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How to Include Parque Patagonia in Your Chile Itinerary

guanaca-PP

 "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." —Edward Abbey

 In January 2018 Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, President and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, signed the decrees creating Pumalín National Park and Patagonia National Park Chile. The one million acres and world-class infrastructure they contain have been billed as the largest donation of land from a private entity to a country.

They have created a network of five new national parks in Chile and expanded three others. Together, they are adding a total of more than 10 million acres of new national parklands to Chile, with one million acres of land from Tompkins Conservation and an additional 9 million acres of federal land from Chile. For scale, that is more than three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone combined, or approximately the size of the country of Switzerland.

While the network of parks spans Chile, one of the best developed, and in our opinion most impressive, is Parque Patagonia. Check out the guide below to find out how (and why) you should include it in your trip to Chile.

WHO: people who want to get off the beaten path and explore the untrammeled wilderness and natural beauty of Patagonia. Eventually, Patagonia National Park will be one-and-a-half times the size of Torres del Paine National Park, the best known and most visited park in Chilean Patagonia, but with only a fraction of the visitors. 

WHAT: 1,200 miles south of Santiago in South America's southern cone stands Patagonia Park, a once-overgrazed sheep and cattle ranch that now protects an abundance of Patagonian steppe grasslands, glaciated peaks, and rebounding wildlife. Parque Patagonia is home to a sprawling (and constantly expanding) network of trails, centrally located to explore the Baker and Nef rivers, and has a number of lodging options from camping to the luxury Chacabuco Lodge. An on-site restaurant, El Rincon Gaucho, serves tasty meals sourced from the park's garden and greenhouse. 

WHEN: November to March is the best time to go. You should have at least 10 days to be in Chile.

Hiking the Aviles Trail. Taken with my iPhone
Hiking to Confluencia

WHERE: To reach Parque Patagonia take a 3 hr flight from Santiago to Balmaceda. then enjoy one of South America's most spectacular road trips down the Carretera Austral. You'll pass through lush, temperate rainforests and see countless glaciated peaks as well as Lago General Carrera, the continent's second-largest lake. The drive takes 6-7 hrs and can be broken up with stops along the way. 

WHY: Parque Patagonia offers the unique opportunity to explore wild landscapes in Patagonia and support the very exciting expansion of national parks and land conservation in Chile. If you're looking for wild Patagonia without the crowds, this is the place. 

HOW: Check out our Southern Crossing itinerary or ask us how to combine Parque Patagonia with other parts of the Aysen or with Torres del Paine.

Even the km markers in Parque Patagonia are beautiful

 Stay at the Lodge at Chacabuco – the perfect base for your adventures in the park. 

The six-room stone Lodge at Valle Chacabuco is both rustic and elegant. Inspired by national park lodges from around the world, the lodge is a blend of old and new. Staying true to the historic estancia style, its largely hand crafted antique furniture, original photography, and a wood fireplace provide a uniquely Patagonian experience. The central living and dining room are the ideal setting for resting after a day of travel, hiking, or exploration. Drink Chilean wine from the living room bar and enjoy views of looming Mount Tamanguito to the south through expansive windows. Nestle into overstuffed sofas, lounge by the fire, or venture to the patio by night to view an endless sky of stars.

Lodge at Chacabuco

Interested in adding Parque Patagonia to your trip? Check out our Chile itineraries or ask us!  

We're also proud to have been supporting Conservacion Patagonica for over 4 years now - for every one of our trips to Patagonia we donate $25 to the fund. Check out this blog about our support of the Conservacion!

Keeping it wild, 

Kelsey Wenger 

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