Tagua Tagua Park lies just three hours’ drive south east of Puerto Varas, in the Chilean Lake District. It is a Private Protected Area (APP) that opened to the public just three years ago. Last year less than 850 people visited Tagua Tagua Park, so this is virgin tourism territory.
Exploring this wilderness of ancient forest, lagoon, rivers, waterfalls and rugged mountains felt like a real privilege and that I had stumbled upon a secret part of Patagonia. The journey itself to Tagua Tagua Park is spectacular. I drove along the edge of Lake Llanquihue, past cascading waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and forests golden with autumn colours. Near to our destination we followed a bumpy dirt road that trails the Tagua Tagua River, (home to some of the best trout in the world), before reaching the end of the road at the head of Tagua Tagua lake. There are no vehicles in the park itself, the steep sided mountainous terrain does not allow for it, so I left the car and the last trace of civilisation behind and took a short 20 minute boat ride to the entrance of the park.
The entrance to Tagua Tagua Park is dramatically and noisily marked by the Rio el Salto plummeting 60 metres into the lake below. Here I met Diego, the park guide, and we headed off. After a short scramble we reached the official start of the park, the visitors lodge, a simple wooden cabin with the most magnificent views. The trail we walked took us along well maintained wooden walkways and bridges, through thick fern like jungle, under huge native alerce (larch) trees and in forests of lenga (southern beech).
Travelling at the end of the season I virtually had the park to myself and walking with Diego allowed me a unique and personal experience of Tagua Tagua Park. He shared his passion for the park, the wildlife that lives here and the incredible environment that is being protected. It is hoped that Tagua Tagua Park will join with Hornopirien National Park, to create a corridor for wildlife, particularly puma, foxes, huemel deer (national animal of Chile), huillin (river otter) and condors.
There are two basic refuges that allow 28 people to sleep within the park itself or across the Tagua Tagua Lake is the Mitico Puelo Lodge, a former fishing lodge. The lodge is surrounded by grass and woodlands, a perfect playground in nature, with swimming pool and wood fed hot tub, the perfect place to relax after a day of adventure.
The opportunity to really be part of nature, get away from any phone signal and enthuse with nature is rare, but Tagua Tagua Park offers that opportunity.