Parque Pumalin

This amazing park is actually owned by an American - Douglas Tompkins (the guy who co-founded North Face), who bought the land because he didn't want it to be developed. The park is beautiful and really well thought out. There are plenty of campsites and lots of paths created to allow access to viewpoints, lakes or forest. Apart from the Valdivian temperate rain forest with its giant ferns and moss covered trees, and the ancient Alerce trees (3000 years old), a major feature of the park is Volcan Chaiten which erupted in 2008, causing the evacuation of the town of Chaiten (where we are now staying). Pyroclastic flows destroyed large areas of forest in the park (see the fist picture), and mud flows completely blocked the river Chaiten which then changed its course and began to flow directly through the centre of the town destroying many buildings in the process. All the residents were relocated to a new town 10km away but they have gradually moved back to the old  town as infrastructure has improved. We liked the airport which was just the middle of a very wide dirt road with a wind sock on one side, and took great pleasure cycling down the middle of it just because we could. The volcano is actually still active as can be seen from the gases emerging from its top. If you don't hear from us again.........

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