Back from the Brink: EcoTravel Companies Adjust After Patagonia Fire

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Despite a destructive fire last February, Patagonia still offers some of the finest EcoTravel opportunities in the world.

In February of 2005, a large fire swept across Patagonia in Torres Del Paine National Park. 14000 hectares -- 12000 scrubland and 2000 forestland -- were touched by the blaze. But eco-tour operators are adapting, with tours to Patagonia that focus on the park's many undamaged highlights.

"Even with the damage, the park's best hiking trails and important areas remain unaffected," Justin Laycob, president of Seattle firm Southern Explorations, said.

The worst-damaged areas are located on the eastern side of the park and near the entrance. Operators are now bringing travelers to other pristine areas of the park.

"We've shifted some of our trip itineraries to visit new areas, such as Laguna Verde - it's a quiet, stunning site surrounded by classic Patagonia landscape," said Laycob.

Southern Explorations clients now hike to Laguna Amarga on a new trail, see Grey Glacier, and spend two nights at Pehoe Lake. The change has been a good one.

"Our March clients loved this new itinerary and we are confident that this unique trip remains the best of its type in the area," Laycob said.

Patagonia is one of the last untouched wilderness areas in the world. With pristine lakes, glaciers, wildlife, impressive geography and local baqueano (cowboy) culture, it remains one of the best and most interesting destination travel areas anywhere.

Patagonia is a vast area spanning Chile & Argentina. Stunning highlights abound. In Chile, Torres Del Paine National Park and the Futaleufu River offer spectacular scenery and a world-class rafting destination. In Argentina, Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Fitz Roy National Park and the Perito Moreno Glacier offer more stunning views and beautiful camping and trekking.

Major airlines fly to both major cities Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Most tour operators stage from those cities. Upon arrival plan on at least 7-8 days to enjoy the area on either the Chile or Argentina side. If you have up to 14 days, you can hit Patagonia highlights in both countries.

Even after the February blaze, Patagonia offers a hard-to-find treat: An untouched, less-traveled wilderness to visit and explore.

Southern Explorations is dedicated to cultural travel and expeditions that are beneficial for both the traveler and those living in the destinations. With extensive experience in Peru, Chile, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Bolivia, they combine breath-taking adventures, comfort and environmental preservation.

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Justin Laycob
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