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Chile is home to the world’s most scenic route, through the parks of Patagonia

Chile has unveiled the Patagonian Route of Parks, an incredible trail that connects 17 national parks with the aim of promoting nature conservation and community development.

Becoming one with Chile‘s breathtaking nature, characterised by pristine wilderness and majestic Andean peaks, is now a bit easier thanks to a new hiking route that connects the national parks in the country’s south, the Patagonian Route of Parks. It’s a scenic trail that stretches for 2,800 kilometres and encompasses 17 national parks, giving life to an incredible itinerary among the most iconic landscapes of Chile’s Patagonia region.

Fitz Roy, Argentinian Patagonia
Mount Fitz Roy is located along the border between Chile and Argentina. In Chile it is included in the Bernardo O’Higgins national park, while in Argentina in Los Glaciares national park © Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Patagonian Route of Parks

The combination of environments and biodiversity makes the route of parks unique in the world. And figures speak for themselves: 11.5 million hectares of land, 91 per cent of which are protected, with 24 ecosystems home to 46 species of marine and land mammals, 140 bird species and 7 kinds of endemic forest. Connecting the port town of Puerto Montt to South America’s southernmost point, Cape Horn, the route allows admiring the country’s uncontaminated beauties, making even the most arduos tracts accessible despite the jagged morphology of the territory.

Torres del Paine, Chile
The Cordillera Paine, in Chile’s Torres del Paine national park, is included in the Route of parks and is UNESCO biosphere reserve © Hector Marquez/Unsplash

La Ruta de los parques de la Patagonia comes from the will of creating one big network of connected national parks. The idea has become reality when the Tompkins Conservation, set up by The North Face’s co-founder Douglas Tompkins and his wife Kristine McDivitt, made the largest land donation in history to the country for the creation and enlargement of protected areas. In turn, the government included new portions of land under its protection, thus creating one of the world’s largest nature reserves. This is how the trail that connects the national parks of Alerce Andino, Hornopirén, Pumalín, Corcovado, Melimoyu, Queulat, Isla Magdalena, Laguna San Rafael, Cerro Castillo, Patagonia, Bernardo O’Higgins, Kawésqar, Torres del Paine, Pali-Aike, Alberto de Agostini, Yendegaia, and Cabo de Hornos has come to life.

 

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Tourism as a consequence of conservation

The creation of this area represents a huge effort to further safeguard Chilean Patagonia, while aiming at harmoniously balancing the conservation of nature and the development of local communities thanks to a tourism that respects the environment and the people. Indeed, the area is home to over 60 communities that would benefit from new touristic activities while helping protect and preserve the area.

“We want Chile to be internationally recognised for having the most spectacular scenic route in the world, and thus become a benchmark for economic development based on conservation,” said Carolina Morgado, executive director at Tompkins Chile. “The Route of Parks is a protected heritage of all Chileans, and its 17 national parks are a challenge and an opportunity, as much for the more than 60 communities that live near them as for those who visit them”.

A protected heritage of all Chileans

Also, by encompassing three regions of Chile (the Lake, the Aysen and the Magellan regions), the routes of parks also represents an action of regional integration of three existing routes (both terrestrial and maritime): the Carretera Austral, the Patagonian Channels, and the End of the World Route.

Covering one third of the length of Chile, the route of parks will allow adventurers discover the inland diverse treasures like lakes, forests and volcanoes, its coastlines and breathtaking fiords home to marine mammals, to finally end up in the pristine steppe at the foot of the steep, sharp peaks of the Andean mountains. An immersion into the most incredible and inhospitable places of the “end of the world”.

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