Chile’s stunning, diverse landscapes lends itself to a long list of beautiful national parks and monuments. From the unique desert views of the Atacama to the famous peaks of Torres del Paine, there is no shortage of amazing places to visit across the country.
Thus it is no wonder that Chile is the perfect destination for those looking to get outside — and the numbers are showing that more and more people are choosing the Andean nation’s national parks and monuments for their travels.
2013 saw a substantial increase in visitors to the country’s sites. According to the National Forestry Service (Conaf) which runs the country’s national park system, the protected wildlife areas had 17 percent more visits last year than in 2012. The system includes 37 national parks, 49 national reserves and 15 national monuments.
Chile’s agriculture minister, Luis Mayol, said the numbers reflect the positive promotion of the country and the great value of these protected natural wonders.
“[These sites] are an attraction for foreign tourists,” Mayol said. “We can see that this increase in national visits was especially [helped by] the campaigns we have enacted that aim to better share these natural wonders and so we value, as a country, a system that allows us to conserve and protect the natural ecosystems of our long nation.”
A majority of the visits to the nationals parks were by Chileans themselves. In 2013, 1,868,972 Chileans explored the national parks and reserves, making up 78 percent of the total visits.
Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park in Chile’s Los Lagos region was the favorite destination for park goers in 2013, with more than 380,000 people travelling to the park last year. Other top choices were the Malalcahuello National Reserve in the Auraucanía region, the famous Torres del Paine National Park in the Magallanes region, and the Conguillío National Park also found in the Araucanía region.
Chile’s most popular national monument last year was La Portada, an impressive natural arch just off the coast of the northern city of Antofagasta. The site welcomed 160,385 visitors, a 34 percent increase from the year before.
However, the site that saw the biggest increase from previous years was the Villarrica National Reserve in the Araucanía region. Home to the stunning volcano and lake of the same name, this impressive natural wonder saw an 186 percent increase in visits last year.