13 consigli per essere un viaggiatore più sostenibile

Una breve guida alla sostenibilità se vuoi viaggiare per il mondo in modo responsabile

Una breve guida alla sostenibilità se vuoi viaggiare per il mondo in modo responsabile

Poiché viaggiare diventa sempre più accessibile, viaggiare in modo responsabile non è mai stato così importante. A causa dell’attuale pandemia, al momento non è possibile viaggiare tanto quanto vorremmo noi, e molte persone non vedono l’ora di tornare alla “normalità” per poter visitare posti nuovi. In questo contesto, è importante capire e prepararsi ad essere più sostenibili quando si viaggia, per quando le frontiere si riapriranno.

Lavorare nel campo della comunicazione ambientale ed essere un amante dei viaggi non è sempre facile. Da un lato amo l’idea di viaggiare in posti nuovi e scoprire ogni angolo del mondo, ma dall’altro, la maggior parte delle volte mi sento in colpa per l’impatto ambientale che questo potrebbe avere.

Essere sostenibili al 100% quando si viaggia potrebbe non essere sempre possibile, basti pensare alle emissioni di carbonio che derivano dal volo! Ma ci sono alcuni cose che possiamo fare per diventare un viaggiatore più responsabile. Ma cosa significa “essere responsabile”?

Una persona che fa snorkeling

Per me essere sostenibile significa fare del mio meglio per lasciare un posto migliore di come l’ho trovato, assicurandomi che non solo la mia visita non causi alcun danno sia all’ambiente che alla comunità locale, ma anche, quando possibile, che abbia un impatto positivo e porti anche supporto alla comunità . Significa anche fare tutto il possibile per ridurre la mia impronta ecologica. Quindi essere un turista responsabile significa fare scelte responsabili sia a livello ambientale che comunitario.

Grazie mio lavoro nell’area della sostenibilità, ho la possibilità di imparare costantemente nuovi modi per essere sostenibile nella mia vita di tutti i giorni, quindi ho deciso di applicare questi suggerimenti ai viaggi e ho creato un elenco di 13 modi per diventare più sostenibile quando si e’ in giro per il mondo, che spero possano esserti utili se, come me, stai cercando di fare la tua parte per il pianeta.

1.Volare “in modo sostenibile”

Partiamo subito dal problema più grosso! Usare gli aerei per spostarsi non può mai essere sostenibile al 100%, quindi quando il tempo e il budget lo consentono, è sempre possibile scegliere mezzi di trasporto alternativi, come i treni.

Tuttavia, ci sono alcune località che possiamo raggiungere solo volando. Quindi, quando prenotiamo un volo, dovremmo sempre assicurarci di controllare le aziende che hanno emissioni inferiori o le aziende che hanno un budget stabilito per le iniziative di compensazione delle emissioni.

Quando possibile, prenota voli diretti e viaggia anche il più leggero possibile per ridurre il peso dell’aereo e risparmiare carburante (il che significa anche che risparmierai sul costo del bagaglio extra!)

Foto di Benjamin Suter su Pexels.com

Viaggiare in classe economica ridurrà anche le emissioni. C’è uno studio della Banca Mondiale che mostra come volare in prima classe crei fino a cinque volte le emissioni di carbonio a persona rispetto al volo in economy.

Infine, quando possibile, puoi anche scegliere di atterrare o partire da un aeroporto che sta facendo di tutto per essere più verde. Vivendo in Irlanda, uso molto l’aeroporto di Dublino e, negli ultimi anni, ho notato alcuni cambiamenti positivi che mi hanno fatto venire voglia di approfondire questa questione. Ad esempio, hanno installato distributori d’acqua in tutto l’aeroporto per consentire alle persone di riempire la propria borraccia e nella maggior parte dei bar hanno sostituito bottiglie d’acqua di plastica con lattine di alluminio. Dopo aver fatto una veloce ricerca, ho scoperto che negli ultimi 10 anni hanno ridotto il consumo di energia del 33%, utilizzano energia sostenibile, hanno ridotto le emissioni dei veicoli della flotta e hanno molte altre iniziative ecologiche, quindi l’aeroporto di Dublino ha raggiunto un stato di Carbon Neutrality da Airport Carbon Accreditation dell’ACI (Airport Council International) nel 2019.

Ma proprio come l’aeroporto di Dublino, molti aeroporti in tutto il mondo stanno diventando verdi. Ecco un link agli aeroporti più ecologici del  mondo !

2. Scegli una sistemazione ecologica

Dove alloggiare è anche molto importante se vogliamo viaggiare in maniera “green”. Ci sono così tante cose da tenere a mente per stabilire se il tuo alloggio è sostenibile, dell’energia che usano, alla gestione dei rifiuti, da dove prendono l’acqua, in che modo contribuiscono allo sviluppo della loro comunità locale e altro ancora. Visto che l’argomento della sostenibilità sta attirando sempre più attenzione, la maggior parte degli alloggi ha una sezione dedicata a questo sul proprio sito web, quindi assicurati di darci un’occhiata.

Nelle prossime settimane, condividerò un post completo su come scegliere una sistemazione sostenibile con molti suggerimenti, ma nel frattempo, ecco un trucco interessante che ho scoperto di recente. Booking.com ha una nuova sezione (molto ben nascosta) sulle iniziative sostenibili, che puoi vedere scorrendo fino in fondo la pagina. In questa sezione, troverai tutte le informazioni sulle iniziative sostenibili dell’hotel o ostello che stai guardando, oltre che se hanno una certificazione ufficiale di sostenibilità.

3. Scegli un’agenzia di viaggi responsabile

Anche se, come me, preferisci viaggiare in modo indipendente, ci sono sempre occasioni in cui non puoi evitare di rivolgerti a un’agenzia di viaggi e, in questo caso, è importante sceglierne una responsabile. Un operatore di viaggio responsabile è colui che si impegna a supportare la comunità locale e ridurre al minimo l’impatto che hanno sul pianeta.

Un’agenzia di viaggi responsabile sostiene la comunità locale, invece di danneggiarla, e adotta misure per ridurre al minimo il proprio impatto ambientale, ad esempio fornendo alternative alla plastica durante il proprio tour o cercando di ridurre al minimo gli sprechi. Tra le altre cose, aziende sostenibili sostengono le eco-sistemazioni ed evitano le attrazioni che comportano lo sfruttamento degli animali.

In uno dei miei post precedenti, ho condiviso sei consigli per scegliere un’agenzia di viaggi responsabile , l’hai letto?

Due persone in una jeep

4. Basta plastica monouso!

Questa è una cosa così facile da fare, quindi niente scuse qui! Prima di partire, metti in valigia i tuoi “reusable essentials”, come una tazza, una bottiglia e un tupperware per il pranzo, per evitare la plastica monouso. In alcuni luoghi non è sicuro bere l’acqua del rubinetto, ma dove lo è, assicurati di usare la tua bottiglia da riempire.

Se ormai sei un esperto e fai gia tutte queste cose, perché non passare al livello successivo? Passa a saponi e cosmetici solidi e prodotti prodotti per l’igiene personale riutilizzabili, come dischetti e assorbenti di cotone lavabili.

Se stai cercando motivazione sul motivo per cui dovresti passare ai cosmetici solidi, fai clic qui: 5 motivi per passare a prodotti da bagno solidi quando si viaggia

5. Scegli la crema solare giusta

Tra le cose che possono rovinare una vacanza c’è una brutta scottatura solare. Quindi usare la protezione solare è importante per proteggersi. Tuttavia, non tutti i filtri solari sono uguali e alcuni contengono alcuni ingredienti, come l’oxybenzone e l’ottinoxato, che sono altamente tossici per la fauna marina e l’ambiente. È stato dimostrato che causano anche danni significativi alle barriere coralline, tanto che alcuni paesi, come le Hawaii, vogliono imporre un divieto su questi prodotti.

Ti stai chiedendo cosa cercare quando acquisti una crema solare ecologica? Cerca semplicemente di evitare quelli che contengono ingredienti come oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene e simili e opta per ingredienti che rispettano la barriera corallina come l’ossido di zinco non nano e il biossido di titanio non nano.

Una persona che nuota in mare al tramonto

6. Opta per un repellente per zanzare ecologico

Come per la protezione solare, il repellente per zanzare è una delle prime cose da portare con se quando si visitano alcune parti del mondo. Non tutti gli spray naturali contro le zanzare sul mercato sono effettivamente “verdi”, quindi assicurati di sceglierne uno che non sia dannoso per l’ambiente (e per te stesso).

Anche se potrebbe sembrare impossibile trovare un repellente che sia ecologico e funzioni, prova scegliere prodotti che contengono citronella, limone o eucalipto ed evita DEET a tutti i costi. Un’alternativa più sostenibile al DEET è la picaridina.

Inoltre, puoi optare per gli spray “a pompa”, poiché l’aerosol rilascia ulteriori sostanze chimiche dannose.

7. Porta con te solo ricordi

“Porta con te solo ricordi, non lasciare altro che impronte” è una frase che probabilmente avrai già sentito.

A volte amiamo così tanto un posto che vogliamo portare via con noi qualcosa che ci faccia ricordare per sempre la nostra esperienza. Quindi, quando fai un’escursione o cammini sulla spiaggia e prendi un sasso o qualche conchiglia, sembra qualcosa di così innocente e innocuo da fare … Dopotutto, è solo una conchiglia e ce ne sono molte in mare, vero?

Ma immagina se ogni persona che visita la spiaggia portasse via un paio di cose: questo avrebbe un enorme impatto sull’ecosistema, sull’ambiente e su tutta la fauna che fa affidamento su queste cose.

Viaggiare in modo sostenibile e assicurarsi che l’ambiente naturale sia preservato, è molto importante per consentire alle generazioni future di scoprire e godere della bellezza del nostro pianeta.

8. Raccogli i rifiuti

La prima regola per quando ti stai godendo la vita all’aria aperta, non solo in viaggio ma anche a casa, è di sbarazzarsi correttamente dei propri rifiuti. In realtà, la prima regola sarebbe quella di non creare rifiuti quando possibile, passando ai riutilizzabili e acquistando cibo sfuso. Tuttavia, se questo non è possibile, dobbiamo assicurarci di eliminarli in modo corretto.

A volte, durante un’escursione o in un luogo più remoto, potrebbe essere difficile trovare un bidone. O ancora, in luoghi molto affollati i bidoni potrebbero essere già pieni. Questa non è una scusa per inquinare o anche lasciare i propri rifiuti accanto ad un nbidone gia pieno (da qui poi potrebbero essere trasportati altrove da vento, pioggia, animali randagi, etc…). Quindi, porta sempre con te una busta, per assicurarti di poter portare a casa i tuoi rifiuti se necessario.

Raccogliere i rifiuti (non solo i tuoi, ma anche quelli lasciati da altre persone) è uno dei modi migliori per lasciare un posto meglio di come l’hai trovato.

