Reforming Chile’s Water Code

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By Sara Larrain
Editors Note: The following is from Issue 12.
Chile is suffering degradation of fresh water sources, rivers, and underground aquifers, in addition to drought and desertification intensified by climate change. A significant part of these problems have been generated by bad public policy such as the Water Code, which dates back to 1981 and, without democratic checks, has prioritized the interests of the market over equitable access and protection of water sources.

Climate Change Series: Memories of ice

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The author and partner, Brinannala Morgan walk across the meltwater pools on the surface of the Campo de Heilo Norte with the Torres and the Circo de los Altares in the background.The author and partner, Brinannala Morgan walk across the meltwater pools on the surface of the Campo de Heilo Norte with the Torres and the Circo de los Altares in the background.

Issue 12 - Rivers of Chile

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Our special section on threatened rivers in this new edition of Patagon Journal includes articles from leading river advocates in Chile and internationally, and it comes at an opportune time. In August, the Endesa energy company announced that it was renouncing its water rights for developing five hydroelectric projects in Chile, among them plans for the Futaleufu and Puelo rivers in Patagonia. In the magazine, we show how and why Chile could seize on this important shift in their energy industry to become a worldwide leader in sustainable energy, adventure travel and river conservation.

New regulations for visits to Torres del Paine

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Pehoé campsite. Photo: TomaBPehoé campsite. Photo: TomaB
Beginning this month, for overnight stays in Torres del Paine National Park you must have prior reservations at campsites or lodges.
By Clara Ribera
Due to high demand for partaking in the popular trekking circuits of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile's national park service (Conaf) has announced that starting from October 15, overnight stays in the park will be regulated. The new measure aims to redistribute the growing quantity of visits throughout more months of the year, which will benefit both the park’s natural environment and the quality of the experience for the guests themselves.
"We do not intend to reduce the volume of visitors," explains Rodrigo Rodriguez, who is in charge of parks and protected areas for Conaf in the Última Esperanza province, Magallanes region. Considering the high concentration of guests during a short two-month period -- currently some 40 percent of visitors arrive during January and February, which is the high season during Patagonia's summer -- they want to extend the trekking season into March and April.
The regulation impacts anyone wanting to trek the popular and busy “W” and “Macizo Paine Grande” circuits. "We urge the traveler to plan and inform themselves before coming. Together, we can achieve a change in behavior,” says Ximena Castro, business manager of Fantástico Sur, one of the companies which has a concession for operating lodges inside the park. 
Anyone planning an extended hike for more than a day on the trails must now reserve a spot at the various campsites and lodges in advance, before entering the park. Moreover, the visitor will only be allowed one night in each sector. Rodriguez adds that those visitors not yet up to speed with the new system can try to make a last minute booking when registering before entering the park at the welcome center at Cerro Paine, though they will be hit with an additional 20 percent surcharge for usage of the tablets available there. If all the slots are filled, "you can still do a full-day in the park or climb to the base of the Torres without a reservation," says Rodriguez.
Bookings must be made from three different platforms depending on the location: CONAF (, for the campsites, or via Vértice ( and Fantástico Sur ( for the lodges and refugios inside the park. There are plans to launch a joint website in the future.
Lodges and campsites in the circuit.Lodges and campsites in the circuit.



Trekking: Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello-Nalcas

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By Tomás Moggia
Editors note: The following is from Edition 11.  
It takes almost three hours of walking until I finally leave the dense, humid forest. Behind are tall and ancient araucarias, also known as monkey puzzle trees, and other species like lenga, coihue and oak. While I continue climbing up through the sunny and exposed hillside that marks the end of the Piedra Santa trail, a cold wind begins to blow, and the increasingly isolated and solitary araucarias begin to adopt strange, stunted forms, reminding one of the craftsman-like role that the wind can play at high altitudes.

We’re looking for a Spanish-language editor

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Patagon Journal is a bilingual magazine, in English and Spanish, about nature, culture, travel and outdoor sports in the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina. Our overall mission: to build a greater appreciation, understanding and environmental protection of Patagonia and the world’s last wild places.
We’re looking for a native Spanish speaker, highly motivated, passionate about the environment and the outdoors, and with a history of success as an editor and/or journalist.
A strong candidate for this position will preferably have the following experience, skills and qualities:
- At least 2 years of experience writing articles and blogs
- At least 2 years of experience editing journalistic articles
- Experience or interest in multimedia journalism
- Able to translate from English to Spanish
- Experience in maintaining a website 
- Effective time management skills and works well independently
Salary commensurate with experience. This position is either full-time, or at minimum 30 hours per week.
To Apply:
Please, no calls. Send your resume, a cover letter and samples of your writing to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Thank you! 

