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Patagonian Cypress: Ancient and Noble

Mónica Pons Santiago Vidal

The Patagonian cypress appears amidst native trees in the humid environment made up by the Chilean Valdivian rainforest. It dwells in lands owned by the CONAF, open to visitors.

Alerce Andino National Park - Puerto Montt

This big well-preserved woodland surprises visitors very close to Puerto Montt. World natural heritage, Alerce Andino National Park occupies forty hectares and fifty percent of its surface is dwelled by this long-lived species. While walking its trails, an unmistakable scent and a comforting silence are the evidence of the local climate.

As we accessed this protected area, we were given instructions on how to take the tours inside the venue as well as brochures that provided information about the intimate life of this tree that can live over a thousand years. It is perennial, always green, and grows slowly, connecting scientists with very useful information about the past. By reading the rings formed inside its bark, it is possible to learn about the climate and geologic changes that took place in the region before the existence of weather stations. According to ecologists, their streaks have unveiled data about rainy years, strong droughts and even global warming in the past with great accuracy. If not preserved, mankind would be deprived of a valuable testimony.

Alerce Andino National Park - Puerto Montt

The Patagonian cypress wood is soft, reddish and impervious to water. This prevents it from getting rotten. Therefore, it has been used uncontrollably for the construction of houses and boats. Old buildings covered by Patagonian cypress tiles may be seen even today. On the one hand, they look traditional and are proof of good taste and use. On the other hand, the wood industry has grown faster than the plantation of young trees.

We took several trails to walk amidst these admirable veterans. They are so high that we lost sight of their canopies. Their trunk is wrinkled and the wood made up by these specimens contributes to keeping the atmosphere free of pollution. Surrounded by thick vegetation, they share the natural reserve with other native plants and they represent the main attraction in the area. Likewise, lakes and ponds where motor boats are not allowed hide amidst mountains and forests.

Alerce Andino National Park - Puerto Montt

Besides, it is usual to see small animals that live in the forest areas, such as foxes, vizcachas and monitos del monte. Cougars, kodkods and pudues can be spotted in some intangible sectors. As far as birds are concerned, we noticed their presence through their singing. Besides, the park ranger told us that the Magellanic woodpecker, the kingfisher, the Harris' hawk, the Chiloé wigeon, the sheldgoose and the huet-huet nestle in different nooks. When it comes to fish, perch, peladillas, as well as rainbow and brown trout dwell in the waterways.

The main attraction at this exploration tour around humid unspoilt forests of unrivaled beauty was our connection with nature in its pure state. We enjoyed its special shades and aromas within a relaxed atmosphere. In addition, we were impressed by the fact that the age of the Patagonian cypresses has helped understand the environmental history of the planet. The rings of their trunks are true open books.

Alerce Andino National Park - Puerto Montt

Contact

Welcome Chile - Outings in Puerto Montt
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Location

Caracteristics

Duration

½ day and all day.

Difficulty

Low and medium.

Useful Data

How to get there

Take the Southern Road at Puerto Montt and travel 45 kilometers up to the access to Alerce Andino National Park.

Opening hours

All day.

Bear in mind

The best time to visit this park is between November and March. A park ranger team offers their support to visitors during the tour. It is essential to wear comfortable waterproof clothes, as the place is constantly humid. Do not forget to bring your camera.

Contact


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