Raccogliere i rifiuti è un ottimo modo per trascorrere del tempo all’aria aperta, fare esercizio, fare qualcosa per il pianeta e sentirsi bene! Per questo metto sempre nello zaino una borsa e un paio di guanti quando vado a fare una passeggiata, un’escursione o una nuotata.

9. Hai mai pensato al volontariato?

Come ho detto all’inizio, essere un turista responsabile per me significa portare qualcosa di positivo nel luogo che sto visitando. Soprattutto quando si viaggia per un periodo di tempo più lungo, il volontariato è il modo perfetto per fare qualcosa per la comunità locale, conoscere meglio la cultura e risparmiare!

In realtà, del periodo in cui ho viaggiato attraverso l’America Latina per un anno intero, le esperienze di volontariato che ho avuto sono alcuni dei miei ricordi più belli. Per trovarli, ho utilizzato principalmente Workaway.info. Mentre molti dei progetti su questa piattaforma consistono in aiuto negli ostelli in cambio di vitto e alloggio, puoi anche cercare progetti con il logo degli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile in alto, che sono “progetti sostenibili”. Quando fai clic su questi progetti, vedrai in quale dei 17 Obiettivi rientrano.

10. Sostieni le imprese locali

Sebbene la maggior parte dei punti in questo post riguardi la sostenibilità ambientale, essere un turista responsabile non significa solo proteggere l’ambiente naturale, ma anche supportare la comunità e la cultura locale. E uno dei modi migliori e più immediati per farlo è sostenere le imprese locali.

Ciò va dalla scelta di un alloggio di proprietà di persone del posto alla scelta di un’agenzia turistica gestita persone locali, che utilizzano anche parte dei loro profitti per migliorare la comunità in cui si trovano. Ad esempio, se scegli di soggiornare in una catena internazionale di hotel, quello che paghi non può aiutare la comunità locale a svilupparsi e fare meglio, ma va nelle tasche di qualcun altro, in un altro paese. Per tornare al punto numero 2, apportare modifiche per rendere un alloggio più verde e ottenere una certificazione di sostenibilità può essere un processo costoso, quindi soggiornare in una struttura di proprietà e gestione locale può aiutarli a raggiungere questi obiettivi. Lo stesso vale per le agenzie di viaggio.

Altri modi per sostenere le imprese locali comportano cose semplici, dall’acquisto di souvenir da artigiani locali al mangiare in ristoranti e bar del posto invece che in catene internazionali.

Un mercato

11. Anche quello che mangi è importante!

Parlando di “locale”, mangiare cibo locale quando si viaggia non è solo un modo per provare cose nuove e conoscere meglio una cultura, ma anche un altro modo per essere un viaggiatore più verde. Dopotutto, perché dovresti andare in un posto così lontano a mangiare cibo che potresti trovare a casa … per poi dire che non è buono come a casa? Ora, avendo viaggiato per un periodo abbastanza lungo in passato, capisco la voglia occasionale di cibo da casa che ti manca davvero (il mio di solito è la pizza, qual è il tuo?), ma quando si viaggia per periodi di tempo più brevi non abbiamo scuse!

Quando chiedi cibo che non proviene dal paese in cui ti trovi, non solo non stai sostenendo le imprese locali, ma stai anche contribuendo a creare più emissioni affinché il cibo arrivi lì. Inoltre, stai contribuendo a creare più rifiuti: il cibo che arriva da lontano viene processato e pesantemente imballato per sopravvivere a tutte le fasi del trasporto. Ciò significa che il paese in cui ti trovi avrà l’onere di smaltire questi imballaggi e rifiuti, il che può essere difficile in alcuni luoghi. Un documentario interessante in cui si parla di questo è  Eating Up Easter  di Sergio Rapu, in cui si parla di questo problema sull’Isola di Pasqua.

Un piatto con il cibo

12. Fare docce più brevi e riutilizzare gli asciugamani

Quando soggiorno in ostelli, in particolare in luoghi più remoti, vedo spesso cartelli che chiedono alle persone di fare docce più brevi poiché alcuni di questi luoghi stanno lottando con la scarsità d’acqua. La conservazione dell’acqua, quando facciamo la doccia, ci laviamo le mani, ci laviamo i denti, ecc. È una delle cose più importanti per viaggiare sostenibilmente. Ma è anche qualcosa che dovremmo fare a casa!

E a proposito di docce, una delle cose più semplici che possiamo fare per aiutare l’ambiente è riutilizzare gli asciugamani più di una volta, risparmiando l’acqua necessaria per lavarli. Se lo fai già e stai cercando il prossimo passo da fare, metti il cartellino “Non disturbare” sulla tua porta: in questo modo non solo risparmierai acqua ma risparmierai anche l’energia utilizzata per l’aspirapolvere, i saponi e i loro prodotti chimici utilizzati per le pulizie e che finiscono nell’ambiente, etc…

13. Fai scelte consapevoli per quanto riguarda gli animali

Una delle mie parti preferite del viaggio è vedere gli animali. È un’esperienza così magica vedere animali che normalmente si vedrebbero solo in un documentario!

Un rinoceronte in un campo con un uccello sul dorso

Tuttavia, è importante godersi la fauna in modo etico. Sfortunatamente, ci sono ancora agenzie in tutto il mondo che sfruttano la gli animali selvatici per realizzare un profitto, quindi prima di prenotare qualsiasi cosa basta fare una rapida ricerca.

Cerca di evitare le agenzie che ti permettono di cavalcare elefanti o nuotare con pesci in cattività solo per far scattare ai turisti la foto perfetta per Instagram. Qui  puoi trovare un esempio di una brutta esperienza che ho avuto in Perù.

Gli animali dell’Amazzonia vengono strappati allo stato selvatico in modo che i turisti possano scattare selfie per i social media. (…) Tra i  34 miliardi di immagini  postate da  700 milioni di  persone  su Instagram, la nostra indagine iniziale mostra che ci sono decine di migliaia di selfie scattati con animali selvatici. Queste foto catturano un momento di gioia condivisibile per le persone, ma per molte di loro lo stress e la sofferenza degli animali sono lasciati fuori dall’inquadratura. 

Protezione degli animali nel mondo

Abbiamo sentito personalmente che alcune agenzie che organizzano tour nella foresta amazzonica tengono prigioniere le scimmie in modo che i turisti possano tenerle in braccio e scattare foto con loro. Per questo motivo, la World Animal Protection ha creato il Wildlife Selfie Code .

Non fare un selfie della fauna selvatica se vengo tenuto in braccio, bloccato o trattenuto, mi stai provocando con il cibo, potrei farti del male.  Fatti un selfie della fauna selvatica se tieni una distanza di sicurezza, sono nella mia casa naturale e non sono prigioniero

Hai altri suggerimenti da condividere?

POTREBBE PIACERTI ANCHE:

13 tips to be a more sustainable traveller

Being 100% sustainable when travelling might not always be possible, but here are 13 tips to be more sustainable when you are travelling the world.

A short guide to sustainability if you want to travel the world responsibly

With travelling being more accessible to people, travelling responsibly has never been so important. Because of the current pandemic, it isn’t possible to travel at the moment as much as we would, and many people are looking forward to going back to “normality” to be able to visit new places. In this context, it is important to understand and prepare to be more sustainable when travelling for when borders open up again.

Working in the environmental communication field and being a travel lover isn’t always easy. On one hand, I love the idea of travelling to new places and discover every corner of the world, but on the other hand most of the time I feel guilty about the environmental impact this could have.

Being 100% sustainable when travelling might not always be possible – just think about the carbon emissions that come from flying! – but there are some steps we can take to become a more responsible traveller. But what does that even mean?

A person snorkelling

To me, being sustainable is doing my best to leave a place better than the way I found it, making sure that not only my visit doesn’t cause any damage to both the environment and the local community, but that it also – when possible – has a positive impact and brings some value and support instead. It also means doing all I can to reduce my carbon footprint. So being a responsible tourist means making responsible choices both at the environmental and community level.

Because of my job in the sustainability area, I am constantly learning about new ways to be sustainable in my everyday life, and so I decided to apply these tips to travelling and came up with a list of 13 ways to become more sustainable when exploring other places in the world that I hope could be useful if, like me, you are trying to do your bit for the planet.

1.Flying “sustainably”

Let’s get the big one out of the way! Flying can never be 100% sustainable, so when time and budget allow, it’s always possible to choose alternative transport, such as trains.

However, there are some locations that we can only reach by flying. So when we book a flight we should always make sure we check for companies that have lower emissions or companies that have a set budget for carbon offset initiatives.

When possible book direct flights and also travel as light as possible to cut down on the weight of the airplane and save fuel (which will also mean you’ll save money on your extra luggage charge!)

Photo by Benjamin Suter on Pexels.com

Travelling in economy class will reduce emissions too. There is a World Bank study that shows how flying first-class creates up to five times the carbon emissions per person than flying in economy.

Finally – when possible – you can also choose to fly into an airport that is doing their bit to be greener. Living in Ireland, I get to use the Dublin Airport quite a lot and, in recent years I noticed a few positive changes that made me look into it more. For example, they have water refillers everywhere across the airport and in most places they swap plastic water bottles with aluminium cans. When I looked into it, I found out that in the last 10 years they have reduced their energy consumption by 33%, use sustainable energy, reduced emissions of fleet vehicles, and have a lot of other green initiatives, so Dublin Airport has achieved a status of Carbon Neutrality from Airport Carbon Accreditation of the ACI (Airport Council International) in 2019.

But just like Dublin Airport, a lot of airports around the world are going green. Here is a link to the world’s most environmentally friendly airports!

2. Choose an eco-friendly accommodation

Where stay is also very important if we want to travel green. There are so many things you can look at to see if your accommodation is sustainable, from the energy they use, waste management, where they get their water from, what they bring to their local community and more. With more and more attention being drawn to sustainability, most accommodation will have a section dedicated to this on their website, so make sure you check it out.

I’ll be sharing a full post on how to pick a sustainable accommodation with lots of tips, but in the meantime, here’s a cool trick I recently found out about. Booking.com has a new (very well hidden) section on sustainable initiatives that you can see if you scroll all the way down the page, where they tell you about all the sustainable initiatives of the place you are looking at, as well as if they have a sustainability certification.

3. Choose a responsible travel agency

Even if, like me, you prefer to travel independently, there are always times when you can’t avoid using a travel agency and, in this case, it’s important to choose a responsible one. A responsible travel operator is one committed to support the local community and minimise the impact they have on the planet.

A responsible travel agency would support the local community, rather than damaging it and they would take steps to minimise their carbon footprint, by, for example, providing alternatives to plastics on their tour or try to minimise waste. They should also support eco-accommodation and avoid attractions that entail animal exploitation.

In one of my previous posts, I shared six tips to choose a responsible travel agency, have you read it?

Two people in a jeep car

4. Pack your reusables

This is such an easy thing to do, so no excuses here. Before leaving, pack your reusable basics, like a cup, bottle and lunch box, to avoid single-use plastic. In some places, it isn’t safe to drink tap water, but where it is, make sure you use your bottle.

