This biological reserve, located in the region of Araucanía, is a true example of an ecotouristic model, in which sustainability, nature, and local communities interact to deliver a high quality tourist service.
By Pablo Dutilh
Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve was one of the first private initiatives intended to preserve the natural heritage and biodiversity of our country, integrating these activities with high quality tourist services.
As far as conservation goes, the Huilo Huilo Foundation has developed remarkable projects. The preservation of the Huemul, a native deer from southern Chile and Argentina, has been especially notable. The huemul was declared endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1973.
To preserve this species, HH Foundation has created the “Southern Huemul Conservation Center”, located inside the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve. Its aim is to reinsert the huemul in the area where it used to live two decades ago. In the reserve there are specific areas where the huemul is carefully protected, assuring its reproduction in an effort to increase the current population of seven specimens.
Regarding tourism, HH is an example of tourist administration in protected areas. Its high quality infrastructure has been integrated organically and sustainably in its surroundings, so as to minimize the environmental impact. This is made through a careful management of emissions and wastes, and an ecologically integrated architecture.
In this respect, its two main hotels, Lodge Montaña Mágica and Hotel & Spa Baobab stand out. The former emulates a volcano, with a rocky texture and an interior rich in of plants, whereas the latter reproduces the architecture and composition of a tree. Both hotels have high quality facilities and services in rooms and common areas, which could be easily be classed as 5 stars.
The variety of destinations, services, and activities in the reservation is also noteworthy. There are for example interpretive trails, a ski center, an impressive XL canopy –up to 300 mt. lines at 40 mts ht-, a brewery, the Volcano Museum, the Canopy Village (cabins for rental built on trees), trekking paths, and mountaineering in Mocho Choshuenco Volcano.
Plus, there are interesting areas for bird watching. I had the chance of taking part in the excursion to “Laguna de los Patos”, located in the Pilmaiquén Pampa, which is typical for housing several species of ducks and other humid environment birds during the summer season. It’s an experience that bird lovers cannot miss. Doubtlessly, you’ll find much more, because the reserve is in constant evolution, always adding new services and attractions to offer its visitors.
Also, I must mention the impressive Huilo Huilo Waterfalls, where the Fuy River goes through deep cracks, to fall then from a 37 mt. cliff. (In Mapudungún, the Mapuche language, Huilo Huilo means deep crack). .
In conclusion, this place is the perfect union of a solid conservation project, and a high-quality tourist offer, which allows for the enjoyment of an unforgettable experience. You’ll enjoy natural resources are used in a non invasive way, collaborating with the reestablishment of the ecological order of these wild areas.
In this sense, it is also worth mentioning the integration of local communities to the operation and working of all the services in the park. Almost 90% of the employees of this reserve and its associated services belong to Neltume town and its surroundings. This defines Huilo Huilo’s tourist model as a real “Ecotouristic” model, where sustainability, nature, and local communities work together, so as to deliver a high quality tourist service.