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The Carretera Austral - Parque Pumalín
Waterfalls cascade down the hillsides of Parque Pumalín © Parque Pumalín
The springs are located amongst lush vegetation, well beyond the reach of cellphone coverage, and with ample picnic areas.
If ever there was a reason to visit the northern section of the Carretera Austral, it is Parque Pumalín. US conservationist Doug Tompkins acquired the Reñihué farm in 1991, and over the following years the US foundation The Conservation Land Trust added substantial land to create the park. In 2005 the park was declared a nature sanctuary, which affords it the highest level of environmental protection in Chile. As a result, it is entirely prohibited to fish, even with a permit. The park is managed by the Chilean Fundación Pumalín, and covers an area of approximately 300,000ha.
There are two main sections to the park. Pumalín Norte is actually the more difficult to access, as visitors need to hire a boat from Hornopirén. Information on this section of the park is available at the Puerto Varas information centre. Pumalín Sur is more accessible. This part of the park is broadly divided into two sub-regions: the various trails and campsites located between Caleta Gonzalo and Chaitén; and those accessed from the extreme south of the park at El Amarillo.