Why did you decide to start leading experiential travel tours?
After studying Physical Education at the University of Chile, I took a trip south to Patagonia and from there, everything had me hooked; the bracing cold, powerful winds, wilds, and Torres del Paine National Park itself. So that was it! I quit my corporate gig in Santiago and started in the travel industry as a mountain guide in 1997 and later began Chile Nativo in 2001. Chile is a prime location for discovery and I wanted to create opportunities for others to share in its wonder!
What do you hope to gain from showing people your environment and culture?
"We hope that travelers gain an experience which makes them appreciate not only the beauty of Patagonia, but the importance of keeping this region as pristine as it has always been. And also becoming more conscious of our planet and the environment. Here in Patagonia you see the most incredible acts of nature: jaw-dropping glaciers, magnificent mountains and peaks, icy winds and soaring condors, flora and fauna…and it only makes you want to protect it all. Chilean culture is easy to fall in love with - especially the charming side of the Patagonian culture. Once you share a mate (tea) with gauchos (Patagonian Cowboys), you'll feel warmly welcomed." -Alicia Caton, Marketing Director of Chile Nativo
What are you most excited to share with tourists?
"Sharing the natural wonder that Chile is! In the north is the Atacama Dessert, the driest in the world; Santiago and the central coast is where one can explore wineries and beautiful coastal towns like the UNESCO World heritage city of Valparaiso; and in the south there's Patagonia, with its enchanting glaciers and national parks like Torres Del Paine, a world class hiking and horseback riding destination. Sharing the unique culture and beautiful corners of Patagonia has become a passion of our organization!" -Caton
What fears do you have about making your land and lifestyle more public?
"Very few people have been lucky enough to explore many of the vast areas and lands here in Patagonia such as Yendegaia National Park in Tierra del Fuego and parts of Torres del Paine such as the Zapata Valley (where Patagonia’s prehistoric life is very much relevant). When you come to Patagonia you feel a sense of untouched, wild land and keeping these areas as such is gravely important to the biodiversity of our region, the environment, and the culture and communities of Patagonia. We hope to share these incredible areas in a respectful, conservative way in order to inspire our guests to continue making conscious decisions to travel responsibly and care for the lands in which they discover." -Caton
What specifically about your culture/history/environment would be beneficial for a traveler to learn about before taking their trip?
"In Chile we pride ourselves as being warm and welcoming and always ready for a good meal and a nice glass of wine! We have some of the freshest seafood you can find and we have a deep appreciation for family and friends and sharing meals together. When in Patagonia, it's important to be prepared for any and all types of weather at any given moment! During the peak months of travel (October - April) it's normal to experience all 4 seasons in the same day. And lastly, take the time to learn about the history of Patagonia and its rich and complex past. The indigenous communities and cultures have an important story and traditions to be heard and shared which defines Patagonia as a place like no other.
We are proud to give back - our company is honored to sponsor two rural schools in the region where sustainability and English are taught to the students. We donate $15 for each guest to the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund which helps aid different projects in the region and we work directly with local communities, buy local, & support small businesses! We feel these practices are crucial for the future of tourism and sustainability and conserving beautiful Patagonia!" -Caton