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Joaquín Alvarez

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Joaquin is the third generation of a family linked to the foundation of Puerto Natales. His grandfather was a pioneer in colonization of the fields of the Roca Peninsula, a logging business owner and a member of the first social and administrative organisations of the imminent city. As a young man, after completing his studies, he established himself in the Roca Peninsula, from where his family extracted wood from cypress and coigue wood to supply the town Puerto Natales, the Puerto Bories cold storage plant, and the livestock ranches. Initially he dedicated himself to repair wooden boats, promptly starting the construction of what was to become the emblematic cutter “21 de Mayo”, embarking on what became the first tourist trips to the glaciers and Balmaceda mountain. In the decade of the 1950s, whilst accompanying the police officers of Puerto Natales to do a census of the Last Hope Sound (Ultima Esperanza), Joaquin was amazed by the beauty of the Balmaceda Mountain and its giant glaciers Balmaceda and Serrano. In those days the imposing Balmaceda glacier went from the summit all the way to the sea, with a perch some 300 to 400 metres above the fiord. It was a surprising natural setting that filled the area with massive icebergs. At the same time the Serrano glacier, with its majestic and scenic landscape, on the lagoon, reaching to the moraine adjacent to Puerto Toro. The beauty of the landscape and his enthusiasm as an entrepreneur, motivated him to finish the construction of the cutter “21 de Mayo”, that would make its first tourism voyages in early 1965. Finally, after several decades the dream that the visionary Salesian father and mountaineer “Alberto de Agostini” had held, had become reality. Over the years and with modernization, the old wooden boats that he built became motorboats built in his shipyard in Puerto Bories, and today they are fast catamarans with state of the art technology sailing the waters of the Last Hope Sound. “60 years ago I was told I was crazy for wanting to show the world these wonders. Today Puerto Natales and Patagonia have grown and developed thanks to tourism. I do not believe I was wrong... I invite you to come to get to know this secluded corner of Chile that we have maintained with a lot of effort, sacrifice and tenacity, by myself, my children and my grandchildren.”

Paola Goic

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Born in Punta Arenas, and like many people who have come from different cities or distant countries, Paola has made Puerto Natales her home. A place that has let her deploy her talents to carry out projects in the fields of ecotourism, science and education. Here she leads a life involved in nature in her house on the outskirts of town, looking after her horses and her dogs, when she is not in Torres del Paine National Park. It was this very park that attracted her to the destination, when many years ago she arrived for the first time to work as a tourism guide in a hotel next to the park, and later another one, and so she remained. She studied English language, translation and tourism at Maria Auxialidora Catholic Grammar School. She was exposed to a different reality in the United Kingdom, through a program that took her to Wales to study National Park Management. And so, in Puerto Natales, in Torres del Paine National Park and in areas bordering the park she has developed a range of tourism projects alongside local business people, like the Ranch Pingo Salvaje by Lake Sofia and Pampa Lodge in the locality of Rio Serrano, next to Torres del Paine. She is currently planning the opening of a University Campus for North Americans focused on global warming and climate change. “We are nature, adventure, culture, tradition and history. I invite you to discover every corner of this marvellous destination that has so much to offer and that will surprise its visitors.”

Jorge Canales Helmer

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Born in Puerto Natales, Jorge is a descendent of German colonisers who settled in the area to develop livestock, the only livelihood available in the area of Ultima Esperanza in the early 20th century. Today he works on the same land managed by his grandfather Ernesto Helmer Grudnig, who arrived as foreman of the historic Puerto Consuelo Ranch. In 1976 they acquired lands that had formed part of the Tierra del Fuego Exploitation Society. In this location they constructed a trail that covered 10 km on the slopes of the Benitez Mountain, of great importance from a heritage point of view, as it holds the smaller caves that form the reserve and natural monument of the Milodon Cave. Here Jorge and his family welcomes us to enjoy a day of physical activity in the outdoors. At the same time you can venture out and discover and admire the mysteries that its eaves, caves and walls have preserved over time. After only a few steps you come into contact with the remains of the first inhabitants and extinct fauna, rock paintings and more than 100 years of scientific excavations, that has brought to light knowledge about the first settlers and their bonfires, remains of milodons, black panthers, sable toothed tigers and much more. For the nature lovers, this place offers panoramic views of the Last Hope Sound, the Eberhard Fiord, Lake Sofia, Cerro Queso, the mountain ranges of Prat, Moore and Sierra Señoret, and forests of lenga and ñirre trees. In the hills where the trail runs there are many condor nests, and black eagles are observed throughout the year. More than 45 species of birds, native flora, mountain cats and pumas can be seen, mainly in winter. “We invite you to live a unique and different experience, in our archaeological, paleontological and geological site. With a hike of medium intensity, we welcome you to enjoy a fun adventure, thanks to the great variety of flora, fauna and beautiful views.”

