Cascada Was Commended at ELA

Just last week, Cascada Expediciones representatives traveled to London to participate in this year’s Experience Latin America (ELA) event. It’s a unique B2B opportunity for Latin American travel specialists to make new connections, participate in seminars and learn how to better their businesses. One of the most exciting parts of the event is the LATA Achievement Awards ceremony, where we were gratefully commended under the “Best DMC/Local Operator” category.

We are honored to receive a new recognition! Cascada has been in business since 1991, initially founded by locals Javier Lopez, Yerko Ivelic and Nani Astorga. Since then, the company has grown and evolved and we are constantly working hard to provide life changing adventures here in South America. Just in the last year, we have had a lot going on! Our hard work, passion and dedication to transformational travel has helped us earn the “Highly Commended” recognition. Take a look at what we’ve done:

Offered New Adventures

We regularly look to update travel itineraries and create new trips that excite and motivate our travelers. Some of the top new experiences include:

  • Dientes de Navarino Trek – Sitting at the very end of Chile, this excursion is known as the southernmost trek in the world!
  • Magical Chiloe Heritage Tour – In Chile’s Lake Region is Chiloé Island, a place with unique “Chilote” culture, wildlife and nature. We are taking travelers to this special spot and showing them what Chiloé is all about!
  • Winter W Trek – A mystical trekking experience in Torres del Paine during winter! Travelers can experience the beauty of Patagonia without crowds and in the majestic, white snow.  
  • Ancestral Atacama Adventure – This new 5-day trip mixes Atacama Desert’s altiplano culture with the remarkable nature.

 

Encouraged Responsible Travel and Sustainability

One of our founding principles is sustainability. We want to prove that travel can be eco-friendly. Therefore we offer many unique tours in Torres del Paine National Park that aim to connect with nature in a nondestructive way. Many travelers stay at our geodesic dome hotel EcoCamp, which is fully sustainable. EcoCamp is equipped with composting toilets, renewable energy sources, a biofiltration system and more. We also support and sponser green intatives, such as park reforestaion programs and Tu Mejor Huella campaign, which aims to rebuild trails in Torres del Paine.

Worked with Passionate People

Cascada’s staff is full of passion and dedication — ranging from expert guides to EcoCamp’s creative cooking staff to individuals working behind the computer screen and ensuring each traveler has an incredible trip. We all care about our travelers and providing top-tier services. Staff members love working for the purpose and enjoy Cascada’s many great perks and benefits, such as weekend retreats and professional development opportunities.

Supported the Local Community

From the Altiplano people in the north to the Rapa Nui islanders in the Pacific to the Patagonians in south, Chile is packed full of cultures and backgrounds that are completely distinct. We want travelers to connect with local culture and we aim to help these communities grow and flourish. For example, Torres del Paine we work with local artisans to sell their handicrafts under our own unique brand called Man Kai.

Want to learn more? Check out our About Page

 

Love Animals? Check Out Our Top Wildlife Photos

Look closely and you may be able to spot Chile’s most magical creatures. The country is filled with beautiful wildlife, ranging from the massive Andean condor to the elusive puma. Our team at Cascada works hard to find these incredible animals, while also keeping a safe distance and respecting their environment. We’ve managed to get a number of fantastic wildife photos! Check out our favorite shots:

The puma call easily be nicknamed the “King of Patagonia,” serving as one of the region’s top predators. They are quiet and blend in with their surroundings, making it difficult to spot them. Listen for the sounds of one of the puma’s favorite prey: the guanacos. Guanacos make a loud, alarming noise indicating a puma may near.

This species of owl is called the chuncho or austral pygmy owl. They tend to live in temperate forests here in Chile.

Do you hear that sound? It’s the distinct noise of a Magellanic woodpecker, one of Chile’s most beautiful birds. They are very important species to the ecosystem due to their unique feeding methods. The holes they create during feeding also make spaces for other creatures to hide, nest and feed.

The sly grey fox can be spotted in various habitats in Chile. It is much smaller than a red fox, only weighing up to 4 kg.

Everybody loves these cute, cuddly birds! King Penguins are the second largest penguin species in the world. Most of them live in Antarctica, with a small population residing King Penguin Park in Tierra del Fuego in Southern Patagonia.

This South American deer, also known as the huemul, is extremely tough to find. Sadly, this species is endangered with less than 1,500 of them left.

