges in the entire continent.

The location

The driest desert in the world is an ethereal destination for those who love to be overwhelmed by raw nature. Renowned as one of the world’s prime stargazing spots, where skies are consistently crystal-clear and stars blindingly bright, the Atacama stretches for more than 1,000km along the narrow coast of Chile. On the west, it tumbles dramatically into the Pacific and, on the east, it is framed by snow-capped Andean peaks. The ground is salt-drenched and crumbles under your feet, the sand-dunes are steep and outrageously beautiful and, among geysers, salt lakes and red-hued horizons, you’ll discover a landscape that is aesthetically (and geologically) reminiscent of Mars. There’s simply no other place like it on our planet.

The guest experience

Tierra has taken an already-breathtaking experience and turned it on its head. Offering 5* luxuries in what is arguably one of the harshest yet most mesmerizing environments on earth, Tierra Atacama includes biking, hiking and horseback riding excursions for its guests, guiding them on personalised adventures that showcase every aspect of this startling desert.

Chimu’s sustainable experiences with Tierra – The Tierra group operates three outstanding, sustainable lodges in South America. Alongside the Atacama, you can also experience two distinct destinations in Patagonia by staying at the Tierra Chiloe Adventure and Tierra Patagonia, the latter overlooking the breath-taking peaks of Torres del Paine

5. Manatee Amazon Explorer – Amazon River Cruise, ECUADOR

Sustainable Travel - Manatee Amazon Exporer
Manatee Amazon Explorer

The sustainability factor

Certified by the esteemed Rainforest Alliance for its sustainability efforts, the Manatee Amazon Explorer takes the gentlest of approaches when exploring the fragile ecosystem of the Amazon rainforest. The ship is only two years old and was built with sustainability and responsibility in mind, specifically to leave the lightest of footprint possible as it navigates the Amazon’s river systems. The Manatee also engages and cooperates with local indigenous communities to guarantee beneficial and responsible cultural exchanges and donates parts of its yearly profits to local community initiatives. This small, state-of-the-art ship guides 30 guests and 10 dedicated crew members on the remote adventure of a lifetime, utilising both dugout and motorised canoes to bring guests ashore, offering comprehensive and rewarding experiences.

The location

The Manatee Explorer cruises the most unspoiled areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon, home to an extensive array of unique wildlife including the endangered manatee and pink river dolphins. Cruises depart from the Amazonian town of Coca, reached via short-flight and motorized canoe ride directly from the capital, Quito. The small jungle town sits at the confluence of two great rivers (the Coca and the Napo) and is the best gateway to explore the most isolated regions of the Amazon Basin in Ecuador. An absolute highlight in this region that the Manatee visits is the Yasuni National Park (right on the border with Peru), home to millions of flora and fauna species and may just be one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

The guest experience

The Manatee offers a very intimate cruising experience, precisely what everyone dreams when visiting the Amazon. The oversized floor-to-ceiling windows are genius for landscape viewing and animal-spotting and the ship’s compact size also means you can travel deeper in the rainforest than you otherwise would, either on a larger vessel or by staying in a land-based lodge. Being able to explore the remotest nooks of this treasure-trove of nature, yet having luxurious comforts, is ideal for those who are somewhat hesitant to go ‘wild’ in the Amazon. Three decks and four open terraces means you are literally immersed in the Amazonian wilderness. The cuisine is amazing, service outstanding and whole experience an unparalleled South American highlight.

Come cruise the Amazon with Chimu – See our 4-day Manatee Amazon Explorer cruise

Sustainable and responsible travel is at the core of what we do here, at Chimu Adventures. We believe that tourism can have a positive effect on every single destination we visit, as long as it’s done right. That’s why we’ve teamed up with like-minded companies who feel as passionately about this as we do. And that’s why we give back as much as we soak up. For a sustainable and enticing travel experience in 2020, trust us to do your Latin America, Antarctica and the Arctic travel vision justice.

Contact us to know more.

Author: Laura Pattara

“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”