Vivere nella Patagonia cilenaIyna Bort Caruso
Glaciers, fjords and saw-toothed summits. Chile’s Patagonia region is a vision of beauty on a majestic scale. Wilderness rules. Within its ancient forests, specimens of flora and fauna are found here--and nowhere else on the planet.
In this southernmost part of the continent, people are far and few between, which can make Patagonia feel like the end of the world. Some areas are only accessible by boat or plane. Patagonia is shared by Chile and Argentina with the vast majority of people and acreage in the latter. Nevertheless, Chilean Patagonia’s 131,000 square miles account for half of the country’s landmass.
The jagged coast is one of inlets, channels and roads that come to dead ends. One road, however, seemingly goes on forever: Carretera Austral, or the Southern Highway, passes through 770 miles of jaw-dropping scenery, from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins.
The region isn’t as remote as it once was. Historically the sole domain of sheep ranchers, fisherman and huasos, or Chilean cowboys, it’s been discovered by affluent tourists, extreme adventurers, cruise ship passengers and conservation-minded investors.
One of the country’s largest parks is Torres del Paine, 70 miles north of Puerto Natales. It can take hours--or days--to explore. Conditions range from tame to extreme, depending on the fast-changing conditions. Like much of Patagonia, weather fluctuations can be dramatic. National Geographic says, however, the “rewards are unparallel.”
There are no restrictions on international real estate purchases. Buyers come from elsewhere in Chile, Argentina and Brazil as well as the U.S., Canada and Western Europe, many of whom seeking trophy ranches, lakefront acreage and fishing compounds. Chilean Patagonia also offers the rare opportunity to nab one’s own private island.