From Rain Forests to GlaciersIn the northern part of Chilean Patagonia, Parque Pumalín stretches from Andean peaks to Pacific fjords, with dense rain forest, hidden lakes, waterfalls, and volcanoes in between. Expected to be named a national park this spring, Pumalín is already open to the public and free to visit. Hike to glacial faces or trek up Volcán Chaitén, which lay dormant for 9,000 years before erupting in 2008. Book early to snag a cozy waterfront cabin at Caleta Gonzalo. —By Sarah Feldberg
This appeared in the January/February 2018 issue.
Pristine Wilderness in Parque Pumalin
On the Chilean mainland, across from Chiloé Island, you'll see a park that owes its existence to an American. The Parque Pumalín, with an area of 3,250 square kilometers (1,255 square miles), was created by the Conservation Land Trust, endowed by Douglas Tompkins, the conservationist and cofounder of the clothing companies the North Face and Esprit. Though the acquisition by Tompkins of vast tracts of land was initially viewed with suspicion by many Chileans, the government has come to support the park that resulted from those purchases. Today it protects some of the continent's rare primeval forest, notable for the diversity of its plant species.