We have left Chiloe to explore parts of Patagonia. We spent over a week doing preliminary research on the wind farm project, interviewing local people about the project, and doing several site visits to Playa Mar Brava (including camping there one very windy night). Unfortunately we were not able to get out to sea to make some sound measurements as the weather was pretty terrible and the port at Puinhuil was closed, day after day. So we decided to take a short trip to Doug Tompkins’ celebrated park, Parque Pumalin. Mr. Tompkins (North Face and Esprit) purchased an immense track of land from the ocean to and beyond the border with Argentina. Over the past 20 or more years he has sought to develop sustainable jobs for local people and protect a lovely pristine wilderness.
To get there is not so simple. We took a ferry from Chiloe to the mainland and stayed a night in Puerto Montt. Then we took the Carretara Austral, a 1.5 lane at best rock-studded jeep road south. After about 6 hours and another ferry we were ready for a break in Hornoprien – the launching pad for yet another ferry. The next day we left the car and walked on the ferry. It took us 4 hours south to another bus which zoomed through the wilderness for 45 min to a final ferry which took us at last to the headquarters of Parque Pumulin!
We set up our tarp tent in a gorgeous, fern-filled campsite and had a couple of terrific days touring some of the local sustainable industry (organic gardening, bee keeping, and park managing). We also saw some great wildlife, including a whole pile of seals parked on a rock ledge 2 meters above the sea and a hummingbird with the flashiest headdress that one has ever seen. We did some hiking along very well-organized trails. That is, trails that were excellent with wooden elevated sections above marshy areas and log ladders where needed. After a couple of miles, the developed trail turned into knarly boulders and slippery moss underfoot. Regardless, the wildness of this place is its special charm.
The people whom we have been meeting while camping and waiting on ferries and talking with park staff have been so incredibly nice to us. People share stories with us and tell us not to miss the bus on some particular section of a journey and to stop at a certain restaurant etc, etc. If the Chileans are as nice to each other as they are to us, they are a pretty well-adjusted lot.
Tomorrow we are migrating south on the tramp steamer. We request patience on the next post, as we will be out of internet range while exploring some more of Patagonia, including hiking in Parque Torres del Paine.
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