Patagonia, the remote and rugged landscape of South America consists of 400,000 square miles of natural beauty and has some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth. It can be quite hard for nature lovers to narrow down which part to visit.
On the east side of the Andes Mountains lies Argentina’s Rio Negro Province, an area waiting to be explored. This part of Patagonia is scattered with glacial lakes; its wild terrain and milder climate are perfect for hiking and other outdoor adventures.
El Bolsón, Rio Negro, is where we have come to catch up with Argentina’s most successful eco-tourism influencer and owner of El Bolsón Trekking. Our mission: to find out more about Federico Magri and what makes him so passionate about his enviable job that allows him to roam the beautiful countryside.
This is our second visit to this beautiful region and we were very excited to return. Actually, we are starting to understand why you love it so much here. How are you and your company changing the face of tourism, especially in this southwestern corner of the country?
The forest, lakes and mountains in the vicinity have been my playground for far too many years. This is the perfect environment for anybody who wants to feel close to nature and the serenity also helps to bring peace and clarity to the mind. The area is now attracting far more tourists than ever before and they are coming from all over the world, whereas previously it was mostly locals. Tourism boosts the local economy and visitors to the region are becoming aware of the need for living a healthier life and also the importance of preserving its natural beauty.
How can anyone balance tourism with the preservation of the natural beauty?
Preserving the ecology and natural beauty of El Bolsón is important to me, but it would also be a pity if nature lovers couldn’t get to enjoy this beautiful corner of Argentina. In order for conservation efforts to be successful we also need awareness and to attract people who are determined to preserve the natural beauty. Eco-tourism is the greatest weapon in the fight for environmental awareness.
Who are the people that have influenced your outlook on life the most?
Dr. Rodolfo Venzano, a settler to El Bolsón from Switzerland who arrived in 1935 and John Muir, the Scottish born North American, John Muir. They were both environmentalists and naturalists in their spare time and lived far before my time, but I have read their writings and noted their conservational efforts. Both were way ahead of their time in the way that they were thinking.
Drawing from the philosophies of these two great botanists and explorers, who both loved the mountains, what do you consider that they have instilled you with the most?
Their writings taught me to be considerate towards nature and to turn to it for a healthier state of body and mind. It offers us fresh air, beauty and an abundance of flora and fauna that we need to conserve. Nature removes all things negative and refills us with positives.
The social media pages of El Bolsón Trekking have a huge following and the credit for these marketing efforts and the increased tourism to the region go to you. Have you ever faced any adverse situations in your life, and how do you deal with these?
Hard work is usually rewarded, and I am doing something that I am passionate about so I am marketing what I love. However, I believe that no one can claim to only having success in their lives. On a daily basis we all face ups and downs. My advice is to stay calm, be with people who love you and have earned your trust, and as we say here “todo pasa” or taking positive steps.
What are the goals that you are working toward that you want to be a reality within the next five years?
My biggest goal, and something that is essential for Argentina, is to have a consolidated eco-tourism effort. I want to see more people appreciating the benefits of trekking and hiking and more efforts made toward conserving our environment.
Do you have a final message for our readers?
My final message is a question to everyone: Are you working toward leaving a better world?