Navarino Island and the treasures of the end of the world

The Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and a forest that you can only see through a magnifying glass, are some of the surprises that you can find in this island at the end of the world.

Felipe Gera Malgor / Imagen de Chile
Felipe Gera Malgor / Imagen de Chile

The last island of Patagonia, before the ice cold seas that divide the American continent from the Antarctic, is the southern Navarino Island. Being the home for the main towns in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, the island has become the place where most people have settled in the Antártica Chilena Province and the Cape Horn commune. A land at the end of the world, that hides and preserves huge green areas that are essential for research and the biosphere.

At the end of our territory, the geography stands huge and proud. It is worth admiring the Dientes de Navarino mountain range, named due to its teeth shaped hills, that together with lakes and other natural landscapes of Tierra del Fuego, form the well-known most southern trekking of the world, that welcomes professionals and amateurs of extreme sports each summer.

In 2005, Cape Horn was named a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO. Besides from becoming the most southern reserve in the world, and the only one including also maritime areas, the territory acquires more and more relevance as it forms a wide area of sub-antarctic forests that, mostly, have not been intervened and are protected from the human hand.

Omora Ethnobotany Park

Among the native lenga beech, antarctic beech or ñirre and coihue forests that are typical of the zone, a universe of more that 1.000 hectares stays safe. The Omora Ethnobotany Park can only be admired with the help of a magnifying glass. Covering the barks of the trees at ground level, this micro forest composed mainly by lichens, moss and hepaticas, create a real carpet of different colours and textures, that it is in itself one of the most important treasures of Patagonia.

The park is, in this way, a scientific center of research, education and preservation, that administratively depends of the Universidad de Magallanes, the Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB-Chile) and Fundación Omora. It is through the constant research that is has been discovered how this microuniverse hosts flora that impresses for its homeopathic qualities, but also for the ability of predicting global warming.

Foto: Paola Vezzani

Foto: Paola Vezzani

With the purpose of promoting the existence of this reserve, besides teaching and raising awareness in the population about the relevance of preserving flora and fauna in general, is that the concept of “Tourism with a Hand Lens” has been created. By means of visits guided by students and scientists through the Magellan forests, it has been possible to bring these miniature universes closer to people’s lives; connecting with its beauty and diversity. This same aspect was what brought attention to the jury of Top 100 Sustainable Destination, where the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve received a recognition.
This is how Navarino Island not only is known for being the true end of the world, but also as an essential place for conservation of austral flora and fauna and its correspondent research.

This post is also available in Spanish