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Explora Patagonia Re-Opens February 23 Following Wildfires in Chile’s National ParkFebruary 7, 2012 By: Joe Pike
It has been a little more than a month since wildfires swept through one of Chile’s emblematic landscapes, Torres del Paine National Park, forcing the suspension of operations of explora Patagonia and Hotel Salto Chico.
But things have moved quickly since, and explora is set to reopen the doors of its iconic lodge and welcome travelers on February 23. With repair to damage caused by smoke and ash nearly complete, first-time and returning guests will be hard pressed to notice any changes.
The combination of wildfires and bad weather forced authorities to temporarily close Torres del Paine from December 30 to January 4, when the north region of the park was reopened for travelers.
The southern zone of Torres del Paine, which was founded as a National Park in 1959 and named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1978, was enabled for visitors on Jan. 14. Roughly 17,606 of the park’s total 242,242 hectares were consumed by wildfires, with 60 percent of the harmed area corresponding to scrub of fast recovery, 30 percent to bushes and the remaining 10 percent to native forest.
Though the fire took a toll on the national natural wonder, explora’s Patagonian outpost was miraculously unscathed by flames. Indeed, given Hotel Salto Chico’s strategic location in the southern zone, the fire came within 90 feet yet never leapt to the lodge, its stables or spa.
Just the same, explora elected to close Hotel Salto Chico until February 23rd to repair damage to furniture and other materials caused by smoke and ash. The decision was well measured, as management wanted to assure the hotel was able to offer the high standards of service that travelers expect and for which explora is respected around the world.
Presently, the park is operating normally, receiving about 1,000 travelers per day – typical for high-season months. Meanwhile, the last two trekking circuits closed due to fire were reopened on January 30 following thorough study by the authorities, assuring no risk whatsoever for visitors.