A mother guanaco and her young graze in the fields of Southern Patagonia. These sweet creatures show resemblance their relatives, the llama, vicuna and alpaca. They tend to live in herds and are easy to spot in Torres del Paine National Park.

There he goes! The precious dwarf armadillo wanders along the dusty path in Torres del Paine. This particular species of armadillo hibernates during the cold winter months, but can be seen during warmer parts of the year.

The Andean condor sits among the cliffs before taking flight in a windy, mountainous area of Chile. Watching it glide through the sky is quite a sight to see! This species is one of the largest flying birds in the world, measuring up to three meters in wingspan.

 

Want to see some of these unique animals for yourself? Look into our Wildlife Safari program and various wildlife excursion extensions in Southern Patagonia. Don’t forget your camera!

 

How We Can Protect Patagonia

Today is World Environment Day, a special event organized by the United Nations that draws awareness to conservation and environmental protection.  This year the UN has a strong focus to #beatairpollution.  Here at Cascada, our recent focus is to protect Patagonia and preserve this region’s incredible wonders:

Practice Responsible Tourism

Responsible tourism is key to protecting Patagonia! It is the only way we can keep the region clean and healthy. Little things can really make a big difference and we believe it is important that visitors learn to travel in a responsible way. It’s as simple as…

  • Taking Back Garbage: This includes organic trash! Do not leave anything –your apple cores, granola bar wrappers or tissues in beautiful Patagonia. It looks bad and disrupts the ecosystem.
  • Staying on Marked Pathways: On treks, it’s important to stay on the marked pathways. It prevents erosion and the trail from widening.
  • Picking Eco-friendly Accommodation: Stay in places that support green travel, such as EcoCamp Patagonia.
  • Thinking Sustainable: Use refillable water bottles, look for biodegradable products and get rid “one-use” items, such as plastic bags.

 

Participate in Local Conservation Efforts

There are all sorts of events and initiatives that take place in Patagonia, helping to preserve its beautiful nature. The area is big, but the population is pretty small! Locals could always use an extra hand with their projects. Right now a few local initiatives include…

  • Fiesta de la Limpieza: In Puerto Natales, this Chilean initiative helps keep Torres del Paine National Park clean. A couple times a year, a group of volunteers hold a cleaning event to pick up trash left by irresponsible travelers. Learn more!   
  • Tu Mejor Huella: A campaign started late last year to help rebuild the base torres trail in Torres del Paine. Sadly, this trail is suffering from erosion and at risk of irreversible damage. Read about it here.
  • Kid’s Reforestation Program: EcoCamp organizes an event for children to come to Torres del Paine and help plant new trees.

Understand the Region and its Struggles

It’s hard to help Patagonia until you know and understand the problems the region faces. Take time to learn about the environmental problems, so you can better help to solve them. Here’s a brief overview of a few key issues in the region:

  • Climate Change: This is an issue that is not only impacting Patagonia, but the entire globe. With excess greenhouse gasses, our future planet is at serious risk. We have already seen negative change in Patagonia, such as retreating glaciers. In fact, a giant iceberg broke off Grey Glacier just this year!
  • Forest Fires: At least one fifth of Torres del Paine has been destroyed from forest fires! Fire spreads very quickly in the region due to the strong wind. Therefore, it is extremely important that travelers follow the parks’ rules and do not have campfires in areas not permitted. We have sadly seen how a small fire can quickly transform into a very big fire!
  • Waste: Recycle what you can and take everything back! With an increase in tourism, ecosystems are at risk due to excess waste.

 

Respect the Flora & Fauna

Patagonia is known for its unique wildlife and vegetation. People love to spot see the beautiful, colorful lenga trees, along with condors flying overhead and pumas hiding in the grasses. It’s all part of what makes Patagonia so incredible! To keep these animals and plants healthy and safe it is important that travelers do the following…

  • Keep a Safe Distance: Patagonia is full of incredible wildlife, such as pumas, condors, guanacos, foxes and more. We love to spot them, but we have to also respect them. Make sure to stay at a safe distance from the animals. This ensures safety for the traveler and the animal. Also: Do not feed or try to touch any of the animals!
  • Leave What You Find: There are many beautiful things to see! But remember to look, not touch. Even if you see an interesting rock or colorful flower, it belongs to the region. Taking natural souvenirs disrupts the environment.

With this in mind, the last and most important thing we can do is spread the word! Education is power. The more people who learn about conservation, the more change we are bound to see. Happy Environment Day everybody — let’s work together to make the world a greener place!