If you are a reusable pro, then why not bring this to the next level? Switch to solid toiletries and reusable period products and face pads.

If you are looking for motivation on why you should switch to solid toiletries, click on the button below.

5. Pick the right sunscreen

Among the things that can ruin a holiday is getting a bad sunburn. So using sunscreen is important to protect yourself. However, not all sunscreens are the same and some of them contain certain ingredients, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, that are highly toxic for marine wildlife and the environment. They have been proven to cause also significant damage to coral reefs, so much that some countries, like Hawaii, want to impose a ban on them.

Wondering what to look for when buying an eco-friendly sunscreen? Simply try to avoid the ones that contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, and similar, and opt for reef-friendly ingredients like non-nano zinc oxide and non-nano titanium dioxide.

A person sea swimming at sunset

6. Opt for an eco-friendly mosquito repellent

Same as for sunscreen, a mosquito repellent is needed when visiting some parts of the world. Not all natural mosquito sprays on the market are actually “green”, so make sure you pick one that is not harmful to the wildlife (and for yourself).

While it might seem impossible to find a repellent that is eco-friendly and also works, try to go with products that contain citronella or lemon eucalyptus and avoid DEET at all cost. A more sustainable alternative to DEET is picaridin.

In addition, you can opt for pump sprays, as aerosol releases harmful chemicals.

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7. Take nothing but pictures

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” is a phrase that you probably have heard before.

Sometimes we love a place so much that we want to bring back something that will make us remember our experience forever. So, when you are on a hike or walking on the beach and take rocks or a few seashells, it seems like something so innocent and harmless to do…After all, it’s only one shell or a couple and there are plenty of them in the sea, right?

But imagine if each person visiting the beach took a couple of things away, it would have a huge impact on the ecosystem, the environment and all the wildlife that relies on them.

Travelling sustainably and making sure the natural environment is preserved, is very important to allow future generation to discover and enjoy the beauty of our planet.

8. Pick up litter

The first rule for when you are enjoying the outdoors, not only when travelling but also back home, is to dispose of your waste properly. Actually, the first rule would be not to create any waste when possible, by switching to reusables and buying loose food. However, if we do have waste we need to make sure we bin it.

Sometimes, when you are on a hike or in a more remote place, it could be hard to find a bin. Or again, in very crowded places bins could be already full. This is no excuse for litter or to place your litter beside the already full bin: always carry a bag, to make sure you can bring your waste home with you if necessary.

Picking up litter – not just your own, but also litter other people left behind – is one of the best ways to leave a place better than how you found it.

Picking up litter is a great way to spend time outdoors, exercise, do something for the planet and feel good! For this reason, I always put a bag and a pair of gloves in my backpack when I’m going for a walk, a hike or a swim.

9. Volunteer

Like I said at the start, being a responsible tourist to me means bringing something positive to the place I’m visiting. Particularly when backpacking for a longer period of time, volunteering is the perfect way to do something for the local community, get to know the culture better and save money too!

As a matter of fact, when I was backpacking through Latin America for a full year, the volunteering experiences I had are some of my best memories. To find them, I mainly used Workaway.info. While a lot of the projects on this platform would be helping in hostels in exchange for food and accommodation, you can also look for projects that have the Sustainable Development Goals logo at the top, which are “sustainable projects”. When you click into the, you will see which one of the SDGs they fall under.

10. Support local businesses

While most of the points in this post are about environmental sustainability, being a responsible tourist doesn’t just mean protecting the natural environment, but also supporting the local community and culture. And one of the best and most immediate ways to do this is by supporting local businesses.

This ranges from picking an accommodation owned by local people to choosing a tour agency owned by local people but that also use part of their profits to improve the community they are in. For example, if you choose to stay in an international chain of hotels, what you are paying is basically leaving the country and cannot help the local community to develop and do better. To go back to point number 2, making changes in order to make an accommodation more green and getting a sustainability certification can be an expensive process, so staying in a locally owned and managed accommodation can help them achieve these goals. The same applies to tour agencies.

Other ways to support local businesses entail simple things, from buying souvenirs from local artisans to eating at local restaurants and bars instead of international chains.

A market

11. What you eat is important too!

Speaking of “local”, eating local food when travelling is not only a way to try new things and getting to know better a culture, but also another way to be a greener traveller. After all, why would you go to a place so far away to eat food you could find back home…to then say it’s not as good as back home? Now, having backpacked for over a year, I do understand the occasional craving for food from home you are really missing (mine is usually pizza, what’s yours?), but when travelling for shorter periods of time we have no excuse!

When you ask for food that isn’t from the country you are in, not only you are not supporting local businesses, but you are also contributing to creating more emissions for the food to arrive there. On top of this, you are contributing to creating more waste: food that comes from far away will normally need to be either processed or heavily packaged to survive all the transportation stages. This means that then the country you are in will have the burden to dispose of this packaging and waste, which can be hard in some places. An interesting documentary where they show this is Eating up Easter by Sergio Rapu.

A plate with food

12. Take shorter showers and reuse your towels

When I’m staying in hostels, particularly in more remote places, I often see signs asking people to take shorter showers as some of these places are struggling with water shortages. Water conservation, when taking a shower, washing our hands, brushing our teeth, etc.. is so important to go green. But this is also something we should do at home!

And speaking of showers, one of the easiest things we can do to help the environment is reusing their towels more than once, saving the water needed to wash them. If you already do this and what to take the extra step, put up the “Do not disturb” sign on your door: this way, you will not only save water but also save the energy used to hoover the floor, soaps and their chemicals going down the drain and stuff like that.

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13. Be mindful of wildlife

One of my favourite parts about travelling is seeing the wildlife. It’s such a magical experience seeing animals that would only normally see in a documentary!

A rhino in a field with a bird on the back

However, it’s important to enjoy the wildlife in an ethical way. Unfortunately, there are still agencies around the world that exploit wildlife to make a profit, so before booking anything just do a quick search.

Try to avoid agencies that let you ride elephants or swim with captive fish just to get the perfect photo for Instagram. Here you can find an example of a bad experience I had in Peru.

Amazonian animals are being torn from the wild so tourists can take selfies for social media.(…)Amongst the 34 billion images posted by 700 million people on Instagram, our initial investigation shows there are tens of thousands of selfies taken with wild animals. These photos capture a moment of shareable joy for people, but for many of them, the animals’ stress and suffering is left out of the frame. 

World Animal Protection

We personally heard that some agencies that organise tours in the Amazon forest keep monkeys captive so that tourists can hold them and take pictures with them. For this reason, the World Animal Protection created the Wildlife Selfie Code.

Don't take a wildlife selfie if I'm being held, higged or restrained, You are baiting me with food, I could harm you. DO take a wildlife selfie if you keep a safe distance, I'm in my natural home and I'm not captive

Wildlife Selfie Code

Do you have any other tips to share?

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W Trek in Torres del Paine – Our Mixed Itinerary

How to visit Torres del Paine on a budget, with a mix of day hikes and trekking in the park.

How to visit Torres del Paine on a budget, with a mix of day hikes and trekking in the park.

In the last few posts I have been talking about the W Trek trail in Torres del Paine, Chile. If you read them, you know by now that this is one of my favourite places in the world and I have a lot to say about it!

If you are planning your trip and want to know things like how to get there, how to book accommodation, fees, when the best time to visit is, the post at the link below is what you are looking for.

In the Torres del Paine National Park, you have two options: you can do the full circuit or the W hike. Probably due to the fact that we were there during low season, we only met one person who was doing the full circuit.

The most popular route to take is to hike the W Trek West to East, so from Paine Grande to Base de las Torres.

The W Trek is the easiest and cheapest option and you can even do it via day hikes if you don’t want to sleep in the park (I’ll talk more about this in my next post). If you decide to stay in the park overnight and do the full hike, it will take you between four and six days, depending on how fast you walk, how many hours a day you want to hike and if you break sections of the trail such as the Glacier Grey trail or the Base de las Torres into two parts and spend the night in one of the refugios and campsites there, or make your way back.

For more information on distances and difficulty levels of the various trails, check this post out:

Our “mixed” hike

When we arrived in Puerto Natales, we were thinking about doing day trips to the park to save the money on accommodation, that by that stage had got very expensive, as we didn’t book anything in advance and only the top range accommodation were available in park, despite the fact that we were there during low season. But at the same time, we also wanted to experience the park at night time and take our time to enjoy the walks, so we decided to do a mixed hike: the first hike to Base de Las Torres as a day trip, and then do Glacier Grey and Valle del Frances staying in Paine Grande for the night.

Day 1 – Base de las Torres

On day 1, we got a bus at 7.30 am from Puerto Natales and we arrived at the National Park at around 9am. Filling in the forms and getting the tickets didn’t take too long, but we had to wait quite a long time to get on a minivan, since base de Las Torres is a very popular day hike and guided tours destination, so lots of people get on those vans.

We started hiking at 10.15 am from the visitor centre, where the van left us. The first part is constant uphill, and it took us one hour and 30 minutes to complete it and reach the highest point before the first refugio, Chileno, including a 15 minute break. After this, it’s a mix of uphill and downhill to get to Chileno. In total, it took us one hour and 30 minutes to get to the refugio. Here we took a break of 30 minutes to have a few snacks and a coffee, hoping that the rain would stop in the meantime, but it didn’t. In fact, it got worse!

At 12:15, we continued the hike towards the mirador and this part was harder than the previous one. Almost all uphill, you get to a part where you must climb a very rocky waterfall until you get to the very last bit, which is the most challenging of the whole “W”: all uphill, you constantly have the impression that you are almost at the mirador, made it worse by the fact that at a certain point there is a sign that says that you will be at the mirador in 15 minutes, but you really won’t! We arrived at the Base de Las Torres Mirador at 3:10 pm, where we stayed to enjoy the view until 4pm.

If you are lucky, you will be able to clearly see the towers. If you are unlucky, like us, the rain and fog will make it almost impossible to see the towers in front of you, but it still is nice to enjoy the view of the lake, with its very blue and grey clear water.

We were back at the refugio Chileno by 4:50pm and back at the visitor centre by 6pm. The shuttle bus back to entrance left at 6:30pm and the bus back to Puerto Natale was supposed to leave at 7:45 but left at 8:30.

This was the hardest trail of the W Trek for me and, if you are doing it as a day trip, you have from 10am to 7pm to complete it. In total, it took us 8 hours to walk 22km.

Day 2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey and back

On the second day, we decided to do the first leg of the W trail to Glacier Grey. From Paine Grande to the mirador for Glacier Grey and back it’s 26km and it took us 8 hours to walk it. This was our favourite part of the hike not only because of the view, but also because we got sunny(ish) weather and it wasn’t as cold to as the first day.

The day started off as the first day, getting the bus from Puerto Natales to the Park, but this time, since we already had our ticket, we could stay on the main bus and continue on to Pudeto, to get the catamaran at 11am. We got to Paine Grande where we were going to spend the night and we left our big bags here and started hiking at 12pm.

