Social Work

Scenic Route

The vast majority of visitors to Pumalín see the park largely by vehicle, be it bus or car. Recognizing the centrality of roads to visitor experience, we began a scenic highway project to beautify roadsides and transform driving into a pleasant, illustrative element of a visit to the park. We take inspiration from scenic highway initiatives around the world: almost as long as conservationists have been working to preserve parklands, there have been related efforts to create scenic highways that help people travel to, through, and between parks and other public lands.

 

Some of the landscapes of the scenic route

Some of the landscapes of the scenic route

At the Pumalín Project, we began through collaborating with the Chilean government to secure first-ever "scenic highway" designation in Chile, for the 75-kilometer section of the Carretera Austral—Chile's southern highway—that runs through the park. This designation means that road construction is monitored more closely, with effort put into limiting ecological damages and restoring past impacts of road development. In addition, scenic routes have well-developed signage, highlighting points of interest, picnic areas, photographic vistas, and roadside services. Graphic style helps to provide a distinctive identity to the route.

 

The Carretera Austral book's cover

Following the success of the Pumalín scenic highway project, we are collaborating in a campaign to turn the entire Carretera Austral into a scenic highway.

CLT has sponsored a book by landscape photographer Linde Waidhofer to show the spectacular beauty of this route. During the summer of 2012 – 2013, CLT team members organized book launches and gatherings in numerous communities along the length of the Carretera Austral. Such a designation would cost the national government virtually nothing, but could significantly boost ecotourism in the Palena and Aysén regions if road building practices were improved, scenic vistas protected, and signage along the route standardized. Traveling the Carretera Austral could become one of the world's great road trips, as people would come not only to visit Patagonia's extraordinary parklands but also to visit the small communities along the route.

 

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