Imagine enduring your first steep multi-hour hike to the high valley granite walls of Cochamó, and just as you come out of the forest you see smoke. As you approach, you follow it down to its source to see a blackened granite stones circled to form a fire pit, tents with plastic tarps, garbage blown to the side, dirty pots and pans, and clumps of gear spread out. And not just one site, but many. In the distant bushes, remnants of feces and toilet paper.
Many nature-seeking hikers complained of these scenes, and the shocking interruption it casused as they took in the human impact of these campers. Over the past decade, an increasing number of people camping in the Anfiteatro, Trinidad, Paloma and Arco Iris has had dramatic impacts on the fragile ecosystems found there. As a result, two nonprofits (Organización de Turismo, Propietarios y Amigos del Valle Cochamó & Friends of Cochamó), along with neighboring landowners, climbers and other tourist operators, have, in the past two years, pushed a campaign to minimize these impacts. They have implemented some of the following guidelines to follow: