South America Blog
About this blog
Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Buenos Aires, Chile, Argentina, and Patagonia. Here he shares his vast knowledge of South America and its people.
- The Papal Cumbia
- The Uruguayan Sacraments: Tango & Mate
- Taxing the Tourist: Argentina's AFIP Aims Low
- Fortress Falklands: A Book Review
- Pope Argentinus I, The Musical: Ragtime Meets Tango
- Credit Where Credit Is Undue?
- ¿Adios Hugo?
- When "No" Is A Positive
- Chile and Its "Crazies"
- The Oscars: A Post Mortem, So to Speak
- Sacrificing the Atacama? A Chilean View of Dakar
- Chilean Oscar Faceoff? "No" v. "Kon-Tiki"
- Friday Digest: Southern Cone Nuggets
- Dancing in the Mud? The Andean Aftermath
- Floods & Mud: Summer Storms Hit the Andes
According to the online Santiago Times (subscription only), the future is uncertain for Chile's Parque Nacional Archipiélago Juan Fernández, some 650 km off the coast of Valparaíso. On its Isla Robinson Crusoe, where the 18th-century Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk’s solitary four-year exile helped inspire Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, Chile’s Ministerio de Obras Públicas (MOP) is proposing a road to connect the island’s airstrip with the village of San Juan Baustista.
At present, an hour’s sail or a four-hour walk - one of the most scenic and solitary I’ve ever done - is necessary to reach San Juan from the airstrip. It passes from the island’s arid south side - as dry as the Atacama desert - to the temperate rainforest on the north side, crossing the divide (pictured here) at the point where Selkirk watched every day in hopes that a ship would arrive to rescue him. As part of the park, the trail passes through forests rich with endemic plant and bird species, and passes a huge colony of the rare Juan Fernández fur seal at Tierras Blancas. A road would not only eliminate this stunning hiking route, but would do incalculable damage to the flora and fauna of an island that has (and needs) few motor vehicles. There is no real point to a road through this rugged, unique terrain, on a route that would not be significantly faster than the boat.