The whole walk wasn’t too hard, with a mix of uphill and downhill and we reached the first viewpoint of Laguna de los Patos at 12:55. After a short 15 minute break, we continued to the Lago Grey mirador. We arrived there at 2:10 pm. The view from here is very nice and you can see lots of icebergs floating in the water. From here, you can also have a view of the glacier from far away. Depending on how fast you walk and if you are only doing the day trip (and so have to be back by 6pm to catch the catamaran), you can decide whether to stay here and enjoy the view or continue on to Grey. Keep in mind that you still have 6km left to the Grey Refugio, but to get to the actual mirador and see the glacier from close it’s a further 2 km. If you are not going to the second mirador, there’s no point in walking to the Refugio Grey, as there is nothing to see there.

At 2:30 pm, we left the viewpoint of Lago Grey and continued our walk to the refugio. Along here, you have several viewpoints, where you can stop to see more icebergs and look at the big glacier getting closer and closer. We arrived at Refugio Grey at 4pm and then continued on past the camping area, to get to the mirador at around 4:30pm. Here we stopped to have a late lunch while looking at the glacier and at the icebergs from very close. I think it’s the best view of the whole trail. While you are there, you can also see some ice detaching and falling into the water.

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We left the viewpoint at 5pm, to be back at the first mirador Grey by 6:30pm and at the Laguna de los Patos by 7:30pm. It gets dark at around 8pm at this time of the year (April), so it was nice to watch the sunset while walking. We were back at the Refugio Paine Grande by 8:15pm, where we had dinner and spent the night.

If you want to break this hike, you can get to Refugio Grey and spend the night there, and then go back down the next day and base yourself in Italiano or Frances, to gain some time when you are hiking Valle del Frances the following day.

Day 3 – Paine Grande to Britannico

The plan for day 3 was to start the hike pretty early, since we had to be back by 6pm to catch the catamaran. However, we ended up leaving at 8am, when it was still dark outside. From Paine Grande to Campamento Italiano it’s 7.6km and the trail is almost all flat. Except for some very muddy parts and river crossings, you can walk fast enough on this section of the trail, as there isn’t as much to see as in the other places. It took us around 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to Italiano. From here, it’s only 2 km to the Valle del Frances lookout, but it took us from 10:15am to 11:40am to get there, since we were tired from the previous days, it was very rainy and muddy, and this part of the trail is made of very steep and rocky uphill and downhills. We were lucky enough to see the mountains and the ice on our way down, since once at the lookout, it was so rainy and cloudy , that all the mountains were covered and we couldn’t see anything at all.

From here, you can walk 6.5km more and get to the very last viewpoint, the Britannico. However, the weather was very bad and we weren’t able to see much because of the clouds, and we had to be back to get the catamaran on time, since we had no accommodation booked for that night. So, at 2pm, we decided to go back to Paine Grande. On the way back, the clouds started clearing a bit, and we were able to enjoy the landscape again. When you walk there, you can constantly hear a noise similar to a thunderstorm, but it’s the noise of avalanches. We managed to see three on the way back to the refugio.

We were back at Italiano by 1:15pm and back at Paine Grande by 4pm, where we had a few warm drinks and relaxed by the fire while waiting for the catamaran. From here, we got the 6:35pm catamaran and then got on the bus that brought us straight to Puerto Natales.

a person standing. Trees. A wooden bridge

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6 Day Hikes in Torres del Paine National Park

Six beautiful itineraries to take from Puerto Natales to visit the Torres del Paine National Park with day-hikes.

Six beautiful itineraries to take from Puerto Natales to visit the Torres del Paine National Park

In the last few posts I have been talking about the W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, sharing information on how to get there, where to rent gear, costs, etc…as well as information on how trails, distances and difficulty levels. If you have missed any of them, check them out below.

Not everybody likes hiking and camping for several days and, like I said before, during high season it can be hard to find accommodation if you didn’t book it in advance, or prizes can get very high. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t enjoy the beauty of Torres del Paine.

As a matter of fact, there are several day trips you can take in the National Park (more than ten!). Today, I’m going to talk of the six day hiking trips you can take if you base yourself in Puerto Natales:

  1. Base de Las Torres
  2. Glacier Grey
  3. Valle del Frances and Mirador Britannico
  4. Lago Nordernskjöld
  5. Mirador Cuernos and Salto Grande waterfall
  6. Lago Skottsberg

Remember that if you don’t stay overnight, your ticket to the National Park is only valid for three consecutive days, so you won’t be able to do them all.

W Trek Map by experiencechile.org

1.Base de Las Torres

Distance: 22 km | Difficulty: moderate/hard | Time: 8 hours | Starting point: Hotel Las Torres

The Base de Las Torres Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the Torres del Paine National Park and it can not only be done as a day hike, but also as part of an organised tour that would bring you closer to the Towers in a van. You can’t say you have been to Torres del Paine if you don’t do this hike!

From Puerto Natales, get a bus to Torre del Paine National Park at 7:30 am, which will arrive in Torres del Paine at 7:45 am. This bus costs 15,000 CLP return. Once you have paid the entrance fee to the park, you need to go get another van for 3,000 CLP that brings you to the starting point of the trail.

This hike is divided in two parts. First you need to arrive at Refugio Chileno. This section (5.5 km) is a mix of uphill and downhill but it isn’t too hard and it should only take you 1.5 to 2 hours.

From Refugio Chile to Base de Las Torres things get more complicated! This second section of the trail (5 km) was the most challenging for me. After approximately 3km through a beautiful and dense forest, you will have a very steep ascent to Base de Las Torres/Mirador de Las Torres.

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The shuttle bus back to entrance leaves at 6:30pm and the bus back to Puerto Natales leaves at 7:45pm, so from the moment you get off the mini van at the start of the trail to when you have to take it back to the entrance, you have approximately 9 hours. If you miss the shuttle bus, you should have enough time to walk back to the visitor centre where you can get the bus back to Puerto Natales, as it’s only 1.5km away.

2. Glacier Grey

Distance: 26 km | Difficulty: moderate | Time: 7-8 hours | Starting point: Refugio Paine Grande

A body of water. Icebergs. Mountains in the background

Glacier Grey was definitely my favourite leg of the W Trek and if you are picking a second day hike in addition to Base de Las Torres, this should be it.

However, while this trail isn’t too hard, it is quite long and, if you are doing it as a day hike to go back to Puerto Natale, you can’t afford many stops along the way and you need to plan this carefully.

To start, you will still need to get the bus from Puerto Natales and stay on this bus until you get to Pudeto, where you will have to get a catamaran across Lago Grey to Paine Grande, which is the starting point. The catamaran costs 18,000 CLP one way or 28,000 return.

If everything goes well, you should be able to start your day hike at 11:30 am and you will need to be back at Paine Grande at 6pm to get the catamaran back to Pudeto and then the bus back to Puerto Natales.

There are 11km between Paine Grande and the Grey Refugio, but from the Refugio to the actual Glacier it’s another 2km approximately. This trail isn’t too hard, with a mix of uphill and downhill. It took us 8 hours to walk there and back to Paine Grande, but this included to long stops.

Keep in mind that, if you planned this as a day trip and don’t have any accommodation booked in the park, you must go back by 6pm. Along the way, there is the Lago Grey Mirador, which is still 6km form Glacier Grey. From here, you can see the beautiful lake a icebergs floating on the water. If you think you won’t have enough time to complete the hike, you can stop here and then enjoy another stop at Laguna de los Patos on the way back.

3. Valle del Frances and Mirador Britannico

Distance: 20/26 km | Difficulty: moderate/hard | Time: 8-10 hours | Starting point: Refugio Paine Grande

A person standing. Mountains and rocks in the background. Cloudy sky

Valle del Frances is the middle trail of the W Trek, and just like the Glacier Grey hike it can be done as a day trip starting from Refugio Paine Grande (See here how to get there). However, parts of this trails are though and if you are doing it as a day trip you need to be back at Paine Grande by 6pm in order to catch the catamaran back.

This trail is divided into several sections and after a first mostly flat section, there is a very steep part, made of muddy ground and a few streams. From Paine Grande to Campamento Italiano it’s 7.6 km at the edge of Lago Scottenberg and this is the easiest section, so you can walk fast enough on this section of the trail. From here to the Frances Lookout – where you can enjoin a view around the valley and down towards Lago Nordernskjöld – it’s only 2 km. Once you get here, if you are tired or think you won’t have enough time, you can turn back and head towards Paine Grande.

If you want to keep going, you’ll get to Mirador Britannico, which is only an additional 3km away. However, this last leg of the hike is particularly hard and steep and it will take a while.

4. Lago Nordernskjöld

Distance: up to 22 km | Difficulty: easy | Time: 4-8 hours | Starting point: Hotel de las Torres

The starting point for this hike is Hotel de Las Torres and this trail is one of the easiest in the whole park, as it isn’t too steep. This beautiful lake stretches east to west through the centre of the National Park and it’s part of the middle leg of the W Trek trail. If you hike from Hotel Las Torres along its northern shore, you can reach Mirador Los Cuernos

While the this hike is pretty easy, if you hike to Mirador Los Cuernos and back, it’s a total of 22km and like in the case of the Base de Las Torres Hike above, you need to keep in mind that the only bus back to Puerto Natales leaves at 7:45pm, so you have approximately 9 hours to complete it. If you think you won’t make it to Mirador Los Cuernos and back, you can still stop for a lunch break along the way in different beautiful spots, to admire the lake and then start to make your way back.

5. Mirador Cuernos and Salto Grande waterfall

Distance: 8 km | Difficulty: easy | Time: 2-3 hours | Starting point: Pudeto

A person standing in the front. Trees and hills. A body of water.

This hike, in the Southern area of the Park, is also an easy and short one and it’s the perfect one to take if you have some time to kill in Puerto Natales but don’t want something too hard, as on it you will still get to see some of the highlights of the Torres del Paine National Park.

The first thing you’ll come across on this walk will be the stunning Salto Grande waterfall. If you keep following the path, you’ll get a view of both Los Cuernos and the Paine massif across Lago Nordernskjöld.

To get here, you simply need to stay on the bus from Puerto Natales to the National Park and get off at the Pudeto ferry port, where you would get the catamaran. The trail starts here, but you can also opt for a different route, which starts off at Salto Grande – approximately 1.5km from the ferry port – and leads up to Mirador Cuernos.

6. Lago Skottsberg

Distance: 5 km | Difficulty: easy | Time: 1.5 hours | Starting point: Refugio Paine Grande

This is one of the shortest hikes in the park and it’s a nice and easy alternative to the French Valley hike, which, like I said above, was one of the hardest for me.

The hike starts off exactly like the French Valley and Mirador Britannico hike, from Refugio Paine Grande, after having taken the catamaran. Here you follow the first part of the trail only – where it’s mostly flat – along to Lago Skottsberg.

Across the Lake, you’ll still get a pretty stunning view of the peaks of Los Cuernos.

