Yendegaia National Park
372,170 acres/150,612 hectares
A stunning piece of wild nature at the “uttermost part of the earth,” this former cattle ranch of more than 95,000 acres stretches from the Beagle Channel up into the Darwin Range at 54 degrees south. Southern beech forests, expansive grasslands, rugged coastline, wild rivers, and sublime mountains make Yendegaia one of the most spectacular places on the island of Tierra del Fuego.
The property first came to the attention of the Conservation Land Trust through the intercession of Scottish forest activist Alan Watson Featherstone and Graciela Ramaciotti, an Argentine conservationist. In 1998 they accompanied Doug and Kris Tompkins and other wilderness advocates on a multiday camping trip to explore the area. All were were struck by its outstanding conservation potential and later that year Doug Tompkins founded a Chilean nonprofit to purchase the land, which was being sold by a jailed drug dealer. Financial support came from the Conservation Land Trust, Swiss philanthropist Ernst Beyeler, American conservationist Peter Buckley, and other donors. After some financial and administrative difficulties, the land was later conveyed to the Yendegaia Foundation, whose board of directors was composed principally of Pumalín Foundation staff. These experienced conservationists oversaw Yendegaia’s stewardship until it could be donated to the State.
During the administration of Sebastian Pinera, Doug Tompkins and President Pinera began discussions about a large donation of private conservation lands for addition to the Chilean national parks system. After a process of study and analysis, the government endorsed the idea of a new Yendegaia National Park comprised of the donated former estancia lands combined with roughly 112,000 hectares of adjacent government lands, resulting in a new protected area of 150,612 hectares (372,170 acres). The new park was designated in late 2013 and the donated lands from Fundación Yendegaia were formally accepted and incorporated into the new park in September 2014.
Besides offering incredible beauty, Yendegaia serves as a landscape bridge between two of Patagonia’s wildest natural areas—Chile’s Alberto de Agostini National Park to the west and Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego National Park to the east. Yendegaia now links two world-class wilderness parks, effectively creating an expansive, transboundary protected area along the Chile–Argentina border.