In 2018, the Chilean government announced the creation of the Route of Parks of Chilean Patagonia. The 2,800-km long scenic hiking trail runs from Patagonia to Cape Horn. The entire route spans 17 national parks and passes through lakes, rainforests, volcanoes and the Andes Mountains.
The incredible landscapes combined with the rich history and cultural heritage, as well as how the route came to be, make it so truly unique.
The Route of Parks is an initiative of Tompkins Conservation. For over two decades, the foundation has worked in Chile -and Argentina- to create National Parks, rehabilitate wildlife and support environmental activism, among others. The vision of the initiative is to be ”internationally recognized for having the most spectacular scenic route in the world, and thus become a benchmark for economic development based on conservation.”
In 2017, Tompkins Conservation donated more than one million acres to the Chilean government. Five new National Parks were created, while three others were expanded. These new National Parks, along with those already in existence, helped to form the Patagonian Route of Parks: a total of 28 million acres of protected land with 17 National Parks.
In 2018, The Route made The New York Times’ list of 52 Places to Go, coming in at number 6.
The Route of Parks focuses entirely on ecologically-minded tourism. Its benefits include:
- Protecting Nature; The Route make up more than 90% of Chilean territory protected under the category of National Park.
- Local Economic Development; more than 60 communities, benefit from local investment as well as the job market.
- Connecting Regions; The Route stretches along one-third of Chile and connects 17 National Parks.
- Developing Chile’s International Image; The Route only strengthens Chile’s image as a world-class destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Besides the sheer size of the Route of Parks, here are three top facts you need to know:
1. There are 140 species of birds and 46 different species of marine and land mammals in the entire area, with some species at risk of extinction.
2. The route features more than 90% of land protected under the category of National Parks in Chile. A National Park is the highest category of protection for a geographic area. It guarantees that an ecosystem will be looked after for generations to come.
3. The route protects 28 million acres of land in 17 National Parks. In this land, there are 7 different types of native forests, and 24 different ecosystems.
More information about the route, including 50 GPS-traced maps, can be found on its website.