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Cubayeno Reserve – Tips for planning your visit

If you plan to visit the Cubayeno Reserve in Ecuador, you can find here some useful tips, on what company to use, budget, getting there and sustainability.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about my day by day itinerary in the Cubayeno Natural Reserve, the Amazon rainforest section in Ecuador, which is one of the highlight of my year long backpacking trip, but also the best place I visited ever!

In this post, instead of an itinerary, which would probably be set by the agency you decided to take the tour with anyway, I’ll share about some practical info and tips to help you plan your trip here.

What company to used

Plenty of companies in both Baños and Quito will organise this trip for you. We booked it through Geotours and stayed in Green Forest Lodge. We were very happy with the accommodation and the food we got there. As a matter of fact, the meals we got there were some of the best we got in South America and they even had a different vegetarian option for me at every meal, with fresh fruit and vegetables.

How much does it cost?

The average night price for this tour is of $65 per night per person. We were asked $280 for the four day trip, but ended up getting it for $260, for a tour with only one more person beside us and a private double room with ensuite bathroom.

The cost included accommodation, a bilingual guide, all meals, several equipment, such as mosquito nets, boots, raincoats, and drinks throughout the day. Not included in the price were the bus to Lago Agrio, plus $4 to visit the community and $4 dollars to meet the Shaman.

Getting there

You can book your trip in either Quito or Banos, but most tour agencies will ask you to make your way there independently.

We started from Baños, where we got a bus to Coca. Transporte Baños Bus Company leaves every night at 10:45 and 11:45 and it will take you approximately 7 hours to get to Coca. The fare for this bus ride is $12.

Once in Coca, there are several companies going towards Lago Agrio every 15 minutes, starting from 4am for $3.

Why Ecuador?

Although you could visit the Amazon forest in different countries in South America, I would really recommend visiting the Cuyabeno reserve, in Ecuador.

Not only it is one of the cheapest places – together with Peru and Bolivia – to visit it, but you can also do so in the most eco-friendly and sustainable way possible.

Having talked to some people who experienced this place in both Bolivia and Peru, we realised how lucky we were with our trip. We saw plenty of animals, like monkeys, pink dolphins, anacondas, caimans, birds, spiders and frogs, but sometimes we saw them from so far away that it was very hard to spot them or we had to spend hours before we could see one. For this reason, we were so surprised when some people we met told us that they had monkeys walk on the arms, until we found out that monkeys were forced to live in cages and then brought closer to tourists.

Moreover, all companies organising tours in Ecuador, use part of their profits to support not only conservation projects and eco-friendly accommodations within the reserve, but also the local community.

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W-Trek a Torres del Paine – Tutto quello che devi sapere

Il W-Trek a Torres del Paine (Patagonia) è una delle escursioni più popolari del Sud America. Questo post ti fornirà alcuni spunti per aiutarti a organizzare la tua avventura autoguidata.

In questo post troverai informazioni su: Come arrivarci; Per iniziare: dove trovare informazioni e noleggiare l’attrezzatura; Trasporto al parco; National Park Fee Alloggi, rifugi e campeggi e quando è il momento migliore per andare.

Tutte le risposte alle tue domande su un W Trek auto-organizzato nella Patagonia cilena

Nel 2017 ho lasciato il mio lavoro a tempo indeterminato per viaggiare. Ma dove? Così tanti posti meravigliosi nel mondo e così poco tempo a disposizione. Ma la verità è che avevo la risposta alla domanda “Dove?” molto prima che prendessi la decisione di lasciare il mio lavoro.

Dalla prima volta che ho visto The Motorcycle Diaries , questo film mi ha fatto innamorare dell’idea di viaggiare con lo zaino in spalla attraverso il Sud America. Nel 2016, ho visto un documentario della BBC intitolato Wild Patagonia e da allora visitare quei paesaggi selvaggi è stato il mio sogno. Per questo motivo, quando ho lasciato il mio lavoro, sapevo esattamente dove sarei andata.

Dopo un bel po’ di mesi, eccomi qui. Finalmente siamo lentamente arrivati ​​in Cile e quel sogno di esplorare la Patagonia sta per avverarsi.

A causa dei prezzi elevati, della mancanza di organizzazione e delle decisioni dell’ultimo minuto che devi prendere quando fai backpacking, molte persone che abbiamo incontrato lungo la strada hanno deciso di saltare questa meta.

Anche se è vero che la Patagonia è più cara di altri posti nel Sud America, vale sicuramente la pena esplorarla! Spero che questo post ti fornisca alcuni spunti per aiutarti a organizzare la tua avventura autoguidata di Torres del Paine.

In questo post troverai informazioni su:

Tutto quello che devi sapere su W Trek in soli 90 secondi

Nei miei prossimi post, troverai ulteriori informazioni sull’organizzazione del tuo viaggio, tra cui:

Come arrivarci

Per iniziare il più famoso trekking della Patagonia a Torre del Paine – il W Trek – devi basarti a Puerto Natales , una piccola città nel sud del Cile. Per arrivarci, abbiamo volato da Santiago a Punta Arenas . Di solito ci sono due compagnie aeree che servono questa rotta ed entrambe partono molto presto la mattina (5:00): Latam e Jet Smart.

Un’alternativa a questo sarebbe volare o prendere un autobus per Puerto Montt e prendere un battello turistico lungo i fiordi lungo la costa fino a sud. L’autobus tra Santiago e Puerto Montt parte più volte al giorno e impiega circa 12 ore.

Non esiste un autobus diretto da Santiago a Puerto Natales, ma puoi anche prendere un autobus per Osorno, poi per Punta Arenas e infine per Puerto Natales.

Someone walking with a backpack. Houses and mountains in the background.
Arrivo a Puerto Natales.

Dopo l’atterraggio a Punta Arenas è necessario prendere un autobus per Puerto Natales, che costa 8.000 CLP. Poiché a Punta Arenas non esiste un terminal centralizzato degli autobus, è necessario recarsi direttamente presso gli uffici dell’azienda di trasporti che si desidera utilizzare.

Pertanto, l’opzione migliore è prendere l’autobus direttamente in aeroporto. Ci sono diverse compagnie che servono questa tratta e abbiamo usato Bus Sur. Puoi prenotare un biglietto online, ma ci sono diversi autobus al giorno e, soprattutto se non sei sicuro di quando atterrerai, non è necessario prenotarlo in anticipo.

Attenzione però ai tassisti e al banco informazioni turistiche dell’aeroporto di Punta Arenas! Quando siamo atterrati a Punta Arenas, siamo andati al banco informazioni per chiedere da dove prendere l’autobus e ci hanno detto che se non lo avessimo già prenotato online, saremmo dovuti andare in uno degli uffici delle compagnie di autobus in centro città e pagare una corsa in taxi di circa $15 USD per arrivarci. A questo punto, un tassista era già lì, pronto a portare i nostri bagagli in macchina. Quando abbiamo visto l’autobus avvicinarsi, però, abbiamo detto al tassista di aspettare e sono andato a chiedere all’autista se potevamo pagare il biglietto direttamente sull’autobus, e la risposta è stata che potevamo.

Per iniziare: dove trovare informazioni e noleggiare l’attrezzatura

Una volta a Puerto Natales, ci sono alcuni ostelli dove potrai raccogliere informazioni sulle escursioni, principalmente da persone che sono appena tornate dal trekking e condivideranno la loro esperienza con te.

L’Erratik Rock Hostel tiene un incontro gratuito per backpacker ogni giorno alle 15:00, ed è anche uno dei posti migliori per noleggiare attrezzatura da trekking e campeggio a un prezzo ragionevole. Quest’incontro è molto utile ed è un’opportunità di porre tutte le domande che vuoi a queste persone che hanno fatto escursioni lì negli ultimi 14 anni.

Se puoi, noleggia bastoncini da trekking. Noi li abbiamo trovati estremamente utili, soprattutto quando si cammina in discesa, su sentieri rocciosi / fangosi con vento molto forte. Li abbiamo affittati da Erratick Rock per 3.500 CPL al giorno. Puoi anche noleggiare guanti adeguati per 1.500 CPL, una tenda per due persone per 4.500 CPL, sacchi a pelo per 3.000 CPL e altre cose utili come lampade frontali, kit da cucina, ecc …

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Trasporto per il parco

Da Puerto Natales dovrai prendere un autobus pubblico per raggiungere il Parco Nazionale della Torre del Paine. Dovresti essere in grado di prenotare un biglietto tramite il tuo ostello e, anche se puoi potenzialmente comprare un biglietto lo stesso giorno, gli autobus sono piuttosto pieni, quindi è meglio prenotarlo il giorno prima. Il costo per questo autobus è di 15.000 CLP andata e ritorno (o 8.000 solo andata).

Ci sono diversi autobus che servono questa tratta con lo stesso identico orario. Gli autobus partono da Puerto Natales alle 7.30 e lasciano Torre del Paine alle 19:45.

Si arriva nel Parco Nazionale intorno alle 9:00, dove dovrai scendere dall’autobus per pagare l’entrata del parco. Dopo questo, hai due opzioni. Se decidi di iniziare la tua escursione dalla Base de Las Torres e fare un’escursione da est a ovest, devi prendere un mini van che ti porterà più vicino al punto di partenza dell’escursione per circa 15/20 minuti e che costa 3.000 CLP solo andata, che puoi pagare direttamente all’autista. Se vuoi fare un’escursione da ovest a est (il percorso più popolare), invece, devi tornare sull’autobus con il quale sei arrivato qui da Puerto Natales fino ad arrivare a Pudeto dove devi prendere un catamarano attraverso il Lago Grey per raggiungere Paine Grande. Il catamarano costa 18.000 CLP solo andata o 28.000 andata e ritorno. Durante l’alta stagione, cioè da dicembre a marzo, il catamarano parte quattro volte al giorno, alle 9:00, 11:00, 16:15 e 18:00 da Pudeto e 9:35, 11:35, 19:00 e 18:35 da Paine Grande), ma durante bassa stagione, parte solo due volte al giorno.

A person walking with hiking sticks and a backpack. Mountains and a lake in the background

Arriverai a Pudeto intorno alle 10.40 e il catamarano dovrebbe partire alle 11.00. Tuttavia, alcune persone hanno avuto una brutta esperienza con il catamarano, che è partito prima dell’orario previsto. Quindi, visto che non è così affidabile, è meglio correre direttamente al punto di partenza del catamarano per evitare di essere lasciati a Pudeto senza possibilità di tornare indietro fino alle 19:00, quando parte il bus per tornare a Puerto Natales.

Biglietto per il parco nazionale

Quando l’autobus arriva al Parco Nazionale Torres del Paine, dovrai scendere dall’autobus, compilare un modulo con i tuoi dati e pagare l’ingresso al parco, che costa 21.000 CLP per gli stranieri e 6.000 CLP per i residenti cileni. Una volta acquistato il biglietto, sarà valido per tre giorni consecutivi se entri ed esci dal parco tutti i giorni, oppure, se decidi di alloggiare lì durante la notte, rimarrà valido per tutta la durata del tuo soggiorno, indipendentemente da quanto tempo ti fermerai. Dopo aver pagato il biglietto d’ingresso, puoi andare al banco successivo dove ricevi una mappa e puoi ottenere uno dei timbri speciali sul passaporto, se li collezioni.  Il passaggio finale in questa fase è guardare un video sulle regole principali del parco.

