Where to enjoy nature and the environment in Chile

Chile is a place filled with nature and beautiful landscapes. Discover some of the most amazing and breathtaking National Parks, National Reserves and Natural Monuments.

Lautaroj | Flickr
Lautaroj | Flickr

Open almost every day of the year, national parks and reserves celebrate the rich geographic and natural diversity of Chile. What’s more, every year on the celebration of the National Day of the Environment, these parks and reserves open their doors for free with the aim of encouraging environmental education and raising awareness of the importance of promoting the protection of and respect for the rich biodiversity of our country.

Lauca National Park – Arica and Parinacota Region

This park encompasses more than 100.000 acres of the Andes’ foothills and plateau. There, it is possible to find Lake Chungará that surprises visitors with its emerald waters, as well as diverse volcanoes and mountains that stand by the lake. Within the perimeter of the park it is also possible to find the small town of Parinacota, a site of great religious and ceremonial importance due to its adobe buildings that date back to the 17th century.

La Portada Natural Monument – Antofagasta Region

Located 18 km north from the city of Antofagasta, La Portada National Monument is remarkable due to its the arch of the same name, which is made of a sequence of fossil marine sedimentary rocks from the area. On the other hand, the fauna in the area stands out due to the presence of a great variety of birds and mammals like the culpeo fox. Moreover, this reserve also boasts trekking trails, a museum, and a restaurant open to visitors.

Humboldt Penguin National Reserve – Atacama and Coquimbo regions

This reserve is composed of three islands -Chañaral, Choros, and Damas- that are located in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions. As its name suggests, this natural reserve is mainly known for its population of Humboldt penguins, which can be observed in a varied range of tours. Aside from the penguins, sea lions, dolphins and diverse birds are part of what can be fauna that can be found throughout the reserve. Also, during summer, sights of sperm and blue whales have been reported.

Río Clarillo National Reserve – Metropolitan Region

Just outside of Santiago, Clarillo is one of the only woods in the Metropolitan region. Inside the park, visitors can appreciate comesebos, fiofíos and rayaditos, as well as birds protected by the reserve. Moreover. the reserve has 3 trails that allow visitors to walk around the area: Jorquera Creek, Aliwén Mahuida and Aboretum; the three trails allow visitors to enjoy the woods and observe diverse animals like foxes and colocolo cats.

Radal Siete Tazas National Park – Maule Region

The greatest attraction this park offers is the seven successive waterfalls where the waters of the Claro river descend through natural openings of basalt rock formations that have been naturally sculpted through the years. This is an ideal location for photography enthusiasts due to the beautiful panoramic landscapes it offers. Moreover, this national park also attracts kayaking enthusiasts that dare to jump into the natural pools that the waterfalls create.

Mocha Island National Reserve – Biobío Region

This reserve takes up more than 40% of the island of the same name and it’s flanked by two mountain ranges from north to south. It has 4 different trails that allow visitors to see trees and plants that have been able to adapt to the strong winds of the area. Moreover, the white fardelas -marine birds that can only be found in the island and in the Juan Fernández archipelago- are of great interest for tourists and scientists.

Conguillío National Park – Araucanía Region

Being one of the most visited parks within national territory, Conguillío’s biggest attraction is its entire landscape; this includes different lagoons, the magnificent Llaima volcano and an abundant vegetation that encompasses species like the coihue, mountain Cypress, and araucarias. The landscape evokes the time when dinosaurs inhabited the planet. Those who seek an spectacular view of the park can follow the Sierra Nevada trail; from the highest point of this volcanic mountain range one can enjoy a panoramic view of the volcano, Lake Conguillío and endless araucarias.

Futaleufú National Reserve – Los Lagos Region

The biggest attractions of this natural reserve are the flora and fauna that is present across its 12.000 acres. Its leafy woods are mainly made of mountain Cypress, Magallanes coigüe and chingues. In addition, one can find a significant population of huemules, an endemic species of the south of Chile and Argentina. For years now, huemules are considered an endangered species.

Torres del Paine National Park – Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region

This world-renowned national park located in the southernmost area of out country attracts thousands of tourists all year round. Among its most famous geographic characteristics, one can find the “Torres del Paine” and “Cuernos del Paine” peaks, which are part of the Paine hill. It’s possible to explore both through the different open trails, which also allow visitors to enjoy the sight of various lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and the fauna of the place: guanacos, foxes, huemules, condors and pumas.

This post is also available in Spanish