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Paradise Lost at the End of the World
Huilo-Huilo, an idyllic Chilean nature reserve, is under threat by plans for a hydroelectric station
Paloma Baytelman Pilowsky (palomabay)     Print Article 
Published 2005-05-07 16:28 (KST)   
One of the most beautiful and secret places in the south of Chile has in the last decade been receiving attention in the field of South American regional tourism. It's Huilo-Huilo, a private nature reserve located in the rain forest of Chilean Patagonia, 860 kilometers south of the capital of Santiago.

Huilo-Huilo waterfall is 40 meters high and offers beautiful scenery. This piece of paradise may disappear if a company builds a hydroelectric station upstream.
©2005 P.Baytelman
Although the roads have been improved, it is not an easy task to get there. Located on Pirihueico's lake border, near to the small town of Netulme, one can get a sense of the region's deep-rooted Mapuche culture.

Without a doubt one of the most startling features of the place is Huilo-Huilo Waterfall. Fuy River runs fast between mountains with abundant green vegetation until it suddenly meets a very narrow ravine to form a 40-meter cascade.

The force of the water is impressive. The surrounding volcanic rock forms small lagoons and it is possible to take a dip despite the cold water. Although this is one of the most beautiful places in the reserve, there are other sights that can be reached by horseback or hiking. Young local guides, who make this an enriching experience, teach about the native trees, ferns and the native animals of the place -- like Cau-Cau birds and Darwin셲 frogs.

With its 60,000 hectares, Huilo-Huilo also is an ideal location for people who like skiing and other mountain sports, since it is near the slopes of Choshuenco volcano and facilities for winter sports.

Crossing the beautiful Tempered Rain Forest, a small ecosystem that represents 0.9 percent of the world's forests, there are opportunities to discover virgin beaches, rivers births, slopes and lagoons, that with their flora and fauna, transform the region into a place of poetry, magic and enchantment.

Lago Pirihueico
©2005 P.Baytelman
Lamentably, this paradise is in serious danger of disappearing. ENDESA, Chile's largest electricity generating company, is pushing for the construction of a hydroelectric station in the reserve which would divert water resources that give origin to the beautiful waterfalls. The project hasn't been approved yet, but many people are voicing their concerns about the initiative and its potential to damage this environmental zone.
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©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Paloma Baytelman Pilowsky

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