A woman standing next to a sign in a wood saying "Bienvenido Parque Nacional Torres del Paine"

Alloggi, Refugios e campeggi

Per poter soggiornare nel parco è necessario prenotare in anticipo l’alloggio. Gli alloggi nel Parco Nazionale sono famosi per essere abbastanza costosi e, se come noi, non lo prenoti troppo in anticipo, rimarranno solo i posti più costosi.

Ci sono due campeggi gratuiti, Campamento Italiano e Paso , che puoi prenotare online sul sito CONAF . Ovviamente, essendo gratuiti, sono quasi sempre tutti prenotati mesi in anticipo. Sono gratuiti perché sono solo un posto dove montare la tua tenda, ma a differenza di tutti gli altri campeggi e rifugi, non hanno servizi igienici, docce o un posto dove acquistare acqua o cibo.

Gli alloggi di fascia media sono Gray, Chileno e Las Torres. Puoi prenotarli tramite Vertice Patagonia o Fantastico Sur . Hanno sia area campeggi che dormitori, docce fredde e piccoli negozi. Qui i prezzi per un posto nel campeggio vanno da $16 USD a notte nel periodo settembre / ottobre e aprile, fino a $21 USD da novembre a marzo, mentre un posto nel campeggio che include tenda, sacco a pelo, fodera e materassino va da $42 USD a $49 USD. Un letto a castello con coperte e cuscino o un letto singolo con sacco a pelo in un dormitorio da sei persone va da $95 USD a $116 USD a notte.

Infine ci sono quelli più costosi, come Paine Grande o Frances , che hanno docce calde, bar e minimarket e si possono prenotare su Vertice . A causa della nostra mancanza di organizzazione, abbiamo finito per rimanere a Paine Grande per una notte, poiché era l’unica disponibile. I prezzi per il dormitorio erano di $55 USD per una “cama simple”, o un letto senza coperte, e di $85 USD per una “cama armada”, un letto con lenzuola e coperte. Il prezzo era molto alto, ma siamo stati molto fortunati visto che siamo arrivati ​​molto tardi e hanno sbagliato con la nostra prenotazione, quindi a quel punto l’unica stanza libera che avevano a disposizione per noi era una stanza privata (che altrimenti ci sarebbe costata più del doppio del prezzo che abbiamo pagato).

A person standing. Mountains and rocks in the background. Cloudy sky

Il Refugio più costoso è Frances: guardando i prezzi, abbiamo letto che un posto in campeggio costa $380USD!

Non dimenticare di portare con te il passaporto e la carta di immigrazione (che ti daranno all’arrivo in Cile), poiché ti serviranno entrambi al momento del check-in nei refugios.

Da maggio ad agosto, invece, tutti i rifugi sono chiusi.

Quando è il momento migliore per andare?

Da ottobre a marzo sono i mesi migliori per fare escursioni a Torres del Paine. Durante l’estate, che va da dicembre a febbraio, potrai goderti giornate più lunghe e buone possibilità di sole, quindi non c’è da meravigliarsi se questo periodo dell’anno sia il più affollato per il Parco Nazionale. Ciò significa che i sentieri sono più affollati e gli alloggi, sia all’interno del Parco Nazionale che a Puerto Natales, tendono a essere prenotati in anticipo. Da novembre a metà dicembre, i sentieri nel parco e i rifugi sono meno affollati, ma potrai comunque approfittare del bel tempo, perché questa è la primavera nel parco.

Se vai da metà marzo a fine aprile, visiterai il parco nei mesi autunnali. Durante questi mesi, quando ho visitato io stessa il parco, vedrai spettacolari colori autunnali e tramonti mozzafiato. I sentieri non sono troppo affollati, ma la maggior parte degli alloggi nel parco era comunque al completo.

Nei mesi invernali, da maggio a fine agosto, alcune parti e sentieri del Parco Nazionale saranno inaccessibili a causa della neve e la maggior parte dei rifugi e dei campeggi saranno chiusi. Sebbene sia ancora possibile visitare il parco durante il mese invernale, puoi farlo solo con una guida certificata e non ci sarà alcun ranger del parco del CONAF a monitorare i sentieri.

C’è qualcos’altro che vorresti sapere sull’escursionismo sul W-Trek? Fammi sapere nei commenti e proverò ad aggiungerlo al mio prossimo post.

POTREBBE PIACERTI ANCHE:

W-Trek in Torres del Paine – Distances and Difficulty Levels

If you are hiking the W Trek, in Torres del Paine, here you’ll find information on distances between the main refugios/campsites and viewpoints.

In my previous post, I talked of how hiking Torre del Paine had been one of my dreams for a long time and it really didn’t disappoint me once I got to actually visit the place. While for various reasons, many people travelling through South America for longer period of times skip it, I think it’s really worth visiting.

If you are planning a visit there, I hope this post will be useful for you if you are looking for information on distances between the main refugios/campsites and viewpoints.

In my previous post, I also talked about the topics below, so if you are interested in any of these, click here:

Distances and difficulty levels

W Trek Map by experiencechile.org

If you are doing the W Trek, the most popular route to take is to hike West to East starting from Refugio Paine Grande. This is the best option for two reasons. First, the Base de las Torres trail is the most challenging part of the hike and by hiking West to East you’d be leaving this part for last, meaning that you would have less food with you, making your bag a little bit lighter. The second reason is that apparently the incredibly strong winds on the trail makes it even harder to hike in the opposite direction.

I explained how to get to Paine Grande here, and once you are there, these are the main distances and difficulty levels:

📌Paine Grande to Glacier Grey

Distance: 13 km (one way) | Difficulty: moderate

From Paine Grande to the Grey Refugio and Camping is 11 km, but keep in mind that from the Refugio to the actual Glacier it’s another 2km. This trail isn’t too hard, with a mix of uphill and downhill. We walked there and back and, including two food breaks, it took us 8 hours in total.

📸Highlights of this trail: This was my favourite sections of the W Trek. Along the way, you can constantly see the beautiful Lake Grey, full of floating icebergs, as well as other pretty spots, like the Laguna de los Patos. At the end you will see Glacier Grey, the highlight of the whole trek for me.

A body of water. Icebergs. Mountains in the background
📌Paine Grande to Campamento Italiano

Distance: 7.6 km| Difficulty: easy

The distance from Paine Grande to Campamento Italiano, the start of the middle section of the “W” is 7.5km. However, the trail is mostly flat, although with some very muddy parts, and so it only took us 2 hours to get there.

📸Highlights of this trail: Being mostly flat, in this section you won’t be able to see the same magnificent views as in other parts of the W Trek, but this part is still nice, full of trees, plants and bird.

A person standing in the front. Trees and hills. A body of water.
📌 Campamento Italiano to Mirador Valle del Frances

Distance: 3 km| Difficulty: moderate/hard

This part of the trail is very short, only 2km, but it took us over one hour, as the weather was particularly bad, with very heavy rain and wind. The ground was very muddy and this part of the trail is made of extremely steep and rocky uphill and downhills.

📸Highlights of this trail: In this section we were able to admire the beautiful autumn colours of the park, streams and waterfalls and giant mountains in the background. You can also start hearing the sound of avalanches, which at the start we thought was a storm. Of course, the main highlight from this mirador is the Nordenskjold Lake behind you.

📌 Campamento Italiano to Mirador Britannico (Via Frances)

Distance: 6 km| Difficulty: hard

This part of the W Trek is known as the Valle del Frances Trek. Just like the previous section, this is a very beautiful section of the W Trek, but it’s also one of the hardest, as you will find extremely steep rocky sections that make it hard to hike uphill, and even harder to go downhill. There are also a few stream crossings to do. Overall, you will constantly have the impression that you went outside of the trail, as the path to follow isn’t always 100% clear.

📸Highlights of this trail: Streams, waterfalls, beautiful trees, mountains with colours that go from the red of the leaves to the intense white of the ice – this section of the W Trek has it all. The noise of the ice falling also contributes to make this part of the hike magical. We couldn’t make it all the way to the top, because we needed to be back to catch the catamaran and because of the stormy weather, but we were told that on a clear day, the view from the top is unbeatable.

A person standing. Mountains and rocks in the background. Cloudy sky
📌 Campamento Italiano to Los Cuernos

Distance: 5.5 km| Difficulty: easy/moderate

This section should only take approximately 3 hours to walk. The difficulty level will depend on the weather not only of the day when you walk it, but also the previous days, as this part of the trail can get very muddy and hard to walk on.

📌 Los Cuernos to Camp Central/Las Torres

Distance: 13 km| Difficulty: easy/moderate

This section is mostly flat, with the exception of some slight uphills and downhills, with a constant amazing view on Nordenskjold Lake. Just like the section before, the difficulty of this part of the trail will depend on the weather. The distance between Los Cuernos and Camp Central/Las Torres is 11km and it should take you between 4 and 5 hours to get from one point to the other.

📸Highlights of this trail: On the whole trail you can see beautiful mountains on one side and Nordenskjold Lake on the other. In the summer, you can see green trees and plants everywhere around you.

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📌 Camp Central/Las Torres to Refugio Chileno

Distance: 5.5 km| Difficulty: moderate

This section is a mix of uphill and downhill to get to Chileno and it took us approximately 1.5 hours.

📸Highlights of this trail: This part of the trail is very pretty, with mountains in the background, a few streams and bridges to cross and, in the autumn, beautiful shades of colours from intense red, to orange to yellow.

📌 Refugio Chileno to Base de las Torres

Distance: 5 km| Difficulty: hard

This part was the most challenging of the whole W Trek for me and it took us about 3 hours to get there. After the first (brief) part of uphills and downhills, the second part is constantly uphills and very rocky. The Base de la Torres Trail is the most trafficked one, as it’s also the easiest to do as a day trip, so people on the path might slow you down.

📸Highlights of this trail: The colours on this trail are amazing all along the way. If you are lucky to visit Base de Las Torres on a clear day, the view is amazing.

Find all the post to help you planning your W Trek here

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W-Trek in Torres del Paine – All you need to know

The W-Trek in Torres del Paine (Patagonia) is one of the most popular hikes in South America. This post will give you some insights to help you organise your self-guided adventure.

In this post you’ll find information on: Getting there; Getting started – where to find information and rent gear; Transport to the park; National Park Fee Accommodation, Refugios and Campsites and When is the best time to go.

All the answers to your questions on a self-organised W Trek in Chilean Patagonia

In 2017, I quit my full-time job to travel. But where? So many amazing places in the world and so little time. The truth is that I had the answer to the question “Where?” long before I made the decision to quit.

