Report: visitor numbers on the rise at Chile’s national parks

The first nine months of 2010 has seen growth in the number of tourists at numerous parks in the south of Chile, led by Torres del Paine.

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Travelers are flocking in increasing numbers to Chile’s national parks and monuments in Patagonia, new figures show.

The top attraction remains Torres del Paine National Park, the UNESCO protected site that is a must-see destination for trekkers and nature lovers.

According to figures released by Chile’s National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), 93,821 people have visited Torres del Paine in the first nine months of 2010, a five per cent increase over the first nine months of 2009.

In September, there was a 10.2 percent increase in visitors compared to the same month in 2009, with 4,498 people entering the park in September 2010 compared with 4,080 people in 2009.

While visitors to Chile are accounting for the bulk of visitors to the 181,000 hectare park renowned for its breathtaking scenery which includes the iconic Grey Glacier, a large number of residents of Chile are also heading south for trekking, horseback riding, climbing and mountaineering.

Of the 93, 821 people who visited in the first nine months, 58 percent were foreigners while 42 percent arrived from within the country to the park about 300 km north of Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in Chile and the Americas.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, the largest of the protected areas in Chile, saw a 22.1 per cent increase in visitors in September 2010 compared to the same month in 2009.

The protected wilderness areas in the Magellan’s saw a 12.9 per cent increase in visitors while there were 23.4 per cent more tourists at Cape Horn National Park, the world’s southernmost park.

Meanwhile visits to the Pali Aike National Park – which includes the Pali Aike volcanic field and the Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument 270 km north of Punto Arenas – also increased in number.

This post is also available in Spanish