To the south of Isla Grande and to the west of Quellón lies Parque Tantauco (parquetantauco.cl), Chiloé’s largest natural attraction with nearly 1200 square kilometres of unspoiled wilderness, making it at least double the size of Parque Nacional Chiloé. The park, funded by the Fundación Futuro, is the brainchild of Sebastián Piñera, a Harvard-educated politician, self-made man and billionaire owner of LANChile, not to mention the current president of Chile.
After Douglas Tompkins unveiled Parque Pumalín, Piñera was inspired to start his own conservation project on Isla Grande. The project’s goal is to “protect and conserve vulnerable ecosystems and species, and those at risk of extinction”, as well as to restore a large chunk of the park’s territory that was devastated by a forest fire in the 1940s, by replanting native species in the affected area. The park is located in one of the world’s 25 “biodiversity hotspots”, with unique ecosystems and wildlife habitats, and home to such species as the Chilote fox, the pudú, the huillín (otter) and the blue whale.
Consisting of Zona Sur and Zona Norte, Tantauco boasts 150km of well-signposted hiking trails of varying length and difficulty, encompassing both the coastal areas and Chilote rainfores. These trails are part of a well-designed infrastructure that also includes fully equipped campsites and unmanned basic refugios. Owing to the park’s remoteness, moreover, it’s not overrun by day-trippers in the summer.
Though it’s possible to hike between Zona Norte and Zona Sur, the latter is otherwise only accessible by boat. You must allow four days to a week for the hike, bring all the necessary gear, including waterproof clothing, and inform the park authorities.