Currently under development in the Aysén region, south of General Carrera Lake, is Patagonia National Park. This ambitious project, the brainchild of American entrepreneur Douglas Tompkins, founder of Esprit and The North Face, aims to place over 33,000 hectares of wilderness under the Chilean state’s highest possible degree of ecological protection. The region already includes two other vast areas of government conservatorship, making the ultimate goal a combined protected zone of 250,000 hectares. Tompkins purchased the Estancia Valle Chacabuco sheep farm in 2004, and over the past decade has transformed it into a private nature reserve, working to restore the area from the previous 80 years of human intervention. The reforestation and other work is in its final stages, and the park will be formally opened to the public in December, 2014. However, it may take several more years until the area is finally declared a national park.
The landscape of the region features steppes, mountains, lagoons, lush green valleys, and forests, all set around the Chacabuco River. The area is home to many plants and animals native to Patagonia, including the huemul (Andean deer), the puma, the guanaco, and the vizcacha (a rabbit-like rodent). Among the native plants are the southern and Antarctic beech and many bushes and shrubs that had been damaged by the intensive sheep grazing.
The park’s spectacular panoramas could make it one of Chile’s top highlights, with insiders speculating that it might one day be as famous as Torres del Paine National Park.
If you would like to plan a small tour to the park, which already has a visitor’s centre, please contact your travelArt sales agent.