Since the first time I watched The Motorcycle Diaries, this movie made me fall in love with the idea of backpacking through South America. But in 2016, I watched a BBC documentary called Wild Patagonia and visiting those wild landscapes had been my dream since. For this reason, when I quit my job, I knew exactly where I was going to go.

Fast forward a few months and here I am. We finally slowly made it to Chile and that dream of exploring Patagonia is about to come true.

Due to high prices, lack of organisation and last minute decisions you have to make when you are backpacking, a lot of people travelling we met along the way, decided to skip it.

Although it’s true that Patagonia is more expensive than other places in South America, it’s definitely worth exploring! And hopefully this post will give you some insights to help you organise your self-guided Torres del Paine adventure.

In this post you’ll find information on:

All you need to know about the W Trek in only 90 second

In my upcoming posts, you’ll find more information on organising your trek, including:

Getting there and getting started

To start the most popular Patagonia trek in Torre del Paine – the W Trek – you have to base yourself in Puerto Natales, a small town in the South of Chile. To get there, we flew from Santiago to Punta Arenas. Usually there are two airlines servicing this route and they both leave very early in the morning (5am): Latam and Jet Smart.

An alternative to this, would be to fly or get a bus to Puerto Montt and get a tourist boat along the fiords along the coast all the way down to the South. The bus between Santiago and Puerto Montt departs several times daily and it takes approximately 12 hours.

There is no direct bus from Santiago to Puerto Natales, but you can also get a bus to Osorno, then to Punta Arenas and finally to Puerto Natales.

Someone walking with a backpack. Houses and mountains in the background.
Arriving in Puerto Natales.

After you land in Punta Arenas you need to get a bus to Puerto Natales, which costs 8,000 CLP. Since there is no centralised bus terminal in Punta Arenas, you would need to go directly to the offices of the transport company you want to use.

Therefore, the best option is to get the bus directly at the airport. There are several companies servicing this route and we used Bus Sur. You can book a ticket online, but there are a few buses going there throughout the day and, especially if you are not sure about what time you land, you don’t need to pre-book it.

However, beware of taxi drivers and the tourist information desk in Punta Arenas airport! When we landed in Punta Arenas, we went to the information desk to ask where to get the bus from and they told us that if we hadn’t booked it online we had to go to one of the bus companies offices in the city centre and pay a taxi fare of around USD$15 to get there. At this stage, a taxi driver was already there, ready to take our bags in the car. As we saw the bus approaching, however, we told the taxi driver to wait and I went to ask the bus driver if we could pay for the ticket directly on the bus, and the answer was that we could.

Getting started – where to find information and rent gear

Once in Puerto Natales, there are a few nice hostels where you will be able to gather information about the hikes, mainly from people who have just come back from the trek and will share their experience with you.

Erratik Rock Hostel hold a free backpacker talk every day at 3pm, and it’s also one of the best places to rent good hiking and camping gears at a reasonable price. The talk is very useful and it’s a chance for you to ask as many questions as you want to these people who have hiking there for the past 14 years.

If you can, rent hiking sticks. They were so helpful for us and couldn’t have done it without them, especially when walking downhill, on rocky/muddy paths with very strong wind. We rented them from Erratick Rock for 3,500 CPL per day. You can also rent proper gloves for 1,500CPL, a tent for two for 4,500CPL, sleeping bags for 3,000CPL and other useful stuff like head lamps, cooking kits, etc…

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Transport to the park

From Puerto Natales you need to get a public bus to get to the Torre del Paine National Park. You should be able to book a ticket through your hostel and, even though you can potentially get a ticket on the same day, buses get pretty full so it is better to book it the day before. The cost for this bus is 15,000 CLP return (or 8,000 one way).

There are several buses servicing this route with the exact same schedule. The buses depart from Puerto Natales at 7.30 am and arrive in Torres del Paine at 7.45pm.

You will arrive in the National Park at around 9am, where you have to get off the bus to pay the park fee (see next section). After this, you have two options. If you decide to start your hike from Base de Las Torres and hike East to West, you need to get a van that will bring you closer to the starting point of the hike that takes approximately 15/20 minutes and costs 3,000 CLP one way, which you can pay directly to the driver. If you want to hike West to East (the most popular route), you need to go back on the bus you came on from Puerto Natales until you get to Pudeto where you need to get a Catamaran across Lago Grey to reach Paine Grande. The catamaran costs 18,000 CLP one way or 28,000 return. During high season, from December to March, the catamaran leaves four times daily, at 9am, 11am, 4:15pm, and 6pm from Pudeto and 9:35am, 11:35am, 7pm and 6:35pm from Paine Grande), but during low season, it only leaves twice daily.

A person walking with hiking sticks and a backpack. Mountains and a lake in the background

You will arrive in Pudeto at around 10.40 am and the catamaran is supposed to leave at 11.00. However, some people had a bad experience getting on the catamaran, as it left before the scheduled time. So, given that it’s not so reliable, it’s better to run straight to the catamaran leaving point to avoid being left in Pudeto with no way of getting back until 7 pm, when the bus to go back to Puerto Natales leaves.

National Park Fee

When the bus arrives at Torres del Pain National Park, you will need to get off the bus, fill in a form with your details and pay the entrance to the park. This is 21,000 CLP for foreigners and 6,000 CLP for Chilean residents. Once you purchase your ticket, it will be valid for three consecutive days if you go in and out the park every day, or, if you camp there overnight, it will remain valid for the whole length of your stay, no matter how long it is. After you pay the entrance fee, you can go to the next desk where you receive a map and you can get a special National Park passport stamp, if you collect them! The final step in this stage is watching a video about the park main rules.

A woman standing next to a sign in a wood saying "Bienvenido Parque Nacional Torres del Paine"

Accommodation, Refugios and Campsites

To be able to stay in the park, you need to reserve your accommodation in advance. This is quite expensive and, if like us, you don’t book it too much in advance, only the most expensive places will be left.

There are two free campsites, Campamiento Italiano and Paso, that you can reserve online on the CONAF website. Obviously, being free, they are almost always all booked out. They are free because they are just a place to set up your tent, but unlike all the other camping sites and refugios, they don’t have toilets, showers or a place to buy water or food.

Mid-range places are Grey, Chileno and Las Torres. You can book them through Vertice Patagonia or Fantastico Sur.  They have both camping spots or dorms, cold showers and small shops. Here prices for a spot in the Campsite go from 16 USD in Sep/Oct and April to 21 USD from November to March, whereas a spot on the campsite including a tent, sleeping bag, liner and sleeping pad range from 42 USD to 49 USD. A fully made bunk bed or a single bed with a sleeping bag in a six-people dorm goes from 95 USD to 116 USD.

Finally, there are the more expensive ones, like Paine Grande or Frances, that have warm showers, bars and a minimarket and you can book on Vertice. Due to our lack of organization, we ended up having to stay in Paine Grande for one night, since it was the only one available. Prices for the dorm were of 55 USD for a “cama simple”, or a bed with no blankets, and 85 USD for a “cama armada “, a bed with sheets and blankets. The price was very high, but we were very lucky since we checked in very late and they made a mistake with our reservation, so at that point the only free room they had available for us was a private room (that would otherwise have costed us over double the price we paid).

A person standing. Mountains and rocks in the background. Cloudy sky

The most expensive refugio is Frances: when looking up prices, we read that it was 380USD for a camping spot!

Don’t forget to bring your passport and your immigration paper, since you will need both when checking in the refugios.

From May to August, all refugios are closed.

When is the best time to go

October through March are the best months to hike Torres del Paine. During the summer, which goes from December to February, you will be able to enjoy longer days and good chance of sunshine, so it’s no surprise that this time of the year is the busiest for the National Park. What this means is that trails are more crowded and accommodation, both in the park and in Puerto Natales, tend to book out early. November to Mid December are less crowded but the weather is still nice, as it would be spring there.

If go from mid-March to late-April, you’ll be visiting the park in its autumn months. During time, when I visited the park myself, you’ll see spectacular autumn colours and breathtaking sunsets. Trails aren’t too crowded, but most accommodation in the park was booked out.

In the winter months, from May to the end of August, some parts and trails of the National Park will be inaccessible because of the snow and most of the refugios and campsites will be closed. While it’s still possible to visit the park over the winter month, you can only do so with a certified guide and there will be no park ranger from CONAF monitoring the trails.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about hiking the W-Trek? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll try to add it to my next post.

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Rapa Nui – All the 10 top sights on Easter Island

From swimming, to learn more about the history and culture, to exploring the island’s volcanoes, there is so much you can do in this place.

In my previous post, I talked about 13 unmissable experiences in Rapa Nui, but today, I’m going to talk about the top 10 sights that you absolutely need to check out.

As you might have understood by now, if you have been reading my previous posts, Rapa Nui – better known as Easter Island – really stole my heart! But don’t worry, this will be the last post on this magic place…at least for now!

From swimming, to learn more about the history and culture, to exploring the island’s volcanoes, there is so much you can do in this place. In my previous post, I talked about 13 unmissable experiences in Rapa Nui, but today, I’m going to talk about the top 10 sights that you absolutely need to check out.

Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki is the most famous and largest Moai complex on the island. This Ahu has 15 Moai statues and was destroyed twice in the past – first by a civil war and then by a tsunami – but was completely restored in the 90s.

Here you can see these 15 giants, all in different sizes and shapes, with the amazing background of the Pacific Ocean and two volcanoes: Poike Volcano on the left and Raraku Volcano in front of the Ahu. This is a premium spot to watch the sunrise on the island.

Anu Tongariki on Easter Island, Chile

In the same site you can also see another Moai lying flat on the ground. Even though you can’t get obviously touch it, you can get close enough this Moai, which really gives you a sense of how big these statues are.

Finally, here you can also see the Travelling Moai. This Moai was first shipped to Japan, where it stayed for a while, and when it was brought back to Easter Island, it was used for experiments aimed at finding out how Maois were transported in the past, so it was moved a few times on the site.

Rano Raraku

Another must see spot on Easter Island, and probably the most seen on travel guides, is Rano Raraku.

Rano Raraku is one the most important sites on the island as it’s the core of Rapa Nui megalithic art, where almost all Moais were carved, before being transported somewhere else. This is where Rapa Nui people found the raw materials for building the Moais and used this place as a workshop.

Rano Raraku moai statues on a green hill

Rano Raraku is a very nice place to enjoy a walk and learn about the story of the island. With its hills and slopes and dozens of Moais of different sizes, shapes and position, is a unique place on Easter Island.

Rano Kau Volcano and Orongo

Rano Kau is one of the volcanoes on the island and it’s considered the last have for biodiversity on Rapa Nui. The microclimate in this crater creates ideal levels of humidity and light for plants. In addition, the crater gives protection to plant and microorganism from wind and humidity coming from the ocean.

Take your time to walk on its crater to admire the immensity and intense blue colour of the Pacific Ocean and stop at the official mirador (viewpoint).

