We ended our time in Chile with a very special experience in a valley near the border with Argentina called Futaleufú.
The sun had just broken through the clouds as we arrived at the eco farm PATA – Rio Futaleufú. We were met by Marcelo Schaffer – a former advertising executive turned conservationist, who left São Paulo (Brasil) with his family some years back and now lives down in one of the cabins in this idyllic valley.
We headed straight to the banks of the Futaleufú River with him, which was glistening in the autumn afternoon. In the summer months, it’s a dreamy setting for visitors to go kayaking, but at this time of year it’s getting cold already. The river was so still, it reflected like a mirror, with dancing sprays of ochre leaves.
slow living (n.) // slow (adj.)
a mindset whereby you intentionally slow down, curating a more meaningful and conscious lifestyle that’s in line with what you value most in life; eliminating activities that don’t serve your highest purpose.
As we glared at the natural kaleidoscope of some of the world’s most pristine waters, Marcelo reflected on his motivations for leaving the city and coming here. Slower living, less technology, more time with family and nature. But there was also something deeper…
Him and a collective of Brasilian friends joined forces and were directly influenced by what Kris and Doug Tompkins did in Pumalín. A commitment to conservation and rewilding spawned ‘PATA,’ where “regeneration, responsibility, connection and ecosystem” are all staple words in their vocabulary.
As well as providing opportunities to visit the project via their lodges and events, they’ve developed a creative real estate model that makes it economically sustainable to acquire, maintain and expand large areas of nature for the purposes of conservation, not development.
PATA Farms are located in Chile and Brasil. The one we visited houses PATA Lodge (pictured above): a number of rustic, reclaimed cabins for guests to visit. They designed and built them in a cozy, minimal style with sustainability at the heart of their decision making.
A central communal kitchen (or ‘Quincho’) is supplied by the organic kitchen garden on site – which had our eyes gleaming. The smile across Marcelo’s face when uprooting some of the recent yield of Ajo Chilote (a gigantic Chilean garlic) revealed just how much appreciation there is for cultivating and living life to the cycles of growing.
We had the opportunity to explore another PATA site down the road – Rio Azul and spend the night there. Switching off completely, slowing down by the fire and watching the clouds sink into the forests surrounding us – it was a magical experience.
In some ways it felt like we left Chile too early. Its Patagonian region contains an astounding level of natural beauty and we were really enchanted by it. Although it was more of a challenge to live a vanlife there due to the lack of public access, the experiences we did have to immerse in nature were deep rooted.