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We all know about the “Seven Wonders of the World,” but it seems like there are dozens of places that profess to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” But there can be only one official “Eighth Wonder,” and honestly, nothing can beat the epic granite towers, hanging glaciers, and vast landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile.

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In 2013, the national park received 5 million votes on VirtualTourist.com and officially became the 8th Wonder of the World, beating out more than 300 entries from 50 countries around the globe, and making Torres del Paine the absolute star of Patagonia.ecocamp-patagonia-chile-8

Long before its international consecration, Torres del Paine’s 935 square miles of rugged beauty were already a dream playground for hikers (with famous trekking routes like the W Trek and the Paine Circuit), and home to some crazy projects that welcomed adventurers to the feet of the Paine mountain range. Among them, EcoCamp Patagonia may be the most hobbit-like accommodation available in Patagonia, and has inspired hundreds of hotels around the world with its sustainable geodesic domes.

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EcoCamp sums up its concept in one sentence: “get together in harmony with nature.” We know; did that make the word “hippie” come to mind? Well, the truth is much more complex than that. EcoCamp is not just a luxury hotel nor a retreat camp for hippies. When Javier Lopez and Yerko Ivelic – two Chilean friends, outdoors lovers and civil engineers – founded the hotel in 2001, they aimed to create the first fully sustainable hotel south of the Amazon, an idyllic place to connect with nature and fellow travellers.ecocamp-patagonia-chile-3

They created EcoCamp as a tribute to the Kaweskar dwellings – the Kaweskar were nomadic indigenous tribes that used to move from a place to another without leaving traces. To reduce the hotel’s footprint, Yerko and Javier decided to use hydraulic energy (70%) from a nearby river, and solar energy (30%) from solar panels around the domes. The hotel’s waste would be recycled and some of it would be recycled. Composting toilets would allow EcoCamp to generate compost for a nearby farm while domes would be built on a wooden platform above the ground, therefore not impacting the soil in a negative way.ecocamp-patagonia-chile-5

EcoCamp’s 33 domes of 3 types (Suite, Superior and Standard) respond to all kind of travellers’ needs, from the highest level of comfort allowed by sustainable development (private bathroom, woodfire heater and panoramic windows) to the most authentic feeling of adventure with the Standard domes (shared bathroom, no heating, windows on the ceiling to gaze at the Milky Way during the night). In the evening, travellers share their stories in the Community Domes, 4 interconnected domes that act like the social hub of EcoCamp. Staff and guests are one big family and this community makes a trip to Patagonia unforgettable in the wilds of Torres del Paine.

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During the day, nature and trekking excursions led by expert guides venture out onto the most stunning trails and off-the-beaten-path places in the National Park. If you’re an animal-lover, you can even go on a Wild Horse Tracking experience with scientists, or track the elusive puma through the pampa (Patagonian “desert”). But beware – animals are to be observed and the guys at EcoCamp will teach you how important it is to protect them and keep your distance.

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