Torres del Paine National Park is located in Patagonia, Chile. This park is well known for its amazing diversity – it includes the Andes mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, valleys, streams, forests, ponds, cascades, waterfalls, and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The park is over 242,242 hectares, and is one of the most popular parks in Chile. It is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
- There are all kinds of animals in the park, including guanacos (and their predator, the puma), foxes, the endangered Chilean Huemul, and 15 birds of prey species, including the Andean Condor. The guanaco is a member of the camelid family (with no hump), and is a wild llama. Unfortunately, the guanaco population has declined, due to poaching, reduced food sources, and habitat degradation. Read about the challenges and responses to this population decline. What are your thoughts on work to save endangered animals? What else can people do to increase the wild guanaco population?
Far from the glaciers in the park, there have been several extensive and damaging wildfires (most recently in 1985, 2005, and 2011/2012). Thousands of acres have been burned, visitors evacuated, and the park closed. Watch this video on the most recent fire, and read this report on the impact of the fire on the area. Discuss the responsibilities of tourists to the places they visit, and come up with a short list of guidelines for responsible travel. Do destinations also carry some responsibility? What might the park have done, to decrease the risk of forest fires?