Corcovado National Park, in southern Chile, features vast expanses of untouched, unexplored land, including hidden corners of the Gulf of Corcovado. The Corcovado Volcano overlooks this difficult-to-access park that is a habitat for various endangered species.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park covers 293,986 ha (726,455 acres) in the Los Lagos Region of southern Chile. Designated in 2005, it is Chile's fourth-largest national park.
Much of the park's territory is located in the commune of Chaitén, province of Palena. The coastal park borders the Gulf of Corcovado to the west, which separates mainland Chile from Chiloé Island.
The park was created after Tompkins Conservation's donation of more than 84,000 ha (207,570 acres) and the incorporation of national parklands. This difficult-to-access park features vast expanses of untouched, unexplored land, including hidden corners of the Gulf of Corcovado and Tic Toc Bay, in Chaitén.
Corcovado National Park is part of Chile's scenic 2,800-km (1,700-mi) "Route of Parks of Patagonia" that stretches from Puerto Montt in the north to Cape Horn in the south. Spanning 17 national parks, the Route of Parks encompasses one-third of Chile and protects over 11.8 million hectares (28 million acres).
The Corcovado Volcano overlooks the park, standing 2,300 m (7,546 ft) above sea level. The stratovolcano is located approximately 25 km (16 mi) south of the mouth of the Yelcho River.
The volcano, eroded by glaciers, is flanked by Holocene cinder cones. The volcano's base is densely vegetated and contains a series of lakes. The most distinctive feature of the volcano is its stepped top.
Another volcano found within the park is Yanteles, an isolated stratovolcano composed of five glacier-capped peaks. Its highest peak reaches 2,042 m (6,699 ft). It is located approximately 30 km (19 mi) south of the Corcovado volcano.
With an average annual rainfall of 2,800 mm (110 in) and a mild climate, Corcovado National Park preserves an untouched ecosystem of Temperate Rainforest and Deciduous High-Mountain Shrubland. The thick forest includes trees such as Canelo, Mañío, Lenga, Coigue, Ñirre, and Ciprés de las Guaitecas (Pilgerodendron).
The park is a habitat for various endangered species, including the Pudú Deer, the Chiloé Fox, the Güiña (Kodkod), the Huillín (Southern River Otter), the Monito del Monte (Colocolo Opossum) and the Puma.
Large colonies of marine birds are found in the estuaries and beaches that reach the Gulf of Corcovado and Tic Toc Bay. The Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is common. Marine mammals include seals, sea lions, as well as blue, humpback, pilot and sperm whales.
The Gulf of Corcovado is a nesting sanctuary for migratory blue whales. They are the largest mammal on earth and also have the longest life expectancy, averaging 80 - 90 years. The species is currently classified as endangered on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List.