The Lake District - Northern Patagonia
After a few years of working in education and conservation in Southern Chile with Conservacion Patagonica I tend to find myself in these remote and wild lands quite often. Exploring and looking at future lands sites and farms to develop international educational programs, ecological tourism and finding ways to support local education is what brought me to the Lake District of Northern Patagonia, to meet the land…and it’s water.
The main cities of the region, Puerto Varas, Osorno, and Valdivia are easy to navigate through and are surrounded by farmland, snowcapped volcanoes, dense native forests and clear lakes. And as much as I enjoy a quick moment to pass through these cities and enjoy the perks of a cerveceria, local food and handmade art —-I truly prefer to disconnect and find places a little off the main road.
What started off as a scouting trip turned into days of learning every detail and aspect of the land, current infrastructure and trails that transverse throughout the land. Opportunities to talk to neighbors, workers, and the community gave me the sense of connection that I always seek when meeting a new landscape.
Access to this land requires a few modes of transportation — one must fly into Puerto Montt, travel by car to Estuarío Reloncavi, take a ferry to Hornopiren, continue driving on the Carreterra Austral for another 30 minutes, hop on another ferry to Leptepu then time the tide and take a small boat to my destination, the farm. By farm, I mean a fully-functioning organic farm of more than 2000 acres with an Alerce nursery, honey and berry production with sheep and cattle grazing on the finest grasses all surrounded by jagged Pacific coastline and distinctive mountain scenery. Long story, short. I wanted to add one more mode of transportation to the trip. So, I packed my Tahoe SUP Alpine Explorer backpack with a few other weekend items and hopped into the first boat available.
The invitation to join the team on this developing project peeked my curiosity that this could one day be the inspiration of many children to become ecologists themselves and seek learning about restoration practices to protect healthy ecosystems and pursue ecological agriculture. Spending time on this land, its forests and eating the fruits and fresh harvest of the garden brought joy to me each day.
Just before leaving, I had an opportunity to paddle in the fiords from one farm to the other. Seeing dolphins jump out and swim next to me, surrounded by tall granite walls and forests made me stop and take it all in. As I became a true explorer of this land and its water, I could only hope more children and adults could experience the same.