The ambitious trails to connect Villa O’Higgins with the Southern Ice Field

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Photo: Fernando IglesiasPhoto: Fernando Iglesias
Years ago, Conaf planned the development of seven routes in glacial zones of the Aysén region in Chilean Patagonia. With the Eduardo García Soto shelter now restored and under its management, the next objective is to strengthen the Chilean alternatives to the currently popular circuit that starts from El Chaltén.  There is potential for a binational connection.

This week: Santiago Mountain Film Festival

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The 17th edition of the Santiago Mountain Film Festival begins tomorrow and runs till Oct.1 in the Chilean capital.

The festival will show the best of mountain and adventure films throughout four days. The event begins with a tribute to the late Douglas Tompkins, including a screening of "Wild Legacy" and his 1968 film "Mountain of Storms," as well as selected films from the BANFF Mountain Film Festival World Tour. 


“Avalancha en el Volcán” returns to Villarica for its sixth annual event

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Photo: Avalancha en el VolcánPhoto: Avalancha en el Volcán
By Ignacio Palma
Translated by Rebecca Neal
It’s been two years since the “Avalanche on a Volcano” freeride skiing and snowboarding race has taken place at Villarrica Volcano. After the eruption in March of last year, event organizers were forced to relocate the event to Quetrupillán, a nearby volcano also in the Araucania region.

But today, the race is back on home turf. The hopes and expectations of founder and current tournament director Rodrigo Vera are high for what will be the sixth edition of this competition, held this year at the Rucapillán, the name of the volcano in the Mapuche language mapudungún, which means “house of spirits.”

"This year, the riders will find that there has been changes to the volcano, as well the route and security teams. The focus will be on those geographic changes for the event but staying within our past framework,” says Vera, who adds that they continue to monitor closely any volcanic information and activity in the zone via reports from the National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin).

Photo: Rodrigo VeraPhoto: Rodrigo Vera

The event is planned to take place sometime between Sept. 12 and 20. Weather conditions will be the deciding factor for choosing the exact day for competition, which consists of a guided on-foot ascent to the summit, followed by a freeride descent from the top of the massif to its base. The rules are simple: the fastest racer wins. "We hope that this year they will be able break the record set the first year (2011) of 3 minutes and 12 seconds by Chile’s own Cristobal Diaz," says Vera, a native of Los Andes, Chile, but based in Pucon the past five years.

So far, 37 people have registered for the event, which has a total of 60 places. Competitors are divided into adult men and women, in snowboard and ski, and there is also a Masters category for over-45s. There are an additional 20 places for the children’s category, called Mini Avalancha, for competitors between the ages of 11 and 17. As has been the case from the beginning, Avalancha en el Volcán will have participants from Chile, Argentina, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. The confirmed participants include one of the best freeride skiers in the Americas, the Argentine Nicolás Salençon.While the exact route of the race is still unknown, it will be released the day of the event, Vera postulates that the route will be on the north side of the massif, with a distance of five kilometers and a vertical drop of 1,500 meters.

"Everything depends on the ice conditions, the amount of snow, and that it’s in an area that is safe for all skiers," says the former mountain guide. Vera also notes that, as in previous years, each competitor will use a chip to ensure accurate timing, and will also be equipped with Avalanche Victim Detectors (DAV) in case of emergencies. For safety issues, police personnel, a team from the Chilean Mountain Rescue Association, and representatives from the Association of Pucon Mountain Guides (GAMP) will also be present at the event. 

Photo: Patricio GarridoPhoto: Patricio Garrido

In addition, there will be a base camp at the bottom of the mountain, where participants can stay overnight before the competition. This was also the case last year, when the base camp proved a success. Vera states that participants can enjoy an atmosphere of camaraderie which could coincide with the Fiestas Patrias of Chile on the 18th and 19th of September, weather permitting.

Registration (80,000 Chilean pesos for adult participants and free for under-18s) will remain open until the day before the competition. In order to have a better view of the event, the organization invites the general public to come to the ski center on the mountain, 18km away from Pucón, the nearest town,

For more information on requirements for participants, visit To stay informed about the final date, follow the event on Facebook and Instagram. 





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