In response to information from the health authority regarding the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Forest Corporation (Conaf) has decided to temporarily close all national parks, national reserves and natural monuments until the health alert is lifted by health authorities.
The third-largest park in Chile, Alberto de Agostini is named for the Salesian priest and mountaineer who explored and photographed the area. De Agostini was moved by the majesty of the 22-mile Darwin Range, which reaches into the Pacific, sculpting deep fjords molded by the glaciers of Chile’s third stretch of icefields. Located roughly 800 nautical miles south of Punta Arenas, in Navarino, the park was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is considered one of the 24 most pristine ecoregions on the planet. It is home to species including Marine Elephants as well as rich vegetation, spectacular glaciers like the Marinelli, and beautiful formations such as Monte Sarmiento.
Virgin Coigüe forests grow on the hillsides, reaching down toward the waters of the fjords. These forests are sculpted by the region’s gale-force winds. Among the trees, you can also find Canelos, Ciprés de las Guaitecas (Pilgerodendron), Lengas, Ñirres, and an undergrowth made up of hundreds of different types of Mushrooms, Moss, and Lichen. Alberto de Agostini is also home to Magellanic Tundra, and Centellas, Orchids, Coicopihues, Chauras, and Anemones light up the parklands with their vivid colors in summer.
There are at least 108 different animal species in the park. The Marinelli Glacier––which, across many years, has molded the fjord that shares its name––is home to a colony of Marine Elephants, a species at risk of extinction. The park is also home to Leopard Seals, South American Fur Seals, Chungungos (Marine Otters), Whales, Dolphins, and 49 different land and marine bird species, including Albatross, Petrels, and Cormorants.
The Yámanas people were the world’s southernmost inhabitants, fishermen and gatherers who sailed the Beagle Channel to the north, the Brecknock Peninsula to the west, and Cape Horn to the south. They rowed in 16-foot-long canoes made from Coigüe bark, with sails made from the skin of sea lions. The watercraft were sturdy enough that they could light fires while aboard. The women dived in the cold waters, hunting for urchins and crabs. The Yámanas people also had a rich language: in 1933, the missionary Thomas Bridges published a Yámana-English dictionary, which contained more than 30,000 words. Orundellico, or Jemmy Button, was a Yáman man who sailed with Fitz Roy and Charles Darwin.
The park is not accessible by land.
The park is located 800 nautical miles south of Punta Arenas, which is its main port of entry. In Punta Arenas, Puerto Montt, and Ushuaia, you can find various watercraft making trips south. Transbordadora Broom (www.tabsa.cl) offers trips that connect Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, a voyage that takes 31 hours.
Punta Arenas is the largest city in the Magallanes region and the main port for maritime travel north and south along the Chilean coast and to the Argentine port of Ushuaia.
Villa Cameron is a village of around 60 people along the southern coast of Bahía Inútil (Useless Bay), on the big island of Tierra del Fuego.
Porvenir is the largest city in Tierra del Fuego, located across the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas. You can reach it crossing the strait by ferry.
The southernmost city in the world, Puerto Williams can be found along the northern shore of Isla Navarino, south of the Beagle Channel.
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