In March of 2017, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet teamed up with American entrepreneur Kristine McDivitt Tompkins to announce a radical expansion of Chile’s National Parks with the largest private land donation to a country in the history of conservation.  For Tompkins, the donation of over 1 million acres of land to the Chilean government marked a major milestone on a decades-long crusade to preserve Patagonia’s biodiversity, a dream she shared with her late husband Douglas Tompkins, who was killed in a kayaking accident in 2015.

Kris and Douglas Tompkins, were the CEOs and founders of the iconic American active wear brands, Patagonia and The North Face.  Their commercial success enabled them to do what many only dream of: in the 1990s, they swapped corner offices for life in Chile’s pristine Patagonia and dedicated themselves to the preservation and “rewilding” of Patagonia.  Their overarching strategy was the creation of a massive National Park system, which Kris Tompkins stated is “…one of the greatest expressions of democracy that a country can realize, preserving the masterpieces of a nation for all of its citizenry.” 

Their initial tactic was to purchase small parcels of land in Patagonia from absentee landlords.  Though the Tompkins’ initially met with suspicion by locals, their enduring dedication to the project ultimately led to the landmark donation of over 1 million acres.  The Chilean Government pledged an additional 10 million acres making the new nature preserve three times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone Parks combined. 

In addition to creating one of the premier National Park preserves in the world, the new Route of Parks has provided over 43,000 jobs and approximately $270 million in tourism revenue.  The National Parks serve as a base for a number of carefully chosen sustainable agrarian businesses such as wool farming, artisanal cheese making, ecotourism, and handicrafts.  These small farms and workshops, in turn, provide an infrastructure for the growing number of rangers who oversee the network of parks, ensuring the continuing protection of the unique ecosystem.

The Route of Parks comprises 17 national parks ranged along 1,500 miles of the southern spine of Chile, culminating at Cape Horn.  The route passes through and highlights the region’s spectacular natural wonders including the dense coastal rainforests, the pristine fjords, magnificent glaciers, mighty volcanoes, and the craggy alpine Andes.  Chile has always lured those in search of the unspoiled wilderness, and thanks to this unique cooperation between private and public bodies, that wilderness is safeguarded for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Discover Patagonia & Chile on Alexander + Robert’s carefully curated, eponymous itinerary, featuring three nights luxury camping in Patagonia.

Posted: 3/22/2018 1:55:19 PM by Alexander + Roberts

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