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Futurismo Aysén: International sustainable tourism festival in Cerro Castillo

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By Rosario Góngora
Translation by Amy Schrader
 
Three days of activities to promote sustainable tourism in the Aysén Patagonia region.
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Seventh South America Bird Fair in Puerto Varas next month

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Blue-and-yellow macaw. Photo: Deni WilliamsBlue-and-yellow macaw. Photo: Deni Williams
 
 
By Cristobal Perez
 
The seventh edition of the South America Bird Fair will be held for the first time in Chile next month, where birdwatchers and bird enthusiasts will come together for lectures, symposia, workshops, field trips and other activities about birds and their ecosystems.
 
Started in 2010, the South America Bird Fair began as a small event in San Martín de los Andes, thanks to the initiative of Argentine biologist Horacio Mataraso. He saw the need to organize an event that would bring together birdwatchers of South America, taking as an example the British Bird Fair and other bird fairs held in the United States, Australia and Europe. The fair was held annually in Argentina until 2013, in 2015 moved to Paraty, Brazil, and last year was held in Buenos Aires.
 
This year, the fair will be at Hotel Cabaña del Lago in Puerto Varas from October 26-29. Its organizers say that a main objective is to position South America - and this year Chile in particular - as one of the world’s top birdwatching destinations. Indeed, South American birds have “a diversity of shapes, habits and colors that are unique on the planet,” says Chilean ornithologist Álvaro Jaramillo in the article "Best Birdwatching Places in South America” in the current issue of Patagon Journal.
 
 
Chucao. Photo: Nicolás BinderChucao. Photo: Nicolás Binder
 
 
Raffaele Di Biase, founder of Birds Chile, the local organizer of the event, says that "it is an opportunity to show people and governmental organizations that it is an important niche, with enormous potential, that it is one of the most sustainable forms of tourism, and that it is fast growing in recent years.”  He adds that the fair aims to be a contribution to conservation. "As the natural heritage becomes a tourist attraction,” he said, “it becomes economically more profitable to conserve ecosystems rather than degrade or exploit them.”
 
The event is organized with support from the regional government, which Di Biase says is increasingly backing birdwatching activities. “Ten years ago, there was little or no interest whatsoever in birdwatching. But over the past five years we have started to see birds as a main feature in the tourism promotion materials put out by the Chilean government.”
 
The program (see below) for this year’s fair has a wealth of lectures, video documentaries, workshops, and presentations from scientists as well as authors of some of the continent’s most important birdwatching guides. There is great interest in participating in the fair: all available stands sold out already weeks ago, and in addition to a strong South American presence, experts from England, Africa and the United States will participate.
 
 
Black woodpecker. Photo: Liam QuinnBlack woodpecker. Photo: Liam Quinn
 
 
This year the fair has made environmental education a main theme, thanks to Carolina Yáñez, a conference volunteer who has been visiting schools in the province of Llanquihue (where Puerto Varas is located) the past four months teaching them about birds and birdwatching.  The first day of the fair will be dedicated exclusively to students, who will be able to view environmental education exhibits.
 
At the fair you will also find stands featuring the latest birding equipment, birdwatching companies, bird books, art galleries and governmental entities and organizations dedicated to birds and nature. Birdwatchers will have tremendous oppportunites to deepen and complement their knowledge, and tour operators will be able to connect to the leading birdwatching companies on the continent. Swarovski Optik, one of the world’s leading makers of optical equipment for birdwatching and ecotourism, for the first time will sponsor the fair and is bringing all of its products.

Below, the program for the fair. For more info, visit www.birdfair.net.
 
Program for the Seventh South America Bird FairProgram for the Seventh South America Bird Fair
 
 
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Chile to host international sustainable tourism conference

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Photo: Javier VierasPhoto: Javier Vieras
 
 
By Cristobal Perez
 
Coyhaique, the capital of the Aysén region in Chilean Patagonia, is host to the annual conference of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), which will take place from today until Saturday, September 9.
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Hotels inside Torres del Paine: a necessary risk?

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Photo: Javiera IdePhoto: Javiera Ide
 
 
By Tomás Moggia
Translation by Rebecca Neal and William Mastick
 
Long before it became a national park, Torres del Paine attracted visitors from around the world drawn by its unique geography and natural beauty. Huge granite and ice formations, electric-blue and sparkling green lakes, rugged thousand-year-old glaciers, and stretches of impenetrable forests are just some of the unique mosaic that makes Torres del Paine one of Patagonia’s most iconic places.
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The anniversary of Villa la Angostura, my town

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Villa la Angostura. Photo: Diego MeierVilla la Angostura. Photo: Diego Meier

 
By Diego Meier
 
Villa la Angostura, in Patagonia, is my place in the world. I had the luck to be born here and then after moving far away for my studies, I chose to return. This place continues to inspire me to get outside and experience up close its forests, mountains and landscapes. And I enjoy simply greeting the people on its streets and getting to know them.
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10 reasons to visit and protect Puelo

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New regulations for visits to Torres del Paine

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Pehoé campsite. Photo: TomaBPehoé campsite. Photo: TomaB
 
 
Beginning this month, for overnight stays in Torres del Paine National Park you must have prior reservations at campsites or lodges.
 
By Clara Ribera
 
 
Due to high demand for partaking in the popular trekking circuits of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile's national park service (Conaf) has announced that starting from October 15, overnight stays in the park will be regulated. The new measure aims to redistribute the growing quantity of visits throughout more months of the year, which will benefit both the park’s natural environment and the quality of the experience for the guests themselves.
 
"We do not intend to reduce the volume of visitors," explains Rodrigo Rodriguez, who is in charge of parks and protected areas for Conaf in the Última Esperanza province, Magallanes region. Considering the high concentration of guests during a short two-month period -- currently some 40 percent of visitors arrive during January and February, which is the high season during Patagonia's summer -- they want to extend the trekking season into March and April.
 
The regulation impacts anyone wanting to trek the popular and busy “W” and “Macizo Paine Grande” circuits. "We urge the traveler to plan and inform themselves before coming. Together, we can achieve a change in behavior,” says Ximena Castro, business manager of Fantástico Sur, one of the companies which has a concession for operating lodges inside the park. 
 
Anyone planning an extended hike for more than a day on the trails must now reserve a spot at the various campsites and lodges in advance, before entering the park. Moreover, the visitor will only be allowed one night in each sector. Rodriguez adds that those visitors not yet up to speed with the new system can try to make a last minute booking when registering before entering the park at the welcome center at Cerro Paine, though they will be hit with an additional 20 percent surcharge for usage of the tablets available there. If all the slots are filled, "you can still do a full-day in the park or climb to the base of the Torres without a reservation," says Rodriguez.
 
Bookings must be made from three different platforms depending on the location: CONAF (www.parquetorresdelpaine.cl), for the campsites, or via Vértice (www.verticepatagonia.com) and Fantástico Sur (www.fantasticosur.com) for the lodges and refugios inside the park. There are plans to launch a joint website in the future.
 
 
Lodges and campsites in the circuit.Lodges and campsites in the circuit.
 
 

  

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