Añihue Reserve

Science and Tourism: The Great Challenge of Añihue

Science and Tourism: The Great Challenge of Añihue

By Sebastián Montalva Wainer, from the Añihue Reserve, Aysén Region

South of Chile, a natural reserve of ten thousand hectares is taking a chance on consolidating the next trend in travel: mixing tourism and conservation. To achieve this, they support scientists who study and care for its biodiversity. And one can, of course, participate in that process.

We sailed from Quellón over eight hours ago. We have sailed all night. The barge Alejandrina is worse than a yellow bus. It smells of damp and burnt oil. It has several rows of broken-down seats, a sort of cafeteria you don´t want to go near, and this is unforgettable a couple of televisions that play, non-stop, some collections of rock and roll from the eighties with the lyrics so you can sing along.

We have to get to Añihue, a little known nature reserve located at the mouth of the Palena River with 10 thousand hectares of practically untouched surface area: fjords, bays, forests, mountains, birds, seals, dolphins, whales. But before that we have to reach Raúl Marín Balmaceda, a tiny village you can barely see on the map that—history says—is named in honor of a Chilean senator who died of a heart attack during a session in Congress in the 1950s.

The barge Alejandrina has moved with terrifying swings. But we are here now, and there is no point in complaining; these places in the far south are, undoubtedly, for adventurers.

When we land at Raúl Marín, Felipe González (34), the hyperactive host of Añihue, helps us with the bags and takes them to a motorboat that is waiting at the dock. We will use it to follow the only road to the reserve: the sea.

Felipe González turns the motor on. Raúl Marín Balmaceda, the happy barge Alejandrina and the rock and roll are left behind forever. We are sailing. Everything is green: the sea, the mountains.

After fifteen minutes, a small pile of stones next to the shore indicates our next stop. We have finally arrived at his home: the Añihue Reserve.

To read the full article with pictures and captions, please download the .pdf file.


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