Time’s Running Out! Vote for EcoCamp Patagonia

 Ecocamp Patagonia,  our partner and sustainable dome hotel, has been nominated for this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards by Condé Nast Traveler. EcoCamp is thrilled to be nominated amongst so many incredible hotels and resorts from all around the world. Help them bring home the win by voting on Condé Nast’s website.

 

6 Simple Steps to Vote 

1. Go to: https://www.cntraveler.com/rca/vote

2. Click on the “Hotels & Resorts” section

3. Log in with your Facebook or email

4. Select “EcoCamp Patagonia” under “Hotel or Resort”

5. Answer a couple of quick questions about your experience. It takes less than 2 minutes!

6. Submit… and that’s it!

More About EcoCamp

EcoCamp Patagonia is located in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park. It is the first geodesic dome hotel in the world, offering eco-friendly adventures and accommodation since 2001. This hotel deserves to win because…

1. Guests LOVE the excursions! EcoCamp provides opportunities to trek the “W,” discover new wildlife, go on a multi-sport adventure and more. Expert guides travel on every outing, leading guests along the trails and teaching them about the beautiful park.

2. The food and drinks are on point. EcoCamp’s chef creates tasty, creative meals that vary from day to day. Food is prepared with local ingredients and incorporates the flavors of Chile! Cocktails are also unique and original, prepared by the bar’s talented mixologists.

3. EcoCamp is fully sustainable, contributing to the fight against global warming. Roughly 95 percent of the energy used comes from hydro and solar sources and the hotel uses compost toilets, biodegradable products, a biofiltration system and more.

4. It’s the perfect “glamping” experience, providing guests with top-of-the-line accommodation and a rustic, outdoor vibe. Each dome has a “Patagonia feel” and is a cozy place to rest after a full day exploring the park.

5. Everything is organized for you! The logistics are sorted. All you need to do is book a flight and pick your excursions. Expert guides and staff members will provide you with any information you need, ensuring a fun and easy trip to Patagonia. Transportation, meals, activities and accommodation are all included!

 

So if you had a great time in Torres del Paine, please take a moment to vote! If you have any problems on the website or need additional information, shoot us an email at marketing@cascada.travel

Happy 60th Anniversary Torres del Paine! This is Why We Love You.

Today marks 60 years since the opening of Torres del Paine National Park. It first opened back on May 13, 1959 and since then has seen significant growth in popularity and appreciation. Year after year the park draws in new visitors from all corners of the globe and even earned the title of “8th Wonder in the World.” All this attention may have you wondering, what makes this place so great? At Cascada Expediciones, the park holds a special place in our hearts. This is why we love it so much.

 

Pure Natural Beauty

Torres del Paine is one of those places that makes you just stop and stare. It’s full of natural beauty: home to sparkling glaciers, deep forests, rocky mountains and fierce rivers. The park gives its visitors an opportunity to connect with some of nature’s finest creations and explore one of the most beautiful areas in Patagonia. Some of the park’s highlights include:

The Base of the Towers

We can’t ignore where the park got its name. Torres del Paine means “Towers of Paine,” a name that is based on the three gigantic granite monoliths shaped like towers. This unique mountain formation is definitely a must-see highlight in the park. One of the best ways to view it is by hiking to the base point. From our partner and fully sustainable dome hotel EcoCamp Patagonia, visitors can embark on a day trek that lasts roughly 8 hours and is made up of 24 km. It’s a challenge well worth overcoming, especially considering the end prize is a picture-perfect view of the Towers.

Grey Glacier

 This massive glacier is without a doubt, one of the most spectacular sights in the park. Its many faces give visitors multiple perspectives of the icy shapes and forms in the glacier. Many visitors take a boat excursion to view the glacier. Additionally, it is possible to kayak in the glacial lake or even ice trek on the top of the glacier.

French Valley

This part of the park is very beautiful – particularly during autumn when the leaves turn deep shades of yellow, orange and red. French Valley is part of the W Trek, but can also be done in roughly 5 or 6 hours during a one-day excursion. The trail leads to a beautiful overlook of the valley with the hanging glacier nestled in between the snowy mountains.

