Patagonia Is Building Parks. Pay Attention.
As the U.S. battles over the fate of public lands, the Chilean government and Kristine Tompkins are doing something extraordinary down in Patagonia—setting aside millions of acres for stunning new national parks. And they aren’t done yet.
“…Brian and I never make it to Yendegaia, either. Before we drive south to Punta Arenas to catch our flight home, we eat lunch in Puerto Natales with Gonzalo Fuenzalida, a Santiago native who guided down here for about 20 years. He owns Chile Nativo, which runs horsepacking and trekking trips to untouched corners of Chile. Fuenzalida is almost giddy as he tells me about the trip he’s scouted in Parque Nacional Yendegaia.
“There’s no way you can do a trip like this one on your own,” he says. “The logistics are quite tricky.”
They involve taking a ferry from Punta Arenas to Tierra del Fuego and driving to the end of a new highway, which is being blasted roughly a mile closer to the park every month; a permit from the government is required to travel around this obstacle. Trekkers then set out to cross the peaks of the Cordillera Darwin. After four days of hiking, they take a boat to Puerto Williams, where they fly in a small plane back to Punta Arenas.
It makes me sick to my stomach that I may never get to set eyes on Yendegaia. But I suppose it’s always good to leave something to the imagination.
“When do you think the road to Yendegaia will be finished?” I ask Fuenzalida.
“Never, I hope.”
Outside Online, “In the Land of Giants” -Stephanie Pearson, August 17, 2018