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Bernardo O'Higgins National Park
'''Bernardo O'Higgins National Park''' is the largest of the protected areas in Chile, covering an area of in both the Aisen and Magallanes and Antartica Chilena regions. The park is named after General Bernardo O'Higgins, first head of state of the Republic of Chile. Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina) and Torres del Paine National Park are its neighbours to the east, Laguna San Rafael National Park is located to the north, the Alacalufes National Reserve to the southwest and the Katalalixar National Reserve to the northwest.
The earliest occupants of the area were the Alacaluf people.
In 1830 the then Captain Phillip Parker King on board H.M.S. Beagle visited the Eyre Fjord.
In June 2007 it was announced that between March and May 2007 all the water within a glacial lake located within the park had disappeared, leaving behind a 100-foot-deep crater. Only some blocks of ice, previously floating on the lake, remained behind on the crater floor. In July 2007 scientists were able to draw the preliminary conclusion that the disappearance occurred as a result of climate change.
The park is located approximately between 48 and 51 38' South Latitude (between the Baker Channel and the northern part of the Fjord of the Mountains. The Central-East Area of the Park is subject to a territorial dispute between Chile and Argentina. The highest summit is the Lautaro volcano at . Other summits include the Mount Fitz Roy, the Cerro Torre and the Cerro Riso Patron. The elevations are lower in the southern part of the park, but the scenery is still spectacular. The highlight of this zone is the Mount Balmaceda at , beautified by the glaciers Balmaceda and Serrano.
There are no large rivers on the park coast, but the narrow fjords penetrate deeply into the mountains and bring away the drainage of their ice-capped, storm-swept elevations.
The park includes a great part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. One of its main attractions is the glacier Pio XI, from which enormous ice blocks periodically spall. The Pio XI glacier is the largest glacier of the South hemisphere outside of Antarctica, covering an area of , advancing over the past 50 years by more than ; one of its tongues measures approximately . The ice face of the glacier is approximately in height (about 30 floors of a conventional building) and the falling ice generates waves exceeding in height; significant enough to rock larger vessels. Other outlet glaciers are Chico, O'Higgins, Jorge Montt, Bernardo, Tempano, Occidental, Greve, Penguin and Amalia.
The area of the park corresponds to the Magellanic subpolar forests ecoregion.
The forests are made up of several trees species, including Nothofagus betuloides, Nothofagus pumilio, Nothofagus antarctica and Drimys winteri.
The park is one of the last refuges for the Chilean Huemul. In this also can be found species such as Andean Condor, Marine Otter and Cormorant.
Because of its rugged geography and the remoteness of the area, the tourism in the park has been scarcely developed. It is only accessible by boat or helicopter. The glaciers located at the head of Ultima Esperanza Sound and the glacier Pio XI are the most visited areas of the park. The main gateways for visitors to the park are Puerto Natales, Villa O'Higgins, Caleta Tortel and Puerto Eden. Sea kayaking is a popular activity in the park.
WCS in Chile's O'Higgins National Park
Two sections of Turistel map, showing park boundaries: [*], [*]
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Bernardo O'Higgins National Park