Alberto de Agostini National Park is a protected area that was created on January 22, 1965, on portions of land that were part of the Hollanda forest reserve and Hernando de Magallanes National Park. The park covers 1,460,000 hectares, or 3,607,739 acres, and includes the Cordillera Darwin mountain range. The Cordillera Darwin mountain range is the final stretch of the Andes before the mountains become a chain of small islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Beagle Channel.
Alberto de Agostini National Park is located in Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena region, and stretchs over three provinces; Magallanes, Tierra del Fuego and Antártica Chilena. It is 80 nautical miles southwest of Punta Arenas, the nearest city. There are no roads to the park. Most visitors arrive aboard cruise ships or other types of sea going vessels, generally from Punta Arenas. Others arrive by airplane from Puerto Williams. There is a park admission fee, with foreigners pay twice as much as Chilean nationals, and there are few facilities for tourists. However, there are park rangers.
The park is named after one of the most important Salesian priests in Chilean history, Father Alberto Maria De Agostini. An Italian missionary, explorer, photographer and writer, Father Alberto Maria De Agostini is known for his discoveries, photographs and maps of the region.
Alberto de Agostini National Park, along with Cabo de Hornos National Park, were named the Cabo de Hornos World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005. As part of the Magallanes Sub-Antarctic Evergreen Rain Forest, UNESCO highlights the area’s “mosaic of contrasting ecosystems and unique and singular characteristics on a world level.”
Several tidewater glaciers and steep fjords can be found in the park. The park includes the Gordon, Cook and Londonderry islands, as well as part of Hoste Island. The Hardy Peninsula and other portions of Hoste Island are excluded.
The park features a coastline deeply indented by fjords. The focal point of the park is the extensive mountain range, Cordillera Darwin, with its slopes dropping into the sea. This mountain range is dominated by Monte Darwin and Monte Sarmiento.
Much of the landscape of the park has been sculpted by glaciers. The largest glacier is the Marinelli, which unfortunately has been retreating since 2008 due to global warming. One of the most spectacular areas of the park is the Seno Pía, an embayment of the Beagle Channel. The glaciers and mountains create a breathtaking view. Another glacier-related highlight of the park is the Avenue of the Glaciers. Avenue is used in a figurative sense, and describes part of the north-west arm of the Beagle Channel where it is possible to view the glaciers España, Romanche, Alemania, also known as Roncagli, Italia, Francia and Holanda.
The park is part of the Magellanic subpolar forests ecoregion. This pristine coastal ecosystem is home to various species of trees such as the coihue and canelo.
Mammals found in the park include Culpeos or Andean foxes, South American gray foxes, also known as the Patagonian fox, marine otters, South American sea lions, southern elephant seals, leopard seals, Chilean dolphins, also known as black dolphins, Burmeister’s porpoises, Peale’s dolphins, humpback whales, and guanaco lamas.
Sea birds include the southern royal albatross, Magellanic woodpeckers, white-crested elaenias, cormorants, the austral thrushes, and many others.
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