South America Living

Pumalín Park, Chile Nature Reserve

Coihue Tree in Pumalín Park, Chile

Pumalin Park (Parque Pumalín in Spanish) is a 3,250 square km (1,255 square miles) natural reserve in the Palena Province of Chile. It was created by The Conservation Land Trust – a private, environmental foundation located in the U.S. and officially designated a Nature Sanctuary in 2005. It is the largest private nature reserve located in Chile.

Public access includes tourist facilities such as campgrounds, visitor centers and designated hiking trails.

The park contains the Valdivian temperate rainforest with an annual rainfall in the coastal areas of over 236 inches (6000 mm) per year. It is also home to the Alerce tree, one of the oldest species on Earth with few remaining.

In the photograph to the left is a Coihue Tree – a tree with dense, stratified foliage and leaves with serrated edges that is endemic to sub-Antartic forests. Its wood is resistent to rot, making it usuable as a building material.

Visitor information centers are strategically located on small organic farms bordering the park and run by non-uniformed park rangers. Tourists can learn about cheesemaking, animal husbandry, honey production and wool handicrafts.

The park was closed to visitors in 2008 due to the erruption of the Chaiten volcano but is now re-open to the public.

Best Time to Visit: Summer months of December, January and February.

Arriving by Ferry: You can travel by ferry from Puerto Montt, Chile – either by two separate ferries or a direct trip.

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Archive of Articles on Chile

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