Karukinka Makes Way for Hikers

April 5, 2012

WCS and the Government of Chile collaborate on a new trekking trail on the island of Tierra del Fuego. The trail is intended to attract ecotourists to the Karukinka reserve, a national treasure largely untouched by the human footprint.

A new trekking trail will connect spectacular uplands to rugged coastal areas in Karukinka, a 728,960-acres protected area on the island of Tierra del Fuego, Chile. WCS owns and manages the reserve, and has been exploring options to make the area more ecotourism-friendly.

The trail, which will be completed in December, runs 21.3 miles. It is the first path in Karukinka that brings tourists to the park’s coastline, home to seabirds, penguins, and elephant seals. Currently, the area has 64 kilometers of trekking trails and 193 kilometers of biking trails.

“With the opening of this trail, WCS is materializing Chile’s interest to increase visitors based on nature, conservation and wildlife in the region of Magallanes, one of three national tourism targets,” said Dr. Bárbara Saavedra, WCS Chile Director and President of the Ecological Society of Chile. “WCS is working with the Karukinka Advisory Council, representatives of the scientific, academic and business sectors who are mainly Chileans, as we pursue recommendations and advice to guide Karukinka’s development.”

Saavedra will be joined by WCS President and CEO Dr. Steven Sanderson, WCS Latin America Regional Program Director Dr. Julie Kunen, and a host of media and business representatives on a Karukinka expedition from April 12 to 18. The team will explore opportunities for ecotourism entrepreneurs to develop business ventures that will support the conservation of Karukinka’s natural heritage.

“Karukinka offers the people of Chile and the world unparalleled opportunities to understand nature,” said Sanderson. “Few places on Earth allow humans to feel completely enveloped by wild nature. We are hopeful that Karukinka can become the next great ecotourism destination in Latin America.”

Before Karukinka, there was no tourist destination in Tierra del Fuego-Chile. Today, this island is considered one of the six tourism targets to be developed by the Chilean Government; and within it, Karukinka is the main attraction for visitors. A rising industry is being established in the area. WCS works with its neighbors to develop new green attractions in this remote and unique wild place.

Karukinka, which was donated to WCS in 2004 by the global investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co., contains the world’s southernmost old-growth forest, globally significant peatlands, and spectacular wildlife including Andean condors, guanacos, elephant seals, dolphins, marine birds and the endangered culpeo fox.

To learn more, read the press release >>
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