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explora, the company that owns and manages the 8,500 hectares that make up the Puritama Reserve, was awarded for its contribution to environmental stewardship and local communities.
Located 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away from San Pedro de Atacama, in the Region of Antofagasta, the Puritama National Reserve is the largest private reserve in the north of Chile. This wildlife protection area includes the full extension of the Puritama creek, allowing for full biodiversity protection by explora.
Mainly known for its aridness, the north of Chile is a place with many secrets. However, certain parts of this unique geography stand out due to the existence of water. And it’s in those places –lagoons, wetlands, creeks and saltpans– where life blooms in the desert and in the Andes high plains, the conservation of which is extremely important. Knowing that, explora acquired those lands with the aim of preserving and increasing this territory’s value.
Since then, different scientific studies and local flora and fauna conservation projects have been taking place, such as the study and monitoring of the Andean cougar, an endangered species; or the protection of the yareta, a flowering plant classified as vulnerable, just to name a few. No other creek in the region matches Puritima’s features, making it a biodiversity hotspot.
Within the Reserve, there’s a hot spring from the Puritama River, which means hot water in Kunza language. explora built pools and non-invasive infrastructure to create the Puritama Hot Springs, a tourist attraction in the region that contributes with income for the local and scientific community. Part of the facilities’ revenues are donated to Calama’s Andino Boarding Home –which takes in students from different remote localities– and another part is devoted to research and development to learn more and further protect this territory.
The hot springs also benefit the population of San Pedro de Atacama who make a living on tourism and help raise environmental awareness. With more than 60,000 visitors per year, it is one of the country’s most visited natural areas. This is a place that brings together the interest for tourism, business and heritage conservation and a model to be replicated in other parts of Chile.