Isla Magdalena National Park Expansion

5,350 acres/2,166 hectares
Tracts bought 1993–1999
Aysén Region, Chile

Isla Magdalena is a large and lovely island along the remote southern coast of Chile near Puerto Cisnes. The bulk of the island was protected as a forest reserve by the Chilean government in the 1960s, which was later upgraded to national park status in 1983. The park, which covers approximately 80 percent of the island, is wild and little visited. The national parks administration maintains no infrastructure or personnel there.


Private inholdings, mostly relatively small tracts owned by absentee landowners, cover the rest of the island. Between 1993 and 1999 Doug Tompkins acquired several of these inholdings for conservation. Six properties were subsequently donated to the state for inclusion in Isla Magdalena National Park. The remaining tract, Estero Pangal, which was purchased in 1994 and covers approximately 1,458 acres (590 hectares), remains in private ownership and is strictly protected for its wildlife habitat value.

The growing complex of protected areas in this part of Chile is a model for other nations to emulate. If a future Melimoyu National Park can be established, a string of wilderness jewels would dot the coast: Isla Magdalena, then Queulat National Park just to the east across Canal Puyuhuapi, then Melimoyu National Park immediately to the north across Canal Jacaf, with Corcovado National Park and Pumalín Park a short distance northward along the coast. This extraordinary system of wilderness parks safeguards an irreplaceable part of Chile’s national heritage, supports thriving wildlife populations, and is increasingly a magnet for adventure travelers.