If Chile isn’t already on your bucket list, get ready to add it. Then bump this wild and wonderful country straight to the top. This week, Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, signed a groundbreaking conservation measure, creating five new national parks and expanding three others.
Much of the land being earmarked for the parks comes from Kristine Tompkins, an American philanthropist and the founder and CEO of Tompkins Conservation. The not-for-profit organization is the life’s work of Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia Inc., and her late husband Doug Tompkins, founder of North Face and Esprit. Together, they spent 25 years purchasing and restoring land and, as a result, Tompkins’ donation comes to 1 million acres, making it the largest land donation in history.
Thanks to their hard work and forward thinking, this land will now be preserved for generations to come. “All of us who love the earth can see how the threats to wild places and creatures are growing,” Tompkins shared on her personal blog. “This is crucial work—it’s the work we’ve been doing for decades and will be doing with all of our energy and resources long into the future.”
Another 9 million acres has been set aside by the Chilean government, making this quite the addition to Chile’s protected areas. Check out some of those beautiful Chilean vistas in this video of the park donation ceremony:
Chile’s pioneering preservation efforts set an example for neighboring countries and the world. At the same time, these efforts protect wild land, bring in tourists and related business, and promote sustainable local development. Just look at this map shared by Tompkins Conservation, which shows how the entire length of Chile will be enhanced by the presence of these new parks:
In fact, Chile’s new national parks are more than three times the combined area of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks in the U.S., and are roughly the size of Switzerland.
The protected land showcases Chile’s varied scenery and geography. In the new parks, there are year-round snow-capped peaks, rocky canyons, glacier-filled fjords, rivers for rafting, volcanoes and more. Even the rugged landscape comes ready for adventurous visitors, with some areas equipped with lodges, visitor centers and campgrounds.
Already open to the public, Patagonia National Park Chile and Pumalín National Park will be flagship destinations in the Chilean park network. Additionally, the lands will be used to create Melimoyu, Kawésqar and Cerro Castillo parks, and to expand Hornopirén, Corcovado and Isla Magdalena. Additionally, the parks are part of what will become a 1,500-mile tourist route spanning much of Chile.
Take a look at some of the incredible images from this pristine South American wilderness. Instagram user @jhon.travels, who regularly shares travel photography from around the world, posted this adorable pic of a pair of guanacos chilling out in Parque Patagonia:
Travel photographer Chris Burkard used his Instagram account to share a series of photos from the area. Here, he shows how the terrain really has no equal on earth:
Burkard also posted this great aerial view, which puts these rapids in perspective:
Here, he shows how the terrain offers endless opportunities for life-changing adventures:
As Burkard has shown us so elegantly, the views in Chile are quite simply unforgettable:
Instagram user @nicole_pls posted a pic showing how Pumalín welcomes visitors with a massive sign and distant peaks:
And Instagram user @jose_tomas_garcia shared an aerial shot that captures the lush forest of Pumalín:
As far as campsites go, this Patagonia spot photographed by Instagram user @conservationatlas is picture perfect:
And Instagram user @trailsinmotion uploaded a snow-capped panorama that caps off a gorgeous running route:
The folks behind Explora Chila posted this pic to their Instagram feed of how the mountains jut out of the lake shore for a truly striking scene in Hornopiren:
It’s wilderness wanderlust at its finest.