In this site, you can also visit Orongo, a ceremonial village made up of 53 basalt stone slab houses. This village was never inhabited and it was used only for a couple of weeks during the year, at the start of the spring. The design of the building here clearly revokes the one of harevaka (boat houses), common all over the island.

Why is Orongo famous? Although megalithic art was one of the most important forms of expression on Rapa Nui, from the XVI century, it became simply a political and religious expression and it was soon replace with the cult of Make-Make God, associated with fertility, spring and migratory birds. Orongo soon became the main centre for this cult, marking an important place for the birth of a new era on the island.

Te Pito Kura

Te Pito Kura literally means Navel of Light. Te Pito Kura is an archaeological complex located approximately 2Km southeast of Ovahe beach.

There are two mains things to see here. The first one is the largest Maoi ever build on the Easter Island. This Moai is about 10m tall, but it currently lies face down on the ground as it collapsed.

However, this isn’t the main attraction here. Not too far from the Moai, there is a large ovoid shaped stone, which measures 80 cm in diameter and it is this rock that gave the name to this site, due to its special properties. As a matter of fact, this rock is believed to have a high concentration of a magnetic and supernatural energy called mana.

The stone contains high levels of iron and, for this reason, it warms up more than others and causes compasses to behave differently. This stone quickly became famous, and many tourists and visitors went there to touch it to try and capture its energy. This energy was also related to fertility. To try and preserved the site, however, the stone has been closed off and it is no longer possible to touch it.

Ahu Tahai

Even though it’s a pretty spot at any time of the day, Ahu Tahai is a very popular spot for sunset watching on Easter Island. You can find this Ahu just a few steps away from the Hanga Roa villages and here you’ll find lots of people who are watching the sunset.

The ahu here is one of the oldest archeological complex on the island, but it’s not all that there is to see. Next to it, you can still see the remains of one of the typical boat-houses of the island, and a small cave, that was used as a shelter.

This site actually has three Ahus: Ahu Vai Uri, Ahu Tahai and Ahu Ko Te Riku. Ahu Vai Uri has five Moais statues, all of different sizes and shapes. Ahu Tahai has a single solitary Moai about 4.5 m high, which is still believed to transmit the mana magical energy. Finally, Ahu Ko Te Riku is the most recognisable one, with its reddish hat and eyes. Did you know this is the only Moai on the island with eyes?

Sunset at Ahu Tahai, Easter Island, Chile

Ahu Nau Nau

Ahu Nau Nau isn’t one of the most famous Moais complex on Easter Island, but it certainly is one of my favourite.

Located at Anakena beach, this ahu is surrounded by palm trees, white sand and turquoise water. Head here to admire this well preserved Ahu and to enjoy a swim in one of the best spots on the island. Did you know this is one of the first Ahus to be raised on the island in modern times?

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Ana Te Pahu and Ana Kakenga Caves

Easter Island is full of volcanic caves, which formed as lava tunnels created after rocks solidified around a flowing stream of molten lava. There are a lot of caves here, but two are the best ones to see: Ana Te Pahu and Ana Kakenga (I already talked about this here).

Ana Te Pahu is the largest cave on the island and is famous for its overgrown garden of sweet potatoes, taro and bananas.

Ana Kakenga has two openings that acts like windows on the Pacific Ocean – such an unmissable view and perfect spot for your Instagram picture!

Anakena Beach

Anakena Beach is the most popular swimming spot on Easter Island, with white sand, palm trees and blue water. As we heard this was the main swimming destination on the island, we imagined this was going to be full of people and ore touristy. However, we were surprised and happy to see that this place was still pretty untouched and there weren’t too many people – maybe because we weren’t there during high season.

Anakena beach, Easter Island, Chile

If you are looking for other places to swim on Rapa Nui, check out this post.

Ahu Akahanga

Is considered one of the most important Ahus on the island if you want to see the Moais from close. In this area, Moais were only up to 18 m away from the coast and so, over time, they were knocked down by waves. Unlike other places on the island, where these giants now lie all face down on the ground, here you can find some between 5 and 7 meter tall statues that lie face up.

Moreover, according to a local legend King Hotu Mata is buried here and you can fins his tomb just by the coast.

Hanga Roa

Finally, I’m adding Hanga Roa – the only inhabited village of the island – to this list. While you are “forced” to stay here, not many people actually take the time to explore this cute little village. However, this place has a lot of spots worth visiting.

From the Polynesian church, to Pea Beach, to the Poko Poko Natural Pool, some Ahus and small streets, Hanga Roa has a few hidden gems.

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13 Unmissable Experiences in Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is one of the most incredible places I have ever visited.
Here is a list of 13 unmissable experiences on Easter Island.

Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is one of the most incredible places I have ever visited. While you won’t need to spend more than a week here, you are going to want to!

This little volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is real paradise, with untouched landscapes, lots of mystery and history, culture, amazing food and more.

If you have any questions, about organising your trip to Easter Island, where to swim, top sites, etc…you might also be interested in the posts below.

Keep reading to find a list of unmissable experiences here on Easter Island, or watch the video diary of our unforgettable stay on this island.

Unmissable experiences on Easter Island:

Rent a bike to explore the island on your own

While I think that joining a guided tour is a great idea to learn about the history of the island, Moais, culture, etc…The best memories I have about my trip to Rapa Nui are linked to the days we spent exploring the island on our own.

By renting your own transport you can explore the most remote corners of Easter Island, see more of the places you liked on your tour if you take one, start off early to go see the sunrise and make the most of your time here.

We rented a quad bike to visit the island for 3 days, which costed us 40,000 CLP (€45). Alternatively you can also rent bikes or cars. There are several spots in Hanga Roa where you can rent them, and prices are approximately the same.

Learn about the Moais

The Moais are the first thing people thing of when they think of Easter Island. These amazing and mysterious statues have an interesting history behind them.

The average moai is 4m tall and weighs around 13 tonnes. Most of them have also bodies, which sometimes are visible, whereas sometimes they are hidden in the ground.

Some of the Ahus and Moais survived tsunamis and storms, some travelled to different part of the island or of the world, etc… The best way to discover their history is to join a full day guided tour, which will bring you to the main ahus and sites around Easter Island. It costs approximately 40,000 CLP (€45) and it includes transport, food and a local guide.

Anu Tongariki on Easter Island, Chile


Go to a dinner dance show

One of the highlights of Easter Island was the night we went for a dinner dance show at Ballet Kari Kari.

Ballet Cultural Kari Kari was funded over 20 years ago, with aim to promote Rapa Nui and Polinesian culture through dance and music.

You can choose to have dinner first, followed by the 90 minute amazing show, with lots of fun music and dances, or simply watch the show. The show includes ancient dances like the Hoko (war dance), Kai-Kai, the Sau-Sau or Ute, and at the end, people are invited to get on the stage and interact with the artists.

At dinner you will get a chance to try local food, which is mainly based on fish and seafood, but you also get some vegetarian options and meat based dishes, while trying Chilean wine.

The coast would be 15,000 CLP (€16) for just the show or 40,000 CLP (€45) for both.


Watch the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki

How does watching the sunrise in one of the most iconic spots in the world sound to you? If you get up early, you can catch a magical sunrise over  the 15 moai in at Ahu Tongariki.

Make sure you go there early enough, so that you don’t miss it. This is one of the most popular activities on the island, so you will find a lot of people here in the morning. However, if you wait a few minutes after everybody start leaving, you will get a break between the sunrise and when organise tours start arriving, when you can enjoy one of most beautiful places in Rapa Nui all for yourself.

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Swim at Anakena Beach

Anakena Beach is the most famous beach on Easter Island, with white sand, palm trees and blue water, which make it the perfect postcard place to relax, swim and play with the waves. Even though it is the main beach on the island, it is still pretty untouched and if you go in the morning, you can pretty much enjoy this place all for yourself.

Anakena beach, Easter Island, Chile


Explore the Ana Kakenga Cave

Rapa Nui is covered in underground chambers and lava tunnels that are so much fun to explore.

There are a lot of caves here, and even though it’s worth taking a look even at the less famous one, but there is a reason why Ana Kakenga is the most popular one. Ana Kakenga has two openings that acts like windows on the Pacific Ocean – such an unmissable view!

The problem with this cave is that it isn’t the best place for claustrophobic people. To get it, you need to go down a small chamber and it took me a while to persuade myself to go in there! However, that is the only narrow part and you’ll be in there for only a couple of minutes, as the tunnel gets bigger again. And it’s so worth it.


Have dinner and watch the sunset at Te Moai Sunset

Delicious food, amazing cocktail and a terrace view a view on one of the best sunsets you can witness in your life. Can you imagine anything better?

At Te Moai Sunset, you can have all of these. This cute restaurant that over looks Ahu Tahai has a beautiful terrace where you can enjoy some food an drinks, while watching the sunset.

Enjoy a magical sunset at Ahu Tahai

Ahu Tahai is probably the most popular spot for sunset watching on Easter Island. You can find this Ahu just a few steps away from the Hanga Roa villages and here you’ll find lots of people who are watching the sunset.

My favourite part about this is that this is the place where local people go to as well almost every night!

Sunset at Ahu Tahai, Easter Island, Chile


Take a walk at the Rano Kau crater & Orongo

Rano Kau is the largest of three volcanoes of the island and today it had become a natural lagoon.

Getting here from Hanga Roa is very easy if you rent a quad or a bike, or you could even walk to it. Don’t miss out the view from the “official” viewpoint, but it’s also worth taking a walk along the crater to admire the immensity and intense blue colour of the Pacific Ocean.

Visiting Rano Kau is free and, while the volcano itself is very spectacular, if you are here you can’t miss the former ceremonial village of Orongo.

Orongo is a ceremonial village made up of 53 basalt stone slab houses, and although people never really lived there, as it’s located in a very inaccessible position, it was used for rites undertaken when children where become adults.


Swim with sea turtles at Pea Beach

Like I said here, Pea beach is the small beach in the Hanga Roa village. Here you can not only swim, but also surf, as this is one of the main spots for this on the island.

At Pea Beach, during certain times of the year, you can also see sea turtles that usually approach the shore. To protect them, if you see them, make sure you keep the necessary distance and avoid touching them.

Get a special passport stamp

Do you like collecting special passport stamps to make your passport look extra full? Well, on Rapa Nui you can get not one, but two special passport stamps, one at the entrance of the National Park (on the left) and one at the Hanga Roa village post office.

Explore the Hanga Roa Village

While there wouldn’t be too much going on compared to the rest of the island, it’s still worth taking at least one hour to explore Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui only town.

Here you can get a glimpse into local people’s life, but also take a look at its fishing arbour and a few small archaeological sites, on top of Pea Beach and Poko Poko swimming spots and, of course, some surfing spots and schools if you are looking for an all-level surfing experience.

Visit the Polynesian catholic church

The Hanga Roa Catholic Church is a beautiful mix of catholic and Polynesian elements, really worth a visit. If you want to, you could even attend the mass in Spanish, where you’ll be able to listen to songs in the Rapa Nui language.

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