Hike the Patagonian Route of Parks? Um, Not Exactly…

Patagonian Route of Parks: Update

A couple of weeks back, we mentioned a story on the “Patagonian Route of Parks” that had been heavily posted all throughout the travel and outdoor recreation blogosphere. NatGeo, Travel and Leisure, the BBC, Lonely Planet, Men’s Journal…

As we are headed to Patagonia next year, we were very excited about this, but details about this ‘route’ proved scarce. There is an elaborate website but little actual detail about the route. This caused us to wonder openly what exactly the announcement meant for the international hiking and outdoor recreation community.

Well, we have the answer. Which turns out to be…not much. 😊 At least not yet.

As reported by Rick McCharles on his excellent besthike.com website, the route is not a trail. It’s almost entirely a road.

Maybe that road in the foreground is the route. 🙂 Photo by the By AFP/BBC.

In our post we noted that portions of this might simply follow sections of the unfinished Carretera Austral – the Alcan Highway of Patagonia. In point of fact, the route IS the Carretera Austral…the mammoth road building project begun by the dictator Augusto Pinochet during a period when he apparently wasn’t busy murdering people.

This article on Rough Guides Travel does, as Besthike states, get the facts straight. To quote the article…

“…superficially, a rebranding of 1700-mile chain of seventeen national parks, from Alerce Andino National Park on the northern tip of the Carretera Austral to Cape Horn National Park at the extreme southern end of Chile…the route…reflects a growing focus on protecting Patagonia’s pristine landscapes, with tourism slotting carefully into this.”


So, to sum up…it’s not a trail, it’s just a section of established road that has been renamed. It would be the equivalent of renaming US Route 89 “The National Parks Scenic Trail” or something along those lines.

Now…it’s not like this is completely unimportant. It is a sign of Chile’s growing commitment to the outdoors, and a major bit of evidence that Tompkins Conservation‘s ambitious goal of turning Chile into the world’s greatest repository of natural land reserves is working. The route may someday become more important than it is now, giving access into areas that are incredibly remote and packed with abundant wilderness recreation opportunities.

While I would not go so far (as Besthike does) to call this fake news, there’s little real substance to the announcement at this time. A Nothingburger might be a more apt description. As always, be careful what you read…check your facts, and if they look somewhat thin, there’s a probably a reason for it.

At any rate…none of this changes any of our plans for Patagonia. In fact, look what recently showed up in the mail!


Some good journalism by Besthike and Rough Guides Travel. Thanks for setting the record straight!

2 thoughts on “Hike the Patagonian Route of Parks? Um, Not Exactly…

    1. Parts of it MIGHT be new but most of it looks like same old the Carretera Austral. It’s also possible there’s some paving of dirt roads involved here…but the details are sketchy, I haven’t been able to find any actual evidence of new road building. If you find anything out let us know!


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