This month, we spoke with Nahuel Alonso, founder of Esencia.Patagonia, to understand more about the Argentinian tour operator’s roots. We discovered that education, conservation, transformative experiences and the free spirit of Patagonia translate some of the business’s soul.
What is your personal story that led you to found Esencia?
The story of the company actually started when I was born and it’s linked to my own essence. I was born in Ibiza, Spain to Argentinian parents. They were always connected to our roots and especially our native culture and nature. Nahuel comes from the native language here in Patagonia and it means “puma,” a mountain lion that is typical in this area of north Patagonia. It’s also the name of a famous lake and a National Park here, so “Nahuel” is this land. My mind, imagination and identity were always linked to this region. So one day I decided to come and settle here to get in touch with my own essence.
What is the essence of Esencia.Patagonia?
When I first settled here, I was in Victoria Island, where I started living an unusual lifestyle, close to nature, farming, fishing and picking mushrooms. And, aside from that, I also started to host people, because the island was one of the main attractions from the National Park. This is when hospitality came to my life, as a ranger.
And as a soul traveler, I went all over South America and Europe, which helped me understand and build on the vision of my own land, Patagonia, to start designing authentic perspectives for people visiting here.
I created this company with only $20. Business cards, stickers which transmitted the intrinsic concept of conservation, education, the gastronomy and the local arts aspect which remains, essentially, our essence to this day.
You guys say “education takes place outdoors.” How do you link your experiences with education?
We don’t just design products. We share our own story. As a family company, we also try to connect everyone who is part of our essence and share our own stories with our visitor friends too. We always add the relationship layer to our experiences in order to be able to create lifelong experiences because we believe that when you connect with nature’s bounty, that subconscious bond ties you to the people with whom you share these experiences.
And, as for the educational and conservationist part of it, this same connection heightens awareness of the environment and forms a more sustainable mindset.
The slogan “Travel to be better” is connected to what you call Transformative Experiences. What does that mean?
When you travel, something opens up inside you and you’re able to renew your energy and spirits. So it’s a great opportunity to create transformation through well-designed experiences. We’re always inspired and supported by the sacred artist here on Earth: Nature, in order to create that impact. We split the experiences into four different kingdoms: The Lakes, the Andes, the Jungles and the Steppes.
After a transformative journey in deep contact with nature and many other ingredients we add to the itinerary, like local music, food and real connections, we believe people have a chance to absorb and integrate new ideas and dynamics in order to go back to their daily lives better, as a better version of themselves. The outdoors are an amazing classroom to teach people how to have better relationships, how to act in their consuming and perspectives on their own life.
What about the experiences that include local art? How do you combine that?
The landscape of Patagonia is the best art production I’ve ever seen in my life. So we like to combine that relaxing moment of connection with nature with a surprise moment in which artists are invited to join the itinerary to perform and this is when your soul starts to cry out in joy. The way you manage emotions through the day. We partner with famous local artists or visit a social project to experience and understand local art. So it’s not only about the product. It’s about the story, the people and the purpose behind it that make the real magic happen.
You talk a lot about the sound of silence when describing Patagonia. Can you explain what it sounds like?
The sound of silence is also part of our experiences. Silence is always there. We’re the ones who pollute that. When we start to connect in an organic way, the silence comes to you in a very strong way and you feel yourself fusing with it in your heart. It’s impossible not to feel it here in Patagonia
During the pandemic, you created a new product: Fuegos. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
We opened a speakeasy operation by the lake. Fuegos is actually a basecamp spot by the lake. We have wellness experiences like yoga, meditation, calisthenics, Wim Hof in the morning and exploring the lake by kayak, stand up paddle or in a catamaran. Plus a restaurant, where we serve healthy local food.