Hector Díaz

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Hector was born in Puerto Natales, but at the age of three he moved to the Kaweskar locality of Puerto Eden, together with his parents and siblings, where he lived for 12 years. This child, the son of a police officer, had a particular childhood between the fiords, channels and lands of the first inhabitants of southern canoe seafarers. The constant boat trips between Puerto Natales and Puerto Eden defined him as a person. As a young man and back in his hometown, he became a nature lover, first as an artisanal fisherman at the age of 14, and two years later he started to travel in Torres del Paine National Park as a tourist guide. He studied eco-tourism, and together with his peers he founded the Union Association of local guides in Puerto Natales. His passion linked to the exploration of for exploring Kaweskar territories brings him closer to the knowledge and care of the biodiversity of Patagonia. He has taken various courses in first aid in remote locations, as well as others in search and rescue. For more than 11 years, he has been exploring the Fiord of the Mountains, which not long ago became part of the Kaweskar National Park. Hector has had a lot to do with the development of tourism in this sector, he has defined new routes and markers and has built floating shelters and a maritime connection. Today he is a local tour operator, of a new trekking route that unite two campgrounds and his floating shelter. He positions himself as an alternative to the circuits in Torres del Paine National Park, with attractions like Bernal Glacier, the mountains of the La Paz Group and views of the Sarmiento mountain range. “Get to know our minimum impact and conservation ideology. Come to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Fiords of the Mountains, and understand the ancestral knowledge of the seafaring canoeists Kaweskar’”

Nathalie Reffer

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Daughter of the world for a long time, Nathalie arrived in Puerto Natales to work together with her family in their food business. Having lived in many cities, in Chile and in places as far away as Africa, she had acquired experience working directly with people from all over the world, providing customer service. She decided to understand and offer a different gastronomic experience in Puerto Natales, mixing the authentic flavours of Patagonia with others from distinct destinations from all over the world. Speaking with her clients she learned that the Chilean cuisine generally speaking contains very homogenous flavours that could be strengthened with African flavours and inspiration from Indian cuisine, offering one of the first fusion and gourmet food experiences in our city. Viewing competition as something positive, together with her peers she created Union Association with objectives such as to promote the supply of local products, and to grow the demand and consumption of such products. Fostering co-operation between entrepreneurs, producers and suppliers, solving supply needs, as in the case of lamb and king crab which are mainly produced for export. It was essential to give back to the local community for all the doors that it had opened in this remote place of Chile. “I invite you to Puerto Natales, to get to know the wealth of our gastronomy, with premium products like lamb, king crab, oysters and sea urchins. Luxury products that you can try on site in various forms, gourmet or homemade, something for every taste and budget.”

Fideliza Vargas

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Born in Puerto Montt in the region of Los Lagos, at 19 Fideliza arrived in Puerto Natales, a place that in little more than its 100 year history has welcomed many families from this part of the country, mainly from the island group of Chiloe. From a family or artisans, Fideliza as a child learned to loom and weave. At a young age she found her path, with the development of artisanal products of wood, wool and other materials that exist in abundance in this region. Her first years in Puerto Natales she dedicated to helping and training other female artisans or entrepreneurs, through the parish workshops that were promoted at that time, using state funds and grants for development, production and entrepreneurship. They took their first steps in business delivering their goods to the new hotels that were built in Puerto Natales and then started exporting to Germany. Since 2002 and in conjunction with the municipality they have formed the Artisan Village Etherh Aike, that concentrate in large parts on local artisans who develop products from wool, leather, wood, clay and other materials. In the works by Fideliza there is an abundance of wool, one hundred percent natural from local sheep, which she mixes with interesting materials such as sticks and mosses. She processes the wool from washing to spinning and dyeing, to then create works that abound with themes of local identity, like the cultures of the Kaweskar, Aonikenk and Selknam, and attributes from nature from the western Patagonian landscapes, such as trees, mountains and the sheep themselves. “We are in the Artisan Village in Puerto Natales, all of us artisans working with wool, wood, leather and clay. You are all invited to Puerto Natales and to discover our artisan works that are very different to those you will encounter in other locations. We rescue flora, fauna and history.”