Patagonia National Park
Chile’s newest national park is part of a major renaturation project of characteristic Patagonian landscapes.
The park area, previously privately owned by the Tompkins couple as Patagonia Park, was handed over to the Chilean state on 30 April 2019 and raised to the status of a national park as Patagonia National Park (Parque Nacional Patagonia). After the removal of the fences and the planned fusion with the Reserva Nacional Jeinimeni and the Reserva Nacional Tamanga, a national park will be created here that is one and a half times as large as the Torres del Paine National Park and only slightly smaller than the Yosemite National Park.
The Valle Chacabuco, the heart of the Patagonia Park, was hopelessly overgrazed by the herds of one of the largest sheep farms in the country just a few decades ago. Today, as one of the few east-west valleys in the region, it represents an important biological corridor that acts as a transition zone between the Patagonian steppe grasslands of Argentine Patagonia and the southern beech forests of Chilean Patagonia in the west.
The park area extends south of Lago General Carrera with its spectacular marble caves, so that a visit to Patagonia National Park can be easily combined with the lake and its attractions.
Before driving into the park from the west, one should in any case make a short side trip to the confluence of the Río Baker with the Río Neff. You can reach it about 20km south of Puerto Bertrand, where a sign points to the place where the turquoise water of Río Baker meets the glacial grey of Río Neff.
If you enter the national park from the west, you will reach the headquarters of the park administration and the sophisticated lodge dating back to the Tompkins era after a few kilometres.
This is the only, albeit expensive, accommodation within the park. Those who want to go hiking and enjoy the landscape will have to rely on the – however well-equipped – campsites of the national park.
Numerous half-day and day hikes lead along well-marked trails through the various landscapes and vegetation zones of the park.
Two of the most rewarding day hikes are the Lagunas Altas Trail, which takes between 7 and 10 hours to cover 23km, and the Circuito Avilés in the eastern sector of the National Park, which takes between 5 and 6 hours to cover 17.5km.