Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chile, at a Walker's Pace

According to the Santiago daily La Tercera, as cited by the online Santiago Times (subscription only), the Sendero de Chile, an ambitious 8,500-km recreational trail running the length of the country, will not be finished until the year 2038. Intended for non-motorized use only, conceived under the administration of former president Ricardo Lagos, the first segments of the trail opened in 2002; it now comprises about 1,800 km that pass through wild backcountry such as the Altos del Lircay National Reserve, pictured to the right.

The announced date represents a 28-year postponement of an ambitious project that was, initially, intended for completion for Chile's 2010 bicentennial. In reality, it links together and formalizes existing backcountry routes (much like the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States) in the Andes. There are also segments elsewhere in the country, for instance on remote Easter Island, and even if progress is slower than originally projected, visitors to Chile will find plenty of paths for hiking, biking, and saddling up.

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