Pumalin Park – Has Larry Ellison met his match?

Has Larry Ellison met his match?  Does he own his own recently erupted volcano?

Pumalin Park (located here)  is the largest privately owned park in the world.

One of the Tompkin's volcanos, as seen from Vulcan campground.

One of the Tompkins’ volcanos, as seen from Vulcan campground.

The owners are Doug and Kris Thompkins, Americans who previously owned North Face and Esprit clothing.  They have invested substantial money and time in Patagonia trying to preserve the land, and Pumalin is one of their personal holdings.

It’s not many people in this world who own their own park which also happens to have a volcano or two in it.  We found ourselves thinking that Larry Ellison has some significant

The approach to Pumalin Park

The approach to Pumalin Park

competition!  Though the Thompkins’ motives seem more environmental than personal.

One way to get to this park is by a combined ferry/land/ferry route (aka the bimodal route) which takes you through beautiful fjords.  The end of the trip is in the park.  Our first stop in the park was just steps away from the ferry landing at a campground that was comprised of temporate rain forest, surrounded by the steep walls of a fjord, and which we got to by walking on a hanging bridge over a rushing stream.  The camping area itself is grass, and has

Char walking to our campground.

Char walking to our campground.

a grass airstrip, so the natural landscape has been altered, but it  was a spectacular place to camp.  In the morning we took a delightful walk which started with easy wooden walkways but finished with more challenging climbing to a spectacular waterfall.

The park had many scenic and comfortable campgrounds. We camped at three of them.  The camp sites often had wood structures where you could cook, build a fire if necessary, and even pitch a tent

One of our campsights.  Note the space around it!

One of our camp sites. Note the space around it!

under the roof (one clue that it rains a lot here). Each campground has its own airstrip, perhaps so the Tompkins can visit easily.  Everything is architected and constructed to a high standard of quality. Our only issue was that there are no hot showers (because there is no electricity or gas) – we were very dirty after 4 days!

Alerce Tree

Alerce Tree

The park contains numerous hikes and a grove of Alerce trees, which are nearly extinct.  These are much like the California giant redwoods, with huge size, straight growth and ability to withstand fire and water damage.  They were used for making lumber and nearly became extinct but are now protected by Chilean law. The large trees still living are up to 3,000 years old.

This park was definitely worth the time we spent in it and we recommend it to anyone who would come to this area.

Hummingbird Liberators story.

One night, in the men’s room, there was a trapped hummingbird.  The restroom has two sky lights, one at each end. The hummingbird fluttered and flapped against one skylight for about 10 minutes, and then tried the other, again and again, hour after hour.  After dark we tried to free it by shining our headlamps on the open door, thinking he’d be attracted to the light. It didn’t work.  A woman from San Francisco said she’d freed a similar bird in the woman’s room by standing on the toilet and grabbing it.  We turned a waste basket over and I stood on it.  Dan failed in several attempts because he was too timid.  Finally he tried a technique using both hand to entrap it in the little space, and it worked.  He carefully stepped down from the sink he was standing on, onto the garbage can, and then onto the floor, and went outside.  It was such a joy to release the tiny bird. As he fluttered off into the clear night sky his path dropped a bit and then resumed its upward arc.

Other favorite photos from Pumalin:

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