 

Diverse Wildlife

With beautiful landscapes comes beautiful wildlife. It’s always a wonderful experience to come face to face with Patagonia’s special creatures, all living wild and free. There’s a number of unique animals to view, these are our favorites:

The Puma (and its prey)

The puma, the king of Patagonia- remains one of the park’s most sought out creatures. They are hard to spot as they quietly blend into the natural surroundings. But when you do see one, it is amazing! True wildlife lovers can sign up for a Puma Tracking Excursion, working with professional tracking experts to find these beautiful creatures. One of the key indicators is the guanaco, a llama-like animal that serves as the puma’s main source of food in the park. Guanacos make a very specific high-pitched noise when they sense danger to warn their herd. Look out for this noise and you are bound to run into a puma.

Condors

These supersized birds seek out windy spots in the park to glide through the sky. Condors are the largest flying birds in the world, with a wingspan of up to three meters. Seeing one up close is truly remarkable. They have such a specific way of flying, appearing to almost glide along with the wind.

Foxes, Hares, Skunks and More

Look carefully and you might spot one of the park’s smaller creatures. Watch for hopping hares after the sun sets or grey foxes peaking through the grasses. Skunks are also scattered around the park — but it might be wise to look at these guys from a distance. Additionally, there are hummingbirds and armadillos.

 

A Wide Range of Outdoor Sports

Outdoor sports enthusiasts – prepare yourself! Torres del Paine really has it all. Climb mountains, sail down rivers, explore glaciers, bike, hike or horseback ride. There are activities for all ages and abilities, all adventurous and enjoyable.

Trekking

Torres del Paine offers tons of fantastic trekking opportunities. Favorite multi-day treks include the W Trek and the Paine Circuit. Both hit all of the park’s popular trails and major highlights, while the Paine Circuit also incorporates a more isolated route to lesser-seen areas. Additionally, day treks can easily be arranged for those looking for a shorter adventure. Popular day treks include Base Torres, Lazo Weber, Cerro Ferrier, Fauna Trail, French Valley and more.

Kayaking

It’s too cold to swim, but perfect for kayaking! Serrano and Grey River offer some wonderful opportunities to paddle downstream. Additionally, some visitors go on a kayaking trip in the glacial lake to get an up-close view of Grey Glacier.

Climbing

For wild adventurers and adrenaline junkies, Torres del Paine is the perfect spot for a climb. It is important to be prepared and seek help from a certified and knowledgeable guide. But with the right preparation, a strong mind and physically-fit body, climbers can conquer some incredible heights. Click to learn more about three fierce climbers who did the unthinkable in Torres del Paine. 

Happy Anniversary Torres del Paine! Thank you for 60 years of your stunning landscapes and surreal atmosphere.

The Ultimate Way to Spoil Your Mom This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day’s right around the corner and you may be wondering what to get for your mom.

A bouquet of flowers? Too generic.

Breakfast in bed? You’ve done it 10 times.

A handmade card? Cute, but kind of boring.

What if instead, you made this Mother’s Day extra special? Book a trip to South America and spoil your mom rotten with incredible adventures and unforgettable experiences. It is the ultimate Mother’s Day present and there are so many things you could do together!

Explore the World’s Driest Desert

Take your mom somewhere new and totally unique — the Atacama Desert. It is the driest desert in the world and can easily be accessed from San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile or Uyuni in Bolivia.

The Atacama has so many interesting activities to keep you and your mom busy for days! Many travelers enjoy visiting the region’s colorful lagoons – ranging from shades of red to bright turquoise. Additionally, salt flats, geysers, hot springs and unworldly rock formations are easy to find.

With so many incredible landscapes, you and your mom will surely snap plenty of fantastic photos and come home with memories and stories to last a lifetime.

Relax at Chile’s Famous Wineries

Chile’s Central Valley is known around the world for its beautiful countryside wineries. Visit some of the top wineries in the region, such as Concha y Toro or VIK, showering your mom with fresh wine and beautiful views.

Many travelers enjoy horseback riding through the vineyards or participating in a tasting or food pairing. It’s also a lovely area to get a massage.

Marvel at Breathtaking Glaciers

There’s nothing that compares to the immensity and overwhelming quality of a glacier. Glaciers are beautiful (and sadly receding), accounting for some of the world’s most precious wonders. Experience this together with your mom!

South America is full of spectacular glaciers, specifically in the Patagonian region in Southern Chile and Argentina. Here you can find hundreds of sparkling glaciers, some which you can even trek on!

Perito Moreno and Grey Glacier are two of the region’s most popular glaciers. Both massive and beautiful, seeing these glaciers up close would be an amazing experience for both you and your mom.

