Kawésqar National Park (Chile)

Kawésqar National Park (Chile)

Tue, 06/15/2021 - 20:30
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Kawésqar National Park covers an immense swath of Chile's western Patagonian archipelago. Populated with low mountain-like islands and islets among a myriad of channels and fjords, its landscapes are a mosaic of forests, glaciers, lakes, and wetlands.

Kawésqar National Park

Kawésqar National Park (Parque Nacional Kawésqar), formerly known as the Alacalufes National Reserve, is located in the provinces of Magallanes, Última Esperanza, and Isla Riesco within the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica Region of southern Chile.

Situated in Chilean Patagonia, within the Strait of Magellan, the expanded National Park covers an area of 2,842,239 ha (6,165,040 acres). It is the second-largest National Park in Chile after the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park and one of the largest in the world.

Kawésqar National Park covers an immense swath of the western Patagonian archipelago, whose landscape is populated with low mountain-like islands and islets among a myriad of channels and fjords. Its landscapes are a mosaic of cordilleras, forests, glaciers, lakes, and wetlands.

The weather here is primarily humid and chilly, with a mean temperature of approximately 7 °C (44.6 °F). Rainfall can reach up to 3,000 mm (118 in) per year.

Geological landmarks include the mountainous peninsula of the Cordillera Sarmiento and Isla Riesco, one of the largest islands in Chile.

History

Kawésqar National Park stems from an agreement signed between the Chilean government and Tompkins Conservation in 2018. It establishes the creation of five new national parks:

And the extension of three others:

Route of Parks

Kawésqar National Park is part of Chile's scenic 2,800 km (1,700 mi) "Route of Parks" that stretches from Puerto Montt in the north to Cape Horn in the south.

Spanning 17 national parks, the Route of Parks of Patagonia encompasses one-third of Chile and protects over 11.8 million hectares (28 million acres).

Route of Parks map

Chile's Route of Parks map - Thompson Conservation

Flora and Fauna

Magellanic subpolar forests dominate the landscape with species such as Coigue de Magallanes, Ciprés de las Guaitecas, and Canelo. Vegetation also includes coastal grasslands, thickets, and Coihue and Sphagnum formations.

Ecosystems within the National Park include the Patagonian Steppe, Patagonian Andean Forest, and Marine Coast. These pristine ecosystems are home to various plant and animal species.

Fauna includes Huemul, Puma, Gato Montés, Culpeo Fox, and Chilla, along with 136 bird species that include the Condor, the fío-fío, the southern churrín, and the giant woodpecker. In addition, marine environments host leopard seals, whales, and southern and Chilean dolphins.