This week’s responsible tourism interview is with Bahia Bustamante and amazing village/ guesthouse/sheep farm/ wildlife haven set in a National Park in Patagonia, Argentina. As one guest said: “A seaside village surrounded by 360° of nature. Inside a National Park and declared one of Argentina’s Important Birding Areas, only a few places in the world house such an amount and diversity of seabirds and marine mammals”
- Congratulations on making the long list for the World Responsible Tourism Awards. What was your reaction when you found out?
We’ve been applying now for 3 years, so we are thrilled to know we have made it to the Long list. We are extremely happy and proud to be the only project in Argentina that has been selected. Our aim is for Bahia Bustamante Lodge to be the example of a private initiative to protect wildlife in Argentina. We believe these awards raise awareness and, at the same time, are a recognition to our hard work, we have been doing something right! So we couldn’t be happier!
We hope that, in the future, most travel and hospitality companies consider sustainability and conservation as key concepts to develop their projects.
- What inspired you to start your business?
Bahia Bustamante has always been my place on earth. I have the privilege of having my roots in a real paradise, in a land that has been respected and preserved by my family through 4 generations.
It was my grandfather, alongside with my father and uncles, the first to settle in the area in the 1950´s. After a lot of sacrifice they found the exact spot where they founded Bahia Bustamante, a small seaside village with a very particular charm. For more than 50 years Bahia Bustamante has been living off the seaweed business, then added the ovine industry, and lastly 10 years ago opened up to tourism, receiving guests from every corner of the world.
I remember being young and watching with pride while Biologists studied the area. The company (SORIANO SA) always encouraged the visits of biologists and the study and conservation of the different species that live in the area.
The degradation of the marine ecosystem is endangering the area of the Patagonian Atlantic Coast with the greatest concentration and diversity of marine birds. The ecological balance was ruptured with the arrival of invasive species like the undaria seaweed, the breaking of the sea bed, the oil spilling, the climate changes and many other alterations that we still can’t evaluate or comprehend precisely. Sadly nowadays it is very difficult to see toninas, dolphins or albatross, and the population of chorlos and playeros has descended greatly. When I started the hospitality project, I couldn’t think of any other way of doing it than applying a sustainable criteria. My dream is for us argentines to finally realize that we risk losing lots of natural resources and that together we can all contribute to revert this process.
- Why did you choose to go down the responsible travel route?
Because it is the only way to do things if you care about our planet and others. We are trying to be role models for the future generations that may arrive to the area, whether they are family or any nature lover passing by. We hope that this great work on conservation and respect towards our land will be continued by future generations as a contribution to life and the natural resources of our country, and in this to stand as an example to other communities in Argentina and around the world.
- What is your one tip for someone who wants to travel more responsibly?
Always be respectful. The best traveler is the one that travels without leaving traces, immersing in the culture and nature, with open eyes and mind, eager to learn, leaving the place they visited exactly the same as they found it.
- What has been your most rewarding outcome from choosing to practice responsible travel?
Seeing the marine and land fauna increase and confirming that we have been raising awareness, that there are more and more people who know we have to be more respectful, and value these kind of eco projects when travelling.
Thank you so much Matias for your answers. Keep up the great work!
If you would like to stay at Bahia Bustamante (and we really think you should) then you can book here:
Do you know of a responsible tourism business or charity that deserves be highlighted on our 5 minute series? Let us know by sending an e-mail to [email protected]
All photos by Bahia Bustamante