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Chile opens ‘Parks of Patagonia’ hiking trail to world’s most adventurous travellers

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The Route of the Parks of Patagonia is a brand new trail to add to the bucket list of adventurous hikers and naturalists everywhere.

The 2800-kilometer trek linking seventeen of the country’s most beautiful national parks.

The Parks, form the Patagonian Route of Parks: 28 million acres of protected land in 17 National Parks––the equivalent of three times the size of Switzerland, or more than twice the size of Costa Rica.

It stretches from Puerto Montt in the northern Lake District down to the Tierra del Fuego and Chile’s gateway to Antarctica.

It might not be the largest trial in the world ( that honor goes to the 24,000 kilometer Trans Canada Trail) however it’s possibly the most scenic.

The route encompasses millions of hectares of protected landscapes, crossing glacial lakes and the backbone of the Andes.

Integrating some of Chile’s most famous routes such as the Carretera Austral, it was made possible by the expansion of the country’s national parks.

In 2017, Tompkins Conservation Chile donated large swathes of land to the Chilean state. This lead to 2.2million hectare expansion of land set aside for conservation. It was enough to create five new national parks – the Cerro Castillo, Alacalufe, Pumalin, Melimoyu and Patagonia national parks.

It’s a route that leads through grasslands, mountains and glaciers and gives hikers the chance to spot some of the unique wildlife such as the Andean Condor, Guanco Llamas and flightless Rhea.

This expansion of state protected land couldn’t come at a more critical time.

As Patagonia sees a boom in tourism and agriculture, the Tompkins conservation plan showed huge foresight in protecting the landscape.

It was founded in 2004 they started the process of ‘rewilding’ a landscape that had undergone extensive grazing by sheep and cattle ranches damaging the soils and fauna.

Since the 222,000-acre property was turned over to the state, it has become part of Chile’s national parks and now this world-class route.

Between 10 and 25 per cent rise in tourists year on year, Chile is emerging as a future tourism destination.

The new parks and this hiking trail are part of making sure there is still some of this majestic Patagonian landscape is protected for future generations.

Photo: Cuernos del Paine from Lake Pehoe, Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia:

 

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