An ongoing sustainability agenda at Las Torres

2nd February 2022

The wild open terrains of Chilean Patagonia show nature at its finest and purest, with its glaciers, turquoise lakes, and dramatic mountains.

Torres del Paine National Park, a place seemingly at the end of the world, symbolises one of our last chances to cherish and preserve a remote wilderness. Chile’s most famous National Park is home to the stunning granite Paine Towers, pumas, and breathtaking panoramic views.

Las Torres is the only privately owned reserve within the park, and the Kusanovic family (now third generation), owners and custodians, have been caring for the land in their charge for more than half a century, with the aim of both welcoming guests to this extraordinarily beautiful, diverse and remote region, and ensuring long term sustainability and a legacy of biodiverse and unspoilt land for future generations to enjoy.

Visitors can be excused for not realising the good work that flows from its beating heart: this is a business that gets things done ….. because it’s the right thing to do, not for the publicity and accolade.

In the 1970s, the Kusanovic family bought what was originally a ranch in Torres del Paine. It wasn’t until the 1990s that they started offering home-cooked food and lodging to weary travellers coming to visit this extraordinary region. Within a decade, and as visitor numbers to the park grew, Hotel Las Torres was born, with an eco-agenda at the forefront of their evolving business and vision.

In 2004 that commitment was further solidified when Las Torres set up an NGO to focus on conservation and environmental education projects throughout Torres del Paine National park. AMA Torres del Paine . AMA (meaning love in Spanish) —encourages sustainable tourism and supports educational projects: it was set up to safeguard the National Park and continues in this quest today. Since launch they have planted over 35,000 trees, to help recover those lost in forest fires over the years, as well as installing fire fighting stations and training staff in order to help prevent future blazes.

Recycling: A key focus for the entire operation. Through measuring and redesigning systems, staff have:

  • Saved 100,000 plastic bottles by banning them from the Reserve.
  • Reduced landfill wastage from 300 tonnes to 100 tonnes annually.
  • Reduced the weight of rubbish generated per visitor per day from 1.7kg to 800 grammes, with a target of net-zero waste within the next five years.

Sustainable Farming: Guests enjoy kilometre-zero fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the worlds most southerly organic garden, in the Hotel Las Torres grounds.

  • Ten tonnes of produce – over 26 varieties of fruit and vegetable – are grown (and consumed!) on site.
  • All green waste from the business is recycled into compost and put back onto the gardens.
  • Grazing areas are also left fallow for 3-4 months a year, encouraging plant growth and biodiversity. As a bonus, almost 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions can be sequestered thanks to the carbon capture capacity of better quality topsoil.

Education: An ecologist from Las Torres Reserve teaches local schoolchildren about biodiversity when they visit and gets the kids involved in tree planting, helping to educate the next generation on the importance of conservation and sustainability.

Water: The mountain spring water supply to the hotel has been put through natural water purifiers for over a decade.

Renewable energy: Hydroelectric and wind power are being factored into all new projects.

Environmental heroes like the family at Las Torres often go unheard. Still, visitors can always pick out their work in the echoes of this beautiful landscape. With a choice of hotel, mountain hostels and a selection of camping sites, the reserve offers the authentic Patagonia experience whilst maintaining a commitment to nature and the land in its care.