Stay at a Trendy, Unique Hotel

Make everything, even the accommodation feel special! Try bringing your mom to an interesting hotel that offers tasty food, cozy beds and a unique atmosphere.

EcoCamp Patagonia is a great place to bring your mom! It is the first geodesic dome hotel in the world and offers a fun, active and fully sustainable experience. Many travelers that visit embark on one of the hotel’s hiking excursions or spend time admiring the region’s flora and fauna. There are also opportunities to have a massage or take a yoga class.

Wander through Vibrant Cities

Is your mom a “city person?” If so, South America has an abundance of lively cities to explore. From Buenos Aires to Lima to Bogáta, each city offers something new and different.

La Paz, Bolivia is a great city to stop by! It is full of indigenous culture and offers great views with high altitude. It’s just a bus ride away for the Salar de Uyuni as well.

Additionally, check out Valparaíso, Chile with your mom. This portside city has an artsy, cool vibe and is packed with so much culture. If your mom enjoys art, then she will love this place! The city’s colorful hills are full of interesting street art and unique architecture. It’s truly a special place.

Enjoy Tropical Beaches

If your mom loves the beach, then South America is the perfect destination! Of course, there are the obvious choices– Río de Janeiro or Cartagena. But there are also some amazing lesser-known beaches.

One unique beach to visit is on Easter Island. It is technically part of the South American continent but is situated far from the mainland in the Pacific Ocean. Here you can discover mysterious Moai statues, volcano craters and a unique Polynesian culture that is unlike anywhere else.

With so many special activities and distinct landscapes, this trip is sure to be the best Mother’s Day present ever. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Demand Rises for Santiago’s First National Park

Recent news broke: The Chilean military has given 112,000 acres of private land in the Metropolitan region to the national government, raising demand for the creation of Santiago’s first national park.

The newly accessible land stretches across Rio Colorado, which is located just outside the city of Santiago in Cajón de Maipo. The 112,000 acres, in addition to 30,000 acres of land that is already owned by the government, opens up a new opportunity to create a national park that could protect up to 142,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, rivers and unique flora and fauna.

As a result of this unique opportunity, the Chilean campaign #QueremosParque (#WeWantPark) is asking for support to help create the new national park and is explaining the many reasons why it would benefit the Metropolitan region.

 

Savoring Natural Resources

Within the 142,000 acres lies roughly 50 percent of the freshwater reserve in the Santiago Basin. This water is not only used for drinking- it also is used for agricultural production and helps keep our ecosystems alive and healthy. It is one planet’s most valuable resources and unfortunately, there is not an endless supply of it.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Evidence suggests that two-thirds of the world population could be living in water-stressed countries by 2025 if current consumption patterns continue.” That is only six short years away! If that’s what is predicted for the next six years, then what can we expect in the next ten, twenty or fifty years?

Creating this national park will help protect the water, ensuring it is used appropriately and ultimately contributing to the worldwide fight against climate change and environmental protection.

 

Creating Latin America’s Outdoor Capital

When people think of Chile’s natural beauty, they immediately think of the beaming towers in Torres del Paine or the quiet, desert plains and colorful lagoons in the Atacama. This is Chile’s chance to show that the Santiago region also has incredible nature to explore.

According to the #QueremosParque campaign, the creation of this park could turn Santiago into “The Outdoor Capital of Latin America,” drawing more tourism to the city and the central region. The park would be so big, that it actually would measure up to six times the size of Santiago’s urban area. Without question, it could raise a lot of attention, both nationally and internationally.

 

Protecting Hundreds of Species

The area is home to 233 types flora and 135 types of fauna, including several endangered species. Creating a national park is the best way to make sure the animals and plant life are both protected and able to live freely.

Some popular animals that can be spotted include condors, the largest flying bird species that measure up to 3 meters in wingspan, and guancos, which come from the llama family and are commonly seen in Southern Patagonia. In the Metropolitan region, a guanco sighting is new and exciting, as they only recently started to repopulate the area after being locally extinct for years. We want to see them protected so their local population does not vanish again!

As of now, the future of this potential park is still unknown. But with a motivated campaign and strong support from individuals and organizations, we at Cascada are optimistic and hopeful that this valuable and beautiful land will be put to good use. 

For more information on how to protect our beautiful planet, check out EcoCamp’s blog post on simple tips to live green!