EcoCamp Cascada Expeditions, 2001

EcoCamp is owned and operated by Cascada Expediciones. Cascada was founded in 1991 by Yerko Ivelic and Javier Lopez and environmental steward Nani Astorga. EcoCamp was opened in 2001- The region's first fully sustainable accommodation of the Amazon and the world's first geodesic hotel establishment.

The idea EcoCamp was to create accommodation where tourists could connect with nature and get to know Torres del Paine without leaving a mark. At EcoCamp travellers are immersed in their natural surroundings. All natural light and heat energy is used and electricity comes from hydro and solar energy. The domes are made to blend naturally into their surrounding environment and flora and fauna continues to grow on EcoCamp ground. The conservation of nature will always be prioritized over any luxury that could damage the park.

EcoCamp’s dome design was inspired by the The Kaweskars (Alacalufes), a group of nomadic Patagonian inhabitants. EcoCamp is a tribute to their way of life and the essence of their dome homes has been continued by maintaining a simple design in the midst of natural surroundings.
All domes have semi-spherical structures which minimize external surface and the the temperature exchange through the walls, as well as providing maximum internal space and ensuring a uniform distribution of wind stress. Dome exteriors are green to blend in and of limited height. All domes have an outer canvas layer and a thick insulation cushion, giving warmth and protection from strong winds. Skylight windows allow guests to star gaze at night, and use natural heat and light resources. There is a variety of domes: Suite dome 28m2, Superior Dome 23m2, Standard Dome 10m2, Suite Dome Loft 37 m2.

Minimal excavation and raised platforms means that local fauna is not disrupted. At night the walkways are very subtly lit so as not to disturb animals.

All of the electricity comes from a micro-hydro turbine and photovoltaic panels. Energy is gathered in a 24V battery bank to power all of EcoCamp’s refrigerators, lighting, electrical appliances, stereos etc. Propane gas is used to heat water and superior domes.

Water from the river enters the micro-hydro turbine at 5 litres per second with a net pressure of 38 meters delivering a steady power of 800 Watts. An inverter is used to switch from the 24V DC in the battery bank to 220 AC, the standard voltage in Chile. An array of 1700 Watt photovoltaic panels - also connected to the battery bank - collect the extra energy needed at Ecocamp.

Electricity is limited and only available to guests for charging camera batteries and laptops. Solar energy is very efficient in summer when Patagonia receives up to 17 hours of sunlight daily.

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FUENTES: www.ecocamp.travel, www.plataformaarquitectura.com