It’s Saturday, and I haven’t had Internet for three days.  It really hasn’t been that bad.  I think I need to unplug more.  At any rate, we’re back in El Calafate, and I can post pictures from the past few days.

Wednesday was a travel day.   We started the day with an early trip to the bus station, where we boarded a bus to take us to Puerto Natales, Chile. It was about a 7 hour trip through Argentina and into Chile. The landscape was monotonous, so no pictures. It was very flat…prairie-like. The bus was a double decker, pretty comfortable.

This is the view from the bus station in El Calafate.

In Puerto Natales, we were picked up by an EcoCamp bus, and they took us to their office to check us in. From there, our group had lunch at a restaurant three doors down. We met a group of 3 couples from England (all looked like they were in their sixties) who were going on a 9-day hike, the first day a 19-mile trek. Life goal . . .

Then, it was back on a bus for a 2-hour drive to EcoCamp. Shortly after we left, the scenery changed dramatically. Photographs cannot do justice to the beauty of Torres Del Paine, but I’ll post some anyway. We were in the mountains again.

Past the prairies and back into the mountains
An estancia (ranch)

At one point, we saw gauchos herding sheep. We stopped to watch some guanacos. There was a condor flying overhead. I saw a fox cross the road and disappear into the brush.

In a bathroom along the way

We got our first glimpse of Torres Del Paine National Park and the famous Three Towers in the distance:

The Three Towers

About 15 minutes inside the park, we saw green geodesic domes in the distance. We’d arrived at EcoCamp.

Welcome to EcoCamp Patagonia

This place is beyond cool!  We were given our key, and as weird as this sentence sounds, our guide showed us around our dome.

Home Sweet Dome

Remember how cool it was to build forts when you were a kid?  It was kind of like that entering our dome for the first time.  Inside our dome, it was about the same size as a typical hotel room. We had electricity (mostly solar-powered), a composting toilet, a shower, a sink, etc. Hardwood floors. Windows. And thick fabric for walls.

It was warm inside, even though the stove heater was off. The dome’s shape and construction keep it warm, even when it’s cold and windy outside.

View from the entrance
Inside, looking back at the entrance
The other side of the “room”

The dome had one large “window,” and we lucked out with our view:

The Three Towers

All of the common areas of EcoCamp were domes as well.  Here’s where we checked in:

The entrance to the common area, where the dining rooms, gathering area, and the bar was.
A dome for hanging out
The dining hall, where we ate breakfast and dinner

We went to the “bar” (another larger dome), where there were groups of people who had come back from the day’s hikes. They handed us drinks and we heard about the next day’s excursions and made our selection. We then went to the dining room (another large dome) for dinner. It’s a very social place — they sat all of the “safari” people (our program) together at the same table. We met several people, some beginning their visit like us, and some who have been here for a while.

One of the awesome things about EcoCamp is that it’s designed to bring people together for shared experiences and new friendships.  Our first night there, it seemed like everyone else knew each other, and two nights later, we were those people.  We met really great people from all over the world, including the USA. Our last night, there were many hugs goodbye, including the staff.



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