Chile’s epic Route of Parks is now open

In recent years, Chile has made huge progress in protecting its incredible natural beauty. Now the culmination of the conservation work has come in the form of the Route of Parks - or Ruta de los Parques - a 2800 km route that connects 17 national parks across the country.

Travel News - patagonia

Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile. Sunrise at the Pehoe lake. Image by ©emperorcosar/Shutterstock

The route is an incredible hiking trail running all the way from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn. Three existing scenic routes have been used as part of the trail: the Southern Way, the End of the World Route and the Patagonian Channels.

The new route was made possible by the biggest private land donation in history in January this year. The 10 million acres were donated by Tompkins Conservation, a foundation set up by deceased North Face founder Douglas Tompkins and his wife Kristine. Since the early 1990s, they spent their time preserving and ‘rewilding’ huge areas of land in the country to help restore the original ecosystem and build up sustainable tourism.

Travel News - Kawésqar 8 ©Antonio Vizcaíno

Kawésqar National Park in Chile. ©Antonio Vizcaíno, image courtesy of Tompkins Conservancy Image by ©Antonio Vizcaíno/Tompkins Conservancy

Carolina Morgado of the Tompkins Foundation said in an interview that “we want Chile to be internationally recognised for having the most spectacular scenic route in the world, and thus become a benchmark for economic development based on conservation.”

Chile is not just leading the way in conservation on the land either. In March 2018, its president made three new enormous marine protection areas, encompassing a whopping 40% of the country’s oceans. This is the largest percentage of protected zones in the world and means its incredible marine life will never be under threat from commercial fishing.

Chile is certainly have a moment in tourism right now. Earlier in September it was named South America’s Best Destination for Adventure Tourism for the 4th year in a row at the World Travel Awards. It was also Lonely Planet’s top pick for country to visit in 2018.

More information about the route, including 50 GPS-traced maps and advice on accommodation and transport can be found on its website.