Patagonia: Unblemished At What Cost?

Patagonia, Chile, endures as the ultimate destination for hikers, bikers, climbers, paddlers, and environmentalists. Patagonia holds a special place in the hearts of travelers whether they have been here or dream of going. But, as one resident, Carlos Olivares, says, “it’s a beautiful place for vacation, but they don’t come to live here. Here life is hard.”

Conservationists like co-founder of The North Face Inc., Doug Tompkins, are so intent on protecting this part of the world that they are looking beyond the challenges of the people who live here. Yet many residents want the same resources that they feel the rest of Chile received 30 years ago—paved roads, schools, and hospitals.